Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate, 27 December 1802

To the Senate

Gentlemen of the Senate

I lay before you a treaty which has been agreed to by Commissioners duly authorised on the part of the US. and the Creek nation of1 Indians, for the extinguishment of the native title to lands in the Talassee county, and others between the forks of Oconee and Oakmulgee rivers in Georgia, in pursuance of the convention with that state; together with the documents explanatory thereof; and it is submitted to your determination whether you will advise and consent to the ratification thereof.

Th: Jefferson

Dec. 27. 1802.

RC (DNA: RG 46, EPIR, 7th Cong., 2d sess.); endorsed by clerks. PrC (DLC). Enclosures: (1) Treaty between the United States and the Creek nation, 16 June, made near Fort Wilkinson on the Oconee River, for the cession of a specified tract of land to the United States by the Creeks; the U.S. agreeing to pay the Creeks $3,000 annually; the U.S. also to pay $1,000 per year for ten years “to the chiefs who administer the government”; the U.S. also to pay $10,000 in goods, $10,000 toward certain debts at the government trading factory, and $5,000 to satisfy claims for property taken by the Creeks from U.S. citizens; the treaty also allowing for the establishment on the Creeks’ land of one or more garrisons “for the protection of the frontiers”; in an added stipulation, the U.S. commissioners—James Wilkinson, Benjamin Hawkins, and Andrew Pickens—agree that ten chiefs of the Upper Towns and ten chiefs of the Lower Towns will share in the special $1,000 annuity to be paid to the Creeks’ leaders for ten years, with “the speaker in the national council which has been established as a part of the plan of civilization, agreeably to the orders of government,” to receive $150 per year, three “first chiefs” to receive $70 each, and the remaining 16 chiefs to have equal shares of the remainder of the $1,000 (printed copy in DNA: RG 46, EPIR). (2) Wilkinson and Hawkins to Dearborn, 15 July; reporting the distribution of $10,000 in goods according to the treaty, which took some time “amidst the distinct claims & pretensions of twenty-seven Towns & eight Villages”; reporting also that early in the negotiations, “difficulties & divisions” among the Creeks caused delays, the commissioners learning that “certain disaffected Tribes” that claimed some lands were not in attendance at the treaty conference and might “attack our frontier” if the lands were sold; the commissioners, finding that the citizens of Georgia “held those tracts in light Estimation,” agreed to remove that land from consideration; the commissioners note that it was the Creeks’ wish to have U.S. military garrisons “posted on their Lands, in front of our Settlements,” to protect them from the Americans; the commissioners concur on that point, believing that by separating the army from the settlers, “the principles of subordination & discipline may be more effectually enforced, and those animosities, broils, & debaucheries, which are inseperable from a connexion between them, may be prevented”; such an arrangement will also “have a natural tendency to familiarize the Indians to the Idea” of giving up lands near the military establishment and will restrict interaction between the Indians and “our disorderly Citizens, from whom they derive naught but their vices & bad habits”; during the treaty negotiations, a Cherokee delegation arrived and complained to the commissioners about encroachments by whites, but the delegation’s main purpose was to negotiate a boundary between the Cherokees and the Creeks, which was done in the commissioners’ presence; the Creeks complain of trespassing in the area of the Tombigbee and Mobile Rivers, where whites have built houses and cleared fields; the Indians formerly made land concessions to the British in that zone, “but the precise bounds have not yet been discovered”; two incidents marred the negotiations, the theft of some of the Creeks’ horses by whites and an altercation in which a young Indian warrior wounded a white man, but neither incident escalated to cause wider problems; overall the commissioners “believe a solid foundation has been laid, for a salutary reform in the Habits & manners of this People, and we have no doubt, that, by due perseverance in the Systems which have prevailed, the great work of their civilization may be accomplished” (RC in same, in Hawkins’s hand, signed by him and Wilkinson). (3) “Journal of a Conference between The Commissioners of the United States & The Creek Nation of Indians held at Fort Wilkinson in the months of May & June 1802,” a compilation dated 8 May to 30 June; includes transcriptions of the commissioners’ correspondence with Dearborn and Governor Josiah Tattnall, Jr., of Georgia, and minutes of conferences with Creek leaders (Tr in same, with certification of Alexander Macomb, Jr., as the commissioners’ secretary). Message and 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, 1:668–81.

extinguishment of the native title: in an April 1802 agreement for the cession of lands by Georgia, the United States pledged to remove Indian claims to the Tallassee district and the area of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers. Congress had previously appropriated funds for a treaty conference for that purpose (Vol. 36:191n; Vol. 37:344n).

The Senate received the message and accompanying papers from Meriwether Lewis on 28 Dec. and gave its consent by unanimous vote on 4 Jan. 1803 (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 , 1:427, 429). TJ signed the ratification one week later, and the State Department later sent a copy of the treaty, certified by Madison on 1 Apr. 1803, to the state of Georgia (MS in G-Ar; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:472).

1Preceding two words interlined.

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