From William Hull1
Niagara Feb.y. 6th. 1793.
I arrived at this place on the 2d. instant, but was not able to see the Governor untill the 3d. on account of the vast quantity of Ice floating in the River.
On the 3d. instant I addressed myself to him, delivered Mr. Hammonds letter, and communicated the object of My mission.2
He was engaged in preparing for a journey to the River Tranche, and from thence to Detroit and the next morning was fixed on for his departure.
He expressed much surprize that the British Minister should have imagined that the request I made could have been complied with by him.
1. Because the Indian affairs are under the direction of the Commander in Chief in his military character.
2. Because Lord Dorchester while in this country issued a standing order that no supplies should be conveyed to the Indians by the United States thro’ the medium of these ports on any pretence whatever.
3. Because Genl. Clarke3 is now the Commander in chief and continues the same regulations.
4. That an instance in point happened on the application of Colo. Proctor to Colo. Gordon, which was refused, and Colo. Gordon’s Conduct was highly approved by Lord Dorchester.4
5. Because the Indians, when they proposed the treaty applied to him for supplies, and he engaged to furnish them.5
6. Because it has been the invariable custom of the British Government to furnish them with provisions at all their meetings & treaties.
7. Because the Indians themselves have objected to the measure of being supplied by the United States, as they cannot treat on independent ground; while they daily receive their dinners from the party with whom they were treating.
As nearly as I recollect, these are all the reasons which the Governor stated against a compliance with our wishes.
At present it is unnecessary to communicate to you the reply which I made to these reasons. It is sufficient to say that they were unavailing. The next day the Governor began his journey, and expects to be absent six weeks.
Before his departure, he communicated to me the proceedings of the Indians at their Councils at the Au-glaise in Octobr. 1792, and at Buffaloe Creek in Novr. 1792.6 as interpreted by the British Interpreters.
I have obtained copies of those proceedings and have enclosed them to the Secretary at War, being particularly within his department, and have stated the conversation which took place between the Governor and myself respecting the proposed treaty.
In the course of my journey, late at night, when I was much fatigued, I wrote you several letters with respect to the supplies.7
I stated that my instructions did not fully authorize me to contract with Citizens of the United States to have the supplies furnished from the states. The instructions in fact did not give me that authority. But before I left Canadagua, I re-examined my power of attorney and found sufficient Authority in that for the purpose.
I therefore consulted with Genl. Chapin,8 and it was his opinion that all the supplies could not be furnished in upper Canada. He recommended a Colo Taylor of that place, with whom I was well acquainted, as the most suitable person to contract with.
I applied to Colo. Taylor, and he with two of the Genls sons were willing to contract for the whole of the supplies. The Genl. engaged to Guarantee the contract on their part. We therefore made a memorandum of the terms of the contract, provided that Governor Simcoe would open the communication, and with this further provision, that I could not make a more advantageous contract in upper Canada.
Colo Taylor has accompanied me, with a view, if the contract had been made absolute, immediately to begin the operation.
A complete ration by this contract would have cost the United States, delivered at the place of treaty about fourteen Cents.
Mr. Hamilton,9 the most respectable merchant in this place would have been concerned in the contract, as a part of the supplies could have better been supplied here than from the States.
As the Governor is absent and I can be of no use here, I have determined to return to Canadagua again and there wait for further instructions.
I should likewise have enclosed to you the proceedings of the Councils I have refered to, but I have not time to make out another set of Copies.
The Secretary at War will doubtless communicate their contents to you, and likewise the informations I have given him relating to the treaty.10
During my short stay here, I have received every possible civility & respect, from the Governor his officers, and the Gentlemen of the place.
With every consideration of respect, I am your most obedt. servt.
Secretary of Treasury
P.S. Since writing the above, I have considered whether under all circumstances, it is not most adviseable for me to remain at this place untill I receive further instructions. If I do not remain here, I shall not proceed further than Genl. Chapins. I am &C.
Copy, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.
1. Hull, a native of Derby, Connecticut, had served as a lieutenant colonel in a Massachusetts regiment during the American Revolution. After the war he settled in Newton, Massachusetts, where he practiced law. In 1784 Congress sent him to Canada on an unsuccessful mission to demand the surrender of the posts which the British held in violation of the 1783 treaty. In January, 1793, Hull was appointed agent to arrange with John Graves Simcoe, governor of Upper Canada, for the purchase of supplies for the proposed meeting with the western Indians in the spring.
For background to this letter, see “Draft of Instructions for William Hull,” January 14, 1793. See also “Conversation with George Hammond,” December 15–28, 1792; H to Hammond, December 29, 1792. For the proposed council with the western Indians, see “Conversation with George Hammond,” November 22, 1792, note 4.
On December 29, 1792, H had requested Hammond, the British Minister to the United States, to facilitate preparations for the council with the western Indians in the spring of 1793, and in January, 1793, Hammond had forwarded accounts of his negotiations with the Americans to Simcoe. On January 21, 1793, Simcoe wrote to Hammond explaining his position on the proposed conference. In this letter he stated that it had been the long-standing policy of the British government in Canada to supply the Indians, and that, since the British held the posts “by their permission, from hence has arisen the constant Necessity that the Government of Canada has been under of supplying the Wants of any Assemblage of the Savages for any purpose whatsoever; and consequently the Standing Orders of these Posts have always been to this Effect” (Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 277–78).
2. In a letter to Hammond, dated February 3, 1793, Simcoe described his meeting with Hull as follows: “General Hull has just delivered to me Your Excellency’s Credentials.… I conceived it to be improper for me to admit the request of the United States to furnish the Indians with Provisions, I can only add that I have endeavoured to press upon the General that my declining the request is consequent to the Military Orders subsisting at this post, and in particular as upon a similar construction to that which I now place upon those orders, Colonel [Andrew] Gordon, my predecessor, refused the request of Colonel [Thomas] Proctor in 1791 to proceed with some Indian Chiefs in one of the King’s Vessels to Sandusky for the purpose of Negociation,—which proceeding of Colonel Gordon’s met with the full approbation of Lord Dorchester.
“Colonel Proctor’s request was ‘to be permitted to charter a freight in one of our vessels for such Number of Indians as may accompany me to Sandusky.’—on Colonel Gordon’s refusal the Answer of Lord Dorchester [Governor General of Canada] is, June 2nd 1791 ‘the Application of Mr. Proctor for the hire of one of the King’s Vessels on Lake Erie, has to me an appearance of insult, ‘tis impossible He could expect success—I take it for granted You have taken effectual means also to prevent his procuring any Vessel or Conveyance from any of the King’s Subjects which Mr. [John] Butler mentions to have been his intention.’ I read the substance of this transaction to General Hull to evince to him that I did not Personally throw any obstacles in the way of his Mission, but that I follow’d Instructions which I could not misinterpret as they had already been acted upon.
“At the General’s request I have given him a Copy of the Message of the Western Indians to me, and that of the Six Nations with my Answers. He intimated to me in Conversation, that He had understood the Message must have been misinterpreted to the President as far as related to the place of meeting, which the President understood to be at the Glaize, and General [Israel] Chapin the Superintendant whom he met with on the road, had informed him was at Sandusky. Upon our recurrence to the above-mentioned Speeches He was confirmed that General Chapin was right in his assertion.
“I declined of course placing my refusal of the request upon any other Basis than my Obedience to the Military Orders of the Post, and whenever in Conversation, any observation called for animadversion, I took care constantly to observe, that what I then said was matter of discourse, and that my Subordinate Situation prevented me from entering into any discussion of what was not committed to my discretion. I also mentioned to him in strong terms the Obligation which had been imposed upon our Posts of always Supplying the Indians.…” (Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 286–87.)
3. Alured Clarke, who had served as a brigadier general in the British army during the American Revolution, had been appointed lieutenant governor and administrator of the Province of Lower Canada on December 26, 1791.
4. See note 2. Proctor had been sent in 1791 on a mission to the Miami and Wabash Indians to persuade them to attend a council at Fort Washington. Henry Knox’s “Instructions to Colonel Thomas Proctor,” March 11, 1791, is 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, 145–46, and Proctor’s account of his journey and his correspondence with Gordon, commandant at Niagara, 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, 149–65.
5. On October 9, 1792, a deputation from the western tribes had announced to Simcoe their willingness to meet the representatives of the United States and requested that the British furnish the provisions for the meeting (Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 229). Simcoe assured the Indians of the continued “assistance which has ever been afforded you, by the King your Father, & the provisions which you request shall be forwarded to Lower Sandusky” (Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 231).
6. The proceedings of the council at the Auglaize are printed in Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 218–29. An account of the Buffalo Creek council, dated November 13, 1792, may be found in Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 256–60. A somewhat different version, dated November 16, 1792, is 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, 323–24. See also “Conversation with George Hammond,” November 22, 1792, note 4.
7. Letters not found.
8. Israel Chapin, a native of Grafton, Massachusetts, had served as a brigadier general in the Massachusetts militia during the American Revolution. In 1789 he was a member of the group that negotiated the Phelps-Gorham purchase in western New York, and in the same year he settled at Canandaigua, New York. In 1793 he was United States agent to the Six Nations.
9. Robert Hamilton was a merchant at Niagara and a member of the Legislative Council for the Province of Upper Canada.
10. On February 24 the President submitted to the cabinet the documents which Hull sent to Knox. See Washington to H, Jefferson, Knox, and Randolph, February 24, 1793, note 3.