Thomas Jefferson Papers

Evan Shelby to Patrick Henry, 4 June 1779

Evan Shelby to Patrick Henry

Washington [County, Virginia] June 4. 1779


Since my last which I had the honor to address to your Excellency some of the Chiefs of the peaceable Towns of the Cherokee Nation of Indians came into Fort P Henry where they discovered some talks which I herewith send you, Some short time since I received a Letter from the Chiefs of Chickamogga accompanied with one other from Oconastota the great Warrior of Chota with orders to dispatch them to your Excy which I also send you by Express. It gives me real Satisfaction to find by the Contents of those Letters and other Circumstances that those people are reduced to a Sense of their Duty and a Willingness to treat for peace with the united States which I flatter myself will ease us in some measure from the Calamities incident to an Indian War.

I am informed that the Chiefs of the Chickamoga Towns have since my departure from that place discharged all the white people and Traders from amongst them who came from Mobille, or had connexions with the British party and from the purport of their Letters it Seems they depend soly on the State of Virga. for Goods. I would therefore beg leave to offer it as my opinion that if some necessary Goods could be provided for them it might answer a good end. I am &c.,

Evan Shelby

Tr (DLC: PCC, No. 71, i). In a clerk’s hand and endorsed by Charles Thomson as enclosure No. 3 in TJ to John Jay, 19 June 1779. Copies of three other enclosures (originally accompanying Shelby’s letter to Henry) were forwarded at the same time to Jay and are so endorsed by Thomson; they are: (1) message from the Chickamauga Chiefs, dated at Shelby’s headquarters, Fort Patrick Henry on the Holston, 21 May 1779; (2) a similar message from The Great Warrior (i.e., the Cherokee chief Oconastota), dated Chuckamogge, 22 May 1779; and (3) transcript of the talks between The Raven and Hanging Maw, “Chiefs of the peaceable Towns of the Cherokees,” on the one part, and Col. Shelby and Maj. Joseph Martin, Virginia agent to the Cherokees, on the other part, at Fort Patrick Henry, 22 May 1779. Another Tr (DLC).

Shelby’s letter and its interesting enclosures (apparently unpublished) were received by TJ as Gov. Henry’s successor, and he promptly transmitted copies to Pres. Jay and Gen. Washington (see letters of 19 June 1779). An account of Evan Shelby’s punitive expedition against the hostile Chickamauga Indians in the Holston region, who were believed to have been incited by Gov. Hamilton of Detroit and his agents, will be found in J. G. M. Ramsey, Annals of Tennessee, Phila., 1853, p. 186–9.

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