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[106] said courts for the sake of testing the validity of these acts of the Legislature of Georgia.

That State had already decisively indicated that, if unable to make or control such adjudication, she was abundantly ready to defy it.

A Cherokee named Tassells was arrested on a Georgia warrant for killing another Indian within the Cherokee territory. His counsel obtained a writ of error from a United States court, requiring Georgia to show cause why he should not be discharged and his case remitted to the Cherokee authorities, according to existing treaties. Georgia defied the writ and hung the Indian. And this finished the case.

Some time thereafter, two missionaries of the American Board among the Cherokees were arrested on a Georgia process, tried for, and convicted of, inciting the Indians to resist the policy of the State of Georgia designed to effect the expulsion of the Indians from her soil. They were of course sentenced to the State Prison. They appealed by writ of error to the courts of the United States, and the final adjudication thereon was had before the Supreme Court at Washington, the decision being pronounced by Chief Justice Marshall. It was entirely in favor of the missionaries and against the pretensions of Georgia, holding that the treaties between the United States and the Cherokees were valid and binding on all the States, and paramount to all State laws, according to that provision of the Federal Constitution which prescribes:

Article VI:, § 2. This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The attorneys for the missionaries sought to have this judgment enforced, but could not. General Jackson was President, and would do nothing of the sort. “Well: John Marshall has made his decision: now let him enforce it!” 1 was his commentary on the matter. So the missionaries languished years in prison, and the Cherokees were finally (1838) driven into exile, in defiance of the mandate of our highest judicial tribunal.2 Georgia was permitted to violate the faith of solemn treaties and defy the adjudications of our highest court. South Carolina was put down in a similar attempt: for the will of Andrew Jackson, not the Constitution, was in those years “the supreme law of the land.” 3

1 I am indebted for this fact to the late Governor George N. Briggs, of Massachusetts, who was in Washington as a member of Congress when the decision was rendered.

2 President Jackson, in his first Annual Message, already referred to, had said:

A portion of the Southern tribes, having mingled much with the whites, and made some progress in the arts of civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an independent government within the limits of the States of Georgia and Alabama.

And Colonel Benton, in his “Thirty years view,” says (vol. i., p. 164), General Jackson “refused to sustain those Southern tribes in their attempt to set up an independent government within the State of Alabama and Georgia.”

Both these gentlemen well knew--Colonel Benton could not but know — that the Cherokees only claimed or sought the rights which they had possessed and enjoyed from time immemorial, which were solemnly guaranteed to them by treaty after treaty, whereof the subsisting validity and pertinence were clearly affirmed by the tribunal of ultimate resort.

3 The late Jeremiah Evarts, long the efficient and honored Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, who devoted the best of his life to the cause of the Cherokees, has summed up, in a letter to a sympathizing friend, his convictions as to the ultimate cause of the perfidy and oppression of which they were the victims:

Without that disregard of human rights which is to be found among slaveholders only, nothing could have been done against the Indians; and without the base surrender of all personal dignity and independence to the capricious mandate of party discipline, the slaveholders would not have received aid enough to carry their point. --Life of Jeremiah Evarts, Boston, 1845, p. 367.

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