George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 27 August 1793

From Henry Knox

War Department—August 27th 179[3].1


I Submit to your consideration, the draft of a letter to Governor Blount, and another to The Hanging Maw. Also a letter to The Secretary of the Territory of the United States south of the Ohio.2 I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, Your obt Servt

H. Knox


1The War Department clerk erroneously wrote the date on the LS as 1796. References to this letter and its enclosures appear in the 27 Aug. 1793 entry of GW’s executive journal (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 232).

2All three of these enclosures refer to an unauthorized militia attack on a friendly Cherokee village (see Knox to GW, 16 July, n.1). In his letter to William Blount of 26 Aug., Knox informed the governor: “I am instructed, by the President of the United States, to express to you his extreme concern at the late violent and lawless inroads of several parties of whites, from the Southwestern Territory, into the peaceable part of the Cherokee Nation,” and his desire that the “perpetrators” should be arrested and tried for their crimes. “Unless such crimes be punished in an exemplary manner, it will be in vain for the Government to make further attempts to establish any plan or system for the administration of Indian Affairs, founded on the principles of moderation and justice. Treaties will be at an end; and violence and injustice will be the arbiters of all future disputes between the whites and the neighboring tribes of Indians; and, of consequence, much innocent blood will be shed, and the frontiers depopulated.” After further instructions on maintaining law and order, Knox wrote: “In order, therefore, that you may avail yourself of any favorable disposition of the Indians, David Allison, the storekeeper and paymaster, has been furnished with the quantity of goods you have estimated for this purpose, amounting to five thousand seven hundred and eighty-four dollars and seventy-one cents.” In his conclusion, Knox advised Blount “to bear strongly in your mind, always, that nothing can be more satisfactory” to GW “than peace with the Indian tribes, founded in humanity and justice” (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 1:430–31).

In his letter to the Cherokee chief Hanging Maw of 27 Aug., Knox expressed GW’s “highest indignation at the base attack which has been made upon you during the moments of peace; he has directed Governor Blount to endeavor, by the course of the law, to bring the perpetrators of that wicked affair to full punishment…. If the laws should not condemn the murderers of your friends, is there no other mode by which you could be satisfied? Governor Blount will talk to you upon this point, and endeavor to find some mode by which we shall still be friends.” Knox concluded this letter with an invitation from GW for Hanging Maw and other Cherokee chiefs to visit Philadelphia in the Fall (ibid., 431).

Knox’s letter to Daniel Smith of 27 Aug. acknowledged that Smith’s letters to Knox of 17 June, 19, 27, and 30 July, “with their several enclosures,” have been submitted to GW. “It is unnecessary to be particular in replying to your letters, as Governor Blount, who will be the bearer of this letter, will be charged with instructions from the President, to endeavor, by every possible means, to establish order in his government” (ibid.). On GW’s receipt of Smith’s letters, see Knox to GW, 16 July, 10 Aug., and Knox to Tobias Lear, 24 Aug. 1793.

Index Entries