Abbildungen der Seite

but to their white neighbors who had promised themselves the possession of their lands at no distant period, it assumed an alarming aspect. It put an end to any hopes of further acquisition on any peaceable or reasonable terms. The Georgia delegation in congress denounced all attempts to civilize the Indians within their limits, by the government, as a species of double dealing, calculated and designed to defeat the compact of 1802. The states, within whose limits the territory of the Cherokee nation lay, considered their proceedings an infringement of the right of state sovereignty. They claimed that they had uncontrolled and supreme jurisdiction over all the lands within their boundaries; and that two independent governments could not exist within the same limits. The states of Georgia and Alabama, extended their civil and criminal jurisdiction over the whole Indian territory within their borders, and called upon congress to prohibit the Cherokees from exercising the rights of self-gvernment under their constitution. These claims, if sustained, it was evident would operate as a total change of that policy which the American government had ever pursued in relation to the Indians. If the jurisdiction of the state authorities were to be extended over them, and they made subject to their municipal laws, and interdicted from the right of self-government, they could in no sense be considered as an independent community. All their rights, privileges, and immunities as Indians, which the general government, from a consideration of the peculiar relation in which they stood to this people, have ever felt themselves bound to maintain, must cease. Another consequence resulting from these principles was, that the Indian population must be taxed, and represented in congress and the state legislatures, or that fundamental principle on which all American freedom is based, to wit, that people, are not to be governed and taxed, but by legislatures, in the choice of whom they have a voice, must be subverted.

Delegation to Washington. A respectable delegation of the Cherokees, attended at Washington during the session of congress in 1828-9, and presented a memorial to the war department, in which they state, "that the legislature of Georgia, in defiance of the laws of the United States, and the most solemn existing treaties, have extended a jurisdiction over their nation, to take effect in June, 1830. That their nation had no voice in the formation of the confederacy of the union, and has ever been unshackled with

the laws of individual states, because independent of them. And that they can view this act in no other light, than a wanton usurpation of power, guarantied to no state, either by the common law of the land, or by the law of nature." This remonstrance being presented near the close of the presidential term, its consideration devolved on the succeeding administration, who supported the state claims.

Secretary of war's answer to their memorial. The task of defending them devolved of course on the war department, at this time filled by Colonel Eaton, of Tennessee, one of the states interested in supporting the claims. The facts, and the course of reasoning by which they were supported were, that something more than a century ago, some of the subjects of the king of Great Britain discovered and settled on the borders of the Atlantic ocean, five hundred miles eastward of their territory, by virtue of which he became vested with the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the whole country, from the ocean to the great river. That in consequence of the declaration of independence, and the peace of 1783, his title became vested in the several states into which the territory was divided, and by force thereof they have the exclusive right of jurisdiction and sovereignty. That nothing remains to the Indians, but a mere possessory title; and no remedy can be perceived for them but a removal beyond the Mississippi. The secretary further informs them, that if the general government should undertake to interfere with the proceedings of Georgia, it might hazard a war with that state. This, he says, is the result of a full and free conversation with the president, and submitted to them by his direction, with many assurances that their great father entertains for them the most friendly feelings. To the plain unsophisticated Indian mind, this reasoning was incomprehensible; a shorter process leading to the same result, would have been more intelligible, and less insulting to their understandings. "The white man wants your land; the states have power, therefore they have right. Depart."


* Secretary at war to the Cherokee delegation, April 18th, 1829.


State of parties consequent on Mr. Adams' election-Charges of a corrupt bargain; how supported-Mr. Clay's answer to them-Their effect on public opinion-First session of the 19th congress-Message-Different constructions of the constitution-A liberal one adopted-Mr. Lloyd's report on the discriminating tonnage duties-Judiciary bill lost by a disagreement between the two houses, as to the arrangement of the circuits-Propositions to amend the constitution in the senate; in the house of representatives; negatived-Reports of engineers on internal improvements-National road to New Orleans-Chesapeake and Ohio canal-Important national objects to be accomplished by them-Constitutional question-Panama mission-Mr. Benton's report on executive patronage-Six bllls proposed 10 diminish it-Bill requiring the president to assign reasons for the removal of officers-Bill for the relief of F. Larche-Debate on the subject.

Commencement of Mr. Adams' administration. Mr. Adams having been elected to the presidency by the house of representatives, from the second on the list, though president in fact according to the forms of the constitution, it was claimed by the friends of General Jackson, that he held the office against the will of a majority of the people. A plurality of votes in the electoral colleges affords presumptive, though by no means conclusive evidence, that the highest candidate is a greater favorite of the whole community than the second. How the electors or the people would have voted on a second canvass, confined to the highest two on the list, never has been or can be known. The principle of the constitution, directing the choice ultimately to be made in the house of representatives, from the highest three, is grounded upon this conviction.

Opposition. A maxim all important in the American system, and on which its duration essentially depends is, that when a president is constitutionally elected, his administration should be viewed with candor, and supported in all its wholesome measures. In this instance, the aggregate of opponents, consisting of the friends of all the other candidates, occasionally augmented by desertions from those of Mr. Adams, who could not be gratified with office, formed a majority of the nation; and early commenced their operations against his administration. The affairs of the United States being in a prosperous train, and the new president pursuing the successful course of his predecessors,

very little matter could be found during the summer of 1825, with which an unfavorable impression could be made. Political discussions were almost entirely confined to the charge of a corrupt bargain between the president and secretary of state, that Mr. Clay should give Mr. Adams the first, and he give Mr. Clay the second office in the government. Public opinion, at this period, had not become so entirely callous upon this subject, but what such a charge, if well supported, must prove fatal to the future prospects of the implicated. The circumstances principally relied on were,

That the representatives from the five western states, who had supported Mr. Clay, and now held the stakes, had a meeting during the canvass, and first resolved that they would give a united vote, and secondly that it should be for Mr. Adams; and that this arrangement was brought about by the controlling influence of Mr. Clay :

That he voted for Mr. Adams against the instructions of the house of representatives of Kentucky.

That a conversation had taken place between the members respectively, friendly to General Jackson and Mr. Clay, in which it was surmised, that Mr. Adams was securing the influence of the west, by assurances that the vacancy in the cabinet occasioned by his elevation, should be filled by Mr. Clay, which would be the proper stepping stone to the next presidency, and ultimately accomplish the views of that important section of the union-that General Jackson ought to counteract this influence-by an assurance on his part, that in case of his election, Mr. Adams would not be continued in the office of secretary of state, which proposition he indignantly rejected.

That Adams and Clay had long been political opponents; had disagreed on essential points in the negotiations at Ghent; and had been rival candidates for the presidency; notwithstanding which they had now become suddenly reconciled, bestowing on each other the highest offices in the government.

The fact that each was now in possession of those offices respectively, it was claimed, was conclusive evidence of the combination.

Defense of the administration. These allegations, in every form which ingenuity could suggest, were reiterated with unceasing assiduity throughout the union. Mr. Clay met them, in their various shapes, in a fair, open, and undisguised manner. He utterly denied any bargain, agreement, or understanding between him and Mr. Adams, or any

conversation whatever relating to the subject; or that any persons with his knowledge, privity, or consent, had ever made any propositions of the nature alluded to. Upon any fair principles this denial exonerated Mr. Clay, until the facts were proved upon him by his opponents.

After the charge had been publicly made in the house of representatives, there discussed, and finally abandoned, it was revived and brought forward in a conversation at General Jackson's residence in Nashville, in the summer of 1825, between him and a select party of friends, and further publicity given to it in a subsequent correspondence between him and Mr.Beverly of Virginia. On being called upon for his authority, the general referred to Mr. Buchanan, a member of the house of representatives from Pennsylvania, whose reply by no means supported the charge. He admitted, indeed, that he had had a conversation with General Jackson on the subject of the canvass, but none which intimated that he was the agent of Mr. Clay, or had ever had any conversation with him, or knew of any agreement or understanding between him and Mr. Adams, or any thing warranting the inferences in the general's communications. Mr. Buchanan rejects with becoming indignation the charge of being the tool or agent of any person, for the purposes intimated in the correspondence.

Mr. Clay produced and published the testimony of a great number of respectable gentlemen, many of whom he had been associated with in public life, who affirmed that as soon as the state of the electoral votes were known, he openly and publicly declared, that, considering Mr. Crawford's health, and the small number of electoral votes in his favor, he viewed him as out of the question, and that as between Adams and Jackson he had a decided preference for the former.

To the charge that he had disobeyed the will of his constituents, Mr. Clay replied, that he held his seat in congress by virtue of the suffrages of a district in Kentucky, who alone had a right to control his vote, and who, as between the two candidates, preferred Mr. Adams. Admitting, therefore, the right of the constituent to direct the vote of his representative, Mr. Clay had acted in conformity to the wishes of his electors. The legislature of Kentucky, however respectable a body of men, he did not think had a right to obtrude their advice upon him unasked, or control his vote against his own opinion, and that of his constitu ents.

« ZurückWeiter »