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The Secretary of War to the Governor of New York.'
WAR DEPARTMENT, April 28th, 1791. SIR: Having had the honor to write to your Excellency, on the 12th instant, upon a subject of considerable importance to the welfare of the United States, and not having received an answer thereto, I am induced to believe, that my letter may, by some accident, have miscarried; I therefore transmit your Excellency a copy of it, and as Colonel Pickering is now in this city, I beg the favor of an answer as soon as possible.
His Excellency Governor CLINTON.
The Governor of New York to the Secretary of War.'
NEW YORK, 27th April, 1791. SIR: I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write on the twelfth instant; and by the tenor of the communication therein contained, I am led to conclude, that the President has given you discretionary powers in regard of the objects upon which you have been pleased to confer with me.
I observe, with some regret, that the measure of attempting a convention of the whole six nations hath been resolved and acted upon. It cannot be unknown to you, that those nations are at present disunited by private animosities; that there subsists not among them, mutal intercourse and confidence, sufficient to lead to a general combination, or to effect (without the interposition of the agents of the United States) a general congress of those nations, even for the purpose of deliberation; that this disunion produces impotency and secures inaction, and that, if we should revive their importance, by renewing their union, we may give power and vigor, which we cannot with certainty direct, and over which we shall, with much trouble and expense, have an uncertain control. But, having therefore communicated to the President my sentiments upon the policy of that measure, I shall not now further obtrude them upon you; and I entreat you to be assured that how muchsoever I may differ as to the means, I will, with the utmost cheerfulness and assiduity, concur with you in endeavors to attain the ends, which you justly consider as momentous and interesting to the Union.
1American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 167.
I have communicated to Colonel Willet your confidence in his talents, and desire for the interposition of his influence with Brandt, but have it not in my power to inform you of his explicit answer; I could wish that your application might be made to him directly, if you should continue in the opinion of the importance of his personal exertions on this occasion.
I had, in June last, appointed an interview with Brandt, contemplating the danger you appear to apprehend from his address and his influence with several of the Indian nations, (which I am persuaded is very considerable) and from different letters I have since received from him, I have reason to hope he will give me the opportunity of a personal conference with him at this place, the beginning of the ensuing summer, if the proposed convention, to which I will not venture to say he may not be opposed, should not prevent it; but the good understanding between us, and the friendly and familiar intercourse I have successfully endeavored to preserve, will, I doubt not, predominate over any transient disgust that the measures of the Union may have heretofore excited in his mind, and enable me to procure an interview with him, at any time and place not particularly inconvenient. To accomplish this, however, with certainty, it may require the personal application of some one expressly delegated, and in whom he will confide. As your wishes appear to be confined to Colonel Willet, I shall not, without your farther advice, undertake to exercise a discretion on this subject. Your knowledge of the views of government enable you to determine the importance of this measure. I can only add, that the most perfect reliance may be had in my exertions to carry those views into effect, when the particular mode of co-operation shall be defined, and connected with competent authority.
With sentiments of the highest respect and esteem, I am, your most obedient servant.
Geo. CLINTON. The Honorable HENRY KNOX, Esq.
The Secretary of War to the Governor of New York.
WAR DEPARTMENT, 11th May, 1791. SIR: I had the honor, on the fifth instant, to receive your Excellency's favor, dated the twenty-seventh ultimo, being an answer to my letter of the twelfth of the same month.
I am sorry that you do not approve the convention of the Six Nations, at this particular crisis. The measure appeared highly expedient, in order not only to prevent their joining the Western Indians, but, if possible, to induce them, as a security to the continuance of their friendship, to join some of their young warriors to the troops of the United States.
Although the Senecas were the principal object of the meeting, that tribe constituting the main body of the Six Nations resident within the general limits of the United States, yet it was conceived that it would have been impolitic to omit inviting the other tribes, eastward of the Senecas, to the meeting.
My having seen your letter to the President of the United States, relative to Captain Joseph Brandt, and knowing also from repeated personal communications with your Excellency, the confidence Brandt reposed in your character, together with a persuasion of your cordiality to pacific measures with the Indians, were my inducements to address you on the twelfth ultimo.
My authority on the occasion, was founded on the circumstances, that the business of Indian affairs had been established by law, as a branch of the Department of War, and that the President of the United States had instructed me upon the objects of the Department during his absence.
I am not enough acquainted with the character or views of Captain Brandt, to be able to conclude whether he would work cordially in the design of peace, upon such principles as may not hereafter create greater embarrassments. This was a point which I submitted to your Excellency's decision.
I am fully possessed with the information of his enmity to the Cornplanter, who, I am of opinion, is greatly attached to the United States, upon the solid conviction of the measure being the only one by which he and the other Indians shall be secured from utter destruction.
1 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 168.
The Cornplanter has been actively employed to persuade the Senecas to send forward a powerful deputation, under his direction, to escort Colonel Procter to the Miami Indians, in order to induce them to peace. This information has been lately received, and from circumstances, I am inclined to believe, that Colonel Procter, protected by the Senecas, may be at this time, either actually with, or very near the hostile Indians.
Your Excellency may remember Captain Brandt's exertions, in the year 1786, to form a grand confederation of all the Indians northwest of the Ohio, the Six Nations included.
By a later letter which he has written to Mr. Kirkland, and which I received yesterday, it appears that he still should like that measure, if he could find it practicable. But such an event could not be for the interest of the United States; for, although justice, policy, and humanity, dictate a liberal treatment of the Indians, it cannot be for the public interest to consolidate them in one body, which would be liable to a single impulse.
Therefore, although it would be wise to conciliate Captain Brandt, and if within the power of a reasonable sum of money, to attach him warmly to the United States, yet, considering the train of the business, under the Cornplanter's management, and the designs of Brandt relative to a general confederation of Indians, it would not, probably, be good policy to employ him actively, at present, with the Western Indians.
It appears to me, judging from experience, that the United States may entirely depend on the Cornplanter's abilities, fidelity, and his active exertions. Brandt's attachment may be doubted, and his views may be dangerous.
But, as it may be concluded that Brandt's visit to your Excellency ought to be encouraged by all means, and that the result of the impressions you may make upon him, would be highly favorable to the public interest, I shall instruct Colonel Pickering not to obstruct, but facilitate his visit.
Colonel Pickering has appointed the Painted Post as the place, and the 17th of June next as the time, of his meeting with the Indians.
I am persuaded that the President of the United States, upon his arrival in this city, about the beginning of July, would be much gratified to receive a visit from Captain Brandt.
It may be proper, also, to intimate to your Excellency, that any pecuniary engagements you shall judge proper to enter into with Captain Brandt, to secure his attachment to the United States, will be paid without delay by the General Government.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your Excellency's obedient humble servant.
The Governor of the State of New York.
The Secretary of War to the Governor of New York.
WAR DEPARTMENT, August 17th, 1791. SIR: The President of the United States has commanded me to transmit to your Excellency, an extract of the report of Colonel Timothy Pickering, who acted as the commissioner of the United States, at a late council held with the five nations of Indians at the Painted Post, on the Susquehanna.
The object of the said council was, to conciliate the said Indians, and attach them to the United States; to prevent them listening to, or being combined with, the Western hostile Indians. The more effectually to carry this design into execution, it was thought proper to draw them to a greater distance from the theatre of war, and at a critical period to hold out an object of employment for the minds of their young men, who are with difficulty restrained from indulging their ruling passion for war.
These objects appear to have been executed with ability and judgment, and good consequences may be expected to flow from the council.
But it appears, that the commissioner's desire to accomplish the objects of his commission in the greatest degree, has led him incautiously, at the earnest request of the Cayugas present, to ratify and confirm a certain lease of lands, belonging to the Cayuga nation of Indians, to John Richardson, and to certify that a certain assignment of the Seneca Indians, to the daughters of Ebenezer Allen, was done at a public treaty, held under the authority of
1American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 169.