From Josef de Jaudenes and Josef Ignacio de Viar
Philadelphia 12. de Mayo de 1793.
Mui Señor nuestro
Acavamos de recivir varios avisos del Governador de Sn. Agustin relativos à la disposicion que prevalece actualmente entre los Indios Creekes, las atrosidades que han cometido estos ultimamente, y otras noticias que aclaran bastante la conducta amistosa, y pacifica hacia los Americanos, è Indios que se desea seguir de parte de nuestro govierno, y la mui diferente que observa el Superintendente de los Estados Unidos Don Diego Seagrove hacia los Españoles, y dichos Salvages.
De todos nos hà parecido oportuno pasar Copias à V.S. con el fin de que se entere el Presidente de los Estados Unidos de sus contenidos, y convencerle al mismo tiempo del interes que tomamos en todo quanto puede contribuir à la conservacion de la buena harmonia, y perfecta amistad que felizmente reina entre España, y los Estados Unidos. Tenemos la honrra de subscrivirnos à la disposicion de V.S. con la mas sincera voluntad y sumo respeto, Señor Los mas obedtes., y humdes. servs. Q.B.L.M. de V.S.
josef de jaudenes josef ignacio de viar
Philadelphia 12 May 1793
Our very dear Sir
We have just received several communications from the Governor of St. Augustine concerning the situation prevailing at present among the Creek Indians, the atrocities these Indians have committed recently, and other pieces of information that do much to explain the peaceful and friendly behavior our government desires to follow towards the Americans and Indians, and the very different behavior observed by the United States Superintendent, Mr. James Seagrove, towards the Spaniards and those savages.
It has seemed to us appropriate to forward copies of all these communications to you with the object of informing the President of the United States of their contents, and of convincing him, at the same time, of the interest we take in everything that can contribute to maintaining the good harmony and perfect friendship that happily reigns between Spain and the United States. We have the honor of placing ourselves at your disposition with our best will and complete respect, Sir, your most obedient and humble servants. Respectfully yours,
josef de jaudenes josef ignacio de viar
RC (DNA: RG 59, NL); in Viar’s hand, signed by Jaudenes and Viar; at foot of text: “Sor. Dn. Thomas Jefferson &ca.”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Tr (AHN: Papeles de Estado, legajo 3895); attested by Jaudenes and Viar. Enclosures: (1) A Reliable Person of the Creek Nation to Governor Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada, St. Marys River, 18 Feb. 1793, stating that, according to Mr. Fowler, at the beginning of the month an Indian in Coweta threw at the feet of John M. Holmes, James Seagrove’s deputy, the scalp of a man he had found on the Creek side of the boundary along the Oconee; that Fowler witnessed nine Shawnee chiefs and a white man at Coweta attempt to persuade the Creeks to make war on the Americans, but the Creeks deferred making a decision until the full moon; that Fowler also saw Upper and Lower Creeks returning every day from Cumberland and Kentucky with horses, slaves, and scalps; that the writer himself had recently seen several Indians seemingly displeased with the boundary drawn in St. Marys; and that the Indians charged that the old chief Maletkie had accepted bribes to allow American surveyors to draw the boundary for the Treaty of New York as they wished. (2) Same to same, 13 Mch. 1793, describing attacks the previous evening by a party of ten young braves on Robert Seagrove’s store at the head of the St. Marys and on Gascoigne’s depot nearby, as well as one the same night by another party of ten young braves on James Cashen’s depot on the Satilla. (3) Quesada to A Reliable Person of the Creek Nation, St. Augustine, 16 Mch. 1793, stating that he regretted these Indian attacks on Americans; that steps should be taken to allay the resultant fears of Spanish subjects; that American refugees from Indian cruelty should be welcomed in East Florida but kept away from the St. Marys; and that he would respond to any Indian complaints by pointing out that Indians rightly defended with zeal any white man who took refuge with them. (4) A Reliable Person of the Creek Nation to Quesada, 19 Mch. 1793, stating that the Indians on the Satilla had attacked three families on their way to East Florida, not Cashen’s store; that James Seagrove had behaved cowardly while in pursuit of the offending Indians and Seagrove’s men had promised to make this public in a Savannah newspaper; that Seagrove sold for private profit the goods Congress sent him for the Indians; that Seagrove probably incited the Indians to attack Panton, Leslie & Company and had ordered a letter to be published blaming the Spanish for the Indian attacks; that Seagrove had become highly unpopular because of his rough methods in carrying out the Treaty of New York; and that American refugees would be assisted according to Quesada’s instructions; with postscript of 20 Mch. 1793 advising that he has just learned that Indians were murdering and raiding all along the Georgia frontier. (5) Quesada to A Reliable Person of the Creek Nation, 22 Mch. 1793, stating that there was no truth to the charge that the government of East Florida had encouraged the Indians to attack the Georgians and that the world would soon be convinced of a certain person’s responsibility for this calamity; that it was unwise to cross the St. Marys; and that American refugees were still to be received. (6) A Reliable Person of the Creek Nation to Quesada, 28 Mch. 1793, stating that thirteen Shawnee chiefs were conferring with the Creeks in an effort to make them declare war against the Americans immediately; that squads had been sent to different parts of Georgia in quest of booty and horsemen; that a messenger sent to this town about eighteen or twenty days ago by Timothy Barnes, James Seagrove’s deputy, had probably been killed by the same Indians who sacked in Satilla; that two of Cashen’s employees had just gone to the Creeks with a load of goods; that Alexander McGillivray died two months ago in Pensacola at Panton’s house; and that he would welcome American refugees. (7) Same to same, 8 Apr. 1793, stating that the Creeks were divided over war and peace; that since his last letter murders and robberies had been committed on the Altamaha, with all the stores on it having been looted; that Cashen’s employees reported that the Creeks were at odds with the Choctaws and Chickasaws and that three Creek towns had united unanimously with the Shawnees; that Juan Canard could not convince the Creeks that the war was unjust; that James Seagrove had been invited to appear before the Creek nation and had received an order that Lachua chief Thomas Pain should keep his people in their area; and that rumors of an increase in the number of savages between the St. Marys and the Satilla seemed true because Indians had crossed over to Georgia eight miles from Seagrove’s store. (8) Same to same, 20 Apr. 1793, stating that since his last letter twenty-five or thirty Indians, probably from Lachua, came to Mac-Girtt’s ford apparently to move on to the Altamaha; and that since Indians moved through East Florida on their expeditions against Georgia, Quesada should ask the chiefs in St. Augustine to instruct their braves to keep to the established roads and settlements on the St. Marys, so as to avoid destruction of the few cattle owned by Spanish subjects along the river, reduce American distrust of the government of East Florida, and prevent the Indians from learning that Americans were routinely informed of their movements by East Floridians. (9) Declaration of James Dearment to Quesada, St. Augustine, 18 Apr. 1793, attesting to the veracity of his three attached and undated reports, the first of which stated that he had been informed by white and red men that the Shawnees had visited the Creeks to remind them of the alliance the two tribes had concluded at Fuguebatche in 1786, to argue that the Creeks were impoverishing themselves through land cessions to the United States, and to urge that these cessions contravened the 1786 agreement between the two tribes, and that it was believed that several Creek towns would adopt the northern accord in February after their hunts; the second of which stated that, according to an important Indian named Fuckfuloke, the Creeks at a recent treaty signing in St. Marys with James Seagrove had responded to Seagrove’s denigration of the Spaniards by praising them for being peaceful where they settled, generous with presents for Indians, and not covetous of Indian lands, and cited Fuckfuloke as asserting that he would never visit Americans again because of a deceptive statement Seagrove made to him; and the third of which stated that, according to the half-breed Juan Canard, the Chiaha Indian excesses began after the Distant King learned from a woman from the Chattahoochee that some Creeks went to war against upper Georgia because northern savages had said that if the Creeks did not do this their northern friends would twist off their ears and noses and regard them as old men (Trs in DNA: RG 59, NL, in Spanish, in Viar’s hand, attested by Jaudenes and Viar; Trs in AHN: Papeles de Estado, legajo 3895; in Viar’s hand, attested by Jaudenes and Viar).
Apparently unknown to Jaudenes and Viar, Governor Quesada’s carefully disguised correspondent, far from being a Creek Indian, was in fact John Forrester, a district alcalde who at the time of the resumption of the Creek attacks on Georgia was in the process of closing a trading post on the St. Marys River that he had operated on behalf of Panton, Leslie & Company, the powerful mercantile firm that controlled Spanish trade with the Southern Indians (Coker and Watson, Indian Traders description begins William S. Coker and Thomas D. Watson, Indian Traders of the Southeastern Spanish Borderlands: Panton, Leslie & Company and John Forbes & Company, 1783–1847, Pensacola, 1986 description ends , 32, 190).
For TJ’s immediate response to this letter, see note to the first letter from Viar and Jaudenes of this date. The Washington administration’s reaction to the outbreak of hostilities between elements of the Creek nation and Georgia is set forth in Cabinet Opinion on the Creek Indians and Georgia, 29 May 1793. For an analysis of the origins of the Creek attacks on Georgia, which emphasizes the importance of Shawnee promises of British assistance to the Creeks and the wanton intrusion on Creek lands of Georgians seeking game for themselves and pasturage for their cattle and horses, see Randolph C. Downes, “Creek-American Relations, 1790–1795,” JSH description begins Journal of Southern History, 1935- description ends , viii (1942), 356–63. See also same, “Creek-American Relations, 1782–1790,” Georgia Historical Quarterly, xxi (1937), 142–84, for a discussion of the longstanding conflict between the Creeks and Georgia frontiersmen.