George Washington Papers

Proclamation, 14 August 1790

Proclamation

[New York, 14 August 1790]

By the PRESIDENT of the United States of America, A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas a Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States and the Creek nation, was made and concluded on the seventh day of the present month of August:1 And whereas I have, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, in due form ratified the said Treaty,2 Now therefore to the end that the same may be observed and performed with good faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the said Treaty to be herewith published;3 and I do hereby enjoin and require all officers of the United States, civil and military, and all other citizens and inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfil the same.

GIVEN under my hand and the seal of the United States, in the city of New-York, the fourteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety, and in the fifteenth year of the sovereignty and independence of the United States.

G. WASHINGTON.

By the President, THOS. JEFFERSON.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the United States of America.—To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting:

Whereas a Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America, and the Creek nation of Indians, was made and concluded on the seventh day of the present month of August, by HENRY KNOX, secretary for the department of war, who was duly authorized thereto by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate, on the one part, and the Kings, Chiefs and Warriors of the said Creek nation, whose names are hereunto signed,4 on the other part; which Treaty is in the form and words following.5

Printed broadside, Vi.

For the background to the administration’s negotiations with the Creek nation in 1790, see Henry Knox to GW, 15 Feb. 1790 and notes, GW to the U.S. Senate, 4 Aug. 1790 and source note and enclosure, 6 Aug. 1790 (first letter), and 7 Aug. 1790 (second letter), and Knox to GW, 7 Aug. 1790 and source note.

On 12 Aug. 1790 the Senate ratified the treaty that Knox, Alexander McGillivray, and the other Creek chiefs had signed five days earlier. That evening McGillivray attended the quarterly meeting of the state St. Andrew’s Society at City Tavern and was made an honorary member (Daily Advertiser [New York], 16 Aug. 1790; Gazette of the United States [New York], 18 Aug. 1790), and Knox and Jefferson exchanged correspondence about the treaty ratification ceremony to be held the next day. In addition to the presentation of formal invitations to the foreign chargés and their wives, informal notice was to be given to any senators and congressmen who remained in the capital after adjournment. On 13 Aug. 1790 the secretaries of state and war met at 7:30 a.m. to decide upon the particular arrangements of the final ceremony (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 17:340–41), and GW began thinking about leaving the city for Mount Vernon (see GW to Edmund Randolph, 12 Aug. 1790, to Hamilton, 13 Aug. 1790, to Knox, 13 Aug. 1790).

At noon on 13 Aug. 1790 the treaty participants assembled in Federal Hall before a large crowd of citizens, which included Martha Washington and her two youngest grandchildren, the vice-president and his wife, the governor, several federal senators and congressmen and their wives, and Judith Sargent Murray, who recorded the event. After a dramatic entrance by the Creek chiefs, with “shrieks and yells” mingled with the sounds “of riot and mirth,” the president, “habited in rich vestments of purple satin,” entered the hall with his usual dignity, followed by his suite, treaty commissioner Knox, and clerks from the war department. Following the “reverential silence [that] pervaded the assembly,” Tobias Lear read the ratified treaty. Then GW, “rising from his seat, delivered his sentiments in his accustomed elegant, energetic and animated manner, to the citizens, and the kings, chiefs and warriors assembled. He observed that, as far as he could judge, the Treaty was mutually beneficial. He recommended a spirit of amity, and he added that a studied cultivation of peace was expected. . . . And he prayed the Great Spirit, the Master of their breath, to forbid the infringement of a contract formed under such happy auspices. The Address was solemn and appropriate, and it was delivered in sentences, which thus detached, were communicated by a sworn interpreter to the Indians. In their own manner, to each particular they audibly assented.” The president then signed the treaty and presented a string of wampum “as a token of perpetual peace” and a paper of tobacco “to smoke in remembrance of it” to McGillivray, who was “dressed in a complete uniform of blue faced with red.” Upon receiving the gifts McGillivray made a short reply, “complimented the President with the wampum,” and shook GW’s hand. Then each of the Creek chiefs also performed “the shake of peace” with GW, “with the usual warmth,” a few of them in the accepted Anglo-American way, “but the majority” seized him “by the elbow, entwined their arms with his, and ardently expressed their satisfaction.” A final song of peace performed by the Indians “concluded this affecting and important transaction” (Eddy, “Judith Murray,” description begins Richard Eddy. “Mrs. Judith Murray.” Universalist Quarterly and General Review, n.s., 18 (1881): 194–213; 19 (1882): 140–51. description ends 18 [1882], 150, 151; Gazette of the United States [New York], 14 Aug. 1790).

1For Commissioner Knox and the culmination on 7 Aug. 1790 of his efforts to negotiate a peace treaty with the Creeks, see GW to the U.S. Senate, 4 Aug. 1790, source note, and 6 Aug. 1790 (first letter), and Knox to GW, 7 Aug. 1790 and source note.

2For Senate ratification of Knox’s Creek treaty, see GW to the U.S. Senate, 7 Aug. 1790 (second letter) and note 4.

3The actual printing of the treaty was delayed, as GW wrote to the South Carolina governor almost two weeks later: “I had the honor to receive your Excellencys letter of the 4th of July by Mr Chesnut and agreeably to your request I have now the pleasure to inform you that a treaty of peace, founded upon just & liberal principles, has been entered into between the U.S. and the Creek nation of Indians; a printed copy of which, with a proclamation adjoined, I have now the honor to enclose.

“I should have communicated this intelligence to your Excellency immediately on the ratification of the treaty, as you requested, but that I wished to accompany it with a copy of the articles & proclamation, which, owing to some untoward circumstances were not struck off so soon as I could have wished; and when they were, my absence, on a visit to Rhode Island, deprived me of an opportunity of sending them by a vessel which sailed from this place for Charleston before my return; and as a water conveyance is generally more speedy than by land, I have waited several days for the sailing of the vessel by which I forward this to your Excellcy” (GW to Charles Pinckney, 2[6] Aug. 1790, Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

4In addition to McGillivray the following Indians signed the treaty for the Creek nation, all with their marks: for the Cusetahs (Cussetahs, Kasihtahs), Fuskatche Mico (Fusihatchi Miko), or Bird Tail King, Neathlock, or Second Man, and Halletemalthle (Killetematthle), or Blue Giver; for the Little Tallisee (Tallassee, Talasi), Opay Mico (Ofsay Miko), or the Singer, and Totkeshajou, or Samoniac; for the Big Tallisee, Hopothe Mico, or Tallisee King, and Opototache (Opototuche), or Long Side; for the Tuckabatchy (Tukabatchi), Soholessee, or Young Second Man, and Ochee Hajou, or Aleck Cornel; for the Natchez, Chinabee, or the Great Natchez Warrior, Natzowatchehe, or the Great Natchez Warrior’s Brother, Thakoteehee (Thakateehee), or the Mole, and Oquakobee (Oquekabee); for the Cowetas (Kawitas), Tukenaah (Tuskena’ah), or Big Lieutenant, Homatah, or Leader, Chinnabie, or Matthews, and Juleetaulemathee (Juleetaulematha), or Dry Pine; for the Broken Arrow, Chawockly Mico; for the Coosades, Coosades Hopoy (Hopor), or the Measurer, Mutlthee (Muthlee), or the Miser, and Stimasutchkee (Stimafutchkee), or Good Humour; for the Alabama Chief, Stimalejee (Stilnaleeje), or Disputer; and for the Oakfoys, Mumageechee (Mumagechee), or David Francis (Vi; see also 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 2:246–47; Handbook of American Indians, 1:362–65).

GW, Jefferson, and Knox signed the treaty for the United States, and the document was witnessed by Richard Morris, chief justice of the state of New York, Richard Varick, mayor of New York City, Marinus Willett, Thomas Lee Shippen of Pennsylvania, John Rutledge, Jr., Joseph Allen Smith, and Henry Izard, of South Carolina, and interpreter Joseph Cornell.

5The text of the published treaty reads: “A TREATY of peace and friendship, made and concluded between the President of the United States of America, on the part and behalf of the said States, and the undersigned Kings, Chiefs and Warriors of the Creek nation of Indians, on the part and behalf of the said nation.

“THE parties being desirous of establishing permanent peace and friendship between the United States and the said Creek nation, and the citizens and members thereof, and to remove the causes of war, by ascertaining their limits, and making other necessary, just and friendly arrangements: The President of the United States, by Henry Knox, secretary for the department of war, whom he hath constituted with full powers for these purposes, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States: And the Creek nation by the undersigned Kings, Chiefs and Warriors representing the said nation, have agreed to the following articles, viz.

“ARTICLE I. There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all the citizens of the United States of America, and all the individuals, towns and tribes of the Upper, Middle and Lower Creeks, and Semanolies composing the Creek nation of Indians.

“ARTICLE II. The undersigned Kings, Chiefs and Warriors, for themselves, and all parts of the Creek nation within the limits of the United States, do acknowledge themselves, and the said parts of the Creek nation, to be under the protection of the United States of America, and of no other sovereign whosoever; and they also stipulate that the said Creek nation will not hold any treaty with an individual State, or with individuals of any State.

“ARTICLE III. The Creek nation shall deliver as soon as practicable, to the commanding officer of the troops of the United States stationed at the Rock-landing, on the Oconee river, all citizens of the United States, white inhabitants or negroes, who are now prisoners in any part of the said nation: And if any such prisoners or negroes should not be so delivered, on or before the first day of June ensuing, the Governor of Georgia may empower three persons to repair to the said nation, in order to claim and receive such prisoners and negroes.

“ARTICLE IV. The boundary between the citizens of the United States and the Creek nation, is, and shall be, from where the old lines strikes the river Savannah—thence up the said river to a place on the most northern branch of the same, commonly called the Keowee, where a North East line to be drawn from the top of the Occunna mountain shall intersect—thence along the said line in a South West direction to Tugelo river—thence to the top of the Currahee mountain—thence to the head or source of the main south branch of the Oconee river, called the Appalachee—thence down the middle of the said main south branch and river Oconee, to its confluence with the Oakmulgee, which form the river Altamaha—and thence down the middle of the said Altamaha, to the old line on the said river, and thence along the said old line to the river St. Marys.

“And in order to preclude forever all disputes relatively to the head or source of the main south branch of the river Oconee, at the place where it shall be intersected by the line aforesaid from the Currahee mountain, the same shall be ascertained by an able surveyor on the part of the United States, who shall be assisted by three old citizens of Georgia, who may be appointed by the Governor of the said State, and three old Creek Chiefs to be appointed by the said nation; and the said surveyor, citizens and chiefs shall assemble for this purpose on the first day of October, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one, at the Rock-landing on the said river Oconee, and thence proceed to ascertain the said head, or source of the main south branch of the said river, at the place where it shall be intersected by the line aforesaid, to be drawn from the Currahee mountain. And in order that the said boundary shall be rendered distinct and well known, it shall be marked by a line of felled trees at least twenty feet wide, and the trees chopped on each side from the said Currahee mountain to the head or source of the said main south branch of the Oconee river, and thence down the margin of the said main south branch and river Oconee, for the distance of twenty miles, or as much further as may be necessary to mark distinctly the said boundary. And in order to extinguish forever all claims of the Creek nation, or any part thereof, to any of the land lying to the northward and eastward of the boundary herein described, it is hereby agreed in addition to the considerations heretofore made for the said land, that the United States will cause certain valuable Indian goods, now in the State of Georgia, to be delivered to the said Creek nation; and the said United States will also cause the sum of one thousand and five hundred dollars to be paid annually to the said Creek nation. And the undersigned Kings, Chiefs and Warriors, do hereby for themselves and the whole Creek nation, their heirs and descendants, for the considerations above mentioned, release, quit-clam, relinquish and cede all the land to the northward and eastward of the boundary herein described.

“ARTICLE V. The United States solemnly guarantee to the Creek nation, all their lands within the limits of the United States to the westward and southward of the boundary described in the preceding article.

“ARTICLE VI. If any citizen of the United States, or other person not being an Indian, shall attempt to settle on any of the Creek’s lands, such person shall forfeit the protection of the United States, and the Creeks may punish him or not, as they please.

“ARTICLE VII. No citizen or inhabitant of the United States, shall attempt to hunt or destroy the game on the Creek lands; nor shall any such citizen or inhabitant go into the Creek country, without a passport first obtained from the Governor of some one of the United States, or the officer of the troops of the United States commanding at the nearest military post on the frontiers—or such other person as the President of the United States may from time to time authorize to grant the same.

“ARTICLE VIII. If any Creek Indian or Indians, or person residing among them, or who shall take refuge in their nation, shall commit a robbery or murder, or other capital crime, on any of the citizens or inhabitants of the United States, the Creek nation, or town, or tribe to which such offender or offenders may belong, shall be bound to deliver him or them up to be punished according to the laws of the United States.

“ARTICLE IX. If any citizen or inhabitant of the United States, or of either of the territorial districts of the United States, shall go into any town, settlement, or territory belonging to the Creek nation of Indians, and shall there commit any crime upon, or trespass against the person or property of any peaceable and friendly Indian or Indians, which if committed within the jurisdiction of any State, or within the jurisdiction of either of the said districts, against a citizen or white inhabitant thereof, would be punishable by the laws of such State or District, such offender or offenders shall be subject to the same punishment, and shall be proceeded against in the same manner as if the offence had been committed within the jurisdiction of the State or District to which he or they may belong, against a citizen or white inhabitant thereof.

“ARTICLE X. In cases of violence on the persons or property of the individuals of either party, neither retaliation or reprisal shall be committed by the other, until satisfaction shall have been demanded of the party of which the aggressor is, and shall have been refused.

“ARTICLE XL. The Creeks shall give notice to the citizens of the United States, of any designs which they may know, or suspect to be formed in any neighbouring tribe, or by any person whatever, against the peace and interests of the United States.

“ARTICLE XII. That the Creek nation may be led to a greater degree of civilization, and to become herdsmen and cultivators, instead of remaining in a state of hunters, the United States will from time to time furnish gratuitously the said nation with useful domestic animals and implements of husbandry. And further to assist the said nation in so desirable a pursuit, and at the same time to establish a certain mode of communication, the United States will send such and so many persons to reside in said nation as they may judge proper and not exceeding four in number, who shall qualify themselves to act as interpreters. These persons shall have lands assigned them by the Creeks, for cultivation for themselves and their successors in office; but they shall be precluded exercising any kind of traffic.

“ARTICLE XIII. All animosities for past grievances shall henceforth cease, and the contracting parties will carry the foregoing Treaty into full execution, with all good faith and sincerity.

“ARTICLE XIV. This Treaty shall take effect and be obligatory on the contracting parties, as soon as the same shall have been ratified by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States.

“IN WITNESS of all and every thing herein determined between the United States of America, and the whole Creek nations, the parties have hereunto set their hands and seals, in the city of New-York, within the United States, this seventh day of August, one thousand seven hundred and ninety” (Vi).

In addition, the final treaty contained the six secret articles that presumably were sent to the Senate with the treaty on 7 Aug. 1790 and ratified on 12 August. These articles, which were signed by only McGillivray for the Creeks, and Knox, Jefferson, and GW for the United States, in the presence of Morris, Varick, Willett, Smith, and Izard on 13 Aug., were not published at the time. They read:

Article 1st. The commerce necessary for the Creek nation shall be carried through the ports, and by the citizens of the United States, if substantial and effectual arrangements shall be made for that purpose by the United States, on or before the first day of August one thousand seven hundred and ninety two. In the mean time, the said commerce may be carried on through its present channels and according to its present regulations.

“And whereas the trade of the said Creek nation is now carried on wholly or principally through the territories of Spain and obstructions thereto may happen by war or prohibitions of the Spanish government.

“It is therefore agreed between the said parties that in the event of any such obstructions happening it shall be lawful for such persons as the President of the United States shall designate to introduce into and transport through the territories of the United States to the country of the said Creek nation, any quantity of goods wares and merchandize not exceeding in value in any one year Sixty thousand dollars, and that free from any duties or impositions whatsoever, but subject to such regulations for guarding against abuse, as the United States shall judge necessary; which privilege shall continue as long as such obstructions shall continue.

Article 2ND. The United States also agree to allow to each of the great medal chiefs herein after named, a commission, a great medal with proper ornaments, and each one hundred dollars annually for themselves and the other beloved men of their towns respectively—to wit—

The Chiefs the Oakfuskees,
Tuckabatchees, and the present
Of the Upper Creeks— Talissee King of the half-way house:
Of the lower Creeks— The Chiefs of the Cusitahs and Cowetas—And—
Of the Semanolees— The Chief of Micasukee.

Article 3RD. In order to effect a consolidation of the interests of the United States and the Creek nation, it is hereby stipulated that Alexander McGillivray the beloved Chief of the said nation shall also be constituted the Agent of the United States in the said nation with the rank of Brigadier General and the pay of one thousand two hundred dollars per annum, on his taking the usual oaths required by law.

Article 4TH. And the said Alexander McGillivray hereby stipulates to use his highest exertions to endeavor to cultivate the firmest friendship between the United States and the said Creek nation.

Article 5TH. The United States agree to educate and clothe such of the Creek youth as shall be agreed upon, not exceeding four in number at any one time.

Article 6th. These secret articles shall take effect and be obligatory on the contracting parties as soon as the same shall have been ratified by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States” (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 2:248–50).

The official copies of the treaty retained by the United States and the Creeks are in DNA: RG 11, Ratified Indian Treaties, 1722–1869, and L-L, respectively (see 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 2:248, n.1, 250, n.1).

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