Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

who exerted his wonder-working power to feed the famishing multitude; and who, when he comes to judgment, will say unto you, in consequence of the deeds you have this day done, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat;" and when you shall say,

“Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee ?" shall reply, “ Forasmuch as ye did it to the least of one of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.” Sir, it now remains to be seen what influence your counsels and measures will produce upon those who are entrusted with the tremendous power of making laws for the people of this country. You have had your parliament. It was a glorious sight to witness, on the first day of your assembling, more than the number of those who constitute the Commons of Great Britain. Yes, this hallowed parliament of England's best and purest minds—the representatives of weeping and famishing misery — the friends of starving, attenuated operatives—the pastors of impoverished congregations-on the first day of its meeting, numbered more than the sum-total of those who are wont to assemble in the Chapel of St. Stephen. Would that the destinies of this question had been committed to your hands for final adjudication. I think it might have been, with quite as good a chance of a wise and equitable decision, as that with which it is likely to meet in another place. I think the suffrages by which you have been returned to this parliament are quite as extensive and independent as those of many honorable members. I think the means which have been taken to return you, are quite as pure and unexceptionable as those resorted to in many of the constituencies of the empire. I think you are quite as respectable in calling, and almost as wise in understanding, as either the hereditary or elected law-makers of the land. And I think that you would have settled this question upon principles quite as sound and as patriotic as those which are likely to guide the decisions of either house of parliament. I think you would have come to the work of legislation with minds quite as disinterested, and hands quite as clean, as

No; yours

another parliament, which is notoriously a parliament of landlords, sitting in judgment upon their own case, and legislating, not for the benefit of the poor, but for the benefit of their rent-rolls. Could you have had the making of the law,

, it would not have been like the present one — resembling the scroll of Jeremiah, written within and without with lamentation and woe; it would not have circumscribed the bounties of Providence it would not have withered the hopes of the widow and the orphan- it would not have perpetuated the misery of millions of half-starved laborers. would have been law based upon the demands of justicea law which would have opened the storehouse of the Divine liberality -- a law which would have rekindled the hopes of those who are ready to perish a law that would have caused the widow's heart to sing for joy, and carried contentment and gladness to every home in Britain. And, then, it would have been carried without anger and without hatred. What glorious unanimity there would have been ! Not a miserable majority of two or five, but a law passed by a parliament united as one man. But though you are denied any legislative

power, of this be sure, that no opinion which will be advanced elsewhere will have half the weight with the community of that which you have expressed in your deliberate and solemnly attested documents. And, I will venture to say, that the statesmen of the land, and those at their head, will regard, with an intensity of interest which cannot be exaggerated, the transactions in which you have been engaged, and the conclusions at which you have arrived. God grant that your decisions may produce their rightful influence, and turn the scale in favor of justice to a starving population.

SPEECH OF GOVERNOR EVERETT.

MR. EVERETT'S SPEECH ON THE REMOVAL OF THE INDIANS, 1830.

Such are some of the people we are going to remove from their homes ; people living, as we do, by husbandry, and the mechanic arts, and the industrious trades; and so much the more interesting, as they present the experiment of a people rising from barbarity into civilization. We are going to remove them from these their homes to a distant wilderness. Who ever heard of such a thing before? Who ever read of such a project? Ten or fifteen thousand families to be rooted up and carried hundreds, ay, thousands of miles into the wilderness! There is not such a thing in the annals of mankind. It was the practice — the barbarous and truly savage practice - of the polished nations of antiquity, to bring home a part of the population of conquered countries as slaves. It was a cruel exercise of the rights of the conqueror, as then understood, and, in turn, practised by all nations. But in time of peace, toward unoffending cominunities--subject to our sovereignty indeed, but possessing rights guaranteed to them by more than one hundred treaties — to remove them against their will, by thousands, to a distant and a different country, where they must lead a new life, and form other habits, and encounter the perils and hardships of the wilderness, - sir, I never heard of such a thing; it is an experiment on human life and human happiness of perilous novelty! Gentlemen who favor the project cannot have viewed it as it is. They think of a march of Indian warriors, penetrating, with their accustomed vigor, the forest or the cane-brake— they think of the youthful Indian hunter going forth exultingly to the chase. Sir, it is

Sir, it is no such thing; this is all past; it is matter of distant tradition, and poetical fancy. They have nothing now left of the Indian but his social and political inferiority. They are to go in families, the old and the young, wives and children, the feeble, the sick. And how are they to go? Not in luxurious carriages ; - they are poor; not in stage-coaches — they go to a region where there are none; not even in wagons, nor on horse-back, for they are to go in the least expensive manner possible. They are to go on foot -nay, they are to be driven by contract! The price has been reduced, and is still further to be reduced; it is to be reduced by sending them by contract; it is to be screwed down to the least farthing to eight dollars per head. A community of civilized people, of all ages, sexes, and conditions of bodily health, is to be dragged hundreds of miles, over mountains, rivers, and deserts, where there are no roads, no bridges, no habitations ! And this is to be done for eight dollars a head, and done by contract ! The question is to be, What is the least for which

you

will take so many hundred families, averaging so many infirm old men, so many little children, so many lame, feeble and sick ? What will you contract for ? The imagination sickens at the thought of what will happen to a company of these emigrants, which may prove less strong, less able to pursue the journey, than was anticipated. Will the contractor stop for the old men to rest, for the sick to get well, for the fainting women and children to revive ? He will not-he cannot afford to. And this process is to be extended to every family in a population of seventy-five thousand souls. This is what we call the removal of the Indians !

It is very easy to talk of this subject, reposing on these luxurious chairs, and protected by these massy walls, and this gorgeous canopy, from the power of the elements. Removal is a soft word, and words are delusive. But let gentlemen take the matter home to themselves and their neighbors. There are seventy-five thousand Indians to be removed. This is not less than the population of two congressional districts. We are going, then, to take a population of Indians - of families, who live as we do, in houses, work as we do, in the field or the workshop, at the plough and the loom, who are governed as we are, by laws, who send their children to school, and who attend themselves on the ministry of the Christian faith - to march them from their homes, and put them down in a remote, unexplored district. We are going to do it—this congress is going to do it - this is a bill to do it! Now, let any gentleman think how he would stand, were he to go home and tell his constituents that they were to be removed, whole counties of them; they must fly before the wrath of insupportable laws — they must go to the distant desert, beyond Arkansas-go for eight dollars a head, by contract; that this was the policy of the government— that the bill had passed — the money was voted — you had voted for it — and go they must.

Is the case any the less strong because it applies to these poor, unrepresented tribes, “who have no friends to

spare

?" If they have rights, are not those rights sacred, as sacred as ours, as sacred as the rights of any congressional district ? Are there two kinds of rights — rights of the strong, which you respect, because you must; and rights of the weak, on which you trample, because you dare ? I ask gentlemen again to think what this measure is, not what it is called to reflect on the reception it would meet with, if proposed to those who are able to make their wishes respected, and especially if proposed to them for their good. Why, sir, if you were to go to the least favored district in the Union, the poorest soil, the severest climate, the most unhealthy region,and ask them thus to remove, were it but to the next State, they would not listen to you -- they would not stir an inch. But to take up hundreds and thousands of families, to carry them off unmeasured distances, and scatter them over a wilderness unknown to civilized man they would think you insane to name it!

What sort of a region these unhappy tribes are to be removed to, I will presently inquire. Let us see what sort of a region they are to leave.

And now, sir, I am going to quote an account, which I

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »