Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 7 August 1802

From Henry Dearborn

War Department August 7th. 1802


The necessity of an early answer to the inclosed letters from Governor Harrison induced me to send him one prior to my consulting you on the subject, a copy of Which I herewith transmit, and on a further consideration of the subject I have taken measures for forwarding by a Gentleman who sets out this day for Kentucky, some Medals, and fifteen hundred dollars in silver—the money to be received in Kentucky and forwarded by a suitable person to Governor Harrison by the fifth of September at farthest—our situation with the Indians in that quarter appears to be such as requires prompt attention, And as the meeting of the Chiefs is to take place at Vincennes on the first of Septemr. there was no time to loose, I therefore have taken measures without much time for reflection, but hope they will not be considered improper—I will thank you Sir, for your opinion respecting any farther measures, which you may deem useful in relation to this subject—

I am with sentiments of Esteem your Obedt. Servt.

H. Dearborn

RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Dearborn; at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the War Department on 12 Aug. and “Govr. Harrison’s lre concerning Indian affairs” and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 107, LSP). Enclosures: (1) William Henry Harrison to Dearborn, three letters written at Vincennes, one of 14 July and two of the 16th, all regarding Indian affairs, received together at the War Department on 5 Aug. but not found (recorded in DNA: RG 107, RLRMS). (2) Dearborn to Harrison, 5 Aug., answering Harrison’s letters of 14 and 16 July “by the first mail” without waiting for consultation with the president; regarding the bounds of the tract at Vincennes ceded by the Indians to France by an earlier treaty, prudence “forbids our extending our claim to any such length as may increase any unfavourable impressions already made on the minds of the Indians”; Harrison should handle that issue “in such manner as your own judgement shall dictate, under existing circumstances”; Harrison is authorized to spend $1,000 to $2,000 for gifts for the chiefs at his conference with them, should the medals and clothes sent for the purpose not arrive in time; trading houses are being established at Fort Wayne and Detroit, “but their being continued or not will depend on the friendly conduct of the Indians”; Dearborn will send along “any particular Instructions” he receives from TJ on these matters; meanwhile “you will please to continue your exertions for quieting the minds of the Indians; you will be fully authorised in expressing the strongest assurances of the real friendly disposition of the President towards his red children, and that he intends by all the means in his power to render them as happy as possible” (FC in Lb in DNA:RG 75, LSIA).

Having no large MEDALS on hand in Washington, Dearborn sent 15 smaller ones and arranged for larger medals to be sent from Philadelphia “for some of the principal Chiefs who have not received any from the United States.” The SILVER was for Harrison’s use in buying clothing and other articles as gifts. Dearborn gave Daniel Vertner, a War Department provisions contractor from Washington, Kentucky, the medals and a draft for $1,500 on the supervisor of the revenue for Kentucky. After arriving in Kentucky, Vertner was to draw the funds in silver, then send the money and the medals to Harrison “by some sober trusty person,” ensuring that everything got to Harrison by 5 Sep. Dearborn stated that the War Department would pay Vertner’s expenses and something “for your own trouble” (Dearborn to Harrison, 6 Aug., in same; Dearborn to Vertner, 6 Aug., in DNA: RG 107, MLS; Vertner to Dearborn, 11 Mch., 12 Nov. 1802, recorded in DNA: RG 107, RLRMS).

MEETING OF THE CHIEFS: Harrison’s intended conference with Indian leaders concerning land titles. Harrison expected to meet with representatives of the Wea, Potawatomi, Eel River, Piankashaw, and Kickapoo groups after the distribution of their annuities in August (Owens, Jefferson’s Hammer description begins Robert M. Owens, Mr. Jefferson’s Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy, Norman, Okla., 2007 description ends , 63; note to Dearborn to TJ, 29 July).

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