Estimated reading time: 53 minutes
By Dr. William “Bill” Ambrose
The removal treaty between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, the Treaty of New Echota, was negotiated and signed by certain unelected tribal members and eager, unscrupulous government representatives on December 29, 1835. After two months of debate in the United States Senate, the treaty was ratified on March 1, 1836, with the thinnest margin — only one vote more than the two-thirds required. On May 23, 1836, President Andrew Jackson signed the treaty into law. One of the provisions of the removal treaty was that the Cherokee had two years from the date it became effective to remove to their assigned new home west of the Mississippi River and the states – the clock had started!
The issue of Cherokee land occupation had been problematic for decades, starting even before the Revolutionary War. Wars had been fought over the issue—repeatedly. Treaties and land cessions had been negotiated ad nauseum. The “Indian problem” had been a state, regional, and national debate topic for at least fifty years. General concern about social justice for the Indians had kept the issue at least alive on the back page of newspapers for two generations. This issue wasn’t resolved with another treaty and land cession, and so, of course, the politics got more heated. And it played out in the newspapers of the day –just like our social-cultural issues do today. Newspapers were the social media of the day, but only secondarily, because all the other “real news” came first. Political parties depended greatly on “their” newspapers publishing propaganda to garner support for their positions on the important issues and ultimately for votes. The big issues –the banks, tariffs, slavery, the West, public lands, internal improvements, war, etc.—occupied the headlines and front pages of the newspapers of the day. Was all the news “fit to print?” Was all the news the truth?
The tumult over the treaty began even before ratification by the Senate in February of 1836. Chief John Ross and his Cherokee National Party had lobbied Congress and the President, opposing its ratification on multiple grounds. Remonstrances to congress from the Cherokee Nation, called “memorials,” had been sent since the mid-1820’s, stating all the reasons the Cherokees deserved to not be removed to Indian Territory. With the signing of the treaty, new memorials were written and sent to all three branches of the Federal Government. The Cherokees hired lobbyists and lawyers for professional support. Specifically, the treaty negotiation had been done by a non-elected, unofficial, tiny fraction of the Cherokee Nation with personal agenda motivations. These same thirty or forty leaders signed the treaty, having only three or four hundred supporters in the entire nation. Ross’s party had fifteen thousand supporters, all vehemently opposed to the treaty and to removal. Multiple court battles were fought; many Cherokees spent time in jail; civil disobedience and bloodshed resulted; the military was called out. Sound like modern times?
As time to begin the removal drew short, Chief Ross and his trusted advisors began in January, 1838, to submit more dramatic and descriptive memorials predicting doom and ultimately demise for his Cherokee Nation. At least two memorials were sent in the first two months of 1838 to Federal Government officials, including congress, the War Department (which had authority over Indian affairs), and the President of the United States. After the first memorial was made public, an article entitled “Cherokee Wrongs” was published in the January 20, 1838, issue of THE FRIEND, having been written by the editor. That article is included here as “Cherokee Wrongs” and demonstrates that the public newspapers were beginning to show concern for the coming Cherokee removal.
The Cherokee memorials written by Chief Ross and others called out the perfidy of the federal agents who negotiated the treaty, the violations of previous treaties, the inhospitable land where they were to be sent, and a litany of other discriminatory terms of the “Treaty.” The first of these 1838 memorials is attached here as “January, 1838, Cherokee Memorial” and the second as “February, 1838, Cherokee Memorial.” As boring as Senate debate usually was, at least three publications provided complete or summary reports of the debate over the new memorial — the Congressional Globe, the National Intelligencer, and Niles National Register. The Congressional Globe, the official record of Senate activity, published the debates for Monday, Jan. 22, 1838. On that day in the Senate of the United States Congress, Sen. Wilson Lumpkin, former governor of Georgia, addressed a question from Sen. John Tipton from Indiana about a communication that had been sent from the War Department to the Senate the previous week. Lumpkin was a Jacksonian Democrat state’s-rights advocate determined to rid the State of Georgia of all Native Americans. The complete response from Sen. Lumpkin is attached here as “Congressional Globe – January 22, 1838.” The Globe was a non-partisan publication containing a “condensed report of the debate.” His answer to the question from Sen. Tipton was that the document was not the “1838 Memorial,” rather it was a response submitted to Congress from Elias Boudinot, a member of the unauthorized Cherokees who negotiated and signed the treaty and supported the removal. Sen. Lumpkin used the information in Boudinot’s document to attack Chief Ross, accusing him of misleading the Cherokee Nation about the treaty. Boudinot’s letter to the Senate contained many falsehoods about the Treaty and the removal, which had already begun with the pro-treaty, voluntary, Lt. B.B. Cannon Detachment. By the date of the senate debate, many Cherokee had died in the detainment camps and on the removal trail.
Sen. Lumpkin, as a former governor of Georgia, had been extremely partisan with the Cherokee Nation during his term as governor, demanding the removal of the Cherokees from the state. So as Senator from Georgia, he spoke derogatively about the new memorial, basically calling Chief Ross a liar and the treaty a done deal. The second memorial was published in the National Intelligencer, a “Whig” newspaper supporting the Cherokees, on February 24, 1838. Sen. Lumpkin, offended that it was published, called out the Intelligencer and Chief Ross in a letter that was published in the Niles’ National Register, included here as “Nile’s National Register – February 24, 1838.” Even though the newspaper’s editor, William Ogden Niles, was an admitted Whig, he and the Register enjoyed a great reputation for fairness, confirming that by publishing Sen. Lumpkin’s response. The second memorial had been presented to the Senate by Sen. Southard, from New Jersey, as reported in the Congressional Globe on March 26, 1838. Salient portions of the resulting Senate debate are reproduced below as “Congressional Globe – March 26, 1838,” as the complete article takes three newsprint pages. Again, Sen. Lumpkin, on the Senate floor, used the opportunity to deride Chief Ross and the 15,665 Cherokees who signed the memorial for opposing the treaty’s enforcement. Both Missouri Senators, Jacksonian Democrats Thomas Hart Benton and Lewis F. Linn, voted to “lay on the table” the new memorial with no consideration, confirming the forced removal of the entire Cherokee Nation! The memorials, the imminent round-up and removal, and the published articles quickly advanced the Cherokee removal question to the front page of newspapers across the nation. The issue of the soon-to-come forced removal of the Cherokee Nation was no longer just a far-off social issue; it had become a humanitarian and political issue of front-page status!
As the time to begin the removal drew short, the National Gazette, a Philadelphia newspaper with a Whig bent, published an article, included here as “National Gazette Article,” on March 22, 1838, just a month short of the two-year window for removal. The article describes a new “memorial” to Congress from the “Cherokee Nation of Indians.” Philadelphia was the epi-center of “thought” in early America. It was not just home to the American Philosophical Society; it was the home town of many of America’s early preeminent scientists, physicians, theologians, social critics, and public activists. Their interests ranged across the broadest scope of human endeavor, with a strong leaning toward improvement of the human condition in America. These liberal thinkers were supportive of the Cherokee cause and could not refrain from becoming politically active in this soon-to-come man-made human tragedy. The National Gazette was published from 1820 to 1841 by William Fry. It is immediately apparent that the newspaper tries to sway thinking by suggesting that there is only one opinion in the Cherokee Nation. The article states that fifteen-thousand six-hundred and sixty-five persons, “comprising the entire population of the Cherokee Nation,” signed the memorial opposing the treaty. This is clearly not true based on what we know. Neither side of the news media told the truth of the removal politic.
THE FRIEND published two more articles in opposition to the treaty and removal in its April 28, 1838, edition. The first article had been published in the New York Observer entitled, “Oppression of the Cherokees,” included here as titled. The second article published that day was a letter to the editor of THE FRIEND from Mr. Morse, included here as, “Mr. Morse’s Letter – Cherokee Oppression.” Interestingly, both articles presented strong religious arguments against the removal and predicted calamity on the United States if the removal was enforced. THE FRIEND was a Quaker publication.
Leave it to our state, Missouri, to have newspapers that supported the unfair removal. The St. Louis based Missouri Saturday News published a strongly pro-removal article that was picked up and printed in the Jackson, Mo. Southern Advocate on May 4, 1838. That article is included here as “Southern Advocate.” The article tries to garner great veracity by the author’s declarations of personal knowledge about the “salubrious” lands to which the Cherokees were being sent, attempting to refute the memorials’ claims that it is a sterile wasteland. The publisher avoids mentioning the terrible condition of the Cannon Detachment’s 365 members he would have seen with his own eyes as they passed through Jackson, Mo. on Dec. 16, 1837, after the two-and-one-half-day, arduous Mississippi River crossing. And the author attempts to ensure us of the “munificence” of the Federal Government’s taking of the Cherokee ancestral homeland. All the news that’s “fit to print?”
And finally, a “Memorial in Behalf of the Cherokees by the Citizens of Pennsylvania,” included here as titled, was published on July 7, 1838, in THE FRIEND. Note that by that date many Cherokees had died in the military detainment forts in Georgia and Tennessee from heat and disease; that the removal had been postponed until the rains and cooler temperatures would arrive in the fall; and that the B.B. Cannon Detachment had arrived in Indian Territory, having had many deaths along the trail.
All the articles and memorials were to no avail. The forced removal of 17,000 Cherokee from their mountain homelands to the Great American Desert, Indian Territory, began on September 1,1838. It became known as the Trail of Tears.
Vol XI Seventh Day, First Month, 20, 1838 No. 16
For the Friend: CHEROKEE WRONGS
This, to the dishonour of our country, an old story, so often repeated that some, perhaps, will have no inclination to hear it again, and at the sight of an article with such a title as this will turn away for something that has the charm of novelty to recommend it. Others of us, who esteem ourselves wiser, may turn away under a feeling of discouragement. All the efforts heretofore made in the cause of the poor Indian seem to have availed little or nothing, and we may have nearly come the conclusion that he is doomed by an inexorable decree to destruction and it is therefore useless to disturb ourselves about the sorrows and injuries for which we can devise remedy. But are we right in yielding to such feelings? The Cherokees themselves, notwithstanding all the past, and the gloomy prospect before them, have not yet abandoned hope. Then why should we? In their affecting remonstrance addressed to congress, at its last session, they say, “We are indeed an afflicted people! Our spirits are subdued! Despair has well-nigh seized upon our energies! But we speak to the representatives of a Christian country; the friends of justice; the patrons of the oppressed; and our hopes revive; and our prospects brighten as we indulge the thought.” Shall we not respond to this hope, at least by the expression of our sympathy, and by the manifestation of some little interest on their behalf? Would that we could cheer them with something more substantial!
An important crisis is fast approaching in the affairs of this persecuted people, The pretended treaty of New Echota is to take effect in a little more than four months from this time; when, unless the national legislature can be aroused to a sense of justice, and interpose to protect them, they will, in the words of General Wool, “ be forced from their country by the soldiers of the United States!” This is the language of an authorized agent of our government, acting under the instructions of our president. Hear him farther, “Under such circumstances what will be your condition? Deplorable in the extreme! Instead of the benefits now presented to you by the treaty, of receiving pay for the improvements of your lands, your houses, your cornfields, and your ferries, and for all the property unjustly taken from you by the white people, and at the same time, blankets, clothing, and provisions for the poor, you will be driven from the country, and without a cent to support you on your arrival at your new homes. You will in vain flee to your mountains for protection. Like the Creeks you will be hunted up and dragged from your lurking places, and hurried to the west!”
Did ever language more brutal proceed from the agents of despotism in the darkest ages of the world? This ferocious address was intended to scare the Cherokees into compliance with a spurious treaty, made with unauthorized individuals –a faction, consisting of less than one hundred persons, whom it was thus attempted to vest with power to bargain away, without, and in direct opposition to, the expressed will of their fellow countrymen, all the elements of their welfare. And this is the act of a government whose boast is, that it is founded on the principle of the greatest good of the greatest number.
It is with a view of exciting the public attention and especially that of our representatives at Washington, to this subject, that the following deeply interesting letter of John Ross, head chief of the Cherokees, to a personal friend in this city, has been lately published. To aid in the circulation of the painful and shameful facts detailed therein, it was proposed to give it an insertion in The Friend.
The individual addressed justly remarks, in relation to this letter, “The temper of this epistle, will commend it to the kind consideration of every calm and dispassionate mind, whilst its facts and reasonings must carry conviction to all readers. It is a skillful and comprehensive survey of the whole Cherokee question, and unfolds in cool language, a course of conduct which makes the patriotic cheek burn with shame, and the patriotic heart glow with indignation. May its perusal produce the proper effect in the proper quarter and induce those elevated measures which policy, humanity, and honour concur to recommend.”
To the letter are appended copies of various documents vouching for the correctness of assertions contained in it, and entering more fully into the details of some circumstances. Among the rest are the tardy reply of the secretary of war to the repeated and respectful applications of the Cherokee delegation, for the poor privilege of an interview with himself and with President Jackson; their dignified rejoinder, and the final refusal of secretary Butler, as follows:
War Department, Feb 24th, 1837, “Gentlemen, In answer to your letters the 13th and 22d instant I have the honour to inform you, that, as the president does recognize you in any such official character as that described in your communications, no interview can be had with you in that character either by him or by the department.
“Should you think proper, as individuals, to call at the department, it will give me pleasure to meet you, and any suggestions you may make, in that character, which it may be proper for the department to consider, will receive due consideration. Very respectfully, &c”
January, 1838, Cherokee Memorial
That the Cherokee Nation, deeply sensible of the evils under which they are now laboring, and the still more frightful miseries which they have too much reason to apprehend, have, in the most formal and solemn manner known to them, assembled in general council to deliberate upon their existing relations with the Government of the United States, and to lay their case with respectful deference before your honorable bodies.
Invested with full powers to conclude an arrangement upon all the matters which interest them, we have arrived at the seat of Government, and, in accordance with our usual forms of proceeding, have notified the honorable Secretary of War that we had reached this place, and, through him, solicited an interview with the Executive (the president). This request has not yet been granted, nor has it to this day received an official answer; but we have reason to apprehend, from circumstances which have reached us, that we shall be denied this application, and are compelled, in the discharge of our duty to our constituents, to submit to your honorable bodies the memorial of which we are the bearers.
On former occasions we have, in much detail, laid before you the prominent facts of our case. We have reminded you of our long and intimate connection with the United States; the scenes of peril and of difficulty which we have shared in common; of a friendship which had so long been generously proffered and affectionately and gratefully accepted; of the aids which were supplied us in promoting our advancement in the arts of civilized life; of the political principles which we had imbibed; of the religious faith we have been taught.
We have called your attention to the progress which, under your auspices, we have made; to the improvements which have marked our social and individual state; our lands brought into cultivation, our natural resources developed, our farms, workshops, and factories approximating in character and value to those of our brethren, whose example we had diligently imitated.
A smooth and beautiful prospect of future advancement was opened before us. Our people had abandoned the pursuits, the habits, and the tastes of the savage, and had put on the vestments of civilization, of intelligence, and of a pure religion. The progress we had made furnished us with the most assured hopes of continued improvement, and we indulged in the anticipation that the time was not far distant when we should be recognized on the footing of equality by the brethren from whom we had received all which we were and sought in prize.
The promise of a golden sunshine is now overspread. Clouds and darkness have obscured her brilliancy. The winds are beginning to mutter their awful forebodings; the tempest is gathering thick and heavy over our heads, and threatens to burst upon us with terrific energy and over whelming ruin.
In the season of calamity, where can we turn with hope or confidence? On all former occasions of periods of doubt, the Government of the United States spread over us its broad and powerful shield. It invited us to seek as asylum and a protection under its mighty arm; it assisted us with its encouragement and advice; it soothed us with its counseling assurances; it inspired us with hope, and gave us a feeling of confidence and security.
But, alas, this long-cherished friend seems now to be alienated from us, this our father has raised to inflict the hostile blow; on the wide scene of existence no human aid is left us. Unless you avert your arm, we are destroyed; unless your feelings of affection and compassion are once more awakened toward your destitute and despairing children, our annihilation is complete.
It is a natural inquiry among all who commiserate our situation, what are the causes which led to this disastrous revolution, to this entire change of relation? By what agency have such results been accomplished?
We have asked, and we reiterate the question: How have we offended? Show us in what manner we have, however unwittingly inflicted upon you a wrong; you shall yourselves be the judges of the extent and manner of compensation. Show us the offense which has awakened your feelings of justice against us, and we will submit to that measure of punishment which you shall tell us we have merited. We cannot bring to our recollections any thing we have done, or any thing we have committed, calculated to awaken your resentment against us.
But we are told that a treaty has been made, and all that is required at our hands is to comply with its stipulations. Will the faithful historian, who shall hereafter record our lamentable fate, say the Cherokee Nation executed a treaty by which they freely and absolutely ceded the country in which they were born and educated, the property they had been industriously accumulating and improving, and, abandoning the high road by which they had been advancing from savagism, had precipitated themselves into worse than their pristine degradation? Will not the reader of such a narrative require the most ample proof before he will accept such a story? Will he not inquire where was the kind and parented guardian who had heretofore aided the weak, assisted the forlorn, instructed the ignorant, and elevated the depressed? Where was the Government of the United States, with its vigilant care over the Indian, where such a bargain was made? How will he be surprised at the hearing that the United States was a party to that transaction; that the authorities of the Government, and the representatives of that people, which had for years been employed in leading the Cherokees from ignorance to light, from barbarism to civilization, from paganism to Christianity, who had taught them new habits and new hopes, was the very party which was about to appropriate to itself the fruits of the Indian’s industry, the birth places of his children, and the graves of his ancestors!
If such a recital could command credence, must it not be on the grounds that experience had shown the utter failure of all the efforts and the disappointment of all the hopes of the philanthropist and the Christian? That the Natives of the favored spot of God’s creation were incapable of improvement, and unsusceptible to education, and that they, in willful blindness, spurning the blessings which had been proffered and urged upon them, would perniciously prefer the degradation from which it had been attempted to lead them, and the barbarism from which it had been sought to elevate them?
How will his astonishment be augmented when he learns that the Cherokee people, almost to a man, denied the existence and the obligation of the alleged compact; that they proclaimed it to have been based in fraud, and commenced in perfidy; that no authority was ever given to those who undertook, in the names and on the behalf, to negotiate it; that it was repudiated with unexampled unanimity when it was brought to their knowledge; that they denied that it conferred any rights or imposed any obligations!
Yet such must be the story which the faithful historian must record. In the name of the whole Cherokee people, we protest against the mal-allowed, and unauthorized, and unacknowledged compact. We deny its binding force; we recognize none of its stipulations. If, contrary to every principle of justice, it is to be enforced upon us, we shall at least be free from the disgrace of self-humiliation. We hold the solemn disavowal of its provisions by eighteen thousand of our people.
We, the regularly commissioned delegation of the Cherokee Nation, in the face of Heaven, and appealing to the Searcher of all hearts for the truth of our statements, ask you to listen to our remonstrances. We implore you to examine into the truth of our allegations. We refer you to your own records, to your own agents, to men deservedly enjoying your esteem and confidence, as our witnesses; and we proffer ourselves ready if you will direct the inquiry, to establish the truth of what we aver. If we fail to substantiate our statements, overwhelm us with ignominy and disgrace; cast us off from you forever. If, however, on the other hand, every allegation we make shall be sustained by the most convincing and abundant proof, need we make further or stronger appeals than the simple facts of the case will furnish, to serve your friendship, your sympathy, and your justice?
We will not and cannot believe, after the long connection that has existed between us – after all that has been done and all that has been promised – that our whole Nation will be forcibly ejected from their native land and from their social hearths, without the pretense of crime, without charge, without evidence, without trial; that we shall be exiled from all that we hold dear, and venerable, and sacred; and driven into a remote, a strange, and a sterile region, without even the imputation of guilt. We will not believe that this will be done by our ancient allies, our Friends, our brethren. Yet, between this and the abrogation of the pretended treaty, there is no medium. Such an instrument, so obtained, so contaminated, cannot cover the real nature of the acts which it is invoked to sanction. If we are thus to suffer, no disguise can be useful or availing. If power is to be exerted, let it become unveiled. We shall but submit and die.
If, however, as our long experience has taught us to hope, we yet retain any hold upon your sympathies, any claim upon your justice; if, entertaining doubts as to the truth of our statements, you will investigate before you determine, and inquire before you decide such momentous questions irrevocably and forever, we entreat delay and the subject shall be fully and fairly examined. You will constitute the inquiring power; you will be the tribunal to adjudge upon the whole matter; you can at any time carry into expression your own decisions. Without the means of resistance – without the disposition, in any way, to injure you – we shall yield to what you shall ultimately determine to be just and righteous judgement.
Should the result of your investigation sustain our assertions, and you should stay your hand, already uplifted, against us – we are clothed with full powers to make an arrangement of every subject of difference, and to negotiate a treaty obligatory upon our Nation, and competent to secure to the people of the United States all which their own sense of justice will lend them to require.
May we not indulge the confident assurance, that, as you can sustain no injury by this delay, the present execution of the alleged treaty may at least be suspended; that, an investigation will tend only to elicit the whole truth, it may be promptly and efficiently made; that, as a liberal justice has marked your intercourse with us, nothing will be required of us which is not thus sanctioned. If this be granted to us, that grateful prayers of a united and rescued Nation will be daily presented before the throne of Divine Mercy, invoking upon your heads, the clerical blessings of Heaven, prosperity upon your institutions, and every happiness upon your people.
February, 1838, Cherokee Memorial
To The Honorable the Senate and House
of Representatives of the United States.
in Congress assembled, most humbly
and most respectfully showeth :
That whereas, we, the undersigned, citizens of the Cherokee Nation, have always regarded the instrument purporting to be a Treaty, made in December, 1835, at New Echota. by the Rev. John F. Schermerhorn. and certain unauthorized individual Cherokees. to be a violation of the fundamental principles of justice, and on which your great empire is founded, an outrage on the primary rules of national intercourse as well as the known laws and usages of the Cherokee nation, and therefore to be destitute of any binding force on us :
And whereas, at a General Council of the Nation, held at Red Clay, in September, 1836, our sentiments were set forth and our solemn protest entered against it:
And whereas, at a subsequent General Council of the Nation, held at Red Clay, in August, 1837. a communication from the President of the United States, on the subject of said instrument, was delivered in full Council, by Col. John Mason. Special Agent of the U. States :
And whereas, after mature deliberation on the said communication, the resolutions of the preceding Council in reference to that compact, were re-affirmed, together with the memorial which accompanied the same:
And whereas, we entertained the belief that, through the medium of the Special Agent’s report, the President would become correctly informed of the state of the matter, and of the real sentiments of the Cherokee people.
“We. therefore, cherished the confident hope, that he would deem it right to abrogate that fraudulent instrument, and at once, enter into arrangements with us for the adjustment of all difficulties.
With these views, we then appointed a delegation to represent us before the government of the United States, and vested with them full powers to make final arrangements of all matters in controversy; and we were animated with prospect of a speedy termination of our distresses; but the cup of hope is dashed from our lips; our prospects are dark with horror, and our hearts are filled with bitterness—Agonized with these emotions; language fails; our tongues falter as we approach the bar of your august assemblies, before who we again beg leave humbly to present our grievances.
With the full details of our troubles, we forbear to trespass on your indulgence. They are extensively known, and our delegation now at Washington, will be found ready to furnish any information which may be needed.
We therefore respectfully present the following, which will show the appalling circumstances in which we are placed by the operation of that perfidious compact.
A communication has recently issued from the U. States’ Agency, addressed to the Chiefs, Head Men and People of the Cherokee Nation, in which we are told that “the Executive has formally declined” all intercourse or correspondence with Mr. Ross in relation to the treaty, “and” that “an end has been put to all negotiation upon the subject”—”that it is the unalterable determination of the President to execute the treaty”—”the time cannot possibly be prolonged”—-another day beyond the time named, cannot and will not, be allowed you.”—The writer says. “we will not attempt to describe the evils that may fall upon you, if you are still obstinate, and refuse to conform to the requirements of the treaty”—“we will not paint the horrors that may ensue in such an event.”
It will be readily conceived that declarations like these, emanating from such a source—our country already filled with troops—cannot fail to fill our minds with consternation and surprise. What have we done to merit such severe treatment? What is our crime? Have we invaded any one’s rights? Have we violated any article of our numerous Treaties? Have we in any manner acted in bad faith?—We are not even charged with any such thing. But we are accused of “laboring under a dangerous error.” and of being “duped and deluded by those in whom we have placed implicit confidence.”—“Your pretended friends.” say they “have proved themselves to be your worst enemies.” But what is our “dangerous error?” What is our “delusion?” Is it a delusion to be sensible of the wrongs we suffer? Is it a “dangerous error” to believe that the great nation, whose representatives we now approach, will never knowingly sanction a transaction originated in treachery and to be executed by violence and oppression? It cannot be— Is it a “delusion” to assert that the makers of that ill-omened compact were destitute of authority?
This fact we are prepared to prove by incontestable evidence. Indeed, it is virtually admitted by the parties themselves, and the very fact that an armed force should be put in requisition to defend their persons, and to compel our submission, argues, not obscurely, a defect of confidence in the validity of the compact. Is it obstinacy to refuse our assent to an act which is a flagrant violation of the first principles of free government, and which sets foot on the neck of our liberties, and our dearest rights? Are we to be thus frowned into silence, for attempting to utter our complaints in the ear of our lawful and covenanted protector? Is it a crime to confide in our chiefs—the men of our choice—whom we have tried and found faithful? We would humbly ask, in whom should we confide? Surely not in those who have, in the face of our solemn injunctions, and in opposition to the reiterated expression of our sentiments conspired the ruin of our country—usurped the powers of the nation—framed the spurious compact—and by artifice and fraud, palmed it on the authorities of the U. States and procured for it the recognition of those high functionaries.
And now, in the presence of your august assemblies, and in the presence of the Supreme Judge of the Universe, most solemnly and most humbly do we ask—are we, for these causes, to be subjected to the indescribable evils which are designed to be inflicted on us? Is our country to be made the scene of the “horrors” which the Commissioners “will not paint?” For adhering: to the principles on which your great empire is founded, and which have advanced it to its present elevation and glory, are we to be despoiled of all we hold dear on earth? Are we to be hunted through the mountains like wild beasts, and our women, our children, our aged, our sick, to be dragged from their homes, like culprits, and packed on board loathsome boats for transportation to a sickly clime?
Already are we thronged with armed men ; forts, camps, and military posts of every grade, already occupy our whole country. With us. it is a season of alarm and apprehension. We acknowledge the power of the U. States. We acknowledge our own feebleness. Our only fortress is, the justice of our cause—Our only appeal, on earth, is to your tribunal. To you. then, we look. Before your honorable bodies—in view of the appalling circumstances with which we are surrounded—relying on the righteousness of our cause, and the justice and magnanimity of the tribunal to which we appeal—we do solemnly and earnestly protest against that spurious instrument: and we do hereby, also, respectfully re-affirm, as a part of this our memorial, the resolutions and accompanying memorials of the two last General Councils of the Nation, held at Red Clay. Our minds remain unaltered. We never can assent to that compact; nor can we believe that the U. States are bound in honor or in justice, to execute on us its degrading and ruinous provisions.
It’s true, we are feeble people; and as regards to physical power, we are in the hands of the United States; but we have not forfeited our rights; and if we fail to transmit to our sons, the freedom we have derived from our fathers, it must not be by an act of suicide; it must not be by our own consent.
With trembling; solicitude and anxiety, we most humbly and most respectfully ask, will you hear us? Will you extend to us your powerful protection? Will you shield us from the “HORRORS” of the threatened storm? Will you sustain the hopes we have rested on the public faith, the honor, the justice of your mighty empire? We commit our cause to your favor and protection:
And your memorialists, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Cherokee Nation; Feb. 22, 1838.
Signed by fifteen thousand six hundred and sixty five of the Cherokee people, as will appear by referring to the original submitted to the Senate by the Cherokee Delegates
Congressional Globe – Monday, January 22, 1838
In the United States Senate,
Mr. Lumpkin said, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate, a communication from the War Department has been made, and has been lying on your table for a week or more past, furnishing copies of the correspondence held with that Department in connection with the subject of the execution of the Cherokee treaty of 1835.
Mr. Tipton inquired if the document which the Senator referred to was the memorial of John Ross and others, presented at the last session, and laid on the table.
Mr. Lumpkin replied that it was not, and again explained the nature of the document.
My object (continued Mr. L.) in rising at this time, is to ask for the printing of the communication referred to, together with the accompanying correspondence. Although, I have not had an opportunity of examining fully what has been communicated upon this subject, I take it for granted that the requirements of the resolution have been complied with; and if so’ I deem it important that the Senate and the country should, without delay, be put in possession of the information communicated. The importance which I attach to having this information diffused, arises from the consideration that it will tend effectively to disabuse the minds of those who labor under the misapprehension which has been created by Mr. John Ross and his associates in regard to the validity of the treaty referred to.
While Mr. Ross continues to protest against the validity of the treaty, and is remonstrating to every department of government against its execution, this communication will show that the Government not only considers the treaty the supreme law of the land, but has steadily progressed in its execution, and that the treaty has actually, to a very great extent, been already executed. That much, very much, has been done towards the execution of the treaty, which cannot be undone.
With me, sir, the present condition of the Cherokee people is a subject of great solitude. In whatever light I may be viewed here or elsewhere in regard to my feelings and policy towards this people, I am conscious that the day will come, and it is not now far distant, when my course of policy towards these people, from first to last, will receive the general approbation of all those who are well informed on the subject. At this moment, sir, nothing hinders the consummation of this treaty with the Cherokee people, which would make them not only comfortable, but place within their reach the means of making them the most independent and best provided for people of any community in these United States, but this opposition of Mr. Ross and his associates, aided as they are by many influential and talented individuals, whom I am forced to believe are laboring under great misapprehension, in regard to the true state and condition of these people, and the impending dangers which are threatening them at this present moment.
This treaty, sir, has been made and ratified according to the forms of our constitution. It was negotiated with a delegation of the Cherokee people, who, in point of intelligence, patriotism, education, morality and probity of character, will not only bear a fair comparison with Mr. Ross and his delegation, now perhaps in the hearing of my voice, but they would gain by a comparison with any delegation of the aboriginal race who have ever negotiated and signed a treaty with the United States.
I have seen, and read, sir, Mr. Ross’s memorial, and its appendages, to the present Congress, which has been printed by the other branch of Congress, and laid upon our tables. In that memorial, he greatly derogates from the character, and impugns the motives, of the individuals who negotiated and signed the treaty of 1835. And that document being printed and circulated by order of one branch of Congress, I will now notify the Senate that I have in my possession a document, written by Mr. Elias Boudinot, late Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, and one of the principal agents who negotiated and signed the late Treaty of 1835, in the nature of a reply to the various allegations contained in the writings of Mr. Ross herein referred to. Mr. Boudinot is a man of education, refinement, probity, and high moral sense and character, and has at all times been the able and efficient advocate and defender of the rights of his people. He has been with them in their six troubles, and is not disposed to forsake them in their seventh. If left to his guidance, he would gently lead them out of all difficulties by which they are now surrounded, and plant them in a land of excellent promise. Mr. Boudinot is not only a nominal Cherokee; he is identified by blood and feeling with these people, having but little mixture of the white blood in his veins.
The propriety of printing the communication , and reply to which I have adverted, arises from the fact, that the Cherokee people are kept in a state of delusion and misapprehension in regard to their present condition. They unfortunately believe that Mr. Ross is here, doing something to abrogate or overturn the late treaty, and no doubt many of them believe that no valid treaty has been made. This is a ruinous delusion to these unfortunate people, for the time is now drawing close when they must take their departure for their new homes in the West. The time stipulated for their departure is in May next; and when the time arrives, go they must; no power can abrogate or overturn this treaty. And these people, instead of being kept back by the operations of Mr. Ross, ought to yield to the advice of better friends, who stand ready to take them by the hand, and lead them forth to their promised land of rest, where I trust these unfortunate people will cease to be troubled by the white population. Payments have been made under the provisions of this treaty to a very large amount. Nine-tenths of the most intelligent and wealthy Cherokees have availed themselves of the advantageous and liberal provisions of the treaty, and have become recipients under its provisions, and have or are going to the west. The only difficulty is with the ignorant and deluded, who are still looking to the operations of Mr. Ross and his delegation, who, I understand, still remain here, and I am informed are writing letters home that their prospects are encouraging. Now, every one here very well knows that this treaty will be executed; but these unfortunate Cherokees are still deluded through the channel pointed out.
Mr. Tipton now understood the document to which the Senator from Georgia alluded, and h was highly in favor of printing it. Not understanding at first what the document was that the Senator wished to print, he was under the impression that it was the memorial of John Ross, whose conduct in staying in this city, and writing home letters to his people, to induce them to oppose obstacles in the way of the execution of the treaty, was producing the most injurious effects, not only to the Cherokees themselves, but to the Government. As this treaty had been executed almost entirely, with the exception only of so far as related to that small portion of the tribe yet adhering to John Ross, he thought it highly desirable that the documents should be published, that the country might properly appreciate its beneficial tendencies – that the pernicious counsels of John Ross might be counteracted, and that it might be shown to the world at large that the Government was resolutely determined, mildly, but firmly, to carry out with this people its benevolent policy of removing them from their present dangerous situation, without which it is impossible the race can be preserved.
The question then being taken on printing 500 extra copies of the communication from the War Department. It was so agreed.
Mr. Lumpkin then offered the following resolution, which was considered and adopted:
Whereas, A memorial, accompanied by various other documents, of a delegation of the Cherokee nation of Indians, remonstrating against the validity of the Cherokee Treaty of 1835 has been printed by order of the House of Representatives; and whereas said memorial and documents not only call in question the validity of said treaty, but greatly derogate from the character, and impugn the motives, of those individuals of the Cherokee nation who negotiated and signed said treaty on the part of the nation;
And whereas, Elias Boudinot, late editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, and one of the principal agents of the Cherokee nation, who negotiated and signed said treaty, has written a reply to the various allegations set forth in the memorial referred to; therefore be it
Resolved, That fifteen hundred copies of the reply of Mr. Boudinot referred to be published for the use of the Senate.
Nile’s National Register – February 24, 1838.
Washington City, Jan. 31, 1838.
Messrs. Gales and Seaton: That both parties in the Cherokee Nation may be heard, I request that the enclosed exposition of Elias Boudinot may be published in the National Intelligencer.
Respectfully, Your obedient servant, C. E. Haynes
Senate Chambers, Washington, Jan. 31, 1838.
Messrs. Gales and Seaton: Gentlemen, I find the columns of the Intelligencer of this mornings date chiefly occupied by the publication of the memorials, and other writings of John Ross and co. remonstrating and protesting against the justice and validity of the Cherokee treaty of 1835. I am familiar with the contents of these papers, and am apprised of the plausibility of their contents, when exhibited in an ex parte form, and to persons who are unacquainted with all the circumstances and facts connected with the subject.
I feel it a duty which I owe to the country, to my government, and to the individuals who are implicated by these publications, not to permit this delusive statement to be handed down to posterity, and that in the columns of the Intelligencer, without an effort to counteract what I deem to be mischievous error, and to place the subject in its true light before the public.
In order, therefore, that the readers of the Intelligencer, now and hereafter, as well as the historian who may collect materials from the preserved files of the newspapers of the present day, may find the means of making up a correct decision on this subject, I have, therefore, respectfully to request of you, as faithful journalists, to publish in the Intelligencer, at as early a day as practicable, the reply of Elias Boudinot, as re-published by order of the senate, being document No. 121. This reply of Elias Boudinot, although not written as a reply to the particular papers now published by you at the request of Mr. Ross, will, nevertheless, be found a most conclusive refutation of all the most important grounds of Mr. Ross, contained in the memorials and papers referred to. Moreover, Mr. Boudinot’s reply will exhibit Mr. Ross in his true character, and give to the public the most clear and correct view of the subject, under consideration, of any publication which I have seen.
Should any cause whatever prevent your compliance with my request herein contained, I then have to request that you will at least publish this letter, in order that those who may read and examine the files of the Intelligencer after the present generation shall have passed away, may find this letter as an index to point to a more correct history of facts than that which is contained in the memorials and prayers of Mr. Ross.
Moreover, other and strong considerations tend to enlist all my sympathies in behalf of the Cherokee people, and to avert impending evils which threaten them, and to promote their present and permanent welfare. Therefore, I wish to weaken the mischievous influence which such publications as these memorials and papers are calculated to produce, if permitted to go to the world uncontradicted.
These publications tend to affect the interest of the Cherokee people most injuriously, by misleading and enlisting the feelings of persons of character and influence, and thereby cause such persons to encourage the Cherokee people in a continuance of their opposition to a treaty, upon the execution of which their temporal salvation chiefly depends.
I am, gentlemen, very respectfully your obedient servant, Wilson Lumpkin, of Georgia.
Congressional Globe – March 26, 1838
Mr. Southard presented a memorial, addressed to Congress, and signed by a deputation of the Cherokee Indians now in Washington, making representations and complaints in regard to their situation under the alleged treaty, and praying Congress in some mode to interfere for their relief.
Also, a memorial against the enforcement of the treaty, directly from the Cherokee nation, with the signatures of 15,665 persons of that nation.
Mr. S. moved that these memorials be printed, and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.
Mr. Lumpkin said: Mr. President, I must express my deep regret at the introduction of this subject here by the Senator from New Jersey, (Mr. Southard.) Even to entertain, and discuss this subject here, at this time, is pregnant with much mischief. But the subject being thus far forced upon the attention of the Senate, I wish to give to it that direction which will be productive of the least mischief, which will be, to lay the whole subject on the table, with an understanding that it will not again be taken up by the Senate.
It is proper, however, that, before I make this motion, I should ask the ear of the Senate, while I explain, in a brief manner, why the Senate should, in a prompt and decisive manner, put to rest all hopes and expectations of the Cherokee people, that John Ross can effect the slightest change in the determination of any branch of the Federal Government, to execute the Cherokee Treaty of 1835. Neither would I wish to make this motion to the preclusion of other gentlemen who may desire to say something on this subject.……
There is no difficulty in regard to executing this treaty with the intelligent portion of the Cherokee people, except what has been produced by this man John Ross, who claims to be principal chief of the Cherokee people, and his pliable delegation now here. The opposing Indians, now, are ignorant and uninformed, and these would have long since have cheerfully yielded, and have emigrated, but for the wicked and mischievous operations of this man John Ross, and his immediate associates……
The Cherokees ought to be made to understand that this thing was settled forever; that the treaty was irrevocable; that the Government was bound to carry it into effect, and that they must not delude themselves with the false hope of setting it aside……..
Mr. Southard…..The Indians believe, whether justly or not, they had been wrongly dealt with, and ask Congress to hear them. Why not then, said Mr. S. refer the papers to the Committee on Indian Affairs, which body would, no doubt, report promptly, and let them know what they had to expect. Such, in his opinion, would be the true course for a great Government to pursue towards a poor and oppressed race. Give the answer to their prayer in a constitutional manner, and they will, no doubt, be satisfied. If you refuse them a hearing, said Mr. S. do you suppose that would destroy their hopes of remaining? No sir! No sir – it will not……….
Mr. Clay……He would not add another word, further than to say that his object in making the motion, which he now made, to lay the whole subject on the table, was to put the subject down definitively; and he wished also, that those who were friendly to the object of the memorial, would communicate frankly to the memorialists that there was not the slightest hope of diverting the Government from its intention to carry this treaty into effect.
On motion of Mr. Clay of Alabama, the whole subject was laid on the table – yeas 36, nays 10.
The National Gazette
Thursday, March 22, 1838
We have received, from a private source, a manuscript copy of a Memorial which has already been or will be presented to Congress, in the course of the week, from the Cherokee Nation of Indians. It is so powerful a paper, and so feelingly depicts the crying injustice and flagrant hardship of the case in question, that we hasten to publish it for the information of our readers. The Memorial is signed by fifteen thousand six hundred and sixty-five persons, comprising the entire population of the Cherokee Nation. If better evidence be required of the perfidy of the government agents, in calling the instrument of New Echota, a Treaty, we are at a loss to conceive what kind of testimony would be deemed satisfactory. It will be recollected that immediately after the concoction of the instrument, the Cherokee nation, both individually, and through its authorized representatives, protested against its ratification. The Protest alleged that it was not the act of the Cherokee community, and that they had not been consulted; but that it was the work of a very few, (about sixty or seventy,) unauthorized persons of bad character, who were assembled to partake of a feast which had been provided by Mr. Schermerhorn, the United States Commissioner. In the face of this Protest, which was signed by nearly fourteen thousand persons, (nearly the whole nation,) the Senate, without enquiry, established the paper, by formal vote, to be a valid contract, a binding treaty. General Wool, who afterwards visited the nation, on behalf of the United States, returned to Washington with a most perfect conviction, the expression of which he did not suppress, that the New Echota Treaty had always been without, and against, the consent of the Cherokees. At the present session of Congress, an effort was made to institute an inquiry into the facts connected with the execution of the new Echota instrument, but enquiry was stifled by an indefinite postponement of the whole question. The paper, therefore, to all legal purposes, subsists as a Treaty, under the provisions of which the Cherokee will be driven, in June next, from a cultivated and comfortable home, to a sickly wilderness, in the midst of savage tribes. In this Memorial, they make a last appeal for protection, still trusting that faith, justice, and magnanimity are virtues not utterly extinguished in the American Councils. Ought not this appeal to be seconded by a memorial from Philadelphia, expressing the sorrow, humiliation, and shame which persistence in so unjust and unrighteous a policy, can not fail to inflict and awaken. As the inheritors of the principles of William Penn, Philadelphia cannot be silent in an emergency, involving all that is precious and honorable in the National character.
Vol. XI. Seventh Day, Fourth Month, 28, 1838 No.30
Oppression of the Cherokees
From the New York Observer
Are the people of God fully awake to the fact that our country is about to become the scene of one of the most enormous and heaven-daring acts of injustice and oppression that the history of the world has recorded? I mean the removal of the Cherokees (on the 25th of May next) by fraud and force, from their own soil and that of their forefathers; a soil which they hold by as just and sacred a tenure as any man in this state holds his house or his farm; a soil endeared to them by the scenes of their infancy, and the graves of their ancestors; which we have taught them to cultivate and love. And now that it has been rendered valuable by their labour, and that they have been taught to prize and love it, and to feel the sweet and sacred attractions of home, the savage rapacity of the white man is about to despoil them of it, and to cast them homeless and portionless into the western wilderness! What is to become of their aged? What is to become of their infants? What is to become of the weak and sick of their tribe? Let us imagine their condition on the arrival of the fatal day, when troops of savage Georgians shall appear “with authority and commission” to sweep them into exile! Some will doubtless be stretched on the bed of disease; some will be in the agonies of death; some hearts will be bleeding from recent bereavements. Who can estimate the amount of human suffering that must attend the execution of this unrighteous and cruel decision?
And will the wrongs and tears and blood of the oppressed find no avenger? Who is He that has said, “Remove not the ancient landmark, neither enter into the fields of the fatherless – for their Redeemer is mighty? He shall plead their cause with thee.”
This act is to be perpetrated too under the sanction of the supreme legislature and executive of our nation, on the ground of a treaty which they must know to have been fraudulently obtained. It is, therefore, the act of the nation; and the nation will feel its consequences. Let us not forget that all Israel “suffered famine three years, year by year, because of Saul and his bloody house, because he slew the Gideonites,” who had the protection of an ancient treaty; though a treaty obtained by deception. (Sam. xxi. 1, and Josh. ix.) Nor was the wrath of a just God turned away till that cruel family in one of its branches had been exterminated; and three years of national calamity had been endured before the cause of the visitation was discovered.
Have the Christians of this nation then done all in their power to prevent the perpetration of this unjust and inhuman act? Or are they “sighing and crying over an abomination,” which it is out of their power to prevent? I am in favour of observing a day of fasting and humiliation on this occasion – and that too without delay. Never in my opinion was there an emergency in the history of our nation which more loudly called for such an observance. If this outrage were to be committed on one of the powerful nations of Europe, and threatened to involve us in an extensive and protracted war, we should think it well worth while to fast and pray that our rulers might be preserved from such infatuation. But shall we not find it much harder to contend with the Avenger of the oppressed? It is possible that God may even yet be entreated to turn away this crime and calamity from our land. Let every Christian at least implore him in secret to do so. Let us be sure, if we cannot prevent the crime, that we are acquitted of all participation in it. I trust it may prove so in the day of inquisition. The northern states have, as far as my knowledge extends, treated the tribes within their territories with justice and humanity. They have testified and remonstrated against the outrages upon the Cherokees. To Georgia alone belongs the infamy of having plotted and achieved this outrage. And if she persists in her unrighteous course, may she possess alone the reward of her injustice, and feel alone the tremendous penalties which will follow and punish it!
Eds. Obs. Georgia undoubtedly is the instigator of the outrage, and it is for her benefit chiefly that it is to be perpetrated; but as it is the government of the United States which made and threatens to enforce the iniquitous treaty of the New Echota, the people of the whole country must bear the guilt of aiding and abetting Georgia, and all who do not lift up their voices in remonstrance must expect to share in her reward.
Vol.XI. Seventh Day, Fourth Month, 28, 1838. No.30
Mr. Morse’s Letter – Cherokee Oppression
Last Monday evening at the monthly concert, the assembly were much moved, at a statement of a few facts, in regard to the Cherokees, who are about to be removed to the west by our government. How is it possible, that in the nineteenth century, and in a land enlightened by the meridian splendor of the gospel, and where freedom and the rights of man seem sacred, there should be men who can violate with impunity the laws of God and man, and their own most solemn engagements, and scarcely any thing be said or done to prevent it? All things go on as quietly as if it was a small everyday occurrence!
When the poor Poles were conquered, and driven into captivity, how much was said and felt for their sufferings! What abhorrence of despotic power, and injustice! How many tears were poured forth for the poor Greeks! How many prayers ascended for their deliverance! What efforts for their relief! The whole country seemed moved with pity for them, and execration against their oppressors. But now, when it is ourselves that are the oppressors, and because we are a free people, we think we may act wickedly with impunity; and that we can, after driving the Indians to the west, possess their houses and land, and enrich ourselves with their spoil. All of this iniquity is established by law, in view of high heaven, and the civilized world.
In view of such high-handed national wickedness, we should expect that Christians would be alarmed for themselves and for their country, and would listen to the voice of God by his profit, saying: “Turn ye even to me with all your heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning. And let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.” But what do we hear from our public journals, and periodicals, and pulpits, on the subject? And what would our closets testify if they could speak? “If thou forbear to deliver the brother drawn to death, and ready to be slain, doth not He that pondoreth the heart consider it; and He that keepeth thy soul, doth He not know it? And shall not He render to every man according to his work?”
“God is righteous, and sin is the abominable thing that his soul hateth.” He says to us, “O house of David, thus saith the Lord; execute judgment; deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it because of the evil of your doings.”
We must prepare ourselves for the judgments of heaven. They will as certainly fall on us for this iniquity as the Holy one Israel cannot lie. Look at Spain! Degraded, debased, and miserable. Have not her crimes in oppressing the poor natives of South America, come up in remembrance before God? And is He not now giving her the reward of her deeds “because of the fierceness of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger?” I tremble for myself, and my children, and my country, when I think of our crimes against the poor Indians. I hear a voice from His word saying, “Shall I not visit for these things? Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” Will not every Christian who reads this, pray for the suffering people, and that God will in mercy to them and us avert the threatening evil, and give us repentance as individuals for our apathy, and want of compassionate interest for them in their sufferings?
May 4, 1838
From the Missouri Saturday News,
In the National Gazette we have recently observed “a memorial of the Cherokee nation copied from a manuscript received from a private source.” In the preliminary remarks of the editor, he complains of the perfidy of the government agents in negotiating with the Cherokees the treaty of removal. He adds a lament that “they are to be driven, in June next, from a cultivated and comfortable home, to a sickly wilderness in the midst of savage tribes.”
This last sentence is a reckless falsehood. The country to which they are going is bounded by Barry County, Missouri, on the east; and by the Quapaw and Seneca settlements on the south. These Indian neighbors are as far advanced in civilization as the Cherokees, and a much better people. The Osages reside northwesterly and west of the country of this band of the Cherokees. The Creek nation, which has emigrated and settled between the Neosho and the Verdigris (Rivers), reside south and southwest of the country which is given to the memorializing and complaining band of the Cherokees. The country which the National Gazette pronounces sickly, is as salubrious as the city of Philadelphia, and more fertile than any part of Pennsylvania. In making these assertions we wish it distinctly understood, that we do not discharge our sentiments in an off-hand, random manner; but speak from personal knowledge of the country and people who reside on the border of the Cherokee bands.
We know nothing of the manner in which the treaty was negotiated with the Cherokees; but it is notorious that the settled policy of our government has long ago demonstrated that, all the Indians shall be removed beyond the boundaries of the Union and its Territories; and it is, therefore, superfluous to hold treaties at all with the fragments of tribes which have no national character. The only thing the government need feel malicious about is, the justice and liberality which all agree should be exercised in their removal. They are entitled to a good country in exchange for that which their interests and happiness require them to abandon, and fair remuneration for difference in value and expense of removal. The government have gone far beyond these claims – they have dealt munificently on this, as well as all other occasions. The idea of imposing suffering on the Cherokees, by placing them, in the vicinity of savage tribes, is preposterous. A people who reject with scorn every effort to civilize them, and who have acquired no more by their contiguity in white men than their vices, should, and they do, think themselves happy in the location assigned them by the treaty of which they complain. Those who have any just knowledge of the Indian character are aware that the remonstrances of the Cherokees are made merely for the purpose of extorting from the government some further gratuity, which they fancy will be given to quiet their memorializings.
It is easy and perfectly natural for an editor of fine, benevolent feelings or one with vindictive party purposes, to sit at a distance and disconstrue prettily of philanthropy, oppression and flagrant injustice; but if he entertains any regard for his own reputation for truth and justice, he should study well the topography of the country which he attempts to describe, and the character of the Indians for whom he obviously has much gratuitous sympathy, before he utters assertions for which he hopes to obtain credence.
Vol. XI Seventh Month, 7, 1838. No. 27
Memorial in Behalf of the Cherokees by the Citizens of Pennsylvania
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled,
The undersigned citizens of the state of Pennsylvania respectfully represent:
That they feel a deep interest in the present unhappy condition of the Cherokee Nation of Indians; and they have observed with much solitude, the different efforts which have been made to induce your respective bodies, to reconsider the treaty purporting to have been made with them at New Echota in the winter of 1835.
Under a firm conviction that this instrument is unjust and cruel in its character – adverse to the best interests of the Indians – and obtained against the consent, and in opposition to the declared will of their nation, — your memorialists cannot but ardently desire, that it may not be further sanctioned by our government, and its ruinous enactments enforced upon these poor and unresisting objects of its oppression.
When we look to the ancient and indisputable title of these people to the land upon which they reside, and from which it will be the province of this alleged treaty to force them, and drive them, after fifty years of partial civilization, into the wilderness, to return to the savage state, or miserably perish by causes incident to their removal, or by the hands of their barbarous neighbors; when we consider their former happy state – the laudable advances they have made towards civilization, and the friendly relations which have so long continued to mark the intercourse between our nation and theirs, we feel constrained, by the tenderest emotions of sympathy, to plead with you on their behalf; and to urge you by every consideration of reason and religion, by your love of justice and mercy, and by the respect you owe to the dignity and character of our country, whose faith has been pledged again and again for their protection, to lend your ear to their cry, and give heed to the petitions which have been laid before you in their behalf.
Your memorialists would therefore most respectfully, but earnestly beg of you to consider the inconsistency of acknowledging as valid this instrument, signed at New Echota by less than a hundred obscure and unauthorized individuals, whilst the remonstrances which have been sent to you against it, have been signed not only by the acknowledged authorities, but by upwards of fifteen thousand of their people.
We do not deem it expedient to consume your time by reciting facts which have been reiterated again and again in your hearing; our object is briefly, but strenuously, to urge you to reconsider this whole transaction, and to strike from it every clause that may in any wise detract from the high profession we are making to the world, as a Christian people, acting under the benign influence of that holy gospel whose first annunciation was heard in the angelic anthems of “peace on earth and good-will towards men;” and whose divine founder has left for the government of all such nations, as well as individuals, as profess his name, the simple code of “Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you.”
In conclusion, your memorialists deem it right to assert, that in coming before you at this time, they are actuated by no private or political motives whatever, but are moved thereto solely by a desire to serve the cause of the poor and needy; and by a jealous fear, lest our beloved country may become involved in the crime of cruelty and oppression.
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