George Washington Papers

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear, 17 February 1792

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear

Philadelphia, 17 Feb. 1792. Submits a draft of a letter to Alexander McGillivray for the president’s approval or correction; “please to return it as it is necessary to be given to Mr Shaw.”1


1Leonard Shaw was about to leave for the Southwest with the departing Cherokee delegation (see Knox to Lear, 16 Feb. 1792, source note). Tobias Lear returned to the secretary of war later this day Henry Knox’s draft of the letter to Creek chief Alexander McGillivray, after GW had “made with a pencil the corrections which you will observe” (DLC:GW). Knox’s draft with GW’s emendation has not been found, but a final copy of Knox’s letter of 17 Feb. to McGillivray appears in ASP, Indian Affairs, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:246–47. Knox wrote that British minister George Hammond had explicitly disavowed official British support of McGillivray’s rival William Augustus Bowles, whom Knox felt ought to be expelled from the Creek nation as a “bold adventurer, attempting to push his fortune by your destruction.” Knox also pledged that the “United States will support you in any proper measures which you may think proper to pursue on this occasion” and informed McGillivray that GW had appointed James Seagrove to assist him in restoring harmony to the Creek nation. Knox wrote pointedly that after McGillivray had expelled Bowles, the chief should occupy himself with the running of the line specified in the Treaty of New York. In the wake of Arthur St. Clair’s defeat, Knox assured McGillivray that the United States would prosecute the war on the northwest frontier with renewed force, and he invited Creek warriors to assist the American army. Knox also sent McGillivray a copy of his recent public statement on the causes of the Indian war (see GW’s Preface to Henry Knox’s Statement on the Causes of the Indian War, c.25 Jan. 1792, editorial note).

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