From the National Journal.
September 19, 1825.
I observe in your paper of the 6th instant the three reports " of the commissioners who represented Georgia at the late conference with the Creek Indians." These reports were published some time last month in the National Intelligencer: I was then confined lo bed with a bilious fever, and unable to answer them. They relate chiefly to matters of a public nature, on most of which I too have made reports; not based, however, on the same kind of foundation: mine are sustained by evidence, which, I trust, will be considered as full and satisfactory on every point on which it touches. Those of the Georgia commissioners appear to rest solely on their veracity or assertions, which, unfortunately, (where those gentlemen are personally best known) is not a matter of boastfulness among their neighbors. The reports verify the prediction winch I made in a letter to his excellency the Governor of Georgia, that " the pursuit by the authorities of Georgia was to be transferred from the Indian to the special agent of the Government." It is not my intention to enter into a discussion of any public matters referred to in the documents in question. Indeed, having handed in my reports, I am not at liberty to allude fully or particularly to them, until they have been made public by the Government. But the commissioners of Georgia, having thought proper to asperse my character as a man, by impugning my impartiality or fairness as an agent, I feel called on to answer so much of their reports (which have been industriously circulated through the newspapers) as relates to me personally. It was not my wish to have a controversy with those gentlemen, but as they have made an attack on me, which was uncalled for, and unwarranted by truth or fairness, they shall not find me backward in repelling their aspersions. In doing so, it may become my duty to show that, if they are ever moved by the workings of conscience, they must hereafter, in their moments of reflection, look to the reports which I am about to notice, as the record of their own misconduct. My reply will, from its nature, (like most, if not all personal publications,) be of a harsh character; but that harshness will be found in the matter of fact it contains, and not in its language.
I will first, acting on the defensive, notice the aspersions of the commissioners in the order they present themselves in their reports; I will then essay to put the commissioners themselves to the wall, that they may have a fair opportunity of showing their dexterity in getting from it.
Their first insinuation is contained in the first part of the second paragraph of the first report, as follows: "From the anxiety of the special agent (Major Andrews) to satisfy the mind of the Little Prince as to the suspension of the agent, (Colonel Crowel!,) we felt anxious forebodings that we need not expect to find in him a man who sought only to extend impartial justice to the accused."
The explanation of this aspersion will be found in the following brief statement: General Gaines held a preparatory " talk" with the head chief of the Creek nation - I think, the day before he met the nation in council. I requested the general, in that interview, to make known to the Little Prince the fact of the agent's suspension, and to explain the causes which produced it. This was, of course, necessary from a regard to the general interests of the Government, for the information of the Indian nation, and in justice to the Indian [agent] and his accusers. The commissioners have not had the effrontery to assert that any thing was stated to the Little Prince which was not strictly true and correct; they merely complain of my anxiety " to satisfy the mind of the Little Prince as to the suspension of the agent, (Colonel Crowell.") After this explanation, I deem comment on this point altogether unnecessary. In the latter part of the same paragraph, the commissioners insinuate that I improperly withheld my opinion, when appealed to by the Rev. Mr. Compere and the commissioners, as to the absolute necessity of his making oath to the evidence which the commissioners had demanded of him. I was not the keeper of the Rev. Mr. Compere's conscience, or of that of any other clergyman or gentleman; and having never made theology a profession, I did not consider myself capable of arguing a learned divine out of a religious scruple or prejudice. If the commissioners intend to complain that I would not use force to compel that reverend gentleman to do what his conscience dictated to him he ought not to do, they should recollect that, so far from possessing that power myself, it was not in the Government even which had delegated to me all the little authority I possessed as its agent. This complaint is so futile, that I can see but one thing proved in it by the commissioners, which is, that they had no just accusations lo make against me, and were, therefore, compelled to resort to such charges as that now referred to. The official correspondence between the commissioners and myself (copies of which are annexed) will throw further light on this charge against me, as well as others. The commissioners can best tell why this correspondence was withheld from publication, in giving these reports publicity.
In the fifth paragraph of the same report, other insinuations are mysteriously made as to an alleged suggestion of mine to General Gaines, that the interrogatories of the commissioners to the Indians should be submitted for my examination, before they were put to the Indians. These insinuations are perversions of truth. General Gaines can bear witness that I never made such a suggestion to him. I did suggest that all interrogatories put to the Indians, whether by the commissioners or myself, ought to be in writing, that, through their clerks, they might have an opportunity of giving their answers in writing; and, in that way, both the interrogatories and answers might be placed on record, and beyond the possibility of misapprehension and mirepresentation. The misrepresentations and distortions of facts which have been since committed by the commissioners show the propriety, and indeed necessity, of that suggestion. In the sixth paragraph of the same report, they, for the second time, mysteriously allude to my being found at the house of the missionary, (the Rev. Mr. Smith.) This offending on my part (being found in the house of a clergyman) will be fully explained when I state a fact, well known to the commissioners - that I lodged and boarded there; and that the room they say I was in was that which I used for my bedroom, office, and parlor. They assert that the attorney of Colonel Crowell was in the room with me when they entered the house. This may be the fact, although my present impression is, that it was the Rev. Mr. Compere who had paid me a visit. That the door of the room was closed, as they assert, I think is quite probable, if not certain; because that door opened into a general family parlor, in constant use, and because the room I was in was occupied, as I have stated, as my bed chamber as well as office. That I was frequently in conversation with the attorney of Colonel Crowell, is also quite certain; because I was necessarily compelled to have a constant intercourse with him on the business which carried us both to the nation. They might have added, with truth, that I was frequently in conversation with the agent himself. I offer these mysterious allusions of the commissioners to circumstances which they knew to be absolutely necessary, and of a perfectly negative and innocent character, as an additional evidence that they had it not in their power to make a just allegation against me.
In the fourth paragraph of the third report, (that of Colonels Jourdan and Williamson,) they refer to my letter to Colonel Crowell, suspending him from the exercise of his functions, as evidence of the agent's case having been prejudged. As the commissioners are courteous enough on this occasion to admit that letter to be good evidence on any point, I will reciprocate that courtesy by an acknowledgment that that letter does furnish evidence of the agent's case having been prejudged. There is, however, a material difference of opinion between the commissioners and myself as to the authorities by which that prejudgment was committed.
I have thus gone through the tangible charges made against me by the commissioners of Georgia, who, I presume, have preferred them, having none of a more manly character to offer. I shall now make some statements, from which, if they are credited, it may be inferred that, if these charges had been true, they ought not to be credited on the assertions of those gentlemen where they are not known, and they will not be credited on their assertions wherever they are personally known to the public.
The commission appointed to aid General Gaines, and to take all the trouble and all my little labor off my hands, consisted of the following gentlemen, whom I shall take the liberty of presenting to the public in a proper manner, viz. Colonels Seaborn Jones, Warren Jourdan, William H. Torrance, and William W. Williamson, commissioners; Captain J. S. Thomas and Captain William Bowen, as "marshals;" and Mr. Kenan, the clerk of the commission.
Colonel Seaborn Jones, who is the aid-de-camp of his excellency the Governor of Georgia, is already known to the public as the gentleman who gave a certificate of certain remarks alleged to have been made by Mr. Wirt, which remarks, however, appear (unfortunately for the veracity of the colonel) never to have been uttered. He is considered as a general "certificate man," who, in the absence of other testimony, will always be ready to give his certificate, or make a report, whenever the interests of the political parly to which he is attached are in jeopardy. This gentleman has been publicly accused with sundry acts which are not calculated to establish for him a high character for veracity or honor. He has been accused of having purchased, in a private improper manner, certain personal property of a man in distress, which was liable to executions held by himself as an attorney, and in that way appropriating to himself property which should have been held to the uses of his clients. He has been convicted of having taken a double fee in the same interest in dispute - one of each party. He has been accused of obtaining the control of an execution on false pretences, and attempting knowingly to recover a debt twice for his own use. He has been charged with all this "professional treachery" by a fellow member of the bar, a gentleman of property and high standing, and has never vindicated his character in a proper manner from it. The belief in its truth at his home (Milledgeville) is so great, that he was rejected by the people as a candidate for the Legislature.
Colonel William W. Williamson stands convicted, (in the evidence which accompanies my report to the Government,) by the testimony of numerous witnesses, of being an active instrument in the hands of the commissioners who made the late treaty, in attempting to bribe various persons to betray their duty and honor. He is shown to have offered a bribe of eight thousand dollars to the United States' interpreter, whose character he has since endeavored to destroy, to prevent an exposure of his own corruption. He is shown by the evidence to have been paid a thousand dollars for his services, and to have received twenty-five or thirty thousand dollars of the United States' funds, placed in the hands of the commissioners who made the treaty, and to have been engaged with that money ever since in speculating in negroes, as a common negro trader. Such is the opinion of this man's character where he resided and was best known, that the grand jury of Twigg's county superior court, in March term, 1822, discredited his affidavit, and pronounced the bill which he attempted to sustain by that affidavit " No bill;" a malicious prosecution. I subjoin the affidavits of John Winslett, Lemuel B. Nichols, and J. H. Campbell, to show the character, habits, and temper of this one of the commissioners.
Colonel W. H. Torrance. This gentleman has been convicted within about a year, by a sentence of the court of the place in which he resides, (Milledgeville,) of a disgraceful slander, and a considerable fine imposed by the sentence of the court, is a punishment.
Colonel Warren Jourdan. This gentleman has been accused before the public of having screened a notorious smuggler, who had been engaged during the late war in smuggling a large quantity of blankets into Georgia from Amelia Island. The accusation, which was made by his neighbor, a man of high standing in society, has never been repelled; and was so far sustained by his fellow-citizens as to cause him to be rejected as a candidate for the Legislature. I regret that the attack of this gentleman on myself has compelled me, in showing his want of character and credit, to allude to a circumstance, the mention of which, I understand, gives him as much uneasiness as did the mention to Sancho Panza of his blanketing at the tavern.
Captains Bowen and Thomas, the two marshals, are already known to the public. By reference to the report of Mr. Wirt (made in 1822) to the President of the United States, in the case of General D. B. Milchell, the former Indian agent for the Creek nation, (who was convicted of having smuggled between one and two hundred African negroes into the Indian nation from Amelia Island,) it will be seen that these two gentlemen, who were his deputies in office, were the instruments of General Mitchell in introducing these negroes into the nation. It will be there seen that Captains Bowen and Thomas were the persons by whom the negroes were obtained and carried into the Indian nation. General Milchell was dismissed on that report from office, and Captains Bowen and Thomas compelled to leave the nation. Captain Thomas is now living, or connected in business, with General Mitchell, to whom ho is related; and Captain Bowen has been shown, by the exposure of the assistant Indian agent, (Captain Triplett,) to have been of late engaged in efforts to counteract the measures of General Gaines in the Creek nation. It was Bowen who wrote the correspondence signed in the name of General McIntosh to the Governor of Georgia, relating to permission to make a survey of the lands acquired by the late treaty. Mr. Kenan, the secretary of the board of commissioners, so far as I observed or learned any thing ol his character or conduct, is a young gentleman of capacity and merit, who, at the same time that he discharged his duty to the board and to the State of'Georgia, conducted himself as a gentleman towards all those who had occasion to have any intercourse with him.
I have thus attempted to show, in taking a view of their individual characters, the degree of credibility which should be accorded to the commissioners of Georgia, who have attempted, on the weight of their assertions or veracity alone, to defame the characters of General Gaines, the reverend gentlemen residing as missionaries in the Indian nation, and myself. I shall next allude to certain private acts of those gentlemen, to show their character and conduct as a board of public officers.
Whilst the commissioners were in the Indian nation, it was made known to the acting agent, Captain Triplett, that a quantity of whiskey had been clandestinely introduced (through the woods, and at night) into a back building, in the rear of the houses of Princeton, near the Indian council. As the sale or distribution of liquors is always prohibited in the neighborhood of an Indian council in session, the acting agent had the whiskey thrown out of the vessel which contained it. Whilst the agent was present superintending those ordered to perform this duty, the slave servant of Colonel Jones, one of the commissioners, presented himself, and contended that it ought not to be thrown out, as it was the property of his master or the commissioners. Captain Triplett informed the servant, that if his master or either of the commissioners would say so, the same quantity of liquor would be procured immediately and restored, whatever he might think of the transaction. Colonel Jones did accordingly acknowledge that he owned it, and the restoration took place immediately. At the same time, General Gaines was informed by the Indians and others that Captain Bowen had visited their camps; had jeered them with the fact of General Gaines's not having given them any liquor; and informed them, if they would go to the lodgings of the commissioners, they should have as much as they wanted. The commissioners could not have wanted the whiskey for their own use, for they, or any other persons except the Indians, could have procured, at the house they boarded, what liquors they wanted for their own tables. The presumption in the nation was, that the whiskey was introduced to produce confusion among the Indians, through the agency of Captain Bowen.
The conduct of the commissioners towards the reverend gentlemen residing in the nation as missionaries was of the most extraordinary character. The first question put to one of those gentlemen, (Mr. Compere, of the Baptist mission,) a gentleman of the most pious and exemplary character, was, whether he was present with the party who killed McIntosh. Towards another, (Mr. Smith, of the Methodist mission,) they acted, if possible, in a still more shameful manner. After giving him certain interrogatories to answer, one of the commissioners (Colonel Jourdan) declared, before they had received his answers, that they would not believe one word he might state, even on oath. This was known to Mr. Smith before he answered the interrogatories. The missionaries had had, a year or two ago, as they thought, cause of complaint against the Indian agent, because he would not compel cr induce the Indians to attend preaching; but, at the same time, they accorded him the justice in stating that he had done all in his power to forward the interests of the missionary schools in the nation. From that cause, the commissioners appeared to think that the missionary gentlemen were bound to give evidence against the agent on any subject or charge, true or untrue, made against him. And when they discovered the willingness of those gentlemen to bear testimony in his favor, in matters in which they thought or knew him to be innocent, at the same time that they repeated their testimony against him on other points, their rage appeared to carry them beyond all the hounds of justice and discretion. Their deportment towards those reverend gentlemen, in their own house, was such that the amiable females of their families were thrown into grief and confusion.
At the house of the Rev. Mr. Smith, the day after I reached the nation, I informed the three clergymen who were present, (Mr. Smith, Mr. Compere, and Mr. Hill,) that I wished to take their testimony, for or against the agent, on the charges made against him. They asked if I required statements or affidavits from them; at the same time that they expressed their willingness to make oath to their evidence, if the Government required it of them as absolutely necessary; they also stated that they wished to avoid taking an oath, if it could be done with propriety. After proper reflection, I informed them, from the knowledge I had gained of their characters, and from a respect to their sacred callings, I should not require an oath from them; but if the Government considered an oath necessary, their evidence could hereafter be returned to them from Washington time enough for them to add their affidavits. This conversation, I think, took place at dinner. Shortly after the commissioners came in, and made known their determination to examine those gentlemen. The Rev. Mr. Compere informed the commissioners of the arrangement which I had made with the missionaries, and asked if a similar one would answer for the commissioners. They informed him, with great rudeness, that it would not; and he stated to them, in reply, that, as he could see no necessity for giving them a duplicate of his evidence at all, the Indian agent, who was under trial, being an officer of, and amenable only to, the General Government, he must decline giving it as they demanded it. The. other clergymen, as well as I recollect, assented to the correctness of Mr. Compere's position; and the commissioners, after having made use of some further harsh language towards those gentlemen, retired, declining to take their testimony in the shape proffered. They, however, afterwards applied for and received it, without the affidavit. It was for declining to interfere in the conversation referred to that the commissioners have charged me with a dereliction of duty; and this forms the " head and front of the offending" of those reverend gentlemen, who have thus drawn down upon themselves the full measure of wrath now heaped on them. I venture to assert, and leave it to time to test the truth of the assertion, that there are not attached to any church or churches in this country three clergymen of more irreproachable character, or who are more devoted to religion and virtue, than the three gentlemen alluded to. One of them (the Rev. Mr. Smith) was a revolutionary patriot and soldier, but has been, for the last forty years, a minister of the gospel. I understood, in South Carolina, that he had resided from twenty-five to thirty years of his life in one place (Camden) in that State; where he is now venerated for his years, his piety, and his virtues. The people of that State, to whom he is well known, arc anxious for his return among them.
It was made known to the acting agent for Indian affairs, who informed me of the fact whilst at Broken Arrow, that the commissioners of Georgia had carried with them into the nation a large amount of money - say from four to six thousand dollars. The personal expenses of the commissioners (who all live within sixty miles of the Indian line, and travelled with their own horses,) could not have been more than twenty or thirty dollars apiece in the nation. For what purpose they carried so much money into the Indian country, they can best explain. If it was intended that Colonel Williamson should make with that money new efforts at bribing the white men in the nation and Indian chiefs, he had bought wit enough by experience, one would suppose, to have informed his colleagues that, although both the white men and Indians were poor, they were proof against bribery. The money was not made use of.
On leaving the nation, two of the commissioners, Colonels Jourdan and Williamson, went a considerable distance out of their way home to go by the place at which the McIntosh Indians were stationed, on the Flint river, and in Georgia. One of those gentlemen (Colonel Jourdan) has had the temerity to acknowledge that he was present with one detachment of those Indians, when one of the " marshals" of the Georgia commission (Captain Bowen) wrote a letter, in the name of the headman of those little detachments, (Joe Marshall,) to Chilly McIntosh, advising or directing him not to meet General Gaines in council with his detachment, according to appointment, at the Flint river. Indeed, although, from respect to their official situations, the commissioners were treated with all the courtesy which their deportment would permit the general to show them, yet he could not but view them as he did, judging from that deportment, and their acts generally, as so many met) determined on mischief, by counteracting all his pacific and just measures. The opinions which they have since appeared to express, in favor of having more bloodshed among an unfortunate and distracted race of beings, who have been much and deeply injured, prove the correctness of the general opinions which prevailed in the nation as to their real wishes and intentions.
There is one circumstance of a public nature which I shall advert to in this reply, as it has not been alluded to in my reports to the Government, (no official act or proceeding having grown out of it,) which will tend to show the course of proceeding of the commissioners. It is the case of Kendal Lewis, which the commissioners have attempted to distort to such an extent, that it can scarcely be recognised in their report as the same transaction. The commissioners had complained to General Gaines that they wished to take the testimony of Lewis, who is a tavern or stand keeper in the nation, and who was, as they stated, not willing to give testimony. General Gaines immediately issued an order or request that Lewis should attend to be examined by the commissioners. He forthwith presented himself. The commissioners were furnished with every thing necessary for themselves and secretary in writing down the testimony. But the acting commissioner on this occasion (Colonel Jourdan) had scarcely taken his seat at the table before he drew from his pocket an affidavit, already written, which he presented for Lewis to swear to. Lewis was asked if he had heard the paper read which was presented to him to swear to, or had any knowledge of its contents; to which he replied he had not, and that he could not subscribe or swear to any paper with the contents of which he was unacquainted. The paper was then read to him; Colonel Jourdan manifesting much anger at his refusing to swear to, without reading it. It contained, in substance, an insinuation that he had important information in his possession affecting the character of the Indian agent, and had heard conversations held by him of a character calculated to injure him, if disclosed; but that he apprehended serious injury to his family or property if he disclosed either. So soon as it was read to him, he told Colonel Jourdan, with some warmth, in the presence of a large number of persons, that he had never made a statement to him, or any one else, which Would warrant such insinuations; that he was not on friendly terms with the agent, but that he had no knowledge of any facts or circumstances calculated to have the slightest effect for or against him in the present investigation. Colonel Jourdan insisted that he had made such a statement, and expressed a belief that he did possess some such infomation, but that he was afraid to disclose it. Oir this, both General Gaines and myself urged Lewis, in the strongest manner, if he did possess any information for or against the agent, to disclose it; and assured him, at the same time, of the protection of the Government. He persisted in the most solemn assurances that he knew nothing of any circumstances having the slightest bearing on the matters under invesligation. He at the same time admitted having said that he was "afraid to give an affidavit," because he did not wish, from peculiar circumstances, personal to himself, to draw the notice or animadversions of any party or set of men, who might feel disappointed in finding testimony in it which they neither wished nor expected. Finding that Lewis would not swear to the affidavit already drawn up for him, Colonel Jourdan, no longer able to keep his temper, tore up the paper which he wished Lewis to sign and swear to without reading, and departed to his quarters; Lewis having previously, at the urgent request of General Gaines and myself, agreed to answer, on oath, any interrogatories put to him by the commissioners. Lewis afterwards explained to several gentlemen his reasons for wishing to decline giving testimony, which must, at best, be of a negative character. He staled that, some fifteen or twenty years since, (being then a citizen of Georgia,) he unfortunately engaged in an affray which resulted in the death of his opponent; that the affair had heretofore been suffered to die away in Georgia; but should he give an affidavit, it could not meet the wishes nor apparent expectations of the commissioners, and that they might be the means, on that account, of reviving the heretofore dormant laws of Georgia against him. In fact, his reasons appeared to be generally understood, before he himself had stated them; and I have no hesitation in believing that by no persons were they better understood than by the commissioners themselves; and yet they have attempted to distort the transaction in such a manner as to create a belief that it was the enmity of the Indian agent Lewis dreaded in giving evidence.
Various other circumstances will hereafter be referred to, if necessary, to show the general course of the commissioners of Georgia. Finding this communication drawn to an unexpected length, I defer further expositions for the present. It will be observed that I have carefully abstained from particular allusions to public transactions, which, it may be inferred, were alluded to in my official reports to the Government. When those reports and their evidence are before the public, it will be seen that the corruption to which I have herein alluded is, if possible, much exceeded by that which has preceded it.
I trust I have said enough to convince all unprejudiced persons that, if there is a wish to attack the officers of the General Government with success, it must be on other grounds, and the weapons intrusted to other hands, than those I have noticed. Had the commissioners confined their attacks to myself, being generally unknown, their reports would, no doubt, (wherever they are personally known,) have had great effect. By attacking General Gaines, whose fair fame and honorable character are mingled in the history of his country, and by attacking the reverend gentlemen who reside in the nation as missionaries, who are always found on the side of justice and virtue, and who are much better known in the southern country than themselves, they have destroyed all prospect of effecting their purposes. The charges and insinuation against General Gaines, (who, it is thought, will consider them unworthy of his reply,) and those against the missionaries, will be known to be untrue; and, from that cause, if from no other, I found a strong hope that those against myself will be generally discredited.
I cannot conclude these remarks without an acknowledgment to the commissioners of the high compliment they pay me, in the various insinuations in their reports. From those it would appear that I have circumvented, at every step, four men, who appear to have been bent on circumventing me in a faithful discharge of my duly.
I conclude this reply by quoting the words of his excellency the Governor of Georgia, used in his message to the Legislature in November last: " The Government of Georgia, in the employment of agents to superintend its various interests, has been peculiarly unfortunate."
T. P. Andrews.
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