George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 18 April 1792

From Henry Knox

[Philadelphia] 18. April 1792


I respectfully submit to you the speeches delivered to Colo. Pickering yesterday, which he has just sent me1—by which it woud appear that further hopes of obtaining (by general consent) any of their number to go to the Miami Village would be delusive—Capt. Hendricks would go almost alone but one or two others of no great Importance may be persuaded to go with him.2 If Colo. Willet will go, Hendricks and the others may accompany him. I submit the enclosed letter to Willet3—If he still declines he will be silenced forever—If you should please to approve I will transmit it—I am Sir most respectfully yr hble Servt

H. Knox


For the background to the visit to Philadelphia of the chiefs of the Five Nations, see Timothy Pickering to GW, 21 Mar. 1792, n.1.

1The enclosed speeches have not been identified. In an undated letter to Tobias Lear that was delivered sometime in April 1792, Knox enclosed other papers from Pickering for submission to the president (DLC:GW). On a Monday morning in April, possibly 16 April, Pickering wrote Lear: “I had just rolled up the inclosed papers to send to Genl Knox, which I supposed he would hand to the President, when I recd a note that the President desired to see me relative to the Indians. I will wait on him in an hour; and send the inclosed for his inspection in the meantime” (DLC:GW).

2Capt Hendrick Aupaumut (1757–1830) was a sachem of the Mohican village of New Stockbridge on Oneida Creek in central New York. Born in Stockbridge, Mass., he learned to read and write English there, and he served with the Mohican company in the Continental army during the Revolutionary War. Aupaumut was baptized by Samuel Kirkland in March 1787 and undertook a peace mission to the hostile northwestern nations in the summer of 1791. He traveled to the Northwest on a second peace mission in the summer of 1792, but Marinus Willett did not accompany him (see note 3; see also Timothy Pickering to Israel Chapin, 14 May 1792, NHi: O’Reilly Papers; Knox’s instructions to Aupaumut, 8 May 1792, 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 1:233).

3Knox apparently enclosed his letter to Willett of this date. Knox’s draft of the letter, which is marked “private and confidential,” reads: “It was with regret I read your letter of declinig the acceptance of the commissn of a brigadier Genl. But only you have the right to be perfectly master of your own conduct.

“The President of the United States has shewed me your letter of the 14th instant wherein you express your ideas of an Indian War—Be assured that nothig can be more disagreable to him and the government—That the present hostilities originatd in the War with Great Britn and that they while intensive continued increasig from then to Now Until they became too enormous to be longer overlooked by Governmt cannot be doubted by every honest and impartial man who will attend to the evidence But notwithstandg the past it is the desire of the President of the United States to terminate it without the further effusion of blood—Preparatory overtures have been made to the Indians who are to have A Great council at the miami Village the next month.

“But a person of character intelligence and address is required to be presen[t] at that Council in behalf of the U.S., to unfold in terms which the Indians will comprehend.

“1st That we require no lands but those which we conceive to have been fairly purchased of those tribes who had a right to sell.

“2dly That if any of the tribes Can shew just rght to any lands they Claim by virtue of the last treaty they Shall be liberaly compensatd for such right.

“3dly That we are not only willing to be at peace with all the Natns but to impart to them such of the blessings of Civilization as will serve their chilldren and serve ⟨illegible⟩ to perpetuate them in the land of their forefathers.

“4thly It is conceivd were they convinced of the truth of those sentiments that peace must be the consequence—But the difficu⟨lty⟩ Is to find a suitable charater[.] You have been applied to and decli[ned]—It would however appear from your letter to the President that you would seem still to be desirous of being of service to your Country in this time.

“I am authorized to assure You that if you will still undertake the mission without further preparatory Measures I can assure you there will be but little personal hazard (although that would not be [a] consideratn with you) that You would render Your Country a most acceptable service—That if you succeed of what I should flatter myself You will have the glory thereof, besides being most liberally compensated in a pecuniary way while Hendricks Superint[en]d[s] to your subsistence.

“If you should incline to undertake this affair, notwithstanding time would [not] to be lost resting here—The way woul[d] be by Pittsburg down to Fort Washington[.] every frie[n]dly assistance would be offered you—Capt. Hendricks and perhaps and others of the Indians here pres[en]t might accompany you[.] Besides their are women present at Fort Washington, and proba[b]ly friendly Wabash Indians who would ⟨illegible⟩ You.

“Permit me to urge your Compliance with this invitatn to perform the mission, and that you would more t[r]uly and explic[i]tly inform me of your Determination” (NNGL: Knox Papers).

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