To the Senate
Gentlemen of the Senate.
The states of Georgia and Tennissee being peculiarly interested in our carrying into execution the two acts passed by Congress on the 19th. of February 1799. (chap. 115.) and 13th. of May 1800. (chap. 62.) commissioners were appointed early in summer, and other measures taken for the purpose. the objects of these laws requiring meetings with the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws and Creeks, the inclosed instructions were prepared for the proceedings with the three first nations. our applications to the Cherokees failed altogether. those to the Chickasaws produced the treaty now laid before you for your advice & consent, whereby we obtained permission to open a road of communication with the Missisipi territory; the Commissioners are probably at this time in conference with the Choctaws. further information having been wanting, when these instructions were formed, to enable us to prepare those respecting the Creeks, the Commissioners were directed to proceed with the others. we have now reason to believe the conferences with the Creeks cannot take place till the Spring.
The journals and letters of the Commissioners relating to the subject of the treaty now inclosed, accompany it.
Dec. 22. 1801.
RC (DNA: RG 46, EPIR, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); with “chap. 115.” and “chap. 62.” struck out, not by TJ, and those references do not appear in the letter as printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:648. PrC (DLC). Recorded in SJL with notation “Chickasaw treaty.” Enclosures: (1) Treaty “of reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience” between the United States and the Chickasaws, signed at Chickasaw Bluffs, 24 Oct. 1801, by U.S. commissioners James Wilkinson, Benjamin Hawkins, and Andrew Pickens and by 17 Chickasaw leaders; the Chickasaws agreeing to allow the running of a road from the Mero District of Tennessee to the Natchez settlements through their land, and the commissioners agreeing to give the Chickasaw representatives goods to the value of $700 as compensation for “the expense and inconvenience” of holding the negotiation (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:648–9; also printed in U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 7:65–6). (2) Henry Dearborn to William R. Davie, Wilkinson, and Hawkins, 24 June 1801, instructions for holding talks with the Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Choctaws (Tr in DNA: RG 46, EPIR; in a clerk’s hand; certified by John Newman, chief clerk of the War Department, 17 Dec. 1801, as a true copy from the department’s records; endorsed by a Senate clerk). (3) Dearborn to Davie, Wilkinson, and Hawkins, 3 July, providing additional instructions asking the commissioners not to attempt any negotiation with the Cherokees over land, advising the commissioners also that the Cherokees might be reluctant to discuss the opening of a road (Tr in same; in a clerk’s hand; with an appended note that Pickens had been substituted as a commissioner for Davie; certified by Newman, 17 Dec.; endorsed by a Senate clerk). (4) Dearborn to Wilkinson, Hawkins, and Pickens, 17 July, instructions for negotiations with the Creeks (Tr in same; in a clerk’s hand; endorsed by a clerk). (5) Wilkinson, Hawkins, and Pickens to Dearborn, Chickasaw Bluffs, 25 Oct. 1801, reporting on their talks with the Chickasaws since the commissioners arrived at Chickasaw Bluffs on 18 Oct. (RC in same; in a clerk’s hand; signed by Wilkinson, Hawkins, and Pickens; endorsed by a Senate clerk). (6) Minutes of a conference between the commissioners and the Chickasaws, held at Chickasaw Bluffs, 21–24 Oct. (MS in same; in a clerk’s hand; signed by Wilkinson, Hawkins, and Pickens; endorsed by a Senate clerk). (7) “Invoice of goods delivered the Chickasaw nation agreeably to treaty the 24th October 1801,” listing items including gunpowder, lead, gunflints, rifles, axes, hoes, knives, clothing, cloth, whiskey, and tobacco with a total value of $696.21, Hawkins noting the addition of one gun for $6 to bring the total to $702.21 (MS in same; in a clerk’s hand; signed by Wilkinson, Hawkins, and Pickens; one additional item and new total in Hawkins’s hand; endorsed by a Senate clerk). (8) Wilkinson to Dearborn, 27 Oct. 1801, from Chickasaw Bluffs, reporting orders given for eight companies of infantry to go to Tennessee for opening the road from that end; if the Choctaws also agree to the road, as he expects, he will order six companies to begin work at the Natchez end of the route; and he will see that the course of the road is surveyed (RC in same; in a clerk’s hand, with complimentary closing and signature by Wilkinson; endorsed by a Senate clerk). Enclosures printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:649–53.
At the outset of TJ’s presidency, a senator and a congressman from Georgia and the two senators from Tennessee asked that the government move forward with the acquisition of lands claimed by Indian tribes along those states’ frontiers. Two Acts: the legislators from Georgia, Abraham Baldwin and Benjamin Taliaferro, had directed TJ’s attention to an act of 19 Feb. 1799 that appropriated funds for a treaty to resolve Georgia’s claim to the Tallassee district, which by a treaty of 1790 had gone to the Creek Indians. The Tennessee senators, Joseph Anderson and William Cocke, were interested in obtaining more lands from the Cherokees, and referred to legislation of 13 May 1800 that appropriated funds to hold a treaty with Indians south of the Ohio River. On 17 May, TJ and the cabinet determined that negotiations should be held with the Cherokees, the Chickasaws, the Choctaws, and the Creeks to obtain particular tracts of land and rights-of-way for roads (Vol. 33:69–70, 174–8; Vol. 34:129–31).
Advice & Consent: Meriwether Lewis delivered the message, with the treaty and accompanying papers, to the Senate on 23 Dec. The Senate took up the treaty in executive session on 29–30 Dec., and after a series of postponements voted on the matter on 29 Apr. 1802. On that day, a motion to strike a clause in the treaty that called on the president “to assist the Chickasaws to preserve entire all their rights against the encroachments of unjust neighbors, of which he shall be the judge,” failed. The Senate then unanimously approved the treaty as submitted. On 4 May 1802, TJ issued a proclamation stating that “Whereas a Treaty between the United States of America and the Chickasaw nation of Indians, was concluded and signed by the commissioners of both nations fully and respectively authorized for that purpose on the twenty-fourth day of October 1801, and was duly ratified and confirmed by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate, on the first day of May ensuing, which treaty is in the words following, to wit,” followed by the full text of the treaty, followed by “Now Therefore, To the end that the said treaty may be observed with good faith on the part of the United States, I have caused the premises to be made public, and I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office, civil or military, within the United States, and all others, citizens or inhabitants therof, or being within the same, faithfully to observe and fulfil the said treaty and every clause and article thereof. In Testimony Whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand” (National Intelligencer, 12 May 1802; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:399–400, 405, 410, 423–4).
We Have Now Reason to Believe: in letters to the secretary of war on 6 Sep. and 14 Nov., Hawkins pointed out the difficulty of convening the Creeks for talks during their winter hunting season, which usually extended from October through February. Wilkinson, who did not favor postponing talks with the Creeks, referred to the subject in his 27 Oct. letter to Dearborn listed as Enclosure No. 8 above. Hawkins’s letter to TJ of 11 Dec., which also discussed the delay, did not reach TJ until February (Foster, Hawkins description begins Thomas Foster, ed., The Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796–1810, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 2003 description ends , 385–6, 396).