Dealing with Discrepancies in Treaties Signed with the Creeks and Cherokees

Item

Type

Autograph Letter Signed

Title

Dealing with Discrepancies in Treaties Signed with the Creeks and Cherokees

Description

Knox thanks Izard for communicating General Pinckney's observations regarding the boundary between the Creeks and the Cherokees. Knox states that from Pinckney's observations it would seem that the treaty gave the Creeks a right to lands which were clearly in the possession of the Cherokees, and that the boundary between the two Indian tribes was clearly established and known.
However, the legislature of Georgia apparently sent Congress a report in 1787 which described the same boundary between the tribe but notes that "both nations made the same relinquishment of mutual claims which had not before been settled between them." The treaties the tribes signed with Georgia in 1783 and 1785 consider the boundary to be one described in a treaty made between South Carolina and the Cherokees in 1777. Additionally, these treaties did not invest the Creeks with any territory of the Cherokees.

Knox finishes by stating that the treaty which geographically laid out the boundaries of Creek territory was the most judicious and least likely to create complications.

year created

1791

month created

04

day created

02

author

sent from location

War Department

recipient

in image

notable person/group

Ralph Izard
Henry Knox
General Pinckney
Creeks
Cherokees
Secretary of War
Indian tribes
legislature of Georgia
congress

notable location

War Department
South Carolina
Georgia

notable item/thing

boundary between Creeks and Cherokees
treaty
Indian right to lands
report
relinquishment of mutual claims
treaty
Indian relations
southern Indians

document number

1791040200001

page start

1

number of pages

8

transcription

From Genl. Knox respecting the Treaty with the Creek Indians.
War Department,
April 2nd 1791
Sir,
I thank you for the communication of General Pinckney's observations, relatively to the boundary mentioned in the treaty with the Creeks made at New York on the 7th day of August 1790. Every doubt suggested by a gentleman of his intelligence and candor merits attention. I have accordingly re-examined that part of the boundary which seems to occasion the doubts suggested, and I have the honor to submit to you the result, in which the substance of the paper I communicated the last year is recapitulated.
From the observations of General Pinckney it would seem that he conceived the treaty invested
invested the Creeks with a fort of right to lands which were indisputably belonging to the Cherokees, and that the boundary between the Creeks, and Cherolkees had been fully established and known -
But, the State of Georgia which was immediately and deeply interested in this point has entertained a different opinion. For the legislature of that State in a report of the disputes with the Creeks, transmitted to Congress on the 15th of a November 1787 mentions, that the treaty with the Cherokees on the 21st day of May 1783, and the treaty with the Creeks on the 1st November following described the same boundary "and both nations made the same relinquishment of mutual claims which had not before been settled between them."
And the Governor of Georgia in a statement made to General Lincoln and the other Commissioners of the United States on
on the 4th of October 1789 says
"From all the evidences which have or shall be collected, it will be found, that the lands, between the mountains, and the old Ogechee line north of the Oconee were ever equally claimed by the Cherokees and the Creeks, and that by a Convention had before the revolution, the lands comprehended within the limits afterwards called the ceded lands, and now, Wilkes County, were ceded, at the same time by the heads of the two nations. That during the progress of the late was, the State had been alternately attacked by either, and that at the close of it, they were respectively acted upon to make some satisfaction. Accordingly, in the Spring of 1783 the Cherokees, attended by a few Creeks, came down to August, talked the matter over, avowed their claim to
to the lands in question, agreed to and signed a treaty, and in the Autumn of the same year, the Creeks, chiefly of the lower towns, also came down, talked their matter over, avowed their claim and agreed to and signed a treaty on their part, whereby the State obtained the relinquishment of the right, or claim of right of both nations to the lands therein described and bounded."
With such evidence of unsettled claims between the Creeks and the Cherokees, it would have been unwise in the General government to have marked a boundary different from that which had been previously described by the State of Georgia, whose interest and information upon the subject could not be questioned. Accordingly the precise words were copied that had been used by the State of Georgia in its' treaty with the Cherokees of the 31st of May 1783, and
and in its treaty with the Creeks on the 1st day of November of the same year, and also as used in the treaty made between the United States and the Cherokees at Hopewell on the 28th of November 1785.
These treaties comprehend the boundary described in the treaty made between South Carolina and the Cherokees, at Dewitt's corner, on the 20th of May 1777.
It is farther to be observed, that in the draft of a treaty which General Lincoln and the other Commissioners prepared at the Rock landing on the Oconee, in October 1789, and delivered to Mr. McGillivray, the boundary was described in the same manner. General Pickens of South Carolina, Mr. Osborn and Colonel Few and other gentlemen of Georgia were present, and were probably consulted on the occasion.
I mentioned in my former communication
to you upon this subject, that Mr. McGillivray informed me that the Creeks claimed no further north then the foot of the Currahee mountain.
From all the maps which I have seen, it would appear, that some of the northern branches of the Oconee rise near the foot of that mountain, and it is to be observed the treaty with the Creeks stipulated that the boundary to be marked shall be from the Currahee mountain to the head or source of the main south branch of the Oconee River, and thence down the margin of the same"
By the fifth article of the treaty with the Creeks, the United States guarantee to the Creeks, all their lands within the limits of the United States to the westward and southwest of the boundary described in the fourth article.
While this article secures to the Creeks all their own lands to the westward
and southwest of the boundary described, it certainly does not invest them with any sort of right to the Cherokee lands.
I flatter myself that upon a full and candid review of this subject, it will appear, that the conduct of the General government in describing that part of the boundary of the Creeks, in the precise words before used in the several treaties which have been mentioned, we judicious, and under the actual state of things less liable to exceptions, then if the boundary had been described upon a supposition that the line between the Creeks and Cherokees had been known and established.
I have the honor to be Sir, with great respect, Your Obedient Servant,
H Knox
The Honorable Ralph Izard.

April 2d 1791
From Gen. Knox respecting the Treaty with the Creek Indians.
The Article in the treaty with the Creeks of the 7th of August 1790, descriptive of the Western boundary, is copied precisely from the treaty made by Georgia with the Creeks at Augusta, the 1st day of November 1783. It is also the same boundary fixed by the said State in a treaty with the Cherokees held at Augusta the 31st day of May 1783. Both the Cherokees and the Creeks, made the same relinquishment on account of mutual claims which had not before been settled between them.
And also the said boundary is conformable to the treaty made by South Carolina with the Cherokees in Dewits corner, the 20th day of May 1777.
And farther the said boundary is also conformably to the treaty made in behalf of the United States, with the Cherokees on the 28 of November 1785 at Hopewell on the Keowee by Benjn Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, Joseph Martin and Lachlan McIntosh.
Hence it appears that all the Land on the quarter
quarter of the Keowee & Tugelo, ever before obtained from the Indians either by South Carolina, Georgia or the United States is confirmed. No additional territory from the Indians is obtained, but not an inch is relinquished on the western boundary.
And in order to render South Carolina perfectly secure, in her territory as stated in the treaty with the Cherokees at Hopewell, the 28 of November 1785, it is to be observed that Mr. McGullivray and the other Creeks who were in New York, observed that the Creek nation did not claim further northward than the foot of the Currahee Mountain. But notwithstanding this opinion it was thought safest in fixing the boundary, to follow the words of Georgia in the treaty of Augusta.
Extract from the treaty at Augusta made by Georgia with the Creeks - 1st November 1783.
Art: 3 That a new line shall be drawn without delay between the present settlements in the said State and the hunting grounds of the said indians to begin in the Savannah River where the present line strikes it, thence up the said river to a place on the most northern branch of the same (commonly called Keowee) where a northeast line to be drawn from the top of the Ocunna mountain shall,
shall intersect thence along the said line in a Southwest direction to Tugeloo River, thence to the top of the Currohee mountain, thence to the hard source of the most Southern branch of the Oconee River, including all the waters of the same; thence down the said River to the old line."
Extract from the treaty by South Carolina and the Cherokees, at Dewits Corner - 20 of May 1777.
"Art. 1. The Cherokee nations acknowledge, that the troops during last summer, repeatedly defeated their forces, victoriously penetrated through their lower towns, middle settlements and vallies, and quietly and unapposed built, held, and continue to occupy, the fort at Seneca, thereby did effect and maintain the conquest of all the Cherokee lands, eastward of the Unacaye mountain; and, to and for their people, did acquire, possess, and yet continue to hold, in and over the said lands, all and singular the rights incidental to conquest; and the Cherokee nation in consequence thereof, do cede the said lands to the said people, the people of South Carolina.
Art. 2d. South Carolina will immediately send a supply of goods into the Cherokee nation and settlement for sale, and permit the Cherokees, during their good be
behaviour, to inhabit the middle settlements and vallies westward of the highest part of the Occonnee mountain, but they shall not, beyond a line extended southwest and northeast across the highest part of the Occonnee mountain, proceed or advance, without permission from the commanding officer at fort Rutledge; to apply for which, one runner may at any time be sent by the Cherokees: provided nevertheless, that during this present year, the Cherokees may raise, gather and remove, the corn they have planted on the east side of the Oconnee mountain"
Extract of the treaty made by the United States with the Cherokees at Hopewell on the Keowee, the 28 November 1785
Art. 4 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, viz - Beginning at the mouth of Duck river on the Tennessee; thence running north east, 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
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 on Holstein; 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 Tugalo river; thence a direct line to the top of the Currahee mountain; thence to the head of the South fork of Oconee river".
Extract from the treaty made by the United States with the Creeks at New York, August 7 1790
Art 4. The boundary between the citizens of the United States and the Creek nation, is, and shall be, from where the old line strikes the river Savannah - thence up the said river to a place in the most northern branch of the same, commonly called the Keowee, where a north east line to be drawn from the top
top of the Oconee 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 Apalachee, 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 of the said river, and thence along the said old line to the river St.Mary's"

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[view document] (16 pages) RBN03 (16 pages) Collection: Andre DeCoppet Collection, C0063. B:18, F:37

Document names

Type Name Location Notes
Author Henry Knox War Department [n/a]
Recipient Ralph Izard [unknown] [n/a]