George Washington Papers
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From Timothy Pickering to Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., 13 April 1795

Timothy Pickering to Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr.

War Office Monday 1 o’clock April 13. 1795.

The Secretary has this moment received Mr Dandridge’s note of this morning,1 enquiring whether the Secretary had come to any resolution on Govr Mifflin’s letters &c.2 The answer is in the negative.

The Secy received that letter &c. last Saturday evening;3 and to expedite the departure of Capt. DeButts, was yesterday engaged in draughting the form of a long treaty to aid General Wayne in his negociations with the Western Indians; on which draught he was consulting the Secy of State when Mr Dandridge’s note of this day was sent to the War-Office.4

As Mr Dandridge signified it to be the President’s desire that the Secretary of War would report on Govr Mifflin’s letter &c. “after having given them due consideration;”5 and the President proposed to leave Philadelphia early this morning, the Secy of War did not suppose that a report would be expected by the President before his departure. The Secy regrets that he should have misconceived the matter: at the same time that he doubts whether a satisfactory arrangement, on which the President could decide, were practicable to have been formed without a conference with the Governor; & consequently not within the period to elapse before the Presidents departure. That arrangement can be proposed & submitted to the President & his answer be received in full time for the object to be executed.

T. Pickering


1This note has not been found.

2See Thomas Mifflin’s letter to GW of 10 April.

3The previous Saturday was 11 April.

4A draft of the treaty has not been found. The formal instructions, in which Pickering communicated “the ideas of the President,” were dated 8 April, with supplementary proposed treaty articles dated 14 April, and are located in PHi: Wayne Papers. Pickering informed Wayne that “To gratify the usual expectation of Indians assembling for the purposes of [the] treaty and thereby facilitate the negociation,” a minimum of $25,000 in goods would be forwarded. The secretary stipulated, however, that partial delivery of the goods take place “only in case of a successful treaty … The residue are to be delivered … as one of the conditions for their final relinquishment of the lands which the treaty shall comprehend.” Pickering instructed Wayne to “consider” how to distribute the goods in light of which chiefs attended, their right to compensation, and the need for their participation in the negotiation. Wayne also could offer Indians who truly owned the lands up to $10,000 annually “as a further and full consideration for all the lands they relinquish.” This annuity, wrote Pickering, “is intended to compensate them for the loss of the Game: while its amount granted under the present circumstances, will evince the liberality of the United States.

“The general boundary line” described in the 1789 Treaty of Fort Harmar remained “satisfactory,” and Wayne should “urge it accordingly.” The secretary included additional details about the new line: “The old boundary … from the mouth of Cayahoga to the forks of Muskingum, at the crossing place above fort Lawrance [Laurens], and thence westerly straight to the portage between a branch of the Miami of the Ohio and the river St Mary’s (which is a Branch of the Miami [Maumee] of the Lake) is still to be adhered to: but from this portage the line may run down the aforementioned branch of the Miami of the Ohio to the main river and thence down the same to the Ohio: making the line now described, from the mouth of Cayahoga to the mouth of the Miami of the Ohio, the general boundary” of U.S. lands west of the Ohio River (see Map 2).

Wayne could relinquish “lands North and West of this general boundary line, to which, by virtue of former treaties with the Western Indians, the United States have claims,” except the following:

“1. The lands which being occupied by the British troops and subjects, and the Indian title to the same being extinguished, were ceded by Great Britain in full right to the United States by the treaty of 1783.

“2d. Those detached pieces of land on which you have established or shall think proper to establish military posts to form, or complete a chain of communication between the Miami of the Ohio and the Miami of Lake Erie, and by the latter from the Lake to Fort Wayne and thence to the Wabash and down the same to the Ohio.

“3. The One hundred and fifty thousand Acres granted to General Clarke for himself and his warriors near the rapids of the Ohio.

“4. The lands in possession of the French people and other white settlers among them, who hold their lands by the Consent of the United States.

“5th. The military posts now occupied by the Troops of the United States on the Wabash and the Ohio.”

Wayne must “prevent a repetition” of “reasons given by the Western Indians for not adhering to the treaties of Fort McIntosh, Miami, and Fort Harmar” and “use every practicable means to obtain a full representation of all the nations claiming property in the lands in question. And to obviate future doubts it may be expedient to get lists of all the principle and other Chiefs of each nation, to ascertain who are absent, and whether those present may be fairly considered as an adequate representation.” Pickering further noted, “it will highly concern the honor and justice of the United States, that strong and decided proofs be given them that they are not under even the shadow of duress: Let them feel that they are at perfect liberty to speak their sentiments, and to sign or refuse to sign.”

Next, Pickering touched upon “The unfortunate construction put by the first Commissioners” in the 1783 treaty of peace with Great Britain and “continued by General St Clair in 1789,” which “has since been repeatedly renounced.” Wayne must do so as well and “carefully explain and maintain the preemption right of the United States,” and do so with “delicacy” so as not to excite the Indians’ “displeasure.” Pickering included a possible explanation for Wayne’s use.

As for Americans held as prisoners by the Indians, “Their restoration must be made an essential condition of the peace.” Pickering suggested Wayne follow the usual practice of taking hostages and left it to the general’s judgment “to stipulate or not a ransom for our prisoners.”

Pickering touched upon the subject of agents to the Indians and added: “The instructions on the subject of a treaty with the Western Indians, given” on 4 April 1794 at the War Department, were “still to be attended to, and to aid and influence your negociations.” Pickering then stipulated: “One great principle ought to govern all public negociations—a rigid adherence to truth—a principle that is essential in negociations with Indians, if we would gain their permenent confidence and a useful influence over them.”

On 14 April, Pickering included additional comments: “Since the foregoing instructions were draughted, it has been thought that they might be rendered more useful by expressing the ideas contained in them in the form of a treaty. Such a form is now inclosed, of which some explanations may be proper.”

Among the articles that Pickering enclosed were numerous comments about a boundary line established in Article III. “The fork of that branch of the Miami where Loramies store is marked in the map drawn by Lieutenant Demler is supposed to be the Southern end of the portage on the Great Miami, intended in the Treaty of Fort Harmar, to which the boundary line was to run straight from the forks of the Muskingum. See the fifteeth article of that treaty—It is that old line, or one not materially variant, which is to be insisted on. The final cession … of the entire body of land lying Eastward and Southward of the general boundary here described, from the mouth of Cayahoga to the mouth of the Great Miami of the Ohio, are to be an indispensable condition of peace.

The secretary further stated: “the first eight detached tracts enumerated in this article have been designated as worth obtaining” for trading, military use, and communications posts. Wayne’s knowledge of the area would enable him “to decide whether to retain, to reject, or to substitute others, and to add such as you may deem very eligible on the Wabash.” Pickering made a point to designate Detroit, Michilimackinac, the post in Sandusky Bay, and one “towards the mouth of the Miami of the Lake” as most desirable.

Near the end of his additional comments, Pickering added: “A provision for their delivering up murderers to be punished by our laws is purposely omitted: because experience has too long shown, that regardless of our stipulations we cannot punish our own. It is a maxim with the frontier people not to hang a White Man who murders an Indian. We ought to make no engagement that we have not a moral certainty of fulfilling” (PHi: Wayne Papers; see also, Knopf, Wayne, description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends 393–403).

5Pickering’s quote came from Dandridge’s letter to him of 11 April.

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