Theodore Frelinghuysen

Heroes are too often forgotten. I had never heard of this senator from New Jersey. In my reading the biographies of Presidents, his name kept coming up. I decided to read a summary of his 1830 six-hour speech delivered to Congress opposing Indian removal from the southern states. His passionate plea almost won the day. How different American history might have been had his words been heeded. Springfield MO witnessed some of the final throes of Congress' failure when the Trail of Tears passed through our town in 1838.

Once I read the summary, I wanted to read the whole unedited version of his speech. The folks at Brentwood Library did archaeological excavations for me and found it in its entirety at archives.org.

I wish I could have heard the "Christian Statesman", as Frelinghuysen was called, deliver it in person. He said the Indians were as much under God's care and Providence as the European settlers had been. The senator claimed neither British law nor USA law nor Georgia law could rightfully claim priority over Indian law. Frelinghuysen said God had put the natives here on this land before Great Britain even existed. His speech proved to be in vain, but for me, it echoes. It blessed me. As a Christian, it is hard to read about how my forebears treated other peoples in this nation. In our Slavocratic lust for King Cotton, we craved land and hands. The former we took from Indians; the latter we forced from slaves. I'm glad to be reminded there were some of our ilk who took the position of our Savior, and showed the compassion of Christ.

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