To the United States Senate
United States [Philadelphia] 26th October 1791
Gentlemen of the Senate
I have directed the Secretary of War, to lay before you for your consideration, all the papers relative to the late negociations with the Cherokee Indians—and the treaty concluded with that tribe, on the 2d day of July last, by the Superintendant of the Southern district; and I request your advice, whether I shall ratify the same.1
I also lay before you the instructions to Colonel Pickering, and his conferences with the six Nations of Indians. These conferences were for the purpose of conciliation, and at a critical period to withdraw those Indians to a greater distance from the theatre of war, in order to prevent their being involved therein.2
It might not have been necessary to have requested your opinion on this business, had not the Commissioner, with good intentions, but incautiously, made certain ratifications of lands, unauthorized by his instructions, and unsupported by the constitution.
It therefore became necessary to disavow the transaction explicitly, in a Letter written by my orders to the Governor of New York, on the 17th of August last.
The Speeches to the Cornplanter, and other Seneka Chiefs—the instructions to Colonel Procter, and his report, and other messages and directions, are laid before you for your information; and as evidences that all proper lenient measures preceded the exercise of coercion.3
The Letters to the Chief of the Creeks, are also laid before you, to evince that the requisite steps have been taken, to produce a full compliance with the treaty made with that nation, on the 7th of August 1790.4
DS, DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Indian Affairs; LB, DLC:GW.
1. For the background to William Blount’s negotiations with the Cherokee Indians and the resulting treaty, see Henry Knox to GW, 10 Mar., n.2, 14 Mar. (second enclosure), 17 April (first letter), 30 May, n.4, and 6 Aug., n.1. The Senate this day ordered GW’s message and its accompanying papers to lie for consideration and on 2 Nov. committed them to Benjamin Hawkins, George Cabot, and Roger Sherman (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:85, 88). Hawkins presented on 9 Nov. the report of the committee on Blount’s treaty (see Proclamation on the Treaty of Holston, 11 Nov., source note).
2. For the background to Timothy Pickering’s negotiations with the Seneca, see Knox to GW, 10 April, 17 April (first letter), n.2, 30 May, 6 Aug., and Jefferson to GW, 17 April. Knox’s instructions of 2 May to Pickering appear in 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 1:165–66. For Pickering’s overstepping his authority and the administration’s disavowal to New York governor George Clinton of Pickering’s unconstitutional land transactions, see Knox to GW, 17 Aug., notes 2 and 3, and Pickering to GW, 27 Aug., n.2.
3. For the speeches of Cornplanter and the Seneca chiefs, see Seneca Chiefs to GW, 1 Dec. 1790, 10 Jan., 7 Feb., 17 Mar. 1791. The Senate read the speeches on 18 Jan. 1792 and committed them to Pierce Butler, Caleb Strong, Roger Sherman, John Henry, and Rufus King. Butler presented the committee’s report the next day (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:98–99). Col. Thomas Proctor’s instructions and report on his mission are printed in 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 1:145–46, 148–65 (see Knox to GW, 30 May, n.7, 16 June, n.2).