Major Ridge Main Page
The Essex Register
Vol. XXIV. Salem, (Massachusetts) Thursday, May 20, 1824 No. 41.
Tennison’s Hotel, April 1824.
Messers. Gales & Seaton,
Gentlemen: We have read in the Georgia Journal, of the 6th inst. a letter from the Georgia delegation in Congress to his Excellency Geo. M. Troup, the Governor of Georgia, and also some remarks of the Editor of that paper. However great our surprise has heretofore been at the course of proceeding of this delegation, as set forth in their letter to the President of the United States, and which the Georgia delegation consider “respectful,” but which, if it be, is different in its style and temper from what we are accustomed to observe in our intercourse with our chiefs; yet this surprise has been much heightened at a new attempt to deprive us of another portion of our blessings. Not satisfied with wishing the Executive of the United States violently to rupture the solemn bond of our rights to our land and to put at defiance the pledges which existing treaties contain guarantying to us our lands, it is attempted to take from us the intellect which has directed us in conducting the several negotiations with commissioners appointed to treat with us for our lands, and with the Executive government, by the unfounded charge, that “the last letter of the Cherokees to the Secretary of War, contains internal evidence that it was never written or dictated by an Indian.” Whilst we expect to be complimented on the one hand, by this blow at our intelligence, we cannot, in justice, allow it to pass, upon the other, without a flat contradiction. That letter, and every other letter, was not only written, but dictated by an Indian. We are not so fortunate as to have such help. – The white man seldom comes forward in our defense. Our rights are in our own keeping; and the proofs of our loneliness, and the prejudiced eye with which every thing is looked upon which relates to us, by such a vast majority of those who should be our guardians and friends, have put us upon our resources, and we do thank God, sincerely, and our benevolent white brothers, for there are some Christian hearts which regard us, who, seeing our bereaved and helpless state, come in to our help, with letters and the lights of civilization and christianity. We felt the necessity of our case, and we have endeavored to improve it. Our letters are our own; and if they are thought too refined for “Savages,” let the white man take it for proof, that, with proper assistance, Indians can think and write for themselves. We refer the Georgia Delegation, and the Editor of the Georgia Journal, to our correspondence with their own Commissioners in our own country. They can tell whether the head of a white man conceived or his pen dictated, the negotiations, on our part, or whether they were the lonely and unassisted efforts of the poor Indian – whose home, now that it begins to blossom; and the seed time and the harvest are greeted, and the chase abandoned, and the churches are rising, and the Great Spirit is felt in his influence upon our hearts and our gratitude, and our little ones are learning to read his blessed word, and sing anthems in his praise for the gift of the Redeemer – yes, they can tell—whether they, from whom it is attempted to force all these blessings, and drive them into barbarity and savageism as cruel and as dark as ever – did, or did not conduct their own correspondence.—
We say we did – and we love the truth.—
It is not for us to vindicate, or attempt to vindicate, our Great Father, the President of the United States; he does not need an Indian’s aid, nor an Indian’s eulogy; but, however we are bound to love him, yet, it is due to justice to state, that we have been often pained, and especially of late, at the earnestness with which he has pressed upon us the subject of ceding our lands. Why he has acted thus, we were at a loss to conceive. We were not ignorant of the nature of the Convention of 1802. We know every one of its promises. If, however, these are to be violated, and the fell war-whoop should ever be raised against us, to dispossess us of our lands, we will gratify the Delegation of Georgia, in their present earnestness to see us removed or destroyed, by adding additional fertility to our land, by a deposite of our body and our bones; for we are resolved never to leave them, but by a parting from them and our lives together. How the Christians of America, and of the world will view their attempt upon our rights; this effort to force a kind President to violate the faith of treaties, and dip his finger in our blood, it is not for us Indians to say; but our cause is with God, and good men, and there we are willing to leave it.
We mean nothing disrespectful to any one; but justice and truth require that we should say this much, on the occasion to which we have referred.
We are sir, respectfully, your obedient servants,
MAJOR RIDGE, his x mark