James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Andrew Ellicott, 20 January 1813

From Andrew Ellicott

Lancaster Jany. 20th. 1813.


In several of our publick prints, I have observed the conduct and character of Col. Hawkins, one of our agents of indian affairs, ungenerously attacked.1 Having been acquainted with Col. Hawkins for more than 20 years, I can say with truth, that during the whole of that period, I have not known a more humane, and benevolent character, nor a firmer friend to the interest, and liberty of his country.

While I was in the Carolinas, and Georgia about a year ago, it was not uncommon to hear the Col. censured with great severity; but this opposition to him originated in the worst of motives. The Col. in his agency has been careful to protect the indians in their rights, which has given great offence to a numerous band of speculators, who have for years past had their attention directed to the best lands in the Creek country, and had it not been for the firmness, and integrity of the Col. the Creeks, over whom he presides, would either have been exterminated, or driven over the Mississippi before this time.

Believing as I do, that improper attempts have been made, and are still making to injure the Col. in the estimation of his fellow citizens, I should be wanting in a duty which I owe to my own conscience, did I not come forward and bear my testimony in his favour, and which I request may be considered a sufficient apology for addressing this note to you.

My compliments to Mrs. Madison, and believe me to be with due respect, your fri[e]nd and hbl. servt:

Andw. Ellicott.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Several Tennessee newspapers reported on the “manufactured … falsehood” of Benjamin Hawkins’s report with regard to the Creeks’ execution of the Indians who assisted in the massacre at the mouth of the Duck River (Democratic Clarion and Tennessee Gazette, 11 Sept. 1812). In September 1812 Gen. John Cocke offered the Tennessee legislature a resolution “in consequence of the false representations, or Indian statements, of Ben. Hawkins, agent for the U. States in the creek nation.” The governor was to call forth ten thousand Tennessee militiamen to the frontier to prevent a repetition of the murders. If the murderers were not delivered up within twenty days of receiving notice, the governor would “order out a sufficient force to exterminate the Creek nation.” These resolutions were to be forwarded to the president. A further resolution demanded that “the senators and representatives from this state to the Congress in the United States, be instructed and requested to use their best endeavors with the proper authority, to have Ben. Hawkins removed from the Creek agency” (Nashville Whig, 30 Sept. 1812).

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