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It was urged, also, that Georgia had been greatly vilified in this controversy ; that she is “ the evening chant and the matin song of all the calumniators in the Union, who have taken the Cherokees into their holy keeping;” and that “no epithet is too strong, no reproach too foul, to cast upon her, for having followed the example of ten States, in the exercise of jurisdiction over the Indians within their territory.”
Other States were said to have enacted much severer laws, in regard to the Indians, than the present laws of Georgia, which are so much complained of; and yet no sympathy has been called forth in behalf of any Indian tribe but the Cherokees.
As to the conflicting claims of Georgia and the Cherokees, while some advocates of the bill considered all existing treaties with Indians as mere nullities, others held, that the treaties would be binding on the United States, were it not for pre-existing obligations, incompatible with these treaties. They admitted, that general Washington and his cabinet, and the Senate of the First Congress, and all the national authorities from 1789 till quite recently, supposed that we were bound ; that the people of the United States had all along supposed themselves to be bound; and that the Indians had always supposed the United States to be bound by these treaties. It was not denied, that the stipulations are all plain; that they were honestly intended, and allow but of one interpretation, which is in favor of the Indians. But it was argued, that the United States had guarantied the integrity of all the separate States, and therefore could not guaranty the possession of the Indians residing upon any part of the chartered territory of States. The general government must therefore do the best it can. When it cannot fulfil an obligation, it must indemnify for the failure to fulfil.
As to the expediency of the removal of the Indians, it was urged,
That the acquisition of the lands, which the south-western tribes occupy, would open a large tract for sale and settlement; that the .convenience of the Southern States would be much promoted; and that the proceeds of the sales of those lands would more than reimburse all the expenses attending the contemplated removal.
It was stated, also, that the removal of the Indians would be greatly to their advantage, and, on this account, should receive the support of all their real friends.
The country to which they were invited to remove, was represented as very fertile, and abundantly large for a residence of all the tribes. The title to it may be permanently guarantied; and the emigrating Indians will live under the sole protection of the United States. Here they will not be troubled by the conflicting claims of States exercising jurisdiction over them. They will feel themselves free from this constant apprehension. They can proceed, therefore, in their plans of civilization without interruption. The strong
arm of the general government will protect them from intruders. They will be out of the reach of the whites, and beyond the pressure of population. The benevolence of the government and of individuals can here display itself in the best plans for the melioration of the Indian character.
In carrying on the business of removal, all the advocates of the bill disclaimed a resort to force. The subject is to be fairly proposed to the Indians; and, if they are willing to remove, the government will kindly aid them in doing so. If they prefer to stay, they must come under State laws, and, of course, be subject to all the laws which the States shall see fit to enact hereafter. From the operation of these laws the United States cannot protect them.
The present condition of the Indians was represented as being exceedingly wretched. They were said to be, generally, in a more hopeless state than at any previous period of their history. The chiefs were charged with ruling the common people with severity. It was said, that the chiefs appropriate all the annuities to their own benefit.
The sympathy professed, in different parts of the United States, for the Cherokees, was described as the work of fanatics, and pretended philanthropists, who had their own purposes to answer, and who were well paid for their services from the Cherokee treasury. This allegation is so gross a slander, that it would be wrong to repeat it without saying, that it is totally destitute of foundation; and that there is not, and never was, a particle of evidence in support of it.
The foregoing summary embraces, it is believed, all the arguments in favor of the bill. Some of its advocates expressed a strong belief that the removal of the Indians would be for their benefit; but others boldly declared, that this was not their object, and that the Indians would not be improved in their condition, whether they should remove or remain.
The opposition to the bill was made with great earnestness, and with every mark of entire sincerity. There was no indication, that the concern expressed for the national honor, and the dread of seeing a foul and indelible stain fixed upon the character of the country, were affected, or overstated. A deep solemnity pervaded the efforts of the honorable men, who exerted themselves to defeat a measure, which they declared to be, in their apprehension, inconceivably disastrous.
On the other hand, the advocates of the bill most evidently placed no reliance upon argument. They never met the statements and reasonings of their opponents; but showed very clearly, that they trusted only to the power of self interest and party discipline.
HON. THEODORE FRELINGHUYSEN,
SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY,
DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES,
APRIL 7, 1830.*
The Bill to provide for an exchange of Lands with the Indians residing in any of the States or Territories, and for their removal West of the river Mississippi, being under consideration, MR. FRELINGHUYSEN spoke as follows :
MR. PRESIDENT: I propose an amendment to this bill, by the addition of two sections, in the form of provisos :—the first of which brings up to our consideration the nature of our public duties, in relation to the Indian Nations, and the second provides for the continuance of our future negotiations, by the mode of treaties, as in our past intercourse with them. The following is the amendment:
“ Provided always, That, until the said tribes or nations shall choose to remove, as by this act is contemplated, they shall be protected in their present possessions, and in the enjoyment of all their rights of territory and government, as heretofore exercised and enjoyed, from all interruptions and encroachments.
“ And provided also, That, before any removal shall take place of any of the said tribes or nations, and before any exchange or exchanges of land be made as aforesaid, the rights of any such tribes or nations in the premises shall be stipulated for, secured, and guarantied, by treaty or treaties, as heretofore made.”
The first of these sections discloses the real object sought by this bill, seemingly composed of harmless clauses. It supposes that the design of the system of which the present bill forms but a part, is really to remove all the Indian tribes beyond the Mississippi, or, in case of their refusal, to subject them to state sovereignty and legislation. The Hon. Senator, (Mr. White,) who yesterday addressed the Senate, found it necessary so to consider it; and to anticipate and endeavor to meet all such objections to this course of policy, as he deemed worthy of a refutation.
* This speech was commenced on the 7th, and concluded on the 9th, a part of each day's session being consumed by the ordinary routine of business. The whole speech occupied the attention of the Senate about six hours. It is bere much compressed.
Sir, I prefer that this latent object should be put fully before us, that we and the nation may look at it, and freely scrutinize it. At an early stage of the present administration, its views and opinions on the interesting subject of our Indian relations, were developed in language not to be mistaken. It is greatly to be regretted, Sir, that our present chief magistrate did not pursue the wise and prudent policy of his exalted predecessor, President Washington, who, at a time of collision and difficulty with these tribes, came before the Senate, and laid open to them, in propositions for their approbation, the various important subjects involved in our relations. The annexed extract from the Journals of the Senate illustrates the principles of Washington's administration. It follows:
Saturday, August 22, 1789. “ The President of the United States came into the Senate, attended by general Knox, and laid before the Senate the following state of facts, with the questions thereto annexed, for their advice and consent"
This was a most important document. It developed all the collisions that existed between the Indian tribes and the States; and referred to the consideration of the Senate certain leading principles of policy, which he thought it was wise to pursue.
These principles are imbodied in seven distinct interrogatories; the fourth of which submits to the Senate " whether the United States shall solemnly guaranty to the Creeks their remaining territory, and maintain the same, if necessary, by a line of military posts ?" This question was wholly answered in the affirmative” by that body, and the blank (for an appropriation of necessary funds) was ordered to be filled at the discretion of the President of the United States. Again, on the 11th of August, 1790, President Washington sent a special message to the Senate by his Secretary, the subject matter of which he introduces by the following suggestion: « Gentlemen of the Senate:
“Although the treaty with the Creeks may be regarded as the main foundation of the future peace and prosperity of the Southwestern frontier of the United States, yet, in order fully to effect so desirable an object, the treaties which have been entered into with the other tribes in that quarter, must be faithfully performed on our part.”
He then proceeds to remind the Senate, that, by the treaty with the Cherokees, in November, 1785, (the treaty of Hopewell,) 'the said Cherokees placed themselves under the protection of the United States, and had a boundary assigned them; that the white people settled on the frontiers had openly violated the said boundary by intruding on the Indian lands; that the United States in Congress assembled, on the first day of September, 1788, had, by their proclamation, forbidden all such unwarrantable intrusions, and enjoined the intruders to depart without loss of time; but that there were still some refractory intruders remaining. The President then distinctly announces his determination to exert the powers intrusted to him by the
constitution, in order to carry into faithful execution the treaty of Hopewell
, unless a new boundary should be arranged with the Cherokees, embracing the intrusive settlement, and compensating the Cherokees for the cessions they shall make on the occasion. And, in view of the whole case, he requests the ad-. vice of the Senate, whether overtures shall be made to the Cherokees to arrange such new boundary, and concludes his communication with the following emphatical question: "3d. Shall the United States stipulate solemnly to guaranty the new boundary which may be arranged ?”
It produced as pointed a response--for the Senate
“ Resolved, In case a new or other boundary than that stipulated by the treaty of Hopewell, shall be concluded with the Cherokee Indians, that the Senate do advise and consent solemnly to guaranty the same.'
A new boundary was arranged by a second treaty ; the solemn guarantee was given to the Cherokees; and cogent, indeed, should be the causes that now lead us to think lightly of such sacred obligations. ,
I lament, Sir, that so bright and illustrious a precedent was not regarded, and that the President had not yielded to the safe guidance of such high example; and I deplore it the more, because it was concerning these very tribes, in the State of Georgia, that general Washington chose to confer with his constitutional advisers.
Instead of this just proceeding, the present administration has thought proper, without the slightest consultation with either House of Congress-without any opportunity for counsel or concert, discussion or deliberation, on the part of these co-ordinate branches of the government, to despatch the whole subject in a tone and style of decisive construction of our obligations, and of Indian rights. It would really seem, Sir, as if opinion was to be forestalled, and the door of inquiry shut forever upon these grave questions, so deeply implicating our national faith and honor.
We must firmly protest against this executive disposition of these high interests. The government cannot rescind, modify or explain away our public treaties. They are the supreme law of the land, so declared to be by the constitution. They bind the President and all other departments, rulers and people. And when their provisions shall be controverted—when their breach or fulfilment become subjects of investigation-here, Sir, and in the other hall of our legislation, are such momentous concerns to be debated and considered. That we may freely exercise these essential powers, and review the proclaimed opinions of the executive, I have submitted the first branch of the amendment. We possess the constitutional right to inquire wherefore it was, that, when some of these tribes appealed to the executive for protection, according to the terms of our treaties with them, they received the answer that the government of the United States could not interpose to arrest or prevent the legislation of the States over them, Sir, this was a harsh