George Washington Papers
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Henry Knox to Tobias Lear, 9 February 1793

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear

War department February 9th 1793.

Dear Sir.

Please to submit to the President of the United States, the enclosed proposed draft of a letter to Governor Blount.1 I am Sir Your humble servant

H. Knox

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

1In the draft of his letter to William Blount, dated 8 Feb., Knox requested that the governor of the Southwest Territory convince “John Watts & other influential Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation” to come to Philadelphia for a meeting on 17 April (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 46). On 9 Feb. Lear returned to Knox “By the Presidents command . . . the draft of a letter to Governor Blount, which has been submitted to the Presidents inspection. The purport of this letter meets the Presidents ideas; he proposes, however to have the enclosed added by way of Postscript, or introduced into the body of the letter, unless the Secretary should see any thing in it to render such insertion improper, in which case he will mention it to the President” (DLC:GW). GW suggested decreasing the cost of the conference by inviting only the most influential chiefs to Philadelphia for individual meetings (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 46).

Knox included GW’s recommendation in his final letter to Blount, which, in part, reads: “The President of the United States is highly desirous that John Watts, the Little Turkey, and as many others of the real chiefs of the Cherokees as you may judge proper to form a real representation of the tribes, should pay a visit to this place, where they shall not only be abundantly supplied with such articles as they may require themselves, but also for their nation. He wishes you to accompany them.

“He conceives that the result of such a journey would have a powerful tendency to remove all causes of hostility, and prevent the repetition of such a crisis as has existed for some time past.

“As to the presents promised at the proposed meeting on the 17th of April, the true cause may be assigned why their chiefs may choose them at Philadelphia. If the meeting actually takes place, some expense must be incurred. These must be regulated by your judgment, you being considered as responsible that they shall be as small as the nature of the case will possibly admit. Perhaps you may make a new arrangement, and obtain the deputation of a few of the most respectable chiefs, without the expenses which must attend a conference with a great number; but you must be the judge of this proposed alteration. The general measure, however, of obtaining a number of chiefs to repair to this place, and for you to accompany them, is considered as highly proper, and even indispensable. For their expenses, or other indispensable expenses in the case of the conference, you may draw bills, for which you will be held accountable; but I trust the amount will not be large.

“If the formalities of the Indians, and their mode of doing business, would allow it, the meeting proposed to be had with the Cherokees on the 17th of April, might, on account of the expense, be dispensed with altogether: for, if the most influential characters in different districts are designated, and the interpreters sent to them individually, with an invitation to come to the seat of the General Government, about the time the treaty is holding with the Western Indians, say the middle of May, of which you were informed in my letter of the 25th ultimo, all the purposes, unincumbered with the expense of that meeting, will be equally well answered; but whether such a mode of proceeding comports with their customs and manner of doing business, or whether characters designated by us, would be considered by them as a representation duly authorized, without a formal ratification of their own, is a query of importance, and ought to be well ascertained” (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 1:429).

On 23 Mar., Blount wrote to Knox, telling him that he had “no hope” that the Cherokee chiefs would go to Philadelphia (Carter, Territorial Papers, description begins Clarence Edwin Carter et al., eds. The Territorial Papers of the United States. 27 vols. Washington, D.C., 1934–69. description ends 4:248). Blount sent Knox another letter on 28 Mar., in which he informed the secretary that efforts to induce “the Chiefs of the war party of the Cherokees to accompany me to Philadelphia” had failed (ibid., 248–49). Nevertheless, in early April at Henry’s Station, a small fort just east of Knoxville at the mouth of Dumplin Creek on the French Broad River, Blount met for two days with John Watts, Doublehead, and other Cherokee chiefs and put forward GW’s offer of a meeting in Philadelphia (Blount to Knox, 9 April 1793, ibid., 249–51). The chiefs announced that “a full council of the nation was to be held on the 27th instant, when the President’s request should be taken into consideration, and an answer given” to Blount (Blount to James Robertson, 14 April 1793, 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 1:452). However, on 15 June, Knox informed GW that the Cherokees still had not come to a decision, largely due to warfare in the Southwest between the Creeks and other Indians, as well as fighting between Indians and American settlers (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 178; Blount to Knox, 9, 12, 23 May 1793, in Carter, Territorial Papers, description begins Clarence Edwin Carter et al., eds. The Territorial Papers of the United States. 27 vols. Washington, D.C., 1934–69. description ends 4:255–56, 259–61). Unaccompanied by chiefs, Blount left for Philadelphia in early June (Blount to Knox, 6 June 1793, ibid., 270).

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