George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 9 July 1791

From Henry Knox

War Department [Philadelphia] the 9th of July 1791

The Secretary at War having by order of the President of the United States, taken into his serious consideration, a Letter written by Major Richard Call, commanding Officer of the troops of the United States, to Messrs Speir and McLeod & Company dated the 2d of June—humbly Reports.1

That all evidence whereon the said Letter may have been been grounded is entirely wanting, and therefore no conclusive opinion can be found thereon.

That the said Letter however seems to indicate on the part of the said Major Call, that he is under an influence independent of the immediate executive of the United States, and therefore liable to take measures inconsistent with their true interest and dignity. That under this impression, it would be proper that he be replaced immediately by another commanding Officer, and that he be ordered to join the troops on the Ohio.2

That upon receiving more full information, the Secretary of War will, conformably thereto, submit a further report.3

All which is humbly submitted to the President of the United States.

H. Knox


1This was probably the letter that Tobias Lear transmitted to Henry Knox on 7 July, with GW’s wish that he “take into his serious consideration,” the enclosed letter “relative to some misunderstanding which has taken place between the Creek Indians & the Inhabitants of Georgia” (DLC:GW). The letter, probably from John Habersham, that Knox asked Lear on 30 Aug. to submit to GW might have been related to the Creek situation (DLC:GW).

2Call was not transferred to the Ohio frontier at this time and continued as commander of federal troops in Georgia. James Seagrove reported to GW on 5 July 1792 that Call “hath resigned himself to so continual a state of intoxication with strong liquors, as to render him totally incapable of acting, or even judging, of what is proper in the line of his duty.”

3On 13 July Knox submitted to GW three letters he drafted that day for Gov. Edward Telfair of Georgia, Creek leader Alexander McGillivray, and Call, and he informed GW that “Tomorrow morning I shall wait upon you to receive your commands relative to these letters & to make any necessary explanations” (DLC:GW). He also enclosed a copy of an unidentified letter from John Heth to McGillivray regarding Georgia-Creek relations and the implementation of the Treaty of New York of 1790. For the texts of Knox’s letters to Telfair, McGillivray, and Call, as approved by GW, see ASP, Indian Affairs, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:125, 127–28.

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