George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 14 March 1793

From Henry Knox

War department March 14th 1793


I submit to your consideration a letter received from an Indian by the name of David Fowler who resides at Brotherton, near Oneida, who is at present in this City with his Son. This man has been introduced to me by Colonel Pickering and his request for the support of a School seems to deserve a favorable consideration.1 I beg leave therefore to submit the idea that fifty dollars per Year be allowed for the support of the said School provided the Agent for the Indian department in that quarter2 should be of opinion that it would conduce to the general object of the United States, the information and Civilization of the Indians.

And that a present be made to the said David Fowler and his Son of Thirty dollars to enable them to return home.3 I am Sir with respect Your humble servant

H. Knox
secy of War


1Although David Fowler (1735–1807), a Montauk Indian and brother-in-law of the Indian minister Samson Occom, originally had served as a schoolmaster to the Oneida Indians in 1765, he later settled permanently on the nearby Brotherton reservation. He had been educated at Moor’s Charity School in New Lebanon, Conn., and he worked closely with Occom and Samuel Kirkland, a Presbyterian missionary to the Oneida Indians and founder of Hamilton-Oneida Academy. Fowler’s son, David, also lived in Brotherton and often preached sermons about the evils of drinking alcohol.

Fowler’s letter to Knox of 13 Mar. reads: “The inhabitants of Brotherton are one hundred and thirteen, who are already up there: and those who are gone and those that are going 57 perhaps there will be near Seventy and they are in general poor; some of those families who are up to Brotherton who have no Children begin to live considerable comfortable—but the rest are poor[.] our moving up so far makes it very hard for many of us and some of us were drove off from our plantations and lost all during late War this is another cause why we are so poor[.] This general poverty obliges us to ask the assistance of the United States in supporting a School for the education of our Children in like manner as the Stockbridge Indians. Our neighbours have been assisted We are nine Miles distant from them—The Subscriber and his Son have been travelling through New England among the Remnants of the Tribes of Indians dwelling to whom with at Brotherton, the land called Brotherton was given some years ago by the Oneidas in order to make an application to the Legislature of New York to remove the White Intruders—This has put us to some expence, and we shall be thankfull for a small sum of Money to enable us to travel home as soon as we shall be favored with an answer” (DLC:GW).

2The Indian agent was Israel Chapin, Sr.

3Later on this date Tobias Lear informed Knox “that the President approves the idea of allowing the sum of 50 dolls Annually for the support of a School among the Indians at Brother town provided it shd appear, from the representation of the Agent for Indian Affairs in that quarter, that such an establishmt wd conduce to the general Object of the U.S—the information & civilization of the Indians.

“With respect to presenting Fowler & his son with 30 dolls to enable them to return home, the president leaves it to the Judgmt of the Secy—he knowing the object of their coming to this place—and whether it can be of a nature sufficiently relating to the public good to render such a present proper” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries