James Madison Papers

From James Madison to John Armstrong, 18 June 1814

To John Armstrong

June 18. 1814

Besides the tendency of the proposed attempt for removing the Indians North of the State of Ohio, to disquiet them, there are other objections to the measure.1 It may have a like tendency in its bearing on other Indians connected with the district given in exchange: And what merits particular attention, the territories contiguous to this district, whose peace and security might be affected, will probably be dissatisfied. A pointed remonstrance agst. such a measure was given in by the Delegate from Missouri.2 Its policy at this time, was not supported, if not opposed, by some of the most weighty characters of the State of Ohio.3

Instead of a Treaty of Alliance & subsidy specifying the pay, subsistance &c &c, which requiring the Sanctions of the Legislative branches could not have effect during this Campaign, without an Executive assumption, of the whole Treaty power, an Article will be better, simply obliging the Indians if required by the U.S, to enter into the War, & put themselves under their direction in the prosecution of it. This will lay us under no Treaty obligations: and leave the way open for the employment of the Indians as heretofore under military arrangements, for which explanations at the Treaty on the several necessary points, might sufficiently prepare them.

A change in the instructions to the above effect, will probably reach the Comrs in time; but it will not avoid the incongruity of the proceeding.4


Draft (DLC); Tr (DLC, series 3). Draft addressed by JM: “To the Secy. of War.”

1For the proposal, see Thomas Worthington and others to JM, 18 Mar. 1814. For Armstrong’s instructions to the commissioners for negotiating a treaty with the northwestern Indians, which JM critiqued here, see Armstrong to JM, 15 June 1814, n. 2.

3Here JM struck through the following sentence, which does not appear in the Tr: “If any instruction be given to the Commrs on this subject, it ought to require not only the cordial acquiescence of the Indians to be removed, but sufficient ground for believing that the neighboring territories will also be satisfied with the removal.”

4Armstrong sent instructions dated 18 June 1814 and modified in accord with JM’s request to commissioners William Henry Harrison and Lewis Cass (Harrison and Cass to Armstrong, 17 July 1814, DNA: RG 107, LRRS, H-32:8). The War Department letterbook copy of the revised instructions, marked as having been sent to Isaac Shelby, Harrison, and Cass, is incorrectly dated 11 June 1814 (DNA: RG 75, LSIA).

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