Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 30 September 1803

From Henry Dearborn

[September 1803?]

to be proposed to Congress

The several Indian Treaties.

progress made in the introduction of the arts of civilization among the Indians, highly flattering.

the several trading houses established in different parts of the Indian Country appear from the best Information, to have had a very usefull effect, and without any diminution of the Capital, imployed.

an attempt to procure an additional cession of lands from the Creek Nation of Indians has failed.

ought we not without delay to take measures for runng the lines as agreed on by the Treaty last year, with the Creeks1

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 136:23477); undated; endorsed by TJ “Departmt. War. Oct.    03. matter for Congress.”

to be proposed to congress: it is likely that Dearborn gave this memorandum to TJ on the president’s arrival in Washington on 25 Sep. or soon after. By the beginning of October, the draft of TJ’s annual message to Congress included a reference to the treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians (see Madison’s remarks, Document II of Drafting the Annual Message to Congress, below at 1 Oct.).

TJ did not use the phrase arts of civilization in the annual message, choosing instead to mention “improvements in agriculture & houshold manufacture.” He did echo the language of the memorandum printed above when he stated that the government’s trading houses had “the most conciliatory & useful effect” (Annual Message to Congress, 17 Oct.).

In an 1802 agreement with the state of Georgia, the United States pledged to obtain from the creek nation the land between the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers. Negotiating with leaders of some Creek towns in June of that year, however, U.S. commissioners Benjamin Hawkins, James Wilkinson, and Andrew Pickens could get only a portion of that tract. TJ and Dearborn thought that the Creeks would be willing to give up more land and might be persuaded that the Ocmulgee River would be a more effective boundary between their territory and Georgia settlers than a surveyed line could provide. In February 1803, when TJ expected France to take possession of Louisiana and become a dominant influence on American frontiers, he gave high priority to securing the “residue” of the area between the Oconee and the Ocmulgee before the French could “entirely stiffen the Indians against the sale of lands.” Early in May, Dearborn sent commissions and instructions to Hawkins, Wilkinson, and Robert Anderson (who, like Pickens, was from South Carolina). Dearborn also arranged for the deposit of $12,000 in the Bank of Georgia and for $2,000 in specie and $3,000 in goods to be available at Fort Wilkinson. Yet in mid-August, in a letter received by the War Department on 19 Sep., Hawkins and Anderson reported their inability to get the Creeks to negotiate for the land (Dearborn to Hawkins, to Anderson, and to Wilkinson, Hawkins, and Anderson together, 5 May, in DNA: RG 75, LSIA; Hawkins and Anderson to the secretary of war, 17 Aug., recorded in DNA: RG 107, RLRMS; Vol. 34:7; Vol. 39:223-4, 355, 529, 530n).

take measures for runng the lines: on 6 Oct., Dearborn wrote to Thomas Freeman, who had surveyed the limits of some other cessions of land by Native Americans. Dearborn instructed Freeman to mark the boundary of the tract the Creeks had ceded in June 1802. Dearborn also notified John Milledge of the survey and asked Hawkins to make preparations (Dearborn to Freeman, 16 June 1802, Dearborn to Freeman, to Hawkins, and to Milledge, 6 Oct. 1803, in DNA: RG 75, LSIA; Vol. 40:365).

1Dearborn added this note in smaller handwriting at the foot of the page.

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