Alexander Hamilton Papers
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Conversation with George Hammond, [22 November 1792]

Conversation with George Hammond1

[Philadelphia, November 22, 1792]2

On the second morning after the receipt of Governor Simcoe’s letter,3 I waited on Mr Hamilton and requested him to inform me whether this government had then learnt the result of the Indian Council held at the Miamis rapids.4 Upon his answering in the negative, I stated to him loosely and generally that I had received information from Governor Simcoe that the Indians had evinced a willingness to meet early in the spring at Sandusky any persons deputed by the American government to treat with them—and that in consequence of this disposition they had sent a formal message to Governor Simcoe soliciting his Majesty’s good offices5—not only as mediator, but also as the principal party in the several treaties concluded with them subsequently to the year 1763 and antecedently to the separation of the colonies from Great Britain. I did not enter into any other particulars than merely to express my sense of the propriety of this application to the King—as a power essentially interested in the restoration of tranquillity on the frontiers of his dominions and as the possessor of those treaties that defined the Indian boundaries as existing at the period of ceding the territory comprehended in them to the United States. Which cession could unquestionably transfer no other rights of soil or of any other nature than such as his Majesty had actually enjoyed. I concluded by requesting that my present communication might be considered as purely informal, in the making of which I was actuated by no other motive than a friendly anxiety to give this government intelligence of an event which materially affected it and with which it was unacquainted. Mr Hamilton in reply, thanked me for the confidence which I had placed in him, but expressed his persuasion that this government would not deem it expedient to accede to the Indian proposition of mediation since he conceived that such a proceeding would diminish the importance of the United States in the estimation of the Indians, and might eventually lead to a disagreeable discussion with Great Britain, in the case of any essential difference of opinion arising between her government and that of the United States, in arranging the conditions of the peace. He was proceeding to add other observations of a similar tendency, but I terminated the conversation by saying that I had formerly communicated to him my personal individual opinion (to which I still adhered) in favor of this proposition, a recurrence to which on the part of the Indians appeared to me extremely natural, as affording the most feasible mode of adjusting the present unhappy differences. But as he imagined that the American administration would refuse to adopt it, it was at present totally unnecessary for me to enter into any examination of the motives which might dictate that refusal.

D, PRO: F.O. description begins Transcripts or photostats from the Public Record Office of Great Britain deposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Series 4, Vol. 16, Part V.

1This conversation has been taken from Hammond to Lord Grenville, December 4, 1792, Dispatch No. 4.

2Hammond wrote that this conversation took place “on the second morning after the receipt of Governor Simcoe’s letter.” Earlier in his letter to Grenville, Hammond stated that Simcoe’s letter arrived “about a fortnight ago.” Assuming that he received Simcoe’s dispatches exactly two weeks before December 4, 1792, he would have talked with H on November 22, 1792.

3John Graves Simcoe was Lieutenant Governor of Canada and Governor of Upper Canada. In the first sentence of his letter to Lord Grenville which reported the above conversation with H, Hammond wrote: “About a fortnight ago Lieutenant [James] Givens arrived here from Niagara with dispatches to me from Governor Simcoe, containing the minutes of the Indian Council assembled at the foot of the Miamis rapids, and the information of a formal message which he had received from the hostile Indians, desiring him to attend at a council to be held early in the spring at Sandusky.…” Simcoe’s letter to Hammond is dated October 24, 1792.

4This council was held from September 30 to October 9, 1792, at the Auglaize, at the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee rivers, and was attended by both the western Indians and the Six Nations. In this period the Maumee River, as well as several other Ohio rivers, was commonly called “Miami.” For a discussion of the confusion arising from the names of these rivers, see J. Ross Robertson, The Diary of Mrs. John Graves Simcoe (Toronto, 1934), 218–19. The proposed meeting between the commissioners of the United States and the western tribes had been arranged through the offices of the Six Nations. At the council held at the Auglaize representatives of the Six Nations had obtained the reluctant consent of the Ohio Indians to meet the United States representatives at Lower Sandusky the following spring (see “Proceedings of a General Council of the Several Indian Nations … held at the Glaize on the 30th day of September, 1792,” Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 218–29), and this decision was confirmed at a second council held with Joseph Brant of the Six Nations at the “Foot of Miami Rapids,” on October 28, 1792. For the proceedings of this second council, see Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 242–43. In spite of their consent to the council with the United States, the western Indians remained skeptical about the value of such a meeting and reiterated their determination to hold to the line of the Ohio River as the boundary between the United States and Indian territory (“The speech of the Cornplanter and New Arrow to Major General Wayne,” December 8, 1792, ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Indian Affairs, I, 337). The agreement of the western tribes to the proposed council was transmitted to the United States Government through the representatives of the Six Nations at a council at Buffalo Creek in November, 1792 (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Indian Affairs, I, 323–24). In his reply to the invitation Henry Knox did not refer to the boundary question, but stated: “The President of the United States, embraces your proposal, and he will send Commissioners to meet you at the time and place appointed, with the sincere desire of removing forever all causes of difference so we may always hereafter be good friends and brothers …” (Knox to the western Indians, December 12, 1792, Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 270). Israel Chapin, United States agent to the Six Nations, had been summoned to attend the Buffalo Creek meeting, but because he was not available at the time, his son, Israel Chapin, Jr., attended in his place. The account of the Buffalo Creek meeting as recorded by Chapin and printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Indian Affairs, I, 323–24, differs from the account printed in Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 256–60. In the former it is stated that the meeting was held on November 16, 1792; in the latter the same meeting is dated November 13–14, 1792. The two accounts also differ on the place designated for the proposed meeting in the spring of 1793. In the account forwarded by Chapin the place is described as the “Rapids of the Miami.” In the account sent to Simcoe, as well as in the accounts of the two previous meetings of the Indian council at the Auglaize, the place is described as “Sandusky.” This difference aroused the suspicions of the Indians, who believed that Knox was changing the meeting place for the council without consulting them.

5On October 9, 1792, a deputation of western Indians from the council had delivered to Alexander McKee, deputy superintendent of Indian affairs at Detroit, a message for Simcoe in which the Indians announced their decision to meet with the United States commissioners in the spring and requested Simcoe’s presence at the proposed conference. (Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 229). Simcoe’s reply, promising British aid, is printed in Simcoe Papers description begins E. A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada (Toronto, 1923–1931). description ends , I, 230–31.

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