Alexander Hamilton Papers

Continental Congress Report on Peace with the Indians, 21 April 1783

Continental Congress
Report on Peace with the Indians

[Philadelphia] April 21, 1783

Report of a Committee to whom was committed the letter from His Excelly The President of the State of Pensylvania respecting a peace with the Indians.1

Whereas by the 9th article of the confederation The United States in Congress assembled are vested with the sole and exclusive right and power among other things “of regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians not members of any of the States”—

Resolved, that the general superintendence of Indian Affairs under Congress be annexed to the department of war.

That there be a suspension of offensive hostilities against the Indian nations, and that immediate measures be taken to communicate the same to the several tribes preparatory to a final pacification.

That there be four Agents appointed for the transaction of affairs with the indians in the different districts—one for the eastern district comprehending all the tribes under the general denomination of the Penobscot Indians; one for the Northern district comprehending the six nations and the nations depending on them; one for the Western district comprehending all the tribes under the general denomination of the Western indians; one for the Southern district comprehending all the southern nations with an allowance not exceeding  2 dollars per annum to each agent. That measures be taken to purchase articles proper for presents to the indians to the amount of  3 to be distributed when their deputies shall assemble for the purpose of a treaty of peace.

That in order to a speedy pacification till the commissioners aforesaid can be appointed a special Committee be appointed instructed to endeavour to engage one or more respectable inhabitants for each district acquainted with indian affairs to undertake the negotiation of an immediate peace and that the said Committee digest such further measures as it will be proper for Congress to take with reference thereto.4

AD, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.

1The committee, consisting of H, James Madison, Samuel Osgood, Oliver Ellsworth, and James Wilson, had been appointed on April 3 or 4 to consider arrangements necessitated by the treaty of peace. The letter from the president of Pennsylvania, John Dickinson, had been referred to the same committee. See H to Washington, April 9, 1783, note 2.

2Space left blank in MS.

3Space left blank in MS.

4The endorsement to this report reads as follows: “April 21. 1783. Read. Ent[ered]. Monday 28. April assigned for the Consideration. Augt 12th. 1783 referred to Comte. on peace Arrangements.” The editor of the Journals of the Congress states that this committee reported on September 19 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 264, note 1). Acceptance of the report, however, was prevented by the objections of New England delegates. “The report,” Irving Brant writes, “finally became a part of the proceedings which led to the Western territorial plan of 1784 and the Ordinance of 1787” (Brant, James Madison, II, 291).

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