George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Campbell, 9 November 1791

From David Campbell

City Tavern Philadelphia Novr 9th 1791


If the Judges of the Territory South of the Ohio are vested with federal Jurisdiction, which doubtless the[y] will be, otherwise violators of Treaties will go unpunished, they at present having no federal Jurisdiction: It will be necessary to appoint an Attorney for the District, whose business it will be ex officio, to commence prosecutions agains violators of Treaties or give information to the Judges, that they may be bound to answer in the supreme Court of the United States, where such matters by the present Laws are cognizable. If the mode of bringing to trial, those who have injured Indians, rests with the people at large, the consequence will be the agressors will go unpunished.

The Attorney must be a man of Abilities, integrity, and firmness, As such I recommend to your Notice a Mr Archibald Roan, a practicing Lawyer in our Courts, and very adequate to the business. He has the Confidence of the Governor & Judges.1

No doubt you will be troubled with many reports from different communications, that the Cherokees violate the Treaty, but reports are not to be depended upon unless coming officially from the Governor.

Shortly before I left home, there were two or three men killed on the road leading through the Wilderness to Kentuckey: It was circulated that they were Cherokees who did the murder, but on examining the matter more fully, and tracing the Route the Indians took, it was fou[n]d they were some of the hostile Tribes from the north side of the Ohio.

It will be well if the present form of Government continues for some years, in the Territory, at least untill the people are taught to obey the Law and pay due Respect to Treaties.

Some partial Complaints may be circulated against the Executive and Judiciary of the Territory arising from their rigid determination to support the Dignity of the Government, by compelling the observance of Treaties, and doing equal justice to the Indians; but such information will give you no concern, for the Law will be our guide, and it must be executed.

The Law with respect to trade and intercours[e] with the Indians cannot confer too much power on the Governor, he is on the spot will allways know what suits their dispositions and can regulate his conduct accordingly.

I shall take the liberty, frequently to state to you, either directly, or through the medium of the Secretary of War, such things as come to my knowledge, and may be worth your Attention.

I go home transported with the reception I have received from you. I cannot reward it by any other means, than by a faithful discharge of the Office you honored me with.2

I conclude by assuring you I am deeply interested in the honor and happiness of my Country. I am with pure & unsullied Sentiments of Esteem & Regard your Excellencys Most Obt Servt

David Campbell

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1After graduating from Liberty Hall Academy in Rockbridge County, Va., in 1789, Archibald Roane (1759–1819) married David Campbell’s daughter Anne and practiced law in western North Carolina and in the Southwest Territory. GW did not appoint him district attorney. Roane later sat as a state superior court judge and served as governor of Tennessee from 1801 to 1803.

2In writing to GW on 8 Nov., to express his desire to confer with the president before leaving for the Southwest Territory to assume his duties as a territorial judge (see GW to U.S. Senate, 7 June 1790), Campbell enclosed “a letter I received from General [Nathanael] Green[e] when serving under him in a very severe and difficult Campaign, in the Southern States” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). This letter has not been found by the editors of the Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends but was probably that alluded to in Campbell’s letter of 21 Feb. 1781 to Greene (Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 7:329).

Index Entries