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   Chapter 138 1829). No.138

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 3168

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Tribal governments.]

[Sidenote: Difficulty with Georgia.]

Another difficulty inherited by Adams's administration arose out of the promise of the United States in 1802 to remove the Indians from within the limits of Georgia as soon as possible. The two principal tribes were the Creeks and the Cherokees, both partially civilized and settled on permanent farms, and both enjoying by treaty with the United States a tribal government owing no allegiance to Georgia. On Feb. 12, 1825, a treaty had been signed by a few Creek chiefs without the authority or consent of the nation, by which they purported to give up lands of the tribe in Georgia. In defiance of the government at Washington, the Georgia authorities proceeded to survey the lands, without waiting to have the treaty examined; and Governor Troup called upon the legislature to "stand to your arms," and wrote to the Secretary of War that "President Adams makes the Union tremble on a bauble." In a sober report to the legislature it was urged that the time was rapidly approaching when the Slave States must "confederate."

[Sidenote: Conflict of authority.]

The survey was suspended; but on Nov. 8, 1825, Governor Troup advised the legislature that "between States equally independent it is not required of the weaker to yield to the stronger. Between sovereigns the weaker is equally qualified to pass upon its rights." On Jan. 24, 1826, a new treaty was negotiated, by which a considerable part of the disputed territory was given to Georgia. Again the State attempted to survey the lands before th

e transfer was completed, and again Adams interposed. On Feb. 17, 1827, Governor Troup called out the State militia to resist the United States troops. Congress was rather pleased at the humiliation to the President, and declined to support him; he was obliged to yield.

[Sidenote: The Cherokees subdued.]

The Cherokees, more highly civilized and better organized than the Creeks, could not be entrapped into any treaty for surrendering their lands. Georgia, therefore, proceeded to assert her jurisdiction over them, without reference to the solemn treaties of the United States. Each successive legislature from 1826 passed an Act narrowing the circle of Indian authority. In December, 1826, Indian testimony was declared invalid in Georgia courts. The Cherokees, foreseeing the coming storm, and warned by the troubles of their Creek neighbors, proceeded to adopt a new tribal constitution, under which all land was to be tribal property. The Georgia legislature replied, in 1827, by annexing part of the Cherokee territory to two counties; the purpose was to drive out the Cherokees by making them subject to discriminating State laws, and by taking away the land not actually occupied as farms. The issue raised was whether the United States or Georgia had governmental powers in Indian reservations. By a close vote the House intimated its sympathy with Georgia, and in December, 1828, Georgia proposed to annex the whole Cherokee country. Adams was powerless to defend the Indians; in order to humiliate the President, the national authority had successfully been defied.

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