George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Timothy Pickering, 27 August 1796

Department of State Augt 27. 1796.


I have conversed with Mr Morris on the subject of his letter of the 25th requesting you to appoint a Commissioner to hold a treaty with the Seneka Nation of Indians, to give him an opportunity to purchase their title to a portion of their territory, of which he has the right of pre-emption. I showed him the written opinion of the Attorney General, that the President had not power by the Constitution to appoint a Commissioner without the advice and consent of the Senate, and that the appointment must unavoidably be postponed. In the conversation, I remarked, that the two great objections having been removed, by the peace with the Western Indians, & getting possession of the posts, the way was open for holding the treaty requested; and especially, if, as he suggested, the Senekas themselves desired to sell any portion of their lands. I also expressed my opinion, that the hunt of the Senekas was not so remote or of so much consequence, as to prevent their meeting in January next for the purpose requested.

He desired a copy of the Attorney General’s opinion, which I shall send him this afternoon. Mr Morris thought a written answer would be necessary for him, to satisfy those persons who were depending on his purchase, that the delay was unavoidable: but he suspends his request on this point till Monday. That reverence for the laws & government of his country which has hitherto influenced his conduct, will prevent his pressing for any measure incompatible therewith; altho’ the situation of his affairs is singularly urgent. With the highest respect I am, sir, your most obt servt

T. Pickering

DNA: RG 59—ML—Miscellaneous Letters.

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