restricted access 39. Secretary of War Eaton on Cherokee Removal, April 18, 1829
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44 The source of all the difficulty is to be found in the necessity which the traders esteem themselves to be under to carry spirituous liquors into the Indian country; and it is from this source that so much wretchedness and so many evils proceed. There are many persons engaged in this trade whose feelings, no doubt, revolt at the calamities which a traffic of this sort occasions; but the forbidden and destructive article is considered so essential to a lucrative commerce, as not only tostillthosefeelings,buttoleadthetradersto brave the most imminent hazards, and evade, by various methods, the threatened penalties of the law. . . . It is believed that sound policy, no less than justice and humanity, requires that it should be made a capital offence for any person to furnish spirituous liquors to Indians, under any circumstances. But, in the absence of such a provision, it does appear to me that the next best measure, viewed in connexion with existing prohibitory laws, is, to oblige those who may carry on trade with them to do so from certain designated places. These, however, ought to be made “suitable and convenient ;” and so the law provides. The existing obligation to locate and carry on trade at places which are known, and no others, and which are previously designated, does appear to me to bring the evils, which it is esteemed on all hands to be so important to remedy, more immediately within the eye of the officers of the Government and the grasp of the law, than any that has been heretofore devised. It is apparent, from the very statement of the case, that the chances of detection are greatly multiplied by the existing provision; and just in proportion as this point is gained will the evil diminish. The agents have a power over the vending of spirituous liquors in the one case, which they could never attain in the other. There needs no argument to prove this, as nobody, it is presumed, will dispute it. But the penalty is heavier in the one case than in the other; and this will operate as an additional check. Wherever the trader may be located, there is the whole amount of his property, in one confined and tangible place; whereas, when he roams the country at will, it is separated into smaller parcels, and borne about upon pack-horses. In the latter case, even if he is detected, (experience has proven, however, that, once in the forests, there is very little risk,) the levy might fall upon no more than the amount of what a single pack-horse would carry; and that, if forfeited, would be matter of small concern, and scarcely worth guarding . . . . [American State Papers: Indian Affairs, 2:659–60.] 39. Secretary of War Eaton on Cherokee Removal April 18, 1829 The federal policy of removing the eastern Indians to areas west of the Mississippi, strongly supported by President Andrew Jackson, brought sharp opposition from the Cherokee Indians, who argued for their right to remain where they were. One of the best statements of Jackson’s position is the letter written by Secretary of War John H. Eaton on April 18, 1829, to John Ross, Richard Taylor, Edward Gunter, and William S. Coody, who comprised the Cherokee delegation. Friends and Brothers, Your letter of the 17th of February, addressed to the late Secretary of War, has been brought to the notice of this Department, since the communication made to you on the 11th Instant; and having conversed freely and fullywiththePresidentoftheUnitedStates,I am directed by him to submit the following as the views which are entertained, in reference to the subjects which you have submitted for consideration. You state that “the Legislature of Georgia in defiance of the laws of the United States, and the most solemn Treaties existing,” have extended a jurisdiction over your Nation to take effect in June 1830. That “your 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 consequently this act of Georgia is to be viewed, “in no other light, than a wanton usurpation 45 of power, guaranteed to no State, neither by the common law of the land, nor by the laws of nature.” To all this, there is a plain and obvious answer, deducible from the known history of the Country. During the War of the Revolution , your nation was...