George Washington Papers

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear, 28 February 1793

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear

[Philadelphia] Feby 28th 1793.

Dear Sir.

I enclose you a copy of the President’s Note of this morning,1 and also two letters from Governor Blount—one dated the 24th of January, and the other the 1st of February,2 and also a letter from General Sevier of the 6th of February 1793.3 I am, Dear Sir, Your very humble Servt

H. Knox
secy of War.


2William Blount, in his letter to Knox of 24 Jan., enclosed the minutes of his conversation with former Indian captive Samuel Handley, in which the two discussed Creek and Cherokee military strength (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 1:434). In his 1 Feb. letter, Blount described his efforts to prevent American settlers from raiding Cherokee towns in response to recent Indian attacks and suggested the establishment of “some tribunal . . . for the trial of offenders against treaties. The judges of this territory have informed me they have no authority to try offenders of that description” (ibid., 434–35). As further evidence of his labors toward peace, Blount provided three enclosures. The first was a copy of his order of 23 Jan. to Lt. Col. Alexander Kelly of the militia “to prevent any citizen or citizens of the United States . . . from going with arms into any town or towns of the Indians, and from crossing the river Tennessee” (ibid., 435).

The second enclosure was Blount’s proclamation to residents of the Southwest Territory, dated 28 Jan.: “Whereas I have received certain information, that a number of disorderly, ill disposed persons, are about to collect themselves together, with an intention to go into the Upper Cherokee towns, on the Tennessee, to destroy the same, and kill the inhabitants thereof, regardless of law, human and divine, and subversive of the peace and order of Government.

“Now, I, the said William Blount, Governor in and over the said territory, do hereby command and require the above described persons, and every of them, immediately to desist from such their intention, and to disperse, and retire peaceably, to their respective abodes, within one hour from the moment of the promulgation of this proclamation: and I do, hereby, command them, and every of them, not to go to within the limits of the country guarantied to the said Cherokees by the treaty at Holston, which is in full force and use, as they will answer the contrary at their peril. And I do command all officers, civil and military, to exercise and exert that authority, with which, by law, they are vested, to prevent so daring a violation of the law, and of the existing treaty with the said Cherokee nation” (ibid., 435).

The third enclosure was a letter from Lt. Col. James White to Blount of 30 Jan., reporting that the men who had gathered to destroy the Cherokee towns instead had “returned home perfectly sensible of their error” after hearing Blount’s proclamation (ibid., 435).

3John Sevier’s letter to Knox has not been identified, but according to GW’s executive journal it contained information on activities aimed at hindering “communication between the Northern & Southern Inds” (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 73).

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