[blocks in formation]

what I thought such a proposition to the Committee of
the Whole on the state of the Union, and which was by
them almost as promptly rejected as submitted. My pro-
ition was to authorize the President to hold treaties
with the tribes in the usual manner, to extinguish the title
to their lands on this side of the Mississippi, and exchange
those with them for others beyond; to obtain their volun-
tary consent to go; to make provision for them while mi-
grating, and for their sustenance a reasonable time after
their arrival there; and, indeed, embracing very nearly as
extensive a scheme as the bill now under consideration,
except that treaties were to be made and brought before
tle Senate for their advice and consent; that, as treaties
had sometimes been obtained through fraud and covin,
and had actually afterwards been set aside by the Senate,
and which had occasioned bloodshed among the Indians,
I was desirous to avoid such a catastrophe in future, and
believing, at the same time, that it was the only constitu-
tional mode by which it could be done. But, sir, what was
my astonishment, when I was told that it was worse than
no plan, and found that it was rejected almost without a
division. I must confess that I felt afterwards as if it was
my duty strenuously to oppose the one now under considera-
tion, and shall certainly continue to do so, unless it shall be
modified to comport with my views of the constitution, of
the treaties made with them, and of that justice which is
due to a weak and helpless people, to whom we are under
every obligation of compact, of honor, of benevolence, and
hilanthropy, to protect, and, as far as we can, to save from
impending ruin and final extinction. Sir, the danger to be
feared in prosecuting such a tremendous scheme ought to
prevent its adoption. -
This bill throws into the hands of the President some
twenty millions of dollars, to disburse exactly as he pleases;
it throws into his hands the lives and liberties of four hun-
dred thousand human beings, for such is about the num
ber of Indians on both sides of the Mississippi, besides a
hundred millions of acres of land, without check or con-
trol over him, no power to revise his acts; all his compacts
are without the revisory power of the Senate. It is a dis-
cretion which I can never consent to grant to any man.
My proposition requires treaties to be made in the usual
way; those treaties to be submitted to the revision and con:
...r the Senate. Here is safety. If the treaty is fraudu-
lent, it can be set aside; if it be improvident, it can be
rectified; if the President should drive the project too
fast, or extend his operations too wide, he can be checked.
The Senate is a representative body in part, and in part
executive. The various interests of the States are there
fairly, represented, and their political powers fairly ba-
lanced, where contendiug interests are brought equally to
operate, and wisdom and virtue will direct the controversy
to a correct result. Sir, let us see how this bill, in its de-
tail, would operate upon the Indians, in connexion with
the laws of those States which have been brought to bear
upon them. Every gentleman can see, at the first glance,
that they must operate oppressively. How is one of those
sons of the chase, who has all his life roved uncontrolled
through his native forest, pursuing the game—I say, how is
he to conform to the habits and manners of civilized life?
How is he to be transformed, in a moment, from the solitary
savage to the social and polished citizen How is he to
yield the lawless freedom of the wilderness to the narrow
walks of cultivated society How exchange the wander-
ings of the hunter for the contracted circles of the husband.
map, or how the wild sallies of licentiousness for the re-
straints of social intercourse He cannot do it; it would
be worse than Algerine slavery. But, sir, these are not
half the difficulties imposed upon these helpless and mise:
rable people. These remarks will apply generally to all
tho-e three States which extend their laws over the Indian
tribes within their borders.
But let us see what are the provisions of those laws which

[ocr errors]

Georgia has extended over the Cherokees. It will be necessary, in order to come to a proper understanding of the case, to show the relative situation of the Georgians and the Indians. It seems that the Cherokees, in pursuance of the treaty made with them by General Jackson, in 1817, “have established fixed laws and a more permanent system of Government. They elect their chiefs and head men, who form a council; they meet at stated times, and pass laws or decrees to govern them; they have their executive officers, their justices, and their constables or “marshals,” as they are pleased to call them. With those chiefs, council, and executive officers, they govern themselves, I am told, with a regularity and firmness of purpose very little short of the most civilized communities, and at least with the same stern, undeviating national integrity. Sir, there is not upon record, I believe, an instance of a violated Indian treaty, which was entered into by them, voluntarily and without fraud on the part of the white men; they have universally abided by them, however onerously they have operated. It will be recollected, that, in 1825, a fraudulent treaty was made with the Creeks at the Indian Springs, which was afterwards set aside by the Government, on the application of the Indians; and even in this case, although it appeared that General McIntosh, the principl chief who had negotiated the treaty, was to become the individual owner in fee simple of a property worth perhaps thirty thousand dollars, for his infidelity in signing the treaty, and although the chiefs who made the stipulation were unauthorized to do so, 3. the nation never attempted to violate the treaty, but modestly asked of the Government of the United States to set it aside, in consequence of the fraud, which they did, on equitable terms, and to the great disW. of the Georgians. It is true the Indians punished Iclutosh, their chief, with death, for his infidelity, and the world has pronounced upon their act, that it was right, for he was a traitor according to their laws, having knowingly and wilfully violated not only a statute of his country, but that sacred pledge and faith which is the only guai. of national or public safety. Since the fatal catastrophe, I am told, the Cherokees, from a deep repugnance to sell their lands, and from the circumstance of their chiefs, as well as individuals, being sometimes bribed, have passed decrees punishing with death any chief or other person going into council to make treaties for the sale of their possession, without the consent of the whole nation. Now, sir, what are the laws of Georgia in relation to those people The very act by which she extends her laws over them, annuls and renders void all their orders and decrees, and makes it a penal offence, subjecting them to confinement in the penitentiary for six years, to hinder or prevent, by any means, any individual from selling any part of their lands. The Indians, finding the members of their society had been bribed, as I presume, though entirely immaterial for what reason, had made a decree or order that no individual among them, without the consent of the nation, should enrol himself, under a law of the United States, for the purpose of removing beyond the Mississip. i. . The same act of Georgia makes it a penal offence, punishable by confinement at hard labor in the peniten. tiary four years, to prevent, or endeavor, to prevent, by any means, an Indian from thus enrolling himself for transportation.” . They have likewise an order or decree of their council, which, I presume, originated in the fraud and corruption practised at the treaty of the Indian Springs in 1825, and which was afterwards set aside by Mr. Adams, with the consent of the Senate, making it a felony of death for any of their chiefs or head men, fraudulently and wickedly, to go into council, and make a treaty for the sale of their lands, without the general consent of the nation. How has Georgia met this wholesome provision of their laws Why, sir, by passing an act, making it murder, and punishable with death by hanging, to take the life of an Indian for

[ocr errors][merged small]

enrolling himself for transportation, or for going into a council, to sell their whole territory, or any part of them, to the whites; making the executive officer of the Indians answer. able with his life for executing any such order of council or decree. There is, likewise, a provision in the same law of Georgia, which disqualifies the Indians, even on their own lands and in their own towns, from being witnesses against a white man. Now, sir, a comparison of those sanguinary edicts of Georgia, operating as auxiliaries with the bill upon your table, will exhibit the true grounds upon which those poor Indians stand in relation to the freedom of their wills, in selling their lands, and removing themselves be: yond the Mississippi. This bill, then, in the first place, authorizes the President to exchange lands beyond that river with any nation of Indians on this side, for the whole or any part of their territory. It is not to be presumed the President will, in person, make all those exchanges: it will have to be trusted to agents, and perhaps those re siding in the State where the land lies; deeply interested, if not individually and directly, he will be so politically and indirectly, and will necessarily make it a point of skill and o as a diplomatist, to obtain the best terms e can of the Indians. This is putting it on the best and most honorable grounds. The laws of Georgia have annulled and abrogated all the decrees and edicts of the tribes, thereby rendering them perfectly powerless, and giving to the vile and perfidious among them the liberty of exercising, with perfect impunity, the basest fraud and treachery, and, to cap the climax, doom to the peniten tiary for six years, at hard labor, any Indian in their nation who shall * to prevent them. This is a case that may happen with the most correct agent the President can employ, and when governed by the purest motives. Under what circumstances will the Indians come to treat with you ! Why, sir, disarmed of all power as a nation, with the horrors of a penitentiary and hard labor staring them in the face, with a rope around their necks, a hangman by their side, and a gallows erected over their heads ! What a medley of absurdity, oppression, and horror is couched in these few sections of law. The solemn, legislative decrees of the Indians are, by them, declared null and void ; and yet if one of their to. prevents his fellow-member from going into council to make decrees, he is punished with confinement at hard labor in the penitentiary. Their decrees in council are null and void, and yet they are pun ished if they do not hold councils, and make such as shall suit the convenience of Georgia. They are void in some instances in which Georgia is interested that they should be, and yet they are very grave and solemn acts in cases in which she is interested to make them so. If the Indians do not hold councils to suit the convenience of Georgia, they are punished in the penitentiary; if they do hold councils, such as do not suit the convenience of Georgia, and execute them, they are to be hanged; and yet we are gravely told that this bill is not intended to coerce them from their homes or to sell their lands. Sir, I do not misrepresent this law of Georgia. I hold it in my hand—it is on every gentleman's table. I have stated its provisions substantially, and can be corrected if I be wrong. Sir, if it be proposed to these unfortunate Cherokees to sell their lands, they cannot avoid doing so. There will always be found in any community individuals corrupt enough to take advantage of the weak and imbecile. There will always be found those in the nation weak or wicked enough to yield to the bribes of corrupt agents, so long as impu. nity shields them from condign punishment. Indeed, it seems a little strange to me that it never occurred to the enlightened Legislature of Georgia, that, by annulling all the laws, customs, ordinances, and decrees of the Cherokees, and punishing them for making such, they thereby ...] all their decrees, to every intent, inefficient, as well to convey their lands as every other practical

purpose; or how it should have escaped their discernment,

that if the Indians were liable to such severe punishment for making one kind of order or decree, they would fear to run the hazard of making any kind at all, Sir, without dwelling upon this point in the argument, it is very clear that the law of Georgia is intended to intimidate the Indians, by punishing those who shall dare to object to the sale of their lands; and, sir, by a literal construction of that act, it is made a crime, punishable with four years' confinement at hard labor in the penitentiary, for an Indian to persuade his neighbor not to sell his lands and leave his country. And why was it necessary to pass such an act, if it were intended to leave the Indians at liberty to exercise their free will whether to go or stay? Nay, if it were not intended directly to compel them to go? Such is the operation of the act, in connexion with the one now under consideration; and, if this bill passes, no arm but that of heaven can save them. The balance of my remarks, will be pretty much confined to answering the argument of J. gentleman from Georgia, [Mr. WILDE) and which will show, as far as I can wish, what is the nature of their own act extending their laws over the Cherokees, as well as the operations under the act now proposed to be passed. There is, sir, a clause in this bill which authorizes the President of the United States to have appraised the improvements on settlements among the Indians, and pay those individuals for them ; and, when thus appraised and paid for, no Indian is afterwards at liberty to reside on them: but they shall instantly, become the property of the United States, or the State which owns the soil, and the Indians forever ousted of the possession. This is at once to authorize the agent whom the President may employ to deal or bargain with them, to apply to every Indian in the nation, and deal with him individually for the little spot on which he may have built a cabin; and, by bribing him with a small sum of money to sell his improvement, it at once becomes the property of Georgia, if it be within that State, as she is entitled to the soil when the Indian title is extinguished. This is not dealing with the Indians as a nation—it is purchasing out individuals, and taking their lands from them by piecemeal, without asking the consent of the tribe. It is calculated to corrupt their people, lead them to acts of disloyalty, and set them at war with one another. And here, sir, the act of Georgia has full effect; because, for an Indian to do any act by which such a disloyal deed shall be prevented, is punishable with imprisonment for four years in the penitentiary. The gentleman tells us that this is no new thing; that the Government of the United States have often dealt with individuals of a tribe for lands. Why, sir, if it is not intended to effect some new object, why pass the bill If it is only intended that the President shall treat with the Indians, why the new Ho. in the bill or, I ask again, why pass the bill? The President has the power to treat No. them without it. I undertake to say, sir, such a thing never was done by this Government, as to deal with an individual Indian for lands, unless it was such lands as he held from the United States by patent or deed. The United States have never yet descended so low as to deal, or attempt to deal, with individuals among the Indians for lands which were not held by them as private property. They have never dealt with them in any other way than by treaties with the tribes, fairly made in council It is true they have paid the Indians for improvements, but those payments have been always made to the nation, or to the individuals by consent of the nation: for every one knows that all Indian lands are held in common by the nation, and no individual can enjoy a foot of it as private property. Hence, to deal with the individual, is calculated to drag from the nation its lands piece by piece; because they have it not in their power, in consequence of the act of Georgia, to punish an offender who shall thus take upon himself to violate his duty to the nation or tribe to which he belongs. It enables the agent who shall negotiate, by

[May 19, 1830.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

bribing the worthless part of the Indian community, to rob the nation of its lands, through their defections, while the nation is deprived of the power of protecting itself against such traitorous conduct. Sir, the gentleman [Mr. WILDE] has told us how vilely the Cherokees have acted toward those who had enrolled themselves under the act of Congress for emigrating beyond the Mississippi. I had heard of the bad conduct of the Indians towards these emigrants, long ago; and, indeed, had come to the conclusion that perhaps they had acted from passion, without consulting their reason. But sir, what was my astonishment, when I heard from the gentlemen what this bad conduct was. He says the Indians sue those who are emigrating, for their debts, and thereby prevent them from going. I am not mistaken; I topk a note of what he said. Why, sir, this is characteristie of au Indian, to pay his debts, although under no legal obligation to do so. I presume, however, that some of the Georgian Indians have lived near the whites so long that they have learned to be dishonest, and the nation has taken care, in their approaches towards civilized life, to secure their constituents against such dishonest practices by their own countrymen. Sir, I ask if it is not one of the highest evidences of their advancement in moral science, and moral rectitude, as a nation. Certainly the gentleman would be very sorry to hear it said that the laws of his State would not permit the creditor to arrest the debtor who was fleeing from justice; and he has charged the Indians with no more. I should say they were dishonest, and undeserving the name of civil communities, if they did not provide against such impositions upon themselves and strangers. And, sir, here is to be found the cause why Georgia passes an act Fo them with four years' imprisonment at hard labor in the penitentiary, for using any means, by their deerees, or otherwise, for preventing the emigrants from removing to the west of the Mississippi. Sir, I will leave it to the world to say whether Georgia or the Indians are most reprehensible. The poor Indian who goes into council to pass a law to •of his countrymen honestly to pay their debts, or Georgia, who punishes him with confinement in the penitentiary, at hard labor, for doing so, merely, forsooth, because it becomes the means by which they are prevented from emigrating to the west of the Mississippi. Thus stands the case: the Indians desire their countrymen shall be honest; Georgia indicts and F. them for their laudable efforts to make them so. do not commiserate Georgia very much for the causes of such a complaint; and especially, too, as the gentleman tells us the vigilant and sharp-sighted Iudian agent in that quarter prevented the Indians from carrying into effect their plan. Such an act was worthy of such an agent; and, as to such a complaint, I will leave it to be judged of by others. The gentleman tells us of the very barbarous decrees passed by these savages in their council. I have taken a note of one as he read it from the paper; but I will only state it substantially, and he can correct me if I be wrong; it is this: “If an Indian take a thief who has stolen his horse, and he should be in so much of a rage as to take his life, he shall be answerable only to his God and his own conscience.” This is the law, or decree, of this savage nation. How long has that gentleman lived under just such a savage law Is it not the law of every civilized nation, that if a thief steal your horse, and you take him with it, and he resist, you may kill him with impunity Why, sir, it is a transcript of the law of every christian people; and here it is to be lugged in as barbarous and sanguinary, to create odium against the poor Cherokee. Sir, compare this barbarous decree of the savage with that mild and benignant decree of the enlightened State of Georgia, which indicts and punishes an Indian for going into council to make a decree to compel his countrymen to pay their honest debts. The one a savage, the other an enlightened christian community.

The Indians pass decrees to prevent their subjects or citizens from committing crimes; and, because they make allowances for the weakness and frailty of human nature, it is to be tharged upon them as sanguinary and barbarous. Why, sir, it is the mercy which justice extends to human passion, and to deny it would be to make justice more guilty than crime itself. The gentleman gives us an evidence of the cupidity of those Indians, that they have a bank, regularly organized and officered, and that the money is loaned and distributed among their rulers; but very faceo tells us that he does not know whether they have any ideas of reform. Sir, I must confess I am at the first of this information. And I am glad he has mentioned the fact, because it goes to confirm what the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. EveRETr] has said, that those Indians are very far advanced in civilization. And I will venture to affirm, that any set of rulers, civilized or savage, who have money to make a bank, as he assures us they have, have also like our worthy rulers, some idea of reform. And, sir, I mean no disparagement to Georgia when I sa that perhaps some of their rulers would be glad to bre up the Indians, and get them out of the way, that they might indulge themselves in handling the cash belonging to that bank. I say, sir, it might form a secret motive, not with Georgia, but with some of her citizens, to annul the decrees and statutes of the Cherokees, break up their councils, and finally get them removed beyond the Mississippi,

Sir, I have but a few words more, and I have done. There is one feature in the law of Georgia, which I have not mentioned, and which is perhaps the most onerous, and most calculated to secure impunity to the wicked and malevolent in the violation of the rights of the Indians, than any other; it is this, that no Indian can be received as a witness against a white man. Now, sir, I would not find fault with such a provision, if Georgia did not compel them to submit to her own laws; if she permitted them to be governed by the rules and regulations which they prescribe for themselves, they would have no right to complain, or, at least, not the same right; or if she limited the provision of the act to her own acknowledged dominion, and did not extend it to the lands and villages confessedly belonging to the Indians; but as it stands, how does it operate Why, sir, the whites may go into their towns, and murder men, women, and children, with perfect impunity, unless indeed there shall happen to be an honest white man present, which will #. ever be the case. The whole of the intercourse laws of the United States are let loose, and rendered null and void by the construction given them by the President of the United States. And white men are permitted by the laws of Georgia to go among them whenever they please; and, indeed, the executive officers are

aid mileage for going, and, when there, they have a perect immunity to commit every kind of outrage upon the Indians, because there can be no witnesses against them. The injustice of such a measure must be apparent to every one; and, besides, the license given to the si. and wicious to abuse them, must lead to the commission of almost every enormity, while they, feeling that they can have no redress, except that which they find in their own resources, will be led on perhaps to odious excesses; and riots, commotions, and bloodshed must be the inevitable consequences. Every improper act will be charged and . upon the Indian, while the white man escapes with perfect impunity, because there can be no evidence to prove his guilt. Indeed, sir, this very provision of the act of Georgia forms one of the strongest links in the chain of oppression which is intended by this bill to be thrown around the neck of the poor Indian.

Sir, I have always been in favor of colonizing the Indians as well as the negroes; but I wish, when it is done, it may be done in a manner that shall be agreeable to them —that it shall be done upon correct principles. Give them

a territory over the Mississippi; let us take it under our

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

"...; let us not undertake to govern them with our aws, but aid them in governing themselves with their own laws—lay off their territory in a continuous form, not into circles or districts for separate and distinct tribes, as contemplated by this bill; for, according to it, the territory is to be laid off, and distinctly marked, so that each tribe may know its own. By a course of this kind, you keep up those odious distinctions which have been the causes of endless wars between them. Why, sir, while they had the whole range between the Atlantic on the east, and the Pacific on the west, if we can believe history, it was their disputes about the lines of their hunting grounds which caused those exterminating wars which were fast leading to their extinction. And, suppose you throw, according to the provisions of this bill, some forty or fifty tribes into a narrow comF. between the western boundary of Missouri and Aransas on the east, and the Spanish dominions and Rocky Mountains on the west. What is to be the consequence Why, sir, in less than twelve months after they are fixed there, endless disputes and quarrels will ensue, and the same old exterminating warfare begins; and you are bound to protect them in their new possessions, not onl against all foreign foes, but against themselves. This j create onerous burdens, which the people of this Government will be very little disposed to bear; and the poor Indians will very likely, in a short time, be again abandoned to the operations of their own lawless and savage passions, which know no graduation of punishment—but every offence is punished with death; and, very soon, they will again be seen tending to decay and extinction. I say, sir, give them a territory, do away all those fatal distinctions of tribes, let them be Indians, not tribes of Indians; cultivate a good understanding with them; give them to know that we intend to treat them as our equals. It is that invidious distinction we have always kept up, which has made them hate us. The Indian is not like the poor humbled African, who looks up to his master as a superior being; he feels all the dignity of his nature; and to treat him with contempt, is to make him hate you with a hatred as lasting as time, and as inexorable as fate. You are going to place him on the borders of the Mexican domin: ions, who may one day become our rival and our foe; and if you drive him from his home by acts of oppression, he goes there with his heart cankering and festering with a deep sense of his wrongs. He will be always ready to join i. foes, whoever they may be. He will fight you as ong as he can raise the tomahawk, or wield the war club. I say, therefore, give him a country that he may call his own; take him under your kind protection; fix his title to it upon principles that shall satisfy him that it is to be his forever: do not drive him hence, but make it his interest to go, and he will go voluntarily; and, instead of bearing in his bosom the feelings of hatred and revenge, he will carry with him the pleasing recollections of your beneficence and kindness. Instead of pouring forth the curses of his injured country, he will breathe the aspirations of kindred affections. But, sir, if you drive him away with unprovoked wrongs, visit upon him the evils with which this bill is fraught, surround him with insuperable difficulties, till he is forced to yield to their pressure: send him away in that spirit, and he will war with you till he reaches the shore of the Pacific; and, when he has no longer a clod of earth upon which to set his foot, you will hear his curses (not his sighs) wafted back upon the returning gale; and not his only, but the eurses of pitying nations who shall sympathize in his wrongs and his sufferings. You will be told of our broken faith, violated treaties, unprovoked wrongs inflicted upon the poor Indian, when he (as eloquently expressed by the gentleman from Georgia) shall not be extinct, but sunk in the vast ocean of oblivion. Mr. LAMAR said he was well apprised that he was about to impose on the exhausted patience of the House a heavy tax, but, under existing circumstances, he should

not conceive himself warranted in presenting to its cousideration more than an epitome of the argument which was intended to be urged in support of the bill. One observation, in justice to mysels, [said Mr. L.] and which will favorably present the claims I have on your time, if not your attention. Actuated by considerations connected with important interests, in which Georgia and her citizens are peculiarly, and, I might add, almost exclusively con: cerned, I have been induced to abstain from debate on. all other subjects, that your obligations to listen, and my claims to address you, might be increased. To advance the success of these interests of the State and her people, requires the exertions of all the energy and talent of her delegation; and such as I H. shall be devoted to them. The gentleman from Indiana, [Mr. Test] and other: associated with him, who have preceded me, presented those objections which, on the first aspect, might be conceived the most formidable to the bill itself; and the importance attached to them, the fearful, apprehensions indulged, from the power it is supposed to - confer on the President, and the fatal consequences predicted from it, demand an answer. This they shall receive. We are informed by the gentleman from New York, [Mr. Stones] that the history and experience of all Governments should admonish us that power has a tendency to concentrate in the Executive Department of Government; and that its insidious encroachments, which have undermined the liberties of nations in past times, emanated from that source; that patronage is dangerous, and is increased by the bill; that, i. it, the settled principles of the action of this Government are subverted; that treaties are superseded; and that the President will have an unlimited dis. cretion to do what heretofore required the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate to accomplish. But, sir, let ine can your attention to the bill, and I hazard nothing in saying that a partial examination of its provisions will satisfy every unprejudiced mind that no such exceptions exist, except in the gentleman's imagination. The first section requires the President to cause to be laid out, of the territory to which the Indian title has been extinguished, west of the Mississippi, a suitable number of districts, for the reception of such tribes or nations of Indians as may choose to exchange their land. The second only provides for the exchange of territory; and the third requires that, in making the exchange, the President shall cause a guaranty to be made them, or at their election to issue a patent, subject to revert to the United States if the Indians become extinct or abandon the same. The fourth provides for the payment of such improve: ments as add value to the lands claimed by individuals, to be ascertained by commissioners appointed for the purpose. The fifth section extends to o: emigrants the neeessary assistance to enable them to remove, and such aid as may be required for the support and subsistence for the first year. %. sixth enjoins it as a duty on the President to protect them in their new residence from the interruption and disturbance of other tribes, and all other persons. The seventh and eighth sections preserve their relations with this Government as they have heretofore existed ; and appropriate five hundred thousand dollars to effect the purposés specified in the bill. This, sir, is the bill so full of danger, patronage, and power; so little merciful to the “poor Indians;" which is to produce among the nations .# the earth a moral disgust, and draw down upon us the vengeance of Heaven 1 Sir, so far from the bill conferring on the President these alarming powers, or in any way interfering with the making of treaties, he will be the mere instrument to consummate the legislative will: to see the object accomplished in the manner Congress shall direct; and the manner as well as the means of doing it are expressly designated and defined in the bill. He will occupy the humble station of a

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

subordinate agent, with no more control than is conferred on him in the execution of other public acts, and not so much as he has in the disbursement of the millions annually expended upon the exigencies of Government. Another objection to the bill is, that the same object can be attained by treaty, and that it is dangerous to deart from the established usage of the Government by the introduction into it of this new principle of action. These I regard as mere assumptions, and will join issue in point of fact with the gentlemen who urge them. The history of our Indian relations refutes every position assumed on these points, and it will be a difficult task for certain gentlemen here, who have thrown the whole weight of their influence in opposition to this bill, to extricate themselves from the charge of inconsistency. The bill of 1826, for the removal of the Creek Indians, commanded their talents and support; and their registered votes show that, at that time, many of those who are now directing the most fixed and violent opposition to the present measure, entertained very different views as regards this policy. In vain may they attempt to discriminate between the two bills: it cannot be done; and a regard for consistency, or the dread of exposure, has prevented them in argument from making the slightest allusion to it. I repeat it, there is no new principle insisted on, nor is the lan of Indian emigration a new or visionary project. Mr. Jefferson, in 1805, in a letter to General Gates, assigns it as one of the benefits to be accomplished by the acquisition of Louisiana. Mr. Monroe considered it a momentous subject; one which would enlist in its support the exertions of the Government, as the only means of fulfilling the eompact of the United States with Georgia; and one to which the hopes of the philanthropist should be directed

with liveliest concern, as the destiny of the Indian was

suspended on its success. 4. After Mr. Adams became involved in the controversy with Georgia, and from which he was not a little anxious to be relieved, he displayed an earnest solicitude to advanee the success of this policy of the Government: and in no State paper has the propriety of Indian emigration been more favorably presented to the American people, than it was in the one transmitted to Congress by the late Secretary of War, General Porter. At that time, it was supposed there was a union of all hearts and all heads on this subject, and that the consent of the Indians was the only impediment to this desirable object. But within the last twelve months we have witnessed some most extraordinary changes of opinion, and now a most determined hostility is waged against this favorite policy of former administrations. Having shown, then, that nothing new is contemplated by the bill, I will now endeavor to prove that its object cannot be attained by treaty. Sir, with whom would you treat? and whose consent would be necessary in the for. mation of a treaty A few arrogant chiefs, half breeds, and renegade white men, control the Cherokee nation. The voice of the people is not heard in their council. They may be disposed to emigrate, but the chiefs rule; they refuse to treat, and the majority of the Indians are thus defeated in their wishes. But, under the provisions of this bill, the scene will be reversed. The Cherokees not in authority will be permitted to move or not, at their election, without the fear of death, or a confiscation of their property, and will enjoy that freedom of action of which they are now deprived. With the information which this House has, do gentlemen suppose that there is the most remote prospect of treating successfully with those who control the affairs of the Cherokee nation ? Do not the same causes which rendered the efforts unavailing heretofore, still exist? The annuities received from this Government by them have added new causes of difficulty, and lessened the hope of success. When an annuity is paid, it is deposited in their national Wol. VI-140.

treasury. Who receive it? ...The Cherokees, as a people, with whom it was formerly distributed, or those officers who administer this recently organized Government of theirs? Sir, the overgrown fortunes of the latter, and degradation and poverty of the former, furnish the answer. In proportion, then, as the aggregate number of their population is lessened by emigration, will the amount of the annuity received by the chiefs be diminished, as a rateable part will pass to those who remove. Hence it is, sir, that the chiefs of that nation have exerted the despotic powers with which they are clothed, to restrain the emigration of their people. I trust, sir, that those really in favor of the measure will not, after all the explanations which this branch of the subject has received, be disposed to repose much reliance on any other plan than the one contained in this bill. Auother extraordinary objection to the emigration of the Indians, at this time, has been introduced into this debate. It is, that Georgia has extended her laws over the Cherokees; and gentlemen justify their opposition to the bill, on the ground that they fear the coercive influence of those laws, and the effect they might have on their determination...But while gentlemen oppose the policy proposed in the bill, and acknowledge the condition of the Indians to be an evil, why do they not condescend to suggest to us some other plan to relieve the objects of their benevolence, and to free the States where they are from the inconvenience . The gentleman from New York [Mr. SPENCER) made the nearest approach to it, by an amendment proposed in the Committee of the Whole. It asserted the independence of the Indians, denied the right of the States to subject them to their laws, and probably instructed the President as to his duty in carrying into effect subsisting treaties. . But it was no sooner read, than it was rejected by a decided vote of the committee, and it will scarcely be revived in any other shape. Let me then inquire, will the rejection of the bill aid the Indians? Will the operation of the State laws over them be arrested 1 No, sir. Yet, while the gentlemen raise the cry of oppression, and inveigh largely against the laws of Georgia, they will not contribute their aid to remove the Indians beyond the reach of that tyranny they profess so much to deprecate. The amount of the argument is this —that because Georgia, in their opinion, has done wrong, they will not do anything to accomplish what most of them believe to be an act of pure benevolence. Sir, it is an undeniable fact, that the destiny of the Indians is involved in the course which this Government adopts towards them, and that the erisis has arrived when the measures which it is to pursue should be clearly developed. That procrastination will be attended with increased embarrassment to the United States; and accumulated misery on the part of that unfortunate race of people, cannot be doubted. The course pursued by a portion of the people in the United States in memorializing Congress, and the character of this debate, have a tendency to delude them, by inducing the expectation that the arm of this Government will be extended in supporting them in the pretensions to which they have recently laid claim in endeavoring to erect an independent Government within the limits of a State—the limits of Georgia, originally designated by her colonial charter, subsequently altered and defined by her constitution, and recognized by the compact which she entered into with the Federal Government in 1802. . Under the most auspicious circumstances of which this state of things will admit, it is not difficult to foresee the ultimate destiny incident to their anomalous situation. In the States where they have quietly yielded to the humane and benevolent provisions of the State aur thorities, and where the influence of religious precept and . example has been actively exerted in their behalf, what has been their fate In the language of the executive message, there are left remnants of tribes, only to preserve

« 上一頁繼續 »