James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Armstrong, [16 March 1814]

From John Armstrong

[16 March 1814]


In drafting the enclosed letter I have qualified Jackson’s proposals in a way which will spare an unnecessary effusion of blood, without appearing to counteract a policy which may not truly be his, but that of the army he commands &c &c.1 I am Sir, with the highest respect Your Most ob. servt

J. Armstrong

RC (DNA: RG 59, ML). Undated; docketed by JM: “Mar. 16 1814.” Date assigned based on the docket and evidence in n. 1.

1Armstrong probably enclosed a draft of his response, dated 17 Mar. 1814 in the War Department letterbook, to Maj. Gen. Thomas Pinckney’s letter to him of 28 Feb. 1814 (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, P-397:7; with Armstrong’s note: “submitted for the consideration of the president”). In the letter Pinckney had requested instructions on the terms to be offered to the hostile Creek Indians in the event of their defeat by U.S. forces under Tennessee militia Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson. Armstrong replied that the hostile Creeks should be required to cede land as indemnification for war expenses incurred by the United States, to end all contact with the Spanish and deal only with U.S. agents and traders, to allow the United States access to their remaining territory, and to deliver “the Prophets or other instigators of the War” into U.S. custody. Under these terms, Armstrong wrote, Pinckney and U.S. agent to the Creeks Benjamin Hawkins were authorized to treat with the hostile Indians “so soon as they shall express a desire to put an end to the War” (DNA: RG 107, LSMA). The proposals to which Armstrong referred in his note to JM were probably those contained in Jackson’s 16 Feb. 1814 letter to Pinckney, a copy of which, dated February 1814, Pinckney forwarded to Armstrong on 6 Mar. 1814. Jackson wrote that he had promulgated the following conditions upon which the hostile Creeks might obtain peace: they “must kill their Prophets, destroy the Chiefs that excited them to break the Treaty with the United States … and deliver up those principal Chiefs who committed the Massacre at Fort Mimms” (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, P-399:7; letterbook copy printed in John Spencer Bassett, ed., Correspondence of Andrew Jackson [7 vols.; Washington, 1926–35], 1:462–64).

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