George Washington Papers

Message to the Five Nations, 25 April 1792

Message to the Five Nations

[Philadelphia, 25 April 1792]

My Children of the Five Nations—

You were invited here at my request, in order that measures should be concerted with you, to impart such of the blessings of civilization, as may at present suit your condition, and give further desires to improve your own happiness.

Colonel Pickering has made the particular arrangements with you, to carry into execution these objects, all of which I hereby approve and confirm.

And in order that the money necessary to defray the annual expences of the arrangements which have been made should be provided, permanently, I now ratify an article which will secure the yearly appropriation of the sum of one thousand five hundred dollars: for the use and benefit of the five nations, the Stockbridge Indians included.1

The United States having received and provided for you as for a part of themselves will I am persuaded be strongly and gratefully impressed on your minds, and those of all your tribes.

Let it be spread abroad, among all your villages and throughout your Land that the United States are desireous, not only of a general peace with all the Indian Tribes, but of being their friends and protectors.

It has been my direction, and I hope it has been executed to your satisfaction, That during your residence here you should be well fed, well lodged, and well cloathed, and that presents should be furnished for your wives and Families.

I partake of your sorrow on account that it has pleased the great Spirit, to take from you two of your number by death, since your residence in this City.2 I have ordered that your tears should be wiped away according to your custom and that presents should be sent to the relations of the deceased.

Our Lives are all in the hands of our Maker, and we must part with them whenever he shall demand them, and the survivors must submit to events they cannot prevent.

Having happily settled all your business and being about to return to your own Country I wish you a pleasant journey, and that you may safely return to your families after so long a journey, and find them all in good Health. Given under my hand at the City of Philadelphia this twenty fifth day of April 1792.

Go. Washington.

Copy, NCH: Samuel Kirkland Papers; copy, DNA: RG 233, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of the Office of the Clerk, Records of Reports from Executive Departments.

For the background to this document, see Timothy Pickering to GW, 21 Mar., and GW to the Five Nations, 23 Mar. 1792.

On 23 April, Tobias Lear transmitted an apparent draft of this message to Henry Knox and requested him to incorporate proposed alterations and return the completed version, along with Timothy Pickering’s official report of his proceedings with the Indians, to GW as soon as possible (DLC:GW). Two days later Knox sent GW a revised final copy of the message and the instructions that he had sent to superintendent Israel Chapin that day (NCH: Samuel Kirkland Papers). On 28 April, Knox sent Lear “Colo. Pickerings last words” for submission to the president (DLC:GW).

1For GW’s ratification of the annuity for the Five Nations, see GW to the U.S. Senate, 23 Mar., n.2.

2One of the two Indians who died in Philadelphia, Peter Ojekheta, an Oneida chief, was interred with full military honors on 24 Mar. in the burial ground of the Second Presbyterian Church. The Seneca chief Karontowanen (Kalondowea), or Big Tree, died on 19 April after a short illness and was interred in the Friends burial ground two days later (see Independent Gazetteer, and Agricultural Repository [Philadelphia], 24 Mar., 28 April 1792).

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