Thomas Jefferson Papers

Safe Conduct for Three Chickasaw Indians, 28 November 1799

Safe Conduct for Three Chickasaw Indians

Albemarle county

Three Chickasaw Indians having come so far without any guide, interpreter or pass, I have engaged the bearer John Haden to take charge of them & attend them to Richmond to the Governor of the state; and they are recommended to the peace, protection and hospitality of the citizens on the road they pass. should they be in want of any necessaries, it cannot be doubted but that the Governor will authorize paiment to those who may furnish them. Given under my hand this 28th. day of November 1799.

Th: Jefferson

MS (ViU); entirely in TJ’s hand.

Evidently two members of this unidentified group of Chickasaws were homeward bound from Richmond by 14 Dec., having seen John Pendleton, a member of the council who acted as GOVERNOR for part of the period between the completion of James Wood’s term on 6 Dec. and the commencement of James Monroe’s on the 19th. The two Chickasaws were near Staunton with a guide on 20 Dec., but one of them was reported to be “apparently weak and dangerously indisposed, not able to proceed further. However, every attention shall be paid to his present situation, and such reasonable aid as humanity may dictate shall be afforded for his further relief and comfort.” The notation “Dead” in the endorsement of the next document may explain why only two of the travelers returned to Augusta County, one of them very ill, and without having journeyed to Philadelphia as TJ, in the document that follows, thought they would (CVSP description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers …Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 9:63; Emily J. Salmon, ed., A Hornbook of Virginia History, 3d ed. [Richmond, 1983], 77). On several other occasions also, including some during TJ’s presidency, Chickasaw individuals or small groups arrived in the eastern states unannounced and without interpreters. The Chickasaws had made treaties with Virginia in 1783 and with the United States in 1786 (Herman J. Viola, Diplomats in Buckskins: A History of Indian Delegations in Washington City [Washington, 1981], 42–3; Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws [Norman, Okla., 1971], 75–6; Vol. 9:642n; Vol. 17:389n).

From May to September 1799 Joseph Bullen made an inaugural visit to the Chickasaws on behalf of the New York Missionary Society. William Linn, with whom TJ corresponded about Indian languages, was one of the society’s directors, but there is no apparent link between Bullen’s mission and this party of Chickasaws traveling through Albemarle County (Dawson A. Phelps, ed., “Excerpts from the Journal of the Reverend Joseph Bullen, 1799 and 1800,” Journal of Mississippi History, 17 [1955], 254–81; New-York Missionary Magazine, and Repository of Religious Intelligence, 1 [1800], 161–5; TJ to William Linn, 5 Feb. 1798).

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