War of the Rebellion: Serial 019 Page 0498 MO., ARK.,KANS., IND.T., AND DEPT.N.W. Chapter XXV.

Search Civil War Official Records

that there may be some danger take which side you may, I think the danger tenfold greater to the Cherokee people if they take sides against us than for us. Neutrality will scarcely be possible. As long as your people retain their national character your country cannot be abolitionized,and it is our interest therefore that you should hold your possession in perpetuity.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, &c., your obedient servant,


Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

[Inclosure No. 15.]



Com. Indian Affairs Confederate States, Fort Smith, Ark.:

SIR: Your communication dated at Fort Smith, 12th instant, has been received. The questions presented by you are of grave importance, and I have given them the best consideration I am capable. As the result of my deliberation allow me to say, with the highest respect for the Government you represent, that I feel constrained to adhere to the line of policy which I have heretofore pursued, and take no part in the unfortunate war between the United States and Confederate States of America.

When you were one,happy, prosperous, and friendly, as the United States, our treaties were made from time to time with your Government. Those treaties are contemporaneous with that Government, extending from the Confederacy of the United States previous to the adoption of the Constitution down to the present time. The first of them was negotiated at Hopewell in 1785 and the last at Washington in 1846. Some of them were the result of choice, others of necessity. By their operation the Cherokees surrendered large and valuable tracts of lands to the States which compose an important part of your Government. They came to the country now occupied by them with the assurance from the Government of the United States that it should be their home and the home of their posterity.

By the treaty of Hopewell the Cherokees placed themselves under the protection of the United State of America and of no other sovereign whatever. By the treaty of Holston, 1791, the stipulation quoted was renewed and extended so as to declare that-

The Cherokee Nation will not hold any treaty with any foreign power, individual State, or with individuals of any State.

This stipulation has not been abrogated,and its binding force on the Cherokee Nation is as strong and imperative now as at any time since its adoption. I feel it to be so, and am not willing to disregard it even at the present time. You are well aware that a violation of its letter and spirit would be tantamount to a declaration of hostility toward the Government. There is no reason to doubt that it would be viewed in that light and so treated. There is no reason why we should wantonly assume such attitude and invoke upon our heads and upon the heads of our children the calamities of war between the United and Confederate States, nor do I think you should expect us without a sufficient cause. If our institutions,locality, and long years of neighborly deportment and intercourse do not suffice to assure you of our friendship, no mere instrument of parchment can do it. We have not cause to doubt the entire good faith with which you would treat he