George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 27 October 1789

From Henry Knox

War Office Tuesday evening 27th October 1789


I have this moment received a letter from Mr Habersham at Savannah dated the 14th instant informing that he had received a letter from the Commissioners dated at Augusta the 5th instant, directing him to engage a passage for Captain Burbecks company to New York, which he had accordingly done with Captain Schemmerhorn who was to sail about the 20th instant.1

Mr Habersham adds “You will doubtless hear before you receive this, that they (the Commissioners) were disapointed with respect to a treaty with the Creek Indians.”

I have not received any thing from the Commissioners. The Captain who brought the letter says McGillivray was affronted on his being asked whether he had powers to treat. A short time will bring the necessary explanations.2I have the honor to be sir with the highest respect Your Obedient humble Servant

H. Knox


1John Habersham was collector for the port of Savannah. Capt. Henry Burbeck’s company of artillery accompanied the commissioners to Georgia. See GW to the Commissioners to the Southern Indians, 29 Aug. 1789. For the negotiations of the commissioners, see David Humphreys to GW, 21, 26, 27 Sept., 13, 28 Oct. 1789, Alexander Hamilton to GW, 20 Oct. 1789, and Knox to GW, 18 Oct., 21, 27 Nov. 1789. See also GW’s Memoranda on Indian Affairs, 1789.

2On 28 Sept. the commissioners to the southern tribes wrote Knox: “We have the Mortification to inform you that the Parties have separated without forming a Treaty. The Terms which were offered by us at the commencement of the Negotiation were not agreeable to Mr. McGillevray; but neither would he come forward with written objections or propose any Conditions of his own. His verbal Communications were inadmissable upon the Spirit or Words of our Instructions.

“We shall have the honor of stating this Business very fully at a future day” (DHFC 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 , 2:230).

Upon their return to New York, the commissioners sent Knox a lengthy account of their negotiations with McGillivray, dated 20 Nov. 1789, and a journal of their trip, dated 17 Nov. 1789 (ibid., 210–40). See also GW’s Memoranda on Indian Affairs, 1789.

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