George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Citizens of Mero District, Southwest Territory, 13 August 1793

From the Citizens of Mero District, Southwest Territory

[c.13 August 1793]

To GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the United States. The MEMORIAL and PETITION of the Convention of Mero District.

WE, your memorialists being regularly chosen and fully authorised by the citizens of Mero, to represent the situation of our country, address you, sir, amidst dangers which threaten our total dissolution, without your aid.

We omit to speak of the outrages this frontier has suffered from the insolence and barbarity of the Creeks and Cherokees ever since the first establishment of our settlement of Cumberland.

We request only to call your attention to the list of the killed and wounded since the treaty of Holston, amounting to one hundred and seventeen, which we enclose.1 This best proves how slender a tie, upon these barbarous people are treaties, without the restraint of coercion and fear. The loss of our property we name not.

What succour has been granted, tho’ liberal, each day’s melancholy experience shews to be inadequate to the protection of our lives. The despair of our fellow citizens causes a daily increase of population to the Spanish government.

Long experience emboldens us humbly to suggest, that while our hands are tied, and the enemy permitted to proceed without retaliation, we cannot flatter ourselves with any bounds to our calamities.2 How far it may, in general, be expedient to reconcile this enemy with presents and rewards, is not for us to decide; but we cannot help deploring, that, with respect to this country such treaties appear to have an evil tendency.3

That our sufferings proceed not from any known provocation on our side,4 we appeal to the father of truth and mercy: Therefore, in full confidence of your humanity and justice, we pray, that we may be further assisted to support this frontier, which in our present situation is found to be in the utmost danger. We further petition, that to awe our enemies, this government may be permitted to retaliate upon the invaders and aggressors, or to demand them from their towns, if they pursue these insufferable violences: or, in case they refuse to deliver them up, that we may have the sanction of public authority to do ourselves justice; for we know not, in our present situation, to what despair the people may be driven.5

DAVID WILSON, Chairman.6

Printed, Knoxville Gazette, 13 Aug. 1793.

1On the Treaty of Holston, which the United States had signed with the Cherokee Indians on 2 July 1790 and which the U.S. Senate ratified on 10 Nov. 1791, see GW’s Proclamation on the Treaty of Holston of 11 Nov. 1791 and notes. The enclosed list has not been identified, but it probably resembled “A RETURN of persons killed, wounded, and taken prisoners, from Miro District, since the 1st of January, 1791” until 8 Oct. 1792. It contains the names of ninety-seven Mero District and twenty-two Washington District residents. A “List of murders committed by Indians in Mero District, since the 20th of May, 1793” until 19 July 1793, contains the names of eighteen other persons killed or wounded, and a summary of “Indian depredations, not before mentioned,” of 1–21 Aug. 1793, identifies five additional persons killed, plus an unspecified number of children (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 1:329–31, 466, 468).

2For the administration’s measured response to a previous request for federal assistance, see Henry Knox to William Blount, 14 May 1793, in note 2 of Knox to GW, 20 Mar. 1793. For the administration’s recent consideration of a military expedition against hostile Indians in the South, see Andrew Pickens’s memorandum of 26 July 1793, and notes, Enclosure I of Knox to GW, 5 Aug. 1793 (second letter).

3According to the Treaty of Holston and a later article added to the treaty on 17 Feb. 1792, the United States agreed to pay an annuity of $1,500 to the Cherokee nation. Article 14 of the treaty also stipulated that the United States “will from time to time furnish gratuitously the said nation with useful implements of husbandry” (Kappler, Indian Treaties description begins Charles J. Kappler, ed. Indian Affairs. Laws and Treaties. 5 vols. Washington, D.C., 1903–41. description ends , 2:29–33).

4For an account of one recent provocation, see Henry Knox to GW, 16 July 1793, and note 1.

5No reply from GW has been identified.

6Revolutionary war veteran and Pennsylvania native David Wilson (died c.1803) served in the North Carolina militia during the Revolutionary War, and for this, he received a land grant in the future state of Tennessee. When elections were held in December 1793 for the first territorial assembly of the Southwest Territory, Wilson was chosen to represent Sumner County. (Ramsey, Annals of Tennessee description begins J. G. M. Ramsey. The Annals of Tennessee to the End of the Eighteenth Century, comprising its settlement, as The Watauga Association, from 1769 to 1777; A Part of North-Carolina, from 1777 to 1784; The State of Franklin, from 1784 to 1788; A Part of North-Carolina from 1788 to 1790; The Territory of the U. States, South of the Ohio, from 1790 to 1796; The State of Tennessee, from 1796 to 1800. 1853. Reprint. Kingsport, Tenn., 1926. description ends , 621, 707). Wilson County, Tenn., which was created in 1799, was named after him.

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