George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Mifflin, 23 December 1791

To Thomas Mifflin

[Philadelphia] 23d December 1791.


I have received your excellency’s letter of yesterday enclosing a copy of a representation to you from the inhabitants of Pittsburg relatively to their apprehensions in consequence of the late defeat of the troops under major general St Clair.1

I can, with great propriety, assure your excellency, that it is my earnest desire that all the exposed parts of the frontiers should be as effectually protected at the general expence, as the case may require.

I shall direct the secretary of War, to confer with your excellency upon this subject, and to inform you of such measures as have been directed and are in train of execution. I have the honor &c.

Copy, DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Reports to the Senate; copy, DNA: RG 233, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of the Office of the Clerk, Records of Reports from Executive Departments.

Henry Knox sent to GW on 23 Dec. 1791 a draft of this letter, which has not been found: “I have the honor to submit to you the draft of a Letter to the Governor of this State—I will see him again, and some of the frontier members, and endeavour to devise some satisfactory arrangement, which may be extended to the counties of Virginia and Kentucky lying along the Ohio” (DLC:GW).

1Thomas Mifflin wrote to GW from Philadelphia on 22 Dec.: “I have the honor to inclose for your information a Copy of a Representation, which has been made to [m]e by the Inhabitants of the Town of Pittsburgh, expressing their apprehensions of an Invasion by the hostile Indians of the accumulation of the Enemys numbers, and stating the defenceless conditions of the Frontiers of Pennsylvania” (DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Reports to the Senate). The enclosure was an address of 11 Dec. from a committee of the inhabitants of Pittsburgh expressing concern that “the late disaster of the Army must greatly affect the safety of this place” and “the Enemy will now come forward and with more spirit & greater numbers.” The committee wrote that “the Six Nations, heretofore wavering, will now avow themselves,” or “at least their young Men will come to War,” and it warned that the Indians were aware of “the defenceless situation of this Town,” reporting that “At present we have neither Garrison Arms nor Ammunition to defend the place. If the enemy should be disposed to pursue the Blow they have given which is morally certain they will, they would in our situation find it easy to destroy us: and should this place be lost, the whole Country is open to them, and must be abandoned. The safety of this place being an object of the greatest consequence not only to the neighbouring Country but to the United States as it is the point of Communication to the Westward and the proper depository of their Magazines it must be of the greatest Consequence to preserve it.” The committee implored Mifflin to take steps to defend the town, or else to “communicate our situation to our state legislature or to the general Government as it may seem expedient or proper.” The document was signed by A. Tannehill, John Irwin, James O’Hara, William Turnbull, John W. Masters, and John Wilkins, Jr. (DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Reports to the Senate). GW requested the secretary of war to report on the memorial and the memorials enclosed in a similar letter from Mifflin of 29 Dec. (see Knox to GW, 1 Jan. 1792). Mifflin’s letter of 23 Dec. 1791 and other documents relating to the defense of the Pennsylvania frontier were laid before the House of Representatives on 30 Jan. 1792 in response to a request from that body (see GW to Knox, 26 Jan. 1792).

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