James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Arthur Campbell, 12 May 1787

From Arthur Campbell

Washington County May 12. 1787


Being neither acquainted with your Secretary at War, nor Doctor White the Superintendant for the Southren Department,1 I have taken the liberty to request your notice to the affairs of the Southren Indians which are now in such a state, that the Spaniards on one hand and other improper intruders on the other, may excite them all to become our enemies; or at best useless friends, whereas a little kindness and good management this year may engage them lastingly in the American interest. I am doubtful the choice of Doctor White is rather an unfortunate one for Virginia, and indeed for the union, as he seems to be very much a stranger to Indian manners and customs, and perhaps loves ease too well to undertake the journeys necessary to make the proper arrangements.2 At all events, if continued in office, he ought to be urged speedily to fulfil the purposes of the Ordinance for the regulation of Indian Affairs.3 Connected with this indulge me to hint, that a Company of the Troops of the United States ought to be stationed somewhere on the Tenasee above the Cumberland Mountain for one year, they might then move down the river towards the mouth. The greater strangers [these]4 men are the better.

If this should reach you before the Convention breaks up, Governor Randolph can explain the matter more fully from the communications I have lately had the honor to make him.5 Together with what you may learn from the bearer Mr. Alexander Drumgoole who is lately become a popular Trader in the Cherokee Country, and is now intrusted with one of the War-Captains of that nation to make an application to Congress. I am Sir, with much Respect Your very humble Servant

Arthur Campbell

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

2Campbell himself aspired to the office assigned to White. In fact, White appears to have actively performed his assignment. In February 1787 he left for Georgia where he and two Georgia state commissioners negotiated with the Creek. The negotiations bore little fruit, a result Congress blamed on Georgia rather than on White (Abernethy, Western Lands and the American Revolution, pp. 332–34).

3“An Ordinance for the Regulation of Indian Affairs” was passed by Congress on 7 Aug. 1786. It provided for the appointment of superintendents for northern and southern districts and stipulated that they should live conveniently close to their appointed district, carry out the regulations of Congress respecting Indians, act under the secretary at war’s direction, keep accurate inventories of properties under their care, and report regularly to Congress. Campbell saw the printed ordinance in mid-April 1787 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXI, 488–93; Cal. of Va. State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , IV, 269).

4Campbell obviously meant something other than “they” as appears in the Ms.

5Campbell, who had served with JM in the House of Delegates, wrote several letters to Edmund Randolph between December 1786 and April 1787 informing the governor of Indian affairs on the western frontier of Virginia (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (9 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 126 n. 1; Cal. of Va. State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , IV, 190–91, 254, 268–69).

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