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“ Regulating your conduct by those principles which have heretofore governed your actions as men, soldiers, and citizens, you will repeat the obligations conferred on your country, and you will transmit to posterity an example that must command their admiration and grateful praise. Long may you continue to enjoy the endearments of paternal attachment and the heartfelt happiness of reflecting that you have faithfully done your duty.
“ While I am permitted to possess the consciousness of this worth, which has long bound me to you by every tie of affection and esteem, I will continue to ve your sincere and faithful friend."
The first diplomatick transaction of the President was with the Indian tribes. He conceived it to be true policy to “ cultivate an intimate intercourse with the Indians upon principles calculated to advance their happiness, and to attach them firmly to the United States."
With these views he early opened negotiations with them, and the interests of several of the states being closely connected with treaties that might be made, he asked, during the first session of Congress, the advice of the Senate upon questions that were at issue.
The first attempt to establish a peace with the Creek Indians failed. M'Gillivray, their Chief, was the son of a white man, and his resentment had been keenly excited against the state of Georgia by the confiscation of lands which his father had holden; and more particularly by the claim of that government to a large tract on the Oconee in virtue of an Indian purchase, the validity of which the Creek nation denied. Genoral Lincoln, Mr. Griffin, and Colonel Humphries were deputed Commissioners to negotiate with the Creeks in the summer of 1789. They met M'Gilli. vray with other Chiefs, and about two thousand of the tribe at Rock landing, on the Oconee, on the frontiers nf Georgia. Although first appearances promised success to the mission, yet M'Gillivray suddenly broke off the negotiation for the ostensible reason of a dispute about boundaries, but really, as was supposed, through the influence of the Spanish government.
The situation of the United States in their relation with the Indians became more and more critical and embarrassing, and war was threatened with all the tribes from Canada to Louisiana. The danger was the more formidable from the supposition that the jealousies of the Indians were excited by the intrigues of British and Spanish agents, and that an Indian war would probably lead to hostilities with those powers.
Ardently desirous to secure the frontiers from the horrours of Indian warfare, the President again attempted to negotiate with the Creeks, without committing the dignity of government. He sent ColoWillett, a gallant revolutionary officer, into their country, apparently upon private business; but furnished with credentials, to be used if he found M'Gillivray disposed for peace. This second mission proved successful. M'Gillivray and a number of Creek Chiefs were induced to repair to New York, where negotiations were immediately opened, and a treaty soon established; although the Secretary of East Florida came to New-York with a large sum of money, under a pretence of purchasing flour, but in fact to prevent M'Gillivray from treating.
The attempt to establish peace with the Indians of the Wabash and the Miamis did not terminate so successfully. The American settlers on that frontier continued to suffer from their hostilities, and all appearances indicated, that they could be brought into a pa. cifick disposition, only by being made themselves to feel the miseries of war.
The President was decidedly of the opinion that on the failure of negotiation, a military force should be employed in their country, which their united power could not successfully resist, and which should be adequate to the conquest of their towns, and the destruction of their villages. This, he conceived, policy, economy, and humanity dictated. But Congress, in their military establishment, did not meet his views, ard at the moment he gave his sanction to the bill, he entered in his private journal, that he did not conceive the military establishment was adequate to the exigence of the government, and to the protection it was intended to afford.
For the sake of a connected view of Indian affairs, we will in this place give a narrative of subsequent transactions, although we shall be carried out of the order of time in which events took place.
The attempt to negotiate with the Indians northwest of the Ohio having proved abortive, the President conceived himself bound to use the means Congress had put into his hands to protect the frontiers; and accordingly General Harmar was sent in Septeniber 1791, into the Indian territories with a forco, consisting of about three hundred regular troops and eleven hundred militia of Pennsylvania and Kentucky, with orders to bring the Indians if possible to action, and to destroy their settlements on the waters of the Scioto and Wabash.
The Savages avoided an engagement with the main body of the American army, but with great spirit attacked a strong detachment which had pursued them, and killed several valuable officers. Harmar destroyed their settlements, but afforded no protection to the frontiers. Several smaller expeditions with various success were made into the Indian country, and in the autumn of 1791 Major General St. Clair marched a force of near two thousand effective men into their territories, and on the fourth of November was attack ed and totally defeated by them.
The President, apprehending that the success of the Indians, and the booty they had gained, would have inHuence to bring other tribes into the war, conceivod that the honour of the nation was concerned to retrieve the American losses, and to afford protection to the frontiers. St. Clair resigning his commission, General Wayne was appointed his successor. The President lost no time in laying before Congress an estimate of such a military force, as he thought would be adequate to the object ; and they at length acceded to his proposal. While these preparations were ripening, much complaint was made of the war, and the President was induced, rather from a desire to convince the country that successful warfare was the only means of peace, than from any expectation of success in the mission, to send Colonel Harden and Major Trueman, two valuable officers and worthy men, into the Indian country, to attempt negotiation ; but they were both murdered. On the 20th of August, 1794, General Wayne brought the Indians to an engagement, totally defeated them, and destroyed their country on the Miamis.
This action was decisive: it deterred other tribes from entering into the war, and induced the Miamis themselves to treat for peace. On the 3d of August, a treaty was entered into by General Wayne with the Indians northwest of the Ohio, which ended all hostilities, quieted the fears of the frontiers, and gave univer. sal satisfaction.
As early as 1789, the President received authentick intelligence, that Spanish agents were intriguing with the inhabitants of the Western country, to seduce them from their allegiance to the United States. Representations were made them in the name of the government of Spain, that while they were connected with the Atlantick States, the navigation of the Mississippi would be denied them ; but if they would assure an independent government, the river should be opened, and their independence supported.
In 1794, Spain, suffering herself the evils of war, was inclined to treat with the United States. She
intimated by her ministers, that the etiquette of her court forbid her to treat with Mr. Short, the American resident at Madrid, yet a higher diplomatick character would be accredited, and negotiations immediately opened with him. The President placed full confi dence in Mr. Short, but he thought it policy to meet the friendly propositions of Spain, and in November nominated Mr. Pinckney to be the American Minister at that Court. In the course of the next summer, Mr Pinckney repaired to Madrid, and on the 20th of October, 1795, a treaty was signed between him and the Spanish commissioners, which happily terminated the controversy respecting boundary lines, and the navigation of the Mississippi to the satisfaction of the nation.
On the 8th of January, 1790, the President met Congress at their second session.
In his speech he congratulated them on the success of their measures, and recommended a variety of national objects to their serious attention. Among these, the following are the principal. Provision for national defence; the means of holding intercourse with foreign nations; establishing a rule of naturalization ; uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States; and the promotion of science and literature.
“ Knowledge," he obsorved, " is in every country the surest basis of publick happiness. In one, in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours, it is proportionably essential.” And he concluded with the following assurances.
" I shall derive great satisfaction in co-operating with you in the pleasing though arduous task of ensuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government."
The answers of the Senato and the House of Ro presentatives were cordial and respectful, and promisod VOL. II.