Report of Committee on Instructions to Indian Commissioners
[4 Mar. 1784]
The Committee appointed to revise the 4th. and 5th. of the instructions of Oct. 15. 1782  given to the Commissioners for negotiating a treaty with the Indians have agreed to the following resolutions.
Resolved that the said 4th. article be repealed and that instead thereof the following be substituted. 4thly. that a meridian line passing through the lowest point of the Rapids of Ohio to the Northern boundary of these United states, shall be proposed as the1 line of division between the several Indian tribes2 and these states, so that all the lands comprehended between the said boundary on the North, the Ohio on the South, the said meridian on the West and Pennsylvania on the East, or so much thereof as the tribes, having title thereto, may be induced to part with, shall be ceded to the United states.3
Resolved that the said 5th. article be repealed and that instead thereof the following be substituted. 5thly. The interests and happiness of the Indians as well as of the inhabitants of the United states requiring that every circumstance should be avoided which may lead to hostile dispositions between them, and the meeting of several tribes4 in one council having a tendency to generate combinations for the purposes of war,5 the said Commissioners are instructed, as far as shall be in their power to treat with every tribe6 at different times and places; and where necessity shall oblige them to bring two or more tribes4 together, that they still keep their treaties and conferences distinct:7 that they make known to the Shawanese and Delawares that these United states consider them as independant nations and will protect them as such:8 that they countenance every disposition in any one of the six nations to treat and act separately and independantly of their confederacy:9 and that in general they discourage every coalition and consultation which might tend to involve10 any one tribe11 in the wars of the others.
MS (DNA: PCC, No. 30); entirely in TJ’s hand, but with alterations on other hands as noted below; endorsed in Thomson’s hand: “No. 6. Report of Mr Jefferson Mr Howell Mr Williamson On 4 and 5 of instructions of 15 Oct. 1783. to comrs. for negotiating with Indians. Entd. read. 4 March 1784. passed 19 March 1784.” Printed JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 152–4.
The original report of the committee to whom were referred various letters and documents pertaining to Indian affairs was submitted on 15 Oct. 1783 and is in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxv, 681–94. The fourth article is at p. 686; it provided for a boundary line beginning at “the mouth of the great Miami River, which empties into the Ohio, thence along the said river Miami to its confluence with the Mad river; thence by a direct line to the Miami fort at the village of that name on the other Miami river which empties into Lake Erie; thence along the last mentioned river to lake Erie, comprehending all the lands between the above mentioned lines and the State of Pennsylvania on the East, Lake Erie on the North and the River Ohio on the South East.” The fifth article is at p. 687 and provided that the commissioners hold one convention with the Indian tribes and their allies and dependents inhabiting the area embraced by the northern and middle departments, together with the western territory, “and only yield to seperate conventions in case of inevitable necessity.” The committee consisting of TJ, Howell, and Williamson was appointed 3 Mch. 1784 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 123; Committee Book, PCC: No. 186). The Journals do not mention the fact that on the same day there was referred to TJ, Howell, and Lee a report of another committee to whom had been referred the eighth article of the report on Indian affairs; the earlier committee had reported on 24 Oct. 1783 concerning the acquisition and control of supplies to be furnished the Indians at the forthcoming treaty (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxv, 747; the endorsement on the report and Committee Book, PCC: No. 186, show that it was recommitted on 3 Mch. 1784). The report on this revision of the eighth article, in the handwriting of Howell and Gerry, was handed in 4 Mch. and adopted on 19 Mch.; it provided for the purchase of goods not to exceed $15,000 in value and for employment by the commissioners of persons to receive, transport, and have custody of such goods (PCC: No. 30; JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 154–5). It was this same committee (TJ, Howell, and Lee) that reported on 5 Mch. concerning further arrangements necessary for carrying out the treaty (see note to TJ to Clark, 4 Mch. 1784). For the cession of lands made by the Six Nations at Fort Stanwix in 1784, see Adams, Atlas of American History, 1943, plate 90; see note to Madison to TJ, 17 Oct. 1784.
1. The preceding five words were interlined by TJ in substitution for the following: “comprehending all the lands between the said boundary on the North, the Ohio on the South, the said Meridian on the West and Pennsylvania on the East, or so much thereof as the nations having title thereto may be inclined to <consent to> yield, <shall be ceded to the United States> shall be agreed on as the dividing.”
2. This word was deleted and “nations” interlined in TJ’s hand.
3. At this point the following was added in another hand, in the margin: “and Possession thereof or of any Parts thereof to be given to the US at such Times as may be agreed upon at the Treaty.” This was probably offered as an amendment in Congress, and that part of it stipulating that possession should be given at such time as might be agreed upon at the treaty was deleted, since it does not appear in the Secret (Domestic) Journal (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 153, 154, note).
4. This word was deleted and “Nations” interlined in Thomson’s hand.
5. The passage reading “The interests and happiness of the Indians … for the purposes of war” was deleted by amendment in Congress.
6. This passage was altered by amendment in Congress (interlineations in Thomson’s hand) to read: “as far as they shall find it convenient to treat with the several Nations.”
7. This was altered in Congress (interlineations in Thomson’s hand) to read: “as distinct as may be.”
8. The passage “that they make known … and will protect them as such” was deleted, probably by amendment in Congress.
9. The preceding three words were deleted.
10. The following deleted at this point, probably by TJ: “these tribes in contests which any one of them may enter into with these United states.”
11. This word deleted and “Nation” interlined in Thomson’s hand.