Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Josef de Jaudenes and Josef Ignacio de Viar, 18 December 1793

From Josef de Jaudenes and Josef Ignacio de Viar

Philada. Dec. 18. 1793.


In addition to the various papers which on different occasions we have had the honor to put into your hands relative to the affairs of the Indians our neighbors and allies, we have now the pleasure to transmit you a copy of extracts concerning this object, which we have lately recieved from the Governor of Louisiana.

It’s contents will confirm to you the reason with which we ought to complain of the conduct observed by the several agents of the US. on those frontiers.

At the same time you will observe the salutary measure which the said governor proposes to put an end to such atrocities and disorders as have been committed, and, as is probable, will continue until an efficacious remedy be applied.

What is mentioned in the inclosed copy appears to have all the requisites of humanity, good faith, and sincere correspondence.

In this expectation we request you to be so good as to give information of the whole to the President of the US. to the end that these may determine what they shall judge convenient, seeing how much good may be produced by the friendly convention proposed, and how much evil by the omission of it.

We repeat assurances of the most sincere good will and greatest respect and have the honor to subscribe ourselves Sir Your most obedt. & humble servts.

Joseph de Jaudenes in the absence of Joseph de Viar
Joseph de Jaudenes, for him

Tr (DLC); in TJ’s hand; at head of text in a clerk’s hand: “Translation.” PrC (MoSHi: Bixby Collection). RC (DNA: RG 59, NL); in Spanish; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Jaudenes for himself and for Viar; at foot of text: “Sor. Dn. Thomas Jefferson Secretario de Estado &ca.”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Dec. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.); in English. PrC (MoSHi: Bixby Collection). Recorded in SJPL. Enclosures: (1) Extract of Baron de Carondelet to Jaudenes and Viar, New Orleans, 28 Oct. 1793, stating that, as No. 2 shows, the Cherokees have put 600 to 700 men in the field to avenge the murder at Hanging Maw’s of several of their chiefs and repeated hostilities by their American neighbors; that the Americans have offered 500 pesos for the head of the important person living among the Cherokees who wrote No. 2; that in order to maintain good relations with the Cherokees he will supply a few munitions in the guise of gifts to the Indians of Pensacola and Mobile in conformity with the practices followed in regard to other Indian allies of Spain; that in Georgia the Americans have provoked a war with the Creeks by attacking the towns of Hoethletiaga on 21 Sep. and Chattahoochee on 25 Sep., killing several men and carrying off women and children in both cases; that a commissioner of American Indian agent James Seagrove, who was then engaged in peace talks in the Indian town of Oefasky, would have paid with his head for the burning of nearby Chattahoochee if he had not been protected by the White Lieutenant in Oefasky and one of Panton’s agents; that by threatening to withdraw Spanish protection Pedro Olivier, the Spanish agent to the Creeks, prevented the chiefs of the upper and lower towns from carrying out a 27 Aug. decision to attack Georgia in four groups; that after the burnings of Hoethletiaga and Chattahoochee it was no longer possible to prevent the Creeks from going on the warpath; that Seagrove, now standing fast at Rock Landing, should bring new peace proposals to the Indian town of Fokepatchy; that although Americans along the border are clearly to blame for the renewal of hostilities, peace could be restored if Congress through its President directs Seagrove to meet with Olivier and suspends the running of boundaries, pending the discussion in Madrid; that if Congress orders hostilities against the Creeks to cease, Carondelet will try to convince that nation to make peace with the United States; that since he had just reestablished peace between the Creeks and Chickasaws, it was hardly just for American governors to try to foment war between Spain’s Indian allies, as in the case of Lieutenant Clark, who at the beginning of the year brought arms, ammunition, and food to Chief Piomingo of the Chickasaws, a sharp contrast to Carondelet’s own refusal to provide any arms or munitions to the Creeks and Chickasaws while they were fighting each other; that Jaudenes and Viar must obtain the strictest orders from Congress forbidding William Blount, James Robertson, and other American officials in the western settlements to arouse Piomingo’s mischievous spirit or to send medals and patents to the other chiefs of Spain’s nations, the practice Spain rigorously follows with respect to those under American dominion; and that the United States should in future refrain from sending armed troops down the Mississippi in disregard of Spain’s territorial rights lest this give rise to hostilities (Tr in DNA: RG 59, NL, in Spanish, attested by Jaudenes; Tr in DLC, in English, in the hand of George Taylor, Jr.; PrC in MoSHi: Bixby Collection; Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess., in English; PrC of another Tr in MoSHi: Bixby Collection). (2) Extract of [John McDonald] to Governor Enrique White of Pensacola, Cherokees, 12 Sep. 1793, stating that the bearer Little Turkey, a Cherokee chief, was on his way to Pensacola to obtain ammunition for his distressed people; that the present dispute between the Cherokees and the Americans originated with the murder of a number of Cherokees who had assembled at Hanging Maw’s under the faith of government at the solicitation of Governor Blount and other United States agents; that since then 600 to 700 Cherokees have turned out to take revenge for this and subsequent white killings of all Cherokees they could find without distinction, women as well as children; that when the Cherokees decided in council to fight they agreed that the traders should each bring them a horseload of ammunition, which the traders agreed to do; and that in his opinion the Cherokees presently needed about 14 horseloads, or 700 pounds of powder and 1,400 pounds of ball, which was probably all that would be delivered to them this winter (Tr in DNA: RG 59, NL, attested by Jaudenes; Tr in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.; PrC in DLC). Translations of letter and Enclosure No. 1, as well as Enclosure No. 2, enclosed in TJ to George Washington, 19 Dec. 1793, and Washington to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 23 Dec. 1793.

John McDonald, who was not identified as the author of Enclosure No. 2 in the text sent to TJ, was an Indian trader and former British agent operating among the Chickamaugua Cherokees as an agent of William Panton, head of the influential mercantile firm of Panton, Leslie & Company, which with official Spanish approval carried on an extensive trade with the Southern Indians from its bases in East and West Florida (D. C. Corbitt and Roberta Corbitt, eds., “Papers from the Spanish Archives Relating to Tennessee and the Old Southwest,” East Tennessee Historical Society, Publications, xxxv [1963], 89, 91; 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], ix-xii, 162–4).

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