Cherokee Phoenix


Published February, 18, 1832

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From the Poulson's Daily Advertiser



Sir:- My object in addressing you in my first letter was to make manifest that a law exists, containing the most ample provisions for the protection of the Cherokee Indians: that this law has been grossly and shamefully violated that you have no right, derived either from the Constitution, or any other source, to refuse to execute this law; and yet this law remains, notwithstanding your oath, which binds you to enforce its provisions, a dead letter! I believe I have succeeded in making out the case. I have long wished to see you shake off, with those who have counselled you thus to act, the trammels in which they unfortunately bound you. The suffering condition of the Indians, made so by this very act of desertion, of withdrawing from them the protection, guardianship, or our own laws, made expressly for their benefit, will not admit of delay. Every hour is fraught with such misery as 'mercy would weep to see inflicted on a beast.'

You will perceive, Sir, I have said not a word about the emigration of those Indians. I do not impeach your exertions to induce them to remove, whilst these are confined to the laws. You may think it best for them. I am sure you think it is so. You are bound by the compact of 1802 to do all you can; consistent with the laws and the provisions of that compact, to procure their assent to remove, and possess Georgia of so much of their country as is within the limits of that state. But you have no right by direct means, to employ force to expel them. I know many insist upon it that you have not done this. True, in one sense you have not-you have not ordered them to leave the country, and sent a force to compel obedience to this order--but, unfortunately for the Indians, for your own honor, and the honor of the nation, you have refused to extend to them the protection which our laws guarantee, left to the operations of other laws, which they fear more than they fear guns, and thus you have commanded them to go, and become, indirectly the instrument of their oppression.-- You tell them, it is true, to 'remain if they choose'--but you look on with the power in your hand to prevent it, and a solemn obligation to employ that power, and see their country spread over with man traps and spring guns, and those weak and dependent human beings who have always been endearingly called 'children', and who have been taught to call the President of the United States 'Father', and to rely on his paternal kindness as such, crippled and jaded, and made miserable, and some of them actually killed! Yes, Sir, whilst you have refused them the benefit of our own laws, which you are bound to execute, by the same obligations that bind you to execute all other laws, the soil of their country has been moistened with their blood: and under the operations of this very system of indirect expulsion has one, at least, been hurried to the gallows and hung! Tassells might have deserved this fate.--Yet if he did, there exist laws passed by Congress of the United States, by which alone he ought to have been tried, and by which alone, if he merited it, he could be legally punished.

Did you stand alone, and unprovided with the power--were there no laws for your government--or if there had been an omission to possess you of the requisite power to enforce them, then indeed would the whole subject be changed. How sincerely for your sake, and for my country's sake, would I rejoice if this were so; because then none could condemn you, and our country would be free from this blot which now so disfigures it. Then indeed, would the responsibility rest on those who might unjustly and inhumanly carry such suffering into the families of the Cherokees. All would pity the condition of a people thus distressed, and no doubt Congress would seek to alleviate, if not relieve those sufferings.-- Is it asked why the Congress do not now act? I would ask how act? Suppose a law were passed tomorrow, could it be worded to contain more ample provision for the entire relief of these people than is contained in my first letter? Would a law, if passed tomorrow, having this great object in view, be more binding on you than that? I answer, it could not be. Nay, would it come to you with the same sanctions? Would it command itself to your illustrious predecessors--of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams? Then why refer this question to the Congress for extra legislation? As well might you require new laws for all other subjects, for the government of which laws already exist.

No, Sir, rely upon the candid statement of one who is not your enemy, when he assures you the responsibility of this momentous business is wholly yours. You cannot divide it. It rests with its terrible weight on your own, and will make part of your history.

It is true that Congress have the power to act even if it should choose to act so strange a parts as to enact another law on the face of the existing one. This, that body is competent to. But it is too wise thus to spend time in extra-legislation. There is a course however which it may take, and which the circumstances of this case seem to require it to adopt. An inquiry can be instituted to ascertain 'why the existing laws are not enforced, and by what authority you have decided that you will not enforce them.' Out of this would grow measures of some kind, that would secure to the Cherokee Indians the justice they have so long sought in vain.

I would not wish to embarrass the question of emigration. I have views of this subject which I may present to you. I repeat it, I consider it to be wholly distinct from that branch of the subject to which I am endeavoring to call your attention. Indeed Sir, a juster (sic) treatment, kindness, if you please, not only becomes the majesty of a great people, when acting towards a feeble race, but it is the only, or at least the most powerful argument with which to win over our Indians.

To carry into full effect the obligation to Georgia arising out of the compact with her, and as made between that state and the United States, and which obliges the latter to extinguish the Indian title to lands within the chartered limits of the former 'whenever that can be done on REASONABLE and peaceable terms.'---I say to carry this obligation into full and complete effect, the Indians should have been so dealt with by Georgia and the United States, as to have secured the confidence in the

justice and benevolence and liberality of both.

This Sir, was the policy of the past administrations. Their success was correspondingly great. Harshness, force, direct, or indirect, were never heretofore employed. Had it been, what has been done, would never have been accomplished. An Indian, Sir, is a human being. He is like ourselves, to be won by kindness.--But not driven. You have, therefore, by the loss of their confidence lost much, if not all the prospect of inducing them to remove; and if they do go, it will be to fly the miseries which it is not given to human beings to endure! And what a spectacle to the world will this be!

Will you not interpose the authority you have , and give peace to these people once more? Will you not do it speedily? Will you not stop the 'survey' making under the direction of Georgia in direct violation of the law of Congress? Will you not in the evening of your days send to the hearts of thousands the cheering declaration that the laws made for their protection shall be enforced? Do this for our country's sake--For your own sake, and for the sake of those who look so imploringly to you, and call you 'Father', and say in the sorrow of their hearts---'PITY YOUR POOR RED CHILDREN.'


P. S. There are some other matters connected with this subject which I may at some moment of leisure present to you.