George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 3 November 1792

From Henry Knox

War department November 3d 1792


I beg leave to submit to your consideration the draft of a letter to Governor Lee.1

I also beg leave to submit the draft of a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury relatively to the Magazines of Rations to be kept in advance.2 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your most obedient servant

H. Knox


Tobias Lear wrote Knox on 4 Nov. 1792 that his draft letters to Lee and Hamilton “have been submitted to the President, and . . . meet the President’s approbation” (DLC:GW).

1Tobias Lear had written Knox on 1 Nov. from Philadelphia: “By the President’s Command T. Lear has the honor to transmit to the Secretary of War the enclosed letter from Governor Lee of Virga and to request that the Secretary will take the same into Consideration and report thereon to the President as soon as may be” (DLC:GW). Knox then wrote to Lee on 3 Nov.: “The President of the United States has directed me to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency’s Letter to him of the 27th ultimo., enclosing Resolves of the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia, relatively to the temporary defence of the frontiers thereof, and the Copy of a Letter from Colonel Arthur Campbell, dated the 13th of October.

“The Letters which have been written at various times, will enable you to take such steps with the militia for the temporary defensive protection of Virginia as you shall judge proper, but anything further or more permanent must result from such measures as Congress may please to direct.

“The inefficiency of a defensive protection against Indians must be well understood by your Excellency; if they, contrary to the desires of and from causes which the general Government cannot controul, are influenced to and decided for war, they must be made to feel the effects of our superiority before tranquility can be permanently established.

“If the present threatening aspect of affairs constrain a course of hostilities against the Indians, humanity may be pained, but the Justice of the United States cannot be impeached, even by the most malignant; For it has been the incessant endeavour of the President of the United States to satisfy every equitable demand of the Indians without the further effusion of blood.

“The last information from Governor Blount was dated on the 10th ultimo; the purport of which was, as I mentioned in mine of the 1st instant contained in the printed paper you transmitted, It is therefore to be expected that the information of Colonel Campbell may be premature” (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 6:122–23).

2Knox’s letter to Hamilton has not been identified. In a letter to Anthony Wayne of 24 Nov. 1792, Knox wrote that “[Robert] Elliot and [Eli] Williams have engaged with the public to furnish all the rations which shall be required of them in the Year 1793 on due Notice. It is their object therefore and for which they are responsible with heavy penalties that the supplies shall be regularly furnished at such place as shall be ordered. It will be incumbent on them to provide such numbers of Beeves that the army shall not be in want of that article after the 15th of April and such quantities of flour in proper season so as to serve as well after the 15th of June as before that time if it be not then to be purchased.” Knox then listed several instructions for the army contractors that are “in addition to the orders already given for the Magazines in consequence of my letter of the 3d. instant to the Secretary of the Treasury” (Knopf, Wayne, description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends 139–40).

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