George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Knox, 3 September 1792

To Henry Knox

Mount Vernon Sepr 3d 1792


Since my last to you—dated the 26th of Augt—I have received your dispatches of the 23d; 26th; & 28th; of the same month; and it is probable, the Messenger who will carry this & other letters to the Post Office, will bring me the result of your deliberations on the communications from Georgia.1

I am exceedingly glad to find by the copy of Genl Putnams letter to you, that he had resolved to proceed from Fort Washington to Post Vincennes, even if no other good should result from it, than to shew that nothing in the compass of the Executive has been unessayed to convince the hostile Indians of the pacific and equitable measures & intentions of the Government of the Union towards them. I shd have been unwilling (as I mentioned to you in my letter of the [13] of Augt)2 to have entrusted so important a negotiation to Majr Hamtrackt although the business might have been transacted with zeal & ability by that Officer.3

I hope the party of Seneca Indians when their services were dispensed with by Lieutt Jeffers were rewarded, & went off well satisfied. This, as far as it can be accomplished by reasonable attentions & proper compensation, ought always to be the case.4

The conduct of the Waggoners, in dropping the public stores with the transportation of which they are charged, along the Road to Pittsburgh, ought to undergo the strictest scrutiny; & in cases of culpability, to meet with severe punishment by way of example to others.5

I have no objection to Peter Van Allans filling the Vacancy which has been occasioned by the resignation of Lieutt Schuyler and shd be glad to know the determination of Major Fish as soon as he has formed and you are made acquainted with it.6 With esteem and regard I am—Yours &ca

Go: Washington


1For Knox’s deliberations, see Knox to GW, 31 August.

2At this place on the draft manuscript, GW left a blank; the date is supplied from the letter-book copy.

3For Putnam’s letter of 22 July, see Knox to GW, 26 Aug., n.4. On 22 May 1792 Knox had instructed Putnam to present American peace offers to the Miami, Shawnee, Delaware, and other Indians who would gather for a grand council scheduled that fall at Au Glaize on the Maumee River (see Buell, Putnam Memoirs, description begins Rowena Buell, ed. The Memoirs of Rufus Putnam and Certain Official Papers and Correspondence. Boston and New York, 1903. description ends 257–67; see also 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 1:234–36). Putnam arrived at Fort Washington on 2 July to prepare for this mission. An attack on Fort Washington shortly before his arrival and news of the murder of peace envoys Alexander Trueman and John Hardin induced Putnam to redirect his efforts to negotiating a peace treaty at Vincennes with the Wabash tribes, who were less hostile to the United States primarily because of their strong anti-British feelings (see Putnam to Knox, 5 July, in Buell, Putnam Memoirs, description begins Rowena Buell, ed. The Memoirs of Rufus Putnam and Certain Official Papers and Correspondence. Boston and New York, 1903. description ends 273–78; Putnam to Knox, 8 July, printed at Knox to GW, 5 Aug., note 2, and 14 July, printed at Knox to GW, 16 Aug., note 1). Maj. John Hamtramck, the American commander at Vincennes, already had persuaded the Eel and Wea Indian chiefs to sign a preliminary peace agreement with the United States in March and had convinced other Indians who were hostile to the British to join further peace negotiations, over which Putnam now assumed control (see “Articles of Agreement with the Wabash Indians,” 14 Mar. 1792, Hamtramck to Knox, 31 Mar. 1792, in Carter, Territorial Papers, description begins Clarence Edwin Carter et al., eds. The Territorial Papers of the United States. 27 vols. Washington, D.C., 1934–69. description ends 2:374–75, 380–83; Knox to GW, 26 Aug., nn.4–5, and 22 Sept., n.3). For an account of Putnam’s negotiations at Vincennes during September, see Buell, Putnam Memoirs, description begins Rowena Buell, ed. The Memoirs of Rufus Putnam and Certain Official Papers and Correspondence. Boston and New York, 1903. description ends 335–62.

4Knox had written Gen. Anthony Wayne on 7 Aug. from Philadelphia suggesting that the Seneca Indians serving with Capt. John Jeffers’s company of rangers “ought not to be pressed to stay in service—their continuance may have bad effects” (see Knox to GW, 7 Aug., note 3). Wayne replied to Knox from Pittsburgh on 17 Aug.: “The Indians who were attached to Capt. Jeffers’s corps have been dismissed and sent home ever since early July—except two or three who don’t show a disposition to leave this place, in fact, Jeffers’s whole corps of rangers has been dissolved near two Months, as I found the Soldiers were much averse to that kind of service, which had caused many desertions” (see Knox to GW, 26 Aug., n.2).

5Wayne’s letter to Knox of 17 Aug. reported difficulties in having supplies shipped to Wayne’s headquarters at Pittsburgh (see Knox to GW, 26 Aug., n.2).

6For Dirck Schuyler’s resignation and Peter Van Alen’s appointment, see Knox to GW, 28 Aug., and note 3. Knox wrote Nicholas Fish from Philadelphia on 29 Aug. offering him the position of adjutant general (NNGL: Knox Papers). Knox informed GW in his letter of 15 Sept. that Fish had declined the appointment.

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