From Henry Knox
War department July 16. 1793
I have the honor to submit to you the letters brought by the express from the South Western Territory, relatively to the barbarous murder committed by the Whites on some friendly Cherokees.1 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your obedt Servant
LS, DLC:GW; LB,DLC:GW.
1. The express brought Knox a letter written at Knoxville on 13 June by Daniel Smith, the secretary of the Southwest Territory, in which Smith reported on “the perpetration of as inhuman an act as ever was committed” upon a group of friendly Cherokee Indians by militia under the command of Capt. John Beard. Smith was apprehensive that this incident would lead to retaliation, and he described his preparations to defend the white residents in the territory. He enclosed a copy of a report from Maj. Robert King and Daniel Carmichael of 12 June, in which they described the attack on the Cherokees earlier that morning. He also enclosed a copy of his letter to Hanging Maw and other Cherokee chiefs of 13 June, in which Smith urged the Indians to remain peaceful and to proceed with their previously planned visit to Philadelphia, where they could “Hear what your and our great father, the President, will say…. I assure you, in great truth, I believe he will give you satisfaction” (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 1:459). A Cherokee delegation had been preparing to depart for Philadelphia in accordance with an invitation issued by Blount in behalf of the president (Knox to Blount, 26 June, John McKee to Blount, 3 June, Blount to Cherokee Chiefs, 5 June 1793, ibid., 430, 457). Smith was serving as acting governor at this time because Governor William Blount had left Knoxville on 7 June for a visit to Philadelphia (Blount to Knox, 6 June, Carter, Territorial Papers description begins Clarence Edwin Carter et al., eds. The Territorial Papers of the United States. 27 vols. Washington, D.C., 1934–69. description ends , 4:270). For Knox’s earlier receipt of another report of this attack, see Knox to GW, 13 July, and note 1.
Smith’s letter of 13 June was accompanied by letters to Knox of 17 and 22 June. The first was written when Smith expected a “general war,” and the second after the Indians “agreed to wait and hear the determination of the President.” Several enclosures accompanied these two letters, including one from the Cherokee chief Hanging Maw to GW. Written at Coyatee on 15 June, it reads: “I received the talk of our great Father, and always held it fast. You sent me word that nothing should happen me at my own house. It was but four nights after Governor Blount left home until this happened to me.
“I am writing to the President of the United States. It is a long time since I have seen him, but I have seen him, when we were both young men and warriors.
“It was but a few days since I received an invitation from the President to go to Philadelphia; part of our head-men had gathered at my house, and the balance were on the way, and a party of white people came and wounded me, and killed several more, some of them chiefs. We thought very well of your talk of restoring peace, and our land being made safe to us; but the white people have spoiled the talk at present. The heads of our land thought very well of going to Philadelphia, but some of them now lie dead, and some of them wounded. You need not look for us to go there at this time. The Little Turkey has sent to the Chickasaws and Choctaws, and has gone to the Creeks himself, to let these nations know that he was going to Philadelphia this Fall, that a head-man from each nation might accompany him, that the whole might agree on one thing, and all be at peace” (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 1:459–63). GW received Knox’s letter and its many enclosures on 16 July (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 200–201).