The following is the closing part of the memorial adopted by a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia, in behalf of the Cherokees.
From the testimony of a series of Treaties, concluded under the sanction of the first five Presidents of the United States, ratified by the ablest statesmen that have ever sat in our national councils, and extending in point of time from the adoption of the Federal Constitution, down to a late period, your memorialists conceive that they have conclusively demonstrated that the United States of America have guaranteed in the most solemn manner to the Cherokee Nation, in the first place-the entire title-undisturbed possession-and complete enjoyment of all their lands, not specifically ceded, except so far as these natural rights may have been modified, or relinquished by written agreement; and that in the second place, the freedom of this nation, and the right to be governed by their own customs and laws, except so far as this natural attribute may have been restricted or abridged by treaty, have been recognized in every compact formed between this people and the United States of America.
Believing that the representations which they have made, are founded in truth, your memorialists would respectfully, but earnestly petition, that Congress would sustain inviolably the faith of the United States pledged to the Cherokees and other Indian nations in their vicinity, in its full meaning, intent and purpose-that the remnants of this ancient and suffering race may be protected in the enjoyment of peace and quietude upon that soil which has been theirs by immemorial possession, which contains the bones of their fathers, and to which they are attached by all the strong ties, which bind men to country and to home, and that no laws shall be permitted to be imposed upon them, which, under any pretext however plausible, shall render them slaves in effect though free men in name.
When your memorialists reflect upon the many favors received by the first settlers of these United States from the hands of the aborigines when they call to mind that many of the treaties which they have recited were made when our frontiers were weak, and the Indians strong, when they look at the defenseless and friendless condition of the sad remains of this once powerful peoples they feel constrained by common impulse to ask of Congress that not only strict justice and enlightened generosity, but also sufficient protection and support may be extended towards them.
If the government of the United States have made engagements with any other parties supposed to be incompatible with its pledges to the Indians, let all such claims be deliberately examined, and if they shall appear to be well founded, let a proper adjustment take place, and suitable indemnity be made to the suffering or aggrieved parties. But whilst your memorialists desire that in all their doings the U. States may observe towards all people the measure of strict justice, they cannot but earnestly solicit, that in all questions having a reference to the rights of Indians, their claims to the soil which they occupy, as well as other rights guaranteed to them by treaty, may be strictly maintained; for it must appear self-evident that no compact between the United States and a third party can effect them, or in the least impair either their natural or their vested privileges.
In thus acting towards the Cherokees and other Indians, according to the dictates of a generous policy, your memorialists do not perceive any practical difficulties. If suffered to continue undisturbed upon their lands, in the course of a few years the progress of civilization, and the increase of knowledge, would of necessity change their character, modify their laws and customs, and finally prepare them for so amalgamation with the white population. They would then gladly receive the rights of citizenship, the duties of which an improved education would teach them to appreciate and perform. That this is the ultimatum of the hopes and wishes of the Indians themselves, your memorialists think is manifest from an address to the President of the United States dated at Washington the 12th of March, 1825, and signed by Ross, Lowry, and Hicks the principal chief.
Speaking in reference to this subject, they express their full conviction that the day would arrive, "if the Cherokees were permitted to remain peaceably and quietly in the enjoyment of their rights." when all "distinction between their race and the American family would be imperceptible;" and they emphatically declare, that "for the sake of civilization and the preservation of existence, they would willingly see the habits and customs of the aboriginal man extinguished."
Seeing that such are the disposition and temper manifested by the Indians themselves, your memorialists have noticed with regret that a resolution has been offered in the Senate, contemplating a modification of the laws of the United States for the regulation "of trade and intercourse with the Indians, so as to exempt expressly from their operation the territory occupied by any Indians within a state over whom as tribes or individuals the laws of the state have been or may be extended by the legislature thereof."
Your memorialists fear this proposition, if adopted, would lead to a system of measures hostile to the best interests of the Indians, and in opposition to the spirit and letter of the numerous treaties which they have already recited.
In looking toward the future and final destiny of the Indian race east of the Mississippi, your memorialists cannot better convey their feelings than in the language used by an eminent jurist of the State of New York, in reference to a small fragments of tribes resident within the territorial limits of that State. When, says he, "the time shall arrive for us to break down the partition between us and them, and to annihilate the political existence of the Indians as nations and tribes. I trust we shall act fairly and explicitly, and endeavor to effect it with the full knowledge and assent of the Indians themselves, and with the most scrupulous regard to their weaknesses and prejudices and with the entire approbation of the Government of the United States. I am satisfied with such a course would be required by prudence and would become necessary not only for conscience sake, but for the reputation of our national justice."
In accordance to the general wisdom and benevolence of the sentiments just recited, their full approbation your memorialists feel that as Pennsylvanians they are peculiarly entitled and enjoined to ask of the United States the inviolate observance of all faith plighted to the Indians, and they are constrained, by a deep sense of gratitude to bear testimony in the name, and by the experience of their forefathers to the fact, that the Indians on their part, can maintain with strict integrity, all promises which they have given in treaty with white men. In remembrance that their ancestors landed on the shores of America, a feeble band, without the munition of arms-that with open hearts and hands, they sought the friendship of the Indians, when a strong and powerful race- that this was given and pledged in that memorable treaty held near the place where your memorialists are now assembled-when they call to mind that this compact was never broken--but that with deeds of kindness and good fellowship, every pledge mutually given was mutually redeemed, insomuch that it is their happiness to record that for a space of 60 years no human blood shed in Indian conflict, ever stained the soil of Pennsylvania.-- Recurring to these cherished recollections, they cannot but feel it to be a duty imperative upon them, to plead the cause of the Indian at a moment of extremity when measures are in contemplation, vitally affecting his dearest interests.
Considering, morever [sic], that the Cherokees, by the express recommendation, nay, by the aid and assistance of the Government of the United States itself, have, for a series of years past been rapidly advancing in civilization-that they have relinquished the habits and pursuits of the savage, and have become possessed of houses and mills, flocks and herds, schools and printing presses.- that above all many of them have forsaken the superstitions of the Heathen, and embraced the religion of the Gospel, you memorialists feel bound earnestly to petition that no measures may be permitted to take place, which shall compel this nation to leave the small residue of their ancient patrimony now rendered doubly dear by the melioration of civilized life, and to exchange cultivated fields and comfortable habitations for the wild and houseless prairies of the West.
In conclusion, it is the sincere desire of your memorialists that the Government of the United States and all others who presume to act towards the Indians may be endowed not only with a spirit of ordinary benevolence, but a remembrance of solemn accountability of nations, no less than individuals, to a supreme tribunal, may purify their feelings, and direct their purposes.
Unanimously adopted by order and in behalf of a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia and its adjoining districts, held on the 11th day of January, A. D. 1830
WILLIAM WHITE, Chairman
Roberts Vaux }
Henry J. Williams }Secretaries.
A Brief History of the Trail of Tears
Parties leaving under their own supervision:
How Cherokees Reacted to Lovely's Purchase
Letter to the Cherokee from Major General Scott
Ralph Waldo Emerson's Letter. . .
Memorial of the Cherokee
John Burnett's Story of the Trail of Tears
Removal Act of 1830
Treaty of New Echota
Letter from John Ross
Letter from Chief John Ross,
Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia
Objection to Removal - 1829
Cherokees feel they are to be sacrificed
Memorial of the Creek Indians
Did the Cherokee REALLY want to Emigrate?
Resolution of Council
Tennessee House of Representatives Speech
A Cherokee Law from 1822