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Special Message

December 10, 1840

To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit, for the action of the Senate, a communication from the Secretary of War, on the subject of the transfer of Chickasaw stock to the Choctaw tribe, which the accompanying papers explain.


WAR DEPARTMENT, December 10, 1840·


SIR: I have the honor to lay before you a communication from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, relative to the transfer of $500,000 Chickasaw stock to the Choctaws in execution of the compact of 17th January, 1837, between those tribes, that if you think it advisable you may assent to the proposed transfer and lay the matter before the Senate for the sanction of that body.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,



December, 1840.


Secretary of War.

SIR: A compact was made on the 17th January, 1837, "subject to the approval of' the President and Senate of the United States," which it received from the former on the 24th March, 1837, in conformity with the resolution of the Senate of 25th February, between the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes of Indians, of which I have the honor to inclose a copy.

By this instrument the right to occupy a portion of the Choctaw country west of the Mississippi was, with certain privileges, secured to the Chickasaws, who agreed to pay therefor $530,000, of which $30,000 were paid in 1837, and the remaining $500,000 it was agreed should be invested under the direction of the Government of the United States and that the interest should be paid annually to the Choctaws.

There being no money to place in the hands of the United States, but a very large amount of Chickasaw stock under the direction of the Treasury, the reasonable desire of the Choctaws that this large fund belonging to them should be put in their own names on the books of the Government can be gratified by a transfer of so much of the stock to the Secretary of War for their use, upon which the interest will be received and paid over to them. This will be an execution of the agreement of the parties. A sale of stocks to raise the money and then a reinvestment of it according to the letter of the compact ought not to be resorted to on account of their present low price in the market.

In considering this subject in the course of the autumn the thirteenth article of the treaty of 24th May, 1834, with the Chickasaws was adverted to, by which it is provided: "If the Chickasaws shall be so fortunate as to procure a home within the limits of the United States, it is agreed that, with the consent of the President and Senate, so much of their invested stock as may be necessary to the purchase of a country for them to settle in shall be permitted to them to be sold, or the United States will advance the necessary amount upon a guaranty and pledge of an equal amount of their stocks." The compact. before referred to having been ratified by the President and Senate, it was doubted whether that was not a virtual consent to the application of so much of the stock as would be required to pay for the land and privileges contracted for by the said compact, and an authority for the transfer of it. The question was referred to the Attorney-General, who was of opinion that the transfer could not be legally made without the assent of the President and Senate to the particular act.

I have therefore respectfully to request that you will lay the matter before the President, that if he concurs in the propriety of so doing he may give his own and ask the consent of the Senate to the proposed proceeding.

Very respectfully, your most obedient,


Martin van Buren, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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