From Henry Knox
War department [Philadelphia] 17th January 1792.
I have the honor to submit to you the communications of the Cherokee chiefs and my report thereon, and also a draft of a message, which appears necessary, to the Senate on the occasion.1 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Sir Your most obedient and humble servant
secy of War
LS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
The ratification and proclamation of the Treaty of Holston on 11 Nov. 1791 failed to settle conclusively the outstanding differences between the United States and the Cherokee. A delegation of Cherokee Indians, anxious to express objections to the treaty they had made the previous summer, arrived at the capital on 29 Dec. on a vessel from Charleston, S.C. (see Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia], 31 December). GW had received news in mid-December of their departure from Charleston, but the Indians had been misidentified as a party of Creeks led by William Augustus Bowles (see Henry Knox to GW, 15 December). The delegation consisted of five Cherokee chiefs—Nenetooyah, or Bloody Fellow (given the name Iskaqua or Iskagua, meaning Clear Sky, at the Holston negotiations); Chutloh, or Kingfisher; Nontuaka, or the Northward; Teesteke, or the Disturber; and Katigoslah, or the Prince. Also traveling to Philadelphia were: Suaka (Schucwegee), or George Miller; a Cherokee woman named Jane (Jean) Dougherty; a Cherokee boy; and the group’s interpreter, James Carey.
On 4 Jan. 1792 the delegation was introduced to GW, who asked them to meet with the secretary of war. The next day Knox welcomed the Indians to his house and invited them to state the purpose of their visit to Philadelphia. Bloody Fellow, the principal spokesman, replied that the delegation was not yet prepared to acquaint Knox with their business. The Indians reassembled at Knox’s house on 7, 9, and 11 Jan., when they presented a speech and detailed the reasons for their dissatisfaction with the earlier treaty. Their chief complaint was with the $1,000 annuity promised at Holston, which they desired to be raised to $1,500, but the delegation also sought some minor treaty revisions and further concessions (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 1:203–6).
GW and Knox welcomed the unexpected visit as an opportunity to cement peaceful relations with the Cherokee in the aftermath of Arthur St. Clair’s defeat. GW submitted their requests to the Senate on 18 Jan. and received assent to the increase in the annual payment two days later, but the formal document revising the Treaty of Holston was not completed and signed until 17 Feb. 1792. On 23 Feb. 1792, after the Cherokee left Philadelphia, Knox sent Tobias Lear a copy of instructions for James Seagrove to be submitted to GW, as well as “his speech to the Cherokees” (DLC:GW). The latter document might have been a copy of a farewell speech GW made to the Indians, perhaps on 17 Feb. (see Knox to Lear, 16 February). The Cherokee delegation left Philadelphia on 18 Feb. with the additional five hundred dollars in goods, as well as gifts from the federal government and the Quakers of Philadelphia (see GW to Charles Pinckney, 31 Jan.–20 Feb., and Lear to James Pemberton, 11 February).
1. The enclosed copy of the communication of the Cherokee chiefs has not been found, but a final version appears 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 1:203–6. The substance of their requests is described in Knox’s report (see enclosure). Knox’s draft of GW’s message to the U.S. Senate has not been found, but the president submitted to the Senate the communication of the Cherokee chiefs on 18 January.