Conversation with George Hammond1
Philadelphia [November 15–December 3, 1792]
In a recent conversation which I have had with Mr Hamilton, that Gentleman informed me that this government has in its possession the most indisputable proofs of an active interference on the part of the Spanish government in exciting the Creeks and Cherokees to war against the United States.2 He added that Baron Corrondolet, Governor of West Florida,3 had furnished the Indians with considerable supplies and ammunition for carrying into effect their hostile purposes. A confidential communication of these circumstances has been made to the two houses of Congress,4 but as during the reading of those papers, the doors were shut, I have not yet been able to ascertain the precise extent of the information submitted.
D, PRO: F.O. description begins Transcripts or photostats from the Public Record Office of Great Britain deposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Series 4, Vol. 16, Part V.
1. Hammond had served as chargé d’affaires at Vienna from 1788 to 1790 and in 1791 as Minister Plenipotentiary at Madrid. In September, 1791, he was appointed British Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States.
This conversation has been taken from Hammond to Lord Grenville, December 4, 1792, Dispatch No. 41.
2. On July 6, 1792, the Creek Indians and the Spanish signed a treaty which guaranteed the Creeks possession of their lands and promised them Spanish aid in case of attack. On August 15, 1792, George Washington sent to Henry Knox dispatches received from James Seagrove, agent of the United States to the Creek Nation, and at the same time requested “that the Secretary of the Treasury would also consider them attentively” (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XXXII, 116). These dispatches described Spanish efforts to arouse the Indians against the Americans and included information that in October, 1792, a six-man delegation from the Cherokee Nation had gone to New Orleans, where plans for a defensive alliance between Spain and the Cherokee Nation were made. The dispatches, together with other papers concerning the southern Indians and their relations with Spain, were sent by Knox to Congress on November 7, 1792, and are printed in 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, 225, 295–318. On November 7 Washington also sent to Congress a message and papers “relative to Spanish interference with the Indians” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 138–39).
3. Don Francisco Louis Hector, Baron de Carondelet, Spanish Governor and Intendant General of the Provinces of Louisiana and West Florida. On October 14 Jefferson wrote to William Carmichael and William Short, United States commissioners to Spain: “That the Baron de Carondelet their chief Governor at New Orleans has excited the Indians to war on us; that he has furnished them with abundance of arms and ammunition, and promised them whatever more shall be necessary I have from the mouth of him who had it from his own mouth. In short, that he is the sole source of a great and serious war now burst out upon us, and from Indians who we know were in peaceable dispositions towards us, till prevailed on by him to commence the war, there remains scarcely room to doubt” (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1892–1899). description ends , VI, 118–19). Jefferson again wrote to Short and Carmichael on this subject on November 3, 1792 (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1892–1899). description ends , VI, 129–30). On December 4, 1792, Hammond wrote to Lord Grenville: “I have however learnt from another quarter that Baron Corrondolet justifies his interposition upon the principle that part of the Creeks comprehended in the treaty settled at New York in the year 1790, reside within the limits of Spain, are subjects of that Crown, and consequently not competent to enter into any sort of separate agreement with any other power” (PRO: F.O. description begins Transcripts or photostats from the Public Record Office of Great Britain deposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Series 4, Vol. 16, Part V). See also Tench Coxe to H, November 8, 1792.
4. See note 2.