Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

could find in the forest. Scanty and unwholsome food produce diseases and death among your children, and hence you have raised few and your numbers have decreased. Frequent wars, too, and the abuse of spirituous liquors, have assisted in lessening your numbers. The whites, on the other hand, are in the habit of cultivating the earth, of raising stocks of cattle, hogs, and other domestic animals, in much greater numbers than they could kill of deer and buffalo. Having always a plenty of food and clothing they raise abundance of children, they double their numbers every twenty years, the new swarms are continually advancing upon the country like flocks of pigeons, and so they will continue to do. Now, my children, if we wanted to diminish our numbers, we would give up the culture of the earth, pursue the deer and buffalo, and be always at war; this would soon reduce us to be as few as you are, and if you wish to increase your numbers you must give up the deer and buffalo, live in peace, and cultivate the earth. You see then, my children, that it depends on yourselves alone to become a numerous and great people. Let me entreat you, therefore, on the lands now given you to begin to give every man a farm ; let him enclose it, cultivate it, build a warm house on it, and when he dies, let it belong to his wife and children after him. Nothing is so easy as to learn to cultivate the earth ; all your women understand it, and to make it easier, we are always ready to teach you how to make ploughs, hoes, and necessary utensils. If the men will take the labor of the earth from the women they will learn to spin and weave and to clothe their families. you will also raise many children, you will double your numbers every twenty years, and soon fill the land your friends have given you, and your children will never be tempted to sell the spot on which they have been born, raised, have labored and called their own. When once you have property, you will want laws and magistrates to protect your property and persons, and to punish those among you who commit crimes. You will find that our laws are good for this purpose ; you will wish to live under them, you will unite yourselves with us, join in our great councils and form one people with us, and we shall all be Amer

In this way

icans; you will mix with us by marriage, your blood will run in our veins, and will spread with us over this great island. Instead, then, my children, of the gloomy prospect you have drawn of your total disappearance from the face of the earth, which is true, if you continue to hunt the deer and buffalo and go to war, you see what a brilliant aspect is offered to your future history, if you give up war and hunting. Adopt the culture of the earth and raise domestic animals; you see how from a small family you may become a great nation by adopting the course which from the small beginning you describe has made us a great nation.

My children, I will give you a paper declaring your right to holu, against all persons, the lands given you by the Miamis and Powtewatamies, and that you never can sell them without their consent. But I must tell you that if ever they and you agree to sell, no paper which I can give you can prevent your doing what you please with your own. The only way to prevent this is to give to every one of your people a farm, which shall belong to him and his family, and which the nation shall have no right to take from them and sell ; in this way alone can you ensure the lands to your descendants through all generations, and that it shall never be sold from under their feet. It is not the keeping your lands which will keep your people alive on them after the deer and buffalo shall have left them; it is the cultivating them alone which can do that. The hundredth part in corn and cattle will support you better than the whole in deer and buffalo.

My son Hendrick, deliver these words to your people. I have spoken to them plainly, that they may see what is before them, and that it is in their own power to go on dwindling to nothing, or to become again a great people. It is for this reason I wish them to live in peace with all people, to teach their young men to love agriculture, rather than war and hunting. Let these words sink deep in their hearts, and let them often repeat them and consider them. Tell them that I hold them fast by the hand, and that I will ever be their friend to advise and to assist them in following the true path to their future happiness.

XXIII. To Kitchao Geboway :

My Son -I am happy to receive your visit at the seat of our government, and to repeat to you the assurances of my friendly dispositions towards your nation. I am the more pleased to see you again, as at your last visit we could not converse together for want of an interpreter. This difficulty is now removed by the presence of Mr. Ryley. I approve of your disposition, my son, to live at peace with all the world. It is what we wish all our red children to do, and to consider themselves as brethren of the same family, and forming with us but one nation. The Great Spirit did not make men that they might destroy one another, but doing to each other all the good in their power, and thus filling the land with happiness instead of misery and murder. This is the way in which we wish all our red children to live with one another, and with us; and this is what I wish you to say to your nation from me, when you deliver to them what I said to you the last winter. I am sorry you have not been able to carry it to them; they would have seen by that, that you came here as the friend of your own nation, and of all your red brethren. My son, I take by the hand the young man, the son of your friend, whom you brought with you. He is now young, and I hope will live to be old, and through his life will be steadfast in encouraging his nation to live in peace and friendship with their white brethren of the United States.

The Secretary at War will provide for your journey back, and your father Governor Hull will be glad to see you on your way. He will always give good advice to your nation in my name, and will guide them in the paths of peace and friendship with all men.

XXIV.

January 9, 1809. To the Deputies of the Cherokee Upper Towns :

My Children, I have maturely considered the speeches you have delivered me, and will now give you answers to the several matters they contain.

You inform me of your anxious desires to engage in the industrious pursuits of agriculture and civilized life. That finding it impracticable to induce the nation at large to join in this, you wish a line of separation to be established between the upper and lower towns, so as to include all the waters of the Hiwassee in your part, and that having thus contracted your society within narrower limits, you propose within these to begin the establishment of fixed laws and of regular government. You say that the lower towns are satisfied with the division you propose ; and on these several matters you ask my advice and aid.

With respect to the line of division between yourselves and the lower towns, it must rest on the joint consent of both parties. The one you propose seems moderate, reasonable, and well defined. We are willing to recognize those on each side of that line as distinct societies, and if our aid shall be necessary to mark it more plainly than nature has done, you shall have it. I think with you, that on this reduced scale it will be more easy for you to introduce the regular administration of laws.

In proceeding to the establishment of laws, you wish to adopt them from ours, and such only for the present as suit your present condition; chiefly, indeed, those for the punishment of crimes, and the protection of property. But who is to determine which of our laws suit your condition, and shall be in force with you? All of you being equally free, no one has a right to say what shall be law for the others. Our way is to put these questions to the vote, and to consider that as law for which the majority votes. The fool has as great a right to express his opinion by vote as the wise, because he is equally free, and equally master of himself. But as it would be inconvenient for all your men to meet in one place, would it not be better for

every town to do as we do, that is to say, choose by the vote of the majority of the town and of the country people nearer to that than to any other town, one, two, three, or more, according to the size of the town, of those whom each voter thinks the wisest and honestest men of their place, and let these meet together and agree which of our laws suit them. But these men know nothing of our laws; how then can they know which to adopt. Let them as

sociate in their council our beloved man living with them, Colonel Meigs, and he will tell them what our law is on any point they desire. He will inform them, also, of our methods of doing business in our councils, so as to preserve order, and to obtain the vote of every member fairly. This council can make a law for giving to every head of a family a separate parcel of land, which, when he has built upon and improved, it shall belong to him and his descendants forever, and which the nation itself shall have no right to sell from under his feet; they will determine, too, what punishment shall be inflicted for every crime. In our States, generally, we punish murder only by death, and all other crimes by solitary confinement in a prison.

But when you shall have adopted laws, who are to execute them ? Perhaps it may be best to permit every town and the settlers in its neighborhood attached to it, to select some of their best men, by a majority of its votes, to be judges in all differences, and to execute the law according to their own judgment. Your council of representatives will decide on this or such other mode as may best suit you. I suggest these things, my children, for the consideration of the upper towns of your nation, to be decided on as they think best; and I sincerely wish you may succeed in your laudable endeavors to save the remains of your nation by adopting industrious occupations and a government of regular law. In this you may always rely on the counsel and assistance of the government of the United States. Deliver these words to your people in my name, and assure them of my friendship.

XXV.

January 9, 1809. To the Deputies of the Cherokees of the Upper and Lower

Towns :

My Children,-I understand from the speeches which you have delivered me, that there is a difference of disposition among the people of both parts of your nation, some of them desiring to remain on their lands, to betake themselves to agriculture, and

« ZurückWeiter »