George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 23 December 1793

From Henry Knox

War department December 23d 1793


I submit to your Consideration a proposed message to the Six Nations in answer to theirs by General Chapin.1 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your obedient Servant

H. Knox


1The enclosed draft has not been identified. On 24 Dec. Henry Knox sent to Israel Chapin two addresses “To the Sachems, Chiefs and Warriors of the Six Nations,” both dated 24 Dec. (PHi: Wayne Papers). The second told them that “Your father George Washington has directed, as an evidence of his affection, and a reward for your Services the last Summer that you and your families should be well supplied with good warm clothing.” The draft evidently was a version of the other address, which reads: “Brothers! A Copy of your proceedings at Buffaloe Creek on the eighth day of October last hath been received by General Chapin.

“These proceedings contain the sentiments of several Chiefs of the various Tribes who were assembled at the great council Fire which was kindled at the rapids of the Miami the last Summer.

“And in addition to this information you add in your meeting of the tenth of the same month, your desires of a boundary which you say will be further explained by General Chapin.

“All these communications have been submitted to your father, General Washington, the President of the United States, who desires the Six Nations to receive his sincere and hearty thanks for their assurances and acts of friendship to the United States.

“While your father, the President has observed with great pleasure, the pains you have taken to effect a peace between the United States, and the hostile Indians; he is at the same time very sorry that any circumstances should have prevented the accomplishment of a measure affecting the happiness of both parties. Peace is best for the whites as well as for the red People, and it is always the cause of sorrow among good Men when misunderstandings arise which create wars.

“The United States consider that they have taken all the requisite means to obtain a Peace, which their duty or their humanity required. They appointed respectable and wise characters as Commissioners, who were accompanied by a deputation of friends, the known advocates for Peace. Those Commissioners under discouraging circumstances persevered for a long time to obtain an interview with the great council of Indians. This being ineffectual they made, in good faith, such liberal Offers in writing to ensure the future comfort and prosperity of the Indians as were never before given to the Indians of North America.

“These circumstances being known, for ever acquit the character of the United States from all imputations of desiring a continuance of the War.

“The same principles of moderation and humanity, which before dictated the offers to the Indians, and a sincere friendship for the Six Nations have induced your father, the President to consider attentively your proposition or a new boundary. Altho’ the lines you mention are considered as liable to considerable objections, yet it is hoped when all difficulties shall be discussed at a treaty or conference by moderate Men with upright views, that some agreement may be made which would lead to a general Peace.

“On this ground, the President consents that a conference should be held at Venango, on the fifteenth or middle of May next.

“It is expected that the chiefs of the Six Nations and Chippewas will attend, and the chiefs of all such of the western tribes, as the said Six Nations and Chippewas may invite. And if the hostile Tribes should think proper to attend, they will be well received and treated as people ought to be who are holding friendly Treaties.

“But it cannot be unknown to you, that by the late abortive efforts to negotiate, the American Army was restrained from offensive operations against those Tribes, who appear deaf to the voice of reason and peace. Such a conduct will not be observed by the United States again. This must clearly be understood: Let it be remembered therefore there is no deception on our parts. Our army must be left entirely at liberty to act as circumstances may require. The scene of operations however will be far distant from Venango, the proposed place of meeting.

“It is to be observed that in case any of the western Indians attend at Venango it would be proper that they should proceed by water at least as far east as Presque Isle, and thence to french Creek by land. It would be dangerous for them to proceed from the westward by land for the same reason they gave the last year, namely, that the said paths are bloody paths.

“Brothers, If you agree to the time and place of meeting, it will be proper that you should immediately signify the same to General Chapin that due preparations may be made at said place.”

For the proceedings of the council held at Buffalo Creek, 8 and 10 Oct., see 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 , 1:477–78.

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