George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Timothy Pickering, 24 March 1795

From Timothy Pickering

War-Office March 24. 1795.

The Secretary of War respectfully submits to the President of the United States, the inclosed draught of a letter to Governor Blount.1 Mr Wolcott verbally expressed his approbation: Mr Bradford & Mr Randolph have subscribed theirs; the former suggesting a few alterations which he has noted with his pencil.


1The enclosed draft has not been found. It probably was for Pickering’s letter to William Blount, dated 23 March. In that letter as sent, Pickering informed Blount that Congress had appropriated money for opening trade with the Indians and for protecting the frontier. “All ideas of offensive operations are therefore to be laid aside and all possible harmony cultivated with the Indian Tribes.” Moreover, the United States should not offer support to the Chickasaws and Cherokees in their dispute with the Creeks. After reviewing Blount’s communications, Pickering wrote, “I cannot refrain from saying that the complexion of some of the Transactions in the South western territory appears unfavourable to the public interests. It is plain that the United States are determined, if possible, to avoid a direct or indirect war with the Creeks. … The acts of individuals, and especially of public officers, apparently tending to such an event ought not then to be silently overlooked.”

Pickering also informed Blount that GW “authorizes the establishment of a Post on the Tennessee, at or near the Creeks crossing place,” provided that the Chickasaw nation concurred in that establishment and the spot chosen was on Chickasaw land. “Relying on the Stability of the peace confirmed with the Cherokees, it is conceived that the number of troops requisite for the garrison of the new post may be furnished by the federal Company now in the Territory.” If more troops were necessary during the establishment of the post, Blount could employ Chickasaw or Cherokee warriors or call up militia. The new post should have “a proper building for the reception of the Goods” to be used in Indian trade.

If the Cherokees continued to “object to the continuance of fort Grainger and the post at South West Point. … after behaving peaceably in the meantime, the President directs that the cause thereof be removed. No such ground for a renewal of Hostilities ought to remain.” Other proposed posts on the Tennessee and Clinch rivers were acknowledged to be desirable if Indian objections were placated.

Pickering directed that if intruders were settling on Indian lands, Blount should remove them “without delay” and “with vigilance & energy and if requisite, with the use of military force,” he should prevent future intrusions. Pickering also asked whether some of the murders of settlers were caused by the hunting of game on Cherokee lands, contrary to treaty obligations.

Noting that improving relations with the Cherokees “will I presume, render it practicable to run the bound[a]ry line between their Lands and ours,” Pickering asked, “In what Manner did you contemplate the doing of it and what will be the expense?” (Carter, Territorial Papers description begins Clarence Edwin Carter et al., eds. The Territorial Papers of the United States. 27 vols. Washington, D.C., 1934–69. description ends , 4:386–93).

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