Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Walker and Others, 13 September 1775

From Thomas Walker and Others

Fort Pitt 13th. Sept. 1775.

Dear Sir

After a very disagreeable, wet and fateagueing Journey, we got here on the 10th Inst. the day appointed for opening the Treaty, but found scarcely any Indians here. We have dispatched runners to meet them and hope they will be in soon. We are told that the Shawnese and Delawares are on their way, but can not hear a tittle of the Wiandotts, from which circumstance ’tis feared that they have acceeded to the terms proposed to them by Carlton and Johnson. The few Indians here seem perfectly well disposed toward us, and all things would go on well, were it not for the unhappy territorial dispute between the two Colonies which has proceeded to an inconceiviable length, and we are sorry to say, that a certain eminent Gentleman who we conceive was sent here for very difrent purposes, appears to us to have greatly interested himself in this affair. Application has been made to us, to join in a letter to Congress praying their Interposition, but we thought it out of our province. In case the Pensylvanians should petition to this purpose, we hope the Congress will not go precipitately into it, or if they should, that you and the other Virginians will object to the giving up any of the Teritory west of the Laurel hill. This is only intended as a hint for our Friends. We are Dr. Sir Your obedt. Servts.,

thomas walker adam stephen
andw. lewis jn. walker

RC (MHi). In John(?) Walker’s hand; autograph signatures. Endorsed by TJ: “Walker Jno.” A paper in DLC: TJ Papers, 1: 167–8, may be assumed to be an enclosure. It is docketed “Information rec’d at Fort Pitt Sepr. 13th 1775” and begins: “The following intelligence I have just recieved from a man who lately returned from the Indian Country, where I sent him as a Spy.” The writer was without much doubt Thomas Walker, and the information of his agent relates to disaffection towards the Americans among the Tribes of the upper Ohio, the arrival of 300 French to aid the British at Detroit, and the temporary neutrality of the Six Nations.

In response to appeals from the Virginia settlers in the Pittsburgh area (see the Virginia and Pennsylvania Delegates’ letter of 25 July 1775), the Virginia House of Burgesses on 24 June 1775 appointed George Washington, Thomas Walker, James Wood, Andrew Lewis, John Walker, and Adam Stephen commissioners to meet with the Ohio Indians (JHB description begins Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1619–1776, Richmond, 1905–1915 description ends , 1773–1776, p. 282). In July Congress established three Indian departments; Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, and Patrick Henry were chosen commissioners of the middle department; Henry and Franklin declining, Thomas Walker and Lewis Morris were chosen in their stead and joined Wilson and the Virginia commissioners at Pittsburgh in September (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , ii, 174–7, 183, 251; Force, Archives, 4th ser., iii, 717). The speeches and proceedings on this occasion, which confirmed the Ohio River as the boundary between white men’s and red men’s territory, are printed in full in R. G. Thwaites and L. P. Kellogg, Revolution on the Upper Ohio, Madison, 1908, p. 25–127; see also Abernethy, Western Lands, p. 141–2, and R. C. Downes, Council Fires on the Upper Ohio, Pittsburgh, 1940, p. 184–6. The certain eminent gentleman was unquestionably James Wilson, who, like other Pennsylvanians, resented the occupation of Fort Pitt just before the proceedings began by a force of militia commanded by Capt. John Neville under orders from the Virginia Convention; see letters cited by Burnett, Letters of Members, i, 279, note. On the subject of the Virginia garrison and the conduct of Wilson, see, further, Pendleton’s letter to the Virginia Delegates in Congress, 15 July 1776. Adam Stephen and Andrew Lewis, well-known Virginia frontiersmen and old companions-in-arms of George Washington, both served as brigadier generals in the Continental Army; MS memoirs of both by Lyman C. Draper are quoted in R. G. Thwaites and L. P. Kellogg, Documentary History of Dunmore’s War, p. 191, 426–8.

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