Page images

remove west of the river Mississippi.* Soon after the arrival of Mr. Cornelius in New Orleans, a friend in Tennessee informed him that a report was in circulation in that State, to the effect that he had used all his influence while with the Indians, particularly at the time when he met at Caney Creek, a portion of the Cherokees, who were returning from a plundering expedition to the Arkansas territory, to persuade them not to sell their lands and emigrate; and further, that on the strength of this report, the governor of Tennessee had written to the secretary of war, cautioning him against the designs and

hardly begun. The nature of the population, being composed in great measure of French Catholics or of African slaves, the un. healthiness of the climate during the summer months, the depraved conduct of many of the boatmen, who periodically visit the city, as well as other evils attendant upon its character as a commercial mart, all combined, present a fearful array of obstacles to its thorough reform. No efforts can be entirely successful until tắe causes of the dreadful pestilences, which periodically lay waste the city, are removed. It has been the last year a 'city of the dead.' The little band of Christians, who reside there, have done nobly ; but what are they among so many thousands? The moral regeneration of New Orleans constitutes the problem in efforts for the best good of our cities. That city stands at the outlet of an empire, yet to be, greater than that of Augustus Cæsar's. The Mississippi and its tributaries above New Orleans, have an extent of more than twenty thousand miles of waters, already navigated by steam-boats, and passing through the richest soils, and the most delightful climates.

* This remark is consistent with one on a preceding page respecting the patronage which the government of the United States were extending to the schools, &c. which were established among the Indians. The original policy of the government, in promoting aboriginal civilization, was undoubtedly based on the supposition that the Indians would remain on this side of the Mississippi. But as early as 1818, there were indications owing to various causes, that the Indians would be forced to abandon the territory of their fathers, and seek an asylum further in the wilderness. The former policy, however, prevailed, for the most part, during the administrations of Mr. Monroe, and Mr. Adams.

influence of Mr. Cornelius. This intelligence, wholly unexpected as it was, did not lead him to act unadvisedly, neither did it prevent him from acting promptly. It happened very providentially, that when he met the Cherokee Indians at the place mentioned, two or three merchants from Tennessee, were in company, on their way to New Orleans, and had heard all his communications with the Indians, as he had acted solely through the medium of an interpreter. He immediately procured affidavits from these merchants, fully disproving the charges which had been made against him, and forwarded them to the department of war. This measure at once removed the misapprehension, and restored to him the full confidence of the government. He had subsequently an interview with the executive of Tennessee, who expressed to him the most unqualified regret that the rumor had ever been put in circulation. On his return to Washington, he deposited in the records of the department of war, a document, containing a complete view of the case.

Allusion is not unfrequently made in Mr. Cornelius's public journals to the condition of the African race, free and slave. Such a subject as this could not fail to interest a heart so susceptible, especially as he travelled very extensively in the States where slavery is allowed. His intercourse with slaveholders, many of them men of generous dispositions, and his familiar acquaintance with the system, never closed his eyes to its great political and moral evils. He witnessed, on several occasions, the sale of slaves by auction. We select from his public journal the following instance which occurred in Alabama.

“ The miserable objects of the slave-traffic are bought in the old States, and driven like cattle to a western market, where they are sold and bought with as little compunction of conscience, as if they were so many swine or sheep. One of these sales I witnessed at

- A number of Africans were taken to the centre of the public square, and soon a crowd of spectators and purchasers assembled. The scene to my feelings was shocking to the last degree. I stood and beheld as long as I could. I was ready to cry out with indignation, and weep over the miserable wretches who had been brought from afar, and who were exposed in this manner. At an interval of silence I exclaimed, 'Well did Mr. Jefferson remark on such a subject, “I tremble when I think that God is just," ' and immediately left them."*

Mr. Cornelius commenced his return to New England, on the 2d of April, 1818. While on the eve of departing from New Orleans, he presented the subject of Foreign Missions to the consideration of the people, and obtained subscriptions of more than one thousand dollars—a generous sum considering the circumstances of the contributors.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The reception which he met at Natchez, Mississippi, he thus communicates to Dr. Worcester.

Natchez, April 21, 1818. “Rev. and very dear Sir,—Last week was propitious to the funds of the American Board in this distant region. On Sabbath, the 12th instant, I preached a

* We hope for the honor of our country, that this infamous and inhuman traffic will soon be abandoned. In what respect does it differ in criminality and atrocity from the African slave trade? Perhaps, however, it is inseparable from the slave system. We are glad to perceive that the citizens of some of the slave States are manifesting their abhorrence of it. We saw a spirited article on the subject, in a late number of the Western Luminary, published at Lexington, Kentucky.

sermon on the subject of Indian reformation, to a very respectable audience, and on Monday, commenced the business of solicitation ; and will you not unite with me in an expression of gratitude to the great Head of the Church, when I tell you that in seven days, I was enabled to raise the sum of sixteen hundred and thirty dollars and fifty cents ? Enclosed, you have a true copy of the subscription paper, which will no doubt furnish our northern people some idea of southern liberality. I labored, however, very severely. The weather has been excessively hot. On one day, when I rode thirty miles, and collected three hundred and eighty-five dollars, the thermometer stood as high as 90°. I should not have exerted myself so much, had I not determined on exploring the whole of Natchez and its vicinity in one week, in order that I might hasten my steps to the Indian nations, where my presence is immediately needed. I have had just enough of opposition to quicken my efforts, and awaken general interest. Mr. S., your local agent, has been of very essential service to me.”


The following communication to Dr. Worcester continues the narrative of his tour, and is worthy of an insertion.

My last was directed to you from Natchez. It was preceded by another, written on board the steam-boat Governor Shelby, some distance below Natchez. In these two letters, you had the result of my labors in New Orleans and Natchez. The sum obtained would have been more than doubled, had I come by land from one city to the other, and visited the sugar and cotton plantations on my way; and lest I should forget it, I would here remark for the information of the prudential committee, that in no part of the United States have I seen a district of country, in which a man of popular talents

would do more to increase the funds of the Board than in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Should the com

, mittee have at their disposal a suitable man, a year or two hence, I hope they will despatch him to this field, directing him to pursue his course by land, to visit all the missionary stations on his way, that he may be able to speak from personal knowledge, and that his own heart may be made to glow with greater ardor. He should be instructed to visit the largest towns first, stay in them a sufficient time to become acquainted with the inhabitants, and to inspire public confidence.

Your very precious and welcome answers to my two last letters, were duly received. I would again express my gratitude for your timely and interesting communications, and say that every sentiment of friendship which they breathe is strongly and cordially reciprocated by my heart. Indeed, sir, to enjoy the friendship and approbation of a man for whom I entertain the highest regard and the warmest affection, is a reward, which, next to the approbation of God and of Christ, I esteem above all price. If there be an institution in the world, which I love most, I speak the sincere sentiment of my heart, it is the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. I have all that confidence in their wisdom, their efficiency, and their piety, which excites to the most vigorous exertion in their behalf of which I am capable, and I need not add, these remarks apply most emphatically to the prudential committee and their indefatigable secretary and treasurer. To forward their views I have toiled two years, and I never anticipate greater happiness in my life, than has been associated unceasingly with those toils.

" After great fatigue and considerable impediments from ill health in the low country, I had the indescribable joy of arriving at the missionary station, Brainerd, on the

« PreviousContinue »