Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Kirker, 8 October 1807

Chilicothe October 8th. 1807


Before this reaches you, I have no doubt you will have been informed of the alarm which has been excited in this quarter in consequence of the collection of Indians which lately took place in the neighborhood of Fort Greenville—I have however considered it my duty to transmit to you an account of what I have good reason to believe the cause of its Origin and progress—The first information I recd. on the subject was a Letter from Mr. William Wells agent at Fort Wayne a copy of which I herewith transmit—Soon after this the Alarm began to wear a more serious aspect, and in consequence of several expresses sent me from the frontier, I was induced to prevail on two Gentlemen on whome I could rely, Genl. Worthington, and Colo. McArthur, with the former I presume you personally acquainted, to go to where the Indians were said to be collected and assertain their disposition and number—They did so and four of the Indian Chiefs came with them to this Place when and not till then I was perfectly satisfied the alarm had been without good foundation

I beg leave to refer you to the letter of Genl. Worthington and Colo. McArthur dated the 22nd. of last month addressed to me and published in the Scioto Gazatte of the 24th. of the Same Month, which paper Genl. Worthington informs me he has transmitted to you for these transactions at the Indian Town and Opinons generally on the subject

In the mean time I believed it my duty to prepare for the worst and directed a detachment of the Militia sufficient in my opinion to counteract to evel apprehended—But one Battalion however had embodied itself before the information was recd. that none would be wanting and when the orders given on the subject were revoked—The alarm had done in the mean time much evil, many families had removed and were preparing to do so from the frontier and the settlements seemed as if they would be generally deserted—After collecting from every quarter the best information I am satisfied the Alarm originated from the following causes—About two years since a division of the Shawanee tribe of Indians took place oweing to certain doctrines preached to them by an Indian of their own tribe and embraced by a part—They had before all been under the same Chiefs and resided at a place they called Tawa Town not being far from Fort Wayne, most of the best Warriors amounting to About 80 adhered to the prophet or preacher and with him commenced a new establishment near Fort Greenville—This gave great Offense to the chiefs who remained at the old Town and who have been constantly excitting alarm in the minds of their White neighbours against those of their tribe who had left them and have charged them with several little injuries which has been done the whites as well as with the design of going to War against them—You will see from the communication of the Gentlemen I have mentioned the cause assigned for the collection at Greenville—In the State of mind the frontier people were towards the Greenville Indians in consequence of the representations of the old Chiefs at Tawa Town this Collection was taken for Proof of their hostile intentions—Falshood after Falshood was Circulated by cowardly minds and so the Alarm increased untill some persons as you will see by the newspapers to which I have refered you attempted to go to where the Indians were collected, but after getting within a few Miles returned with a report that they were afraid to go among them—This made things much worse especially as the persons who made this report have been often and Long engaged in Indian Wars &c.—This induced me too take the steps I have already mentioned to you by which correct information was recd. on the subject and the Alarm has entirely subsided—I have now Sir given you the Origin and Progress of this Affair—It only remains for me to communicate to you what I have promised the chiefs at their request I would do—

They gave me every satisfaction I could ask and in the most positive manner asserted that nothing should induce them to interfere in the event of a War with England and assured me this was the unalterable determination of all the Indians East & South of the Missisippi and Lakes and wishes you to be informed of it—Furthur they wish you to Know that Mr. Wells treats them with great contempt and ill Nature and that whenever they go to talk to him he either “begins his talk or ends it in a black guard and reproachfull way”—and that they are sure you have good men enough beside him that you can send to do business with them—They request you will appoint a Mr. Stephen Ruddle who now resides in Kentucky and who was a Prisioner 17 years among them as their agent at a New establishment they are about to commence next spring on the Waters of the Wabash and that you will have the goodness to give them a Store at this new establishment

I have nothing further to Add but that I think the same causes have Produced the Alarm in the Michigan and Indiania Territories and that I sincerely believe these people are injured—I mean the Indians at Greenville, for their does not appear on strict examination any thing against them on the contrary their lives are peacable and the doctrines the profess to Practice are such as will do them honor if the Continue to be sincere and so far they have given no cause to doubt it

With due concideration and respect I have the honor to be your Excellencys Obedient Hble Svt.

Thos Kirker


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