[Senate Doc. 512, vol. 247, page 400-402]
Columbus, Georgia, May 18, 1833
Since my letter to you, of yesterday, I have seen Chilly McIntosh. I brought a letter for him from Judge Herring, in relation to, the business with which he was charged, and sent it him yesterday, but he had not received it. I told him of my anxiety to see him, in order to explain the letter, lest he might suppose it as intended to arrest all his proceedings under his authority, from the department, in relation to the party about to emigrate. I assured him, after mentioning the contents of the letter, that its object has not to put a stop to what he had done, not to defeat the arrangements he had already made, but merely to limit him to the extent of his present proceedings.
To this extent the faith of the Government was unquestionably pledged, and his standing as its agent compromitted.
He replied, that as far as he had gone he must be sustained, or his life was hazarded. That he had acted in accordance with his authority, and if it were now withdrawn, he could be viewed as one who had deceived his friends, or who had lost the confidence of the Government. In either case his situation would he very critical, and his influence at an end. He added, that he had about 300 Indians engaged to emigrate; had already established depots of provision, and had mortgaged his whole private fortune for means to defray his expenses, and that to stop now was out of the question. I told him on no account to stop, but to persevere to the extent of his present engagements, and if desirable by him, I would give him a letter to that. effect. He then remarked, that he was very destitute of funds, and wished to know if some portion of what was to be allowed to him could not be furnished, and that he had fixed the 10th of June for the commencement of his march. I replied that I would write to you on the subject, and have an answer by that time.
You were mistaken in your impression that these Indians were to have a meeting on the 18th. They have not been called together, and do not meet unless so called. Marshall, the interpreter, tells me that at least 20 days are necessary to give notice and collect for a council. I shall go to the agency today, and send out notice for a council to be held on the 10th of June. I requested McIntosh to attend the council. He is an active and intelligent fellow, and the zealous advocate of emigration. He assured me that in his opinion a great majority of the Indians had sold their rights. That white agents were throughout the nation using every artifice to induce the Indians to sell. That the usual price for a half section was 15 dollars, and the Indians came under bonds to convey, and contracts to reside on the land for the five years required by the treaty. That, in his opinion, with proper arrangements, upwards of 5,000 might be induced to emigrate this season. That the mass of them were literally suffering for food. Entirely unsettled in their views, worked upon and furnished with drink by the whites, every thing they had, even their ration of meal, was carried to the grog shop; and, with but few exceptions, all planting or cultivation neglected. That, in consequence, if some active arrangements for emigration were not made, their sufferings during the ensuing winter would be excessive. Conscious of this, he considered a large mass of them ready to emigrate, and could be induced to move soon after the council, if an agent were ready to conduct them. I take the liberty of presenting this opinion to your serious consideration. I had heard of the wretchedness of this people; of their dilapidated towns, and neglected fields, from other sources, and believe the representations of McIntosh to be correct. He says, and I believe it, that a delay of effort to induce emigration until the next season, will only increase their wretchedness and the embarrassment of the Government.
I should like to receive from you some intimation of the extent to which the Government is disposed to go in the purchase of these reservations. There are, perhaps, a few which cannot be obtained, as I have heard of one section right for which 5,000 dollars has been refused. The improvements were on choice ground, and these would fix the location. Some one or two more may be similarly situated, but generally they will not be so very valuable. It has occurred to me, that an offer of 50 cents the acre for the 90 chief reservations, and 25 cents the acre for the balance, including the 29 sections of the 6th article, would probably secure the purchase of the whole, except the exceptions above stated. Estimating the heads of families at 4,000, which I do from tolerable authority, the quantity of acres and the cost would be as follows:
|90 sections,||57,600 acres,||at 50 cents,||$28,850.00|
|29 sections,||19,360 acres,||at 25 cents,||4,840.00|
|4,000 half " ,||1,280,000 acres,||at 25 cents,||320,000.00|
I doubt if the purchase will be made at less than the rates above stated, and purchasers
of rights could be secured for all bona fide payments, to the extent of the price
of each section; these payments chargeable on each section or half section, and the balance to be
paid to the Indians who might be entitled to the land.
I have just seen a Mr. Elliott; a citizen of this place, who has been employed under McIntosh to aid in enrolling his band for emigration. He has been throughout the Creek nation lately, and assures me that but for the efforts of the speculators, thousands of the Indians could now be induced to emigrate, and that if we succeed in making a treaty, they will move in mass by the fall. The argument of the speculators or their agents to induce the Indians to remain is, that if they go they will get nothing for their lands. He says that the report that a locating and certifying agent had been appointed also operated against immediate emigration, as it served to show that the Government was taking steps for the immediate execution of the treaty of March, 1832, and the Indians were therefore waiting for the issue. I begged him to correct this report, as I believed that Mr. Tarrant had only been assured that he might expect such an employ. But on reading the letter to Mr. Tarrant of the 3d of May, (a, copy of which is among the papers committed to me,) a day after the date of our instructions as commissioners, no notice whatever is taken of the desire of Government to purchase these reservations, or of the fact that commissioners were appointed for that purpose; but, on the contrary, an evident system is developed for carrying into effect the treaty of 24th March. Observe the following: " In addition to your pay as sub-agent, you will be allowed, as heretofore informed; five dollars per day as locating agent, when your services commence in making the selection of reservations. After the reservations shall have been located, you will be appointed certifying agent, for the purpose of ascertaining and reporting as to the fairness of contracts with the Indians for the sale of their lands. On this subject you will be more particularly instructed when your appointment shall he announced to you." Need I comment upon this quotation, to show all the evil effects which we may experience from it? It is really tantamount to a declaration that no confidence is entertained in our success, or no wish that we may succeed. It will be known; such things are always known; and I cannot yet say to what extent it may embarrass us. I shall, however, write immediately to Tarrant; and let him know that commissioners have been appointed to treat for these reservations.
McIntosh has this morning called with the letter alluded to in the fore part of this communication, and which he had just received. He says that he should interpret it as countermanding all that he had been authorized to do, and the effect would be to brand him as a liar with the tribe, destroy all his stand, and hazard his life for the supposed deception. I assured him that; in my opinion, no more was meant by the letter, than to limit his efforts to the extent he had already gone under the authority of the letter of the 11th of February. That to that extent he ought to complete his undertaking. He requested of me a letter to that effect, and I shall give him one. The subject is not immediately under my cognizance; but it is one which, in addition to the inconvenience which may ensue to McIntosh himself, involves also, to my judgment, the honor and plighted faith of the department, and will therefore justify the responsibility which I may find necessary to take upon myself.
I have & c.,
J. J. Abert,
Lt. Col. Top. En.
Hon. Lewis Cass