Worcester v. State

Decision Date31 January 1832
Citation8 L.Ed. 483,31 U.S. 515,6 Pet. 515
PartiesSAMUEL A. WORCESTER, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR v. THE STATE OF GEORGIA.
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

THIS was a writ of error to the superior court for the county of Gwinnett, in the state of Georgia.

On the 22d December 1830, the legislature of the state of Georgia passed the following act:

'An act of prevent the exercise of assumed and arbitrary power, by all persons, under pretext of authority from the Cherokee Indians and their laws, and to prevent white persons from residing within that part of the chartered limits of Georgia, occupied by the Cherokee Indians, and to provide a guard for the protection of the gold mines, and to enforce the laws of the state within the aforesaid territory.

'Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the state of Georgia in general assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that, after the 1st day of February 1831, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons, under colour or pretence of authority from said Cherokee tribe, or as headmen, chiefs or warriors of said tribe, to cause or procure by any means the assembling of any council or other pretended legislative body of the said Indians or others living among them, for the purpose of legislating (or for any other purpose whatever). And persons offending against the provisions of this section shall guilty of a high misdemeanour, and subject to indictment therefor, and, on conviction, shall be punished by confinement at hard labour in the penitentiary for the space of four years.

'Sec. 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that, after the time aforesaid, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons, under pretext of authority from the Cherokee tribe, or as representatives, chiefs, headmen or warriors of said tribe, to meet or assemble as a council, assembly,convention, or in any other capacity, for the purpose of making laws, orders or regulations for said tribe. And all persons offending against the provisions of this section, shall be guilty of a high misdemeanour, and subject to an indictment, and on conviction thereof, shall undergo an imprisonment in the penitentiary at hard labour for the space of four years.

'Sec. 3. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that, after the time aforesaid, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons, under colour or by authority of the Cherokee tribe, or any of its laws or regulations, to hold any court or tribunal whatever, for the purpose of hearing and determining causes, either civil or criminal; or to give any judgment in such causes, or to issue, or cause to issue, any process against the person or property of any of said tribe. And all persons offending against the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a high misdemeanour, and subject to indictment, and, on conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in the penitentiary at hard labour for the space of four years.

'Sec. 4. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that, after the time aforesaid, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons, as a ministerial officer, or in any other capacity, to execute any precept, command or process issued by any court or tribunal in the Cherokee tribe, on the persons or property of any of said tribe. And all persons offending against the provisions of this section, shall be guilty of a trespass, and subject to indictment, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine and imprisonment in the jail or in the penitentiary, not longer than four years, at the discretion of the court.

'Sec. 5. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that, after the time aforesaid, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons to confiscate, or attempt to confiscate, or otherwise to cause a forfeiture of the property or estate of any Indian of said tribe, in consequence of his enrolling himself and family for emigration, or offering to enrol for emigration, or any other act of said Indian, in furtherance of his intention to emigrate. And persons offending against the provisions of this section shall be guilty of high misdemeanour, and, on conviction, shall undergo an imprisonment in the penitentiary at hard labour for the space of four years.

'Sec. 6. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that none of the provisions of this act shall be so construed as to prevent said tribe, its headmen, chiefs or other representatives, from meeting any agent or commissioner, on the part of this state or the United States, for any purpose whatever.

'Sec. 7. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all white persons residing within the limits of the Cherokee nation, on the 1st day of March next, or at any time thereafter, without a license or permit from his excellency the governor, or from such agent as his excellency the governor shall authorise to grant such permit or license, and who shall not have taken the oath hereinafter required, shall be guilty of a high misdemeanour, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by confinement to the penitentiary at hard labour for a term not less than four years: provided, that the provisions of this section shall not be so construed as to extend to any authorised agent or agents of the government of the United States or of this state, or to any person or persons who may rent any of those improvements which have been abandoned by Indians who have emigrated west of the Mississippi: provided, nothing contained in this section shall be so construed as to extend to white females, and all male children under twenty-one years of age.

'Sec. 8. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all white persons, citizens of the state of Georgia, who have procured a license in writing from his excellency the governor, or from such agent as his excellency the governor shall authorise to grant such permit or license, to reside within the limits of the Cherokee nation, and who have taken the following oath, viz. 'I, A. B., do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support and defend the constitution and laws of the state of Georgia, and uprightly demean myself as a citizen thereof, so help me God,' shall be, and the same are hereby declared, exempt and free from the operation of the seventh section of this act.

'Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, that his excellency the governor be, and he is hereby, authorized to grant licenses to reside within the limits of the Cherokee nation, according to the provisions of the eighth section of this act.

'Sec. 10. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid,that no person shall collect or claim any toll from any person, for passing any turnpike gate or toll bridge, by authority of any act or law of the Cherokee tribe, or any chief or headman or men of the same.

'Sec. 11. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that his excellency the governor be, and he is hereby, empowered, should he deem it necessary, either for the protection of the mines, or for the enforcement of the laws of force within the Cherokee nation, to raise and organize a guard, to be employed on foot, or mounted, as occasion may require, which shall not consist of more than sixty persons, which guard shall be under the command of the commissioner or agent appointed by the governor, to protect the mines, with power to dismiss from the service any member of said guard, on paying the wages due for services rendered, for disorderly conduct, and make appointments to fill the vacancies occasioned by such dismissal.

'Sec. 12. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that each person who may belong to said guard, shall receiver for his compensation at the rate of fifteen dollars per month when on foot, and at the rate of twenty dollars per month when mounted, for every month that such person is engaged in actual service; and, in the event, that the commissioner or agent, herein referred to, should die, resign, or fail to perform the duties herein required of him, his excellency the governor is hereby authorised and required to appoint, in his stead, some other fit and proper person to the command of said guard; and the commissioner or agent, having the command of the guard aforesaid, for the better discipline thereof, shall appoint three sergeants, who shall receive at the rate of twenty dollars per month while serving on foot, and twenty-five dollars per month, when mounted, as compensation whilst in actual service.

'Sec. 13. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the said guard, or any member of them, shall be, and they are hereby, authorised and empowered to arrest any person legally charged with, or detected in, a violation of the laws of this state, and to convey, as soon as practicable, the person so arrested before a justice of the peace, judge of the superior or justice of inferior court of this state, to be dealtwith according to law; and the pay and support of said guard be provided out of the fund already appropriated for the protection of the gold mines.'

The legislature of Georgia, on the 19th December 1829, passed the following act:

'An act to add the territory lying within the chartered limits of Georgia, and now in the occupancy of the Cherokee Indians, to the counties of Carroll, De Kalb, Gwinnett, Hall, and Habersham, and to extend the laws of this state over the same, and to annul all laws and ordinances made by the Cherokee nation of Indians, and to provide for the compensation of officers serving legal process in said territory, and to regulate the testimony of Indians, and to repeal the ninth section of the act of 1828 upon this subject.

'Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the state of Georgia in general assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that from and after the passing of this act, all that part of the unlocated territory within the...

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