George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Arthur St. Clair, 2 February 1793

From Arthur St. Clair

Philadelphia February 2d, 1793


I beg that you will be pleased to dispense with my Attendance with the Indians this morning.1 The Committee on the failure of the last Expedition have determined to report again on Tuesday or Wedensday next, and I have only a day or two to examine, and reply to, the length[y] Communications from General Knox and the late Quarter Master, which they have taken more than three Months to prepare—and in which the Causes of that failure are represented, if not directly, at least by direct Inference as proceeding from me, and I cannot have access to them but in Congress Hours.2

My want of punctuality Yesterday requires an Apology—I was not apprised that the Indians were to be with until a few Minutes before the Hour, and I was then engaged with the Committee, when the Clerk of the War-Office called, and delivered a Message in your Name.3 I have the honor to be Sir Your most obedient Servant

Ar. St Clair

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Territorial Papers, Territory Northwest of the River Ohio.

1On Friday, 1 Feb., GW had met with a delegation of Wabash and Illinois Indians at his house from noon until 3 P.M., when the meeting was adjourned and scheduled to reconvene the following day. Inclement weather, however, postponed the meeting until 4 Feb., when St. Clair was able to attend (Speeches of the Wabash and Illinois Indians, 1–4 Feb.; JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 40, 42; see also Tobias Lear to Thomas Jefferson, 2, 4 Feb., both DLC: Jefferson Papers).

2On the U.S. House of Representatives’ investigation of General St. Clair’s expedition against hostile Indians in the Northwest Territory, which ended in defeat on 4 Nov. 1791, and the House’s examination of official correspondence from Henry Knox and Samuel Hodgdon, see Knox to GW, 30 Mar. 1792, n.1; 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., 685–89. The report from the House committee was not presented to the full House until Friday, 15 Feb. (ibid., 877).

3The War Department clerk has not been identified. For the names of those employed in this capacity, see “List of Civil Officers,” ASP, Miscellaneous, 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 1:58.

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