Cherokee Phoenix

From the New-Haven Religious Intelligencer

Published March, 24, 1832

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From the New-Haven Religious Intelligencer


One of the largest meetings ever assembled in this city was held on Tuesday evening last week, to hear the statement of the delegates of the Cherokee Nation. The Center Church was literally filled, every slip, aisle, nook and corner, both floor and gallery, and even the area around it ' under the pulpit, to the top of the stairs was crowded as we have never seen it on Commencement day.

The meeting was called to order by the Hon. Simeon Baldwin, on whose motion the Hon. David Dagett was called to the chair, and An. N. Skinner, Esq. appointed Secretary.

After the Chairman had concisely and clearly stated the object of the meeting, Elias Boudino (sic), a native born Cherokee, and the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, first arose and addressed the meeting in a simple and unostentatious manner, which at once commanded the attention and enlisted the feelings of the audience.

He glanced at the former condition of his nation--their immemorial possession of the soil--the solemn treaties in which it had been guarantied to them by Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and their successors: and very pertinently read extracts from Mr. Jefferson's advice to them when he took them by the hand as his red children, and told them how much their condition would be improved by agriculture and the arts of civilization --how much more happily they would be--how much more attached to the soil of their fathers--how much more unwilling they would be to leave it-- how much more they would rejoice to repose their bones in its bosom, and transmit it to their children. He advised us to abandon the chase and engage in agriculture--we threw aside the tomahawk and the hatchet and took up the plough and the hoe--we ceased to be hunters, we became farmers-we raise cattle, horses, hogs, corn and cotton and spin and weave it and make our own clothes. He advised us to build mills to save our women the labor of pounding the corn- we have done so and our women are no longer slaves. He advised us to make laws and government-we made them, on the model of the American republic. He advised us to have school-houses and churches-we have them all: we have an alphabet of our own invented within a few years past by an ingenious native (George Guess)-we have learned to read and write. Your government asked us to receive ministers and teachers-we received them and have adopted the religion of Jesus Christ. You gave us good advice-we followed it-we were happy.

He then proceeded to what he called the most painful part of his subject, their difficulties with Georgia. The soil which they had cultivated by our advice, which we had taught them to value, in which repose the bones of their fathers, and in which they hope to lie down with their children's children, their houses, farms, schools, churches, their homes and their country, are in danger of being taken from them. By the enactments of Georgia, their territory was to be divided and distributed. Their laws were annulled, their government destroyed, and the very assembling themselves together to exercise their rights, made a high crime. Their citizens oppressed, pillaged,shackled, chained and dragged like beasts with no means of redress, as the courts of justice were closed against them, (no Cherokee being allowed to testify) and even the ministers of their religion who were sent to instruct them by the advice and approbation of our Government, seized, chained to a horse, and dragged ignominiously in suffering and danger, and finally imprisoned with felons. 'We are distressed,' we have appealed to your Government and asked protection, and have been told there is no help! we have done no wrong. We are distressed, 'what shall we do?'--'We are distressed, we are distressed!'

This was followed by an address from John Ridge, also a native Cherokee, the President of the Senate, and one of the representatives to maintain their claims in Washington. 'He is rather tall and slender in his person, erect, with a profusion of black hair, a shadeless, swarthy and with less prominence of the cheek bones than our western Indians. His voice full and melodious, his language chaste and correct, his elocution eloquent and without the least tincture of foreign accent or idiom. 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 nations.'

It would be idle to attempt to give any idea of the effect induced by eloquent and manly appeal. His attitude, voice and manner were commanding and impressive. He entered upon the discussion of his rights like a statesman and patriot, with the avowal that he was not ashamed of his race, nor annoyed (though sorry) to speak the truth. He 'drove down his stake' and boldly challenged Georgia 'to hold a battle (an argument) there.' He contested each disputed point, and confuted each absurd claim, with a spirit and ability which would do honor to any man on the floor of Congress. For aught we can see he fairly drove Georgia from the field. He proved their pretended from conquest, time, charter, purchase, treaty, 'c. to be idle. He drove down the stake at each point, and from each point drove Georgia to her last resort. 'I AM A SOVEREIGN STATE AND WILL DO AS I PLEASE !'

He showed there was no sincerity in the offer to provide lands in the West. The last session of Congress refused to send an agent to examine the lands and report. There are no lands fit for them. The Choctaws had received a like promise, they had gone, the Chickasaws followed and could find no place. And the Government turns round and asks the Choctaws to give up a part of their lands to the Chickasaws! The fact is, the whole West is either occupied by powerful and savage tribes who have just learned to subsist by the arts of peace. There is no land for us unless we go beyond the Rocky Mountains, and there the same evils await us.

They had been wronged-they had appealed to the Executive--he left them to their fate. They had appealed to Congress--but in vain.--Government had given them no help-nay they had encouraged and aided Georgia in her aggressions. Their last appeal was to the judiciary of the nation; and it now becomes not the question of the poor Indian alone but of every American freeman. If the decision of the judiciary should not be respected-there is an end to the Republic and the Union. If the Judiciary takes her stand on the basis 'Justice', will not the majesty of the American people rise up in their strength and defend it?

These are but parts of the topics touched upon in this admirable address, but all attempts to sketch it must be poor, and meager to those who heard the original, accompanied with the air and bearing of the man and the excitement of the occasion.

These addresses were followed by Professor Silliman, which came warm from the heart and went in the heart of every hearer. It was exactly the right sort of eloquence for the occasion-a burst of high, generous, and holy feeling based on manly sense. THe Rev. Mr. Bacon followed with a very spirited and able address, and the meeting was closed with reading a memorial to Congress taking a contribution on the spot, and appointing a Committee to obtain signers to the memorial.