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From George Washington to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 17 February 1795

To the United States Senate and House of Representatives

United States February 17th 1795.

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives.

I have received Copies of two Acts of the Legislature of Georgia, one passed on the twenty eighth day of December, and the other on the Seventh day of January last, for appropriating and selling the Indian lands within the territorial limits claimed by that state.1 These copies, tho’ not officially certified, have been transmitted to me in such a manner as to leave no room to doubt their authenticity. These acts embrace an object of such magnitude and in their consequences may so deeply affect the peace and welfare of the United States, that I have thought it necessary now to lay them before Congress.

In confidence I also forward copies of several documents and papers received from the Governor of the Southwestern territory. By these it seems that hostilities with the Cherokees have ceased, and that there is a pleasing prospect of a permanent peace with that nation: But from all the communications of the Governor it appears that the Creeks in small parties, continue their depredations; and it is uncertain to what they may finally lead.2

The several papers now communicated deserve the immediate attention of Congress who will consider how far the subjects of them may require their co-operation.

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LS, DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, second session, entry 33; copy, DNA: RG 233, Records of the House of Representatives, Journals; LB, DLC:GW.

1A printed copy of the act of 28 Dec. 1794 and a manuscript copy of the act of 7 Jan. 1795 are filed with this letter in DNA: RG 46. The 28 Dec. “Act for appropriating a part of the unlocated Territory of this State, for payment of the late State Troops, and for other purposes therein mentioned,” set up procedures for surveying and distributing land in “the territory lying between the rivers Oconee, the branch thereof called the Appalachee, and the Oakmulgee” on “the expiration of two months after the Indian claim shall be extinguished.” It appropriated $20,000 to extinguish the claims and directed Georgia’s senators and representatives “to apply, without loss of time, for a treaty” with the Indians. The act also applied the same procedures to “that tract of country called and known by Tallisee, lying between the rivers Alatamaha and St. Mary’s” where Indian claims had previously been extinguished, “Provided, That no location on the lands herein described shall take place until the assent of the general government shall be first obtained.” For a summary of the act of 7 Jan., see James Seagrove to GW, 13 Jan., n.4.

2GW enclosed a copy of William Blount’s letter to the secretary of war of 9 Jan., an extract of his letter of 10 Jan., and a copy of his letter of 20 Jan. with its enclosures (ASP 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 , Indian Affairs, 1:555–57). The letter of 9 Jan. reported that a “meeting between the Cherokees and myself, respecting the exchange of prisoners, terminated with the pleasing prospects of peace with that nation,” but it also reported depredations by Creek Indians, who “pay no regard to” their treaty with the United States “so far as it respects the Cumberland citizens.” Blount enclosed the journal of that meeting in his letter of 10 Jan. and added that although the Cherokees had publicly rejected his “propositions, of permitting a company of their young warriors to range on the frontiers of Mero district, for its protection against the Creeks,” they had privately indicated a willingness to entertain the proposal in the future. Blount asked for instructions “whether their services are necessary or not,” adding that “unless effectual measures are taken to stay the murdering hand of the Creeks, that peace is not to be expected by the frontier citizens of this territory or Kentucky.” For summaries of Blount’s letter of 20 Jan. and its enclosures, see Timothy Pickering to GW, 13 Feb., n.1.

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