September 3, 1838
To the Honourable General Tipton
General I received yesterday your letter dated 2nd September, to which I give to day the answer which you requested me to give you. It is not the least of the world in my power to satisfy those whom you call the dissentients, and to harmonise the whole matter, because it is not let to my choice to go, or not to go West. I am under the dependance of my Bishop and at his disposal, as much at least as any soldier of your troops is at your disposal; I wrote to him for the subject of being allowed to follow the Indians, in the case, that most of them would be willing to emigrate; I received a full denial of my request; of course I must not think any more of going West.
Was I at liberty to go or not to go, though I had no personal objection, in the case the Indians would be willing to go, it would be repugnant and hard to me to associate in any way to the unaccountable measures lately taken for the removal of the Indians. You had right perhaps, if duly authorized, to take possession of the land, but to make from free men slaves, no man can take upon himself to do so in this free country. Those who wish to move must be moved, those who want to remain must be left to themselves. Col. Pepper, in the name of the president, spoke several times in that way, and he said that by the 5th of August those who want to remain, would be submitted to the law of the country. Of course it is against men under the protection of the law, that you act in such a dictatorial manner; it is impossible for me, and for many to conceive how such events may take place in this country of liberty. I have consecrated my whole life, my whole powers to the good of my neighbours, but as to associate to any violence against them, even if it were at my own disposal, I cannot find in me strength enough to do so. May God protect them, and me, against numerous misrepresentations which are made, both of them and of me.
I am sorry, General, not to be able to comply any further with your wishes.
Your most obedient Servant
The Trail of Death: Letters of Benjamin Marie Petit (1925)