Adams Papers

To John Adams from William Stephens Smith, 16 May 1799

East Chester May 16th. 1799—


I received the enclosed papers yesterday, the importance of their contents, induces me to forward them without loss of time, particularly as Mr. Shaw had told me, when here, that it was understood from the secretary of War, that the Indian Chiefs left Philadelphia perfectly satisfied, these papers will prove to you, that they were highly irritated, they have arrived some time, at Detroit, and do not bear a very friendly aspect.

The Agent Mr. Schiefflen is at New York, and is apprehensive, if upon his arrival amongst them he is not authorised to say, that Commissioners will be appointed, to hear and report fully, to Goverment the subjects of their uneasiness, that the most alarming consequences are expected to take place particularly as he was left by them, in Philadelphia to bring communications from Government to them, perhaps you may be acquainted with the reasons of the Secretary of War’s Conduct on this Subject, but it appears to me a more conciliatory line of Conduct, both towards the Indians and the agent of Indian affairs, would have had a more happy effect, than the one he is pursuing, in short, I seriously believe, that there is an absolute necessity of holding a conference, with them or immediately reinforcing the frontier posts, even the British Government shew symptoms of alarm at the present disposition of the Indians, Sir John Johnson, has left Montreal, passed Niagara thro’ the woods, on his way to the British Garrison on the East Side of the waters of Lake Erie, & one hundred men from each Battalion of militia in the Provence of Upper Canada are ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march in an hours warning, in addition to the regular forces—The french Governor Despeneaux in the West Indies has declared War against us by Proclamation, and there is every reason to expect that attempts will be made on the Mississipi by french & Spanish Agents, to take the advantage of the present dissatisfied State of the Indian mind—I am certain they can be tranquilized, by pursuing that system of benevolence, and expanded Justice, which is due from the Civilized to the Savage Man—If we adhere to the plan laid down in the Secretary’s Speach, and take the British plans, as a guide to our Indian policey, be assured the frontier, will, by the fall of the Year, smoak, with savage war. It will form a ralling point for the french and spanish agents with their mymidons, furnish strong grounds, for the french Governments to display their evil designs upon, relative to us, open a wide door for national expence, & break up for a considerable time, the infant frontier settlements, at present flourishing & in the full tide of prosperity—

But I fear I may trespass on your time, & perhaps you may be better and more fully informed by others on this subject, I should have no objection, to communicate the liberal & expanded policey of the Government of The United states, relative to the Indians, & I would pledge myself to tranquilize them, or should the Government think proper, to let them run the War—[career] I am ready & willing to enter that harsh field in their service—

With best regards to Mrs. Adams & Love / to my dear Boys—I am Sir, / Your most obliged / Humble Servt.

W: S: Smith

N.B. Mr. Shieffelin will proceed very slowly, If you feel disposed to say one mild word, on the subject It shall overtake him before he gets to detroit—

MHi: Adams Papers.

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