George Washington Papers

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear, 8 December 1792

Henry Knox to Tobias Lear

War-Office [Philadelphia] Dec: 8. 1792

General Knox presents his compliments to Mr Lear, and begs the favor that he will submit to the President of the United States, the enclosed letters just received from the Governor of Georgia and Major Gaither.1


1The enclosed letter from Georgia governor Edward Telfair was one that he wrote to Knox from Augusta on 20 Nov. 1792. “With respect to some late outrages committed on the Cherokees,” Telfair wrote, “I have to transmit the following certified documents, viz: 1st. A Proclamation. 2d. A Talk to the headmen and warriors of the Cherokee nation. 3d. The Executive order of the 15th instant, to the Law Department. 4th. A communication to Major Gaither.

“From all which, it will evidently appear, that there can be no doubt of the mal-conduct of certain citizens of this State, who have murdered some friendly Indians, and committed other depredations.

“You will perceive that the necessary steps have been taken, to bring to justice those offenders, as well as to preserve a continuation of amity.

“I have to remark, that, from the very short crops of grain last season, no period has ever been more unfavorable for war than the present; and this, among other considerations, ought to be of great weight to preserve peace with the neighboring tribes. Should my endeavors prove unsuccessful on the score of peace, it will be necessary to be prepared; and for this purpose I have to call for the establishment of magazines of provisions, without which, it will not be possible to keep that number of militia in the field, which will be necessary to give confidence to the frontier settlers to keep their ground, should even war be avoided.

“From what I can learn, this violence on the part of the offenders has proceeded from the circumstances of four whites having been killed, horses stolen, and other depredations committed by the Cherokees; whatever palliating point of view this may be considered in, it cannot interfere to prevent the offenders from abiding the due execution of the laws.” Telfair’s letter and its four enclosures are 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 1:333–34. Knox, following GW’s orders, presented this letter and its enclosed documents to the Senate on 10 Dec. 1792 (ibid., 333; Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 2d Cong., 2d sess., 619). The letter from Henry Gaither, commanding officer of the federal troops in Georgia, has not been identified.

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