A Social History of the American Negro eBook

Benjamin Griffith Brawley
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 546 pages of information about A Social History of the American Negro.
and a year’s support after they reach their new homes—­a provision too liberal and kind to bear the stamp of injustice.  Either course promises them peace and happiness, whilst an obstinate perseverance in the effort to maintain their possessions independent of the state authority can not fail to render their condition still more helpless and miserable.  Such an effort ought, therefore, to be discountenanced by all who sincerely sympathize in the fortunes of this peculiar people, and especially by the political bodies of the Union, as calculated to disturb the harmony of the two Governments and to endanger the safety of the many blessings which they enable us to enjoy.”

The policy thus formally enunciated was already in practical operation.  In the closing days of the administration of John Quincy Adams a delegation came to Washington to present to the administration the grievances of the Cherokee nation.  The formal reception of the delegation fell to the lot of Eaton, the new Secretary of War.  The Cherokees asserted that not only did they have no rights in the Georgia courts in cases involving white men, but that they had been notified by Georgia that all laws, usages, and agreements in force in the Indian country would be null and void after June 1, 1830; and naturally they wanted the interposition of the Federal Government.  Eaton replied at great length, reminding the Cherokees that they had taken sides with England in the War of 1812, that they were now on American soil only by sufferance, and that the central government could not violate the rights of the state of Georgia; and he strongly advised immediate removal to the West.  The Cherokees, quite broken, acted in accord with this advice; and so in 1832 did the Creeks, to whom Jackson had sent a special talk urging removal as the only basis of Federal protection.

To the Seminoles as early as 1827 overtures for removal had been made; but before the treaty of Fort Moultrie had really become effective they had been intruded upon and they in turn had become more slow about returning runaway slaves.  From some of the clauses in the treaty of Fort Moultrie, as some of the chiefs were quick to point out, the understanding was that the same was to be in force for twenty years; and they felt that any slowness on their part about the return of Negroes was fully nullified by the efforts of the professional Negro stealers with whom they had to deal.

Early in 1832, however, Colonel James Gadsden of Florida was directed by Lewis Cass, the Secretary of War, to enter into negotiation for the removal of the Indians of Florida.  There was great opposition to a conference, but the Indians were finally brought together at Payne’s Landing on the Ocklawaha River just seventeen miles from Fort King.  Here on May 9, 1832, was wrested from them a treaty which is of supreme importance in the history of the Seminoles.  The full text was as follows: 


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