George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Chickasaw Chiefs, 30 December 1790

To the Chickasaw Chiefs

[30 December 1790]


You have been informed that last Spring, I sent Major Doughty, one of the warriors of the United States, to brighten the Chain of friendship with the Chickasaw nation, and to assure them of the firm adherence of the United States to the treaty of Hopewell—You know the dis-aster which befell him by the Attack of some bad Indians on the Tenassee, who violated the white flag of peace.1


I now repeat to you my assurances respecting the treaty of Hopewell—that the United States will adhere thereto, and consider it as binding on them.

The United States do not want any of your lands—if any bad people tell you otherwise they deceive you, and are your enemies, and the enemies of the United States.

Mr Vigo, the bearer, will bring to you goods conformably to the treaty of Hopewell2—and I shall take other measures early in the next year, to convince you of the further kindness of the United States. In the meantime hold fast the Chain of friendship, and do not beleive any evil reports against the justice and integrity of the United States. Given under my hand and the seal of the War Office of the United States, at Philadelphia, this 30th day of December 1790

Go: Washington3

LB, DLC:GW; copy, DLC:GW. The same speech was also addressed to the Choctaw chiefs (LB, DLC:GW).

GW was concerned with maintaining peace with the Indian tribes of the Southwest and preventing their joining the Indian tribes of the Northwest Territory in a general Indian war. The treaty concluded with the Creeks in the summer of 1790 was crucial to this policy, but GW was also concerned with maintaining peace with the other tribes in the region, including the Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw nations, all of which were coming under pressure from settlers pushing into their land in violation of treaty guarantees (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 11 Aug. 1790). GW issued a proclamation in late August 1790 warning Americans to obey the terms of the Hopewell Treaties concluded with these tribes in January 1786 (see Proclamation, 26 Aug. 1790). Relations with the Chickasaws remained comparatively good during this period, and Chickasaw warriors accompanied St. Clair’s expedition in 1791.

1In March 1790 Maj. John Doughty’s peace mission to the Choctaw and Cherokee had been attacked by a group of Cherokee, Shawnee, and Creek renegades (see GW to the Chiefs of the Choctaw Nation, 17 Dec. 1789, source note). GW did not learn of the attack until July 1790 (see GW to Henry Knox, 13 Aug. 1790).

2Francis Vigo was an Indian trader based in Vincennes.

3This document was countersigned by Henry Knox.

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