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preach twelve miles distant, on the way to Washington, at a place called Elk Ridge. It became necessary, therefore, that I should part with my Baltimore friends. Two of them, however, had concluded to honor me with their attendance, which rendered parting less painful than it would have been to break away from all at once. In the family of Mr. C., I had become attached, and had reason to believe I was blessed with a large share of their affection in return. When I bid them farewell, Mrs. C. and her daughter manifested as much affection by their tears and sobs as ever did my own mother and sisters. Unable to say deliberately what she wished, Mrs. C. had committed it to writing, and requested me to read the note when I had left them. It was as follows:
“Dear Sir,-As time will not admit of conversation, I must request in this way an interest in your prayers, occasionally, for myself and family. Accept my best wishes for your health and happiness, and my sincere prayer shall be that you may be preserved from the temptations of the world. I feel for you nearly the same interest a mother does for an own son. “ Yours, with affection,
“Thus I left this family, a family to whom I shall ever be indebted, and whom I trust I shall never forget.”
Mr. Cornelius remained in Washington several weeks, and preached upon the objects of his agency in the city, and in the surrounding country. He here received an additional commission from the American Board of Missions, authorizing him to give particular attention to the plans which were then devising for the benefit of the Indian tribes. He was directed to express to the late secretary of war, the Hon. William H. Crawford, the high
estimation in which the Board regarded his services in connection with the Indian mission, and to assure him that it was the settled purpose of the Board to form in the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek nations, establishments similar to the one which had been formed at Brainerd in the Cherokee nation ; and also to promote with energy and perseverance the great design of imparting to those four tribes, the blessings of civilization and Christianity.
Mr. Cornelius accordingly opened a correspondence with Mr. Crawford, secretary of the treasury, Mr. George Graham, acting secretary of war, Mr. Thomas L. McKenney, agent for the office of Indian trade, and other gentlemen. From every officer of the government, with whom he had intercourse, he received warm assurances of friendship and co-operation. Throughout the administration of Mr. Monroe, a decided interest was manifested in favor of Indian civilization. One of the officers wrote after the following tenor. “From the war department, which is charged by the laws with the management of the Indian tribes, you have received assurances of all the assistance which the means placed at its disposition will permit. In this cause, that department will be supported by the other departments, with the decided approbation of the president. But the means of the executive are inadequate to the establishment of a system commensurate with the importance of the object. It is impossible to determine whether these means will be increased with a view to second the efforts of the executive government in this benevolent undertaking. If an appropriation equal to that which has been made for the purpose of improving them in agriculture could be obtained, my hope of success would be sanguine, Fifteen thousand dollars a year is nothing to this nation, compared to the great interest of civilization and humanity, which I fondly hope could be effectually secured by the judicious application of it in the education of our children of the forests.”
Another individual, high in office, thus expresses his feelings. “If I could aid in the promotion of a design, so benevolent as that of reforming our own Indians, and of promoting civilization and Christianity among those Indians who live beyond the limits of the United States, it would afford me great satisfaction. There are no means within my control, which I would not gladly put in immediate requisition for the promotion of such a work. Aboriginal reform, is a labor requiring much and various exertion ; and resources more abundant than have hitherto been employed. Nor is it owing to any cause other than a want of judicious management and suitable means, that so many thousands of our Indians remain to this hour, ignorant in almost all matters relating both to their present and future happiness. As to our government, I know it is benevolent—the pillars on which it rests are formed in mercy. If any measures can be devised, promising the extension of the happiness of any portion of the human family within its limits, those, who constitute this government, stand ready to furnish the means. Nothing, I am sure, within their province, or which they have power to afford, will be withheld.”
It were well for the honor of the country, and for the condition of the Indian tribes, if our national government had always been actuated by the noble feeling which is implied in these remarks. It shows that the spirit of Washington, who was a father to the Indians, as well as father to his country, animated at least some of his successors.
It is not pretended by these remarks, but that the relations of our government with the Indian tribes, are involved in difficulty. It has ever been the fact. In different periods of our history, the Indians have been called upon, not only to revenge their own quarrels, but to furnish a mercenary guerilla for the English, French, and Spanish ; ever ready like the Swiss, to go where there was the promise of the greatest reward. They have been a sort of tennis-ball, which several powerful rival nations have alternately thrown and received. They have also generally resided on the very confines, not of civilization, but of outlawry, where white savages could congregate, and practise their impositions on the credulous red men with impunity. The vexed question of state-rights, has here been brought into full operation. Changes have been rung on the imperium in imperio, till the Indians have been exposed to be legislated out of all rights and privileges. One imperial authority, like that of Russia, could have set the matter right at once; but in consequence of the complicated and delicate organization of our frame of government, there must be negotiation, treaty-making, deference to state-sovereignty, and perhaps inevitably a languid administration of justice. In addition to all, and as one foundation of all the difficulty, there has been the disputed and yet unsettled question in regard to the precise nature of the original right to the soil, and also the fatal practical belief that the Indians must, by an irreversible destiny, sink into annihilation. This last idea has operated secretly but most perniciously. What use in endeavoring to civilize an Indian tribe ! They are vanishing like the leaves of the forest. Mild or merciless treatment is equally unavailing. No human power can stay the downward progress. Just as if God had implanted the elements of decay and death in communities and nations. Just as though he had placed a portion of mankind beyond the comprehension of that benignant command, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature ;' and just as if that gospel, received in its love and power, would not have arrested the degeneracy of the Indians, and happily reversed their condition. We are not believers in the necessary decline
of nations. Righteousness exalts a community, and a community will continue to do right, if the proper instrumentality be applied. God will not withhold his effectual blessing, except as a punishment to the skepticism or iniquity of his creatures. The Indians were not made to be destroyed. They have in their natures, all the germs of social and intellectual improvement. They have as clear an idea of a supreme Deity, as the enlightened Egyptians, or the philosophic Greeks and Romans ever possessed. They are not so low down on the road to spiritual reprobation and death, as the mass of the people of those ancient countries. The cold theory about Indian degeneracy, met with a full refutation nearly two hundred years ago. Eliot, and his philanthropic compeer, Gookin, showed of what the Indian nature, in conjunction with God's grace, is susceptible. The worshippers of devils were raised into the dignity of sons of God. At the same time, the wealth and respectability and population of the families, affected by the labors of the missionaries, increased. John Eliot understood the principles of a just political economy. There was no more difficulty in elevating the Penobscots, or Narragansets, or Mohawks, than there was in elevating the Indians of Natick or Martha's Vineyard. If other men had arisen with the same zeal, and love, and faith, which filled the bosom of Eliot and the Mayhews, there is every reason to believe that the Indians would now have been flourishing, independent, Christian communities; or incorporated and amalgamated with us, in the enjoyment of all civil and religious rights. The want of missionary effort one hundred and fifty years ago, must not be ascribed to an arbitrary appointment of God. At the very time when good men were slumbering over the destinies of a world of poor dying idolaters, and comforting themBelves that the Indians were reprobate from divine mercy,