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The next morning (Saturday, August 17th) the commissioners sent, by their own runners, (being one Onondaga, and two Oneidas) the following letter, and the paper therein mentioned, to the chiefs of the Six Nations.
To the Chiefs of the Six Nations: BROTHERS: Two runners were sent by us, this week, with a message, dated the 14th of this month, to the Indian nations assembled at the rapids of the Miami. Our instructions to the runners were, to inform you that they had such a message from us, and to request you to assemble the chiefs of the other nations, and then deliver it to you all together. From the report of the runners, we are apprehensive that they mistook our orders, and that our message has not been communicated to you. We, therefore, now send you a copy of it, No. 1. We, at the same time, sent a letter to Colonel McKee, of which, also, we enclose a copy, No. 2.
BROTHERS: Our runners returned hither this evening; but a few hours before their arrival, two Wyandot runners arrived, with a written answer, No. 3, to our speech of the 31st of last month, insisting on the Ohio as the boundary between the Indian lands and those of the United States. As we had already explicitly declared that we could not make the Ohio the boundary, the business, of course, was at an end. However, we delivered a short speech, in writing, to the same runners, who set off this evening to return to the council at the rapids. We enclose a copy of it, No. 4.
BROTHERS: Being desirous that you should be fully informed of these transactions, we have sent you copies thereof, which you may not otherwise obtain.
BROTHERS: We came hither with the most sincere desire to make a peace that would be beneficial to the Indians, as well as to the United States; and, had such a peace been accomplished, we felt a confidence, that the justice and humanity of the United States, according to their present views of Indian affairs, would not only have continued, but extended their beneficence to the Indian nations, and, so far as it depended on them, have rendered the peace as lasting as the hills; and we should have been extremely happy in laying the foundation of so much good.
We have now only to return home, and report our proceedings to the President of the United States. We shall sail with the first fair wind for fort Erie. Mouth of Detroit river, 16th August, 1793.
Letter to General Knox.
ON LAKE ERIE, 21st August, 1793. SIR: The Indians have refused to make peace. We have not been admitted to an interview with them, except by their deputations. The transactions with the first deputation at Niagara have been transmitted to you. Immediately afterwards we returned to fort Erie, and embarked for the mouth of Detroit river, where we arrived on the 21st July, and expected in a few days to receive notice from the Indians that they were ready to meet us at Sandusky. Captain Matthew Elliot, Colonel McKee's assistant, at whose house we were furnished with quarters, was at home, waiting for a wind to sail to the Miami. He departed the next morning, taking a letter from us to Colonel McKee, advising him of our arrival, and requesting that our meeting with the Indians might be hastened.
On the 29th, Elliot returned with another deputation of Indians, at the head of which were Packonchehelas, head warrior of the Delawares, Kakiapalathy, head warrior of the Shawanese, and Sa-wagh-da-wunk, who is said to be the head-man of the Wyandots. The next day, they presented a written message, in the name of the confederacy, demanding an explicit answer to this question: "Are you fully authorized by the United States, to continue and firmly to fix on the Ohio river, as the boundary between your people and ours?" The next day we answered the question explicitly; previously stating the reasons why the United States could not now make the Ohio the boundary. We also mentioned the principal concessions, and the ample compensations we were ready to make, and stipulate, expressing the prompt and annual compensations, not in precise sums, but in terms which we thought would forcibly strike them with ideas of their magnitude. The next morning they met us, and after making some observations on the subject, said they would lay our speech before their warriors. The speaker indeed told us we might go home; but this seemed to be a mistake, and contrary to what our interpreters heard other chiefs say, as they sat in this council. As soon as the speaker had done, Captain Elliot spoke to the Shawanese chief, mentioning the mistake; an explanation took place, and we were desired to remain where we were for an answer; this we requested to have forwarded without delay.
On the 8th of August, two of Captain Hendricks' men arrived to obtain some necessaries; by their information there seemed to be a fair prospect of peace.
Some Munsees and Chippewas, who arrived the 9th, confirmed their account. On the with some Senecas arrived; they had come from the council by the way of Detroit, in order to go home, most of them being sick; their information corresponded with the former, in respect to all the nations, except the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanese, and Miamies, who remained obstinate; yet, they said, that even of these nations, near one half were for peace. They said, also, that the Six Nations, including Captain Brandt and his Mohawks, held fast together, and strongly urged the hostile nations to make peace.
We find that our speech of July 31st was well understood, having been interpreted to the Shawanese, &c. by Colonel McKee, to the Six Nations, by Captain Brandt, and to the Delawares, &c. by Captain Hendricks.
Having waited till the 12th of August without receiving an answer, we proposed going, in the vessel assigned for our use, to the Miami Bay, or to the mouth of Miami river, that we might, with more ease and expedition, communicate with the Indian council; but this we were not permitted to do. So, the next day, we sent two runners, of the Six Nations, (a few being with us) with a letter to Colonel McKee, a written message to the Indian council, and verbal messages to Captain Brandt and Captain Hendricks, to advise them of the written one. The object of the letter and messages was to obtain a decisive answer from the Indian council, whether a treaty was to be held or not, and to bring the business to a speedy issue.
On Friday, the 16th, in the afternoon, two Wyandot runners arrived, with a final answer from the Indian council. We made, immediately a short reply, and began to embark our effects. On Saturday morning, we completed the embarkation of our stores and baggage, and in the afternoon sailed for fort Erie.
On Friday evening our own two runners returned. According to their information, the Six Nations knew nothing of the contents of the final answer of the Indian council. Their names are not subscribed to it. They had heard, indeed, of an answer, but were told it was to invite the commissioners to meet the Indian nations on the Miamies (instead of Sandusky) about five miles below the Rapids, to which place the Six Nations proposed to remove, the day or the day after our runners left them. From the same information, it seemed probable that the Six Nations were not made acquainted with our written message of the 13th, nor the letter to Colonel McKee; so we made out copies of them, of the final answer of the Indians, and of our last reply, and on Saturday morning sent them off by our runners, with directions to deliver them to Captain Brandt, and to inform the other Six Nation chiefs thereof. A letter was also written to Hendricks, referring him, for information, to those copies. We verbally directed the runners to tell those chiefs to be of good heart, and to assure them of the strong and unalterable friendship of the United States for the Six Nations.
We had thought it a matter of no small moment, that the chiefs of the Six Nations should be seen and consulted, on their return from the Miami; and our runners told us that the chiefs wished us to stay for them at Buffalo creek. This did not seem expedient; but we directed the runners to tell them, that, on their return, General Chapin would meet them at any place which they should appoint, and, without delay, transmit their information, and the result of their deliberations, to the President.
Enclosed is a copy of our letter to General Wayne; we shall send the same to him by other conveyances, and all by way of Fort Pitt. We have written to the commanding officer there, desiring him to give Major Craig, to whose care we shall send all the letters for General Wayne, every requisite aid in forwarding them, and we have also written to the commanding officer at Fort Franklin to afford his aid in conveying them, by land and by water, to Major Craig. In all these intermediate letters, we have mentioned the fact, simply, “that the Western Indians refused to make peace.
We have desired Major Craig to forward the first letter to General Wayne, in that way which shall promise the utmost speed and certainty, sparing no expense to effect it, and the others in succession, one by one, as fast as conveyances shall present; but, we added, that, if you should have given any orders about the conveyance of our letters to General Wayne, he was to observe them.
If the wind had permitted, we should have set Sylvester Ash ashore at Presqu'Isle, and prepared letters accordingly to go by him. He will now proceed from Buffalo creek. We expect General Chapin will procure two Seneca runners, to go with him as far as Fort Franklin: from thence he will proceed, by land or by water, as he and the commanding officer shall think best. But, whichever route he pursues, we have desired the commanding officer to send some trusty Indians by the other, to afford the greater certainty of conveyance. We enclose him duplicate letters for Major Craig and General Wayne, for that purpose.
Mr. Wilson proposes to go as far as Genesee river, and thence proceed to the Susquehannah, and thence to Pittsburg; by him we shall send the third set of letters for General Wayne.
FORT ERIE, 23d August. We arrived here between twelve and one o'clock this morning, and, our letters having been prepared on the voyage, we shall be enabled to send them off, as soon as General Chapin and Mr. Jones can cross the river. They will go to Buffalo creek, and procure two Indian runners to accompany Ash, and two more to carry this letter to Canandaigua, where General Chapin's son is instantly to procure an express to carry it to Philadelphia.
P. S. We could get no account of the numbers of the Indians at the Rapids, except from the British agents, who told us there were about fifteen hundred men. We have noted them accordingly; but suppose they were rather likely to be less than more.