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Mexico, which has rendered it proper, in my judgment, to keep nearly two-thirds of our Army on our southwestern frontier. In doing this many of the regular military posts have been reduced to a small force inadequate to their defense should an emergency arise.
In view of these "circumstances," it is my “judgment "that "an increase of our naval and military force is at this time required” to place the country in a suitable state of defense. At the same time, it is my settled purpose to pursue such a course of policy as may be best calculated to preserve both with Great Britain and Mexico an honorable peace, which nothing will so effectually promote as unanimity in our councils and a firm maintenance of all our just rights.
JAMES K. POLK.
WASHINGTON, April 1, 1846. To the House of Representatives of the United States:
I transmit herewith a letter received from the governor of the State of Ohio in answer to a communication addressed to him in compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of January 30, 1846, "requesting the President of the United States to apply to the governor of the State of Ohio for information in regard to the present condition of the Columbus and Sandusky turnpike road; whether the said road is kept in such a state of repair as will enable the Federal Government to realize in case of need the advantages contemplated by the act of Congress approved March 3, 1827."
JAMES K. POLK.
WASHINGTON, April 1, 1846. To the Senate of the United States:
In compliance with the request of a delegation of the Tonawanda band of the Seneca Indians now in this city, I herewith transmit, for your consideration, a memorial addressed to the President and the Senate in relation to the treaty of January 15, 1838, with the "Six Nations of New York Indians," and that of May 20, 1842, with the “Seneca Nation of Indians.”
JAMES K. POLK.
WASHINGTON, April 3, 1846. To the Senate of the United States:
I transmit herewith a report from the Acting Secretary of State, with accompanying papers, in answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 23d ultimo, requesting the President to communicate to that body, "if not incompatible with public interests, any correspondence which took place between the Government of the United States and that of Great Britain on the subject of the northeastern boundary between the zoth of June, 1840, and the 4th of March, 1841."
JAMES K. POLK.
WASHINGTON, April 13, 1846. To the Senate of the United States:
In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 11th instant, calling for "copies of any correspondence that may have taken place between the authorities of the United States and those of Great Britain since the last documents transmitted to Congress in relation to the subject of the Oregon Territory, or so much thereof as may be communicated without det. riment to the public interest,” I have to state that no correspondence in relation to the Oregon Territory has taken place between the authorities of the United States and those of Great Britain since the date of the last documents on the subject transmitted by me to Congress.
JAMES K. POLK.
WASHINGTON, April 13, 1846. To the Senate and House of Representatives:
In my annual message of the ad of December last it was stated that serious difficulties of long standing continued to distract the several parties into which the Cherokee tribe of Indians is unhappily divided; that all the efforts of the Government to adjust these difficulties had proved to be ynsuccessful, and would probably remain so without the aid of further legislation by Congress. Subsequent events have confirmed this opinion.
I communicate herewith, for the information of Congress, a report of the Secretary of War, transmitting a report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, with accompanying documents, together with memorials which have been received from the several bands or parties of the Cherokees themselves. It will be perceived that internal feuds still exist which call for the prompt intervention of the Government of the United States.
Since the meeting of Congress several unprovoked murders have been committed by the stronger upon the weaker party of the tribe, which will probably remain unpunished by the Indian authorities; and there is reason to apprehend that similar outrages will continue to be perpetrated unless restrained by the authorities of the United States.
Many of the weaker party have been compelled to seek refuge beyond the limits of the Indian country and within the State of Arkansas, and are destitute of the means for their daily subsistence. The military forces of the United States stationed on the western frontier have been active in their exertions to suppress these outrages and to execute the treaty of 1835, by which it is stipulated that "the United States agree to protect the Cherokee Nation from domestic strife and foreign enemies, and against intestine wars between the several tribes.”
These exertions of the Army have proved to a great extent unavailing, for the reasons stated in the accompanying documents, including communications from the officer commanding at Fort Gibson.
I submit, for the consideration of Congress, the propriety of making
such amendments of the laws regulating intercourse with the Indian tribes as will subject to trial and punishment in the courts of the United States all Indians guilty of murder and such other felonies as may be designated, when committed on other Indians within the jurisdiction of the United States.
Such a modification of the existing laws is suggested because if 01 fenders against the laws of humanity in the Indian country are left to be punished by Indian laws they will generally, if not always, be permitted to escape with impunity. This has been the case in repeated instances among the Cherokees. For years unprovoked murders have been committed, and yet no effort has been made to bring the offenders to punishment. Should this state of things continue, it is not difficult to foresee that the weaker party will be finally destroyed. As the guardian of the Indian tribes, the Government of the United States is bound by every consideration of duty and humanity to interpose to prevent such a disaster.
From the examination which I have made into the actual state of things in the Cherokee Nation I am satisfied that there is no probability that the different bands or parties into which it is divided can ever again live together in peace and harmony, and that the well-being of the whole requires that they should be separated and live under separate governments as distinct tribes.
That portion who emigrated to the west of the Mississippi prior to the year 1819, commonly called the “Old Settlers," and that portion who made the treaty of 1835, known as the "treaty party," it is believed would willingly unite, and could live together in harmony. The number of these, as nearly as can be estimated, is about one-third of the tribe. The whole number or all the bands or parties does not probably exceed 20,000. The country which chey occupy embraces 7,000,000 acres of land, with the privilege of an outlet to the western limits of the United States. This country is susceptible of division, and is large enough for all.
I submit to Congress the propriety of either dividing the country which they at present occupy or of providing by law a new home for the one or the other of the bands or parties now in hostile array against each other, as the most effectual, if not the only, means of preserving the weaker party from massacre and total extermination. Should Congress favor the division of the country as suggested, and the separation of the Cherokees into two distinct tribes, justice will require that the annuities and funds belonging to the whole, now held in trust for them by the United States, should be equitably distributed among the parties, according to their respective claims and numbers.
There is still a small number of the Cherokee tribe remaining within the State of North Carolina, who, according to the stipulations of the treaty of 1835, should have emigrated with their brethren to the west of 4