Crisscrossing projects of sovereignty and conversion

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crisscrossing projects of sovereignty and conversion 83 protect and to regulate the conduct of the people. There is a National Academy in contemplation. . . . There will be a National Library at New-Town, the Metrop- olis of the nation. In different parts of the nation numerous Cherokees have embraced the Christian religion.” When we consider that Brown’s letters and re- ports were but a portion of those generated and published by Cherokee converts and that these were reinforced still further by many advocacy pieces, reports, and memoirs celebrating converts penned by missionaries, we can understand how the Cherokees acquired a distinctive reputation in the East, not only as one of the so-called civilized tribes but as the civilized Native American nation par excellence. 42 This reputation was not accidentally achieved but intentionally produced as part of their larger campaign to defend their nation’s interests. Brown hammered this message home hard in a lengthy report originally sent to his friends in Richmond, where it first appeared in print in the Family Visitor but was then republished countless times in much more substantial ven- ues, including Niles’ Register , the Missionary Herald , and the Boston Recorder and Telegraph . His presentation moved from the macro to the micro, from a grand overview of the landscape to the interior of the Cherokee home, and across an encyclopedic range of life domains including agriculture, cuisine, clothing, population and social practices, civic life and national character, religion, educa- tion, finance, and governance shaped by republican principles. From the flocks of sheep on the Cherokees’ plains, to the houses of entertainment on their pub- lic roads, to the butter on their tables and cotton blankets on their beds, to the proposed printing press, national library, and museum to be located in their seat of government, every detail of Brown’s report confirmed civilized behavior. The Cherokees were thriving and their population was increasing, Brown asserted. “How vain, then, to talk of Cherokee deterioration,” he said, refuting the Jack- sonian claim that Native Americans and civilization were incompatible. Their “removal to the wild and inhospitable regions of the west” would produce “evil consequences.” By detailing Cherokee industriousness, Brown contradicted the idea that Native Americans did not make full and proper use of their land and undercut the idea that the Cherokee Nation could afford to cede more land. They have no more to spare.” If the United States was just at all, “the Cherokee title to this land will remain as long as the sun and moon endure.” The alterna- tive, removal, would reveal the shameless truth that “physical strength should guide the measures of the United States government.” 43 Ultimately, this very question would be asked, literally, in the Twenty-first Congress, which opened on December 7, 1829, and received the next day Pres- ident Andrew Jackson’s first message, which insisted upon Indian removal.

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