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ART. XVII.-1. Message from the President of the United
States, transmitting sundry Documents in relation to the extinguishment of the Indian title within the limits of Georgia.
Washington. Gales & Seaton. 1824. 2. Message from the President of the United States, transmitting
sundry documents in relation to the various Tribes of Indians within the United States, and recommending a plan for their future location of government. Washington. Gales & Sea
ton. 1825. 3. Message of Governor Troup, transmitted May 23, 1825, to
the Legislature of Georgia, specially convened by Proclama
tion. Milledgeville. 1825. 4. Official Documents, containing a Message of the Governor
of the State of Georgia to the Legislature, with the Correspondence between the Special Agent of the United States, Governor Troup, and the Secretary of War. Milledgeville. 1825.
The character of the confederacy of the United States, is a subject of great interest, both to the present generation and to posterity. It is regarded by the contending parties in the political world as the great exemplar of liberal establishments; and upon its conduct and success depends the speedy advancement, or the temporary defeat, of the liberal party. Its force is not a physical, but a moral force. It consists in a national character, unsullied by injustice and oppression. The inquirer cannot find in their annals the records of successful or unprovoked invasions—of triumphs achieved over the rights of nations and humanity. The government of the nation has, on all occasions, appealed to reason as its standard, and by that standard it will be judged. After a profession of its principles, so openly and so often reiterated, it cannot shape its course according to the VOL. I.
dictates of a temporizing, prevaricating policy. It must act up to its principles, or it must disavow them. The path of honour and justice is open, and it may travel on alone, sustained only by the moral strength, which a strict adherence to the maxims of integrity gives to a nation; or it may shrink from its high destiny, and like the members of the Holy Alliance, stoop to share in the petty plunder, derived from stripping the weak and the defenceless of their possessions. If it be emulous of the fame of the partitioners of Poland, the invaders of Spain, and the plunderers of India; an opportunity to equal, and even exceed them, is forced upon the government of the United States by the conduct of the Governor of Georgia, and upon the disposition of that question, rests the future character of our country. By the rash and unjustifiable measures of the executive of that State, the national government is compelled to decide upon the ultimate destiny of the Indians within its limits; to become a party to their forcible removal ; or to protect them in the lawful enjoyment of their rightful possessions.
In an age like this, with a free press, and thousands ready and willing to vindicate the rights of the meanest and most defenceless; we cannot, if we would, dispose of thousands of human beings like cattle, without inquiry. Their wrongs will go forth to the world, and the agency that we have in their final disposition, must make part of the national history. Let us, then, as we value the opinion of mankind, as we regard the approval of our consciences, examine well the relations between the white inhabitants of the United States, and the surviving aboriginals, before any irrevocable step be taken to remove the Creeks from the lands which they now occupy.
Scarcely two centuries have elapsed, since the Europeans landed upon the American continent. They then found the country covered by the native tribes of the new world. The resources of the country were not so fully developed, as if civilized men had applied their faculties and arts to that end. Agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, did not flourish, as if under the control of civilization. This, however, did not give to Europe a riht to depopulate America. To vacant territory, the white comer had as good a right as the tawny native ; but to occupied territory, to land appropriated to the purposes of planting and hunting, the Indian had a right, which was as valid as that of an English nobleman to his extensive manor and vacant park. The history of the early colonial settlements, shows this right to have been generally respected: and purchases were made from the native chieftains by the
first settlers, of large tracts of land, for which a valuable consideration was given. Notwithstanding the fairness of the public authorities, injustice was occasionally practised by individuals ; and the ignorant and untutored savage was often driven, by these unauthorized wrongs, into indiscriminate hostilities with the colonists. If, in the conflicts, their numbers were wasted, and often whole tribes were exterminated, one could only lament the hard fate which seemed inevitable. The peculiar situation of the colonists, and the habits of their foes, impelled them to that course. With the founder of Carthage, they might have truly said,
“Res dura et regni novitas
Moliri." In the lapse of time, however, this necessity ceased; and the philanthropic men who guided the councils of these states at the formation of the constitution, determined to make an effort to preserve the remnant of the American Indians from the destruction to which they are visibly hastening. A peculiar race of men was wasting away—a race, distinguished for many noble and exalted qualities, was daily diminished by the sword, the pestilence, and the vices which they had acquired from the example of the Europeans, without adopting the political and social system, which deprived those vices of their exterminating qualities. In a few more generations, unless some effort should be made for their preservation, they felt that the aboriginals would cease to exist, and the race be numbered with those whose language and habits only afford scope for the speculative inquiry of the antiquarian. This decay, too, had commenced upon the arrival of the Europeans, and seemed to be a consequence of their contiguity. As philanthropists, therefore, and as patriots, watchful over the national character, they were desirous to rescue the Indian from extinction, and to elevate him to the rank of civilized man. They felt this to be due, not only to the savages and to their own character,
but it was a just tribute to their ancestors, who had founded this empire of civilized humanity in the American wilderness, to serve as a refuge from the oppression and injustice of the old world. They could not bear that their fathers should be reproached as the merciless extirpators of the aboriginal race. They had no ambition to be ranked with the Goths and Vandals, who destroyed the Roman empire, with the devastators of Europe, or with the unrelenting conquerors of Hispaniola and of Mexico, who laid the foundations of their sway in the destruction of the native inhabitants of their
several countries. While they anxiously sought to perpetuate and extend the Anglo-American republic, they were not regardless of the untutored savages within its limits. They intended, if possible, to elevate them to an equality with themselves, by affording to them all the helps of civilization ; and, at all events, to preserve themselves, in case of their extinction, from all participation in hastening that unhappy result. The liberal designs and feelings of the revolutionary patriots towards these unfortunate people, may be plainly understood, from the agreement made with the Delaware tribe in 1778, whereby the Indians were invited to form a State, and send a representative to Congress.* The Cherokees were also secured, by the treaty of Hopewell, in 1785, the right of sending a deputy to Congress.t . These philanthropic offers cannot be misunderstood. They speak volumes in favor of those, to whose example and exertions we owe all we value most. With this view, too, upon the establishment of the national government, they entered into treaties with the various Indian tribes, whereby the several relations and obligations of the United States and the Indians, were specifically set forth and defined. The limits of the territory reserved by the aboriginals were described, and the integrity of their landed property was guarantied, by the United States. Other obligations were assumed by the national government; but as the general policy of the United States has been sufficiently developed, and as this question relates chiefly to the Creeks, it will be necessary to confine our attention to the treaties by which their condition was fixed. Shortly after the accession of the patriotic and venerable Washington to the chief magistracy of the republic, a treaty was concluded at New-York, in his very presence, with the Creek nation. These particulars are mentioned, that the sanction of that great and good man to the humane policy of the government may have its due weight with all who respect the purity and sagacity of the Father of his country. By this treaty, the United States took the Creeks under their protection ; guarantied to the tribes their land within specific limits ; settled the manner in which offenders should be punished; and in order “to lead them to a greater degree of civilization, and to become herdsmen and cultivators, instead of remaining in the state of hunters,''I the United States agreed to furnish,
gratuitously, the Creeks, from time to time, with useful do
* Vide 1 vol. U. S. Laws, B. and D. ed. p. 304. 4 Ib. 324.
i Ib. 362.