The Removal of the Cherokee Nation: Manifest Destiny or National Dishonor?

By Louis Filler; Allen Guttmann | Go to book overview

Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen: SPEECH BEFORE THE SENATE (APRIL 9,1830)
Legislation such as the Georgia Law of December 19, 1829, represented one threat to the survival of the Cherokee nation. Even as the Georgia legislature acted, Wilson Lumpkin, Georgia's representative on the House Committee an Indian Affairs, worked to secure national legislation further implementing the policy of Indian removal. A bill, reported to the House on February 24, 1830, specified that the president be authorized "to exchange the public domain in the West for Indian lands in the East, to give perpetual title to the country thus exchanged, to pay for improvements made upon the old possessions, and to give aid and assistance in emigration. The measure was not to interfere with existing treaties and the sum of $500,000 was [to be] appropriated for the purpose of making removal possible."1 This bill brought forth protracted and vehement debate in both houses of Congress. The most notable speech made was that of New Jersey's Senator Frelinghuysen, then serving his only term in the Senate. Frelinghuysen spoke for six hours, over a period of three days, and became nationally famous. On the basis of this speech against Indian removal, Frelinghuysen was denominated, in a poem by the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison , "patriot and Christian." The name stuck. Frelinghuysen, who went on to become president of the American Bible Society, chancellor of New York University, vice-presidential candidate of the Whigs in 1844, and, finally, president of Rutgers College, was known for the rest of his life as the "Christian statesman."

GOD, in his providence, planted these tribes on this western continent, so far as we know, before Great Britain herself had a political existence. I believe, Sir, it is not now seriously denied that the Indians are men, endowed with kindred faculties and powers with ourselves; that they have a place in human sympathy, and are justly entitled to a share in the common bounties of a benignant Providence. And, with this conceded, I ask in what code of the law of nations, or by what process of abstract deduction, their rights have been extinguished?

____________________
From Gales & Seaton Register of Debates in Congress, VI, Part 1, 311-316.
1
Harmon, Sixty Years of Indian Affairs, p. 175.

-22-

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