9. From The Constitutionalist (Augusta, GA) 6 April 1832
A letter from Oglethorpe
. . . In the year 1802, Georgia ceded to the United States, that vast territory, now embracing the States, of Alabama and Mississippi; in consideration of which, the United States bound itself, "as early as the same could be peaceably obtained, on reasonable terms," to extinguish for the benefit of Georgia, the Indian title in all her unsettled domain, not ceded to the Union - a part of which domain, is now occupied by the Cherokees. This compact which was firmly relied on, removed all solicitude, for the past, the present, or the future; and Georgia did not deem it necessary to agitate the country, by the discussion of questions, which appeared only speculative, while her practical interests were considered secure. Is this then a fault? Do our countrymen reproach us with having expected, that their government would prove ultimately honest? It was an error we admit -- that has been too clearly demonstrated by the event. Georgia dealt with the U. States on terms of honor; and the conditions of the agreement, left great latitude to men, who were incapable of feeling, that a confidence reposed is the highest of obligations. But though bound by a compact so loose, nothing can be plainer than that the government has been guilty of the grossest breach of faith. She had promised to extinguish the Indian title "as early as the same could be peaceably obtained on reasonable terms." On what did the arrival of this contingency so much depend; as the disposition of the Indians, to emigrate from the territory in question? Was it honourable -- was it fair dealing, under these circumstances, to diminish the willingness of the Indians to migrate, by positive acts of her own, even supposing them to be constitutional? Owing a debt long due, whose discharge, was prevented by an extraneous impediment, instead of endeavouring to remove the impediment, she exerts her own power, and usurps that of others, to prevent the possibility of its removal. Georgia had discerned and denounced the signs of such policy -- they are no longer signs. In the face of the compact of 1802, the Court with admirable composure, informs us that from an Act of 1819 it is evident the general government had already formed a "settled purpose" to "fix" the Cherokees within the limits of Georgia, in Serene assurance? Here then is the sanctity of Federal obligation? Is it wonderful, that such a cool, highbred insolence of wrong, should arouse the pride and indignation of Georgia? The length and complication of the process, cannot affect the moral character of the result. If the United States, instead of a single, plain act of injustice, with legislation, diplomacy, and judicature for dramatis persone, it may redound to the honour of her in genuity; but instead of diminishing the crime, it has only increased the number of the criminals. We have made a contract with her as one. With Protean craft, she endeavors to elude us, by devices which in a private individual, would be instantly stigmatized as swindling. Does the word sound harshly? Aye! It is harsh in the extreme -- But whose is the fault? -- Ours? --No! It is the fault of those who have been guilty of the delinquency; of the language which affords no gentler term to express it. In an age, when truth, putting aside the gentlemen of the antechamber arraigns royalty to its face; shall the liberty cap shelter a duplicity, which the diadem could no longer protect? If the government of the United States does really feel, that she has a vocation to preach political morality to the gentiles -- be it so -- a call is not to be resisted. But let her take care that she does not like some other missionaries, provoke the suggestion, that her doctrine has greatly the advantage of her life. In short, before she undertakes to inculcate the higher virtues abroad; let her remember to practice common honesty at home.
We cannot part from our subject, without turning again to the judges of that ill-omented bench and lamenting that John Marshall should be found conspicuous among them. For his associates in error -- men by "the catalogue" -- the every day food of oblivion, whose earthward names all Arabia could not embalm, let them pass to their destiny. But the name of Marshall belongs to history and we grieve to behold it go tarnished to her archives. On excuse, and only one can be plead for him -- "Longa Tithenum minuit senectus." Let him hasten from a field, which promises him no longer a trophy, while yet the charitable apology of the poet, may serve as a cover, for the retreat of his shattered reputation.
In these momentous considerations, the precise policy which Georgia should adopt, remains to be determined. Let us trust, that whatever contingencies may arise, she will want neither courage to sustain her honour, nor counsel to temper her courage. She has no passion for change -- she retains the strongest attachment to the system of her choice. But if her own government is to wrong her with a bad faith, which would not be endurable from a stranger -- if complaints of one injury, are to be answered by the infliction of a greater -- if she is now to be bullied, because she will not submit to be quietly duped; it needs no spirit of divination to pronounce, that the portents are evil. Yet we do not despair. A case so plain appeals to the common sense of our countrymen. Georgia sues for no favour -- advances no factitious pretension of yesterday. She contends for rights alone -- rights coeval with the Republic, and emblazoned in the very register of its birth. Let the sober wisdom of the nation ponder on her claims, unbiased by the flippancy of pert fanaticism, or the astute follies, of scholastic jurisprudence. Under such correction, all may yet be well. But if this last t hope is to fail -- if Georgia is indeed proscribed -- if insulting tyranny, marking her for a victim, presents to her option, the sole alternatives of danger and degradation -- Speak tombs of the Revolution! For you can proclaim her Choice!