Edward Telfair to Henry Knox
State-house, Augusta [Ga.], 20th July 1790.
On the 2nd inst: I received a letter from Timothy Barnard Esquire, dated Flint River the 23’rd ultimo, whereupon the enclosed proclamation of the 2’nd inst: was issued1—I was hopeful that this measure would have prevented further outrage contrary however to expectation I received a second letter from Mr Barnard of date the 12’th2 on which my proclamation of yesterday3 was founded—herewith are transmitted the Executive proceedings in both cases.
The transactions appear to be of a mysterious nature, as no information whatever has as yet been obtained of the names of the offenders—you will readily perceive that every exertion on my part is making to discover and bring to justice those daring violators of the public tranquility.
It will afford me a singular satisfaction, if my proceedings meet the approbation of the President of the United States, and should any additional matter occur to him in the premises, I should be happy to receive immediate information.
When the President shall determine the rank of officers commanding in the event of a connection of the militia with the federal troops, it is my earnest desire to be speedily informed thereof. I have the honor to be Sir Your most hble servt
1. Telfair’s enclosed copy of his 2 July 1790 proclamation reads: “A letter dated Flint River 23’rd June from Timothy Barnard Esquire, stating that two white men, on or about the 18th ultimo, at or near the Oconee river, did fire at an Indian Chief of the Cussata-town, was read—
“Whereupon—The following proclamation was issued. Georgia—
“By His Excellency Edward Telfair, Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the State aforesaid, and of the Militia thereof
“Whereas it has been represented to me that two persons, whose names are unknown, did, at or near the Oconee river, on or about the 18th June last, fire at an Indian Chief of the Cussatas town: And whereas it becomes indispensibly necessary that a perfect neutrality be maintained and supported on the part of the State towards the said indians until the pleasure of the President of the United States be known, and it being a measure of the highest concern to suppress such and all other acts of violence or outrage against the peace and dignity of the State: I have therefore thought fit to issue this my proclamation, strictly enjoining and requiring all officers civil and military, and others throughout this State, to use all lawful means to secure the before mentioned offenders, in order that they may be dealt with as by law directed.
“Given under my hand and the great seal of the said State, at the Statehouse in Augusta, this second day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety—and in the fourteenth year of the Independence of the United States of America” (DLC:GW).
2. Telfair sent Knox a copy of his 19 July 1790 reply to Barnard, which reads: “Your letter of the 12’th instant by Abram Mordecai, I have received, and have issued the enclosed proclamation, which will evince to the indians the amicable disposition of the government towards them.
“Upon the offenders being apprehended, notice shall be sent to the nation that some of the friends of the deceased may have an opportunity of attending the trial, and witnessing the result, which will doubtless prove satisfactory; in order that proper explanations on the subject may be made, it is my wish and desire that you attend the meeting of the Busk next month and communicate to me immediately thereafter the dispositions of the indians, that I may have it in my power to make representations to the President of the United States—For your services, a reasonable compensation will be made upon your arrival in Augusta” (DLC:GW).
3. Telfair’s final enclosure to Knox was a copy of his 19 July 1790 proclamation: “A Letter dated Flint River the 12’th instant from Timothy Barnard Esquire, stating that two white persons near Town Creek, about the 4’th instant had fired upon and killed an Indian of the Cussatas Town and wounded through the body and arm one other Indian of the said town was read:
“Whereupon—The following proclamation was issued—
“By his Excellency Edward Telfair, Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the State aforesaid—
“Whereas I have received information that two persons, whose names are unknown, but supposed to be the same who fired on a Cussata’s Chief, about the 18th ultimo, did, on or near the 4’th instant, at Town Creek about six miles from the Oconee river, barbarously and wantonly murder one indian and wound another, both of the Cussatas aforesaid:
“And whereas by an Act passed, the 20’th June 1774, in the (then province now) State of Georgia, it is amongst other matters enacted—‘That, to murder any free indian in amity, is by the law of the land as penal to all intents and purposes whatsoever, as to murder any white’; and, ‘That by the law of the land, any person rescuing any such prisoners so committed is guilty of felony.’
“And farther it being the ‘desire of the President of the United States, that a firm peace should be concluded with the Creeks’—and being above all ‘solicitous that’—a war should not be brought on, by ‘the conduct of the citizens of the United States’—I have therefore thought fit to issue this my proclamation, in order that the felonious perpetrators of such attrocious and inhuman crimes may be brought to condign punishment, and I do hereby offer a reward of One hundred pounds for the murderer, and the further sum of fifty pounds for the other offender to be provided for out of the contingencies of the present year, one half of said sum or sums to be paid on the said offender or offenders being secured in a good and sufficient jail within this State, and on lodging the necessary evidence with the Attorney General—the other moiety to be paid on trial and conviction of the offender or offenders aforesaid.
“And whereas it has been represented to me that sundry persons have traded and do trade and barter with the Indians in the woods and within the settlements of this State, in violation of an Act entitled, ‘An Act to regulate the Indian trade, and for other purposes therein mentioned’—passed at Savannah the 25’th of February 1784: I do hereby direct and require a due observance of the above recited Act under the pains and penalties therein prescribed, until Federal regulations relative to Indian commerce shall be duly notified.
“All officers, civil and military, throughout this State, are hereby strictly enjoined and required, to use all lawful means to enforce this my proclamation. Given under my hand, and the Great Seal of the said State, at the State house in Augusta, this nineteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and ninety, and in the fifteenth year of the Independence of the United States of America” (DLC:GW).