Imágenes de páginas

candidly admit to be in all likelihood over-stated. It proceeds from a patriotic native pen; and who can rest within the limits of exact reality in describing the merits of a beloved native land ? I believe it a little colored, but the elements of truth are there. It is plain, from the circumstance and detail that it is substantially correct. At any rate, since I have been a member of congress, it has been twice, and I believe three times, communicated from the war department as official information. It is from a letter written by David Brown, a native Cherokee, of mixed blood, dated Willstown, Cherokee Nation, September 2, 1825:

“ The Cherokee nation, you know, is in about 35 degrees north latitude, bounded on the north and west by the State of Tennessee, on the south by Alabama, and on the east by Georgia and North Carolina. This country is well watered - abundant springs of pure water are found in every part. A range of majestic and lofty mountains stretch themselves across the nation. The northern part of the nation is hilly and mountainous. In the southern and western parts, there are extensive and fertile plains, covered partly with tall trees, through which beautiful streams of water glide. These plains furnish immense pasturage, and numberless herds of cattle are dispersed over them. Horses are plenty, and are used for servile purposes. Numerous flocks of sheep, goats, and swine, cover the valleys and hills. On Tennessee, Ustanala, and Canasagi rivers, Cherokee commerce floats. The climate is delicious and healthy; the winters are mild; the spring clothes the ground with its richest scenery. Cherokee flowers, of exquisite beauty and variegated hues, meet and fascinate the eye in every direction. In the plains and valleys the soil is generally rich, producing Indian corn, cotton, tobacco, wheat, oats, indigo, sweet and Irish potatoes. The natives carry on considerable trade with the adjoining States ; and some of them export cotton in boats down the Tennessee to the Mississippi, and down that river to New Orleans. Apple and peach orchards are quite common, and gardens are cultivated, and much attention paid to them. Butter and cheese are seen on Cherokee tables. There are many public roads in the nation, and houses of entertainment, kept by natives. Numerous and flourishing villages are seen in every section of the country. Cotton and woollen cloths are manufactured here. Blankets


of various dimensions, manufactured by Cherokee hands, are very

Almost every family in the nation grows cotton for its own consumption. Industry and coinmercial enterprise are extending themselves in every part. Nearly all the merchants in the nation are native Cherokees. Agricultural pursuits (the most solid foundation of our national prosperity) engage the chief attention of the people. Different branches in mechanics are pursued. The population is rapidly increasing."

Such is the land which at least one large community of these Indians are to leave. Is it not too much for human nature to bear, that unoffending tribes, for no alleged crime, in profound peace, should be rooted up from their hereditary settlement, in such a land, and hurried off to such an one as I shall presently show to the house ?

Sir, they are attached to it - it is their own; and though, by your subtilties of state logic, you make it out that it is not their own, they think it is -- they love it as their own. It is the seat of their council fires, not always illegal, as your state laws now call them. The time has been, and that not very distant, when, had the king of France, or of Spain, or of England, talked of its being illegal for the Choctaws or Cherokees to meet at their council fire, they would have answered, “Come and prevent us." It is the soil in which are gathered the bones of their fathers. This idea, and the importance attached to it by the Indians, have been held up to derision by one of the officers of the government. He has told the Indians that “the bones of their fathers cannot benefit them, stay where they are as long as they may."* I touch with regret on that, upon which the gentleman from New York has laid his heavy hand. I have no unkind feeling towards the gentleman who has unadvisedly made this suggestion. But the truth is, this is the very point on which the Indian race — sensitive on all points — is most peculiarly alive. It is proverbial. Governors Cass and Clark, in their

* Proceedings of the Indian Board, in the city of New York, with Colone. M'Kenney's Address, page 42.

a case.

official report the last winter, tell you, that “ We will not sell the spot which contains the bones of our fathers,” is almost always the first answer to a proposition for a sale. The mysterious mounds which are seen in different parts of the country, the places of sepulture for tribes that have disappeared, are objects of reverence to the remnants of such tribes, as long as any such remain. Mr. Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia, tells you of such

Unknown Indians came through the country, by a path known to themselves, through the woods, to visit a mound in his neighborhood. Who they were no one knew, nor whence they came, nor what was the tribe to whose ashes they had made their pilgrimage. It is well known that there are tribes who celebrate the great feast of the dead awful but affecting commemoration. They gather up the bones of all who have died since the last return of the festival, cleanse them from their impurities, collect them in a new deposit, and cover them again with the sod. Shall we, in the complacency of our superior light, look without indulgence on the pious weakness of these children of nature ? Shall we tell them that the bones of their fathers, which they visit after the lapse of ages, which they cherish, though clothed in corruption, can do them no good? It is as false in philosophy as in taste. The man who reverences the ashes of his fathers, who hopes that posterity will reverence his, is bound by one more tie to the discharge of social duty.




I CANNOT, my lords, I will not join in congratulation on misfortune and disgrace. This, my lords, is a perilous and tremendous moment. It is not a time for adulation : the smoothness of flattery cannot save us in this rugged and awful crisis. It is now necessary to instruct the throne in the language of truth. We must, if possible, dispel the delusion and darkness which envelop it; and display, in its full danger and genuine colors, the ruin which is brought to our doors. Can ministers still presume to expect support in their infatuation? Can parliament be so dead to its dignity and duty, as to give their support to measures thus obtruded and forced upon them? Measures, my lords, which have reduced this late flourishing empire to scorn and contempt! “ But yesterday, and Britain might have stood against the world : : now, none so poor as to do her reverence.” The people whom we at first despised as rebels, but whom we now acknowledge as enemies, are abetted against us, supplied with every military store, have their interest consulted, and their ambassadors entertained, by our inveterate enemy-and ministers do not, and dare not, interpose with dignity or effect. The desperate state of our army abroad is in part known. No man more highly esteerns and honors the British troops than I do ; I know their virtues and their valor; I know they can achieve anything but impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of British America is an impossibility. You cannot, my lords, you cannot conquer America! What is your present situation there? We do not know the worst: but we know that in three campaigns we have done nothing, and suffered much. You may swell every expensé, accumulate every assistance, and extend


traffic to the shambles of every German despot : your attempts will be forever vain and impotent - doubly so, indeed, from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates to an incurable resentment the minds of your adversaries, to overrun them with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty. If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my

- never ! NEVER ! NEVER! But, my lords, who is the man, that, in addition to the



disgraces and mischiefs of the war, has dared to authorize and associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage ? to call into civilized alliance the wild and inhuman inhabitant of the woods ? to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights, and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? My lords, these enormities cry aloud for redress and punishment. But, my lords, this barbarous measure has been defended, not only on the principles of policy and necessity, but also on those of morality ; " for it is perfectly allowable," says

Lord Suffolk, “ to use all the means, which God and nature have put into our hands." I am astonished, I am shocked, to hear such principles confessed ; to hear them avowed in this house, or in this country. My lords, I did not intend to encroach so much on your attention, but I cannot repress my indignation-I feel myself impelled to speak. My lords, we are called upon as members of this house, as men, as Christians, to protest against such horrible barbarity!-"That God and nature have put into our hands !” What ideas of God and nature that noble lord may entertain, I know not; but I know that such detestable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. What ! to attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian scalpingknife ? to the cannibal savage, torturing, murdering, devouring, drinking the blood of his mangled victims! Such notions shock every precept of morality, every feeling of humanity, every sentiment of honor. These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation. I call

upon that right reverend and this most learned bench, to vindicate the religion of their God, to support the justice of their country. I call upon the bishops, to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn ; - upon the judges, to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution. I call upon the honor of your lordships, to reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to maintain your own. I call

« AnteriorContinuar »