George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Moultrie, 10 February 1793

To William Moultrie

Philadelphia Feby 10th 1793.


I have been honored with your Excellency’s letter & duplicate of the 8th ultimo, enclosing the deposition of Benjamin Cleveland respecting the murder of some Cherokee Indians, which was transmitted to me Agreeably to a Resolve of the Legislature of South Carolina.1

I cannot, on this occasion, forbear expressing to Your Excellency the extreme regret with which I learn that so cruel & unprovoked a murder has been committed by the white people, and particularly at this juncture. In vain may we expect peace with the Indians on our frontiers, so long as a lawless set of unprincipled wretches can violate the rights of hospitality or infringe the most solemn treaties, without2 receiving the punishment they so justly merit.

So deeply is the safety & happiness of every good citizen & industrious settler on our frontiers involved in these attrocious Acts, that unless they will exert themselves to prevent such outrages or to bring the perpetrators of them to condeign punishment, no treaties can secure3 them, neither will it be in the power of the Government of the U.S. to protect their persons or property from the depredations of the Indians. With sentiments of respect & great esteem I have the honor to be Yr Excellency’s most Obed. St.

Df, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1South Carolina governor William Moultrie followed his letter to GW of 8 Jan. with one to Henry Knox of 14 Jan., in which he sought military supplies from the federal government to help protect the state from hostile Indians (Knox to Tobias Lear, 6 Feb., n.2). He sent a similar request to GW on 15 February.

2Lear’s original version of the closing phrase of this sentence in the draft reads, “receiving the punishment justly due to such violent outrages.” He then inserted “they so” between “punishment” and “justly,” crossed out the remainder of the phrase, and inserted “merit” above the line.

3Lear originally wrote the word “protect” at this place in the draft. He then struck that word and wrote “secure” above the line, but “protect” appears in the letter-book copy.

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