George Washington Papers
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Tobias Lear to Henry Knox, 21 January 1793

Tobias Lear to Henry Knox

United States [Philadelphia] January 21st 1793

By the President’s command T. Lear has the honor to transmit to the Secretary of War a letter which he has just received from the Gentlemen in Congress representing the State of Georgia. The President requests that the Secretary will take the contents of this Letter into consideration and report to him thereon as soon as he conveniently can.1

Tobias Lear.
Secretary to the President of the United States.

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1The letter from the Georgia congressmen, which presumably was signed by Senators William Few and James Gunn and Representatives Abraham Baldwin, Francis Willis and John Milledge, has not been found. GW’s executive journal, however, reveals that it informed the president “that they had received advices from Geo[r]gia of the hostile disposition of the Cherokee Nation, and an apprehension of an invasion of that State by them. They therefore request that measures may be taken to establish posts & have troops on the frontiers” (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 31). Specifically, they asked GW “to establish magazines of arms, ammunition, and provisions, in Georgia, and, also, to make a provisional arrangement for calling out the militia of the neighboring States” (Knox to Edward Telfair, 9 Mar. 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 1:363). Knox drafted a letter to Governor Telfair on 9 Mar. stating that the president had authorized him “to form a small magazine, at Augusta [Ga.], of one thousand stand of arms, and a proportionable quantity of ammunition. . . . The prospect of peace, with the Cherokees and Creeks, would render it inexpedient to take any immediate order on the subject of forming magazines of provisions, at present” (ibid.). On 11 Mar., Knox sent his letter to Telfair to Lear for submission to GW, stating that “Mr Few who departs tomorrow will take charge of it, if approved” (DLC:GW). Lear returned the letter to Knox later that day and informed “him, that the Letter to the Governor of Georgia meets the Presidents’ ideas on the subject of it; But the President suggests, whether one thousand Stand of Arms might not be more than are requisite to be lodged in that quarter; and if it would not be proper to mention to the Governor, that such of the Arms as may be called for by him and delivered to his order, must either be returned to the United States, when the occasion which calls them out ceases, or the State of Georgia be held accountable to the U.S. for them. If this has been the Practice heretofore where Arms have been furnished for the Militia at the request of a State the President concludes it will be the same in this instance” (DLC:GW). Knox dutifully included in the final version of his letter to Telfair of 9 Mar. the warning that “arms which shall be issued to the militia of Georgia, and not returned, will be charged to the State, in an account with the United States” (ibid.). For Telfair’s continued appeals for military assistance, see Knox to GW, 18 April, n.2.

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