Puslapio vaizdai

stated when we come to speak of that tribe. Beyond the aid furnished, as above stated, by the state, the poor are assisted, so far as needed, in addition to the small sum received from the rent of the public lands, by voluntary contribution. As races, they have acquired, in the long school of oppression and proscription, a ready sympathy for individual suffering. In the language of Mr. Thaxter, They are kind and considerate to each other in sickness and poverty.'

"Litigation is almost unknown. Probably in no part of the state, embracing an equal population, are there fewer difficulties resulting in a necessity for legal adjudication."

Of the Christiantown Indians, also,

"They have now no paupers, and receive no aid from the state. They receive the same amount from the state for schools as the Chappequiddic tribe, forty-six dollars, and the remarks in relation to the school at Chappequiddic will apply to these. They have no preaching or religious teaching, the fund formerly appropriated to them being withheld for reasons before alluded to, to be dwelt upon more fully hereafter. Litigation is unknown; they have no grievances for which they ask redress. They are a quiet, peaceable people. They are satisfied with the guardianship system, and have no desire to enjoy the privileges of citizenship. The saddest feature in their case is, that they are too well contented in their condition of ignorance and disfranchisement.

"Occasionally an individual was found who writhed under the crushing weight of civil and social disability. We have, among our notes, the case of one young man, of twenty-two years, belonging to a family of nine children, six older than himself, all of whom had died in the pride of early manhood and womanhood, except one, and that one helpless and blind, in consequence, undoubtedly, of ill treatment at sea. This young man had been one of the best seamen who sailed from the South Shore, and had risen to be second mate; but had come home discouraged, disheartened, with ambition quenched, and now feeds the moodiness of a crushed spirit, by moping amid the graves of his kindred, soon, we fear, to lie down with them, 'where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest; where the oppressed sleep together, hearing not the voice of the oppressor.' We tried to awaken him to effort and enterprise, but found it a hopeless task. Why should I try?' he asked, in bitterness. The prejudice against our color keeps us down. I may be a firstrate navigator, and as good a seaman as ever walked a deck;' (and Mr. Thaxter assured us such was his reputation ;) but I am doomed to live and die before the mast. I might get to be second, first mate, and, when at sea, I should be treated as such, because


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I deserved it; but the moment we fall in company with other vessels, or arrive in port, and our captain invites other captains and mates to dine, I am banished from the cabin to the forecastle. Why should I try?' We could not answer him, for we felt that we could not pluck from his heart that 'rooted sorrow.'"

The legal condition of the Gay Head Indians is singularly anomalous.

"For about thirty years, they have been without any guardian, and the division of their lands, and indeed the whole arrangements of their affairs, except of the school money, have been left to themselves. None of the lands are held, as far as we could learn, by any title, depending for its validity upon statute law. The primitive title, possession, to which has been added inclosure, is the only title recognized or required. The rule has been that any native could, at any time, appropriate to his own use such portion of the unimproved cominon land as he wished, and as soon as he enclosed it with a fence, of however frail structure, it belonged to him and his heirs for ever. That rule still exists. A young man arrives at maturity, and wishes for a home for a prospective family, or a shelter when he returns from sea; he encloses half an acre, five acres, or ten acres, as the case may be, and he has acquired a fee in the estate; and the most singular and most creditable fact, in connection with this, is, that, while one proprietor has but half an acre, and another has over a hundred acres, there is no heart-burning, no feeling that the latter has more than his share. I have all I want,' says the former, and he is content. This state of things is as happy as it is peculiar; how long it can continue, is a problem yet to be solved."

Yet these simple-minded peasants are industrious, provident, temperate, and chaste;

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"a quiet, peaceable, contented people. There are among them too many ignorant, degraded, and vicious; but there are, also, particularly among the foreigners, some of the most intelligent men we have found. Litigation is unknown; difficulties of any kind rarely occur. They do not know, and they do not want to know, under what law they live. They only know that while they behave well, they get along well enough.' They are jealous of the whites, and with too good reason. They will allow no white man to obtain foothold upon their territory. They have steadily refused to lease to white applicants a foot of land, for the erection of works for the manufacture of clay into the various articles it is capable of making, though tempting pecuniary advantages have been held out to induce them to make only some temporary arrangement. They feel their political and civil disabili

ties; they feel that they are under the ban of an unrelenting social proscription; but they see no exodus from this bondage; and they only ask to be let alone, and not, by ill advised legislation, to be constantly reminded of their vassalage."

The operation of this responsibility in strengthening and unfolding character, is witnessed further in the most interesting of all the remnants, the Marshpee Indians.

"This tribe have no particular grievances to present. Litigation among themselves is very rare. They suffer inconvenience from the encroachment of the whites upon their fishing privileges. For the adjustment of these, however, under the counsels of the commissioner, and with the aid of legislation which may result from their petition to the present Legislature, adequate provision already exists. The intelligent men of the tribe hope that the time may come when their political and civil disabilities may be removed. For the present, they suggest no material alteration of the system. They feel that they have not realized, from the act of 1834, all the benefit they expected. The difficulty is rather in the mode of administration than in the system itself. The misfortune is, that elevating influences have not been brought to bear upon them, which should gradually prepare them for the privileges of citizenship.

"We feel that we should neglect our duty, did we not give our testimony to the wonderful improvement which has taken place. at Marshpee, since the passage of the act of 1834. Previous to that time, they were indolent, ignorant, improvident, intemperate, and licentious. It is not strange that so general a distrust was entertained, at that time, of their ability to manage their internal affairs. But we believe it is admitted now, even by those who most earnestly opposed that law, that the experiment has succeeded; and, though the result may not be all that the most sanguine dreamed, yet, all circumstances considered, it has been all that could rationally be expected. That act provided for the withdrawal of the depressing and degrading influences of the guardianship system, protection against the extortions of greedy and unprincipled speculators, and the partial removal of civil disabilities. All they need now is, judicious counsel and encouragement, in managing their schools, in introducing farther improvements in agriculture and in their domestic arrangements; and, above all, the opening of the way to complete civil and political enfranchisement. With these influences fully at work, we feel entirely confident that, in a few years, the district of Marshpee may claim a place by the side of the other towns of the commonwealth."

The Indians have been carefully nursed with preaching;

but though we doubt not good men have done their best to work miracles, fortunately the laws of Nature have kept steadily on. A race welcomed to none of the fruits of civilization but its vices, whose self-respect, that Indian trait, has been undermined by the general contempt with which it found itself regarded, left for companionship to the refuse of society," sent to Coventry," instead of being sent to school, proves no apt scholar of spiritual teaching, and disgraces the preacher, not its education; for the tree has brought forth the fruit with which it was grafted. "God gave man a garden before he gave him a law," says old Fuller. We should do well to imitate the example. Had these feeble remnants been crumbled up into the general mass of society, they had partaken the common warmth and growth. But the white race has held them at arms length and then sought, in an unrepenting atonement, to give them there a share of the profits to which they are entitled as the American church is now pretending to give the Bible to the Slave, whose road to the Alphabet lies through the State Prison. But like the Fakir holding a shrub in his uplifted hand, the man and the tree are both victims of the religious mistake. Put the tree in the ground and work yourself, and then you shall both thrive. Leave the Indian to catch only the fatness that drops from the over-filled cup of New England blessings; remember his soul and forget his skin; he will not need a separate church, and you will hear all the better that he is listening also.

In this connection we must quote, were it only to give it wider circulation, and thence subject the plan to more certain defeat, the account which this Report gives of an attempt to divert from the proper channel the "Williams Fund," about $13,000, left to Harvard College "for the blessed work of converting the poor Indians":

"We notice that at a late meeting of the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, a distinguished member of the Board proposed that an application should be made to the Supreme Court or to the Legislature, for leave to appropriate the income of the 'Williams Fund' to the support of a College Professorship of Divinity, at Cambridge. We would suggest that it would be as well to include the funds of the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians. It is hardly worth while to make two bites of a cherry.' True, the managers of this Society might object. But that would be a trifling obstacle. The clearly expressed intentions of the dead are to be disregarded; why not the rights

of the living? Besides, the end sanctifies the means. It would only be a very 'pious fraud.' We take the liberty, also, to suggest that the most appropriate day for the consummation of this purpose would be the date of the will of Rev. Daniel Williams, giving this fund for the blessed work of converting the poor Indians.' Seriously, we have no fear that this proposition will be adopted, if public attention is directed to its nature; but we feel that we are entitled, in behalf of the 'poor Indians,' to enter their protest, in advance, against it, as a misappropriation of the property of the Indians, and a violation of the intentions of the donor."

Republics, it is said, are ungrateful. We might add they have very short memories. A man gives a street to Boston, one of those childless men who, Bacon says, are always planning for the public-it keeps his name alive till he is cold, and then rejoices in the gaudier epithet of "Bowdoin, "— and we have heard that the trustees of a well known Theological School were deliberately trying to bargain the name of their founder for a liberal bequest. But this cool assumption of Indian funds to help out the bankruptcy of Unitarian Christianity were too close a copy of the Hollis transfer, only

Matre pulchra filia pulchrior.

But it is time we should glance at the plan which the Commissioners propose for Legislative sanction.

"During the time which has elapsed since we visited the Indians, and became familiar with their conditions and wants, we have given to the solution of this problem our constant and earnest study; and the result has been the following basis of an act for the improvement of the Indians and people of color residing on the Indian lands within this commonwealth.

"1st. A repeal of all laws relating to the Indians, (with a modification of those relating to the district of Marshpee and the Herring Pond Plantation, at least, in relation to a separate commissioner,) and the enactment of a uniform system, to apply to all the tribes in the state, in the spirit of modern philanthropy.

"2nd. The merging of all, except those at Marshpee and Herring Pond, and Martha's Vineyard, in the general community, giving to the selectmen of the towns to which they are annexed the management of the funds belonging to them, and of the sums appropriated by the State for their support, not as paupers, but as the wards of the State, the inalienability of their lands being seeured, except when it is voluntarily surrendered, by the assumption of the elective franchise, as provided in the next section. "3rd. Grant to any one who wishes it the privileges of citizen

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