George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Henry Knox, 10 May 1794

From Henry Knox

War department May 10th 1794

Sir,

In consequence of information from the Secretary of the Treasury, the enclosed letter has been drafted to the Governor for your consideration relatively to the application of the British Minister.1

I also submit some papers from Mr Dallas relative to the proposed establishment at Presque Isle. The Secretary of the Treasury and myself concur in submitting to you the enclosed as a proper answer.2

I have further to submit a letter from General Chapin indicating the good disposition of the Six Nations.3 I have the honor to be with perfect respect Your obedient Servant

H. Knox Secy of War

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1For discussion of the application from British minister George Hammond, see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 9 May, and notes. Knox’s letter of 10 May to Pennsylvania governor Thomas Mifflin enclosed a copy of William Rawle’s opinion that the situation protested by Hammond was not subject to federal jurisdiction (Rawle to Hamilton, 8 May, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:390-93) and conveyed a request that Mifflin give the case "particular attention . . . to the end that the Offenders may be brought to Justice, that the repetition of such practices may be restrained and that security may be afforded to persons who are intitled to the protection of our laws." Knox continued by criticizing in GW’s name "the pernicious tendency of such disorderly proceedings, which are in their principle and assumption of the functions of Government and in their consequences a subversion of public order of the authority of the laws and of the security of Individuals. . . . It is not by such means that the rights of the Country are to be vindicated or its rights promoted" (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99).

2Alexander James Dallas’s letter to Knox of 9 May (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99) enclosed letters from Gen. John Wilkins, Jr., to Clement Biddle, 25 April, and Capt. Ebenezer Denny to Mifflin, 25 April and 2 May. Wilkins reported his arrival at Fort Franklin and added, "The news at this place is not favourable towards our establishment at Presqu’ Isle—all the persons most Conversant with the Indians at this place, as well as the commanding officer of this Fort agree that the indians, irritated by the British, are meditating an opposition to the designs of Government respecting that place." A council was being held at Buffalo Creek "& on the result of that council seems to hang peace or war between us & the six nations. . . . The claims of the six nations seems to rise as the western indians are successfull against the army of the united states, & as the British promise to afford them assistance" (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99; see also 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 , 1:504). From Pittsburgh, Denny reported on 25 April, "We have certain information, that the chiefs were lately assembled in council at the mouth of Buffalo; their meetings have always been influenced by British agents, and I should not be surprised to find them return with a wish to prevent the settlement at Presqu’ Isle" (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 , 1:504-5). On 2 May, Denny wrote that "nothing material" had happened since his previous letter, but "We are not without apprehensions that this Council holding between the Chiefs of the Six nations and the British at the mouth of Buffaloe Creek, may terminate unfavorably to our establishment. The Corn planter is not with them, but I am told he has ordered away the Traders who had stores in his town" (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99; see also 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 , 1:505).

The enclosed draft has not been identified. Knox replied to Dallas on this date: "I am instructed to say, that, under the actual circumstances of the United States, it becomes a subject of serious consideration, whether any measures ought now to be urged, which are likely to produce disgust to our friends, the Six Nations, and to extend Indian hostilities" (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 , 1:518).

3Israel Chapin’s letter to Knox has not been identified with certainty. His letter of 29 April states that the Six Nations "had fully made up their minds" to agree to "hold a treaty . . . in order to bring about a general peace," but that the "inflammatory speech of Lord Dorchester" and British presents had caused them to "give up that friendly intention" (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 , 1:480).

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