Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Hawkins, 11 December 1801

From Benjamin Hawkins

Fort Adams 11th. december 1801

We expect to commence our conference with the Choctaws tomorrow, they have met us today and informed us they would be then ready. From present appearances we shall obtain permission to open the road towards Nashville. As soon as our commission terminates here I shall go to Tookaubatche on the Creek agency about 500 miles, General Pickens will accompany me on his way home, and General Wilkinson will attend to his military duties untill the best period for convening the Creeks, which will be sometime the last of april, I believe it not practicable to do it sooner. On this subject the Commissioners will write to the Secretary of War.

Governor Claiborne has been well received at Natchez and his deportment such as to entitle him to the confidence of the well disposed in his government; among whom I find some very estimable characters. The inhabitants are in a state of uncertainty about the rights to their lands, altho they do not admit that they are so, or that a right derived from the officers of Spain during the exercise of their temporary government can be made void. The placing the acquisition of rights to Lands on a sure footing would tend greatly to the peace and prosperity of the Territory and the sooner this is done the better by the adjustment of the conflicting claims between Georgia and the United States and establishing a mode of granting out the Vacant land.

I shall send you by the first safe conveyance a map of the river Tennessee, with the notes and courses taken by me as I descended that river, I have it now complete within one day.

With the sincerest wishes for your present and future welfare I have the honour to be My dear Sir your obedient Servant

Benjamin Hawkins

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. Jefferson President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 12 Feb. and so recorded in SJL.

Hawkins, James Wilkinson, and Andrew Pickens met with the Choctaws at Fort Adams on the Mississippi River, 12–18 Dec. The commissioners wanted permission for a road between Mississippi Territory and Tennessee. The Chickasaw Indians had already agreed to allow the roadway through their lands, and by a treaty signed on 17 Dec., Choctaw leaders agreed to the opening of “a convenient and durable wagon way.” In addition, a boundary line agreed to by the Choctaws and British authorities before the American Revolution was to be newly marked as the border between the Choctaws’ country and Mississippi Territory. At the conclusion of the talks at Fort Adams, the commissioners gave the Choctaws goods valued at $2,000 and the promise of three sets of blacksmith’s tools. TJ submitted the Choctaw treaty to the Senate on 10 Mch. 1802 (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:648–9, 658–63).

The commissioners wrote a brief letter to the secretary of war on 21 Dec. 1801 to report that since the Creek chiefs were unavailable for a conference during the winter, Wilkinson, Hawkins, and Pickens had determined to open their negotiation with that tribe in the spring, at the beginning of May (Foster, Hawkins description begins Thomas Foster, ed., The Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796–1810, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 2003 description ends , 412).

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