Cherokee Phoenix

From the Frankfort Argus

Published May, 3, 1834

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From the Frankfort Argus

We publish today the speech of Joseph Barrassa, an Indian student of the Choctaw Academy, of the Pottawatamie tribe. It is published at the instance of a special committee, with the view to show the native talent of his tribe and family; and also as an evidence of the progress of that school and its promising utility.


Joseph Barrassa

Oct. the 5th, 1833

Friends, Americans ' Brothers:

This day 20 years ago was the darkest period of your late war with Great Britain.

It was a day as gloomy, if not more so, than witnessed by the Great Washington, in 1776 in the revolutionary times.

Then how highly necessary it is that you should celebrate that dark crisis, in which you saw danger lowering over you, and particularly that in which the blood of your fathers was shed so copiously for your melioration. How extremely thankful ought you to feel in commemorating those then perilous times, which are so closely blended with your present well being; and to think you not only celebrate the past events, but can strike hand with those who fought so bravely and were shrouded in mantles of crimson on the field of battle.

Oh! what emotions must fill the war worn veteran's breast, when he takes a retrospective view of those days which tried man's souls!

I know it must be out of the reach of man's power to restrain those emotions which are produced by calling back those past and bloody scenes, when for their country and posterity they offered themselves as sacrifices.

American friends: can you not feel, can you not think? Yes, I know you can feel, think, and weep for joy, and thank Heaven you are the happy recipients of all those blessings and privileges which were so dearly bought by your ancestors; and rejoice to have the happiness of joining those old soldiers, though half bent from carrying the knapsack and musket while in the service of their country; and defended by old age, yet can they distinctly hear the soft, sweet, and full voice of a clear conscience saying to them, you have finished your work, and your beloved country is saved.

Ask the hero, who sits before you and he will answer you by pointing to scars and wounds he received whilst in battle, which will speak in a language more affecting than the tears of an affectionate mother, and louder than thunder.

It is productive of great joy to hear those old warriors, and see them in tears, and in a trembling voice interrupted by sobs, encouraging you, the young and rising generation, to celebrate those events in which your greatest and bravest men have distinguished and immortalized themselves.

We find as far as history can carry us back, that such celebrations were held in the highest repute, by the various nations of the earth. I have the sole confidence in saying no one will in the least degree doubt, but your country has and does afford the worthiest subjects of praise ever produced by any other country in the world; and highly worthy of the warmest eulogies of your orators.

Be assured these celebrations have an unperceived tendency to keep up a military spirit, which is the very palladium of your government.

Some exclaim to all around them, in the voice of a watchman, be careful, do not trust these old soldiers!-if you do, you shall find yourselves before day on your beds swimming in seas of blood! Ask those who thus, through cowardice and ignorance, have said the same of the now administration, if they prefer any other man for their ruler? They will unanimously answer, by the language of silence which will speak stronger than an approaching earthquake, give us just such a man for our governor. For what an absurdity it is to say, he that never felt pain, knows what it is. For we find by the gone histories that the military chieftain is the most affectionate being on earth; he alone can feel the forlorn case of the orphan, and wants of the poor widow, and he alone can sympathize with the _____crepid soldier, who looks to his government for support and maintenance. But the man of ease and pleasure, as soon as he can grasp the silvery reins of government, becomes haughty and unmerciful, forgetting all but himself and the opulent.

I say to those who cried against the now President, to hold their peace till they see the above described man get into office, before they shall cry then to give alarm in a voice louder than a thousand claps of thunder.

Let it be recollected that the Washington like soldier is the only true parent of our rights and privileges, and it good policy for governments to pay due regard to war like persons. Be assured unless you give honor to our brave sons and observe these celebrations, the pride of the nation will inevitably be lost forever, and you, like many of the ancient powers, while your men of ease cry peace at your door, fall into the merciless of your enemies.

Let me for a moment cite you to the conduct of young Paris, who, for want of employment, strolls over to the court of Menelaus, a certain Greek prince, whose beautiful wife, the black eyed queen of love, young Paris corrupts and carries off, and what ensues? A war of 10 years with the Trojans; the young coxcomb Paris, his father, his brothers and myriads of his wretched subjects fell, were slaughtered and butchered and Troy, the finest city of Asia, was reduced to ashes. Search into the cause of this destruction, and to the shame of Paris, you will find it is idleness, and inattention to military men.

Yes, Americans; give praise to whom praise is due, or else you, like ancient Thebes, may fall a pitiful victim to your cruel foes. See the grandeur ' splendor of this city with its 1000 gates, daily charmed by Bachus' trains of music, forgot military valor and soon, too soon, found itself struggling in its enemies's chains of slavery and misery.

It is useless to make any more repetitious of like examples, for they exist without number.

Then I say Hurrah for America soldiers, the true and deadly riflemen of Kentucky. Praise them with the rest of your braves and discard all those who hate all your undaunted warriors.

Kentucky friends: you should be proud to think that you had to encounter the most mighty and unnatural foe, that ever met a civilized and regular army on the field of battle, and like David of old, struck the Goliath of the West and brought him to the ground. Ask the heroes of New England and particularly Col. Chinck, and he will, with the rest of his men, tell you that Philip, the great mount hope Sachem, the king of a powerful and warlike tribe of Indians in Rhode Island in 1674, with his host, was mighty.

Ask Braddock, the proud and haughty General, who refused the counsel of pride, the brave Washington and with a face of burning shame and confusion, he will mutter, that the Indians were too unnatural fighters for him or any other Eastern General.

Philip was a great warrior indeed; but he was a mere secondary planet to Tecumseh, the Chief of Chiefs.

Think of the period in which the one flourished, and then the other; and you will see the contrast.

The blaze of honor, of the former, will be, to that of the latter, as to the moon's feeble light to the king of day's resplendent brightness.

Philip fought in an age when the Indian was great, numerous and powerful; having never met or seen his equal, he fought with unrelenting bravery, choosing no other terms but victory or death. The white man was then little and weak, strangers in a strange land, unacquainted with the savages warfare.

Philip, whenever disposed to wash his unfeeling hands in blood, had only to ascend to Beaconhill, (from which hill's blue head he could survey the white man's limited territory) and sit on its top, and swell his voice in utterance of his invariably obeyed mandate of war and instantaneously spring forth his blood thirsty warriors. Saluting his majesty as he sat on his natural throne, with the most appalling and nerve-killing whoops, that none so fearful were ever heard by the worshippers of the God of folly.

Yes, he drank the blood of his white foes when they were asleep, and butchered them before they were awake. It was as difficult for the white man to follow Philip's men in their swamps of retreat as it would be for the stiff Alligator, to tread the meandering path of the hare.

Tecumseh, had to call his men from the North and South poles of North America, but notwithstanding these apparently insurmountable obstacles, was heard, his harsh, coarse, and jupiter like voice, echoing from valley to valley and from the source of the Mississippi to its mouth, instilling in the flinty breast of his warriors, the keenest and fiercest war-like spirit, and attaching as inexpressible horror to all the inhuman and barbarous acts of the savage warfare of his red brethren.

Tecumseh was the essence of that dark and blood threatening cloud, which brooded over your northwestern frontier; but happy for you was the day when the dispelling sun arose in his might, and before his intense brightness and heat fled that death portending cloud, like a shooting star in the cells of Pluto.

You see Philip warred with the whites at sun rise, Tecumseh at noon in the brightest part of the day, and it was left by the Unseen Hand, for our own Black Hawk (old Tecumseh) at the battle of the Thames, to set the sun of war forever.

Oh! Americans, what country is there on the whole face of the globe, that can compare with yours? or what one can produce such heroes, Statesmen, and Philosophers? None?

All the nations fear you, and tremble at hearing the voice of your heroes. True, once you were so weak, the British officers thought and said they could march through all America, with five regiments; but now you hesitate not a moment to dare and defy 5 times the force of the Isles of Great Britain.

Search the histories of all nations and in which will you find such exploits and achievements as in yours, and in which you will find an equal to your Washington?

I confess that Leonidas, with his 300 braves, dared the force of half the world; but Washington dared the force of the whole world with his 300 beardless boys at Fort Necessity.

Alone of Washington it can be said, that his habitation is the universe, his memory eternity; that he alone is the good like man and truly the father of his country. Of him alone can it be said, that liberty unsheathed his sword, necessity stained, and victory returned it to its scabbard.

True Alexander wept for more worlds to conquer; but your Washington, and many others of your heroes lamented only that they had but one life to spend in the service of their country.

Other nations pride themselves in comparing their heroes to the sun, moon and stars, elevated objects; but you can justly compare your Washington to Joshua of the ancients, a man, but a godly man, whom sun and moon, and stars obeyed.

You see it is not the Britannic General leading his numerous and well trained and regular army that can drive the savage foe? No. But you see them fall like the leaves of the forest in autumn by the Indian Tomahawk.

But look here, ye' British Generals! and see a Kentucky band led by their young and gallant hero. They alone can drive the Indians under the brave and daring Tecumseh, and prove to them as fatal as the serpent did to the ancients, in the days of Moses.

With equal propriety it can be said of the hero of the Thames, as it was of Caesar, 'he came, he saw, he conquered.'

Yes Americans, and friends; at the wave of the swords of your heroes, the British king's throne tottered to its center, and at the voice of your statesmen the British lion's mouth was hushed. Yes! the very heavens yield to your philosophers; and Demosthenes and Cicero, blush to hear the superior eloquence of your orators.

In a word, you are as a nation the pride of the gods of war, the model of bravery, honor, fame, and true patriotism. You are the sun of the political world; around your all other nations, like subordinate planets, revolve and receive their light.

Then, Americans, and friends, be proud of your national character, your military genius and spirit,and forget not your heroes, statesmen, and philosophers; for they are the watchmen of your liberties, government and country.

Then be assured that whilst the actions and achievements of your armies are celebrated, there is no danger of your falling into the envious or jealous hands of the nations of the globe.- Be assured when these commemorations shall become general in these United States and the strength of your arms are feared, then shall the speeches of your orators be the theme of succeeding generations and the records of your historians be read with admiration by unborn myriads. Whenever the foresight of your statesmen is perceived, then shall American bards strike their will tuned harps in praise of your heroes, Washington, Lee, Green, Gates, Montgomery, Jackson, and others, and then shall your natal soil be indeed dear to you, for it shall have been not only drenched with the rich blood of your forefathers, but hallowed also by the soul cheering song of your unparalleled poets.