Cherokee Phoenix


Published March, 10, 1832

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From the Poulson's Daily Advertiser


No. VI

Sir:- I endeavored in my last letter to explain my views respecting Indian emigration; and the principles on which alone it ought to be conducted. Admonished by the limits properly prescribed to me in addresses conveyed through the columns of a newspaper, I have been brief. The subjects I have presented to your are, however, susceptible of more extensive illustration . In abler hands they may receive it. If I have awakened public attention to them, the end I have in view may, at last, (as I sincerely hope it may,) be answered. That end is justice towards a people who have claims to its exercise, which we have no right, if we have the power, to withhold.

I proceed in this letter to disclose the baleful effects of your measures touching Indian Affairs, upon persons other than Indians. I never recur to this subject without shuddering!- Great wisdom and caution and experience, believe me sir, are required, in one who undertakes to discharge the various and complex duties of the Executive of the United States. A single mistake, or wrong decision, or failure, faithfully to execute the law, may produce effects incalculably injurious to various persons and interests. Your wrong decision respecting the laws and treaties by which it was intended to regulate our Indian concerns has produced fatal consequences to the Indians-and wounded the honor of the nation. But the evil has not stopped there. You have in that same decision, made slaves of Freemen!- And as I shall show before I conclude this letter, immured, with their imprisoned bodies, in a loathsome penitentiary, a portion at least, of the National Sovereignty!!!

I have reference, Sir, to the Rev. Mr. Worcester, and his companion in ignominy- two missionaries now confined in the Penitentiary of Georgia. But who are these convicts!- What have they done to merit such incarceration! We shall see.

The Rev. Mr. Worcester and his companion, are Citizens of the Republic-born free as you or I.--They are embraced in the provisions of the same charter which secures to us our liberties. They are members, Sir, of the Church of the Common Redeemer, and ministers of his gospel. Their lives have been devoted to improve the condition of their fellow men. They have lived without shame and without reproach, patterns of social and moral virtues. They are missionaries. This word Sir, imports much. Such as take upon themselves the duties of missionaries, are men who engage in the labor of conferring gospel and other benefits on the Heathen.--They seek out the habitations of cruelty-forego the pleasures of home, neighborhood, friends, preferment, wealth, and its distinctions, and go into desert places to recover, and mould rude man into the shape of his more enlightened brothers. Such a calling, Sir, is a holy calling. Motives leading to such efforts and sacrifices as these,are holy motives. Yet it was such a calling, such motives that led Mr. Worcester and his companions into the Country of the Cherokees.

But under what auspices did they go? Were they intruders? Did they violate any law in going there, or rupture the provisions of any Treaty? No sir, far from it they acted under the express and written sanction of the Executive of the United States, and under its authority, and at the earnest request of the Cherokees. Thus went under the protection of law, and in conformity to law, and as agents of the General Government. I will explain all this.

By act of Congress approved March 3, 1819, the annual sum of $10,000 is appropriated for the civilization of the Indian Tribes. The 1st Section of said act is in the words following.

'Be it enacted 'c 'c That for the purpose of providing against the further decline and final extinction the Indian Tribes, adjoining to the frontier settlements of the United States, and for introducing among them the habits and arts of civilization, the President of the U. States shall be, and he is hereby authorized, in every case where he shall judge improvement in the habits and condition of such Indians practicable, and that the means of instruction can be introduced with their own consent, TO EMPLOY CAPABLE PERSONS, of good moral character to instruct them in the mode of agriculture suited to their situation; and for teaching their children in reading, writing and arithmetic, and for performing such other duties as may be enjoined according to such instructions and rules as the President may give and prescribe for the regulations of their conduct in the discharge of their duties.'

By virtue of this act, Mr. Calhoun, in his capacity as Secretary of War, issued a regulation in the name of the President for the application of this fund. In order, he says, to render the sum of ten thousand dollars, annually appropriated at the last session of Congress for the civilization of the Indians, as extensively beneficial as possible, the President is of opinion that it ought to be applied in cooperation with the exertions of benevolent associations or individuals, who may choose to devote their time or means to effect the object contemplated by the act of Congress.' The plan of instruction is then introduced. He then proceeds; 'it is also indispensable that the establishment should be fixed within the limits of those Indian nations who border on our settlements.' A call is then made upon such association s or individuals who are already actually engaged in educating the Indians, and who may desire the cooperation of the Government to report to the Department of War, 'c 'c. This circular was published in September 1819. In the following February another circular was issued containing the plan on which the schools should be conducted, and stipulating in what manner and under what forms the Government appropriation would be disposed of.

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the seat of whose operations is in Boston, and others, engaged, on the basis of the regulations for the application of this fund, to establish schools in various places. The American Board and others did establish schools 'within the limit' of the Cherokee Nation. Mr. Worcester and his companions are the authorized agents of this board, and acted as Trustees for the General Government, in the application of that portion of the annual appropriation assigned to the schools in their charge, and also as agents of the General Government, making their annual reports, as required by the regulations established to give effect and efficacy to the law providing the means to carry on the work in which they were engaged. Post Masters appointed by the Post Master General are no more officers of the General Government, than are Mr. Worcester and his associates. In both cases they act under a law of Congress, have charge of and are accountable for the public money, ' are required to make periodical returns 'c.

Allow me sir, to digress a little at this point. I will return to it presently. The lamented and patriotic Monroe on his return from his northwestern tour, made a visit to one at least of these schools in the Cherokee Nation. Seeing the extensive benefits these good people were conferred on the Indians, and learning that they were streightened(sic) for funds to make comfortable some of the buildings, authorized the expenditure of adequate sum for that object. The bounty of Congress, and the Executive favor, together with the great exertions of the parent board in collecting means, and the fidelity observed in their application, soon produced a powerful effect upon the minds of the Cherokees. They saw and felt in the persons of their offspring, the salutary effects of such establishments, and gave to them their decided support. The time appeared to have arrived when the desert was on the eve of blossoming, and the question forever settled as to the capacity of Indians to receive and practice the lessons of civilization and Christianity. There is a good deal of interest, sir, in this subject, but I forbear a further reference to it. So much appeared to be necessary to show the connection of these missionaries now in the penitentiary of Georgia, with the General Government, and auspices under which they went among the Cherokees, the object they had in going there, and the treatment they and their charge received at the hands of your predecessor, the patriotic Monroe.

When we look at the proceedings against these good men, under a municipal law of Georgia, and at their present lamentable condition, we are naturally led to inquire, whether the law of Congress, under the authority of which they were acting, when seized by the officers of Georgia, is repealed, or whether the regulations of the President, issued by his War Minister, are canceled, or whether the American Board of Commissioners were informed that their services were no longer required, or the agents, Messrs. Worcester, 'c, recalled? The law, Sir, is yet a law-the regulations of the enlightened Calhoun are yet uncancelled-and so far as the Board of Commissioners,' the Agents to the Indians are concerned, their part of the obligation is yet binding, they having not resigned it, nor you canceled it, nor have you canceled the regulations under which they engaged to act.


under such circumstances you have sat quietly by, and seen those free men, American citizens, the Agents of the Board of Commissioners, and of the United States, with commissions in their pockets, obliging them to carry into effect a law of Congress, 'within the limits' of the Cherokee Nation, where the law directed they should be, torn from their families, their charge, and from their duties to the Union dragged out of those 'limits' tried by laws to which they were not amenable, committed, and sentenced as convicts, and confined within the walls of a prison, in the State of Georgia, without making one effort to stop a proceeding so derogatory to the laws and the honor of the U. States!

I have said, Sir, that along with the bodies of those men, in their loathsome prison lies also a portion of the National Sovereignty. If the Sovereignty of the nation is understood to center in a Minister, at a Foreign Court, and any outrage upon his person is considered an insult to the nation he represents, and resented as such, so in like manner are agents of all grades who are delegated to represent the Government: and execute any portion of the laws, depositories of so much of the National Sovereignty as the laws, with the execution of which they may be charged, may embrace. All those Missionaries, if you please the little fingers of the Executive hand--but they are part of the national body--Georgia, Sir, has no more right to strike them down, under the circumstances of their relation to the General Government, than she has to arrest and try, under the same law, a Commissioner of the United States, a Postmaster, or any other person acting under the authority of a law of Congress.

It is thus, Sir, that you have yielded up to contumely and dishonor, a portion of our Sovereignty. When Georgia, intent on her purpose to enforce her law upon those citizens, discovered that Mr. Worcester bore the commission of Postmaster, which shielded him, and you were informed of this barrier to his arrest, you ordered it taken from him, and then it was thought the way to the victim was clear. You either knew, or did not know, of those other relations which those Missionaries hold to the General Government. If you were informed of these, then have you knowingly surrendered to be dishonored, a portion of the National Sovereignty. If you did not know of the existence of the connection between the Missionaries and the United S. it is not less a subject of complaint and regret. The facts are as I have stated them. I will do you the justice to believe, that when you permitted this outrage to be committed, you did not know, but perhaps one of your immediate advisors knew the relations that existed between Mr. Worcester and his associates, and the Government of the United States. The dilemma is, I confess a deplorable one, and believe me, Sir, I sincerely regret it.

If in concert with Georgia, in this business of expelling the Cherokees from their country, by indirect force, you had adopted the course which was legally in your power, you would have avoided the painful dilemma in which you now are. It was legal for you not to nullify the act of 3d March, 1819, or to have withdrawn the appropriation it makes for the civilization of the Indians, but to cancel the regulations framed with so much wisdom by Mr. Calhoun, and to cancel, also, the authority under which Mr. Worcester and his friends were as agents of the United States, acting. In this case those good men would doubtless have returned to their houses. You might then have framed regulation of your own and appointed one of your friends to go and act under them. But Sir, whilst the act of 3d March, 1819 continues unrepealed, you are bound to apply its provisions, under some form. But how is it? Those who were applying the provisions of this law, faithfully, unexceptionably, and conforming in all things to the regulations, are, together, with their powers to comply with the law, uncancelled, and themselves unrecalled, locked up in the penitentiary of a neighboring state!

Believe me, Sir, if a state can, as I have before said, by a single municipal regulation make a dead letter of a law of Congress, our federal union is but a thing in name. Georgia has not enacted in so many words that the act of 3d March, 1819, shall be considered, and treated as null and void but if she can arrest and drag from their duties and lock up in her penitentiaries, those who are sent by the Executive of the United States to execute a law of Congress, ' or to whom the Congress refers the execution of laws, and gives the power to enforce them, will acquiesce in it, as you have done in this case, then Sir, a law of Congress ceases to be an object either of obligation or respect.

It is very painful to me Sir, thus to address you. But the subject is in my opinion of deep and abiding interest. It is one that appeals to every heart in which patriotism lives, or a respect for the laws and the honor of the nation are cherished. It appeals to every father. -Yes Sir, for where is the Father who would not deeply feel to see his sons, his unoffending sons, thus cruelly, and illegally punished Lives there a mother whose bosom would not throb in agony on learning that such a fate had overtaken those who derived their being from her, and over whom she had watched, and prayed, with a mother's tenderness? And where is the wife whose heart would not break at tidings of such doleful sort? Nothing Sir, but the known innocence of the victims could enable their kindred and friends to endure the pain and mortification of their being confined with convicts, with the badges of disgrace on their bodies, and made to obey, as criminals the orders of an overseer, or task master in performing such labor as he might think proper to assign to them.

Indeed, Sir, I am surprised that when the tidings of this great sacrifice of personal liberty, and national honor went the rounds of our country, the hearts of millions did not resolve on rescuing both. I am surprised, aye, more than that. -An ominous dread seizes me when I reflect that in such a country as this-liberty's dwelling place--the home of freedom and of freemen, a demand for the immediate release of those persecuted citizens, and the rescue of the Sovereignty of the nation, and a proper indemnity, does not resound from the end of the nation to the other! 'I AM A ROMAN CITIZEN' were the words spoken by one of Rome's sons, was enough to rouse into action Rome's energies. But in this land of the free, we look on and see Freedom torn from the possession of our brother's who were born to inheritance and have done nothing to forfeit it-torn from them in the very face of the law, whilst they were fulfilling the provision of law, and the silence of desert reigns?* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Is not this ominous? Is it-but I will say no more; I submit the subject to your conscience, to the inspection and judgment of Congress and the people.