Ulysses S. Grant photo

Special Message

January 30, 1871

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I transmit herewith an official copy of the proceedings of the council of Indian tribes held at Ocmulgee in December last, which resulted in the adoption of a declaration of rights and a constitution for their government, together with a copy of the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and the views of the Secretary of the Interior thereon.

It would seem highly desirable that the civilized Indians of the country should be encouraged in establishing for themselves forms of Territorial government compatible with the Constitution of the United States and with the previous customs toward communities lying outside of State limits.

I concur in the views expressed by the Secretary of the Interior, that it would not be advisable to receive the new Territory with the constitution precisely as it is now framed. As long as a Territorial form of government is preserved, Congress should hold the power of approving or disapproving of all legislative action of the Territory, and the Executive should, with "the advice and consent of the Senate," have the power to appoint the governor and judicial officers (and possibly some others) of the Territory.

This is the first indication of the aborigines desiring to adopt our form of government, and it is highly desirable that they become self-sustaining, self-relying, Christianized, and civilized. If successful in this their first attempt at Territorial government, we may hope for a gradual concentration of other Indians in the new Territory. I therefore recommend as close an adherence to their wishes as is consistent with safety.

It might be well to limit the appointment of all Territorial officials appointed by the Executive to native citizens of the Territory. If any exception is made to this rule, I would recommend that it should be limited to the judiciary.

It is confidently hoped that the policy now being pursued toward the Indian will fit him for self-government and make him desire to settle among people of his own race where he can enjoy the full privileges of civil and enlightened government.


Ulysses S. Grant, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/204144

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