3. Wilson Lumpkin, Speech before the House of Representatives, May 1830
. . . The boundaries of Georgia have been defined, recognized, and admitted, by circumstances of a peculiar kind. Her litigations in relation to boundary and title to her soil may justly be considered as having been settled "according to law." Her boundaries are not only admitted by her sister states, but by this General Government, and every individual who administered any part of it, Executive or Legislative, must recollect that the faith of this Government has stood pledged for twenty-eight years past to relieve Georgia from the embarrassment of Indian population. It is known to every member of this Congress that this pledge was no gratuity to Georgia. No, sir, it was for and in consideration of the two entire states of Alabama and Mississippi.
I feel disposed to pity those who make the weak and false plea of inability, founded on the words "reasonable and peaceable," whenever I hear it made.
Such pettifogging quibbles deserve the contempt of a statesman. No man is fit to be a Congressman who does not know that the General Government might many years ago, upon both reasonable and peaceable terms, have removed every Indian from Georgia.
But, sir, upon this subject this government has been wanting in good faith to Georgia. It has, by its own acts and policy, forced the Indians to remain in Georgia, by the purchase of their lands in the adjoining states, and by holding out to the Indians strong inducements to remain where they are, by the expenditure of vast sums of money, spent in changing the habits of the savage for those of civilized life. All this was in itself right and proper; it has my hearty approbation; but it should not have been done at the expense of Georgia. The Government, long after it was bound to extinguish the title of the Indians to all the lands in Georgia, has actually forced the Cherokees from their lands in Georgia, has actually forced the Cherokees from their lands in other states, settled them upon Georgia lands, and aided in furnishing the means to create the Cherokee aristocracy.
Sir, I blame not the Indians; I commiserate their case. I have considerable acquaintance with the Cherokees, and amongst them I have seen much to admire. to me, they are in many respects an interesting people. If the wicked influence of designing men, veiled in the garb of philanthropy and Christian benevolence, should excite the Cherokees to a course that will end in their speedy destruction, I now call upon this Congress, and the whole American people, not to charge the Georgians with this sin; but let it be remembered that it is the fruit of cant and fanaticism, emanating from the land of steady habits; from the boasted progeny of the Pilgrims and Puritans.
Sir, my State stands charged before this House, before the Nation, and before the whole world, with cruelty and oppression towards the Indian. I deny the charge, and demand proof from those who made it . . .
. . . I hold in my hand a pamphlet, recently published in Boston, and said to have been written by the chief secretary of the new sect, who is also said to be the author of "William Penn;" and those who will read this pamphlet, written as the present day, will perceive a more savage, superstitious, and diabolical spirit than was ever possessed by the authors of the pow-wow, scalping, slave, and dog laws.
I will give you a few extracts from this pamphlet, which purports to be an article copied from the American Monthly Magazine, Page 14.
"The Indians had better stand to their arms and be exterminated than march further onwards to the Pacific, in the faith that the coming tide of civilized population will not sweep them forever till they mingle in its depths. Better thus than remain to be trampled as the serfs of Georgia, to have their faces ground by the pride and oppressions of their slave-holding neighbors, to be exterminated by the more powerful, and not less sure, tho' slower operation of the vices of the white. God forbid that the prayers which have ascended for the Indians, and the exertions which may be made in their behalf, should fail; it would be better that half the states of the Union were annihilated, and the remnant left powerful in holiness, strong in the prevalence of virtue, than that the whole nation should be stained with guilt, and sooner or later disorganized by the self-destroying energies of wickedness. We would rather have a civil-war, were there no other alternative, than avoid it by taking shelter in crime; for besides that, in our faith, it would be better for the universe to be annihilated than for one jot or tittle of the law to be broken, we know that such a shelter would only prove the prison house of vengeance and despair.
"We would take up arms for the Indians, in such a war, with as much confidence of our duty as we would stand with our bayonets on the shores of the Atlantic, to repel the assaults of the most barbarous invader. Perhaps we do wrong to make even the supposition; for it can never come to this. But let anything come upon us rather than the stain and curse of such perfidy as has been contemplated . . ."
. . . It is the statements found in these pamphlets and magazines which are relied on as truth that have induced so many worthy people at a distance to espouse the cause of Indian sovereignty as assumed by the Cherokees. The general condition of the Cherokees in these publications is represented as being quite as comfortable and prosperous - yes, sir, and as enlightened, too, as the white population in most of the states. Compare the pictures drawn by these pamphlet writers and memorialists of the concert school, in which they have painted Georgia on the one side and the Cherokee sovereignty on the other. From these publications not only the stranger in a foreign land but the honest laboring people of New England, who stay at home and would mind their own business if let alone by these canting fanatics, verily believe that the Georgians are the worst of all savages; that they can neither read nor write; that they are infidels, deists, and atheists; and they never hear a Gospel sermon except from a New England missionary. Upon the other hand they are taught to believe that the Cherokee Indians are the most prosperous, enlightened, and religious nation of people on earth - except, indeed, the nation of New England. These Boston writers are not a people who work for nothing and find themselves. No, sir, I entertain no doubt but that they are well paid for all "their labors of love" in the cause of Cherokee sovereignty . . .
. . . A large portion of the full-blooded Cherokees still remain a poor degraded race of human beings. As to the proportion that are comfortable, or otherwise, I cannot speak from my own personal knowledge with any degree of certainty; but from what I have seen, I can readily conclude that but a very small portion of the real Indians are in a state of improvement, whilst their lords and rulers are white men, and descendants of white men, enjoying the fat of the land, and enjoying exclusively the Government annuities upon which they foster, feed, clothe the most violent and dangerous enemies of our civil institutions.
Whist the smallest intrusion (as it is called) by the frontier citizens of Georgia on the lands occupied by the Cherokees excites the fiery indignation of the fanatics, from one end of the chain of concert and coalition, do we not find an annual increase of intruders, from these philanthropic ranks, flocking in upon the poor Cherokees, like the caterpillars and locusts of Egypt, leaving a barren waste behind them? Yes, sir, these are the intruders who devour the substance which of right belongs to the poor, perishing part of the Cherokees.
They divide the spoil with the Cherokee rulers, and leave the common Indians to struggle with want and misery, without hope of bettering their condition by any change but that of joining their brethren West of the Mississippi.
The inhumanity of Georgia, so much complained of, is nothing more nor less than the extension of her laws and jurisdiction over this mingled and misguided population who are found within her acknowledged limits . . .
. . . In humanity, forbearance, and liberality towards the Indians, Georgia has no superior, if she does not stand pre-eminent. The prosperity and advancement of the Indians within her boundaries is the theme of Indian history and the glory of missionary efforts. volumes have already been written, and sent to every quarter of the globe, to carry the glad tidings of the advancement and reformation of the Georgia Indians. And yet, Sir, have you not from day to day, throughout this long session, seen the provocation's teeming upon President Jackson and the Georgians, and a spirit of asperity rarely witnessed in this or any other country? Martyrdom, the fagot, the flame, and stake, seem to inspire the ardent hopes and ambition of our opponents. sir, Georgia would turn away from such sacrifices; she requires no such immolation to restrain the impetuosity of her citizens from acts of inhumanity and violence towards the Indians, or any other people. If you want any evidence of the generous spirit and liberality of Georgia, turn your eye to the maps which adorn your walls; look upon the two flourishing states of Alabama and Mississippi; for these States may, to a considerable extent, be considered a donation on the part of Georgia to this confederation of states. it is true Georgia did, at the time she ceded that territory to the Union, expect to relieve herself thereby of litigation and embarrassments with which she was harassed, and which were of an unpleasant and perplexing nature; and her compact with this Government, in 1802, secured the pledge and faith of the Federal Government to effect these desirable objects for Georgia. Yes, sir, from the signing of the compact of 1802, Georgia had a right to expect peace and quiet on the subject of the Yazoo speculation, as well as a speedy, reasonable, and peaceable relief from all Indian claims to lands within her borders. But, Sir, we have experienced a ten-fold portion of that disappointment which the vicissitudes of fortune bring to man.
What has been the history of the engagements formed by that compact? Let facts answer this question. From that day to this, Georgia has been the subject of unremitted and unmerited abuse. While the claims of the Yazoo speculators were pending before this Government, it was seized upon as a fit occasion, by prejudice and ignorance, to censure and revile Georgia, apparently forgetting the fact that this Government had been a great gainer by the misfortunes of Georgia, and had actually received an hundred-fold for all its troubles and expense in settling and quieting these claims.
Again, sir, from that day to this, whenever the subject of extinguishing Indian title to lands within the limits of Georgia has offered the slightest opportunity for declamation, we have, with deep regret, discovered the same spirit which the gentleman from New York (Mr. Storrs) has manifested upon the present occasion.
But, sir, I will not dwell upon the wrongs of Georgia. It is the province of weakness to complain. We have sought from this Government our rights in the fulfillment of her engagement with us. They have long been withheld, upon frivolous excuses. We had lost confidence in any appeals which we could make to this Government; that confidence has been restored to the Executive branch of the Government by the course which has been marked out and pursued by our present Chief Magistrate. He has spread his opinions before the Nation in relation to the claims and rights of Georgia upon the Indians subject. Georgia is now waiting to hear the response of this branch of the General Government. A disposition manifested on your part to make reparation to Georgia for the multiplied wrongs which she has endured will be grateful to the feelings of every Georgian.
But, sir, arraigned as we are at your bar, we have no supplications to make. We deny your right of jurisdiction. Upon the subject of our sovereignty we fear nothing from your sentence. Our right of sovereignty will not be yielded . . .
3. Wilson Lumpkin, "Speech to Congress," May 1830, in Lumpkin, Removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia vol. 1 (New York: Arno Press, 1969), 57-88.