George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 13 March 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Mar. 13. 93.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President draughts of the instruments which he suggested as proper to be given formally to each tribe of Indians whose circumstances may call for such a manifestation of our views with respect to them. the first is a Letter of protection of the ordinary tenor, except that it declares a protection of the lands as well as the persons & other property, & would be signed by the President under the great seal.1 the second contains extracts from the late law of the U.S. and contains 1. those paragraphs which would shew to the Indians that our laws will punish injuries done them as if done to ourselves. 2. those paragraphs which may answer the purpose of directing those on the spot, when any injury is committed, how & where they are to proceed.2 if the furnishing such papers should be approved, it will be best to have them printed, on parchment, with the seal, and put into tin cases, so as to give them marks of solemnity which may strike those to whom they are given, or to whom they shall be shewn.3

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; AL (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW.

1The enclosed draft of the letter of protection is in DLC: Jefferson Papers. For the final version, see Letter of Protection, 7 May, attached to GW’s letter to the Wabash and Illinois Chiefs of that date.

2Jefferson is referring to “An Act to regulate Trade and Intercourse with the Indian Tribes,” of 1 Mar. 1793 (1 Stat., description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 329–32). Jefferson’s second draft has not been identified.

3The other cabinet members examined the drafts on this date. Henry Knox and Alexander Hamilton approved them, although the latter worried that protecting Indians might lead to “inconveniencies.” Edmund Randolph promised to “consider of them” but made no immediate decision (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 88–89).

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