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measure, indeed, to faithful allies, that had so long reposed in confidence on a nation's faith. They had, in the darkest hour of trial, turned to the ægis which the most solemn pledges had provided for them, and were comforted by the conviction that it would continue to shed upon them a pure and untarnished beam of light and hope. Deep, indeed, must have been their despondency, when their political father assured them that their confidence would be presumptuous, and dissuaded them from all expectation of relief.
Mr. President: The instructions that have proceeded from the war department to the agents of Indian affairs have excited just and strong jealousies of the measures that are now recommended. They have prompted this amendment, in the hope that, by some public and decided expression of our disapprobation, the course of political management with these tribes may be changed, and our country saved from the dishonor of buying over the consent of corrupted chiefs to a traitorous surrender of their country,
I will read a part of these instructions. They are from the war department to generals Carroll and Coffee, of the date of 30th May, 1829:
“ The past (remarks the Secretary, in respect to Indian councils) has demonstrated their utter aversion to this mode, whilst it has been made equally clear, that another mode promises greater success. In regard to the first, (that by councils,) the Indians have seen in the past, that it has been by the result of councils that the extent of their country has been from time to time diminished. They all comprehend this. Hence it is that those, who are interested in keeping them where they are, alarm their fears, and, by previous cautioning, induce them to reject all offers looking to this object. There is no doubt, however, but the mass of the people would be glad to emigrate; and there is as little doubt that they are kept from this exercise of their choice by their chiefs and other interested and influential men,” &c. Again: “Nothing is more certain than that, if the chiefs and influential men could be brought into the measure, the rest would implicitly follow. It becomes, therefore, a matter of necessity, if the general government would benefit these people, that it move upon them in the line of their own prejudices, and, by the adoption of any proper means, break the power that is warring with their best interests. The question is, How can this be best done? Not, it is believed, for the reasons suggested, by means of a general council. There, they would be awakened to all the intimations which those who are opposed to their exchange of country might throw out; and the consequence would be—what it has been a firm refusal to acquiesce. The best resort is believed to be that which is embraced in an appeal to the chiefs and influential men, not together, but apart, at their own houses, and, by a proper exposition of their real condition, rouse them to think of that; whilst offers to them, of extensive reservations in fee simple, and other rewards, would, it is hoped, result in obtaining their acquiescence.”
Let us analyze this singular state paper. It does not relish the congregation of Indian councils. In these assemblies, they deliberate and weigh the policy of measures—they calculate the results of proposed improvements. These councils imbody the collected wisdom of the tribes. Their influence is of the authority of law. The people look to them for protection. They know that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. Hence nations, far in advance of the Indians, always meet in council, when their great interests are to be promoted or defended. But these special agents are discouraged from hoping that the object can be obtained in this good old-fashioned way. The Indians are too wise to be caught when the net is spread so fully in sight. They are directed to avoid all associations ; and, with the public purse in hand, to take the chiefs alone—to approach them individually, and at home—" to meet them in the way of their prejudices.” I admire the ingenious clothing of a most odious proposal.
A strong hint is suggested to try the effect of terror, and, by a proper exposition of their real condition, rouse them to think upon that, and to follow this up with “large offers to them of extensive reservations in fee simple, and other rewards." The report made by one of these agents to the war department, dated September 2d, 1829, still further discloses the nature of the exigencies to which the Indians are to be subjected, to constrain their removal. The agent observes,
“ The truth is, they (the Cherokees) rely with great confidence on a favorable report on the petition they have before Congress. If that is rejected, and the laws of the States are enforced, you will have no difficulty in obtaining an exchange of lands with them.”
It may be true, that, if we withdraw our protection, give them over to the high-handed, heart-breaking legislation of the States, and drive them to despair, when mercenary inducements fail to win them, force and terror may compel them. We shall have no difficulty, the agent assures the war department. Sir, there will be one difficulty, that should be deemed insurmountable. Such a process will disgrace us in the estimation of the whole civilized world. It will degrade us in our own eyes, and blot the page of our history with indelible dishonor,
Now, Sir, I have brought this measure before the Senate, and wait with intense anxiety to see the final disposition of it. Where is the man who can, in view of such policy, open the door, or afford the slightest facility, to the operation of influences, that we should blush with honest shame to have employed with our equals in the scale of civilization? It is not intended, Sir, to ascribe this policy exclusively to the present administration. Far from it. The truth is, we have long been gradually, and almost unconsciously, declining into these devious ways, and we shall inflict lasting injury upon our good name, unless we speedily abandon them.
I now proceed to the discussion of those principles which, in my humble judgment, fully and clearly sustain the claims of the Indians to all their political and civil rights, as by them asserted.
And here, Mr. President, I insist that, by immemorial posses. sion, as the original tenants of the soil, they hold a title beyond and superior to that of the British crown and her colonies, and to all adverse pretensions of our Confederation and subsequent Union. God, in his providence, planted these tribes on this western continent, for aught that we know, before Great Britain herself had a political existence. I believe, Sir, it is not now seriously denied that the Indians are men, endowed with kindred faculties and powers with ourselves; that they have a place in human sympathy, and are justly entitled to a share in the common bounties of a benignant Providence.' And, with this conceded, I ask in what code of the law of nations, or by what process of abstract deduction, their rights have been extinguished.
Where is the decree or ordinance, that has stripped of their rights these early and first lords of the soil ? Sir, no record of any such decree can be found. And I might triumphantly rest the hopes of these feeble fragments of once great nations upon this impregnable foundation. However mere human policy, or the law of power, or the tyrant's plea of expediency, may have found it convenient at any time to transgress the unchangeable principles of eternal justice, no argument can shake the political maxim—that where the Indian always has been, he enjoys an absolute right still to be, in the free exercise of his own modes of thought, government and conduct.
Mr. President: In the light of natural law, can a reason for a distinction exist from the mode of enjoying that which is my own? If I use land for hunting, may another take it because he needs it for agriculture? I am aware that some writers have, by a system of artificial reasoning, endeavored to justify, or rather excuse, the encroachments made upon Indian territory; and they denominate these abstractions the law of nations, and, in this ready way, the question is despatched. Sir, as we trace the sources of this law, we find its authority to depend either upon the conventions or common consent of nations. And when, permit me to inquire, were the Indian tribes ever consulted on the establishment of such a law? Whoever represented them or their interests in any congress of nations, to confer upon the public rules of intercourse, and the proper foundations of dominion and property? The plain matter of fact is, that all these partial doctrines have resulted from the selfish plans and pursuits of more enlightened nations; and it is not matter for any great wonder, that they should so largely partake of a mercenary and encroaching spirit in regard to the claims of the Indians.
It is however admitted, Sir, that when the increase of population and the wants of mankind, demand the cultivation of the earth, a duty rests upon the proprietors of large and uncultivated regions, to apply them to these useful purposes. But such appropriations are to be obtained by fair contract, and for reasonable compensation. It is, in such a case, the duty of the proprietor to sell-we may properly address his reason to induce him; but we cannot rightfully compel the cession of his lands, or take them by violence, if his consent be withheld.
It is with great satisfaction, that I am enabled, upon the best authority, to affirm, that this duty has been largely and generously met and fulfilled on the part of the aboriginal proprietors of this continent. Several years ago, official reports to Congress stated the amount of Indian
grants to the Únited States to exceed 214 millions of acres. Yes, Sir, we have acquired, and now own, more land, as the fruits of their bounty, than we shall dispose of, at the present rate, to actual settlers in two hundred years. For, very recently, it has been ascertained on this floor, that our public sales average not more than about one million of acres annually. It greatly aggravates the wrong that is now meditated against these tribes, if we merely look at the rich and ample districts of their territories that either force or persuasion has incorporated into our public domains. As the tide of our population has rolled on, we have added purchase to purchase. The confiding Indian listened to our professions of friendship. We called him brother, and he believed
Millions after millions he has yielded to our importunity, until we have acquired more than can be cultivated in centuries—and yet we crave more. We have crowded the tribes upon a few miserable acres on our southern frontier-it is all that is left to them of their once boundless forests
and still, like the horseleech, our insatiate cupidity cries, Give, Give.
Before I proceed to deduce collateral confirmations of this original title, from all our political intercourse and conventions with the Indian tribes, I beg leave to pause a moment, and view. the case, as it lies beyond the treaties made with them; and aside also from all conflicting claims between the confederation and the colonies, and the Congress of the States,
Our ancestors found these people, far removed from the commotions of Europe, exercising all the rights, and enjoying the privileges, of free and independent sovereigns of this new world. They were not a wild and lawless horde of banditti; but lived under the restraints of government, patriarchal in its character, and energetic in its influence. They had chiefs, head men, and councils. The white men approached them as friends. They extended the olive branch, and, being then a feeble colony, and at the mercy of the native tenants of the soil, by presents and professions, propitiated their good will. The Indian yielded a slow, but substantial confidence; granted to the colonies an abiding place; and suffered them to grow up to man's estate beside him. He never raised the claim of elder title. As the white man's wants increased, he opened the hand of his bounty wider and wider. By and by, conditions are changed. His people melt away; his lands are constantly coveted; millions after millions are ceded. The Indian bears it all meekly; he complains, indeed, as well he may; but suffers on; and now he finds that this neighbor, whom his kindness had nourished, has spread an adverse title over the last remains of his patrimony, barely adequate to his wants, and turns upon him, and says: “ Away! we cannot endure you so near us. These forests and rivers, these groves of your fathers, these firesides and
hunting grounds, are ours by the right of power, and the force of numbers."
Sir, let every treaty be blotted from our records, and in the judgment of natural and unchangeable truth and justice, I ask, Who is the injured, and who is the aggressor? Let conscience answer, and I fear not the result. Let those who please, denounce the public feeling on this subject, as the morbid excitement of a false humanity; but I return with the inquiry, whether I have not presented the case truly, with no feature of it overcharged or distorted. And, in view of it, who can help feeling? Do the obligations of justice change with the color of the skin? Is it one of the prerogatives of the white man, that he may disregard the dictates of moral principle, when an Indian shall be concerned ? No, Mr. President. In that severe and impartial scrutiny, which futurity will cast over this subject, the righteous award will be, that those very causes which are now pleaded for the relaxation of the rules of equity, urged upon us not only a rigid execution of the highest justice, to the very letter, but claimed at our hands a generous and magnanimous policy.
Standing here then, on this unshaken basis, how is it possible that even a shadow of claim to soil or jurisdiction can be derived, by forming a collateral issue between the State of Georgia and the general government ? Her complaint is made against the United States, for encroachments on her sovereignty. Sir, the Cherokees are no parties to this issue; they have no concern in this controversy. They hold by better title than either Georgia or the Union. They have nothing to do with State sovereignty, or United States sovereignty. They are above and beyond both. True, Sir, they have made treaties with both, but not to acquire title or jurisdiction; these they had before -ages before the evil hour, when their white brothers fled to them for an asylum. They treated to secure protection and guaranty for subsisting powers and privileges; and so far as those conventions raise obligations, they are willing to meet, and always have met, and faithfully performed them; and now expect from a great people the like fidelity to plighted covenants.
I have thus endeavored to bring this question up to the control of first principles. I forget all that we have promised, and all that Georgia has repeatedly conceded, and by her conduct confirmed. Sir, in this abstract presentation of the case, stripped of all collateral circumstances, (and these only the more firmly establish the Indian claims ;)—if the contending parties were to exchange positions; place the white man where the Indian stands; load him with all these wrongs--and what path would his outraged feelings strike out for his career? Twenty shillings tax, I think it was, imposed upon the immortal Hampden, roused into activity the slumbering tires of liberty in the old world. Thence she dates a glorious epoch, whose healthful influence still cherishes the spirit of freedom. A few pence of duty on tea, that invaded no fireside, excited no personal fears, disturbed no immediate interest whatever, awakened in the