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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Re: The Cherokee Constitution of 1839

Greetings Preston,

I perform a great deal of newspaper research myself, and though the author of this editorial appears to be pointing out the hypocrisy of the American Constitution, Iím afraid the author has viewed his nationís inability to live up to the same standards despite his statements to the contrary through rose colored glasses.

One of the things I learned long ago is to analyze certain aspects of journalism and as one reads this article it is important to remember that the Cherokee Advocate was a Cherokee Nation paper and would reflect the views of itís editors as well as the people who lived in that community. Meaning the author is not without a certain amount of prejudice as he criticizes the government of the United States and itís inability to live up to Jeffersonís creed of ďall men being created equal...Ē

Looking further into the authorís attempts at gaining a moral high ground, we must remember to put it all into historical context.

The author praises the 1839 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation but the article is being written in 1889. At the time of the constitution, the institution of slavery was very much a part of the nation and his continued references to a citizen and his property can only include those enslaved ďas property.Ē

In this respect, the Cherokee Constitution and society reflected American in many ways. Therefore his words are just as empty as the words of both constitutions. Read the congressional interview of Isaac Rogers who in 1885 lamented about the conditions of freedmen in the Cherokee Nation.

Since the article was written in 1889, the Nation having admitted their formerly enslaved people and the other classes of people supposedly not of Cherokee blood were actively denying persons of their liberty, and privileges of citizenship.

I donít disagree with the author on principle, but he does seem to be making a case for a society that is superior to the U.S. while at the same time leaders in his nation were ostensibly doing the same thing. I think the author would have been more correct if I read the article correctly if he were criticizing both nations for their failure to live up to the creed, ďall men being created equal...Ē

On the whole, I think this illustrates how much both nations have failed to live up to their constitutions and as a result, the populations in both tend to suffer from illusions of grandeur. Perhaps the present day leadership in both nations could take a lesson from the author.

I think the passage that best illustrates my point is near the end of the document:

ďBut the right of a citizen to the products of his labor is as carefully protected by the Cherokee government as is his right to labor.

In the sense that one man has much right as another to get a decent and a happy living for himself and family by the sweat his brow, in that sense and no other, is the land of the Cherokee Nation common property. Keeping that fact constantly in view, a manís home, a manís property of all descriptions are as inviolably his, and as rigidly secured to him and his heirs by the laws of this Nation, as the same kind of property is to anybody else in the world, under any other Government.Ē

Again, despite the fact that the ďfreedmenĒ were given citizenship in the nation, they were constantly in a battle to retain it, which brings us full circle too present day.

Continue your fine work and research and for sharing your knowledge.

Messages In This Thread

The Cherokee Constitution of 1839
Re: The Cherokee Constitution of 1839

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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