Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Josef Ignacio de Viar and Josef de Jaudenes, 25 May 179[3]

From Josef Ignacio de Viar and Josef de Jaudenes

Philada. May 25. 1792. [1793]


We received with due respect your letter of the 21st. inst. and have this new assurance of the sincere desire of the President of the US. to preserve the peace and harmony subsisting between Spain and the US.

For the same reason which prevented your making any reflections on the treaties with the Creeks, Choctaws and Chickasaws, we avoid at present transmitting you a voluminous relation, well authenticated, of the judicious and very opportune steps taken by the Baron de Carondelet (whom you censure) after his arrival in Louisiana, to preserve peace and friendship between Spain, and the US. and the Indian nations without exposing the known interests of the last, which otherwise would probably be sacrificed.

Nevertheless we cannot avoid inclosing you a copy of the exhortations given by the same Baron de Carondelet to the chiefs of the Cherokee nation, which not only contradict the opinion formed in these states of his character, but manifest that he has used prudent reasons only, not proposing to require from the Indians a decisive answer whether they would take arms against the US. in case that Spain should enter into war against them, as Govr. Blunt required from the various Indian chiefs, and particularly from Ugulayacabe when by dint of persuasions, and offering him to establish a store near Bear creek, and other promises he made him go to Cumberland, where he asked lands from him, and whether he would assist the Americans in case these should fight with Spain; and afterwards dismissed him for his obstinacy in refusing the lands, and declaring that in such case he would remain neuter.

As little has the Baron de Carondelet created Grand-Medal chiefs as Govr. Blount has practised, nor do we know if there have been distributed on our part, to various chiefs, medals of silver, as those which the US. have distributed with the effigy of the president, and at the bottom, George Washington President 1792. and others with the legend Friendship and trade without end.

In fine as we rely that there will be established in the negociation now on foot between Spain and the US. a fixed system of conduct with the Indians, for both parties, we omit producing other different proofs, which are in our possession, in vindication of the government of New Orleans; and we flatter ourselves that your government will use the most convenient means to avoid taking measures with the various nations of Indians (pending the negociation) which might have disagreeable results. We have the honor to be &c.

Joseph Ignatius de Viar Joseph de Jaudenes

PrC of Tr (DLC); translation in TJ’s hand, with incorrect date added in ink by TJ after its submission to the President (see below); at head of text: “translation”; at foot of text: “Mr. Jefferson.” RC (DNA: RG 59, NL); in Spanish; in Viar’s hand, signed by Viar and Jaudenes; dated 25 May 1793; at foot of text: “Señor Don Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 25 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Tr (AHN: Papeles de Estado, legajo 3895); in Spanish; attested by Jaudenes and Viar. Tr (DLC: William Short Papers); in Spanish; lacks year. PrC (DLC). Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.); in English; misdated 25 May 1792. Tr (Lb in same, TR); in English; misdated 25 May 1792. Translations of letter and enclosure enclosed in TJ to Washington, 27 May 1793, the former without date (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 153). Spanish texts of letter and enclosure enclosed in TJ to William Carmichael and William Short, 31 May 1793, and TJ to James Blake, 12 July 1793.

The enclosed Exhortations of Baron de Carondelet, the governor of Louisiana and West Florida, to a delegation of Chickamauga Cherokees during a conference in New Orleans with various Southern Indians were not as guileless as the Spanish agents portrayed them. In fact they were part of a deliberate strategy by Carondelet to entice the Cherokees into joining a confederation of Southern tribes—under Spanish auspices and located in territory claimed by the United States under the Treaty of Paris—that would serve in effect as a barrier state between the United States and Spain’s North American dominions. With respect to the Cherokees, this policy, which Carondelet began to implement soon after taking office on 30 Dec. 1791, sharply differed from that of his predecessors, who had made no effort after the Revolutionary War to include this tribe in Spain’s system of Indian alliances (Arthur P. Whitaker, “Spain and the Cherokee Indians, 1783–98,” North Carolina Historical Review, iv [1927], 252–60).

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