James Madison Papers

To James Madison from the Chickasaw Nation, 17 July 1810

From the Chickasaw Nation

Chickasaws 17th. July 1810


You told us in writing when you were about to Establish a Factory among us, that we should have goods at the same price they were then sold to the Cherokees at Tellico;1 we have found a very great Difference from the first begining of the Chickasaw Factory in the price of goods here & at Tellico & we have to pay higher every year, so much so, that we suppose the goods will get so high that it would be more to our Interest to pack such goods as we want from Mobille; which we shall be under the necessity of doing if the price of goods is not lowered at the Chickasaw Factory.


Please to inform us? whether there is so great a Differance in the prices of goods purchased annually by the United states, for the Chickasaw Factory as we have to pay, one year after an other in succession? Whether it is your advice to your Factor to Charge us mor[e] for goods every year? or whether your Factor does it of his own accord, to fill his own Coffers, & Cheat you out of what he extorts from us.


We would be extremely glad to have these few quest[i]ons resolved so as to relieve our minds from that Doubt we Cannot help entertaining, of your orders to the Factor to sell goods so high to us.

The Factor trims all the heads & shanks of our Deer & Beaver skins & no allowance made in the price of goods for this reduction of the weight of skins—all which we Humbly submit to your Decission.

Cinusubee Mingo, his mark ×

Attashemico, his mark ×

Ematta ha mico, his mark ×

Mingo Mattaha, his mark ×

Wm. Colbert, his mark ×

George Colbert, his mark ×

Wm. McGilbery his mark ×

Pioholaughta his mark ×

Paisaughstubbee his mark ×

Mcklush Hopia his mark ×

Funny Mingo Mastubbee mark ×


I have one favour to ask of you, that is that you will please to grant permission for my self & four other headmen with an Interpreter to go to the City of washington next fall, on business of importance which can be better done when we are present than by writing

George × Colbert2

N: B Please a[n]swer this request as early as practicable & oblige your friend3


RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, C-199:5). Headed: “A talk from the King Headmen & Warriors of the Chickasaw Nation to James Madison Esqr. President of the United States.” Docketed by a War Department clerk as received 30 Aug. 1810 (but see Eustis to JM, 26 Aug. 1810, and n. 2).

1On the establishment of the Chickasaw Bluffs Trading House in 1802 and the subsequent trade in pelts, see Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman, Okla., 1971), pp. 94–95.

2George Colbert (ca. 1764–1839) and his brother William were sons of a Scots trader, James Logan Colbert, who had settled in the Chickasaw Nation in 1729, married three Chickasaw women, and become a substantial slaveholder as well as the owner of a store and a ferry across the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama. The Colberts emerged as one of the most prominent families of mixed blood who increasingly dominated Chickasaw affairs in the early nineteenth century. In 1805 George Colbert received a payment of $1,000 from the U.S. for his services in arranging a land cession, and during the War of 1812 the Colbert brothers allied Chickasaw forces with Andrew Jackson’s army in the campaigns against the Creek Indians (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States ... (38 vols.; Washington, 1832-61). description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:697; Gibson, The Chickasaws, pp. 65–66, 80, 96–101).

3JM sent the letter to the secretary of war, who referred it to John Mason, superintendent of Indian trade, for consideration and a response (Eustis to JM, 26 Aug. 1810; John Smith to Mason, 4 Sept. 1810 [DNA: RG 107, LSMA]).

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