George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Timothy Pickering, 12 July 1796

Department of State July 12. 1796.


I have consulted the Secretaries of the Treasury & of War on the subject of running the Cherokee boundary, and the appointment of a Superintendant of Indian affairs for the southern department, and of agents for conducting a trade with the Indians; & now respectfully submit to you our joint opinions.

The Secretary of War having informed us that some of the principal Cherokee Chiefs are to visit Philadelphia the ensuing autumn, we think it will be best to postpone any decision until their arrival. The measure may then be taken up, and the time & place for commencing the running of the line be agreed on. We are the more inclined to advise this course, because the Cherokees are extremely desirous, according to Mr Dinsmoor’s information, that General Pickens, who is now engaged in the Georgia treaty, should be one of the Commissioners on the part of the United States; and because the Winter would arrest the progress of the business soon after it should be commenced, seeing the distance of the parties & persons to be appointed is so great and that some months must be occupied in the previous arrangements. Mr Dinsmoor thinks also that a military guard must accompany the Commissioners.

We are all of opinion that the appointment of agents for conducting a trade with the Indians, under the last act of Congress, should also be postponed: seeing there are no funds with which the goods necessary for that trade can at present be procured.

With respect to a superintendant of Indian Affairs, in the room of Governor Blount, it would seem that no appointment can be made. By the act of Congress for the government of the territory south of the river Ohio, passed the 26th of May 1790, the office of superintendant was united with that of governor of the territory: but the territory being merged in the new state of Tennessee, and the territorial governor extinct, there remains no official character to which by law the office of superintendant can be annexed. It appears however that such an appointment is not of immediate necessity. Mr Dinsmoor, the Agent appointed to reside in the Cherokee nation, has manifested a judgement and discretion which will enable him very well to perform any services which may be required relative to the Cherokees; and Colo. Henley may be instructed as to the general conduct to be observed towards them and the Chickasaws & Choctaws; until Congress shall make provision for the office of superintendant—if such an office should by them be deemed necessary.

Your letter of the 8th of July was received yesterday: I have communicated the same to the Secretaries of the Treasury and of War. With the highest respect I am, sir, your most obt servant

Timothy Pickering

DNA: RG 59—ML—Miscellaneous Letters.

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