America The Beautiful?
Caliban, Coyote and the Knights of the Golden Circle
War And Peace Policy
Their openness and lack of racist and capitalist inhibitions made the Cherokee a prime target for the hypocritical (and still genocidal) gloss on the genocidal Indian policy that was the only real American policy towards the Indians. I have not seen any documentary evidence of George Washington's peace policy, merely paraphrases by McLoughlin and Debo that really tell very little. But I have no reason to believe that Washington's policy differed very much from that of Thomas Jefferson, until that became complicated by the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson throughout his presidency continued to prattle of civilisation and Christianisation and to speak of how the Indian should "give up warring, and adopt the ways of the white man". Following the great windfall of the Louisiana Purchase his thoughts turned more to removing the nations, lock stock and barrel to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi (so long as the barrel was Indian it didn't much matter if the lock was Christian and the stock had been "civilised".) But, whatever he was thinking, and no matter what he was doing, his public position remained the "peace policy". And Jefferson's public espousal of that policy is documented from hell to Monticello; in his inaugural addresses, his annual messages to Congress, his correspondence and his speeches to visiting Indian delegations. So now then, not entirely at random...
"Among our Indian neighbours, also, a spirit of peace and friendship generally prevailing and I am happy to inform you that the continued efforts to introduce among them the implements and the practice of husbandry, and of the household arts, have not been without success: that they are becoming more and more sensible of the superiority of this dependence for clothing and subsistence over the precarious resources of hunting and fishing; and already we are able to announce, that instead of that constant diminution of their numbers, produced by their wars and their wants, some of them begin to experience an increase of population." (First Annual Message, December 8, 1801)
"The aboriginal inhabitants of these countries I have regarded with the commiseration their history inspires. Endowed with the faculties and the rights of man, breathing an ardent love of liberty and independence, and occupying a country which left them no desire but to be undisturbed, the stream of overflowing population from other regions directed itself on these shores; without power to divert, or habits to contend against, they have been overwhelmed by the current, or driven before it; now reduced within limits too narrow for the hunter's state, humanity enjoins us to teach them agriculture and the domestic arts; to encourage them to that industry which alone can enable them to maintain their place in existence, and to prepare them in time for that state of society, which to bodily comforts adds the improvement of the mind and morals. We have therefore liberally furnished them with the implements of husbandry and household use; we have placed among them instructors in the arts of first necessity; and they are covered with the aegis of the law against aggressors from among ourselves.
"But the endeavours to enlighten them on the fate which awaits their present course of life, to induce them to exercise their reason, follow its dictates, and change their pursuits with the change of circumstances, have powerful obstacles to encounter; they are combated by the habits of their bodies, prejudice of their minds, ignorance, pride, and the influence of interested and crafty individuals among them, who feel themselves something in the present order of things, and fear to become nothing in any other. These persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did, must be done through all time; that reason is a false guide, and to advance under its counsel, in their physical, moral, or political condition, is perilous innovation; that their duty is to remain as their Creator made them, ignorance being safety, and knowledge full of danger; in short, my friends, among them is seen the action and counteraction of good sense and bigotry; they, too, have their anti-philosophers, who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, who dread reformation, and exert all their faculties to maintain the ascendancy of habit over the duty of improving our reason, and obeying its mandates." (Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805)
"With our Indian neighbours the public peace has been steadily maintained. Some instances of individual wrong have, as at other times, taken place, but in noise implicating the will of the nation. Beyond the Mississippi, the Iotas, the Sacs, and the Alabama, have delivered up for trial and punishment individuals from among themselves accused of murdering citizens of the United States. On this side of the Mississippi, the Creeks are exerting themselves to arrest offenders of the same kind; and the Choctaws have manifested their readiness and desire for amicable and just arrangements respecting depredations committed by disorderly persons of their tribe. And, generally, from a conviction that we consider them as part of ourselves, and cherish with sincerity their rights and interests, the attachment of the Indian tribes is gaining strength daily--is extending from the nearer to the more remote, and will amply requite us for the justice and friendship practised towards them. Husbandry and household manufacture are advancing among them, more rapidly with the southern than the northern tribes, from circumstances of soil and climate; and one of the two great divisions of the Cherokee nation have now under consideration to solicit the citizenship of the United States, and to be identified with us in laws and government, in such progressive manner as we shall think best." (Eighth Annual Message, November 8, 1808)
To Benjamin Hawkins, February 18, 1803, from Washington.
"Altho' you will receive, thro' the official channel of the War Office, every communication necessary to develop to you our views respecting the Indians, and to direct your conduct, yet, supposing it will be satisfactory to you, and to those with whom you are placed, to understand my personal dispositions and opinions in this particular, I shall avail myself of this private letter to state them generally. I consider the business of hunting as already become insufficient to furnish clothing and subsistence to the Indians. The promotion of agriculture, therefore, and household manufacture, are essential in their preservation, and I am disposed to aid and encourage it liberally. This will enable them to live on much smaller portions of land, and indeed will render their vast forests useless but for the range of cattle; for which purpose, also, as they become better farmers, they will be found useless, and even disadvantageous. While they are learning to do better on less land, our increasing numbers will be calling for more land, and thus a coincidence of interests will be produced between those who have lands to spare, and want lands. This commerce, then, will be for the good of both, and those who are friends to both ought to encourage it. You are in the station peculiarly charged with this interchange, and who have it peculiarly in your power to promote among the Indians a sense of the superior value of a little land, well-cultivated, over a great deal, unimproved, and to encourage them to make this estimate truly. The wisdom of the animal which amputates & abandons to the hunter the parts for which he is pursued should be theirs, with this difference, that the former sacrifices what is useful, the latter what is not. In truth, the ultimate point of rest & happiness for them is to let our settlements and theirs meet and blend together, to intermix, and become one people. Incorporating themselves with us as citizens of the U.S., this is what the natural progress of things will of course bring on, and it will be better to promote than to retard it. Surely it will be better for them to be identified with us, and preserved in the occupation of their lands, than be exposed to the many casualties which may endanger them while a separate people. I have little doubt but that your reflections must have led you to view the various ways in which their history may terminate, and to see that this is the one most for their happiness. And we have already had an application from a settlement of Indians to become citizens of the U.S. It is possible, perhaps probable, that this idea may be so novel as that it might shock the Indians, were it even hinted to them. Of course, you will keep it for your own reflection; but, convinced of its soundness, I feel it consistent with pure morality to lead them towards it, to familiarise them to the idea that it is for their interest to cede lands at times to the U.S., and for us to procure gratifications to our citizens, from time to time, by new acquisitions of land. From no quarter is there at present so strong a pressure on this subject as from Georgia for the residue of the fork of Oaken & Ockmulgee; and indeed I believe it will be difficult to resist it. As it has been mentioned that the Creeks had at one time made up their minds to sell this, and were only checked in it by some indiscretions of an individual, I am in hopes you will be able to bring them to it again. I beseech you to use your most earnest endeavours; for it will relieve us here from a great pressure, and yourself from the unreasonable suspicions of the Georgians which you notice, that you are more attached to the interests of the Indians than of the U.S., and throw cold water on their willingness to part with lands. It is so easy to excite suspicion, that none are to be wondered at; but I am in hopes it will be in your power to quash them by effecting the object."
"To The Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation Washington, January 10, 1806
"MY FRIENDS AND CHILDREN, CHIEFLY OF THE CHEROKEE NATION,--Having now finished our business and to mutual satisfaction, I cannot take leave of you without expressing the satisfaction I have received from your visit. I see with my own eyes that the endeavours we have been making to encourage and lead you in the way of improving your situation have not been unsuccessful; it has been like grain sown in good ground, producing abundantly. You are becoming farmers, learning the use of the plough and the hoe, enclosing your grounds and employing that labour in their cultivation which you formerly employed in hunting and in war; and I see handsome specimens of cotton cloth raised, spun and wove by yourselves. You are also raising cattle and hogs for your food, and horses to assist your labours. Go on, my children in the same way and be assured the further you advance in the happier and more respectable you will be.
"Our brethren, whom you have happened to meet here from the West and Northwest, have enabled you to compare your situation now with what it was formerly. They also make the comparison, and they see how far you are ahead of them, and seeing what you are they are encouraged to do as you have done. You will find your next want to be mills to grind your corn, which by relieving your women from the loss of time in beating it into meal, will enable them to spin and weave more. When a man has enclosed and improved his farm, builds a good house on it and raised plentiful stocks of animals, he will wish when he dies that these things shall go to his wife and children, whom he loves more than he does his other relations, and for whom he will work with pleasure during his life. You will, therefore, find it necessary to establish laws for this. When a man has property, earned by his own labour, he will not like to see another come and take it from him because he happens to be stronger, or else to defend it by spilling blood. You will find it necessary then to appoint good men, as judges, to decide contests between man and man, according to reason and to the rules you shall establish.
"If you wish to be aided by our counsel and experience in these things we shall always be ready to assist you with our advice.
"My children, it is unnecessary for me to advise you against spending all your time and labour in warring with and destroying your fellow-men, and wasting your own members. You already see the folly and iniquity of it. Your young men, however, are not yet sufficiently sensible of it. Some of them cross the Mississippi to go and destroy people who have never done them an injury. My children, this is wrong and must not be, if we permit them to cross the Mississippi to war with the Indians on the other side of that river, we must let those Indians cross the river to take revenge on you. I say again, this must not be. The Mississippi now belongs to us. It must not be a river of blood. It is now the water-path along which all our people of Niches, St. Louis, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and the western parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia are constantly passing with their property, to and from New Orleans. Young men going to war are not easily restrained. Finding our people on the river they will rob them, perhaps kill them. This would bring on a war between us and you. It is better to stop this in time by forbidding your young men to go across the river to make war. If they go to visit or to live with the Cherokees on the other side of the river we shall not object to that. That country is ours. We will permit them to live in it.
"My children, this is what I wished to say to you. To go on in learning to cultivate the earth and to avoid war. If any of your neighbours injure you, our beloved men whom we place with you will endeavour to obtain justice for you and we will support them in it. If any of your bad people injure your neighbours, be ready to acknowledge it and to do them justice. It is more honourable to repair a wrong than to persist in it. Tell all your chiefs, your men, women and children, that I take them by the hand and hold it fast. That I am their father, wish their happiness and well-being, and am always ready to promote their good.
"My children, I thank you for your visit and pray to the Great Spirit who made us all and planted us all in this land to live together like brothers that He will conduct you safely to your homes, and grant you to find your families and your friends in good health."
Georgia On My Mind
In the second article of this series I described Jefferson as having all the raw complexity of an elemental force, which was if anything an understatement. He was a fire storm that could not be contained within, but rather was fuelled by, its contradictions. Jeffersonian democracy was in no sense an ideal that failed to be realised in a fallen world. It was something very much more disturbing than that clichÈ. Jeffersonian democracy took the world as it found it and, as it moved within it, remade it. The genocidal intolerance of manifest destiny was not a horror attendant upon the ideal. The horror was the ideal.
The context within which all of Jefferson's formulations quoted above must be understood was a secret accommodation between his administration and the state of Georgia.
The War of Independence ended and Jefferson's revolution began in 1783. On January 2, 1788, Georgia became the fourth state in the Union to ratify the United States Constitution. At that time the state claimed lands west of the Chattachoochee River in what are now the states of Alabama and Mississippi. Manifest Destiny was (as Brendan Clifford put it in an article in the Irish Political Review, May 1997) "a will driving through a wilderness". It was a will to power that expressed itself at the level of individuals as a will to acquire and own land. In Georgia in the 1790s it was wilfully mishandled, being both manifestly corrupt and incompetent.
Until 1803 the practise of manifest destiny in Georgia, its system of land distribution, was supposedly based on 'headright'. This entitled each white male head of a family up to 200 acres of land for himself and 50 acres for each family member, up to a maximum of 1000 acres. That was the law, but the law was disregarded:--
"After the Revolutionary War a number of governors signed land grants of significantly greater amounts than the law allowed. These grants, most of which were signed by Governors George Walton, George Matthews, George Handley, Edward Telfair and Jared Irwin, served to fuel land speculation that would briefly put Georgia in the national spotlight. Governor Matthews granted a million and a half acres to a single man. In Montgomery County Richmond Dawson received grants of 987,000 acres, James Shorter received grants of 1, 219, 000 acres and Micajah Vassar received grants of 458,000 acres of land. These grants alone totalled 2,664,000 acres of land in a county with an area of only 407,680 acres of land. By the end of his term outstanding land grants totalled three times the amount of land available in Georgia." (http://ngeorgia.com/history/land.html)
In addition, the scandal of the Pine Barrens Speculation was quickly followed by the disaster of the Yazoo Land Fraud, which took the state of Georgia into the federal courts. All this was resolved in 1802 when Georgia relinquished its claims to Alabama and Mississippi. In return for that cession the federal government accepted the transfer of the Yazoo Land Fraud claims and undertook to clear all Indians from within Georgia's new borders.
Jefferson was therefore aware when he addressed the nation, when he addressed Congress, when he addressed the Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation in Washington on January 10, 1806 that everything he said regarding his and his government's Indian policy was all of it, Christianisation, Civilization, Goodwill to all Red Men, all of it, smoke and mirrors. So much smoke. So very many mirrors.
Only his letter to Benjamin Hawkins in 1803 came close to acknowledging the reality of the situation, and even then not very close. I assume communications "thro' the official channel of the War Office" will have clarified matters somewhat. It is instructive that a peace policy was conducted through a War Office. But never mind, Hawkins farmed a large plantation in Georgia and will have known what was what and, more importantly, what was smoke and mirrors.
In 1803 then Georgia abolished the headright system of land distribution and adopted a lottery system. Between 1805 and 1832 six (or seven if the lottery to distribute the land claims of the Georgia gold rush is included) lotteries were held to distribute the remaining lands occupied by the removing or soon to be removed Creek and Cherokee nations. It is a fact that puts some meat on the bones of a rollover jackpot.
Man's Rise To Greed And Insecurity
Geographical considerations led the Cherokee into the British sphere of the European market. In consequence they did their best to remain neutral in the conflict between the great powers which culminated (as far as North America was concerned) in the French and Indian War. A small band however took destiny by the throat and allied themselves to the British colonists. In 1759 100 Cherokee warriors joined Virginia militia in an expedition against the Ohio Shawnee. As ever, the militia turned on their Cherokee allies, killed and mutilated them and sold their scalps. This led to a general war between the Cherokee and the British which ended in 1762 with the cession of Cherokee lands in South Carolina.
A small group of Cherokee then deserted what was left of their homeland in an effort to maintain as much as they could of their way of life and settled in Spanish controlled territory in northern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. They were known as the Keetowah, the Old Settlers, the western Cherokee.
Again, in the War of Independence, the majority of Cherokee attempted to remain neutral. But the Chickamauga Cherokee (from the area of that name, along the Tennessee River) were at war with the adjacent colonies and saw no reason in a British offer of guns and supplies to call off their war. Again the colonies attacked the neutrals who were overwhelmed and signed the Holston Treaty which ceded the last of their lands in the Carolinas. The leader of the Chickamauga, Dragging Canoe (Tsiyu Gansini) then led his people in a secession from the Cherokee Nation and continuing war, in alliance with anyone they could find, including Creeks and Delaware, against the United States. Dragging Canoe died in 1792 and in 1794 the Chickamauga crossed the Mississippi to join the Old Settlers in what was still Spanish Arkansas (but not for much longer, the French took Louisiana from the Spanish and then very quickly sold it to the Americans in 1803). By 1808 there were at least 2,000 Cherokee living in the new western territory of the United States.
The "mixed-blood" leaders of the accommodationist movement within the eastern Cherokee, those who were determined to do whatever they had to in an attempt to hold on to whatever they could of their homeland grew to maturity and rose to power in this period of Cherokee national disintegration. Ridge (Kahnungdatlageh, the man who walks the mountain top, the man who was made Major Ridge when he led Cheokee mercenaries in support of Andrew Jackson and Benjamin Hawkins in the Creek civil war) was born in 1771. John Ross (Guwisguwi, which may mean 'blue eyes', I'm not altogether sure) was born in 1790.
Ridge, Ross, Watie, Lowery, Hicks and other "mixed-blood" planters and slaveowners were able then in the early years of the nineteenth century to establish themselves as a dominant Èlite within the Cherokee Nation precisely because the most vigorous of the traditional elements within the Nation, having fought fiercely and lost decisively, had given up any hope of sustaining a worthwhile mode of life within their homeland and relocated across the Mississippi. Also, their language, habits and values, all of which were at least heavily influenced by the culture (which the social anthropologist called the blood) of their fathers made them for the whites the Cherokee with whom business could be done. For the other Cherokee they were the only influential figures to hand who seemed able to cope with, and have the appearance of an effect upon, an impossibly difficult situation.
The first coherent political action by the Èlite was the formation in 1799 of a police force, the Lighthorse, which was headed by The Ridge (not yet a Major) and James Vann, which only goes to show that, whether it was in their blood or not, they understood the first principle of political action which is easy access to 'legitimate' force.
In this period they had yet to gather significant tracts of land and significant numbers of slaves. And they still had to deal with substantial remnants of the old cultural dispensation who were preparing to sell up and follow the Chickamauga to Arkansas. The second of those problems was resolved when The Ridge, in 1806, asserted the authority of the Èlite by arranging the assassination of the leading advocate of land cession, Doublehead; he justified this by carrying a law in the National Council which decreed the death penalty for anyone attempting to cede Cherokee land without clear majority support within the Nation, a law he was later to fall victim to himself. Over the following three years some 1,500 Cherokee who had supported Doublehead packed up and moved to Arkansas, which served to strengthen the already dominant position of Ridge's accommodationists.
Such a compressed account as this has been of the position held by Ridge and, later, John Ross cannot do them justice, mainly because it is impossible to adequately stress the overwhelming importance to the Cherokee of their homeland. Cherokee culture was rooted in the seasons and topography of the lands the people had inhabited for some 500 years. Given that their only options were to surrender the land in a vain attempt to maintain their way of life or surrender the way of life in an equally vain attempt to maintain control of their remaining land, the rights and wrongs of the impossibly difficult choices that were made in the midst of insoluble dilemmas are, especially at this distance, simply incalculable. And it must be said for the accommodationists that, leaving all subsidiary matters to one side, they played a vitally important role in this period (before the mass of them became, after removal to Oklahoma, assimilationists) in the survival of the Cherokee as a distinct people.Whatever faults they might reasonably be considered guilty of, falling victim to a pack of lies about civilisation and Christianisation leading to a peaceful resolution of their difficulties with the government of the United States is not one of them. Let the liars and their heirs bear the burden of those lies, such a burden as it is.
Wasichu said, give up warring and adopt the ways of the white man. Coyote laughed. Coyote is laughing still.
From Assassination To Democracy
Within twenty-one years of the assassination of Doublehead the Cherokee under the leadership of the Ridges, the Waties and John Ross had become a model of a not altogether Christian but certainly very civilised Indian state.
In 1809 the Cherokee national council began to supersede the clans as a law making body. By 1817 the clans were defunct for any other than ceremonial purposes.
In 1819 they adopted a commission system of government, under a legislative committee of 13 elected members. One year later the Nation was divided into 8 districts each of which was represented by 4 salaried officers elected every two years.
Then, on July 26, 1827, the Cherokee adopted a full blown constitution which was modelled on that of the United States.
According to McLoughlin:--
"The enactment by the Cherokee Council of over one hundred complex laws between 1817 and 1827, capped in 1828 by the adoption of a constitution modelled on that of the United States, provided their nation with a highly centralized, orderly, cohesive government and opened up new opportunities for internal economic growth. The nation ceased to be governed by local town chiefs loosely confederated under a national council. It adopted a bicameral, elective legislature, an executive committee which conducted daily affairs, an independent judiciary operating under written laws, jury trials, and Anglo-Saxon procedures." (op.cit. pp. 124-125)
John Ross was elected principal chief, a president by any other name. George Lowery was elected second principal chief.
Throughout this period and beyond, past removal and into the American Civil War, the Èlite was legislating for its developing economic interest in a rapidly expanding market...
"They were busy developing a legal code to regulate taxes, internal improvements, payment of debts, the liquor traffic, marriage, voting, crime, and black slavery." (Halliburton, op.cit. page 34)
McLoughlin goes into the same process in rather more detail...
"From 1808 to 1820 the Council passed a total of only nine laws, while in the seven years from 1820-1827 a total of ninety-seven laws was passed...The thirty one laws passed in 1825 concerned such matters as proper fencing of property, the regulations for employing white mechanics, the evidence for claims against the national treasury, the making of wills, the regulation of the police, the appointment of judges, the ownership and sale of private property, the management of the treasury, the laying of taxes and the payment of debts." (op.cit. page 215)
He concludes that all this was "...designed to promote individualistic free enterprise", which seems a reasonable enough conclusion.
Following the battle at Horseshoe Bend, Major Ridge was the first Cherokee to establish a plantation and work it with black slave labour. The rest of the Èlite, and some progressive "fullbloods", quickly followed suit. Before the great removal that was yet to come Cherokee lands lay squarely in the South, surrounded on all sides by slave states. They were preached at by all and sundry to become civilised and shown the sophisticated civilisation that lay around them as the model for their endeavours. And so that was what they did. And so the democratic constitution enacted in 1828 was the democratic constitution of a slave state. The "mixed blood" Èlite were the bearers among a savage people of the language, habits and values of their white fathers. So they legislated for progress and civilisation; which is to say they enacted measures for "keeping the niggers down".
Patrick Minges (in the Defense Copy of his dissertation, The Keetowah Society and the Avocation of Religious Nationalism within the Cherokee Nation 1855--1867, http://users.rcn.com/wovoka/Intro.html ) points out how:--
"The Cherokee Constitution, in delineating what it meant to be a Cherokee, expressed the following position:
"'No person shall be eligible to a seat in the General Council but a free Cherokee male citizen who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years; the descendants of Cherokee men by all free women except [of] the African race, whose parents may be or have been living together as man and wife according to the customs and laws of this nation, shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of this nation as well as the posterity of Cherokee women by all free men. No person who is of negro or mullato parentage, either by the father or mother's side shall be eligible to hold any office of profit, honor, or trust under this government.'
"In a powerful strike against the 'old way' of Cherokee culture, the General Council, dominated by progressive Cherokee, disenfranchised both women and blacks in the Cherokee Nation. In so doing, they set into motion powerful forces among the traditionalists, which were to affect Cherokee history for the next fifty years. In the minds of the progressive Cherokee, they had finally gotten out from under a 'government of petticoats', yet, little did they realize the implications of what they had done." (Chapter, 1.9)
McLoughlin and, more particularly Halliburton, take a different view of the matter and are inclined to put the Cherokee as a whole (not just the small minority of progressives among them, who were in any case coming increasingly into conflict with the traditionalist majority) in the dock as some backward sub-species of 'civilised'.
According to Halliburton...
"Miscegenation and intermarriage had been repugnant to the Indians from their earliest contacts with Negroes. The first known marriage of a Cherokee to a Negro was that of Chief Shoe Boot. Shoe Boot was a friend of Andrew Jackson and had been instrumental in winning the Battle of Horseshoe Bend...Legislation against miscegenation demonstrates the real position of blacks. The Cherokees may have displayed the strongest color prejudice of all American Indians. It has been stated that the Cherokees once had a death penalty for marrying a Negro. Even the Spaniards were not considered 'white' by some...
"Some miscegenation did occur, just as it did in the white South, but a Cherokee negro was always regarded as a Negro...
"The Cherokees did not experience the inner conflict between the practice of slavery and conscience that permeated much of the United States. They never felt the need to justify slavery and never expressed the opinion that slavery was in the best interest of the black. Neither did they give voice to the 'positive benefits' of Christianizing and civilizing their slaves. Slavery was justified solely on the basis of the benefits that accrued to masters. Yet, unlike the white community, there appears to be little or no feeling of guilt among the Cherokees today." (op.cit pp36--38)
That ridiculous last paragraph is by itself enough to rule Halliburton out of any reasonable court as a nonsense and a humbug. The only reference from those remarks which has survived to my increasingly incredulous notes is one referring the reader to Frank Cunningham's General Stand Watie's Confederate Indians for it having "been stated that the Cherokees once had a death penalty for marrying a Negro". The title of that work suggests that it deals with a period too late to provide any useful evidence on the matter. If there is evidence for before the mid-eighteenth century that would be significant. Anything later, particularly anything from the American Civil War, is entirely beyond any reasonable point.
And so, what about "Even the Spaniards were not considered 'white' by some"? Most whites of the period definitely did not consider dago greasers to be properly white. I base my case on Hollywood films of the forties and fifties which have always been considered the final court of appeal for such things. So there! So what?
The economic and political changes which had been effected by 1830 should have been enough to satisfy anyone that the "peace" policy of Christianisation and civilisation was proceeding among the Cherokee with great rapidity to wonderful success. Some observers certainly took that view.
"The Moravian missionary Abraham Steiner made an official visit to Spring Place in 1819 and reported, 'The Upper Cherokees had made the greatest advance in civilization and were no longer hunters and trappers but agriculturalists and manufacturers.' " (Halliburton, op.cit. page 33)
"In 1820 President Monroe appointed Jedediah Morse to survey Indian removal problems and to furnish Secretary of War John Calhoun with a report. Morse wrote:
" 'To remove these Indians from their homes...into a wilderness among strangers, possibly hostile, to live as their neighbours live, by hunting, a state to which they have not been lately accustomed and which is incompatible with civilization, can hardly be reconciled with the professed object of civilizing them.' " (ibid. page 36)
"Thomas L. McKenney, director of the Office of Indian Affairs, reported to Congress in 1825, 'The Cherokees on this side of the Mississippi are in advance of all other tribes. They may be considered a civilized people'." (McLoughlin, op. cit. page 127)
But the observers who took that view didn't matter. They were addressing themselves to a policy that existed only as smoke and mirrors. When McKenney addressed the policy which actually existed he spoke rather differently about the civilised Cherokee. In a letter to James Barbour of November 28, 1827, McKenney wrote...
"...they ought not to be encouraged in forming a Constitution and Government within a State of the Republic to exist and operate independently of our laws. The sooner they have the assurance that this cannot be permitted, the better it will be for them. If they will agree to come at once under our laws and be merged as citizens in our privileges, would it be objected against? But if they will not, then let them 'go into a territory' like the area west of Arkansas, and live as they wish among other Indians." (quoted in McLoughlin, op.cit. page 220—McLoughlin does not connect this with the previous statement from McKenney and draws no conclusions about its relevance to the "peace policy" which, Jackson not yet having been elected President, he asserts to be still in existence. Anyway this is 100 pages further on in the text of an academic work. 100 pages is generally felt to be effective in covering a multitude of sins.)
It was a requirement for any Indians to be accepted as citizens that they should surrender their lands and dissolve their tribal organisation. And what were they to expect then? McKenney (as also McLoughlin) knew very well that it would "be objected against".
"Indians had never been given the right to testify under oath even in their own defense, ostensibly because they were not Christians but in fact because they were not white. As Governor McMinn said in 1816, Cherokees who took reserves in the state of Tennessee would be 'considered as entitled to all the rights of free citizens of color,' which meant racial segregation and limited civil rights...Indian 'citizens' would be denied not only the right to vote and testify but even to send their children to public schools." (ibid, page 111)
"The first official signs that no Cherokees—no Indian people—would be allowed to share equally in the manifest destiny of 'the chosen people' of the United States were the forthright statements by various governors of the old Southwest that they would never accept even the most acculturated and Christianized Indians as equal citizens. Governor McMinn of Tennessee had said in 1816 that Indians would never be entitled in his state to any privileges beyond those of freed blackmen. In 1824, Governor George M. Troup of Georgia said the same thing to Secretary of War John C. Calhoun when Calhoun asked whether the state would adhere to George Washington's Indian policy. Troup replied, 'The answer is that if such a scheme were practicable at all the utmost rights and privileges which public opinion would concede to the Indians would fix them in a middle station between the negro and the whiteman, and that as long as they survived this degradation, without the possibility of attaining the elevation of the latter, they would gradually sink to the condition of the former—a point of degeneracy below which they could not fall.' By 1830, President Jackson was to make racial segregation of the Indian the new national policy, though he masked it under the 'benevolence' of removal." (ibid. pp 186—187)
The chief circumstance obtaining when the Cherokee constitutionalised themselves a civilised state was still the United States government's pledge to the State of Georgia in 1802 that all Indians would be cleared from its borders. The State of Georgia was becoming very impatient.
So leave it for a moment to become more impatient still.