Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Worthington, 23 May 1803

From Thomas Worthington

Chilicothe May 23rd 1803


The day before yesterday I wrote you from Lancaster on the Hockhocking and informed you of the murder of a white man by the indians in the neighbourhood of this place—I gave you the report as I recd it from the post-rider—It was in part correct and part exaggerated—The circumstances so far as we can collect them are these—A Captain Herod who lived about 12 miles from me had some dispute with an indian or Indians—He was found on friday last1 about sundown shot through the body and scalped near his house—When found he was not dead and could only state before he did die that he had recd the injury from indians—The report at first was very alarming We were informed that a large body of Indians well armed were in the neighbourhood and had killed several families This part of the report is not true It appears entirely probable that not more than one or two Indians at most have done the injury and that from personal revenge—Several parties have been out for two days past in search of the murderer—and have not yet returned—That part of the treaty with the Indians permitting them to hunt in our ground is attended with many evil consequences and will I fear ultimately produce serious effects—They encamp within the frontier settlements Obtain whisky and do many2 injuries to our citizens by stealing their horses and other property which provokes revenge—I hope this affair will blow over without any thing more serious—I beg you will accept my thanks for the pamphlet you were so good as enclose to me—I am much pleased with it and shall have it published in the sioto gazette The organization of our state government has been so far attended with much harmony and satisfaction Our citizens generally have the most perfect confidence in the administration of the genl Government—so that our situation is a pleasing one Accept my very sincere wishes for your health and happiness and believe me with the highest respect and esteem Sir Your obt St.

T. Worthington

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the U States”; endorsed by TJ as received 2 June and so recorded in SJL.

i wrote you from lancaster: Worthington to TJ, 21 May 1803, is recorded in SJL as received from Lancaster on 31 May, but has not been found.

murder of a white man: news regarding the murder of militia captain Thomas Herrod (Herod) appeared in newspapers across the county and largely coincided with the details provided by Worthington. Initial reports from Chillicothe of a large party of Shawnees in the vicinity were later retracted, however, after militia parties found the Indians in the vicinity knew nothing of the murder and denounced its perpetrators. A few days later, however, a party of white men shot and killed a lone Indian, an elderly Shawnee named Wawilaway, whom they deemed suspicious after questioning him about Herrod’s death. A council of Wyandot and Mingo Indians, held at the head of Mad River on 23 and 28 May, denounced the murders and declared their willingness to help find and deliver up the guilty parties. Governor Edward Tiffin lauded the council’s actions and hoped their example would serve to “deter the inconsiderate both of your people and ours, from committing acts of hostility which may endanger the peace and happiness of both sides.” Subsequent newspaper accounts suggested that Herrod’s killer was most likely a white man, “with whom he had been at variance for some time.” The actual murderer, however, was never positively identified (Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 3:520, 532; Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 8, 11 June 1803; Bartgis’s Republican Gazette, 17 June 1803; Fredericktown, Md., Hornet, 21 June 1803; New York Daily Advertiser, 23 June 1803; Lyle S. Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from…1639…to…1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends A Standard History of Ross County, Ohio, 2 vols. [Chicago, 1917], 1:390–1; W. P. Strickland, ed., Autobiography of Rev. James B. Finley; Or, Pioneer Life in the West [Cincinnati, 1853], 135–42).

treaty with the indians: that is, the 1795 treaty of Greenville, article seven of which permitted the Indians to hunt on ceded lands, “so long as they demean themselves peaceably, and offer no injury to the people of the United States” (Parry, Consolidated Treaty Series description begins Clive Parry, ed., The Consolidated Treaty Series, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1969–81, 231 vols. description ends , 52:442).

pamphlet: A Vindication of the Measures of the Present Administration (see John Langdon to TJ, 8 May). It was reprinted in the 28 May, 4 June, and 18 June editions of the Scioto Gazette.

1Word interlined.

2MS: “may.”

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