George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 12 March 1793

From Henry Knox

War department March 12th 1793

Sir

The request made by the Indians of having some of “the friends” called Quakers to attend the treaty at Sandusky seems to deserve consideration. I presume that some of those Citizens would chearfully accompany the Commissioners, provided their expenses were borne, and perhaps a small compensation made for their time.1

It might also conduce considerably to the success of the treaty were Mr John Heckewelder to accompany the Commissioners.

This amiable and intelligent Man is a teacher of the sect called Moravians, and for several Years resided with the Indians belonging to that sect of the Wyandot and Delaware Tribes, who inhabited the Waters of Muskingum he well understanding their language—The influence he will have with the said Tribes may be expected to be very considerable. He accompanied General Putnam who speaks highly in praise of his virtues and knowledge of Indian customs—While employed on this business, independent of his expences he has been allowed two and an half dollars per day as a compensation for his services.2

I have thought it my duty to suggest this subject to your consideration, in order that I might learn and execute your directions thereon.3 I have the honor to be with the highest Respect Your most obedient servant

H. Knox
secy of War

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1For GW’s choice of commissioners to represent the United States at a treaty later this spring at Lower Sandusky with the hostile Indians of the Northwest Territory, see GW to U.S. Senate, 1 Mar. 1793 (second letter). Although Quakers had written previously to GW regarding Indian matters, no specific Indian request for Quaker emissaries has been identified (Quakers to GW, 17 Nov. 1792).

2Moravian missionary John Heckewelder previously had assisted Gen. Rufus Putnam in the peace negotiations with the Wabash and Illinois Indians at Vincennes in 1792 (Wallace, Heckewelder, description begins Paul A. W. Wallace, ed. The Travels of John Heckewelder in Frontier America. 1958. Reprint. London, 1985. description ends 258–93; see also GW to U.S. Senate, 13 Feb. 1793). For Heckewelder’s journey west for the proposed treaty at Lower Sandusky, see ibid., 294–333; see also his memorandum to the commissioners of c.23 June–July 1793 at DLC:GW.

3GW responded verbally to Knox on this date, approving in principle the employment of Heckewelder and a small number of Quakers (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 87). GW later sought his cabinet’s advice on specific details relating to the Quakers’ role (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 101–2; GW to Cabinet, 21 Mar., to Knox, 5 April 1793).

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