Humanity and religion prompt us to contribute heavy sums every year for the uplifting of benighted creatures on the other side of the globe. Our sympathies are deeply moved when some giant maritime power hovers over the helpless natives of Zanzibar or the Pacific islands in order to "protect their interests." The bulk of disinterested people are always for the weak as against the strong beyond our borders.
But next, perhaps, to the British conquest of India or the highwayman's escapade of Strongbow in Ireland, our treatment of the American Indians for over a century ranks among the greatest crimes of civilization. When we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the landing of COLUMBUS in 1892, how shall we render an account to the humane world for the long succession of broken treaties, the treachery and the violence which is rapidly consummating the extinction of the native American race?
When OGLETHORPE first met the Cherokee tribes he found them a docile and hospitable nation, whose vast lands stretched from Georgia to the setting sun. They were so innocent of real-estate speculation that they opened their rich lands freely to the new comers without money and without price. In response to this generosity and hospitality, it did not take civilization long to find "interests to protect," and as early as 1763 a so-called treaty was palmed off on the poor Indians. From that time to the present a new treaty has been made and broken on the average once in five years.
The true inwardness of this repeated operation has consisted in crowding the Indians under a violated treaty till they were forced to "kick," then crowding them off their lands by force, and then soothing them again with that balm of Gilead known as a new treaty. At every step the original American has been forced into closer quarters and killed by the foreigner, till now all that is left to the few remaining red men is the narrow Cherokee strip between Oklahoma and Kansas.
But the white exterminator has still more interests to protect. Though the Cherokee titles were solemnly reaffirmed and ratified as late as 1866, the government, upon the clamor of a hungry crowd of land pirates and speculators, is trying to force the Cherokees to sell their remaining lands through gradual pressure. As the Indians will not agree to the government's terms, it is evidently only the question of a short time when the lands will simply be taken from them. Yet no man in this Christian land contends that such an act would be any more just or legal than to take a man's home from him by force on the streets of Boston.
There are several organized humane societies in this country protesting loudly against these crimes upon the Indians. But the voices of the cattle herder and the land syndicate are more powerful than the voice of humanity, and the poor red man is doomed. When the last native American turns his face to the setting sun and dies, who will blame him that he steadily refused to the last to incorporate himself into a civilization that for over a century offered him nothing but fraud, force, and legalized robbery?
HENRY APPLETON, Boston Daily Globe, Aug 18, 1889, p. 12