Cherokee Phoenix

From the Hamilton Intelligencer

Published December, 24, 1831

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From the Hamilton Intelligencer.


We shall always respect Mr. Wirt for the noble effort which he made in behalf of the oppressed Indians. The following paragraphs, from his speech before the Supreme Court are well calculated to inspire respect for the orator, and enlist both the heart and the judgement in the cause he advocates.

Sir, unless the government be false to the trust which the people have confided to it, our authority will be sustained. I believe that if the injunction shall be awarded, there is a moral force in the public sentiment of the American community, which will, alone, sustain it, and constrain obedience. At all events, let us do our duty, and the people of the United States will take care that others do theirs. If they do not, there is an end of the government, and the union is dissolved.

For if the judiciary be struck from the system, what is there of any value that will remain? Sir, the government cannot subsist without it. It would be as rational to talk of a solar system without a sun. No sir, the people of the United States know the value of this institution too well to suffer it to be put down, or trammelled in its action, by the dictates of others. It will be sustained in whatever course its own wisdom, patriotism and virtue shall direct, by the respect, the affections, the suffrage, and if necessary by the arms of the country. It has been an object of reverence to the best and wisest men of our country, from the first movements of our constitution to the present day. It has been considered by them all as the key-stone of our political arch, the crown of its beauty, and the bond of its strength; nor will the people suffer it to be touched by rash and unskillful hands, for the worst of purposes in the worst of times, even if there are any among us so hardy as to meditate it. If then, I am asked, how the injunction of this court, if granted, is to be enforced, I answer, fearlessly, by the majesty of the people of the United States, before which, canting authority (under the prostituted name of patriotism) and presuming ignorance, if they exist, will hide their heads.

Sir, I have done.

I have presented to you all the views that have occurred to me as bearing materially on this question. I have endeavored to satisfy you that, according to the supreme law of the land, you have before you proper parties and a proper case to found your original jurisdiction; that the case is one which warrants and most imperiously demands an injunction, and, unless its aspect be altered by an answer and evidence (which I confidently believe it cannot be,) that if there ever was a case which called for a decree of perpetual peace, this is the case.

It is with no ordinary feelings that I am about to take leave of this cause. The existence of this remnant of a once great and mighty nation is at stake, and it is for your honors to say, whether they shall be blotted out from the creation, in utter disregard of all our treaties. They are here in the last extremity, and with them must perish forever the honor of the American name. The faith of our nation is fatally linked with their existence, and the blow which destroys them quenches forever our own glory; for what glory can there be of which a patriot can be proud after the good name of his country shall have departed? We may gather laurels on the field and trophies on the ocean, but they will never hide this foul and bloody blot upon our escutcheon. 'Remember the Cherokee Nation' will be the answer enough to cover with confusion the face and the heart of every man among us, in whose bosom the last spark of grace has not been extinguished. Such, it is possible, there may be, who are willing to glory in their own scheme, and to triumph in the disgrace which they are permitted to heap upon this nation. But, thank heaven, they are comparatively few. The great majority of the American people see this subject in its true light. They have hearts of flesh in their bosoms instead of hearts of stone, and every rising, and setting sun witnesses the smoke of the incense from the thousands and tens of thousands of domestic altars, ascending to the throne of grace, to invoke its guidance and blessing on your councils. The most undoubting confidence is reposed in this tribunal.

We know what whatever can be properly done for this unfortunate people, will be done by this honorable court. The cause is one that must come home to every honest feeling heart. They have been true and faithful to us, and have a right to expect a corresponding fidelity on our part. Through a long course of years, they have followed our council with the docility of children. Our wish has been their law. We asked them to become civilized, and they became so. They assumed our dress, copied our manners, pursued our course of education, adopted our form of government, embraced our religion, and have been proud to imitate us in everything in their power. They have watched the progress of our prosperity and with the strongest interest, and have marked the rising grandeur of our nation with as much pride as if they had belonged to us. They have even adopted our resentments; and in our war with the Seminole tribes, they voluntarily joined our arms, and gave effectual aid in driving back those barbarians from the very state that now oppresses them. They threw upon the field in the war a body of men, who proved by their martial bearing, their descent from the noble race that were once the lords of these extensive forests-men worthy to associate with the 'lion' who, in their own language: 'walks upon the mountain tops.' They fought side by side with our present chief magistrate, and received his repeated thanks for their gallantry and conduct.

May it please your honors, they have refused to us no gratification which it has been in their power to grant. We asked them for a portion of their lands, and they ceded it.- We asked them again, and they continued to cede, until they have now reduced themselves within the narrowest compass that their own subsistence will permit. What return are we about to make to them for all this kindness? We have pledged, for their protection, and for their guarantee of the remainder of their lands, the faith and honor of our nation: a faith and honor never sullied, nor even drawn into question until now. We promised them and they trusted us. They have trusted us.- Shall they be deceived? They would as soon expect to see their rivers run upwards in their sources, or the sun roll back in his career, as that the United States would prove false to the word so solemnly pledged by their Washington, and renewed and perpetuated by his illustrious successors.

Is this the high mark to which the American nation has been so strenuously and successfully pressing forward? Shall we seal the mighty deed of our high honors at so worthless a price, and in two short years cancel all the glory which we have been gaining before the world, for the last half century?- Forbid it, Heaven!

I will hope for better things.- There is a spirit that will yet save us. I trust that we shall find it here, in this sacred court; where no foul and malignant demon of party enters to darken the understanding or to deaden the heart, but where all is clear, calm, pure, vital and firm. I cannot believe that this honorable court, possessing the power of preservation, will stand by, and see these people stripped of their property and extirpated from the earth, while they are holding up to us their treaties and claiming the fulfillment of our engagements. If truth, and faith,and honor, and justice, have fled from every other part of our country, we shall find them here. If not--our sun has gone down in treachery, blood, and crime in the face of the world; and, instead of being proud of our country, as heretofore, we may well call upon the rocks and mountains to hide our shame from the earth ' from heaven.