George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 16 September 1789

To the United States Senate and House of Representatives

[New York] September 16th 1789.

The governor of the western territory has made a statement to me of the reciprocal hostilities of the wabash Indians, and the people1 inhabiting the frontiers bordering on the river Ohio, which I herewith lay before Congress.2

The United States in Congress assembled by their acts of the 21st day of July 1787, and of the 12th of August 1788 made a provisional arrangement for calling forth the Militia of Virginia and Pennsylvania, in the proportions therein specified.3

As the circumstances which occasioned the said arrangement continue nearly the same, I think proper to suggest to your consideration the expediency of making some temporary provision for calling forth the Militia of the United States for the purposes stated in the constitution, which would embrace the cases apprehended by the Governor of the Western Territory.4

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; copy, DNA: RG 233, First Congress, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals.

The documents to both houses of Congress are addressed respectively to “Gentlemen of the Senate” and “Gentlemen of the House of Representatives.” They were delivered by Henry Knox (DHFC description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends , 1:175, 3:210).

1In the House document this phrase reads “the White people.”

3The resolution of 21 July 1787 requested the governor of Virginia to order the Kentucky militia to “hold themselves in readiness to unite with the federal troops in such operations as the Officer commanding them may judge necessary for the protection of the frontiers (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 33:386). The resolution of 12 Aug. 1788 requested the executives of both Virginia and Pennsylvania to provide militia—1,000 men from Virginia and 500 from Pennsylvania—to unite with federal troops to protect the frontier. The combined military force was to operate under the direction of the governor of the Northwest Territory (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 34:412–13). Under both resolutions the militia was to be paid, supported, and equipped by the respective states.

4The Senate tabled the message. The House referred it to a committee consisting of Elias Boudinot, Jonathan Trumbull, and Aedanus Burke. Boudinot reported for the committee on 17 Sept. and presented a bill for the establishment “of the troops raised under the resolves of the United States in Congress assembled” (DHFC description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends , 1:175–76, 3:210, 212).

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