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Old News Stories
Georgia Extends Laws Over Cherokees, 1830

From The Cherokee Phoenix
New Echota, Cherokee Nation
June 26, 1830


We have received a short Cherokee communication written by order of a town meeting in Coosewaytee, expressing the feelings entertained by the people of that place in regard to the present state of affairs. They tell us they are still united and firm in their purpose to continue on the land of their fathers. It may be a matter of interest to our friends and foes to know the state of feeling in other parts of the nation, and whether there has been any discernable change in that feeling since the passage of the Indian Bill. We cannot as yet speak definitely. We apprehend, however, that the Cherokees will continue to be pretty stubborn. Those with whom we have conversed and from whom we have heard are determined to stay and see whether there is not a remedy in the judiciary of the United States. When that is ascertained, it will be time enough, they say, to come to some other determination. Those therefore who think that the decision of Congress need only be made known to the Cherokees and they will go, are under a great mistake. We speak of the great body of the nation.


His Excellency, George R. Gilmer, Governor of Georgia, has lately issued two proclamations. The first relates to the act extending the jurisdiction of the State over the Cherokee country. As it has a particular relation to our readers, we shall publish it.


GEORGIA--By His Excellency GEO. R. GILMER, Governor and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of this State, and of the Militia thereof.

Whereas the General Assembly of the State of Georgia did, on the 19th December, 1829, pass the following act to wit:

[Here the Governor recites the act.]

And whereas by the above recited act, all the laws of this State, both civil and criminal became extended over the territory described in said act, and in full operation upon all persons residing therein, on the first day of the present month--And whereas by the said act, all the laws, ordinances, orders and regulations which have been hitherto passed by said tribe of Indians or the Chief Men thereof, are rendered null and void, and all persons attempting to enforce the same, subjected to punishment therefor.

And whereas by the said act, it is also made highly penal to prevent or attempt to prevent any Indian residing within said territory from emigrating therefrom, or to use the means therein described to prevent a cession of said territory for the use of this State--And whereas said Cherokee Indians have for sometime past been attempting to establish a government independent of the authority of this State, and have since the passage of said recited act, violated the rights of the citizens of this State under highly aggravating circumstances, under pretence of executing the legal orders of the principal Chiefs of said tribe.

And whereas the rulers and head men of said tribe have continued since the passage of said act, to excite the Indians under their influence against submission to the operation of the laws of this State, and have attempted to prevent the enforcement of the same by appealing to the Congress of the United States to interpose the powers of the Union to protect them therefrom; and having by various other acts evinced a spirit of determined hostility against the government of this State--Now therefore, that the sovereign authority of this State over all the persons within its limits may be duly acknowledged and respected & the rights of its citizens preserved, and that the Indian people occupying its territory under the protection of its laws, may be relieved from the oppression to which they have been hitherto subjected by the laws and customs of their tribe, or the arbitrary power of their Chiefs, I have thought proper to issue this my Proclamation, giving notice to all persons, that said recited act is now in force, and all Indians and others residing within said territory or elswhere [sic], are warned not to violate its enactments; and every officer, civil and military is hereby required, and every patriotic citizen of the State urged to aid in the enforcement thereof, and especially in causing the penalties for its violation to be certainly inflicted upon each and every Chief, Headman or other Cherokee Indian, or any other person residing in said territory who shall exercise or attempt to exercise any authority, under pretence or by virtue of any Cherokee law, ordinance; order, or regulation whatsoever, or who shall by virtue of any such pretended authority prevent, attempt to prevent any Indian from emigrating from said territory, or enrolling himself for that purpose, or who shall in like manner punish, molest, either the person or property, or abridge the rights or privileges on account of his or her enrolling as an emigrant or intending to emigrant or who shall be virtue of any such pretended authority, or by any arbitrary power prevent or offer to prevent or deter any Indian, Head-man, Chief or, Warrior residing within said territory from selling or ceding to the United States for the use of Georgia the whole or any part of said territory or prevent such persons so residing from meeting in council or treaty any commissioners or commissioners of the United States, for any purpose whatever, or who shall by virtue of any such pretended authority or by any arbitrary force put to death any Indian for enrolling as an emigrant or attempting to emigrate, ceding or attempting to cede, the whole or any part of said territory, or meeting or attempting to meet in council for the purpose.

Given under my hand, and the Great Seal of the State, at the State-house in Milledgeville, this third day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty, and of American Independence the fifty-fourth.

    By the Governor:
    EVERARD HAMILTON, Sec'ry of State.

The "Cherokee Indians," says the governor, "have for some time past been attempting to establish a Government independent of the authority of this State." This is the common saying. Have they not always been independent? Were they not so before Georgia came into being? Has she not treated with them as such? The phrase implies that the Cherokee have not been independent of the authority of the State, but now they are attempting to be. If this is true, what is the use of extending, for the first time, the act in question? Does not the very act of subjecting them to her jurisdiction imply that they are independent of that jurisdiction? Besides, if the Cherokees are merely a part of the population of Geo. Their attempt must be considered in the light of treason. Is it necessary, therefore, in such a case, that you first subject them to your jurisdiction by a special act, before you can punish them? Why not enforce your old laws?

Who of you Cherokee people did think that you were to be relieved from oppression, by the laws of Georgia? It is even so, for the Governor says so. You are to be stript [sic] of those oppressive laws and native regulations, which allow you all your rights as freemen, your sacred rights of oath and elective franchise, and be introduced into Christian laws, placed before you in a language you cannot understand, and which withhold from you the last particle of right! Indeed you have reason to rejoice, for the day of your emancipation is at hand!

As it is punishable for a chief to exercise authority in the nation, or for any man to attempt to prevent emigration &c. we apprehand [sic] many will subject themselves to the penalties of the act. The Cherokees reason thus: We have always from time immemorial had a government of Chiefs of our own choosing-the right of those chiefs to assemble in council, to deliberate on the concerns of the nation, has been acknowledged by the United States and the State of Georgia-the right to meet in council to sell the land is acknowledged by Georgia in the very act which now threatens punishment. - We have never, say they, consented to come under any other government, and we acknowledge no right in a State to extend its laws over us-we will therefore, continue in our own regulations, until power shall demolish them. We believe these to be the prevailing sentiments of the nation. We do not wish to resist by force-no, they have no such idea. We request all the good people of Georgia to bear this in mind- that would be rashness-if they had the power they would. But we will resist you with our principles-we will evince to you our love of liberty by suffering freely-we will show you our attachment to our institutions by going to your Penitentiary.

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