OF THE PRINCIPAL CHIEF.
To the Committee ' Council.
In General Council Convened.
Friends ' Fellow Citizens- As representatives of the people, you have again assembled at the great Council fire, for the purpose of deliberating upon the important concerns of the nation; and to adopt such measures as the interest and welfare of your constituents shall, in your judgments, seem to require.
The resolutions adopted at your late call session, have been transmitted through the War Department, for the information of the President; and I now lay before you a copy of my letter to the Hon. Secretary of War, accompanying the same; also the letter of Mr. Robb, acting Secretary of War, in reply thereto, from which you will discover the manner, in which the frank expression of our solicitude for a speedy and final termination of existing difficulties, has been received and treated by the Executive branch of the General Government, there can be no doubt, however, from the very extraordinary language communicated thro' the acting Secretary, that the President has been grossly deceived, by means of some designing persons, possessing his confidence, or how could it be possible for him to assert with so much apparent earnestness, that we had misrepresented the sentiments of the Cherokee people, and were now misleading them, when it must be clear to the mind of every intelligent man, that, we can have no motive nor disposition to do either.
Our course has ever been a straight forward one, it is marked with candor and frankness. In the discussion of the question of our common cause, it became our duty to contend for, and sustain the rights of the nation, upon legal grounds, consequently the people became enlightened on the subject, from the developments made of those rights, and being true to their own interest they necessarily came to the determination to oppose that policy, which, in their opinion, is calculated to destroy their political rights, and bring ruin upon their peace and happiness. The question being now determined, by the highest judicial tribunal of the United States, in favor of our nation, and the very lucid opinion of that venerable court having been published before the world, it is not necessary that I should at this late day attempt by argument to show the correctness of that righteous decision. But, in as much as the President of the United States has thought proper not to enforce the treaties in conformity with that decision, nor to remove the duress of which the nation so justly complains, nor to suspend the oppressive proceedings of his own agents towards us; it has become my bounden duty to recommend you to take such steps as shall appear most proper to bring the whole subject before the approaching session of Congress, for a final action. The memorials which have been presented before that branch of the Government, on the part of this nation, together with the numerous petitions presented by citizens from various parts of the United States, in our behalf, have never been answered; and they are subject to be called up for action on a proper occasion, and from the peculiar situation of affairs at this time, that occasion seems to have arrived, which imperiously demands the final action of Congress on the subject without further delay.
By treaty, the United States, for important considerations, were induced to receive the Cherokee Nation under their protection, and in return, the Nation acknowledged itself to be under the protection of the United States and of no other sovereign whatsoever. It cannot be pretended, I trust, that the President by his own will, and without the consent of this nation, can ever absolve the United States from the sacred obligation of extending this protection, nor to transfer that protection to the sovereignty of individual states, as states by mutual concession in the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, having imparted to the Federal Government that power, they can never recall it, without the mutual consent of the proper parties. If, however, contrary to every principle of justice and humanity, the United States should, in the end, come to the determination, not to be bound by their treaties, and shall refuse to us the protecting arm of the General Government, and our citizens be compelled by the force of circumstances to abandon the land of 'their Fathers,' then, in the language of your resolution, I may with great sincerity, repeat, that we can 'determine no other alternative promising relief, than a removal beyond the limits of the United States.' However, I confidently hope that this alternative may never present itself, as I cannot for a moment, permit myself to entertain so unfavorable opinion as to loose all confidence in the justice and good faith of the United States. It is nevertheless true, that our nation within the last four years, have experienced the sad effects of a temporizing and oppressive course of policy from that Government of which we have been taught to honor, as a faithful guardian; the event of the final result, is a circumstance which we should be prepared to meet in such a manner as the peace and permanent welfare of the nation demands.
It is a self evident truth, that no community can successfully surmount an opposing difficulty and attain the object of desire, unless the members thereof can and do exercise a controlling influence of common interest, so as to ensure harmony and perseverance among themselves by unity of sentiment and action, and the force of this truth, is equally applicable to nations; hence it is clear that we cannot be too strongly impressed with the necessity of pursuing that course which is best calculated to meet this views, interest, and welfare of the people. On all important questions, when a difference of opinion arise in regard to their rights and interest, the sentiments of the majority should prevail, and whatever measure is adopted by that majority for the public good, should be the duty of the minority to yield,and unite in the support of the measure, this is the rule of order, sanctioned by patriotism and virtue; whilst a contrary course would lead to faction, confusion and injury.
The resolutions of your last session to which I have referred, were unanimously adopted, and they have been communicated to the people through the medium of a special circular. So far as I have had the means of being informed, they fully accord with the sentiments of the people. Immediately after replying to my letter which accompanied those resolutions, the President took occasion to instruct, certain agents to open books for enrollment, and to traverse the country with interpreters for the purpose of urging individuals to register their names in favor of a treaty, on the basis of the proposition offered, and which have been repeatedly rejected by the nation; and in the event that the nation should not enter into a treaty in the course of the Fall or the early part of the Winter, then they who may have registered their names, should emigrate to the country west of the Mississippi. It is a fact to be regretted, that there were a few individuals to be found by those Agents, who were so lost to their own true interests as to register their names on this occasion, and also, to exert an influence over others to betray their country's cause, and involve their own families into countless difficulties. It is also a fact worthy of notice, that such persons are generally found to be of those who constitute the denizens of the nation and in some instances, of those having no just claim to citizenship.
It affords me gratification to inform you, that in a recent decision by the Circuit Court of Alabama, in the county of St. Clair, and in a case of murder committed by a native Cherokee, upon another within the territorial limits of this nation; the law of that State extending jurisdiction within our limits, has been pronounced to be unconstitutional and void, ' for want of proper jurisdiction, the prisoner was discharged.
On the other hand, when I look into the leading cause which has produced the effusion of so much blood between our citizens in the course of the current year, I cannot refrain from the painful reflection, that it is to be traced to the intoxication and sale of intoxicating liquors in our country, by intruders, and that too, in violation of the laws of the United States, as well as of those of our own. But it has been our misfortune to experience the force of oppression and usurpation, and the consequent suspension in part of the execution of our laws, and also to witness the non-enforcement of the laws of the United States, prohibiting the sale of ardent spirits in the Indian country. It is the more to be regretted, when we see the laxity of duty on the part of those federal officers, whose incumbent duty it is to execute the laws on this subject, especially as the power of Congress to legislate on the subject of Indian trade, is made exclusive, and is so clearly defined by the Constitution of the United States. And, although, under existing circumstances it may not be within the immediate control of your legislative authority, to remedy the evil, yet I have thought it expedient and highly important to bring the subject before your serious consideration. I flatter myself that such good may be done by the force of example and persuasion, to check the growing evil; as it cannot be denied that it is by example and habit the conduct of men are in a great degree influenced. And when a moral force is exerted through the influence of that faithful monitor which the Great Being has implanted in the breast of man, it never fails to produce the happiest effect; whereas a contrary practice will beget the evil habit of indulging that appetite and propensity in everything wished for, and at length the energies of the mind will become resistless, as it were, in a state of supineness and stupidity; and the unfortunate victim is then exposed to drunkenness, gambling, cheating, stealing, lying, treachery, and many other arts of abomination. Intemperance in the use of ardent spirits must be admitted by all, to be one of the greatest evils that has ever visited our people, its ruinous effects are too visible to escape the observation of every reflecting mind, and from the peculiar situation of our affairs, it is the most deadly poison that can be introduced amongst us, to destroy the happiness of society, if encouraged, it will not fail to bring ruin upon the nation. I would therefore call upon you as representatives of the people, to resist the monster, with that stern and inflexible determination becoming the character of men, when actuated by the impulse of self-preservation, to overthrow a dangerous enemy by setting the example, and refraining from the use of intoxicating liquors, and exerting a proper influence by persuading others to do the same. I cannot doubt that the example would soon be followed and cherished by every patriot, for the good of his fellow citizens; by those means the property, the character, and lives of many may be saved, and the welfare of the nation promoted.
Red Clay, C. N. Oct. 15, 1833.
The undersigned Committee on the state of the Nation, to whom was referred for consideration, the Message of the Principal Chief to the General Council beg leave to report, That to promote the object and desire of the Cherokee Nation the usual method has been to appoint a Delegation, entrusted with power to exercise all the diligence and wisdom in their ability to memorialize Congress, on the subjects of grievances by which our country is afflicted. To this Department of the General Government, and to the Executive, nothing of argument and the facts of grinding usurpation, which has been inflicted upon our people, have been omitted, to be addressed, in the strongest manner of which the wisdom of our Delegations could command. For more than four years past, emphatic declarations of denial, to protect our Nation, have been made to us by the President. During this long period, our people, as individuals and as a Nation, have experienced innumerable trials. Our Brothers, the adjoining states, hitherto restrained by the force of treaty obligations, and the fostering care of the General Government, have overleaped their bounds, and have indirectly encouraged their citizens to assail our lives and bodies, and directly, in their legislative character, one of the states has gambled off by lottery, our lands, upon which we are depending for the support of our families. While Georgia has nullified laws, the Sate of Alabama has them, and legalized intrusion in its chartered limits. Superadded to this, undeserved injury in time of profound peace, our destiny has been to notice the gross violations of the dearest rights ever bestowed upon man, the rights of civil liberty. Not satisfied it would seem, in the great latitude the states directly interested in the acquisition of our lands, have taken to inflict upon us the sharp instruments of usurpation, they have poisoned them with the slanderous venom of vituperation.
Even now, the newspapers are filled with this sort of inhuman forerunner of state avidity from a quarter which we least expected from a select Committee of the Legislature of the State of Tennessee. In the language of that Committee it is now not a debatable mater to assail Indian rights. To abstain from the expression of charges against our chiefs, which are to(sic) foul to be repeated by your Committee, would have comforted better, with the frankness of these would be very honest gentlemen politicians.
Your committee regret to perceive that the difficulties, which have grown up like the grass in the season of spring, in consequence of the withdrawal of the protection guarantied to us by treaty, are rapidly increasing, and the Cherokee Nation is besieged and assailed by the unholy combinations of interest and cupidity of the states immediately interested. The treaties, laws, and the decision of the Supreme Court do not appear to have that moral influence with the President, or the American people which we desire. It is also evident that unless this influence is lighted up in the Executive and Legislative Departments of the United States' Government and properly respected by the officers filling those Departments, our own Government will gradually expire by the violent and usurping hands of the neighboring states. Here, the following views of the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, approving them as we do, may with propriety be embodied with the report to wit: 'Inasmuch as the President of the United States has thought proper not to enforce the treaties in conformity with that decision, (the Supreme Court) nor to remove the duress of which we so justly complain-nor to suspend the oppressive proceedings of his own agents towards us, it has become my bounden duty to recommend you to take such steps as shall appear most proper to bring the whole subject before the approaching Session of Congress for a final action. The memorials which have been presented before that branch of the Government, on the part of this Nation, together with the numerous petitions by citizens from various parts of the United States in our behalf have never been answered, and they are subject to be called up for action on a proper occasion, and from the peculiar situation of affairs at this time, that occasion seems to have arrived which imperiously demands the final action of Congress on the subject without farther delay. By treaty the United States for important considerations were induced to receive the Cherokee Nation under their protection, and in return, the Nation acknowledged itself to be under the protection of the United States and of no other sovereign whatever. It cannot be pretended, I trust, that the President by his own will, and without the consent of this Nation, can ever absolve the United States from the same obligation of extending this protection, nor to transfer that protection to the sovereignty of individual states. As the states by mutual concession in the adoption of the Constitution of the United States having imparted to the federal Government that power, they can never, (lawfully) recall it without the mutual consent of the proper parties. If however, contrary to every principle of justice and humanity, the United States should in the end come to the determination, not to be bound by their treaties, and shall refuse to us the protecting arm of the General Government-and our citizens be compelled by the force of circumstances to abandon the land of 'their Fathers' then in the language of your resolution, I may with great sincerity repeat that we can 'determine no other alternative promising relief than a removal beyond the limits of the United States.' However I contently hope that this alternative may never present itself, as I cannot for a moment permit myself to entertain so unfavorably opinion as to lose all confidence in the justice and good faith of the United States. It is nevertheless true, that our nation within the last few years have experienced the sad effects of a temporizing and oppressive policy from that Government of which we have been taught to honor, as our faithful guardian- the event of the final result is (a circumstance) which we should be prepared to meet in such a manner as the peace and permanent welfare of the Nation demands. It is a self-evident truth that no community can successfully surmount an opposing difficulty and obtain the object of desire, unless the members thereof can and do exercise a controlling influence of common interest so as to ensure harmony and perseverance among themselves by unity of sentiment and action-and the force, of this truth is equally applicable to nations-hence it is clear that he cannot be too strongly impressed with the necessity of pursuing that course which is best calculated to meet the views interest and welfare of the people. On all important questions where a difference of opinion arises in regard to their rights and interest the sentiments of the majority should prevail- and whatever measure is adopted by that majority for the public good, should be the duty of the minority to yield and unite in the support of the measure-this is the rule of order sanctioned by patriotism and virtue, whilst a contrary course would lead to faction, confusion, and injury.
The Cherokee Nation has existed a long time, beyond the reach of the memory of living men. Upon its character no foul blot which can spread the blush of shame upon our cheeks, can attach itself. It is the last of the aboriginal nations, that now contends for its liberties, and it may now with great propriety be viewed by all the friends of justice and humanity as the Poland of America. It has been the lot of our Nation to depend for existence on the magnanimity and justice of the United States. We are too feeble in physical power to depend upon anything else. For more than four years, we have appealed to Congress as the Representatives of the United States to fulfil its obligations and faith. During this period we have nearly been robbed of all our property. The Nation has passed the fiery furnace kindled expressly to burn out the attachment of our people to the land of their forefathers, and their affections to it are yet unsubdued. It is the lot of humanity to perish from the face of the earth.- We are all liable to die, and the places that know us, may know us no more in the world! The future historian may mark out where our hearts bled for our people and country, from the civil policy of the United States, but he shall never write on the page of truth, that to that policy we ever yielded the mode of approbation. They have too long tried us, if it be true that the United State have placed us on the rack of probation, and your Committee believe that if it is the intention of the United States to render justice to us in our present location, they can accomplish the duty which their sacred honor is pledged to perform during the next Session of Congress. If not, and the General Government never designs to carry the treaties with our Nation into effect, your Committee is of the opinion that frankness in the expression of that determination is due to us, their Representatives in General Congress assembled, which will convene the ensuing winter at Washington. Your committee are then of the opinion that the only method to obtain 'the final action' of Congress upon the grievous situation of the Nation is to appoint a delegation in whose wisdom and integrity we can confide to carry the subject of our difficulties for the consideration of that branch of the General Government, and if possible to draw from it a favorable resolution for the relief of our afflicted Nation.
JOHN RIDGE, Chairman
Red Clay 23d Oct. 1833.