Cherokee Phoenix


Published March, 17, 1832

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On last Tuesday, a company of the Georgia Guard visited a school on this place under the care of Miss Sawyer, a missionary under the American Board. It had been understood by them that she had been giving instruction to a little black boy and teaching him to read the Bible. Miss Sawyer was warned by a Sergeant who commanded the Guard, to forthwith desist from teaching the black boy. It appeared that at the last sitting of the Legislature of Georgia, an act was passed making it unlawful for any person to give instruction to any black person in the state, under the penalty of a fine of not less than $1000 or exceeding $5000 and imprisonment until the fine is paid for every such offence. Whether Miss Sawyer had ever heard of the existence of such a law before she took the boy into school we are not able to say; but it is very likely she never had. She was promised to be arraigned at the next Superior Court in the newly formed city called 'Cherokee' on the fourth Monday of this month provided she persists in teaching the boy.

The Guard arrested two young white men, a few miles from the place; Robert Agnew ' Jack Murey, the former had been living in the neighborhood where he was arrested two or three years, the other lives on the Alabama side of the nation. A Cherokee was along with the Guard, by the name of Eli Hicks. Whether he received his $20 per month, the wages allowed by the State of Georgia to each private of the Guard, or whether he volunteered his services gratis, we are not able to tell.



January 31


The House having resumed the consideration of the motion of Mr. Everet, of Massachusetts, calling for a copy of the Chickasaw Treaty of September 1830-

Mr. Everet addressed the House to the following effect:

Mr. Speaker: when this subject was up last week I stated some of the considerations which had induced me to move this call, to which I will now revert. It will be remembered that in May 1830, the law was passed for the removal of the Indians. The public papers apprized us, in the course of the following summer, of the steps taken by the Executive Government to carry the law into effect. The President of the United States, in person, and the late Secretary of War, repaired to Franklin, in Tennessee where they were met by a deputation of the Chickasaw tribe of Indians, with whom the Secretary of War and Gen. John Coffee were commissioned to negotiate a treaty. The same gentlemen, with a similar commission repaired to the Choctaw country. At the commencement of the next session of Congress, it was officially announced to the two houses, both by the Secretary of War and the President of the United States, that treaties had been negotiated with the Choctaws and Chickasaws, under the provisions of the law of May, 1830, which it was promised should, in due time, be communicated: they being according to the expression of the Secretary of War, ready for submission. The Choctaw Treaty was submitted to the Senate, and after the preamble was struck out, was confirmed. An appropriation was then asked to carry it into effect, and pending the appropriation bill, the Treaty was , on call of this House, communicated to us. Of the Chickasaw Treaty nothing was said; nor did it appear by any subsequent doings, whether it had been communicated to the Senate; and if not, why it was withheld. I confess, Sir, I thought at the time, that this was a state of things which required explanation.

At the opening of the present session of Congress, these treaties were again alluded to by the President of the United States. In his annual Message, he tells the two Houses that at the last session he had the happiness to announce that the Chickasaws and Choctaws had accepted the generous offer of the Government, and agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi River, by which the whole of the State of Mississippi and the Western part of Alabama will be freed from Indian occupancy, and opened to a civilized population. The treaties with these tribes are in a course of execution and their removal it is hoped will be completed in 1832.

It is unnecessary to state that this was a language not which tended to throw much light on the subject.- The gentleman from Tennessee, Col. Isacks, who spoke the other day expressed the opinion that the Secretary of War had used a loose and unguarded language the year before in speaking of the Chickasaw Treaty, as ready for submission. In what light should he view the language of the President who speaks of it as in a course of execution a treaty never, as it seems, submitted to the Senate?

The uncertainty as to the real state of the case was indicated by what is said on the subject in the letter of the superintendent of the Indian Bureau communicated to Congress, among the documents from the Department of War, at the opening of the session. It is there stated that 'the Chickasaw Indians, who are disposed to follow their friends and neighbors the Choctaws, and to reside near them, have not yet been provided with suitable lands. For the purpose of procuring such for their accommodation, it became necessary to effect an arrangement with the Chickasaws for a cession of a part of their country West. Major John H. Eaton and General John Coffee have accordingly been constituted commissioners to treat with the Choctaws for this object.'

Now, Sir, gentlemen will remember that two years ago a very prominent argument in favor of this policy of removal was, that the new territory granted to the Indians should be unalienably secured them. They were west of the Mississippi to be placed beyond the grasp of our treaties and our laws. The President in speaking of the treaties negotiated with the Choctaws and Chickasaws in 1830 says, that as they are probably the last that ever will be negotiated with them, the terms are liberal. It was also stipulated by the law of 1830 that there was not the least hope nor possibility of redeeming these pledges. Now what is the fact? Eighteen months have now passed away, and Commissioners are already at work with the Choctaws to procure from them a cession of land, enough to receive the entire Chickasaw tribe of Indians. No one can doubt, whatever appearance this cession may assume, it will in reality be compulsory.

Putting all these things together, Sir, they did seem to me to form a proper subject of inquiry; and such an inquiry it has been my purpose, for sometime, to attempt, with the leave of this House, to institute. While employed in seeking information on this subject, suggestions were made to me that there were matters of a private character connected with the Chickasaw Treaty, which required to be looked into, and made the subject of investigation here. Having satisfied myself, beyond the possibility of doubt, I do not say of the truth of the suggestions, but of the existence of facts, which it was the duty of this House to inquire into. I did on the first opportunity which presented itself ask for a copy of the treaty, not supposing it could, by any gentleman, be thought unreasonable to desire to see a treaty which was declared to be ready for submission a year ago, and at the opening of this session, said to be on 'a course of execution.' It has been objected, however, that this treaty is not ratified, and that for this House to ask to see it, is to invade the prerogatives of the Senate. I do not attach much force to these objections, but I have after mature consideration and opportunity of examining the subject, deemed it expedient to waive, for the present a call for those parts of the treaty which are confined to the only proper object of the negotiation, the removal of the Indians; at the same time, I am free to confess that I perceive no evil to the public service, which could result from their communication. I feel it my duty also to state that circumstances will very probably occur, in the course of the cession, which will make it my duty to renew the call.

I confess, Sir, that not the smallest motive which has led me to waive a call, which would have opened to us a discussion of the whole merits of the policy of removing the Indians,has been a consciousness that is the subject which divides the House. Whereas in confining the inquiry to the private transaction, to which I shall immediately advert, I hope to carry with me, I had almost said the unruinous (sic) concurrence of those whom I have the honor to address.- If in this expectation I am too sanguine, I may at least flatter myself that no one who hears me ' knows me will suspect me of the smallest portion of ill will toward the individuals, whose conduct I call in question .

To understand this affair, then sir, it is necessary to go back to the date of the Chickasaw Treaty of 1818 by which the Western district of Tennessee was ceded to the United S. By that treaty the title of the Chickasaw tribe of Indians was extinguished to all the land in the State of Tennessee and Kentucky, lying west of the Tennessee River, a tract, I take it, at least of 10,000 square miles, which has within twelve years become the abode of 150,000 or 200,000 citizens, and will be unquestionably in the next Congress be represented by three, if not four members.

In making this cession, sundry reservations, as is usual in Indian treaties were made. Among these is one of a most peculiar character which forms the subject of the inquire, which I propose to institute. It becomes necessary accordingly to recite the 4th article of the treaty in question:

'The Commissioners agree, on the further and particular applications of the Chiefs, and for the benefit of the poor and warriors of the said nation, that a tract of land containing; four miles square, to include a salt lick, springs on or near the River Sandy, a branch of the Tennessee River, and within the land thereby ceded, be reserved, and to be laid off in a square or oblong so as to include the best timber, at the option of their beloved chiefs, Levi, Culbert, and Major James Brown, or either of them; also are hereby made agents and trustees for the nation, to lease the said salt lick or springs, on the following express conditions viz: For the benefit of this reservations as before recited, that the trustees or agents are bound to lease the said reservation to said citizen or citizens of the United States for a reasonable quantity of salt, to be paid annually to the said nation for the use thereof; and that from and after two years from the ratification of this treaty, no salt made at these works to be erected on this reservation shall be sold within the bounds of the same for a higher price than one dollar per bushel at 50 lbs. weight; on failure of which the lease shall be forfeited, and the reservation revert to the U. States.'

On the same day on which this treaty was negotiated, a lease of this reserved tract was executed by the Indian chiefs, Colbert and Brown to the present Second Auditor of the Treasury, who attended as a confidential agent of the negotiations and as a witness of the treaty. The treaty was not ratified by the Senate until the 7th Jan. 1819; and till that period a lease could lawfully be executed under it. Nevertheless, I am advised that the lease in question was presented on the 19th of Oct. 1819 the day on which the treaty was signed.

This lease was for a term, as I am informed, of 199 years, and on a rent of 750 bushels of salt annually provided salt water should be found upon the reservation. It need not be observed, that such a lease amounted in fact to an estate in fee, on an annuity of 750 bushels of salt.

This lease, I am inclined to think, was ab initio void. In the first place, it was executed before the treaty was ratified, and consequently before the Indian chiefs (named as agents by the treaty) had any authority to act in the premises; and, secondly, it was void because its conditions were at variance with those prescribed by the treaty. By the treaty it was expressly conditioned, that a reasonable quantity of salt would be annually paid, and that the salt made on the reservation should be sold for a dollar per bushel; both conditions being for the benefit of the poor and warriors of the nation. In the lease, rent is stipulated to be paid provided salt water should be found in the tract, consequently, if no water is found, the lessee has his four mile square, for 199 years, without any rent at all.

For these reasons, I am convinced the lease was void.

But, supposing it valid, the reservation appears to me at best a very suspicious and questionable transaction; and one which had it been understood, would not have received the sanction of the United States Senate. Suppose the 4th article instead of creating this anomalous trust, had consisted precisely of the provisions and conditions of the lease; I mean, suppose the negotiators, instead of the 4th article under which the lease was executed, had inserted at one the lease in the body of the treaty. It would then have run--that for the benefit of the poor and warriors of the Chickasaw Nation four mile square of the best land in West Tennessee are conveyed to W. B. Lewis, his heirs and assigns for 199 years, and provided salt water is found on the same, and made into salt, and said lessee shall pay to the Indians 750 bushels annually; but instead, is made, he shall have the four miles square for nothing.- Nay I greatly doubt if any Senate of the United States would have ratified such an article.

It is possible I may be under some error as to the terms and conditions of the lease, for I have not yet seen a copy of it. But such as I have stated, I have good reason to believe are substantially its provisions.

And here it is necessary, in order to understand the entire nature of the transaction, to inquire a moment into the value of this tract of land. It is a tract four miles square on a branch of the Tennessee, and very near that noble river in the heart of a region growing up as rapidly as any in the United States, and it contains, or was believed to contain a salt lick. Such a tract is not to be considered as wild land, which is purchased by degrees of latitude, it does not lie thousands of miles in the unexplored prairie, where the march of emigration may not reach it for centuries. It is a picket spot, chosen our of a cession of 10,000 square miles, near one of the finest rivers in the West--in a region into which the flood of populations has poured like a rushing tide-within less than a hundred miles of Nashville. Can any gentleman tell me what 10,000 acres of chosen land are worth, in such a situation? I leave out of consideration that such a spot, in such a region may become the seat of a compact settlement, and in that case to possess incalculable value.

Then, too, it is to be recollected that it contained or was supposed to contain salt springs. If the saline, which it contains, is of the first quantity, as to abundance and strength of the water, there is scarce any limit to its value. There is a tract in Virginia, in the district represented by an honorable gentleman not in his seat, (Mr. Johnston) containing, within a space of two mile square, salt wells which have rented at from $10,000 to $60,000 per annum, and yet yielded an enormous profit to the manufacturer. I do not mean to say that the saline in question is of equal value, but as little could be affirmed at the time the lease was taken, that it was not.

One thing can hardly be doubted, viz; that the lessee, the present Second Auditor himself considered it highly valuable. It appears from an account which he has himself published of the negotiation of the treaty that after an annuity of $20,000 for fourteen years had been agreed upon, as the consideration for the lands ceded by the treaty, that Indians unexpectedly demanded another year's annuity or 20,000 dollars more. One of the commissioners of the United States was unwilling to give it, thinking it more than the President and Senate would be willing to allow. Under these circumstances, the present second Auditor of the Treasury entered into bond to pay the $20,000 provided the Government of the United States should refuse to do so.--- There is no very obvious reason why he should have been willing to assume this very heavy personal responsibility unless he had himself a highly beneficial interest in the treaty.