Georgetown, March 24, 1825.
I have the honor to enclose to you a copy of a letter written to the Secretary of War since the adjournment of Congress, on the subject of the execution of the recent treaty with the Creek Indians, and the formation of a treaty with the Cherokees, for the complete fulfillment of the obligations of the United States to the State of Georgia, under the compact of 1802, with his answer; and several papers, marked A, B, and C, I received with it. As I hope to have soon a personal conference with you on this subject, I forbear to make any remarks upon the correspondence enclosed.
I am, sir, with perfect respect, your
His Excellency G. M. Troup, Governor of Georgia.
Georgetown, March 9, 1825.
By the request of Governor Troup, I had the honor this morning to ask the attention of the President to the claims of the State of Georgia upon the United States, under the compact of 1802. The President desired that I should address myself to you, that the suggestions made on the part of the State might be duly considered. Complying with this desire, I invite your attention, first, to the execution of the treaty lately concluded at the Indian Springs; and, secondly, to the formation of a new treaty with the Cherokees.
By the eighth article of the treaty of the Indian Springs, the Creeks must remove from the land occupied by them prior to the 1st of September, 1826. To cover the first payments clue under this treaty, and to provide a fund for the purchase of a permanent residence of the Creeks beyond the Mississippi, a contingent appropriation of $250,000 has been made by Congress. The interest and convenience of Georgia will be best consulted by an immediate removal of the Indians, and no doubt is entertained that the necessary measures will be immediately taken for that purpose. The conduct of the Creek agent, who has spared no pains to prevent the formation and ratification of the treaty, justifies an apprehension that he will not fail to obstruct, as far as is in his power, the accomplishment of the wishes of the State. Under this conviction, a request that the conduct of the agent may be watched, and that no confidence shall be reposed in him that can be consistently withheld, is dictated by the interests of Georgia, the wishes of the Creek tribe, and the honor of the General Government. While anxious that no artifices shall be used to prevent an early removal of the Indians, I pray you to be assured that we have no desire that the Creeks should suffer for our accommodation. We shall complain of no delays that are necessary for their comfort on their journey, and to their permanent security and prosperity in their new homes.
As to the formation of a treaty with the Cherokees, the present moment appears to be peculiarly favorable for a complete performance of the obligations of the compact of 1802. Nothing remains to the accomplishment of these objects but to induce the Cherokees to remove from the lands occupied by them within the limits of Georgia. A number of the Cherokee chiefs, the most influential in the nation, are in Washington. The recent determination of the Creeks to go to the west, in spite of the persuasions and artifices of the Cherokees, must have satisfied the latter that the United States will, sooner or later, insist upon the surrender of the lands in Georgia to that State. Once convinced that their title to the land must he extinguished, it will be easy to satisfy them that their own interest will be most effectually consulted by an immediate arrangement. The records of the War Department show that many of the Cherokees, since 1819, have; continued to express a desire to go beyond the Mississippi, and have complained of the injustice of their chiefs, who deprived them, by the treaty of that year, of the privilege of selling their lands for that purpose. In 1821, the Path Killer applied, through General Jackson, to Government, to purchase his claims. My own opinion is, that the President may, without injustice to the Indians, without violating either principle or usage, cause a purchase to be made of the Cherokees residing in Georgia of the lands lying in Georgia. Without attempting to demonstrate the soundness of this opinion, I suggest, with great deference, that, if the Cherokees are found now unwilling to treat, their unwillingness would probably be overcome if they were informed that the President would, if the whole tribe could not be induced to treat, take into serious consideration the proposals made by the Path Killer, 'and any other proposals which may be hereafter made, by all or any portion of the Cherokees in Georgia, for the sale of all the lands they may occupy lying within the limits of that State.
With the hope that a new effort with the Cherokees will have as fortunate a termination as the recent effort with the Creeks,
I have the honor to be, sir, with great
respect, your obedient servant,
Hon, James Barbour, Secretary of the Department of War.
Department of War, March 23, 1825.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 9th instant, conveying the information that you had, by the request of Governor Troup, asked the attention of the President to the claims of the State of Georgia upon the United States under the compact of 1802, and the desire of the President that you should address yourself to me, that the suggestions made on the part of the State might be duly considered; also and, in compliance with this desire, inviting my attention, first, to the execution of the treaty lately concluded with the Creeks at the Indian Springs; and, secondly, to the formation of a new treaty with the Cherokees.
The treaty of the Indian Springs, having been ratified, will be carried into effect; measures having been already taken in conformity to its provisions.
Upon the second subject referred to in yours, I have the honor to state, in reply, that .the President, as well from inclination as a sense of duty, is disposed to carry into effect the conditions of the compact of Georgia, whenever that can be done consistently with its provisions. In this spirit, and in conformity to your suggestion, a letter was addressed from the Department to the delegation of the Cherokees in this place, a copy of which (marked A) is herewith enclosed; also, a copy of their answer, (marked B;) to which is added a copy of a communication, (marked C,) addressed by the Cherokee chiefs to the President. You will readily perceive, from this correspondence, the determined opposition of the Cherokees at this time to the cession of their lands.
I am directed by the President to state that he entirely accords in the policy recommended by Mr. Monroe to Congress, at their last session, on the subject of the general removal of the Indians to the west of the Mississippi a policy believed to he alike advantageous to the citizens of the United States in their neighborhood, and to the Indians themselves. This object, as far as it lies within the sphere of his power, will be promoted, and on every suitable occasion its beneficent effects will be particularly inculcated on the Cherokee nation. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
To the Hon. John Forsyth.
Department of War, Office of Indian Affairs, March 12, 1825.
Friends and Brothers:
I am directed by the Secretary of War to inquire if you have authority to negotiate with the Government for a sale of your lands, and especially for that portion of them lying within the limits of Georgia?
I am, respectfully, your friend and
Thomas L. McKenney.
To John Ross, George Lowrey, and Elijah Hicks, Cherokee Delegation.
Extract of a letter from the Cherokee Delegation to Thomas L. McKenney, dated
Washington, March 14, 1825.
Yours of the 12th instant is received. You,, state that you are directed by the Secretary of War to inquire if we have authority to negotiate with the Government for a sale of our lands, and especially for that portion of them lying within the limits of Georgia. It would seem, from the inquiry, that the Secretary of War is impressed with a belief that our nation may be disposed to make a cession of our lands, and that we, as its representatives, May have been instructed accordingly. In order that the Secretary of War may have full information of the true sentiments and disposition of our nation, in relation to our lands, we would refer him to the communication which we had the honor to address to the honorable John C. Calhoun, on the 11th February, 1824, in reply to certain propositions made by the President, through him, to us, for our lands. We have full authority in saying that those sentiments remain the same, and are unchangeable.
Washington City, March 12, 1825.
Be pleased to accept our congratulation for the great trust confided to your care, as President of the United States. The various tribes of Indians emphatically call the President father, and to him they, as children, look for protection and preservation. Therefore, we consider it a duty, as well as a privilege, to address you. A retrospective view of the history and true causes of the downfall, degradation, and extinction of certain tribes, exhibits a solemn and imposing lesson, which may be profitable in administering justice to those few who at this day breathe the vital air on the land of their fathers. The crisis seems to be at hand which must forever seal their doom; civilization and preservation, or dispersion and extinction await them, and this Government is the tribunal which must pass the sentence. We therefore solicit your attention to a few remarks, which we deem it to be our implicit duty to make, in relation to the Cherokee people, whom we represent. The arts of civilized life have been successfully introduced among them; they consider themselves permanently settled, and no inducement can ever prompt them to abandon their habitations for a distant, wild, and strange clime. They are well aware of the earnest solicitude of the State of Georgia for their removal; and also are apprized of the desire of the Government to gratify the wishes of Georgia, if their consent could be obtained. And whilst the Cherokees are ever ready to comply with the views and wishes of the Government, they cannot consent to yield another foot of land. Unceasing exertion has, from time to time, been used to purchase from the Cherokees their lands for Georgia; but we have never as yet witnessed a single attempt made on the part of the Government to bring the compact of 1802 with Georgia to a close, by compromise, or in any manner other than by trying to purchase our lands. For the peace and tranquility of our nation, we do sincerely hope that measures may be adopted by the United States and the State of Georgia so as to close their compact without teasing the Cherokees any more for their lands. The Cherokees have repeatedly declared their sentiments respecting their lands to the Government; those sentiments have been matured in soberness, and expressed in sincerity.
The idea of concentrating the various tribes of Indians, for the object of civilizing and preserving them, west of the Mississippi, is a subject of great magnitude, and may, perhaps, contribute to better the condition of those tribes who have been removed from their lands, and are now wandering over the wild and extended plains of the west. But if Indian civilization or preservation is sincerely desired, and is considered worthy the serious attention of the United States, never urge the removal of those tribes who are now successfully embracing the habits of civilized man within their own limits. A removal of the Cherokees can never be effected with their consent; consequently, if removed at all, it must be effected by such means as would engender irreconcilable prejudices; and their dispersion and ultimate extinction would inevitably follow. If the Cherokees were permitted to remain peaceably and quietly in the enjoyment of their rights, the day would arrive when a distinction between their race and the American family would be imperceptible; to such a change the nation can have no objection. Complexion is a subject not worthy consideration in the effectuation of this great object. For the sake of the civilization and preservation of existence, we would willingly see the habits and customs of the aboriginal man extinguished. The sooner this takes place, the sooner the great stumbling-block prejudice will be removed.
May the power of Heaven direct your steps for the good of all under your administration, is the sincere prayer of, sir,
Your unworthy, but most obedient
To His Excellency John Q. Adams, President of the United States.
Executive Department, Georgia, Milledgeville, April 6, 1825.
Your letter of the 24th ultimo, covering a correspondence between yourself and the Secretary of War, and other papers connected with the fulfillment of the stipulations of the articles of agreement and cession, was received yesterday. Accept my thanks for your unremitted attention to the interest of the State; they are due from the people to you, and the rest of the delegation, for your generous and patriotic devotion to their rights, and for the firmness and dignity with which, on every occasion, you have supported them. On the opening of a new administration of the General Government, soon after one important concession had been made to our just demands, it is scarcely necessary to inform you how eagerly I sought repose from the painful altercation which it had been my imperious duty to wage with the constituted authorities of the Union, and with how much of hope and anxiety I looked forward 19 the future, trusting that, in better and improved relations, we would find a kindly and conciliatory spirit succeed to troubled feelings; the sense of wrong on either side consigned to forgetfulness; and the claims of Georgia recognized in all the extent which reason, justice, and good faith would warrant. I trust that, for these, more has not been asked-that less will not be received.
It cannot be dissembled, however, that in the answer given by the Secretary of War to your communication of the 9th ultimo, presupposing the best disposition to do right, a course of policy is indicated which must infallibly terminate in wrong. It is of kindred spirit with that which for a time kept us in abeyance with the Creeks, and held the State suspended between the most fearful alternatives. On the 12th of March, the delegation of Cherokees at Washington laid before the President their customary annual protest against a cession of lands on any terms, now or hereafter. On the same day they are asked, by order of the Secretary of War, if they will sell lands; they answer, no! and this answer is echoed by the Secretary of War to you. I hope it is not considered, as it purports to be, final. Should the proposition be renewed, another and very different character must be given to it. The Cherokees must be told, in plain language, that the lands they occupy belong to Georgia; that, sooner or later, the Georgians must have them; that every day, nay, every hour of postponement of the rights of Georgia, makes the more strongly for Georgia, and against both the United States and the Cherokees. Why conceal from this misguided race the destiny which is fixed and unchangeable? Why conceal from them the fact, that every advance in the improvement of the country is to enure to the benefit of Georgia; that every fixture will pass with the soil into our hands, sooner or later, for which the United States must pay an equivalent, or not, to the Indians, according to their discretion. The United States are bound, in justice to themselves, instantly to arrest the, progress of improvement in the Cherokee country; it is the reason constantly assigned by the Cherokees for their refusal to abandon the country. The force of the argument, therefore, if good now, increases with the progress of improvement; the progress of improvement will be accelerated by the irresistible force of the argument. Thus, by a double ratio of geometrical progression, known only to the logicians of modern times, Georgia will find herself in a predicament, in which, whatever may have been the aggravation of her wrongs, she never before stood disseised of both the argument and the lands. Why not, therefore, in common honesty and plain dealing, say to the Indians, Remove now, or stay the hand of improvement forever; now we will give you the full value of improvements; hereafter we will give nothing, because we cannot afford to pay for improvements from which no benefit will result to us, which will belong to the Georgians, and which you were; forewarned in good time not to make. Let them say, now is the appointed time; we offer you acre for acre, and we change your tenancy at will into a fee-simple, which will descend to your posterity forever. If you accept, well and good; if you refuse, we are not bound to make you the same offer again. You were once without a country; you sought refuge among the Creeks; they received you with open arms, and gave you the lands you now occupy. Take care that you are not without a country again; you may find no more Creeks, no more lands.
Is it to be conceived that such an argument would be wasted on the Cherokees? What motive would be left them to continue in a state so precarious, when, every incentive to human industry being destroyed, the barn, the dwelling, the out-houses, the fencing, falling into decay and ruin, the wretched Indian scatters upon an impoverished and exhausted soil the seed, from which it is even doubtful if he is permitted by the impatient white man to reap the scanty harvest?
Is it forbidden to speak the language of truth and frankness? It may be that all will avail nothing. If all should, it will be because the Cherokees distrust the sincerity of the United States. That they have reason for distrust, even in the conduct of the United States towards themselves, is undoubted. When they were willing to cede lands, the United States would not take them. In the conduct of the United States towards the Creeks, they think they see abundant proof of the lukewarmness and indifference of the General Government in carrying into practical effect, so far as concerns Georgia, the plans which they devised for the removal of the Indians. It is of no consequence that the Indians are deceived by appearances; the appearances would deceive anybody. They see the agent for the Creeks, well knowing the officially expressed will of the Government, opposing himself to that will, holding councils of the Indians for the very purpose of anticipating and forestalling the commissioners of the United Stales, by inconsiderate and violent resolves, the same as those of the Cherokees themselves. When the treaty is holden at Broken Arrow, the Cherokees are present, by their emissaries, under the eye of the agent, busied to defeat, by the most wily machinations and contrivances, the objects of the treaty. They witness the failure of the treaty, and by these means. Is such a case explicable before the Indians? The servant setting at naught the will of the master, and the master countenancing the servant in defying that will: the Government itself, when asked for the resolution of these mysterious things, resolves them into a misconception of duty. On the renewal of the treaty at the Indian Springs, the like scenes are presented both to whites and Indians. The agent, professedly aiding the commissioners, secretly undermining them, dismissing in the dead of the night chiefs who had agreed to sign the treaty; protesting against the treaty, after having affixed his own signature to it as a witness, on the ground that these very same chiefs did not subscribe to it; announcing to his Government that the treaty was in direct violation of its own instructions; insinuating very strongly that improper means had been adopted to procure it; and denouncing the hostility of the Indians in the event of its ratification.
The poor Cherokees knew, as well as the most enlightened member of the cabinet, that if a foreign minister of the first grade had dared the one-half of this, he would have been dismissed with disgrace. Yet the agent, opposing himself to his Government, as it would seem, (certainly opposing himself to the commissioners appointed by that Government,) passing on to Washington for the avowed purpose of preventing the ratification of the treaty, meets a cordial greeting of his employers there; and when the President, discrediting every word of the agent, had submitted the treaty to the Senate-when the Senate, in like manner, trusting nothing to the agent, and reposing confidence in the declaration of the commissioners, had ratified it, he is permitted to depart for his agency, if not with new demonstrations of affection, without, so far as I know, the slightest reprehension or blame; and, what is worse than all, after having placed himself at the head of a party, adverse to that which is now dominant, and which had recently ceded the country to us, he is appointed the guardian of the whole, to conduct to their new and distant home this hapless race; to command their destinies through untried and chequered scenes, and to make his distance from the controlling power an absolute security against all scrutiny and responsibility. The only apology attempted by the agent for any allegation of misconduct or aberration from duty, in these respects, has been-'twas not I, 'twas the sub-agent; 'twas not I, 'twas the interpreter. The United States might possibly be the voluntary dupe of such shallow pretences; certainly not the Cherokees or the Georgians. Ask the commissioners if, but for the interference of the agent, there would have been serious difficulty at Broken Arrow. Ask them if, at the Indian Springs, an almost unanimous concurrence of the chiefs might not have been commanded, but for the counterplots and underworkings of the agent. Ask any member of the cabinet, notwithstanding the farrago of resolves and protestations to the contrary, if he may not command a treaty on a given day, upon just and reasonable terms, for a cession of all the lands claimed by the Cherokees.
Be pleased to present a copy of this note to the Secretary of War. Upon the general subject, every thing has been heretofore said which it was proper or becoming to say; and I had resolved not to resume it, unless invited on the part of the Federal Government, or commanded by the Legislature of the State. The more recent events may not have been portrayed before the present cabinet in the same light in which you and myself cannot fail to regard them. The gentlemen who have recently come into it I know personally, and will be very much deceived if they are not deserving our highest confidence as intelligent, upright, and patriotic men. If they understand this matter correctly, they will see that it is not a question about some five or six millions of acres of land; it is one of principle and of character, connected with the honor of the Government, and therefore above all price.
The people of the "United States, content with their political institutions, ask nothing of their rulers but purity in the administration of their affairs; disinterestedness; singleness of purpose for the public weal; sincerity and plain dealing on the part of all the functionaries, from the highest to the lowest; fidelity to every trust, and strict accountability in the fulfillment of every duty, to the exclusion of selfishness, intrigues, tricks, and devices of low cunning, to gratify party passions, and subserve sordid interests, hucksterings, and barterings, and all the rest, which they will cheerfully leave to the mountebanks and jugglers to whom they appropriately belong.
With great consideration and respect,
G. M. Troup.
The Hon. John Forsyth, Washington City.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids