James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Clark, 10 April 1811 (Abstract)

§ From William Clark1

10 April 1811, St. Louis. Has frequently been asked by “small parties of Showonees resideing within this Territory” about assigning them a permanent tract of land where they might avoid disputes with their neighbors and “where the white people will not be permited to Sell them Spiritious Liquors.” His efforts to prevent liquor sales have been “without complete effect … in a Country like this, where nine out of ten of the Indian Traders have no respect for our Laws.” Part of the Shawnee and Delaware nations have a claim under the Spanish government to a large tract on the Mississippi, about halfway between St. Louis and the mouth of the Ohio. Several white families have “settled promiscuously on those lands, as the unappropriated land of the United States,” which has caused discontent among the Indians who want either confirmation of their possession or the assignment of another tract “out Side of the Settlements.” Encloses an address from a band of about forty Shawnee families residing near the Missouri on a branch of the Meramec River.2 “They request a License of Three Miles Squar including their Towns, with promission to raise and Sell the Lead Ore.” They are “a peaceable and well disposed people.”

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 75, LRIA). RC 2 pp. Docketed by a War Department clerk as received 25 May 1811. Printed in Carter, Territorial Papers, Louisiana-Missouri, 14:445–46. For enclosure, see n. 2.

1Since his return from his voyages of exploration with Meriwether Lewis, William Clark (1770–1838) had been brigadier general of the territorial militia and superintendent of Indian affairs at St. Louis.

2Clark enclosed an address to JM, dated 29 Mar. 1811 at Bourbos in Louisiana (2 pp.), from the Shawnee who had moved to the St. Louis region after their defeat by “that great Warriour [George Rogers] Clark.” General Wilkinson had given them permission to occupy lands “about 120 Miles from St. Louis” where they would have been satisfied to remain, but after suffering raids from the Osage, they approached the territorial governor who told them to resettle nearer St. Louis. Declaring themselves to be “a Wandering people, not from inclination but from Necessity,” and realizing the “Buffalow & Elk is drove off to a great distance & Deer is getting scarce,” they requested JM to grant them land where they could raise cows and hogs as well as sell lead ore. The address was signed by Onothe, or James Rogers, a chief of the band, and Noma, or Fish, a principal councilor. In acknowledging Clark’s letter, the secretary of war granted the Shawnee their request, “subject to the will & pleasure of the President” and on the condition that whites be forbidden to intrude on the territory (Eustis to Clark, 31 May 1811, Carter, Territorial Papers, Louisiana-Missouri, 14:452).

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