CHEROKEE PHOENIX, AND INDIANS' ADVOCATE
Saturday, July 17, 1830
Volume 3 No. 13
Page 1 Col. 1a-5b
Page 4 Col. 1a-5b
SPEECH OF MR. SPRAGUE,
In the Senate of the United States.
April 16, 1930.
The right of the Aborigines, to the perpetual and exclusive occupancy of all their lands, has been always recognized and affirmed by the United States. It was respected by Great Britain before the Revolution; as appears by the Royal Proclamation of 1763, in which all persons are commanded "forthwith to remove themselves" from lands, "which not having been ceded to or purchased by us, are still reserved to the said Indians." And after reciting that individuals had practiced fraud upon the natives, forbids private persons from making purchases, "to the end that the Indians may be convinced of our justice" & provides that if "the said Indians should be inclined to dispose of the said lands the same shall be purchased only for us, in our name at some public meeting or assembly of the said Indians, to be held for that purpose."
That right was recognized by the Confederation; as appears by the whole tenor of their proceedings; particularly their treaties, by which they purchased a part and guarantied the remainder; by the report of a Committee in August 1787, which declares that the Indians have ""just claims to all occupied by and not purchased of them"-and the proclamation of Congress in September 1788, which has been already referred to.
That, under our present Constitution, the rights of the natives & the relation in which they stand to the United States are such as I have described, is clearly manifested- by the speech of President Washington to the Senekas (sic) in 1790 from which I have already presented some extracts-and by the following explicit and deliberate letter of Mr. Jefferson, written to the Secretary of War in 1784.- I am of the opinion that Government should firmly maintain this ground; that the Indians have a right to the occupation of their lands, independent of the States within whose chartered lines they happen to be; that until they cede them by treaty or other transactions equivalent to a treaty, no act of a State can give a right to such lands; that neither under the present Constitution, nor the ancient Confederation, had any State, or persons, a right to treat with the Indians, without the consent of the General Government; that the consent has never been given to any treaty for the cession of the lands in question; that the government is determined to exert all its energy for the patronage and protection of the rights of the Indians, and the preservation of peace between the United States and them; and that if any settlements are made on lands not ceded by them, without the previous consent of the United States, the government will think itself bound not only to declare to the Indians that such settlements are without the authority or protection of the United States, but to remove them also by the public force." --Also, by the Intercourse Law of 1790--forbidding all encroachments by citizens of the United States, upon the territory belonging to any tribe or nation of Indians;--by many other statutes, particularly that of March, 1805--by all the treaties of purchase and cession--all the laws to carry them into effect and pay the consideration--and all the acts enabling the Executive to "extinguish Indian titles."
The Gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Forsyth) has referred to the correspondence at Ghent to sustain his denial of rights to the Indian tribes. He relied upon the views of the American commissioners in repelling the claims of the British. As it is sometimes more satisfactory to read for ourselves than to take the construction of others, permit me, Sir, to present to you an extract from that correspondence. "Under this system the Indians residing within the United States are so far independent that they live under their own customs, and not under the laws of the United States that their rights upon the lands they inhabit, or hunt are secured to them by boundaries defined in amicable treaties between the United States and themselves-- and when these boundaries are varied it is also by amicable and voluntary treaties by which they receive from the United States ample compensation for every right they have to the lands ceded." "Such is the relation between them and the United States: that relation is now created for the first time nor did it originate with the Treaty of Grenville." And subsequently the treaty of Grenville was merely declaratory of the public law--on principles previously and universally recognized.
To this, Sir, was subscribed the names of Adams and Gallatin, of Clay and Bayard and Russell.
The Gentleman from Alabama (Mr. M'Kinley,) to show that the natives had no title to the soil, cited the case of Johnson and McIntosh, decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, and reported in the 8th of Wheaton.
To see how precisely that case sustains my positions, let me read a few very short extracts from the opinion of the Court as delivered by Chief Justice Marshall. It declares that the right of the United States, or the several States, is "subject to the Indian right of occupancy." "That, the original inhabitants are the rightful occupants of the soil, with a legal as well as a just claim to retain possession of it, and to use it according to their own discretion." And again, "it has never been contended that the Indian title amounted to nothing. Their right of possession has never been questioned."
Georgia herself has recognized these established rights of the natives, and the relation they bear to the General Government.
By a law passed in 1796, respecting the vacant lands within her chartered limits, she held the following language: "the territory therein mentioned is hereby declared to be the sole property of the States, subject only to the right of treaty of the United States, to enable the State to purchase under its pre-emption right the Indian title to the same." A most pregnant act of legislation. It expressly admits "the Indian title"- that the claim of the State is only "to purchase" under its pre-emption "right"- that even this she could not do, unless "enabled" by the United States- that the United States had "the right of treaty" with the Indians; and that the claims of Georgia were "subject to" that right.
In the Compact of 1802, she stipulated, by reference to an Article of the Ordinance before mentioned, for the inviolability of the lands, property, rights and liberty of the Indians upon the territory relinquished: and recognized their just claim to lands, in that which was retained, by the Article which binds the United States "at their own expense" to extinguish the "Indian title" thereto, as early as could be done "peaceably and upon reasonable terms."
The titles of the Acts which I read, and several others, speak of the lands therein disposed of as "acquired", "obtained" from the "Creek and Cherokee Nations," by the treaties held by the United States.
Even the Act of December last contains a plenary admission that the lands in question were never before subject to her jurisdiction. A part of the title is "to extend the laws of this State over"--"the territory now occupied by the Cherokees." The 6th section expressly extends the laws of the State over the same & the inhabitants thereof. Sir, does not the legislation of every State of itself, operate all the country within its jurisdiction? The laws of Georgia were not before limited to any parts of the State; they were general-they covered the whole; and are now --extended over the residue!
We have heard a great deal in this debate of the rights of CONQUEST; & are told that it is always recognized as valid by the judicial tribunals.
True, Sir, by those of the conquerer (sic). How can they do otherwise? Suppose that Congress, should now declare a war for the sole purpose of wresting Canada from Great Britain, and should succeed; could our own courts question this exercise of political power, and refuse to sustain our jurisdiction over the country, however iniquitous the acquisition? And if in this Government, where the political sovereign is under the restraints of the Constitution, the courts cannot interfere, how could they in Europe, where this doctrine had its origin? There the legislative and political powers are unlimited. Even in England the Parliament is equally omnipotent; and who ever heard of a judicial court undertaking to annul any of its enactments?
Whatever may be the acquiescence of other nations in the exercise of power by a conquerer, it is no ground of just claim as against the conquered. They surely are not bound to submit, if new means of resistance can be found.
To give to conquest--to mere force--the name of right, is to sanction all the enormities of avarice and ambition. Alexander and Bonaparte are justified!--Britain has done no wrong, in sweeping India with the hand of rapine, and holding fifty millions of people in thraldom! All the cruelties of the Spaniards in South America--crimes of Pizarro and Cortez--tracking the fugitive natives in terror and dismay with blood hounds to the caves of the mountains; and stretching their wretched monarch upon burning coals to extort from him the secret of his treasures--are sanctified by the name of right! This right of conquest gentlemen contend is the legitimate offspring of the right of discovery. Sir, the pirates on the coast of Barbary and at Barataria exercise both. They find a ship alone upon the ocean--this is discovery. They capture her and murder or enslave the crew--this is conquest. Both these rights are thus combined and consummated, and their validity will not, I presume, be questioned either by the courts of Barataria, or other bands of similar conquerers (sic).
But even this miserable argument of conquest is not applicable to the Cherokees. They were not subjugated. The Southern Indians had sixteen thousand warriors, with arms in their hands. They were powerful; their trade was war; they did not solicit peace. We sought for it as appears by the resolutions of Congress, of May, 1783--and March 1785. We obtained the Treaty of Hopewell in which gentlemen find the expressions, the "United States give peace to the Indians and allot boundaries:" and, by philological criticism, upon the English terms, which we used, they logically deduce the rights of conquest! What did the unlettered Indian understand by those expressions, but that there was to be an end of war; and that their territory was to be sacred? The treaty contains many reciprocal stipulations of the "contracting parties." Will it be contended that we are not bound by them because the other party was conquered--in other words because we were the strongest? If the United States made terms of peace should they not abide by them? If a besieged town capitulates, are not the articles of capitulation obligatory? When Bonaparte dictated treaties of peace in the capitols of the nations which he had overrun-was he not morally bound to observe them? They indeed might complain that the contract was made by constraint when they were not free agents; but who ever heard of the stronger party claiming to be absolved from his engagements, because the other was subject to his coercion?
It has been repeatedly asked, why not leave the Indians to the legislation of the State?
I answer, because they protest against it, and they alone have the right to judge. They demand of us the protection, which we solemnly promised.
Much has been said of their being untutored savages, as if that could dissolve our treaties! No one pretends, that they are less cultivated now than when these treaties were made. Indeed, it is certain that they have greatly advanced in civilization; we see it, in the very proofs introduced by the gentleman from Georgia, to show their barbarism. He produced to the Senate, a printed code of Cherokee laws; and a newspaper issued from a Cherokee press! Is there another instance of such productions from any Indian nation? I was surprised, that with all his scrutiny, he could find no more remnants of savage customs. I shall not dwell upon his selections from their laws. The first was; that if a horse should be stolen and the owner, finding the thief in possession, should immediately kill him, in the excess of passion--it should rest upon his own conscience. It is to be observed that the person slain must have been guilty; and for such offence life is now taken in England. But this provision inserted in the Cherokee code, more that twenty years ago, has yielded to further light and been since repealed. Time will not permit me to dwell upon their advances in the arts of civilized life. It is known to have been great. They till the ground, manufacture for themselves, have work shops, a printing press, schools, churches, and a regularly organized Government. Indeed, the gentleman from Tennessee, himself, told us some individuals of that nation were qualified for seats in this august assembly.
What danger, it is asked, have the Indians to apprehend from the laws of the State?
What danger? Is it not here avowed, that their presence is a nuisance, from which Georgia wishes to be relieved? Has not her legislature declared that she is determined to have their lands at all hazards, even by violence, in the last resort? And, if left to her unrestrained power, can it be doubted that she will find means of carrying that determination into effect? If the laws heretofore enacted, are not sufficient, may not others be resorted to? Let us, for a moment, look at the measures already adopted, and see if they have not some adaptation to the accomplishment of her wishes.
By the 9th section of the Act of 1828, no Indian in the Creek of Cherokee Nations, can be a party or a witness in any suit, to which a white man may be a party. It is said that this has been repealed by the statute of 1829. I think otherwise. The latter contains no repealing clause, nor any incompatible provisions. Both may well stand together, and both would be enforced according to the usual construction of statutes in parimateria (sic). It is true, that a part of the title of the act is; to repeal that 9th section of the former. This is easily accounted for. The act, as first reported by the Committee, probably contained a repealing clause--which was stricken out by the more zealous majority--the original title remaining unchanged.
But suppose that only the law of 1829, is now in force. What is to be its effects? All the laws, usages, and customs of the Cherokees are abrogated, and severe punishments denounced against those who shall presume to act under them. Their Government is dissolved--their political existence is at an end--their nation is destroyed--it is dissolved into its original elements! We know that their lands are not holden by individual ownership; the title is in the nation. To annihilate the tribe, therefore, as a political community, is to destroy the owner; and the State is then to take the whole by her claim of succession.
By this statute; no Cherokee or descendant of a Cherokee can be a witness against any white man, who does not reside within the "nation." This devotes their property to the cupidity of their neighbors; it leaves them exposed to every outrage, which lawless passions can inflict. Even robbery and murder may be committed with impunity, at noon-day, if not in the presence of such white, as will become prosecutors or witnesses.
This, the gentleman from Georgia asserts, creates no new disability; that Indians are not competent to testify, by the common law, either in England or in this country. That I deny. They are good witnesses in both; and have been so, without question, ever since the case of the Gentoo, in the time of Lord Mansfield. Several were recently admitted by the Courts of New York, in a very important question of title to real estate near the falls of Nigara (sic); and I have myself seen a person, convicted of larceny, to a large amount, in the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, upon the testimony of an Indian.
But the Gentleman assigned, as a reason for his assertion, that a belief in a future state of rewards and punishments, was essential to their admissibility as witnesses. True, Sir, and so it is with respect to all others. The objection is as valid against a white as the red man. If this act creates no new disability, why was it passed? Why not leave them to the provisions of the common law? But Sir, we learn from an intelligent Missionary, that there are [ See 4th page] a there are a (sic) thousand members of Christian Churches. These, and all other true believers are excluded. Even those who are so distinguished for their knowledge, integrity and ability, that the Honorable Chairman would be willing himself, to be represented by them, in the Congress of the United States, are not permitted to testify in a court of justice.
Under these enactments, the Cherokees are aliens--in their native land; trespassers--upon their own soil; out laws--in the bosom of their own nation!
But why should I dwell upon the laws already passed, when the same power can, at will, produce others to effectuate their avowed determination. Who will pretend that the Indians can live under the legislation of the State? The Head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in a communication transmitted to Congress by the Secretary of War, declares that it will "seal their destruction, as admitted by their Chiefs;" and the Honorable Chairman has frankly declared in this debate, that it will reduce them to the last degree of wretchedness;--his words were--"you cannot make a full blooded Indian more miserable" than by such subjection; and in his written opinion of 1824, he emphatically says, if "the protection of the United States is withdrawn," "The Cherokee Nation cannot exist twelve months."
The question now proposed, by this amendment, is, shall that protection be withdrawn; and the Indians be compelled to leave their country under the penalty of certain destruction, if they remain?
Again, Sir, I reply--our treaties--our treaties. The Indians object, and the United States have solemnly promised to interpose at their request. In no other instances have they opposed State legislation, and demanded our interposition. This is a sufficient answer.
But this topic has been so much urged, and the effort has been so great to find shelter under the precedents of other States, that I will bestow upon them a moment's attention. That principally relied upon, and the only one specified, is a law of New York passed four or five years ago--The occasion was this. In one of the little reduced tribes, within that State, a female had been executed as a witch. The executioner was indicted in the State Court before the Judge and convicted. The question of jurisdiction was carried to the superior court, who never came to a decision, but advised a pardoning act; whereupon this law was passed, which punishes certain high crimes committed within the tribe. Its sole object was the protection of the Indians, and it seems to have been by their consent, they have never objected, much less claimed our interposition? Does this bear any analogy to the case of Georgia and the Cherokees? When another tribe, the Oneidas, formed a constitution of Government similar to that of the Cherokees, did New York interfere to destroy it and dissolve the nation? Far otherwise, they protected them in its enjoyment. And such has been the general character of legislation of other States. I shall not go back to the early days of colonial vassalage, although it is surprising that so little colour (sic) of precedent is to be found, even when the weakness of infancy was struggling for existence against the power of the savages. I speak of the States, since they became such, under the Confederation, or the Federal Constitution; and say that their general legislation has been--not over the Indians and acting upon the individuals within the territory of their tribe; but protecting and preserving them as a distinct community--operating upon the whites and restraining them from inflicting wrongs and injuries. The legislation of Georgia has thrown over them a net which binds every limb in fetters; but is no shield of defence (sic)against assaults; whilst that of other States has erected around them against encroachments.
This bill, Mr. President, provides for the removal of the Indians to distant regions, beyond the Mississippi; and it is proposed to place no less than half a million of dollars in the hands of the Secretary of War for that purpose. The amendment, now under consideration, declares that they shall be protected, in the enjoyment of their rights, until they shall choose to remove. The necessity of such a provision is apparent. Without it, they have no option. Without it, this bill will add to the pressure of the torrent that is sweeping them away.
Is it not known that Acts for holding Indian treaties have been used as instruments of coercion? When our commissioners have met the chiefs in council to obtain further acquisition of territory, have they not sometimes asked only what will you reserve? And when the answer has been, we have no lands to spare--we will cede nothing; the question is repeated--what will you reserve?--Congress have passed a law for the purpose of obtaining a portion of your soil--the United States are strong--their arms now sleep in peace--beware how you arouse them from their slumbers!
Not only has terror been inspired, but other means have been resorted to, to cause the women to influence their husbands; the children to beseech their parents; the warriors to urge the chiefs; until their firmness is overcome. It is related of a venerable chief, that yielding at last to this irresistible pressure, he signed the fatal parchment in tears--declaring at the time that it was the death warrant of his nation.
Apprehending that our object is to obtain further cessions, the Indians have met us in council with fear and trembling. In one instance, five or six tribes being assembled our commissioners announced to them that our only desire was to establish and preserve peace among themselves; that we asked for no lands; -they instantly rent the air with acclamations of joy. No difficulties, no delays intervened-the treaties were accomplished at once.
It is uncharitable to suppose that agents to be appointed under the direction of those who are most concerned in our Indian affairs, may resort to force or terror?
Sir, the officer now at the head of the Indian Bureau, in his official report of a treaty of cession, made by him with the Creeks, states the fact, that in two successive councils he met only a firm denial; and in the third, he says, one individual being most prominent in his opposition, it was not until he "broke him upon the spot" that the treaty was obtained! Yes, sir, that officer avows that he "broke" one of the prominent chiefs in their own council, as the only means of accomplishing his purposes!
And in an official communication sent to us by the Secretary of War at the commencement of this session, the same officer recommends that the government should send an "armed force" to the Cherokee country, to further the objects of this bill--the removal of the natives. He says indeed, that he would make a solemn declaration that the military were not to be used to compel them to leave their country; but only to give security to those that were willing to go.--And would such a declaration, even if made, do away the effect of the presence of our bayonets? What is the avowed purpose? To protect, against their own government and people, the individuals who may choose to emigrate; but not to afford any aid or countenance to those that may choose to remain. The chiefs may inquire, "will these soldiers give us protection against the power of Georgia, if she shall attempt to force her laws upon us?" The reply must be, "Oh no--the PRESIDENT has decided that she has a right to govern you; and if you should resist, the United States are bound to assist her in the execution of her laws against all opposition--When the British minister remonstrated against the Emperor Alexander's annexing a part of Poland to his dominions he replied--I have three hundred thousand soldiers in that country. The argument was conclusive. If the Cherokees should hesitate: they might in insignificant silence be pointed to our glittering bayonets!
It is recommended to send an armed force to enable the Cherokees to deliberate freely!
When the Roman orator appeared in defence of Milo; he found the forum surrounded by an armed force, accompanied no doubt by the declaration that it was only to preserve tranquillity. But even the tongue of Cicero was palsied by the formidable array, and his friend and client was abandoned to his fate. We know; Sir, how the deliberations of the Parliament of Great Britain, and the National Conventions of France, have been aided by the presence of an armed force; and history abounds with similar examples.
I confess, Sir, that I cannot but indulge fears of the use which may be made by the War Department, of the half of million of dollars, to be appropriated by this bill. We do know, that, in making Indian treaties, there have been instances of valuable reservations of lands, and large sums of money, being secretly given to individual Chiefs, by confidential arrangements, to induce them to yield to our wishes and betray the confidence reposed in them by their nation. Is it uncharitable to apprehend that such things may happen under the directions of the present Secretary of War?
Toward that high officer I have no feeling of unkindness. I seek no imputation upon his motives; but his official acts I am bound, by the duties of my station, to examine. Look at the instructions given by him in May last, to General Carroll who was sent as an agent of the Government to induce the Cherokees to a removal. They express throughout much solicitude for the welfare of the Indians and profess to consult their best interests. But I am constrained to look at the acts to be done-the course of conduct prescribed. He is directed not to meet the Cherokees in "general Council" for "the consequence would be, what it has been, a firm refusal to acquiesce;" but to "appeal to the Chiefs and influential men--not together, but apart at their own houses; and to make offers to them of extensive reservations in fee simple and other rewards" to obtain "their acquiescence." He is further told--"the more careful you are to secure from even the Chiefs the official character you bear the better"--and again, ~Go to them not as a negotiator, but as friend." "Open to each a view of his danger"--again, "enlarge upon the advantage of their condition in the West-- there the General Government would protect them--improve them by instruction." They would become our equals in privileges civil and religious, and that "by refusing" to remove--"they must, necessarily, entail destruction upon their race."
I cannot but remark the parallel between the course here prescribed and that which expelled our first parents from Paradise.
When the arch temper sought their removal, he assailed them "not together;" lest their joint "council" should have baffled his arts; but found the feebler woman "apart" from her husband, deprived of the aid of her natural adviser--and carefully concealing his `official character'--of Satanic majesty; assuming the guise of a "friend;" a kind instructor he told her pursue the course which I advise, and the evils which have been predicted shall not follow!--"ye shall not surly "die"--but you shall be enlightened and elevated--your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil." She listened and yielded--
"Earth felt the wound, and nature from
Sighing through all her works gave
signs of woe
That all was lost."
She was then made the instrument of seducing the man also- And both were driven from the Garden of Eden where their Creator had placed them to the unsubdued wilderness of the world-and a flaming sword forever barred their return,
The adoption of such measures is, in the language of the military Secretary to "move upon them in the line of their prejudices." And upon whom is it that we thus move? Those whom we have most solemnly promised to protect as faithful guardians; whom we have called brothers; whom we have taught to look up to the President, as their great father. Yes, we have endeavored to obtain over them the influence of a parent; but do we perform toward them the duties of that sacred relation?
It is said that we must resort to such measures; they are unavoidable. The plea of state necessity is advanced. And is this great country, with peace in all its borders, now controlled by an irresistible power, that knows no role and consults no law? Does this measure wear the garp (sic) of state necessity? That, Sir, is a high handed tyrant--not a smooth-tongued seducer. It is a lion, seizing its prey with open and resistless strength--not a serpent winding its sinuous way in secret to its victim.
Without the adoption of this amendment, the Cherokees have no choice, but between the miseries of emigration and destruction where they are.
It is contended that it is for their best interest to remove. Leave that, Sir, to their own decision. Our judgement may be too much guided by our own convenience. We undertook to judge for the Seminoles in Florida. We asked for their fertile lands; they objected, asserting that the residue would not support existence. We persisted; and found means at last to obtain a reluctant cession. They departed in the deepest sorrow from their homes of comfort and plenty, to encounter want and misery upon a barren waste. Nineteen-twentieths of the territory which we left to them, consisted of sands where no verdure quickened, and of swamps upon which human life could not be sustained. The dreary description officially given by Governor Duval can hardly be exceeded. The consequence was, suffering, and starvation. The government was forthwith compelled to give twenty thousand dollars for food to preserve life, and to retrocede a portion of their territory.
Whither are the Cherokees to go? What are the benefits of the change? What system has been matured for their security? What laws for their government? These questions are answered only by gilded promises in general terms; they are to become enlightened & civilized husbandmen.
They now live by the cultivation of the soil, and the mechanic arts. It is proposed to sent them from their cotton fields, their farms, and their gardens; to a distant and an unsubdued wilderness--to make them tillers of the earth!--to remove them from their looms, their work shops, their printing press, their schools, and churches near the white settlements; to frowning forests, surrounded with naked savages-that they may become enlightened and civilized! We have pledged to them our protection--and instead of shielding them where they now are, within our reach, under our own arm, we send these, natives of southern climes to northern regions, amongst fierce & warlike barbarians. And what security do we propose to them?--a new guarantee!! who can look an Indian in the face; and say to him; we and our fathers, for more than 40 years have made to you the most solemn promises; we now violate and trample upon them all; but offer you to their stead--another guarantee!!
Will they be in no danger of attack, from the primitive inhabitants of the regions to which they emigrate? How can it be other wise? The official documents show us the fact, that some of the few, who have already gone, were involved in conflicts with the native tribes and compelled to a second removal.
How are they to subsist? Has not that country now, as great an Indian population, as it can sustain? What has become of the original occupants? Have we not already caused accessions to their numbers and been compressing them more and more? Is not the consequence inevitable that some must be stinted in the means of subsistence? Here too we have the light of experience. By an official communication from Governor Clark, the Superintendent of Indian affairs; we learn that the most powerful tribes west of the Mississippi are, every year, so distressed by famine, that many die for want of food. The scenes of their suffering are hardly exceeded by the sieges of Jerusalem, asd (sic) Samaria. There might be seen the miserable mother, in all the tortures which hunger can inflict, giving her last morsel for the sustenance of child, and then fainting, sinking, and actually dying of starvation! And the orphan?--no one can spare it food--it is put alive into the grave of the parent, which thus closes over the quick and the dead! And this not in a solitary instance only, but repeatedly and frequently. "The living child is often buried with the dead mother." *
Mr. President: I am aware that their white neighbors desire the absence of the Indians; and if they can find safety and subsistence beyond the Mississippi, I should rejoice exceedingly at their removal, because it would relieve the States of their presence. I would do much to effect a consummation so devoutly to be wished. But let it be by their own free choice, unawed by fear, unseduced by bribes. Let us not compel them by withdrawing the protection, which we have pledged. Theirs must be the pain of departure, and the hazard of the change. They are men, and have the feelings and attachments of men; and if all the ties which bind them to their country, and their homes are to be rent asunder; let it be by their own free hand. If they are to leave forever the streams, at which they have drank, and the trees under which they reclined: if the fires are never more to be lighted up in the council house of their chiefs; and must be quenched forever upon the domestic hearth by the tears of the inmates, who have there joined the nuptial feast, and the funeral wail; if they are to look to the last time upon the land of the birth-which drank up the blood of their fathers shed in its defence-and is mingled with the sacred dust of children and friends-to turn their aching vision to distant regions enveloped in darkness and surrounded by dangers-let it be by their own free choice, not by the coercion of a withdrawal of the protection of our plighted faith. They can best appreciate the dangers and difficulties which beset their path. It is their fate which is impending: and it is their right to judge; while we have no warrant to falsify our promise.
It is said that their existence cannot be preserved: that it is the doom of Providence, that they must perish. So indeed, must we all; but let it be in the course of nature not by the hand of violence. If in truth, they are now in the decrepitude of age; let us permit them to live out all their days and die in peace; not bring down their grey hairs in blood, to a foreign grave.
I know, Sir, to what I expose myself. To feel any solicitude for the fate of the Indians may be ridiculed as false philanthropy and morbid sensibility. Others may boldly say "their blood be upon us;" and sneer at scruples as a weakness, unbecoming the stern character of a politician.
If, Sir, in order to become such, it be necessary to divest the mind of the principles of good faith and moral obligation; and harden the heart against every touch of humanity; I confess that I am not, and by the blessing of Heaven, will never be--a politician.
Sir, we cannot wholly silence the monitor within. It may not be heard amidst the clashing of the arena; in the tempest and convulsions of political contentions: but its "still small voice" will speak to us-when we meditate alone at eventide;--in the silent watches of the night; when we lie down & when we rise up from a solitary pillow;--and in that dread hour when--"not what we have done for ourselves, but what we have done for others" will be our joy and our strength; when- to have secured a spot of earth upon which to rest his aching head-to have given him but a cup of cold water in charity: will be a greater treasure than to have been the conquerers of kingdoms and lived in luxury upon their spoils.
*Extracted from an official report of General clark, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, dated March 1, 1826.
"The condition of many tribes west of the Mississippi is the most pitiable that can be imagined. During several seasons in ever year they are distressed by famine in which many die for want of food, and during which the living child is often buried with the dead mother, because no one can spare as much as would sustain it through its helpless infancy. This description applies to Sioux, Osages, and many others, but I mention those, because they are powerful tribes, and live near our borders, and my official station enables me to know the exact truth. It is in vain to talk to people in this condition about learning and religion.