Cherokee Phoenix

From the New York American

Published November, 18, 1832

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From the New York American

The conduct of President Jackson towards the Cherokees, in their controversy with the State of Georgia and in regard to the missionaries who are now suffering the punishment of felons in the Georgia State penitentiary in contempt of a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, excites, as it is well fitted to excite, the indignation of all who are accustomed to respect the faith of treaties, and to reverence the authority of law. Hence, it becomes an object with his partisans to give such a coloring to his conduct as may help to divest it in some degree of its enormity; and accordingly, we find Mr. Benj. F. Butler, of Albany,- the most respectable man of his party, laboring at a recent public meeting at the Capitol to reconcile Gen. Jackson's course towards the Indians and the Missionaries, with the principles of faith, law, and morality. Let us see with what success. The charges against Gen. Jackson are-

1st. That he has assumed to abrogate the law of 1802, regulating trade and intercourse with the Indians-which law had been in uninterrupted and unquestioned force from its date to the accession of General Jackson.

2d. That he has assumed of his own authority to abrogate treaties between the Indians, thus usurping the function of the judiciary.

3d. That he has made known both to Georgia and the Indians that the United States Government would not interfere to protect the latter against the claims of the former to reduce them under their laws and take possession of their lands.

4th. That in order to carry out this notification to its full effect, he has caused to be withdrawn the troops of the United States, then actually stationed in the Indian country in order to prevent the encroachments of the white men on the Indians, and their settlement among them.

5th. That certain missionaries were with the consent and approbation of the United States, stationed among these Indians, and that they refused to acknowledge the law of Georgia requiring them either to remove or take an oath of allegiance to a State, the protection of the United States was withdrawn from them; and one of them, Mr Worcester, who still as a postmaster was exempt from the operation of State laws, was deprived of that post, so as to leave him and his associates to the full sweep of the laws, as they are called, of Georgia;- the mercy of these laws had been exemplified by imprisoning among felons those ministers of religion who would not abandon their sacred posts, nor recant them by virtue of an unlawful oath.

How does Mr. Butler dispose of these unquestionable facts. Simply by passing them over in silence, and with an advocate's dexterity, presenting his case in his own way. He first insists, that, as Mr. Adams, when President, expressed his opinion that the residence of Indians, as independent communities in the bosom of the States, was fraught with inconvenience and mischief. Gen. Jackson, in urging upon the Cherokees their instant removal beyond the Mississippi, has only acted upon the same opinion. But he omits--what, as a lead advocate, perhaps, he might omit what, as an honest man purporting to enlighten the people as to the facts, we know not how he could omit that in order to coerce the Cherokees into emigration, Gen. Jackson informed them that the General Government would not, in the event of their persisting to retain on their own lands, interpose to protect them from the laws of Georgia, that is to say, that the treaties and laws of the United States under which these Indians had before felt secure, should secure them no longer; -whereas, Mr. Adams, while urging them to go West, plainly notified to Georgia, that if she should attempt to resort dominion over the Indian country, the authority of the Federal Government should be interposed to prevent it. Does this proceeding of Mr. Adams justify that of General Jackson- and if not, can Mr. Butler justify himself in foro conscientiae- not in the conscience of a party, but his own, for seeking to assimilate them?

The great argument, however, of Mr. Butler, is-in so much as it has been asserted, that Gen. Jackson is responsible for the continued imprisonment of the Missionaries, and has not offered to carry into effect the decision of the Supreme Court declaring the law under which they are imprisoned invalid,- that a deliberate imposition has been thereby made upon the people; because Gen. Jackson has not yet, and in the present stage of the legal proceedings could not be called upon to enforce that judgment of the Supreme Court.--Now, although we deny that the statement made by Mr. Butler is a fair version of the censures usually and justly leveled against the President, an account of the treatment of the missionaries-yet, if for the sake of argument, we admit it, what does the defence amount to, beyond a mere technical quibble? It is true, the return of the process unexecuted to the court, whence it issued, the calling out the posse, and the other steps preliminary to an official call upon the Execute (sic) to enforce the judgment of the Court, are yet to be taken, and therefore the President has not been called upon formally to interfere. But whence is it that these steps have become necessary whence is it that the spirit of defiance to a mandate of the Supreme Court has been manifested by Georgia? Whence but from the 'foregone conclusions,' founded upon the official acts and declarations of the President, that he had prejudged the question? That he deemed the law of Georgia constitutional, however it might be viewed by the Supreme Court of the United States? And that acting upon the (sic) his views of the obligations of laws, treaties, and the Constitution, he would not interpose the federal arm between the laws of Georgia and those upon whom its penalties would fall.--Whence but from this 'foregone conclusion' has Georgia derived the audacity to set at defiance the laws and sovereignty of the Union? And if this is so, is it not a mere technical subtlety to say, that Gen. Jackson is not to blame for the imprisonment of the missionaries, because their case has never been officially before him? From the moment that Gen. Jackson abrogated the laws and treaties which protected the Indians, and all legally residing within their borders, he assumed the responsibility and must hear the censure, of all the lawless violence which has since occurred--and it is, therefore, strictly true to say that he is the cause, both of the original imprisonment of the missionaries, and of its prolonged agonies-in contempt as we said before of a solemn decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.