From the Franklin Repository.
Extract from the speech of Mr. Wirt, in the case of the Cherokee Nation vs. the State of Georgia, argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, at January term, 1832
The seventh article (of the Treaty of Holston,*) contains the guarantee, so often spoken of, which had been the subject of previous consultation and arrangement between the President and the Senate of the United States:
'Article 7. The United States solemnly guarantee to the Cherokee Nation, all their lands not hereby ceded.' that is to say, the United States pledge the faith and honor of this nation, to protect and defend the Cherokees, by force of arms if necessary, in the possession and enjoyment of all their lands not ceded by treaty: for such we have seen is the exposition of a guarantee, as given by Washington, and approved by the Senate. The states of this Union, the State of Georgia concluded, are the parties to this guarantee. The engagement is not that they will not themselves disturb the possession, but that they will not permit it to be done by others. Each state of the Union stands bound, as a member of the confederacy, by the most solemn pledge of faith and honor, given in the sight of God and man, that she will not permit it.
It is no excuse, therefore, to the several states which compose this Union to say that they are notdisturbing the Indian possession; for their engagement is that they will not permit it to be done by others; but on the contrary, that they will prevent it by force of arms if necessary. Being then bound to prevent it, this pledge is not redeemed by expressing regret at it, and crying 'shame' on the offending state. The obligation which they have assumed is not one of sentiment, which is to be acquitted by having a sentimental sigh. It is an obligation of action and of vigorous and effectual action. The United States have undertaken, in the most solemn form, to protect the Cherokees, or their possessions by force of arms if necessary; and if thus engaged, they permit that possession to be intruded they are participants ariminis, and actually guilty with the invading state. There is no moral difference between them; and if these things shall be permitted, the faith and honor of this nation are gone; they are not worth a rush. Punic faith will be quite as respectable in history.
It is that the Cherokees are now weak and unable to call us to an account, that we held ourselves absolved from the obligations of this treaty.- Are we so lost to character as to excuse ourselves on that ground, and to make the tacit admission that we hold ourselves bound by our engagements only so long as we can be compelled to fulfil them? That we will be very faithful and honorable to the powerful, who can punish us from being otherwise, but as to the weak, we will only be just so far faithful as suits our case and convenience: and having solemnly undertaken to defend such, by force of arms if necessary, we consider the obligation sufficiently discharged by the unprofitable expression of our sympathies and our regrets.
If such be the point of degeneracy, to which we have already sunk since the age of Washington, farewell to the honor of the American name: happy it is for that patriot that he was called from the scene of things, before he witnessed this heart-striking degradation of this country.
* This treaty was concluded on the 2nd of July 1791, and headed 'A treaty of peace and friendship, made and concluded between the President of the United States of America, on the part and behalf of the said States and the undersigned chiefs and warriors of the Cherokee Nation of Indians, on the part and behalf of the said Nation.'
+ Partakers in the crime.