To William Carmichael and William Short
June 30. 1793.
I have received from Messrs. Viar and Jaudenes the representatives of Spain at this place, a letter, which, whether considered in itself, or as the sequel of several others, conveys to us very disagreeable prospects of the temper and views of their court1 towards us. If this letter is a faithful expression of that temper, we presume it to be the effect of egregious misrepresentations by their agents in America.2 Revising our own dispositions and proceedings towards that power, we can find in them nothing but those of peace and friendship for them; and conscious that this will be apparent from a true statement of facts, I shall proceed to give you such a one to be communicated to the court of Madrid. If they find it very different from that conveyed to them by others, they may think it prudent to doubt, and to take and to give time for mutual enquiry and explanation. I shall proceed to give you this statement, beginning it from an early period.
At the commencement of the late war, the US. laid it down as a rule of their conduct to engage the Indian tribes within their neighborhood to remain strictly neutral. They accordingly strongly pressed it on them, urging that it was a family quarrel with which they had nothing to do, and in which we wished them to take no part: and we strengthened these recommendations by doing them every act of friendship and good neighborhood which circumstances left in our power. With some these sollicitations prevailed: but the greater part of them suffered themselves to be drawn into the war against us. They waged it in their usual cruel manner, murdering and scalping men, women and children indiscriminately, burning their houses, and desolating the country. They put us to vast expence, as well by the constant force3 we were obliged to keep up in that quarter, as by expeditions of considerable magnitude which we were under the necessity of sending into their country from time to time.
Peace being at length concluded with England, we had it also to conclude with them. They had made war on us without the least provocation or pretence of injury, they had added greatly to the cost of that war; they had4 insulted our feelings by their savage cruelties, they were by our arms completely subdued and humbled. Under all these circumstances we had a right to demand substantial satisfaction and indemnification. We used that right however with real moderation. Their limits with us under the former government were generally ill—defined, questionable, and the frequent5 cause of war. Sincerely desirous of living in their peace, of cultivating it by every act of justice and friendship, and of rendering them better neighbors by introducing among them some of the most useful arts, it was necessary to begin by a precise definition of boundary. Accordingly at the treaties held with them, our mutual boundaries were settled; and notwithstanding our just right to concessions adequate to the circumstances of the case, we required such only as were inconsiderable: and for even these, in order that we might place them in a state of perfect conciliation, we paid them a valuable consideration and granted them annuities in money which have been regularly paid, and were equal to the prices for which they have usually sold their lands.6 Sensible as they were of the wrong they had done, they expected to make some indemnification, and were for the most part satisfied with the mode and measure of it.7 In one or two instances where a dissatisfaction was observed to remain as to the boundaries agreed on, or doubts were entertained8 of the authority of those with whom they were agreed, the US. invited the parties to new treaties, and rectified what appeared to be susceptible of it. This was particularly the case with the Creeks. They complained of an inconvenient cession of lands on their part, and by persons not duly representing their nation. They were therefore desired to appoint a proper deputation to revise their treaty and that there might be no danger of any unfair practices they were invited to come to the seat of the general government, and to treat with that directly. They accordingly came. A considerable proportion of what had been ceded was, on the revision, yielded back to them, and nothing required in lieu of it:9 and tho’ they would have been better satisfied to have had the whole restored,10 yet they had obtained enough to satisfy them well. Their nation too would have been satisfied, for they were conscious of their aggression and of the moderation of the indemnity with which we had been contented. But at that time came among them an adventurer of the name of Bowles, who acting from an impulse with which we are unacquainted, flattered them with the hope of some foreign interference, which should undo what had been done, and force us to consider the naked grant of their peace as a sufficient satisfaction for their having made war on us. Of this adventurer the Spanish government rid us: but not of his principles, his practices, and his excitements against us. These were more than continued by the officers commanding at11 New Orleans, and Pensacola, and by agents employed by them and bearing their commission. Their proceedings have been the subject of former letters to you, and proofs of these proceedings have been sent to you. These with others now sent establish the facts that they called assemblies of the Southern Indians, openly persuaded them to disavow their treaties and the limits therein established, promised to support them with all the powers which depended on them, assured them of the protection of their sovereign, gave them arms in great quantities for the avowed purpose of committing hostilities on us, and promised them future supplies to their utmost need. The Chickasaws, the most steady and faithful friends of these states, have remained unshaken by these practices. So also have the Choctaws12 for the most part. The Cherokees have been teazed into some expressions of discontent, delivered only to the Spanish governors, or their agents; while to us they have continued to speak the language of peace and friendship. One part of the nation only, settled at Chuckamogga, and mixed with banditti and outcasts from the Shawanese and other tribes, acknoleging controul from none, and never in a state of peace, have readily engaged in the hostilities against us to which they were encouraged. But what was much more important, great numbers of the Creeks, chiefly their young men, have yeilded to these incitements, and have now, for more than a twelve—month, been committing murders and desolations on our frontiers. Really desirous of living in peace with them, we have redoubled our efforts to produce the same disposition in them. We have borne with their aggressions, forbidden all returns of hostility against them, tied up the hands of our people insomuch that few instances of retaliation have occurred even from our suffering citizens, we have multiplied our gratifications to them, fed them when starving from the produce of our own feilds and labour. No longer ago than the last winter, when they had no other resource against famine, and must have perished in great numbers, we carried into their country and distributed among them gratuitously 10,000 bushels of corn; and that too at the very time when their young men were daily committing murders on helpless women and children on our frontiers. And tho’ these depredations now involve more considerable parts of the nation, we are still13 demanding the punishment of the guilty individuals14 and shall be contented with it. These acts of neighborly kindness and support on our part have not been confined to the Creeks, tho’ extended to them in much the greatest degree. Like wants among the Chickasaws had induced us to send to them also, at first15 500. bushels of corn, and afterwards 1500. more. Our language to all the tribes of Indians has constantly been to live in peace with one another, and in a most especial manner we have used our endeavors with those in the neighborhood of the Spanish colonies to be peaceable towards those colonies. I sent you on a former occasion16 the copy of a letter from the Secretary at War to Mr. Seagrove, one of our Agents with the Indians in that quarter, merely to convey to you the general Tenor of the conduct marked out for those Agents: and desired you, in placing before the Eyes of the Spanish ministry, the very contrary conduct observed by their agents here, to invite them to a reciprocity of good offices with our Indian neighbors, each for the other, and to make our common peace, the common object of both nations. I can protest that such has hitherto been the candid and zealous endeavors of this Government; that if it’s Agents have in any instance acted in another way, it has been equally unknown and unauthorized by us,17 and that were even probable proofs of it produced, there18 would be no hesitation to mark them with the disapprobation of the Government. We expected the same friendly condescension from the Court of Spain, in furnishing you with proofs of the practices of the Governor de
Carondelet in particular; practices avowed by him and attempted to be justified in his letter.19
In this state of things, in such dispositions towards Spain, and towards the Indians, in such a course of proceedings, with respect to them, and while negotiations were instituted at Madrid for arranging these and all other matters which might affect our friendship and good understanding, we received from Messrs. de Viar and Jaudenes their letter of May 25th. which was the subject of mine of May 31st. to you; and now again we have received that of the 18th. instant, a copy of which is enclosed. This letter charges us, and in the most disrespectful Style with
1. exciting the Chickasaws to war on the Creeks:
2. furnishing them with provisions and arms:
3. aiming at the occupation of a post at the Ecores amargas:
4. giving medals and marks of distinction to several Indians:
5. meddling with the affairs of such as are allies of Spain:
6. not using efficacious means to prevent these proceedings.
I shall make short observations on these charges.
1. Were the 1st. true, it would not be unjustifiable. The Creeks have now a second time commenced against us a wanton and unprovoked war, and the present one in the face of a recent Treaty, and of the most friendly and charitable Offices on our part. There would be nothing out of the common course of proceeding then, for us to engage allies, if we needed any for their punishment. But we neither need, nor have sought them. The fact itself is utterly false, and we defy the world to produce a single proof of it. The declaration of war by the Chickasaws, as we are informed, was a very sudden thing, produced by the murder of some of their people by a party of Creeks, and produced so instantaneously as to give nobody time to interfere either to promote or prevent a rupture. We had, on the contrary most particularly exhorted that nation to preserve peace, because in truth we have a most particular friendship for them. This will be evident from a copy of the message of the President to them, among the papers now enclosed.20
2d. The Gift of provisions was but an act of that friendship to them, when in the same distress, which had induced us to give five times as much to the less friendly nation of the Creeks.—But we have given arms to them. We believe it is the practice of every white nation to give arms to the neighboring Indians. The agents of Spain have done it abundantly, and we suppose not out of their own pockets, and this for purposes of avowed hostility on us, and they have been21 liberal in promises of further supplies. We have given a few arms to a very friendly Tribe, not to make war on Spain, but to defend themselves from the atrocities of a vastly more numerous and powerful people, and one, which by a series of unprovoked and even unrepelled attacks on us, is obliging us to look towards war as the only means left of curbing their insolence.
3. We are aiming, as is pretended, at an establishment on the Missisippi, at the Ecores amargas. Considering the measures of this nature with which Spain is going on, having, since her proposition to treat with us on the subject, established posts at the Walnut hills22 and other places for 200 miles upwards,23 it would not have been wonderful if we had taken countervailing24 measures. But the truth is, we have not done it. We wished to give a fair chance to the negotiation going on, and thought it but common candour to leave things in statu quo, to make no innovation, pending the negotiation. In this spirit we forbid and deterred even by military force a large association of our Citizens, under the name of the Yazoo companies, which had formed to settle themselves at those very walnut hills, which Spain has since occupied.25 And so far are we from meditating the particular establishment so boldly charged in this letter, that we know not what place is meant by the Ecores amargas. This charge then is false also.
4. Giving medals and marks of distinction to the Indian Chiefs. This is but blindly hinted at in this letter, but was more pointedly complained of in the former. This has been an antient Custom from time immemorial. The medals are considered as complimentary things, as marks of friendship to those who come to see us, or who26 do us good offices,27 conciliatory of their good will towards us, and not designed to produce a contrary disposition towards others. They confer no power,28 and seem to have taken their origin in the European practice of giving medals or other marks of friendship to the negotiators of treaties, and other diplomatic Characters, or visitors of distinction. The British government, while it prevailed here, practised the giving Medals, Gorgets, and Bracelets to the Savages invariably. We have continued it, and we did imagine, without pretending to know, that Spain also did it.29
5. We meddle with the affairs of Indians in alliance with Spain. We are perfectly at a loss to know what this means. The Indians on our frontier have treaties both with Spain and us. We have endeavored to cultivate their friendship, to merit it by presents, charities and exhortations to peace with their neighbors, and particularly with the subjects of Spain. We have carried on some little commerce with them, merely to supply their wants. Spain too has made them presents, traded with them, kept agents among them, though their country is30 within the limits established as ours at the general peace.31 However Spain has chosen to have it understood that she has some claim to some parts of that Country, and that it must be one of the subjects of our present negotiations. Out of respect for her then, we have considered her pretensions to the Country; though it was impossible to believe them serious,32 as colouring pretensions to a concern with those Indians on the same Ground with our own, and we were willing to let them go on till a treaty should set things to rights between us.
6. Another article of complaint, is that we have not used efficacious means to suppress these practices. But if the charge is false, or the practice justifiable, no suppression is necessary.
And lastly, these Gentlemen say that on a view of these proceedings of the United States with respect to Spain and the Indians their allies, they foresee that our peace with Spain is very problematical in future. The principal object of the letter being our supposed excitements of the Chickasaws against the Creeks, and their protection of the latter, are we to understand from this that if we arm to repel the attacks of the Creeks, on ourselves,33 it will disturb our peace with Spain? That if we will not fold our arms and let them butcher us without resistance, Spain will consider it as a cause of war? This is, indeed, so serious an intimation that the President has thought it could no longer be treated with subordinate Characters, but that his sentiments should be conveyed to the Government of Spain itself, through you.
We love and we value peace: we know it’s blessings from experience. We abhor the follies of war, and are not untried in it’s distresses and calamities. Unmeddling with the affairs of other nations, we had hoped that our distance and our dispositions would have left us free in the example and indulgence of peace with all the world. We had, with sincere and particular dispositions courted and cultivated the friendship of Spain. We have made to it great sacrifices of time and interest, and were34 disposed to believe she would see her interests also in a perfect35 coalition and good understanding with us. Cherishing still the same sentiments, we have chosen, in the present instance, to ascribe the intimations in this letter to the particular character of the writers, displayed in the peculiarity of the style of their communications; and, therefore, we have removed the cause from them to their sovereign, in whose justice and love of peace we have Confidence. If we are disappointed in this appeal, if we are to be forced into a contrary order of things, our Mind is made up. We shall meet it with firmness. The necessity of our position, will supercede all appeal to calculation, now as it has done heretofore. We confide in our own strength, without boasting of it; we respect that of others, without fearing it. If we cannot otherwise prevail on the Creeks to discontinue their depredations, we will attack them in force.36 If Spain chuses to consider our self—defence against savagebutchery as a cause of war to her, we must meet her also37 in war, with regret, but without fear; and we shall be happier to the last moment to repair with her to the tribunal of peace and reason.
The President charges you to communicate the contents of this letter to the Court of Madrid, with all the temperance and delicacy, which the dignity and character of that Court, render proper; but with all the firmness and selfrespect, which befit a nation conscious of it’s rectitude, and settled in it’s purpose.38 I have the honour to be with sentiments of the most perfect esteem & respect, Gentlemen, your most obedient and most humble servant
RC (DLC: Short Papers); incomplete text in the hand of George Taylor, Jr., with complimentary close, signature, and one or two clerical corrections by TJ; endorsed by Short; estimated first four missing pages supplied from Dft (see note 16 below). Dft (DLC); written by TJ ca. 20–22 June 1793 and revised by him at various times down to 30 June 1793; contains numerous emendations, only the most important being noted below. Tr (CtY); in Taylor’s hand; at foot of first page: “To Messrs. Carmichael & Short.” PrC (DLC). Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.). Tr (Lb in same, TR). FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DCI). Recorded in SJPL. Sent with this letter was a separate list of the enclosures described below entitled “Documents accompanying the letter from the Secy. of State of this day, to Messrs. Carmichael & Short,” dated 30 June 1793 (MS in DLC: Short Papers, in Taylor’s hand, with a line drawn above the last two entries, the second of which is canceled, and bearing a later note at foot of text pertaining to the other: “this latter enclosed in a letter of 12th. July 1793. written in cypher”; PrC in DLC, lacking cancellation of last entry and note at foot of text, but containing later marginal note by Taylor in ink: “these were the sub. of a partr. 1er.”; FC in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DCI, consisting of unrevised list). The last two entries in question were documents TJ received on 2 July 1793 from Edmond Charles Genet pertaining to the opposition of the French government under Louis XVI to American claims to a right of navigation on the Mississippi: “Note sur les principes de l’Espagne relativement à la Navigation du Missisipi” and “Extrait des instructions données au Cte. de Moustier le 30. 7bre. 1787.” After the President, and possibly the Cabinet, considered them on 11 and 12 July 1793, TJ sent only the first one to the American commissioners in Spain (enclosure to TJ’s first Memorandum to George Washington, [11 July 1793]; TJ to Carmichael and Short, 12 July 1793; Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 191, 194). Enclosures: (1) Josef de Jaudenes and Josef Ignacio de Viar to TJ, 12 and 18 June 1793, and enclosures. (2) John Sullivan to William Brown, Charleston, 24 Sep. 1787, urging Brown to take up land on the Tennessee river in the state of Franklin, as “we will be speedily in possession of New Orleans,” to keep this letter secret, and to reply immediately about his intentions; with subjoined 6 Nov. 1787 attestation by Robert and Gouverneur Morris. (3) Extract of Governor William Blount to Henry Knox, 28 July 1791, enclosing a dependable report by Captain David Smith of Nashville stating that on 22 May 1791 he observed Spaniards under Governor Gayoso’s direction building a fort at Walnut Hills. (4) Extract of Timothy Barnard to Creek Indian Agent James Seagrove, Flints River, 13 July 1792, stating that the Cusseta king accepted his account of Bowles, that the Spanish planned to meet at Pensacola and Mobile with the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks to arm them against Americans, and that despite his efforts to plant doubts about Spanish motives, the Cusseta king asserted that he planned to meet with the Spanish because matters with Georgia could not be settled until toward fall. (5) Extract of Knox to Brigadier General Josiah Harmar, War Office, 16 Oct. 1787, stating that, in consequence of the publication of a letter of 1 Mch. last from John Sullivan to Don Diego de Gardoqui, Congress was ordering Harmar to seize and confine Sullivan if he came into federal territory and to report this to Knox when it happened for Congress’s information and orders. (6) Extract of same to same, 14 Nov. 1787, enclosing a copy of No. 2 and ordering Harmar to prevent any attacks on New Orleans by western settlers as suggested therein. (7) Extract of same to same, 19 Dec. 1787, stating that although a person from Franklin has assured him that there is no plan to attack New Orleans as suggested in No. 2, Harmar should still be on the alert to prevent one, and that western settlers may rely on protection from the union for their legal pursuits. (8) Extract of same to same, 24 Apr. 1788, stating that Harmar had done well to visit Monsieur Cruzat, the Spanish commandant at St. Louis, that he should strive to convince all Spanish officers of American good will toward Spain, and that there seemed to be no foundation to the intelligence about Sullivan’s design on New Orleans, though Harmar should observe the congressional resolves about arresting Sullivan in federal territory. (9) Extract of Knox’s Instructions to Captain Henry Burbeck, 8 Apr. 1790, enjoining him to maintain good relations with the nearby Spanish garrison. (10) Extract of Knox to Seagrove, 29 Apr. 1792, enjoining him to maintain good relations with the Spanish government and interest along the southern border, and to inform the Spanish of any other desperado like Bowles or of any hostile Indian designs against them. (11) Extract of Knox’s Instructions to Major Henry Gaither, 11 Aug. 1792, ordering all officers on the St. Marys river to respect the Spanish officers and government. (12) Extract of Knox’s Instructions to Major General Arthur St. Clair, 21 Mch. 1791, discussing two proclamations designed to prevent Dr. James O’Fallon from raising troops in Kentucky to settle Indian lands purchased by private companies from the state of Georgia in violation of United States treaties, and stating that if this approach failed the federal government was considering the use of military force to deter O’Fallon. (13) Extract of The Turkey to Governor Blount, Turkey Town, 2 Sep. 1792, stating that only the five lower towns of the Cherokees on Big river were determined to go to war with the United States on 8 Sep. 1792, that these towns had been armed by the Spanish, and that even though the Spanish insisted that these arms were to be kept in reserve and not used for war, they were to blame for this situation. (14) Extract of John Thompson to same, Turkey Town, 2 Sep. 1792, stating that the five lower towns of the Cherokees planned to go to war on 8 Sep., that Blount could rely on the Creeks to do their part, and that the Spanish were blameworthy for arming the hostiles, even if they did claim that they gave them the weapons to keep in reserve and not to make war. (15) Extract of Cherokee Indian Agent Leonard D. Shaw to same, 29 Aug. 1792, stating that on 24 Aug. the Creeks killed Mr. Ramsay and a person just arrived from Charleston, that the day before the Creeks came close to killing Moses Price, even though he was accompanied by the Kingfisher and his wife, that it is the Creeks’ “open and avowed intention” to kill every white man they meet, and that all this is attributable to the arming of the Indians by the Spanish. (16) Extract of Information from the Cherokee Red Bird, enclosed in a 15 Sep. 1792 letter of Governor Blount, stating that John Watts had brought home with him from Pensacola seven horseloads of ammunition and accoutrements to equip 200 horsemen, that Watts had been appointed to command the Creeks and Cherokees called to war, and that a Creek council had accepted Watts’s appointment. (17) Extract of Ben James to Governor Blount, Choctaw Nation, 30 June 1792, stating that every white man among the Choctaws must be dependent on the Spanish government, and that Alexander McGillivray’s current visit to New Orleans was good neither for the United States nor the Choctaws. (18) Extract of Information from the Hanging Maw, enclosed in a 7 Oct. 1792 letter of Governor Blount, stating that, based upon information from the reliable half-breed John Boggs, the Creeks were on their way to attack the Cumberland settlement in the Mero District, that they were joined by 100 to 200 Cherokees, among them John Watts, who had been armed by the Spanish, that Richard Findleston and a Frenchman had passed from Pensacola to Cumberland to obtain intelligence of that country, and that the five lower towns of the Cherokees were expelling those wanting peace and welcoming migrants from the upper towns who favor war. (19) Extract of Mr. Wallace’s Report, 15 Dec. 1792, enclosed in a 16 Dec. 1792 letter of Governor Blount, stating that he delivered Blount’s message to the Cherokee towns of Chilhowee and Tallassee warning them to refrain from violence against nearby whites, that the head man of Chilhowee pleaded his inability to prevent the Creeks and the lower towns of the Cherokees from passing through his towns to kill frontiersmen and steal their horses, that Watts had 1,600 men ready to fight in the lower towns, and that the Spanish had offered land and weapons to the head man’s town, even to boys under twelve. (20) Extract of a Conference of Governor Blount, John Sevier, and others with the Cherokees, Knoxville, 26 Dec. 1792, in which the Hanging Maw described how Governor Arturo O’Neill at Pensacola had shown the Hare magazines of ammunition for the Indians, saying they would have plenty and that the Americans, “great rogues,” would give them very little for a high price. (21) Extract of Information given to Governor Blount by James Carey, United States interpreter in the Cherokee nation, Knoxville, 3 Nov. 1792, transmitted in Blount to Knox, 8 Nov. 1792, stating that in May 1792 John Watts had received a letter from Mr. Panton, written at the home of Mr. McDonald, inviting Watts and the Bloody Fellow in Governor O’Neill’s name to bringten packhorses to Pensacola to carry weapons to the Cherokees; that in the same letter Panton also promised to supply goods to the Cherokees; that with McDonald acting as interpreter Panton invited the Little Turkey to Pensacola for the same reason, offered to supply his people with goods much cheaper than before, and assured him that the Creeks had agreed to allow the Spanish to erect a fort at the Alabama fork a mile below McGillivray’s house to store arms and ammunition for the protection of the Creeks and Cherokees; that Watts and the Bloody Fellow visited McDonald, who wrote two letters to O’Neill, one highly recommending Watts and his uncle Talteeske and the other (in the name and at the request of the Bloody Fellow) announcing that the Bloody Fellow, having decided to break with the United States and align with Spain, wanted Watts to return with arms and ammunition from Pensacola and would later visit O’Neill with the Little Turkey and some other chiefs; that Panton dissuaded the Bloody Fellow from appearing before a Cherokee council to report on his negotiations with the federal government in Philadelphia; that at this same June council Spanish influence led the Little Turkey to demand a boundary with the United States at the ridge between the Cumberland and Green rivers; that after his return from Pensacola late in August Watts informed the Cherokees of O’Neill’s promise to arm the Indians in the middle of October at Pensacola with matériel sent by the King of Spain, of O’Neill’s assurances that Spain had no interest in acquiring Indian lands, of O’Neill’s argument that it was a propitious time for the Southern Indians to strike while the United States was at war with the Western Indians, and of O’Neill’s announcement that Spain was going to build a fort at the Alabama forks with Creek consent and would build a magazine for the Cherokees at Wills Town; and that in consequence of Watts’s overtures the Creeks had decided to send some warriors to Pensacola to acquire arms and others to James Seagrove at Rock Landing to obtain as many presents as possible until the Creeks were ready for war. (22) Extract of James Seagrove to George Washington, Rock Landing, 5 July 1792, stating that the account of the Spanish officer mentioned in No. 23—a Frenchman named Captain Olivier who had been appointed by Baron de Carondelet to succeed McGillivray, with his support, as Spanish agent to the Creeks—was untrustworthy; that during McGillivray’s current visit to New Orleans Olivier forbade the Creeks to run a boundary line with Georgia and sell land to, or have anything to do with, the United States, furnished them with goods and ammunition, and urged them to treat with the Spanish at Pensacola; that the Creeks believed the Spanish would seek permission at the Pensacola conference to build forts and establish garrisons in their lands; that the Spanish are playing a double game with William Augustus Bowles in regard to the United States, having treated him leniently and dispatched him to Spain; that McGillivray is unfaithful to the United States and has probably withdrawn to the Spanish so that Olivier can lead active Creek opposition to it; and that McGillivray’s evasions with Seagrove and the Secretary of War about carrying out the Treaty of New York apparently resulted from the influence of his Spanish and English friends, and not from Indian opposition to it. (23) Alexander McGillivray to Seagrove, Upper Creeks, Little Tallassee, 18 May 1792, stating that his efforts to carry out the Treaty of New York were frustrated by the appearance among the Creeks of Bowles, who before his arrest by the Spanish promised British aid and encouraged a majority of the towns to oppose ceding more than the east side of the Oconee river to Georgia, of Indians from New Orleans, and of a Spanish officer who tells the Creeks that he is under orders to prevent them from running a line or dealing with the Americans and who invites them to a meeting at Pensacola in September; that the Indians are distracted, being tampered with on every side, and he is “in the situation of a Keeper of Bedlam and nearly fit for an Inhabitant”; that Randall has been sent to the Cusseta chiefs with a talk urging them to run the line, though their compliance is doubtful; and that to avoid a horrid war the Indians should not be asked for more land cessions at present. (24) Extract of Seagrove to Washington, 27 July 1792, stating that the Spanish were conspiring to involve the four Southern Indian nations in a war with the United States, and enclosing the sworn testimony of James Leonard, a respectable citizen of Massachusetts new to this country, attesting to the new perfidy of Spain and the unfaithfulness of McGillivray. (25) Message from Knox to the Chickasaws, 27 Apr. 1793, stating that the President was aware of their great need for arms, ammunition, and corn; that the President commended the way of peace to them; and that the United States was about to negotiate for peace with the hostile Western Indians but was ready to go to war with them if negotiations failed (PrCs of Trs in DLC: TJ Papers, 89: 15410–14, 96: 16505–16, 16532–40, 16517–31, 16541–2, in various clerical hands, with attestations by John Stagg, Jr., chief clerk of the War Department; Trs in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DCI). Enclosed in TJ to Thomas Pinckney, 11 Sep. 1793.
TJ’s letter reflected the growing crisis in Spanish-American relations resulting from the efforts of Francisco Luis Hector, Baron de Carondelet, the governor of Louisiana and West Florida, to halt further American expansion in the southwest through the formation of a confederation of Southern Indian tribes under Spanish auspices (Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty description begins Samuel Flagg Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty: America’s Advantage from Europe’s Distress, 1783–1800, rev. ed., New Haven, 1960 description ends , 174–85; and Whitaker, Frontier description begins Arthur P. Whitaker, The Spanish-American Frontier: 1783–1795, Boston, 1927 description ends , 153–6, 163–70). It was specifically occasioned by a letter of 18 June 1793 from the agents of the Spanish government in Philadelphia warning of the possibility of war between Spain and the United States because of allegedly hostile American interference with these tribes. In response to this communication, the President and the Cabinet met two days later, when the agents’ letter was read and the Cabinet decided that TJ should prepare a full statement of American relations with the Southern Indians and the Spanish for Carmichael and Short to transmit to the Spanish court. Meeting again on 22 June, they approved “with some alterations” the text of such a statement, presumably the draft of the letter above (as well as TJ’s brief reply to the Spanish representatives of 11 July). Thereafter, judging from its 30 June 1793 dateline, TJ evidently continued to work on the draft until it was ready for his chief clerk to copy on that date. TJ waited for the President to return to Philadelphia from Mount Vernon on 11 July before entrusting the dispatch and its enclosures on the following day to a special messenger to Madrid, but there is no evidence that he showed the final text of the letter to Washington or the Cabinet (Jaudenes and Viar to TJ, 18 June 1793; Cabinet Opinion on Relations with Spain and Great Britain, 20 June 1793; TJ to Viar and Jaudenes, 11 July 1793; TJ to James Blake, 12 July 1793; Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 183, 186–7, 190–1, 194–6). For the reception of TJ’s letter in Spain, see Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty description begins Samuel Flagg Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty: America’s Advantage from Europe’s Distress, 1783–1800, rev. ed., New Haven, 1960 description ends , 187–90.
The 1790 Treaty of New York was the agreement the Creeks negotiated at the seat of the General Government (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, i, 81–2). In conjunction with his efforts to create an independent Creek-Cherokee state under his leadership and in alliance with Great Britain, the flamboyant adventurer William Augustus Bowles, a loyalist from Maryland and a half-pay British officer who became a Creek chief after the American Revolution, had incited tribal opposition to this treaty during his stay among the Creeks in 1791–92. Although Bowles was not an official agent of the British government, unofficially his enterprise enjoyed the support of Lord Grenville, the British foreign minister, and Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of the Bahamas. Early in 1792 Bowles was arrested by Spanish officials in Florida, who feared that his projected Indian state threatened Spain’s position in the region. Despite his subsequent efforts to convince Carondelet and Luis de Las Casas, the governor of Cuba, that his plan was actually consistent with Spanish interest in creating an Indian buffer between the United States and their American empire, soon thereafter Bowles was sent to Spain, where he was currently being held as a political prisoner (Coker and Watson, Indian Traders, 148–56; J. Leitch Wright, Jr., William Augustus Bowles: Director General of the Creek Nation [Athens, Ga., 1967], 3–18, 27–8, 37–8, 52–80).
TJ’s letter to Carmichael and Short of 14 Oct. 1792 was the former occasion when he informed them of Henry Knox’s instruction to Creek Indian agent James Seagrove to preserve peace between these Indians and the Spanish, though at that time he did not actually enclose a copy of Knox’s letter to this effect. Ecores Amargas: Ecores à Margot, or Chickasaw Bluffs, a site on the Mississippi river at modern-day Memphis, Tennessee, that Carondelet himself was actually planning to fortify in order to prevent American settlement in the area and on which he had a fort erected in 1795 to foil the settlement plans of one of the Yazoo land speculation companies (Whitaker, Spanish-American Frontier, 214–16; Coker and Watson, Indian Traders description begins William S. Coker and Thomas D. Watson, Indian Traders of the Southeastern Spanish Borderlands: Panton, Leslie & Company and John Forbes & Company, 1783–1847, Pensacola, 1986 description ends , 171–2, 175, 181). For the Washington administration’s opposition to the South Carolina Yazoo Company—the large association of our citizens which sought to create an independent state in Choctaw country on the basis of a land grant from Georgia and with Spanish support—see John C. Parish, “The Intrigues of Doctor James O’Fallon,” MVHR description begins Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 1914–64 description ends , xvii (1930), 238–56. The Spanish claim to some parts of that country is discussed in Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty description begins Samuel Flagg Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty: America’s Advantage from Europe’s Distress, 1783–1800, rev. ed., New Haven, 1960 description ends , 41–5.
1. Tr in CtY: “conduct.”
2. TJ continued this sentence as follows: “desirous perhaps for their own purposes of bringing on scenes in which they may have a chance to gather up something.” He subsequently bracketed this passage and wrote next to it in the margin “separate letter.” The passage is not in the other texts.
3. Word interlined in place of “guards.”
4. TJ here canceled “distressed.”
5. TJ here canceled “subjec.”
6. Preceding sentence written in margin in place of the following passage: “Some we were obliged to require. Sufficiently distressed for the means of raising and paying souldiers during the war, one of the resources to which we had been obliged to recur was the engaging to them grants of land at the close of the war. It was necessary to enable ourselves to comply with this engagement: and it being one item only in the long account of damages which the wanton injustice of our Indian neighbors had done us, it was but a temperate measure of satisfaction to exact from them this part of the expences which they had brought on us. They were generally.” Before striking this passage, TJ wrote in the margin near the end of it notes for the sentence he substituted: “qu. and even for this valuable consideration and annual sum given them.”
7. TJ first wrote “They were generally sensible of the wrong they had done, expected to make some indemnification, and were for the most part satisfied with the measure <and mode of indemnification> required” and then altered it to read as above.
8. TJ initially wrote the sentence to this point as “In one or two instances where there remained a dissatisfaction with the boundaries agreed on, or doubts” before altering it to read as above.
9. TJ first wrote “Great alterations in their favor were made in the limits; a considerable cession was given back to them in one quarter, in lieu of a very small one in another” and then altered it to read as above.
10. Preceding three words interlined in place of “it back for nothing.”
11. Preceding three words interlined in place of “Governors of.” Next to this line TJ wrote in the margin “commandt.”
12. Remainder of sentence interlined.
13. TJ here canceled “only peaceably,” above which he interlined and then canceled “acting on the defensive and in an amicable manner.”
14. Remainder of sentence interlined. Next to it in the margin TJ wrote “to be corrected.”
15. Word lacking in Tr in CtY.
16. Text to this point supplied from Dft.
17. In Dft TJ first wrote the remainder of this sentence as “and that were proofs produced against them which could satisfy the mind of the government there would be no hesitation to withdraw them from the charges committed to them” before altering it to read as above.
18. In Dft TJ wrote in the margin next to this word, which begins a line, “would be properly noticed.”
19. In Dft TJ here canceled “We judged from our own dispositions that indulgence towards a particular officer would never be weighed a moment in the scale against the peace and friendship of a neighbor nation.”
20. Preceding sentence inserted in Dft by TJ sometime after the next paragraph was written. Before adding the sentence he had written in the margin “here refer to message &c.”
21. In Dft TJ first wrote “Spain has done <to> it extravagantly, for purposes of avowed hostility on us, and has been still more” before altering it to read as above.
22. Next to the preceding five words in Dft TJ, apparently in this order, wrote “qu?” in the margin and above it “O Fallon’s design to establish at the Walnut hills.”
23. Word interlined in Dft in place of “above.”
24. Word interlined in Dft in place of “corresponding.”
25. Preceding sentence written in the margin of Dft.
26. In Dft TJ here canceled “otherwise.”
27. Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft.
28. In Dft TJ here canceled “for we pretend to none over <an independent> a nation of independent government.”
29. In Dft TJ wrote “qu.” in the margin next to this sentence.
30. Preceding four words interlined in Dft in place of “the only circumstance which could render this proceeding offensive from them to us was that they have done it to Indians residing.”
31. In Dft TJ here canceled “and it has been generally understood among the white nations of America that they are to have nothing to do with the Indians within each others limits.” Next to this passage he wrote in the margin “guard this expression.”
32. In Dft TJ first wrote “which we did not think serious” and then altered it to read as above.
33. Preceding two words interlined in Dft.
34. Remainder of this sentence and first five words of the following sentence interlined in Dft in place of “still disposed to sacrifice whatever justice and honor would permit.”
35. In Dft TJ here canceled “friendship and.”
36. In Dft TJ here canceled “Probably we shall be forced to it within a very short time.”
37. Word interlined in Dft.
38. In Dft TJ here wrote “and you will give us the earliest communications of what we may expect.” He subsequently bracketed the clause and wrote next to it in the margin “to be in separate letter.”