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(caption title) North Carolina--Cherokee Indians. Report and Resolution of a Joint Committee of the Legislature of North Carolina, Relative to the Cherokee Indians
(At head of title) 23d Congress, 1st session. [Doc. No. 71.] Ho. of Reps.
North Carolina. General Assembly.
[Washington, D.C. ]
Call number Cp970.03 N87g3 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Executive Department, North Carolina,Raleigh, January 20, 1834.
SIR: In compliance with the request of the General Assembly of this State, I transmit to you the enclosed memorial, and request that it may be presented to that branch of the National Legislature of which you are a member.
I have the honor to be, sir,
With high consideration,
Your obedient servant,
D. S. SWAIN.
To the Hon. James Graham.
The joint select committee, to which was referred so much of the Governor's message as relates to the Cherokee Indians, have had the same under consideration, and respectfully report:
That they have had the subject under consideration, and submit the accompanying memorial as the best mode of settling all difficulties with the Indians, and recommend the adoption or the following resolution:
Resolved, That the Governor transmit a copy of this memorial to each of the Senators and Members of the House of Representatives from this State in Congress, with a request that they present the same to both Houses of Congress.
J. W. GUINN, Chairman.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in
The memorial of the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina
That, at the close of the revolutionary war, the territory composing the sovereign and independent State of North Carolina was bounded on the east by the Atlantic, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by a line beginning on the sea shore, in the southern boundary of Virginia, 36 deg. 30 m. north latitude, and thence west to the Pacific Ocean, and on the south by a line beginning on the sea side, at a cedar stake, at or near the mouth of Little river, thence a northwest course, through the boundary house, which stands in 33 deg. 56 m. to 35 deg. north latitude, and thence nest to the Pacific Ocean. The Congress of the United States having repeatedly recommended to the respective States in the Union, owning vacant western territory, to cede the same to the United States, an act was passed by the Legislature of this State, at its session in the year 1789, authorizing certain commissioners to convey to the United States all those lands situate within the chartered limits or North Carolina, being west of a line beginning on the extreme height of the Stone mountain, at the place where the Virginia line intersects it; thence, along the extreme height of said mountain, to the place where the Watauga river breaks through it; thence, a direct course, to the top of the Yellow mountain, where Bright's road crosses the same; thence, along the ridge of said mountain, between the waters of Doc river and the waters of Rock creek, to the place where the road crosses the Iron mountain; thence, along the extreme height of said mountain, to where Nolichucky river runs through the same; thence to the top of the Bald mountain; thence, along the extreme height or said mountain, to the Painter rock on French Broad river; thence, along the highest ridge of said mountain, to the place where it is called the Great Iron or Smoky mountain; thence, along the extreme height of said mountain, to the place where it is called the Unika mountain; thence, along the main ridge of said mountain, to the southern boundary of this State, upon certain conditions therein expressed. In pursuance of said act, the commissioners executed the deed of cession, which was duly accepted and ratified by the United States in Congress assembled, on the 2d of April, 1790. By the acceptance of this cession, the United States, among other obligations thereby assumed, became bound that the land laid off, or directed to be laid off, by an act or acts of the General Assembly of this State, for the officers and soldiers thereof, their heirs and assigns, respectively, shall by and enure to be use and benefit of the said officers and soldiers, their heirs and assigns, respectively; and that all the lands thus ceded, and not appropriated as aforesaid, shall be considered as a common fund, for the use and benefit of all the States, North Carolina inclusive, according to their respective and usual proportions in the general charge and expenditure, and shall be faithfully disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever.
A pad of the territory so ceded now forms the State of Tennessee, bounded on the east by the western boundary of North Carolina, as described in the act of cession, and on the west by the Mississippi river, to
the north and south by the northern and southern lines of the ceded territory. All the lands laid off, or directed to be laid off as aforesaid, by the General Assembly of North Carolina, lie within the limits of the State of Tennessee; and after the location of all the said lands, there remained within the limits of Tennessee a very large and valuable residue, which should have been appropriated to the use of the Several States of the Union, including North Carolina, in the proportion set forth in the act of cession. The United States still holds under this cession, for the like uses and purposes, an immense extent of country of great value, situate between the river Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean, and between the northern and southe n limits of the ceded territory. It is true that the act or cession did not require the United States to stipulate that all rights and titles of the Indians to lands Within the limits of North Carolina should be extinguished by the United States, as has been done by Georgia. North Carolina, acknowledging the parental care of the General Government, generously confiding in her sense of justice, and believing that good policy would dictate the extinguishment of the Indian title, did not demand such stipulation, which, if required, would have been a very inadequate consideration for the territory conveyed and the sovereignty granted. It is believed that the portion to which North Carolina was entitled by the act of cession of the residue of lands in Tennessee, after the location of all the military claims, would have been amply sufficient for the extinguishment of the Indian title to lands within the limits or North Carolina, but the United States have appropriated this residue exclusively to the use of the State of Tennessee.
The United States, acknowledging the rights of North Carolina, and yielding to her just claims, attempted, by the treaties of 1817 and 1819, with the Cherokee tribe of Indians, to extinguish their title to all the land Within the limits of this State. This attempt proving abortive, by a mistake in describing the territory intended to be surrendered by the Indians, the language of the treaties leaves little doubt of the intention of the contracting parties to extinguish the Indian title to all the lands within this State, but the application of a technical rule produces the difficulty. The treaties stipulate that the Cherokees shall surrender all their lands lying within the limits of North Carolina, and then unfortunately set forth the supposed metes and bounds of the territory intended to be surrendered. In these metes and bounds there is a great mistake; the former is called a general, the latter a particular description; and it is said that the particular controls and restrains the general description. The lands in the occupancy of the Cherokees, not embraced by these metes and bounds, and within the limits of North Carolina, are of great extent and value. This tract of country, from the most accurate information now to be obtained, includes nearly million of acres of land, and is estimated to be worth four hundred thousand dollars, and is occupied by almost twenty-five hundred Indians. The extinguishment of the Indian title to this district of country, and the removal of this unfortunate race beyond the Mississippi, is of momentous importance to the interest of this State. The fertility of the soil, the extent and value of territory, are sufficient inducements to urge the extinguishment of the Indian title, especially as we think we have just claims on the General Government. These are not the only inducements. The red men are not within the pales of civilization; they are not under the restraints of morality, nor the influence of religion, and
they are always disagreeable and dangerous neighbors to a civilized people. The proximity of those red men to our white population, subjects the latter to depredations and annoyances, and is a source of perpetual and mutual irritation. It is believed this unfortunate race of beings might easily, at the present, from the policy pursued towards them by the respective States in which their possessions are situate, be induced to exchange their lands in this State for territory beyond the Mississippi, whither so many of their brethren have already gone.
In addition to all these considerations, the right of North Carolina to have this title extinguished by the General Government, is strengthened by the policy which has been pursued towards the Cherokees by the States of Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. They have been driven, or are now flying from that portion of their lands lying within the limits of these States, and take refuge within our borders, where they are permitted to preserve their own peculiar laws and usages. The effect of this policy will be to transfer their entire population to our territory, until an exhausted soil will compel them to seek another home.
The General Assembly submit it to the justice or Congress to determine whether the continued liberality of North Carolina to this unfortunate race shall be thus rewarded. Let it be recollected that the region of country in Arkansas, on which those Cherokees who have removed are now settled, was once a portion or this State, and that the result of the legislation of Congress, and of the particular States interested, has been, and will be, to remove to it all the Indians but those inhabiting her territory. Shall that State alone, which furnished an asylum for the relief of all, be denied the benefits flowing from her own liberality?