George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 22 April 1792

From Henry Knox

[Philadelphia, 22 April 1792].1 Submits “Doctor Allens report,2 Brandts Letter to Kirkland,3 and a recommendation of Genl Chapin handed to me by Mr Elsworth.”4


1Tobias Lear docketed the cover of this letter: “From The Secretary of War 22d April 1792.” On this day GW dined with twenty-two of the visiting chiefs from the Five Nations, their interpreter, and Samuel Kirkland (see Knox to Kirkland, 21 April, NCH: Samuel Kirkland Papers).

2This report may have been Dr. Deodat Allen’s letter to Kirkland, which Kirkland forwarded to Knox in mid-February 1792 (see Kirkland to Knox, 13 Feb. 1792, NCH: Samuel Kirkland Papers). Allen had been employed by Kirkland since early that month in delivering letters to and from the Mohawk chief Joseph Brant.

3This enclosure was probably the letter that Brant wrote to Kirkland from Fort Niagara, N.Y., on 4 Feb., which Kirkland forwarded to Knox nine days later (see Kirkland to Knox, 13 Feb., NCH: Samuel Kirkland Papers). It reads: “Your long Epistle of the 3d ult. I six days agone received & the one of the 25th ult. by Docter Allen, I yesterday was favoured with. You’ll perceive if it would have been impossible for me to have met you at the Genesee the 20th ult. agreeable to your proposal (not having recd yours untill eight days after the time you limited) even would circumstances have permitted, for this instant I must relinquish the thought of visiting your seat of government & great warrior President Washington. but shall probably ’ere long perform my promise, & make the tour I much wish for, the pleasure of being accompanied by so worthy a friend will add to the satisfaction & the information I shall receive from one so well calculated, & so willing to commucate to the unlightend as your self. Am particularly happy to hear that you are settled to your satisfaction in the Oneida Country & that you mean still to persevere in good works the accomplishing which will require patience and perseverance both of which I must say you are remarked for, since your general government has founded the Establishment & are anxious of suceeding in civilization. I have no doubt of their success, it may at first seem a difficult task particularly so to those who may be set over us unacquainted in any wise with our manners or Customs, but this is a circumstance easily surmounted, as there may always be found some well acquainted with us, with whom our Pastors might advise if themselves were uninformed—As the plan for this Civilization has been drafted by you (so well acquainted with us[)], & approved of your government as the Patrons of this good work, the assistance that will be rendered I suppose will enable you to begin the undertaking in person, with your usual alacrity, spirit & perseverance, there can be no doubt but the end intended will be answered. The good effects you mention that the Creeks & Cherokees begin to feel from the establishment will be an incentive to persue th[i]s great, this praiseworthy work, the accomplishing which must ever redound to the credit of the U.S. & mark the first Promoter with the highest public applause: The secret pleasing satisfaction that the undertaker, will be afforded, in reflecting on the good works in which he will be daily employed, must be such as none but those in a similar pursuit, will be able to judge of, if doing good deeds will render a person fit for the Kingdom of Heaven, accomplishing this Xinlike desireable business of civilization must, & will render his (or their[)] names famous to posterity; should you be enabled to persue your intention, you shall find every assistance that I can any ways afford & shall ever be happy whenever opportunity may serve, to join my poor Endeavor, with yours in forwarding wt we both seemingly wish for. You assure me of personal safety & good usuage, should I be able to visit your seat of Government, This I doubt not, The invitation coming from a Superintendt of Indn Affrs—who acts by public Authority. we must certainly know that the Faith of your Nation is pledged for our good treatment. but without your friendly assurances I should be no ways apprehensive (though without any kind of invitation) of venturing myself amongst you, & have no doubt of meeting with many friends.

“Relative to what agreements were made at Newtown Council, as I was not there, the business being then transacted without me I should suppose that those who were there active, & acquainted with the business that passed, wd be the most proper people now to attend in order to settle what further arrangements may be necessary. Those people are more pointedly mentioned in your superintendents invitation, had I reced so particular a message to have attended at the last Treaty, & likewise at the one now intended to be held, I should no doubt have done myself the pleasure of being amongst them. Should there be any other business to be done at this treaty than at these hitherto, some mention ought to be made of what is intended that we might be prepared. The present situation of affairs require that a candid & just statement of facts be made on behalf of our Indian Tribes, in order that the people of the United States & us might understand each other fully. This has never yet been the case, those of our people who have attended your councils being swayed by private interested motives so long as they can get their own ends answered, care little of what becomes of our Confederacy in General. Troubling you longer on this Subject is needless, as I wrote you my opinion very fully last winter & have only now to say, that your Superintendants proposal of introducing Agriculture, & the mechanic Arts &c. was to have been considered of by the different nations, whose deputies were present when the proposal was made, Fish carrier great sky &c. &c. propose holding a council at Buffaloe Creek, [(]whenever our Runner returns) where they request my attendance, if you could make it convenient to yourself I should be very happy in meeting you, we might then have the pleasure of explaining matters personally & perhaps to the satisfaction of each other.

“I can not think of accompanying some of these who I dare say will agreeable to invitation go down, differing widely in opinion from each other, this would in some manner make my jaunt perhaps disagreeable, & must further say that the invitation to me was rather, in my opinion in a cool kind of stile (such as even wd circumstances admit of my now attending) my honor would forbid it. I am extremely sorry to be for the present deprived of the pleasure of visiting your President, who I dare say is as fine a looking man as you describe him to be, & might in the foreigners opinion (you mention) been a much finer man than either the King of England, or King of france—I have had the honour to be introduced to the King of England—a finer man than whom I think it wd be a truly difficult task to find. No doubt but you have long ee’r this heard of the unfortunate affair in the miamis Country, the consequence being what I expected, when I last wrote you. Steps may perhaps now be taken towards an accommodation which I much wish for” (NCH: Samuel Kirkland Papers).

4The enclosed recommendation of Israel Chapin forwarded to Knox by U.S. Senator Oliver Ellsworth has not been identified. GW appointed Chapin temporary deputy agent to the Five Nations on either this day or 23 April (see Knox to GW, 21 April, n.2).

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