George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate, 25 May 1789

To the United States Senate

New York, May 25th 1789

Gentlemen of the Senate,

In pursuance of the order of the late Congress, Treaties between the United States, and several nations of Indians, have been negociated and signed. These Treaties, with sundry papers respecting them, I now lay before you, for your consideration and advice, by the hands of General Knox, under whose official superintendence the business was transacted, and who will be ready to communicate to you any information on such points, as may appear to require it.1

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, entry 12; two letter-book copies, DLC:GW.

1The enclosures to this letter included a copy of Henry Knox’s letter to GW, 23 May 1789, copies of the treaties of Fort Stanwix and Fort McIntosh, the treaty “concluded at the Mouth of the Great Miami on the North-western bank of the Ohio,” 31 Jan. 1786, a speech of the United Indian Nations to the Continental Congress, 18 Dec. 1786, instructions and additional instructions to Arthur St. Clair, 26 Oct. 1787 and 2 July 1788, St. Clair’s letter to GW, 2 May 1789, and copies of the treaties signed at Fort Harmar on 9 Jan. 1789 with the western tribes and with the Six Nations. These documents are conveniently printed in De Pauw, Documentary History of the First Federal Congress, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:137–63. See also Henry Knox to GW, 23 May 1789, and Arthur St. Clair to GW, 2 May 1789. The letter and its enclosures were delivered to the Senate on 25 May by Knox, and the Senate ordered “that the Message from the President, with the Papers accompanying the same, lie on the Table for consideration.” On 12 June the Senate appointed a committee to consider GW’s message, and, after several postponements, the committee recommended to the Senate on 26 Aug. that the treaty of Fort Harmar with the northern tribes should be accepted. On 8 Sept. the Senate resolved that “the President of the United States be advised to execute and enjoin an observance of the Treaty concluded at Fort Harmar on the 9th day of January 1789, between Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Western territory, on the part of the United States, and the Sachems and Warriors of the Wyandot, Delaware, Ottawa, Chippawa, Pattawatima and Sac Nations.” An attested copy of the proceedings was sent to GW (ibid., 6, 7–8, 26, 37, 38). No mention was made at this time of the treaty with the Six Nations negotiated on the same day. For GW’s confusion not only on this point but on the exact meaning of the Senate’s instructions, see his letter to the Senate, 17 Sept. 1789.

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