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Assessment of Dispute Between Georgia & Creek Indians

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Source Name Image(s)
CollectionMassachusetts Historical Society: John Adams Papers view image
Document Information
Date August 11, 1796
Author Name James McHenry (primary) Location: War Office
Recipient Name George Washington (primary)
Summary Weighs the arguments of those who believe that the serious situation on the Georgia border could escalate into war, and believe that either further negotiations or a show of strength via reinforcements are necessary to avert one. Suggests a section to be added to an anticipated letter to the governor of Georgia which attempts to reassure the Georgians who have been frustrated in their attempts to purchase land from the Creek Indian nation, and now doubt the national government's backing. Hopes that such a communication would soothe feelings, delay any conflict, and give time for U.S. troops to be assembled there, thereby showing that the executive is prepared to back a state's claims with the might of the national army.
Document Format Letterbook
Document Notes [not available]
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups George Washington; James McHenry; Secretary of War; President of the United States; Hendricks; Clymer; Glymer; Governor of Georgia; Commissioners; Commissioners of Georgia; Commissioners of the United States; Indians; Creek Nation; Lieutenant Colonel Gaither; Creek; ;
Related Places War Office; frontiers; Georgia; ;
Keywords negotiation; prevent war; augmentation of the regular force; preservation of peace; hostility; regulations; confidence; purchase; land; transactions; conduct; change of mind; sale; violent proceedings; military force; settlement; draft of the letter; draught of the letter; ;
Key Phrases [not available]

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Copies of Letters from the Secretary of War to the President of the United States War Office 11 August 1796
I received the enclosed letter from Mr. Floendsicks on the 9th and that from Mr. Clymer on the 6th instant.
One of these Gentlemen you will perceive thinks another negociation indispensable to prevent war, the other, that an augmentation of the regular force is absolutely necessary to the preservation of peace. Both of course meet in the opinion that there is serious ground to apprehend hostility on the frontiers of Georgia unless measures are adopted to prevent it.
Such being the aspect of things in that quarter, I would submit for your consideration whether it might not be expedient in and of the military dispositions contemplated to incorporate into the letter proposed to be written to the Governor of Georgia sentiments to the following import.
"That the President has read the protest of the Commissioners on the part of Georgia against the proceedings of the Commissioners of the United States, that he laments that regulations calculated to preserve confidence in the Indians in the fairness of the intentions of Government should havewnn a different aspect to those Gentlemen; that from the sincerity which he used in communicating to thes Indians the desire of the State of Georgia to make a purchase from them of certain described land and the instructions which he gave to the Commissioners of the United States to facilitate and obtain it; and from the view which he has taken of the transaction at the meeting as connected with that object, he cannot ascribe the refusal of the Indians to sell to those regulations or the Conduct of the Commissioners, but to the predetermination in the Creek Nation not to dispass of their lands. That as a further proof of the President's intentions and in order to remove.
remove every doubt on the subject, he will have ascertained in the most unequivocal manner whether a change of mind has taken place in the nations respecting a sale and the terms upon which they will sell; that should the enquiry turn out favorable he will cheerfully consent to the opening of another negociation.
I would hope from such a communication 1st that it would have a tendency to allay the agitation, which the unpresentations of the State Commissioners may have excited and perhaps avist violet proceedings. 2. That it would afford time to Government (should it suspend dangerous projects only) to arrange the military force in such a manner as to render all attempts at settlement regalory. And 3. that it would show that the Executive is disposed to obtain the land in question for the State and preserve peace to the frontiers.
With the greatest respect I am [undecipherable] James M. Henry
P.S. Since writing the foregoing I have received your two letters of the 8 inss. I shall pay particular attention to their contents. I now enclose you the draught of the letter to the Governor of Georgia modelled agreeable to the proceding questions. If it is approved of I should be glad to have it returned by the next post for immediate transmission. It is understood that the instructions to Lieut. Col. Gaither will accord with it.
With respect to the enquiry it proposes. That can be made by the person who shall be appointed to explain certain things to the Creeks in their nation which they required and which the Commissioners have consented should be given.