« PreviousContinue »
standing during the whole of this session, supplicating us to stay our hand. There is one plain path of honor, and it is the path of safety, because it is the path of duty. Retrace your steps. Acknowledge your treaties. Confess your obligations. Redeem your faith. Execute your laws. Let the President revise his opinions. It is never too late to be just. Let him extend his hand to them as a brother- -as their great Father indeed. The power of the Government is at his command. Let him set them free. Above all things, win back their confidence. Convince them that they may trust you again as friends. If you will do this, and they are free to act without any coercion, I am ready to execute any treaty which they will make with you. But it must be done “peaceably”—in the true spirit of our obligations to Georgia, and in no other way. But for coercion, or any thing like coercion-moral or physical, direct or indirect, I will vote nothing-uot one poor scruple. I will take no responsibility that may involve the country in that taint upon our reputation, nor be accessory to it. No pride of opinion should influence
There are no laurels to be won in this field. There is no victory to achieve over a people in their situation. There is no reward before us but disgrace and the detestation of our fellow men.
If this bill passes, they will submit to all the injuries which may be inflicted upon them, for it is no longer in their powerto resist. They will bear it as long as men can bear oppression, but they will sink under it at last. were in their situation, we should not leave our own country willingly. We, who are strong and proud, and restive of restraint, should fly to arms for half what they have suffered al. ready. We have done it, but we had friends to sustain us. But the Indian must submit. When we have turned him away from our door, he has no friends anywhere. Shall we, who boast so much of our institutions, and talk so loftily of patriotism, reproach him because he loves his country too well-because his heart is not as flinty as we would make it-because he lingers too long among the graves of his fathers? But, sir, if the fiat is pronounced here-he will go. He must go, for he cannot stay there and live. They will leave the fields which they have reclaimed from the forest and laid open to the sun ; their comfortable dwellings, their flocks, their schools, their churches--ay, sir, their Christian churches,
which we have built there, and which now stand where the stake of the victim was once planted. But they will not leave the graves of their fathers. A whole nation in despair, will piously gather up their bones and retire to your western forests. When they shall have reached its nether skirts, they will look back, for the last time, from the mou
ain over this beautiful land of their fathers, and then retiring to the deeper shades within, will curse your perfidy, and teach their children to execrate your name.
We could bear reproach from the proud and the insolent, but there is eloquence in the humility with which these people plead their wrongs. We feel our guilt in the very submissiveness with which they approach us.
CXXXIX.-THE OBLIGATIONS OF NATIONAL FAITH.
Extract from the same Speech.
Mr. Chairman, -I HAVE viewed this question (the Rights of the Indians) in all the lights which have offered themselves to my mind, and I can see no way to dispose of it safely, but to stop where we are to go no further ; but to retract openly, honorably, and immediately. Every step we ad. vance in this injustice will sink us deeper in disgrace. But, sir, to reject this measure is not enough. We cannot regain what we have already lost, unless our laws are executed. We cannot leave our seats here, and do this ourselves. Without the co-operation of the executive we are powerless; and if he will not pause-if he will not execute the treaties if the laws are suffered to sleep-if reason and justice are slighted, and expostulation is in vain--if his oath will not awaken him to stretch forth his arm fearlessly, and honora. bly to sustain the constitution and laws of the country, and the rights of these oppressed people, he shall go on upon his own responsibility, and that of those who may be about to place this measure in his hand.
Sir, the eyes of other nations are now fixed upon us. Our friends are looking with fearful anxiety to our conduct in this matter. Our enemies, too, are watching our steps.
"They have lain in wait for us for half a century, and the passage of this bill will light up joy and hope in the palace of every despot. It will do more to destroy the confidence of the world in free government than all their armies could accomplish. Our friends every where will be compelled to hang their heads, and submit to this reproach of their princi. ples. It will weaken our institutions at home, and infect the heart of our social system. It will teach our people to hold the honor of their government lightly, and loosen the moral feeling of the country. Republics have been charged, too, with insolence and oppression in the day of their power. History has unfortunately given us much proof of its truth, and we are about to confirm it by our own example. But, sir, we must stand at last at the bar of posterity, and answer there for ourselves and our country. If we look for party influence to sustain us now, it will fail us there. The little bickerings in which we now bustle and show off our import. ance, will have then ceased and been forgotten, or little under. stood. There will be no time-serving purposes to warp the judgment—no temptations to entice into error-no adulation to offer unto power, or to win the favor of the great--no ambition to be exalted, and no venal press to shelter wrong, to misrepresent the truth or calumniate the motives of those who now forewarn you of your responsibility. The weight of a name will not sustain you there, and no tide of popularity will carry you along triumphantly. Our country will be brought by the historian-custodia fidelis rerum—to that standard of universal morality which will guide the judgment and fix the sentence of posterity. It will be pronounced by the impartial judgment of mankind, and stand for ever irre. versible. The character of this measure will then be known as it is. The full and clear light of truth will-break in upon it, and it will stand out in history in bold relief. The witnesses who will then speak, will be those illustrious men who have not lived to see this day. Your history—your treaties and your statutes, will confront you. The human heart will be consulted—the moral sense of all mankind will speak out fearlessly, and you will stand condemned by the law of God as well as the sentence of your fellow men. You may not live to hear it, but there will be no refuge for you in the grave. You will yet live in history, and if your children do not
disown their fathers, they must bear the humiliating roproaches of their name.
But I will not despond, or give up all for lost. When it is considered how little, after all, these States really have at stake on this question, and how trifling the acquisition of this paltry territory must be, I cannot believe that they will refuse to make some sacrifice or concession of feeling to the repu. tation of the country. Is not our honor and our reputation our interests and our glory, theirs? Are they not bound up with us in one common lot, for good or evil, as long as this constitution and our union shall endure, and until the blessings, which under the goodness of Providence it may long dispense to our common country, shall be for ever withdrawn -until that appalling night of despotism shall descend upon the world, and lower upon the whole family of man, when this bright constellation shall have set, and the last hope of human freedom has been for ever extinguished ?
CXL. THE FEELINGS OF GEORGIA AS RESPECTS THE REMOVAL
OF THE INDIANS.
Extract from the Speech of Mr. Foster, of Georgia, upon the Bill for
the removal of the Indians, delivered in the House of Representatives, May 17, 1830.
Mr. Chairman.-PERMIT me now, before I close, to ask the Committee, if they refuse to pass this bill, what course this government will adopt? Will they attempt to interfere with the jurisdiction of the State of Georgia, and arrest the operation of her laws over the Indians ? Sir, this is a most momentous question. We are indeed brought to a crisiswe are upon the very banks of the Rubicon-a very narrow boundary divides you from State jurisdiction-cross it, and we may not be able to calculate the consequences—there may then indeed be scenes and subjects abundantly sufficient for the exercise of all the feelings of philanthropy. I tell you, sir, Georgia has taken her course, and she will not retire fiom it. Nor has she acted hastily : eighteen months ago she guve notice of her intentions, and at the last session of her
legislature she resolved to carry those intentions into execution. Sir, her laws will be enforced : of this an earnest has already been given it has been recently determined by one of our courts, that the State's right of jurisdiction does extend over the whole of the territory within her chartered limits ; and the courts will be sustained by the people. Mr. Chair. man, I hope I am not misunderstood in these remarks ; they are not made in the spirit either of threatening or defiancefar from it. On the contrary, our people implore you, by all the ties which bind us together-by the common sufferings, and dangers, and triumphs of our ancestors-by the principles of that constitution by which our rights' are secured and pro. tected—not to violate the rights of Georgia as a sovereign member of this Union, nor interfere with the exercise of her legitimate powers.
But do not mistake this appeal—it is not the entreaty of suppliants ; it is the sincere and affectionate remonstrance of brothers--of a generous and high-minded people. And will you disregard them? Will you turn a deaf ear to our appeals, and resolve, at all hazards, to prevent the exercise of those rights which the State of Georgia brought with her into this Union—which she has never yieldedwhich most of her sisters have long exerted without interruption--and which have been, but now, recognised by the President of the Senate ? And if you should, is it reasonable to suppose that Georgia will submit to be restrained from the exercise of these rights by the arm of the general govern. menti? No, sir, I assure you she will not—her course is determined on, and she will pursue it, with a resolution which no threats can intimidate, but with a justice and moderation which will leave no cause for reproach.”
CXLI. THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIANS.
Extract from the Speech of Mr. Everett, of Massachusetts, on the bill
for removing the Indians to the west of the Mississippi.
Mr. Chairman, The policy which is advocated in rela. dion to the Indians, cannot come to good. It cannot, as it