George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 20 March 1794

From George Clinton

Albany [N.Y.] 20th March 1794.


I conceive it to be my duty to communicate for your Information the Copy of a Speech made to me this Morning by Colo. Louis Cook, who with four other Indians of the Villages of St Regis is now at this Place;1 and also a Copy of a Speech, of Lord Dorchester to the Chiefs of the Seven Villages or Nations of lower Canada—The latter I this Moment received inclosed in a Confidential Letter from a Gentleman, in Vermont, and I believe the Authenticity of it may be relied on.2 I am with the highest Esteem and Respect Your Most Obedient Servant

Geo: Clinton

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1Clinton’s enclosed memorandum of 20 March, which contains the speech of Caughnawaga Indian Louis Cook (Atoyataghroughta), reads: “Coll. Louis waited upon Govr Clinton on Thursday the 20th march 1794. with Mr Gray his Interpretator. He mentioned that he had called upon him yesterday but he was out on business—That he had again called this morning His object was to communicate the Contents of a Letter which he had received from their chiefs (of the Seven Nations) They are as follows to wit. It acknowledges the Receipt of a Letter from Coll. Louis dated at this place—mentions that they had lately been with Lord Dorchester about certain Business with which he was acquainted. That they had delivered a speech to him and received his answer with which they were well satisfyed—That they were also well satisfyed with his conduct here and hoped he would receive a satisfactory answer from their Brothers here—That they were well when their council broke up and presented their Compliments to their Brothers at this place.

“Coll. Louis then addressed the Governor as follows.

“Brother. I will now mention to you what I have not done to any Body before—Our people are your friends. we have been faithful to the united States—we wished to bring about peace between them and the Indians. And we should have been able to have effected it for all of them (5 nations excepted) were disposed to listen to our advice but [Joseph] Brant by the assistance of the British Government puts the Tommyhawk in their hands and urges them to war. Brother rely on it this is true, let them pretend to what they will.

“Brother. The Business which the Chiefs of our seven nations went upon was at the request of the nations to the westward who are disposed for peace to know of Lord Dorchester whe⟨n⟩ they were urged to war and the Tommyhawk put into their hands against the Americans, and why their Lands were taken from them and no Boundary fixed between them and the Americans—I do not know what his answer was because I have not heard it—My Letter says it was satisfactory that is all I know about it” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

2The enclosed copy of the speech given at Quebec on 10 February 1794 reads: “Reply of his Excellency Lord Dorchester [Guy Carleton] to the Indians of the seven Villages of Lower Canada as Deputies from all the Nations who were at the General Council held at the Miami in the year 1790 except the Chawanois [Shawnees], Miamis, and Loups.

“Children I have well considered your words and am now prepared to reply.

“Children, You have informed me that you are deputed by the seven Villages of Lower Canada and by all the Upper Country which sent Deputies to the General Council held at the Miamis Except the Chawanois Miamis and Loups.

“Children, You remind me of what passed at the Council Fire held at Quebec just before my last departure for England, when I promised to represent their situation and wishes to the King their Father and expressed my hope that all the grievances there complained of on the part of the United States would soon be done away by a just and lasting peace.

“Children I remember all very well—I remember that they pointed out to me the line of seperation which they wished for between them and the United States and with which they would be satisfied and make peace.

“Children I was in expectation of hearing from the people of the United States what was required by them—I hoped that I should have been able to bring you together and make you freinds.

“Children I have waited long and listened wi⟨th⟩ great attention but I have not heard a word from them.

“Children I flattered mysef with the hope that the line proposed in the year 1783 to sepera⟨te⟩ us from the United States, which was immediately broken by themselves as soon as the peace was signed, would have been mended or a new one drawn in an amicable manner—Here also I have been disappointed.

“Children Since my return I find no appearance of a Line remains and from the manner which the people of the States pass on and act and talk on this side and from what I learn of their conduct towards the Sea, I shall not be surprised if we are at war with them in the course of the present year and if we are, a line ought then be drawn by the Warriors.

“Children You ask for a Passport to go to New York—A passport is useless in peace—It appears therefore that you expect that we shall be at War with the States before you return. You shall have a passport, that whether peace or war you shall be well received by the Kings Warriors.

“Children You talk of selling your lands to the State of New York. I have told you there is no line between them and us. I shall acknowledge no land to be theirs which have been encroached on by them since the Year 1783—they have broken the peace and as they kept it not on their part, it doth not bind on ours.

“Children They have destroyed their right of pre-emption—therefore all their approaches towards us since that time and all the purchases made by them I consider as an infringment on the King’s rights and when a line is drawn between us, be it peace or war, they must lose all their improvements and houses on our side of it—The people must all be gone who do not obtain leave to become the King’s subjects—what belongs to the Indians will of course be confirmed and secured to them.

“Children, What further can I say to you—You are are witnesses that on our part we have acted in the most peacable manner and borne the language of the People of the United States with patience but I believe our patience is almost exhausted” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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