George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Mifflin, 24 May 1794

From Thomas Mifflin

Phila. 24 May 1794

The information contained in the letter from Genl Wilkins, which I communicated to you yesterday;1 and the general aspect of our affairs on the frontiers; enforcing the necessity of an immediate exertion, to support the Detachment, which the Legislature of Pennsylvania directed to be formed, for the purpose of protecting the Commissioners, who were authorised to lay out a town at Presqu’-isle,2 I have issued orders for drafting one thousand militia from the Western Brigades, for that particular service. I have the honor to inclose a copy of my Orders;3 and to be, with perfect respect, Sir, Your Excellencys Most obd. Hb.

Df, in Alexander J. Dallas’s writing, PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99; LB, PHarH: Executive Letterbooks; copy, DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793-95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages. The copy, which omits the closing of the letter, was sent to Congress on 20 Nov. 1794, among the documents submitted in support of GW’s annual message, which was dated 19 November.

1For the letter from Brig. Gen. John Wilkins, Jr., to Mifflin of 11 May, which was enclosed in Mifflin’s letter to Secretary of War Henry Knox of 23 May, see Knox to Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., 23 May, n.1.

2By "An Act for laying out a town at Presqu’-Isle," approved 8 April 1793, the Pennsylvania legislature gave Mifflin authority "to cause to be surveyed the tract reserved at and near Presqu’-Isle," and shortly thereafter Mifflin appointed Andrew Ellicott and William Irvine as commissioners to make the survey (Pa. Acts, 1792-93, 346-48; Mifflin to Ellicott and Irvine, 15 April 1793, PHarH: Executive Letterbooks). Because concerns about safety delayed the survey, the legislature authorized the protective detachment in section 3 of "An Act for more effectually securing the trade, peace and safety of the port of Philadelphia, and defending the Western frontiers of the Commonwealth," approved 28 Feb. 1794 (Pa. Acts, 1793-94, 463-65).

The cabinet met on this date to consider Mifflin’s letter and "advised That an answer of the following purpose be given ’That on mature reflection the President is of opinion that it is adviseable to suspend for the present the establishment at Presque Isle—That independent of certain other considerations of delicacy and moment which at no distant day will be better appreciated, the high probability of an immediate rupture with the six nations of Indians countenanced by late information and encreased by the recent murder of one of their people appears to him a solid reason for a temporary suspension’" (DS, DLC:GW). GW evidently accepted the cabinet’s advice, for Secretary of War Knox used those words in his reply to Mifflin of this date (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790-99).

3The enclosed copy of Mifflin’s orders to the brigade inspectors of Westmoreland, Washington, Allegheny, and Fayette counties has not been identified, but for the text, see 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 , 1:507.

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