New York, February 3.
Yesterday evening, pursuant to notice, a large concourse of citizens, among whom were recognized many of the most respectable in our city, assembled at Clinton Hall, to take into consideration the oppressions under which the Cherokee people labor, and the means most proper to adopt for their relief.
On motion of Wm. W. Woolsey, Esq. General James Tallmadge was called to preside and Dr Samuel Akerly and T. G. Fessenden, Esq. appointed Secretaries of the meeting.
The chairman brief(sic) explained the situation of the Cherokees and the particular object of their call upon the liberality of our citizen (sic). The recent adjudication of the Supreme Court of the United States in their suit against Georgia, did not conclude all their rights. They claimed to be a foreign nation, and that decision cannot be deemed a foreign nation, but are a domestic people,under the pupilage or guardianship and entitled to the protection of the United States. Their present claim therefore does not come in conflict with the decision of the Supreme Court, but admits it,and assuming that they are our wards, claim protection from their guardians.
J. Ridge, one of the representatives of the Cherokee Nation, then addressed the audience. He is rather tall ' slender in his person, erect, with a profusion of black hair, a shade less swarthy, and with less prominence of the cheek bones than our western Indians. His voice is full and melodious, his language chaste and correct, his elocution fluent, and without the least observable tincture of foreign accent or Indian. Even his metaphors were rarely drawn from the forest; and he had little or none of that vehement action that characterizes the orators of uncivilized tribes. He commenced by observing that the course which nation had taken in controversy with Georgia, since the withdrawal of the protection of the United States had been one of peace. It was their wish to main the relations of friendship, and to have their case decided by a legal and proper tribunal. It would be unbecoming in him, he said, to utter invectives against Georgia, whatever might be the wrong his people had endured, and he should content himself for the present with referring to the origin of the relations between the United States and the Southwestern Indians. In this city, said he, and almost in the very spot where I am standing, was given the first pledge to the Creeks by General Washington. The people of the United States had been just come out of the War of the Revolution. The Southwestern Indians were then strong, warlike,and savage. They then knew but little comparatively of the white men; but it had somehow reached their ears from the Southern continent that Guatemazin (?) had not reposed upon a bed of flowers, and that the Incas of Peru had been sacrificed by their invaders.
Hence it was an important object with this government, when weak and unsettled, to remove those unfavorable impressions from the minds of their warlike neighbors. Gen. Washington approached them in friendship, and proposed to be their father. He told them that their talk should be put down in writing and that landmarks agreed upon between them should remain forever until the world should be destroyed by flood or fire. A treaty was concluded at Hopewell accordingly in 1785, solemnly ratified, and recognized explained and confirmed by other treaties, but the original remaining inviolate until 1819. In the meantime, yielding to the advice of their father General Washington, the Cherokees changed their savage habits and barbarous customs, established schools and adopted other improvements of civilization and I stand here said he, a monument of the benefits from Missionary schools in my country.- From war and the chase they turned their attention to agriculture, and the reformation of their form of government. To this they were particularly advised by President Jefferson, who gave instruction for that purpose to my father, which are now in my pocket. In obedience to this injunction our people took a republican constitution. Our chiefs who held their offices for life resigned them. The nation was divided into eight counties. Courts of justice were established, both supreme and inferior, with the right of appeal from the latter to the former. Trial by jury was also instituted, and our rulers chosen by the people. Our head chiefs, instead of holding his place for life, as formerly, held it now for four years only; and it is wrong to say, as has been said that the Chiefs were the cause of this controversy, for if either are in advance of the other, it is the people. Mr. R. then adverted to other improvements they had made-to the invention of a written character, by a Cherokee, who did not then and does not now understand the English language. He also alluded to the labors of a Cherokee who itinerates(sic) the country to supply the place of the white missionaries, who are now imprisoned in the Georgia penitentiary. His countrymen he said, harbored no envious feelings towards the prosperity of their neighbors. They had seen them grow up strong and powerful, and rejoiced in it. They had never wished that those great cities should be razed to the ground, and the smoke of the wigwam should again ascend in their place.
Mr. R. then adverted more particularly to the relations between the Cherokees and Georgia. He would say nothing of the intentions of two British Kings, when he made the patent under which Georgia was settled. Gen. Oglethorpe however, who landed at Savannah in 1733-ninety nine years ago; spoke to them in the language of Friendship. The Indians were then fierce and strong, but they listened to Gen Oglethorpe, and granted his requests. But he (Mr. R.) believes that Gen. Oglethorpe was a just man, and never anticipated that the descendants of his followers would extinguish the Council fires of the Indians and drag their chiefs like culprits from their territory.
Mr. Ridge then went into a concise but clear exposition of the conduct of Georgia, most of the facts of which are already known to the public. He adverted to their long acquiescence in the claims of the Indians, and of their repeated acknowledgments of them to the full extent now claimed. He also alluded to the establishment of a military force upon their territory, and enumerated four of five cases of gross and wanton outrage upon the rights of his countrymen. Of the missionaries who had been imprisoned, would only say that they were good men. Mr. Worcester was a minister, and Dr. Butler a physician. As they were Americans it was proper for him to leave such vindication to the American people.
But it has been asked why they did not appeal to the President In reply he said that they had sent four delegations to Washington, for four successive winters-not to beg for money, and to ask for justice-that they might enjoy the privileges of freemen on their own soil. But the President said he could not protect them in that he believed Georgia was in the right. Congress, it is true, had not refused-but they had granted them no redress, and seem disposed only to blaze* a path for them to the Western wilderness. We are required to leave the houses we have built, the farms we have cleared, the orchards we have reared, the schools we have established, and the graves of our fathers, and wind our way far beyond the abode of civilized man. But we do not choose to hazard the experiment. A case is before us. The same inducements were held out to the Choctaws, and the only suitable territory they could find was assigned to them for settlement. They removed; and then similar offers were made to the Chickasaws, but for them no proper settlement could be found. The consequence has been that a portion of the lands belonging to the Choctaws is required for the Chickasaws, and negotiations have been entered into for that purpose. Besides, our nation is now civilized and the far distant wilderness is no place for a civilized people to go to. There is no land fit for the habitation of a civilized community in that quarter.
There were many other circumstances and facts on which he might comment. But he would be brief. It was reserved to the Cherokee Nation to test the faith of the U. States in the most peaceable manner. They had seen the native inhabitants in the East and North melt before the whites like the snow, and dispersed like the leaves of the trees in autumn. But the Cherokees, under the fostering care of the United States have flourished for forty years. To all the requests and advice of their Great Fathers they have acceded. They have left the warrior and the hunter state for the agricultural and all they now want is to be protected in the enjoyment of their possessions, guaranteed to them by solemn treaties and laws, never until recently called into question.
It was unpleasant, he said, to stand here and set forth the suffrages of this nation, but the people of the U.S. were a people of sentiment, ' as they could feel and sympathize, so they would act, he doubted not, in conformity to the principles of justice.
After a few more observations, Mr. Ridge concluded amid the applause of the audience.
*The term BLAZE, as here used, may not be familiar to our readers. It consists in scoring off the bark and some of the wood from trees in the forests, so as to be conspicuous to the traveller in his journey into the wilderness. It is the rudest substitute for a path, and was the only guide for many years from Utica Canandaigua, through the then thick and trackless woods of the intervening counties.
Wm. Emerson, Esq. then arose, and after some pertinent remarks, concluded with submitting to the meeting the following preamble and resolutions:-
Whereas, by virtue of various treaties between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, the rights of the latter to their lands have been (solemnly) guaranteed to them; and whereas, the State of Georgia, disregarding the obligation of those treaties which are part of the supreme law of the land, has passed laws annexing the Cherokee lands to her own counties, and whereas, an attempt to bring the proceeding of Georgia within the control of the Supreme Court of the United States has failed,chiefly on technical grounds; and whereas the Legislature of Georgia has manifested a determination to prevent this subject from being brought before the Supreme Court of the U. States; therefore-
Resolved, That we view with deep regret the course of policy pursued by the State of Georgia towards the Cherokee Nation, as subversive of the principles of humanity, justice, and equal law.
Resolved, That regarding the Cherokees, in relation to the United States as a domestic and dependent nation, and in a state of pupilage or guardianship, it is incumbent on the citizens of the United States to see the rights of this dependent people fairly investigated and full sustained.
Resolved, That a memorial to Congress be prepared, and presented to the citizens of New York for signature, earnestly and respectfully urging upon the national legislature that the several treaties with the Cherokee Nation, and the law to prevent intrusions on their lands, be carried into full effect, or that by some mode of legislative act, the expectations which that nation has by the federal government, been uniformly cherished, may be realized.
Resolved, That a standing Committee, with power to select an Executive Committee from their own number, be appointed, whose duty it shall be to diffuse information on the subject of the condition and rights of the Cherokee Nation, to collect funds and apply the same in the necessary expenses of maintaining their rights before all proper tribunals, and otherwise as the committee may deem est, and to adopt such measures as in their opinion will best promote the objects of this meeting.
The resolutions were seconded by Joseph L Blunt, Esq. and supported in an able and forcible speech. He was followed by Messrs: M.V. Paterson and H. Ketchum who depicted the wrongs of the Indians in fervid and glowing eloquence.
A subscription was then entered into, but the amount of it we have not learned.
The question upon the resolutions was next taken, and they were adopted.
The following gentlemen were appointed to constitute the standing committee.
Standing Committee. Chancellor Kent, President Duer, Rev. D. Milnor, George Griswold, George Newhold, William W. Woolsey, John Nitchie, Eleazer Lord, Dr.John Griscom, Theodore Dwight, Arthur Tappan, Seth P. Staples, James G. King, Benj. L. Swan, Phillip Hone, John W. Leavitt, Sheppard Knapp, Morris Robinson, Robert Sedgwick, Samuel Hicks, Dr. Samuel Akerly, Samuel A. Foot, Frederick A. Tracy, Eli Goodwin, Dr. Ives, Morris Ketchum. Thomas Eessenden, Wm. Emerson, Joseph Blunt, Gen. Talmage, M. C. Paterson.--Com. Adv.