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Appointment of Commissioners to Survey U.S. Boundary with Creeks, Chickasaws & Cherokees

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionMassachusetts Historical Society: John Adams Papers view image
Document Information
Date February 2, 1797
Author Name James McHenry (primary) Location: War Office
Recipient Name Commissioners for Surveying of Indian Boundaries, 1797 (primary)
Summary Appoints 3 men as commissioners, and records the boundaries with each Indian nation as stipulated in respective treaties with them. Advises them to make sure they try their hardest to reconcile the Indians to the outcome of the boundary survey. Addresses the informing of Georgia and the Indian nations of the period the boundary will be run, the permanent marking of the border and the employment of people to assist in that activity, military escort, salaries, etc.
Document Format Letterbook Copy
Document Notes No tif image.
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups James McHenry; Benjamin Hawkins; Andrew Pickens; James Winchester; Indians; military escort; ;
Related Places War Office; Georgia; border; ;
Keywords treaties; boundaries; ;
Key Phrases [not available]

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To Benjamin Hawkins, Andrew Pickens and James Winchester, Esquires.
The President with the advice and consent of the Senate having appointed you Commissioners to ascertain and mark the boundary lines agreeably to treaties between the Indian Nations and the United States, you are hereby vested with all authority appertaining to the said appointment and directed to proceed to ascertain and mark the boundary lines between the United States and the Creek, Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations viz:
The Creek boundary as defined in the Treaty of 1790 and supplementary treaty of Coleraine of 1796 in the words following vizt -
Treaty of 1790. Article 4.
"The Boundary between the Citizens of the United States and the Creek Nations is and shall be from where the old line strikes the River Savannah; thence up the said River to a place on the most northern Branch of the same commonly called the Keowee, where a northeast line to be drawn from the top of the Ocunna Mountain shall intersect; thence along the said line in a southwest direction to Tugelo River, thence to the Top of the Currahee Mountain, thence to the head or Source of the main South Branch of the Oconee River called the Appalachee, thence down the middle of the said main South Branch and River Oconee to its Confluence with the Oakmulgee which form the River Altamaha and thence down the middle of the said Altamaha to the old line on the said River and thence along the said old line to the River St. Mary's"
Treaty of Coleraine Article 2nd
"The boundary line from the Currahee Mountain to the head or Source of the main South branch of the Oconee River called by the white people Appalachee, and by the Indians Tulapocka, and down the middle of the same shall be clearly ascertained and marked at such time and in such manner as the President shall direct. And the Indians will on being informed of the determination
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determination of the President send as many of their old Chiefs as he may require to see the line ascertained and marked."
The Cherokee Boundary as defined in the treaty of Knoxville, Article 4th.
"The Boundary allotted to the Cherokees for their hunting Grounds, between the said Indians and the Citizens of the United States within the limits of the United States of America is and shall be the following vizt: Beginning at the mouth of Duck River on the Tennessee, thence running Northeast to the Ridge dividing the Waters running into Cumberland from those running into the Tennessee thence eastwardly along the said Ridge to a Northeast line to be run which shall strike the River Cumberland forty miles above Nashville, thence along the said line to the River, thence up the said River to the ford where the Kentucky road crosses the River, thence to Campbell's line near Cumberland Gap, thence to the mouth of Claud's Creek in Holston, thence to the Chimney Top Mountain, thence to Camp Creek, near the mouth of Big Limestone on Nolichuckey thence a southerly course six Miles to a Mountain, thence South to the North Carolina line, thence to the south Carolina Indian Boundary and along the same southwest over the top of the Oconee Mountain till it shall strike Tugelo River, thence a direct line to the Top of the Currahee Mountain, thence to the head of the south fork of Oconee River."
The Chickasaw Boundary as defined in the treaty of Hopewell Article 3rd -
"The Boundary of the lands hereby allotted to the Chicasaw Nation to live and hunt on within the limits of the United States of America is and shall be the following vizt: Beginning on the Ridge that divides the waters running into the Cumberland from those running into the Tennessee at a point in a line to be run North east which shall strike the Tennessee at the mouth of Duck River, thence running westerly along the said Ridge till it shall strike the Ohio, thence down the southern Banks thereof to the Mississippi, thence down the same to the Choctaw line or Natches district, thence along the said lines or the line of the district eastwardly as far as the Chickasaws claimed,
and lived and hunted on, the twenty ninth day of November one thousand seven hundred and eighty two. Thence the said Boundary eastwardly shall be the lands allotted to the Choctaws and Cherokees to live and hunt on the lands at present in the possession of the Creeks, saving and reserving for the establishment of a trading post, a tract or parcel of land to be laid out at the lower post of the Muscle Shoals, at the mouth of Ocochappo in a circle, the diameter of which shall be five miles on the River which post and the lands annexed thereto shall be to the use and under the Government of the United States of America."
On ascertaining the Boundaries between these Nations and the United States, you will to the best of your knowledge and judgement follow the spirit and intention of these enumerated Articles and such others in their respective treaties as have relation to the object of your appointment and will endeavour to remove any difficulty that may occur with the Indians as to the true meaning of their stipulations and to reconcile them to the result by every conciliatory means in your power.
You or any of you will be pleased to notify the Governor of Georgia of the time when you propose to run the Creek Boundary and the place where it is intended to commence Mr. Benjamin Hawkins as principal resident Indian Agent will also be pleased to make similar communications to the Indian Nations concerned so as to afford them an opportunity to have present at the running such number of Chiefs or wise men of their Nations respectively as may be provided for by treaty or as you may judge it expedient should attend.
You will cause the boundary lines to be marked in such manner as to render them not only easy to be seen but as permanently visible as possible and will employ, bargain with, and pay all persons necessary to run and mark the same.
You will as soon as the lines shall be completed cause a certified plat thereof and description of the marks to be
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be sent to the Governors of the State of Georgia and Tennessee and will deliver to the Indians who may attend on the part of their Nations a plat of their respective Boundaries.
You will also transmit certified plats to the Officers commanding the Troops of the United States in Georgia and Tennessee, and a plat of the whole with your proceedings to the Secretary for the department of War.
It is expected that all of you will be present at the running of the Cherokee lines; but should circumstances render it inconvenient or unnecessary for more than one or two of you to attend at the running of the Creek and Chickasaw lines two or one of you are hereby vested with full and ample power to establish and mark the same and to do and execute all things appertaining thereto as fully and conclusively as if the whole number were present and attending.
You will apply to Lieutenant Colonel Gaither to furnish you with an Escort of Dragoons; and should additional protection be found requisite to the commanding Officer in Tennessee, for a Detachment of Infantry.
The Creeks have been promised that the running of their line would be commenced in March and the Cherokees in April. It is expected therefore that you will be able to meet the Expectations of the Indians by entering upon the work at these periods.
Your pay will be four dollars per day during the time you shall be employed.
It may perhaps be proper to remark that the Treaty of Coleraine is yet before the Senate, but let this make no alteration in your proceedings as the Treaty of New York is sufficiently expressive of the true line of division between the United States and the Creeks.
You or any of you will draw on me for such Sums as may be necessary to enable you to execute the Duties hereby enjoined.
Given at the War Office in Philadelphia this Second day of February in the Year one thousand seven hundred and Ninety seven.
signed, James McHenry.