George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 18 October 1789

From Henry Knox

New York 18 October 1789


In obedience to your commands to write to you on all occasions I have the honor to inform you that Mr Kean arrived here yesterday from South Carolina.1 He brings a report which he received through such a channel as induces him to credit it, That a Mr Clark2 arrived at Savannah on the 2d of this month from the Rock Landing on the Oconee, and informed that the treaty had abruptly broken up without the Commissioners having been able to effect any thing owing to the excessive demands of McGillivray—That the day the indians went off the Commissioners sent Genl Pickens and Colonel Few after McGillivray with an invitation to return, which he refused with circumstances of insult—And that the conduct of McGillivray and the indians is imputed to the intrigues of the Spania⟨rds⟩. If this report should be well founded we may soon expect to hear by the way of Savannah from the Commissioners. Any thing that may be received shall be immediately transmitted to you.3

The Count de Moustiers and the Marchioness de Brehan sailed this day. The Marchioness was exceedingly affected on her embark.4

The English packet for September arrived on the 16th—Letters from England state the National Assembly of France to be divided into parties.

I had the pleasure of seeing Mrs Washington at Church to day in perfect health. I have the honor to be with the most perfect respect Sir Your Obedient Servant

H. Knox


1John Kean, one of the commissioners to settle state accounts, had just arrived in New York from Charleston in order to attend a meeting of the commissioners scheduled for late October.

2Mr. Clark is probably William (Billy) Clarke, the son of Elijah Clarke (1733–1799). A native of South Carolina, the elder Clarke moved to Georgia in 1774 where he served as a partisan commander during the Revolution and after the war became known as a leading defender of Georgia’s interests in the state’s conflict with the Creek. During the 1780s he operated a trading post on the Ogeechee River and in 1793–94 was deeply involved in the filibustering schemes of Edmund Genet, France’s minister to the United States. William Clarke, also active in Georgia-Indian relations, was a colonel in Georgia’s state forces. The younger Clarke and other Georgia officers had met Alexander McGillivray some eighteen miles from Rock Creek Landing in early October (McGillivray to William Panton, 8 Oct. 1789, in Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, description begins John Walton Caughey. McGillivray of the Creeks. Norman, Okla., 1938. description ends 251–52).

3For the negotiations of the American commissioners to the southern Indians, see David Humphreys to GW, 21, 26, 27 Sept., 13, 28 Oct. 1789, Alexander Hamilton to GW, 20 Oct. 1789, and Henry Knox to GW, 21, 27 Nov. 1789.

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