From George Washington
Mount Vernon April 4th. 1791
Your letter of the 27th. Ult. came duly to hand. For the information contained in it and for the notes which accompanied the same, I thank you.
Every expedient, as I believe you know, is in operation to avert a War with the hostile Indian tribes and to keep those who are in treaty with us in good temper;1 but I am nearly thoroughly convinced that neither will be effected, or, if effected, will be of short duration while land jobbing and the disorderly conduct of our borders is suffered with impunity; and whilst the States individually are omitting no occasion to interfere in matters which belong to the general Government.
It is not more than four or five months since the Six Nations or part of them were assured (through the medium of Colo. Pickering)2 that thence forward they would be spoken to by the Government of United States only and the same thing was repeated in strong terms to the Cornplanter at Philadelphia afterwards.3 Now, as appears by the extract from Mr. King,4 the Legislature of New York are going into some negotiations with these very people. What must this evince to them? Why, that we pursue no system, and that our declarations are not to be regard. To sum the whole up in a few words—the interferences of States, and the speculations of Individuals will be the bane of all our public measures.
Sincerely & Affectionately I am Yrs.
ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.
1. For an account of the measures undertaken by the Administration during the spring of 1791 to conciliate the western Indians and to ensure the neutrality of the Six Nations, see ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Indian Affairs, I, 139–71.
2. Timothy Pickering met with the Seneca in November, 1790, to arrange compensation for the murder of several Indians by white men.
3. See “The reply of the President of the United States to the speech of the Cornplanter, Half-Town, and Great-Tree, Chiefs and Councillors of the Seneca nation of Indians,” December 29, 1790 (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Indian Affairs, I, 142–43). The Seneca chiefs had met with Government officials in Philadelphia from December, 1790, to February, 1791, to consider Seneca complaints of land fraud and encroachment.