Draft of a Secret Article Concerning the Treaty of
Peace with the Creeks1
[New York, July 20–August 4, 1790]
The President of the United States states the following Question for the consideration and advice of the Senate.
If it should be found essential to a Treaty for the firm establishment of peace with the Creek Nation of Indians that an article to the following effect should be inserted therein Will such an article be proper2 viz
And whereas the Trade of the said Creek Nation is now carried on wholly or principally through the territories of Spain and obstructions thereto may happen by war or prohibitions of the Spanish government.
It is therefore agreed between the said parties that in the event of any such obstructions happening it shall be lawful for such persons as the 3 shall designate to introduce into and transport through the territories of the UStates to the Country of the said Creek Nation any quantity of goods wares and merchandise not exceeding in value in any one year sixty thousand Dollars and that free from any duties or impositions whatsoever but subject to such regulations for guarding against abuse as the United States shall judge necessary, which privilege shall continue as long as such obstruction shall continue.4
ADf, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.
1. This document is a draft of a secret article which George Washington submitted to the Senate on August 4, 1790, during negotiations in New York City for a treaty of peace and friendship between the United States and the Creek Indians. See “Conversation with George Beckwith,” August 7–12, 1790, note 5 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , VI, 546–49). In his message to the Senate accompanying this article Washington stated: “In preparing the articles of this treaty, the present arrangements of the trade with the Creeks have caused much embarrassment. It seems to be well ascertained, that the said trade is almost exclusively in the hands of a company of British merchants, who, by agreement, make their importations of goods from England, into the Spanish ports.
“As the trade of the Indians is a main mean of their political management, it is therefore obvious, that the United States cannot possess any security for the performance of treaties with the Creeks, while their trade is liable to be interrupted or withheld, at the caprice of two foreign Powers.
“Hence it becomes an object of real importance, to form new channels for the commerce of the Creeks through the United States. But this operation will require time, as the present arrangements cannot be suddenly broken, without the greatest violation of faith and morals.
“It therefore appears to be important, to form a secret article of a treaty, similar to the one which accompanies this message.” (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, 80; Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and all the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1852). description ends , I, 1063.) On the same day the Senate “Resolved, That the Senate do advise and consent to the execution of the secret article referred to in the message, and that the blank in said article be filled with the words ‘President of the United States’” (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and all the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1852). description ends , I, 1064). On August 7, 1790, Washington submitted the treaty to Congress, and on August 12 the Senate ratified the treaty (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and all the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1852). description ends , I, 1068, 1074).
2. H originally wrote the word “admissable.” The word “proper” is not in H’s handwriting.
3. H wrote and then crossed out “Alexander McGillivray.” McGillivray was chief of the Creek Indians. On July 20, 1790, he and twenty-nine other leaders of the Creek nation arrived in New York City to negotiate the treaty with the United States Government. In the final form of the secret article, the blank was filled with the words “President of the United States.” See note 1.
4. H wrote and crossed out at this point: “unless the United States shall make substantial and effectual arrangement for carrying on the said trade and furnishing the said Creek Nation with the usual supplies by or through their own Agents or Citizens.”