Cherokee Phoenix

(Continued from our last)

Published November, 11, 1832

Page 2 Column 2a

(Continued from our last)

1.PERFIDY- A whole series of solemn treaties negotiated and concluded, successively during a period of fifty years, under all the administrations that have held the power of government since its organization, are openly violated, without the slightest pretext or apology. It is not pretended that we were surprised or forced into the conclusion of any of them. They were free, fair and equal compacts, or rather they were compacts in which the advantage was entirely on our side. It is not pretended that they have not been observed in good faith by the Indians. The lands which they granted, have been occupied and the public stipulations in our favor have all been excepted-we have had the benefit of them to the last fraction. It is not even seriously pretended that the treaties were informal although if such were the facts, it would furnish no excuse for the violations of a bona fide engagement of which we have had the benefit. But it is not what we have said, seriously pretended that the treaties were even informal. An objection of this description was indeed not forward by Georgia, who meanly attempted to pick a flaw in the form of an instrument of which she has had the benefit, for the sake of escaping from the payment of the consideration; but the Supreme Court has put the extinguisher at once upon this feeble and unmanly effort. There is not even the poor and stale plea of state necessity. It is not pretended that the observance of the treaties would be productive of any material inconvenience either to Georgia or the United States. The immediate motive for violating them is, to procure for Georgia the opportunity of distributing the Cherokee land by lottery among her citizens. The proceeding is an act of open, avowed, unblushing, deliberate, premeditated NATIONAL PERFIDY.

Is this a light thing Are the people of the United States prepared, by continuing their present agents in power, to give their sanction to and take upon themselves the responsibility for this monstrous abuse of authority? We answer for them boldly, emphatically, and decidedly, NO; a thousand times over NO. The PUBLIC FAITH MUST AND SHALL BE PRESERVED. The unprincipled and reckless tools of party, who are endeavoring to fasten upon our national character the stamp of indelible dishonor, by the violation of these treaties, must and shall give way to men who have at least the common honesty to feel and acknowledge the obligation of a contract.

2. VIOLENCE AND MEANNESS. Independently of the positive engagement which we are under to the Indians; were there no relation between them and us, but that which is created by the law of nature and fact of neighborhood; -the proceedings towards them are such that they can hardly be parallel even in history of barbarous nations. There no doubt is and always has been a great deal of injustice and violence in the world. Wars have been carried on;-states have been invaded and conquered for the mere gratification of personal ambition. In turning over the bloodstained rolls of history the friends of humanity must too frequently -

---------Learn with abhorrent to rate

What millions died that Caesar might be great

But in almost all the instances on record, even of gross and substantially unproved aggression, there is at least some pretext put forward by the aggressor, which if true, would in some degree excuse the outrage. Even in the celebrated case of the partition of Poland, which in form approaches perhaps more nearly to the present than any others; - a case in which as in this, three prosperous and powerful states combined to parcel out among themselves, the territory of a weak and unoffending neighbor, there was at least a pretence of state necessity. The transaction was justified by the partitioning powers, on the ground of the inconvenience and danger which they suffered from the troubles which habitually disturbed the interior of Poland.--The proclamations that were issued, are filed with loud complaints of injuries and insults received from that dangerous government. They breathe an edifying tone of justice and humanity-Russia, Austria and Prussia, if you believe them, are three peaceable and well disposed powers who have combined to abate a common nuisance. All this we know, was false and hollow; but it showed at least some sense of shame in the parties to the outrage; some disposition to assume a virtue although they had it not;-to discharge that tribute of hypocrisy which vice habitually pays in virtue. But that a state, claiming to be civilized and Christian, should in time of profound peace, without even a pretence of injury or provocation, appropriate to itself the sovereignty over a weaker neighboring community, destroy its political existence, subject its members to the most atrocious indignities, and distribute their territory by lottery among its own people!--This, we confess, appears to us to be entirely a new case. We have paid some attention to political and diplomatic history, but we have met with no other exactly like it.

When we say that Georgia puts forward no pretenses in justification of her proceedings, we mean that she makes no allegations injury or fraud on the other side which, if well founded, would justify her course.--The attempts at apology which she has in fact made are of such a kind as rather aggravate than extenuate the injustice of her conduct. She says, for example that when she took possession of her territory, she found the aboriginal inhabitants barbarious, and become immediately their rightful sovereign, because a civilized community possesses a natural right of sovereignty over its barbarous neighbors. The right thus acquired she ceded away in a series of solemn treaties. She now claimed the right of rescinding these treaties, and resuming the sovereignty which had been granted away by them. Why? Because the Indians are now civilized. Such-if our readers will believe us-is actual, bona fide intent and meaning of the language of the judges of Georgia assembled in convention to decide upon the case of Tassels. The authorities of Georgian in earnest, or are they sharpening the sting of oppression by a bitter and criminal mockery? We will not trust ourselves to comment seriously upon such reasoning. It would be impossible to keep within the limits of moderation which are fixed by the dignity of the parties to this cause.

The attack of Georgia upon the Cherokees is therefore destitute even of a plausible pretence of justice. And let it be observed that her pretensions extend much farther than they could be carried by conquest in the ordinary forms of civilized warfare. The law of nations is not understood to permit a conquering people to take advantage of its success for the purpose of appropriating the territory and reducing to subjection the persons of the conquered. These are the practices of barbarous communities; they were practices of the northern hordes that overran the Roman Empire. The principles of public law, as established by the practice of civilized nations, only permit the conqueror to proceed until he has reduced his enemy to terms and obtained satisfaction for the injury which he has suffered. If he go beyond this,he puts himself in the wrong. It appears, therefore that Georgia, in a time of profound peace, and without even a pretence of provocation has proceeded in her aggressions upon the Cherokees infinitely beyond the point which would have been authorized by actual conquest in a war waged for a sufficient cause.

And then the meanness- the paltry, dastardly, pitiful meanness of the whole transaction. A man of real power, and who has withal a single spark of the lofty and generous spirit which so naturally accompanies a consciousness of strength, scorns to use his advantages, either in his public or private concerns, for the purpose of crushing the weak and unoffending. He would feel himself dishonored forever by such conduct.- So true is this sentiment to nature that we find it exhibiting itself even in children. An overgrown lubber, who should undertake to treat with harshness an unoffending school fellow of smaller size, would be hooted out of every village in the country. But what do we see in this affair? Three or four prosperous and powerful states, numbering on an average not less than half a million souls each, backed by a Union of twenty-four sovereign states and thirteen million inhabitants, are pouncing with all their combined strength upon a little peaceful society, composed of some fifteen thousand persons, incapable, of course, of offering the least resistance, or of defending themselves in any way but by an appeal to the sixteen treaties in which these very aggressors have solemnly guarantied their political existence and the integrity of their territory. Is there an honorable man in the country whose cheek is not on fire with shame when he feels that, as a citizen of the United States he is unconsciously a party to such a transaction? But even this is not the worst.

3. BRUTALITY. Mean and pitiful as it is in all cases for an individual or a nation to abuse power for the purpose of injuring the feeble, there is in this affair a feature of a still more revolting character. These Cherokees are not merely a peaceful and unoffending little community, but they are a community of very peculiar and interesting character.- They are among the last remnants of the once powerful native race that in former days occupied the whole country - they are the only tribe of this great family that has made any considerable advances in civilization. It has often been doubted whether it were possible to induce these natives to assume the habits that belong to European culture; and, until within a short time, the general opinion was decidedly in the negative. For two centuries in succession the government and people of the United States have been urging, entreating, praying, compelling them as it were, to come within the pale, but all in vain. At length, a single tribe takes us at our word, and comes in. They adopt our religion, form of government, dress, manners, and customs; learn our language, make an alphabet for their own rise, in short, very nearly to a level with ourselves in all the arts and accomplishments of civilized life.- A community which has risen in the way from civilization to barbarism, in the life time of a single generation, is a great moral and political curiosity. Their history forms a very valuable addition to the experiments that have been made upon the fortunes of our race. Every enlightened man would for this reason-independently of any other circumstance-watch their further progress with peculiar interest, and would anxiously desire that no unfortune(sic) accident might interfere with it. How, then do we treat them? How do we- a civilized and Christian community- conduct ourselves towards this tribe of barbarians, whom we have succeeded in converting into a civilized and Christian country like ourselves? Georgia says to them, Gentlemen, we have succeeded in converting you from a tribe of barbarians into a civilization and Christian community like ourselves, and to show you the satisfaction we feel at your success and our own, we proceed to appropriate your country, confiscate your property, subject your persons to atrocious indignities and destroy your political existence. They appeal for redress to the government of the United S. The government tells them-What? That it cannot and will not protect them-that, whether Georgia be right or wrong, she must have her way, and that they had much better quit their country, emigrate to a distant wilderness on the borders of the Red River, and there resume their former modes of life. Strange, astonishing-incredible as it may appear, after we have labored for two centuries to civilize these Indians, and have at last succeeded with a single tribe, the first salutation which we address to them is a recommendation- what do we say?- a preemptory injunction issued in contempt of a whole series of treaties, to return to barbarism.

And all this for the noble purpose of distributing a few more acres of land by lottery among the inhabitants of a state where the population is now hardly ten to the square mile!

4. But the most important and also alarming aspect under which we can look at these proceedings, is in their relation to the constitutional authority of the Supreme Court. We have now reached that fearful crisis in our history when a few months will decide whether the Constitution and with it the Union of the States shall stand or fall. It is useless to attempt to conceal from ourselves that if Georgia carries her point against the Supreme Court in this great case, the authority of that tribunal, and with it the basis of all our institutions, is destroyed forever. The decision of this question will depend upon the result of the election of President. At the next term of the Supreme court to be held at Washington next winter, a return will be made of the refusal of Georgia to execute the decree of last winter, and the Supreme Court will then agreeably to the provisions of the statute, address a precept to the marshal of Georgia requiring him to execute the decree himself and release the missionaries from the penitentiary. Should we have in office at that time a President who has the intelligence to know, and the manly firmness to do his duty, Georgia will not venture to resist; the missionaries will be liberated; the Cherokees will be sustained in the rights secured to them by treaty, and the whole affair will pass off without further trouble. If the present incumbent should be reelected and Georgia should feel that she is sustained and encouraged by the very power whose duty it is to arrest her mad course, she will probably resist. Jackson will refuse to employ the military force of the Union in aid of the court, as he has already refused to employ it in the execution of the Intercourse Act; the decree will not be executed; the reign of law will terminate-that of terror and violence will commence and with it will commence for us the long series of internal commotions, prescriptions, confiscations, wars, foreign and domestic, with all their frightful accompaniments and consequences, which make up the history of most other nations, and from which, in the goodness of Providence we have been thus far almost wholly exempt.

How fearful to reflect that such immense national interests are staked upon the almost fortuitous results of a popular election, which is to take place within six weeks throughout the whole country! Are the wise and good-the fathers of families, who wish to bequeath to their children the same blessings which they inherited themselves from a virtuous and patriotic ancestry, sufficiently alive to the emergency of the crisis? Are they straining every nerve with the intense anxiety that men ought to feel who know that everything valuable is at hazard?

5. There is still one consideration connected with this subject, more solemn than any to which we have hitherto adverted. We have seen in this affair the authorities of Georgia and the President of the United States combining to violate the respect due to the sacred character of a minister of Religion, with a grossness hardly to be paralleled even in the history of barbarous communities. We have seen the MISSIONARIES, after having been not merely authorized, but invited, encouraged, and urged by the government to prosecute their labors of love and piety in these remote regions, suddenly torn from their homes-dragged IN CHAINS, and at the imminent risk of their lives, through the wilderness, subjected to a mock trial, and then committed to the Penitentiary-and all this without their having been guilty of the slightest offence against the public peace or the laws and Constitution of the country. We have seen this course of more than brutal violence continued after the highest judicial authority of the country has solemnly declared their innocence.

Is this again a trifling thing? Will the Christian people of the United States give their sanction, by placing him again in office, to the conduct of a President who treats the minsters of the christian religion with open outrage-loads them with chains-drags them from their peaceful homes to the Penitentiary, and violently keeps them there against the decision of the highest law authority affirming their innocence For throughout this whole business we are to recollect that the real difficulty lies not in the perversity of Georgia, who would not dare to act unless she felt herself supported at head quarters, but in the continuency of the President, who tacitly and openly bears her out in all her violence. Will the People then sanction these proceedings by continuing the President in office? Once more we answer for them NO-- a thousand times over NO.

On this topic it would be vain and idle to enlarge. The ministers of the Christian religion detained against law like common criminals in the Penitentiary! All the eloquence of Demosthenes and Patrick Henry could add nothing to the effect of such a sentence. Gen. Jackson will feel it to the cost at the polls.

One of these ministers of religion, Dr. Butler is a citizen of this commonwealth. He owes allegiance to Massachusetts, and Massachusetts in return is bound to protect him at home and abroad, from illegal violence. He is now violently detained in person by the authorities of Georgia in defiance of a decree of the Supreme Court declaring his innocence. If this violence should be continued after the court shall have ordered its own officers to execute the decree, and the civil process shall be entirely at an end, will it not be time for Massachusetts too to begin to think of her reserved rights? If the Government of the United States cannot or will not protect our most respected citizens in the exercise of the highest and most solemn functions from the Penitentiary, will it not be time for us to begin to think of taking their protection into our own hands?

But we must here finish this too long article. We cannot conclude without expressing our admiration of the noble firmness which has been shown by the Cherokees in refusing to accept the insidious proposals to emigrate, which have been made to them by the General Government. With the fragments of sixteen violated treaties scattered round them, is it not something like mocker for the government of the United States even to ask them to conclude a seventeenth? Can it in good carnes (sic) reasonably be supposed that they would be tempted by any terms, however apparently favorable? No;- let them perish--if it must be so--in defence of their rights--by their firesides--on the tomb of their fathers! Let them fall--if it be so--as so many of the best and bravest of all nations and ages--as so many of our own forefathers fell before them--fighting manfully the good fight of innocence against oppression! How can they ever find a noble or a happier way of passing from the trouble scenes of this transitory world to the permanent glories of a better?

But we do not apprehend this result. The Supreme Court, with a manly firmness not inferior to their own, has already declared in their favor:- the people are preparing to sustain the sentence of the polls:- the agents of Georgia, who have bullied and blustered at their ease while they knew that there was no danger, will make great haste to draw in their horns, when they find themselves encountered by the power of the United States in the hands of a President who knows and will do his duty. The Cherokees will be supported in their rightful pretensions. THE PUBLIC FAITH MUST AND WILL BE PRESENTED.