Cherokee Phoenix

From the Boston Courier

Published January, 28, 1832

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From the Boston Courier.


The reader will find below, the Memorial to the President of the United States, adopted by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. It contains a succinct history of the first establishment of the Board in the Cherokee Country, under the written authority of Mr. Crawford, then Secretary of War, and a plain but forcible and impressive statement of the position now assumed by the Board. Military power may be able, as it has been, to force the Missionaries from the Cherokee Country, or to imprison them in jails of Georgia; but we assert with the utmost confidence, that while the government relies upon appeals to the sense of the community, the position of the Board is impregnable. It cannot be shaken. Neither the hot headed sophistry of Georgia, nor the cold-hearted policy of General Jackson, and his side in this nefarious business, can take the strength of a single word of this memorial. The Board, and their imprisoned agents make no appeal to the sympathies of the public. They stand upon their rights, as citizens of the United States. Their proceedings were authorized by the War Department, when it was under the direction of a Georgian, and were sanctioned by President Monroe. A contract was thus made with them as Missionaries requiring of them certain services, providing the equivalent they demanded. This contract was annulled for private purposes, by the stronger party. The Missionaries then demanded a trial in the Courts of the United States, and the President replies,that he has 'satisfied himself' that our Indian laws are inoperative, and that 'he has no authority to interfere.' Georgia has a right to require an oath of allegiance from citizens of another State, to quarter soldier upon them in time of peace, and to suspend the habeas corpus act-all direct violations of the Constitution-and the President has no right to interfere! Then what authority does he possess? Governor Cass's note in reply to the Memorial, is model of a cool official arrogance.- He has 'the honor to be very' polite. He takes, by instruction of the President, all legislative power in the premises, and all its troubles and responsibilities, from Congress!

But it is vain to argue this case.- It is useless to reason with despot power. The refutation of its subtleties is degrading to our intelligence. Any further examination of its motives or exposure of its heartless chicanery is disgusting. If a denunciation of the men and their measures be not sufficient to overwhelm the one and reform the other, it is in vain to appeal to mortal tribunals. It is presumed the Memorial and papers will be extensively circulated.


To his Excellency Andrew Jackson, President of the United States.

The memorial of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, respectfully showeth,

That your Memorialist, as a benevolent association, were authorized by a letter bearing dated May 14, 1817, from Hon. William J. Crawford, the Secretary of War to the Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, the agent of your memorialist, a copy which is hereunto annexed, (A) send teachers and missionaries in the Cherokee Nation, agreeably stipulations made by the United States in treaties with the said Cherokees to erect buildings, to establish schools,enclose lands, and make other improvements, for their accommodation. Your memorialist have felt themselves further authorized and countenanced to proceed in their labors for the welfare of the Cherokees, by the repeated interviews which their agents have been permitted to have with successive Presidents of the United States, and the Secretaries of War, and Messages of the President, made to Congress from year to year, in which the teachers and missionaries have uniformly been mentioned as entering and residing in the Indian country with the approbation of the Executive of the United States; as co-operating with the government and its agents in a benevolent and disinterested work, and as being under its patronage. Your memorialist have been further encouraged by the fact that portions of the fund appropriated by Congress for civilizing the Indians have been annually intrusted to them to expend, and that the annual reports, which the teachers have on this account, been required to make to the War Department, have been uniformly approved, and also by the decided approbation which has been expressed by officers and agents of government who have visited and inspected many of the stations. Your memorialist have been further assured of the countenance and approbation of the government, by communications which they have received from the War Department, extracts from which are hereunto annexed.

Sanctioned and patronized in the manner by the Executive of the United States, your memorialist have proceeded in their undertakings, and during the last fifteen years have erected buildings and made various other improvements at eight stations, at each of which, on the first of May last, there were schools with teachers and other laborers, sent by your memorialist; and at all but one of which, there were boarding schools and agricultural establishments of greater or less extent. At these schools more than four hundred Cherokee children and youth have been instructed for a longer or shorter period of time; three-quarters of whom have been boarded, and half of whom have received an English education adequate to the transaction of the common business. In sending forth and supporting teachers and other laborers, erecting buildings, making fields, providing agricultural implements, and household furniture, in boarding and clothing the scholars, and in other ways for the accommodation of the schools and mission families, your memorialist have expended for the purpose of instructing and civilizing the Cherokees [in addition to above $10,000 received from the government of the United States for the same purpose] more than $110,000.

The teachers and other missionary laborers continued to prosecute their work unmolested, until January last, when the missionaries at four of the stations under the patronage of your memorialist, received a communication, containing a law, purporting to have been enacted at the last session of the legislature of the State of Georgia, of which the following is an extract:

'And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all white persons residing within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, on the first day of March next, or at any time thereafter, without a license or permit from his excellency the governor, or from such agent as his excellency the governor shall authorize to grant such a permit or license, and who shall not have taken the oath herein after required, shall be guilty of a high misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by confinement in the penitentiary, at hard labor for a term not less than four years.'

The teachers and missionaries believed this law to be an unwarrantable extension of the jurisdiction of Georgia over the Cherokee country; to be contrary to the express provision of the treaties entered into with the Cherokees, to the intercourse law of 1802, and to the Constitution of the Union; and that the enforcement of it would be a gross and oppressive violation of their rights as citizens of the United States; and knowing that they were demeaning themselves in a peaceable and orderly manner, they did not feel under obligations to obey this law, but decided to look to the Government of the United States for protection at the station which they occupied, and in the work which they had undertaken and were prosecuting under its sanction and patronage.

In regard to the meaning of the treaties and laws, and those claims of the Constitution on which they relied, they were confident, and your memorialist, are confident, that they could not be mistaken.

In the Treaty of Hopewell, Nov. 28, 1785, particularly in article 9th it is expressly stipulated that Congress shall have the exclusive right to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indians. In the Treaty of Holston, July 2, 1791, the same stipulations are renewed more in detail; especially in article 11th, a marked distinction is made between being within the Cherokee lands and within the jurisdiction of any state.

In both treaties above named, provisions were made with special care for preventing all persons intruding on the Cherokee lands, and for punishing crimes and trespasses committed by citizens of the United States on the Cherokees, or by Cherokees on citizens of the United States; either by the authorities of the United States or by the Cherokees, without the slightest allusion to the right of the authorities of any state to interfere in the case, and of course to the exclusion of all such right.

In the treaty of Oct. 2, 1798, the former treaties 'are acknowledged to be in full and operative force; together with the construction and usage under their respective articles, and so to continue.' It is well known what the construction and usage had been, and what it continued to be till within the last two years.

At the close it is stipulated that this and former treaties shall be carried into effect on both sides with all good faith.

In the treaty of Oct. 25th 1805, the first article declares 'all former treaties, which provide for the maintenance of peace and preventing crimes, are on this occasion recognized and continued in force,' and additional provisions are made in this treaty, and in that of Oct. 27th for roads and for the free passing of the United States mail, and of citizens. This right was purchased by the United States, of the Cherokees, showing plainly how the two parties understood, and in practice construed the stipulations of former treaties respecting entering the country of the Cherokees or having intercourse with them. State authority or jurisdiction is not named or alluded to.

In the treaty of July 8, 1817, it is again stipulated, the former treaties between the Cherokees and the United States are to continue in full force; the United States to have the right of establishing factories, post roads, 'c. No rights of jurisdiction, or of making regulation respecting trade or intercourse are named or recognized as belonging to the States.

None of these stipulations have ever been annulled, or their force impaired, either by counter stipulations between the contracting parties, or by construction or usage, or by the failure of the Indians to perform their part. On the contrary, the manner in which they have been construed for forty years, by all parties concerned, shows what is their true meaning, and how the United States, the Cherokees, and the State of Georgia, understood them.

It was moreover expressly provided in the Indian Bill of May, 1830, that no part of that Bill should be so construed as to authorize measures in violation of any of the treaties existing between the United States and any of the Indian tribes.

The Intercourse Law of 1802, especially sections 14, 15, 16, and 17, gives expressly to the Courts of the United States with the Indians, within the country, to the exclusion of the Courts of any State.

But even if the right of jurisdiction claimed by the State of Georgia should be admitted, the teachers and missionaries are confident, as are your memorialist, that they have a right so far as the authority of any state is concerned, to a quiet residence and prosecution of any lawful employment in the Cherokee Nation, according to that clause of the Constitution of the United States which declares that 'the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.'

With the stipulations and provisions of these treaties, and of the Intercourse Law of 1802 before them with all the light that has been thrown on their meaning by a course of proceedings based upon them and continued unvaried through more than forty years and under the direction of six different Presidents, the missionaries were confident, and your memorialist are confident, that they could not be mistaken in their conclusion, that the sole and exclusive jurisdiction over the Cherokee country is vested in the Cherokees; that while residing among said Cherokees they were amenable to no civil or military authority but that of the Cherokees and that of the United States as specified in the treaties; and that all interference of the civil or military authorities of the State of Georgia, or of nay other state would be a gross violation of their rights as citizens of the United States.

But on the 12th, 13th, and 14th of March last, while relying on the protection vouchsafed to them by the Constitution of the United States, and by treaties, Mr. Isaac Proctor, Rev. Samuel A. Worcester, Rev. John Thompson, teachers and missionaries at Carmel, New Echota, and Hightower, were seized by a band of twenty-five armed men, with no warrant or civil precept, separated from their families, and forcibly carried to a place called Camp Gilmer, the headquarters of what is called the Georgia Guard. After being detained at this place one day, two of them were taken before the Superior Court of the State of Georgia, then sitting in Gwinnette County, and there acquitted on the ground that the law of the state respecting white residents did not apply to those missionaries and teachers of the Board, whom, having received patronage from the government of the United States, were in a sense it agents. They were all set at liberty, and returned to the peaceable prosecution of their labors after having been taken more than a hundred miles, and kept a week absent from their families, and under a strict guard.

On the 7th of May, Doctor Elizur Butler, superintendent of the school at Haweis, was arrested and taken from his house by a band of armed soldiers, acting under authority of the Governor of Georgia; and after having been carried ten or twelve miles, he was released.

About the end of May, Messrs. Butrick, Proctor, Worcester, Butler, and Thompson, received letters from the Governor of Georgia, informing them that, if they did not remove within ten days they would again be arrested. A copy of the letter to Mr. Worcester is hereunto annexed, as also the replies of Mr. Worcester and Doct. Butler.

On the 24th of June, Mr. Thompson was again arrested at Hightower; the circumstances of which are detailed in the letters of Miss Fuller, teacher at the station and a letter of Mr. Thompson himself, which also accompany this. Your memorialist request your particular attention to the treatment which this female received from Col. Nelson, the commander of the detachment, and the threatened seizure of the mission house, and what was growing in the fields.

On the 7th of July, Mr. Worcester and Doctor Butler were again arrested by armed soldiers, acting under the direction of the Governor of Georgia. The treatment which they received during the fifteen days that they were in the hands of the Georgia Guard, and the hardships and dangers to which they were exposed, are detailed in a letter of Mr. Worcester, which also accompanies this.

All this the missionaries and teachers under the patronage of your memorialist have been made to suffer, while no other crime was proved, or charged upon them, then that of being found where the government of the United States had authorized them to go, and of quietly prosecuting the work which they were in the same manner authorized to perform, and for which they have from year to year received the express approbation of the executive of the United States. They have suffered this, also, your memorialist would add, from a military force, acting under the authority of the State of Georgia, in direct violation of that clause of the Constitution which forbids any state to keep troops in time of peace. By these troops their labors have been interrupted, their persons seized, insulted, chained, and abused, torn from their families in time of sickness, driven great distances on foot, their feelings outraged, their bodies incarcerated, held by a military, the right of habeas corpus denied them, and they at length brought before courts to which they were not amenable, and finally subjected to an ignominious punishment in the penitentiary.

Your memorialist would also further state, that the right of property has been invaded. Soldiers under the authority of the State of Georgia have forcibly ejected the occupants of the mission house at Hightower, erected and owned by your memorialist, and occupied it for quarters for themselves, in direct violation of that clause of the Constitution which declares that 'no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner.' They have appropriated to their own use, or destroyed, household furniture and other property, and appropriated for food of forage the corn and other vegetables which they found in the fields. They have also asserted a claim to the buildings, improvements, and other property, belonging to your memorialist at other stations, and threatened to eject the mission families.

Having thus presented the grievances which the teachers and missionaries under the patronage of this Board are enduring, and the dangers to which their persons are exposed, your memorialist pray that the arm of the executive may be interposed for their protection and deliverance; that they may be secured in the peaceful prosecution of their labors for the instruction of the Cherokees unmolested by the civil or military officers of the State of Georgia; that as citizens of the United States, they may not be liable to arrest, separation from their families, abuse and imprisonment by armed soldiers; that if charges ar alleged against them, they may be brought to trial before an impartial tribunal, competent to the jurisdiction of the case.

Your memorialist would further pray that the Attorney General may be directed to commence a suit in the Courts of the United States against the offending officers of the State of Georgia, for the false imprisonment, and other injurious treatment of the teachers and missionaries, in violation of the treaties and laws of the Union and their rights as citizens of the same.

And your memorialist, as in duty bound, will ever pray. By order of the Board.


Chairman of the Prudential Com.

Reply of the Secretary of War to the above memorial.


Nov. 14, 1831.

Sir: I have received and submitted to the President the memorial of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, transmitted in your letter of the 3d. inst., and I am instructed by him to inform you, that having on mature consideration satisfied himself that the Legislatures of the respective States have power to extend their laws over all persons living within their boundaries, and that, when thus extended, the various acts of Congress, providing a mode of proceeding in cases of Indian intercourse, inconsistent with these laws, become inoperative, he has no authority to interfere, under the circumstances stated in the memorial.

I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully

Your obedient Servant.,

(Signed) LEWIS CASS.

William Reed: Esq. Chairman of the Prudential Committee of the A.B. C. F. M.; Boston.

The following is the letter referred to in the memorial from Mr. Crawford, then Secretary of War, to Mr. Kingsbury, giving permission to the missionaries and teachers of the Board to enter the Cherokee country, and assuring them of the countenance and aid of the United States Government. The other letters from the War Department to the officers and missionaries of the Board, written subsequently, and forwarded with the memorial to the President, are similar in their purport to the letter of Mr. Crawford; but as they are written as circumstances called them forth, they are more particular and explicit.

The documents which are stated in the memorial to have been forwarded to the President, relating to the arrest, trial, and imprisonment of the missionaries, and to the seizure of the mission property, have already been published so extensively, that it is not deemed necessary to insert them here.


Letter of Wm. H. Crawford to Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury.


14th May 1816.

Sir: your letter of the 2d. instant, upon the subject of establishing schools in the Cherokee Nation, has been received.

The President approves of the undertaking, and will direct such aid to be given as the laws will permit.

In the first instance, the Agent will be directed to erect a comfortable school house, and another for the teacher and such as may board with him, in such part of the Nation as shall be selected for that purpose.- He will also be directed to furnish two ploughs, six hoes, and as many axes, for the purpose of introducing the art of cultivation among the pupils.

Whenever he is informed that female children are received ' brought in the school, and that a female teacher has been engaged capable of teaching them to spin, weave, and sewing, a loom and a half dozen spinning wheels, and as many pair of cards, will be furnished. He will be directed, from time to time, to cause other school houses to be erected, as they shall become necessary, and as the expectation of ultimate success shall justify the expenditure.

The houses thus erected, and implements of husbandry and of the mechanical arts which shall be furnished, will remain public property, to be employed for the benefit of the nation. If the persons who are about to engage in this enterprize would abandon it, the buildings and utensils which have been furnished may be occupied by any other teachers of good moral character.

The only return which is expected by the President is, an annual report of the state of the school, its progress, and future prospects. This report should present the mode of teaching, and the deviations from that practiced in civilized life, which experience shall render necessary.

Should you succeed according to your expectations it is probable that Congress will be attracted to the subject, and that the means of rewarding your beneficent views will be liberally bestowed by that enlightened body.

I have the honor to be,

Your obedient

very humble Servant.

(Signed) WM. H. CRAWFORD.