Page images
PDF
EPUB

measure may prevent the proposed treaty, and involve this country in a bloody war. He denies any intention of depredating on the Spanish possessions or property at the Illinois; and declares that he never saw the intercepted letter from Thomas Green. That he understood Green's object was to establish a settlement at or near the Gaso river, under the authority of the state of Georgia; that his view was by encouraging the settlement to obtain a small grant of land, and that he had no idea of molesting the Spaniards, or of attending Green in person. He informed the committee that the garrison now at Post Vincennes is about one hundred strong, and that the merchants at the Illinois had determined to support it, for which purpose they had sent for the commissary Jones to receive provisions. That Major Bosseron was sent to the Illinois to advise the settlers there of certain seizures made at Natchez, of American property, by the Spanish commandant, and to recommend it to them to conciliate the minds of the Indians, and be prepared to retaliate any outrage the Spaniards might commit on their property; but by no means to commence hostilities.

THOMAS TODD, Clk. Com."* The most important particulars of the principal seizure of Spanish property at Post Vincennes, are detailed in the deposition which follows:

“ The deposition of Daniel Neeves, being first sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, deposeth and saith, That he, this deponent, was enlisted by a Captain Thomas Mason, as a soldier in the Wabash regiment; that he was summoned as one of a guard by a Captain Valentine T. Dalton, and was by him marched to a store ; and he the said Dalton by an interpreter demanded of a Spanish merchant to admit him the said Dalton into his cellar. The Spaniard asked what he wanted. The said Dalton answered, he was sent by the commanding officer to search his cellar. It being at a late hour of the night, the Spaniard lighted a candle and opened his doors, and went and opened his cellar door. The said Dalton with several

Sec. Jour, Congress, iv. 311.

others entered the cellar; after some time he came out, and placed this deponent as a guard over the cellar, and took the rest of the guard to another store. That the succeeding day the said Dalton came with a number of others and plundered the cellar of a large quantity of peltry, wine, taffy, honey, tea, coffee, sugar, cordial, French brandy, and sundry other articles, together with a quantity of dry goods, the particular articles this deponent doth not at present recollect; that part of the goods was made use of to clothe the troops, the remainder with the other articles was set up at public auction and sold; that the sale was conducted by a certain John Rice Jones, who marched in the militia commanded by General Clark as a commissary general. And further this deponent saith that he obtained a furlough, dated the 21th day of November, 1786, signed Valentine Thomas Dalton, captain commandant Wabash regiment, of which the following is a copy: • Daniel Neeves, a soldier in the Wabash regiment, has liberty to go on a furlough for two months from the date hereof; at the expiration he is to return to his duty, otherwise looked upon as a deserter. November 21, 1786. Valentine Thos. Dalton, captain commandant Wabash regiment. To all whom it may concern. And further this deponent saith not.

DANIEL NEEVES.” “ The above deposition was sworn to before me this 20th day of December, 1786.

CHRISTOPHER GREENUP." * This deposition and the foregoing letters which refer to the proceedings of General Clark at Post Vincennes, and to the opinions of some of the western settlers on the subject of the navigation of the Mississippi, were despatched from Danville to the Governor of Virginia. Here follows an act of the Council of Virginia, of the 28th of February, 1787.

“In Council, February 28, 1787. “The Board having resumed the consideration of several letters bearing date the 22d day of December, 1786, and addressed to the Governor from Danville, by Thomas Marshall and others, which said letters with the enclosures had been laid before them on Saturday last.

*Soc. Jour. Congress, iv. 309.

The Board lament those despatches, pregnant as they are with subjects deeply interesting to our national character and quiet, and intended for the last Assembly, should for the first time, on the fifth day of this instant, have been handed to the Governor in Williamsburgh, on his late journey to Norfolk on public business. From the respectability of the names subscribed to those letters they confide in the following facts:

1.- That the prosecution of the Treaty proposed to be held with the Indians, under the authority of Congress, will tend to the safety of our western settlements.

2.- That the success of the Treaty would be forwarded by the appointment of some commissioners at least who are resident in the parts of the country likely to be exposed to the incursions of the savages.

3.— That General Clark has been and perhaps is now employed in levying recruits, in nominating officers, and in impressing provisions for the support of the post at Post Vincennes; and

4.- That General Clark hath made a seizure of Spanish property without any authority for such an act.

The Board therefore advise,

1.- That copies of the letters aforesaid and their enclosures be forth with transmitted to our delegates in Congress with an earnest request to communicate them, in whole or in part, according to their discretion, immediately to that body, to urge the speediest arrangements for a treaty to be holden with the Indians in April next, under the sanction of the federal government; and to propose as commissioners, General James Wilkinson, Colonel Richard Clough Anderson, and Colonel Isaac Shelby.

2.- That it be notified to General Clark, that this Board disavow the existence of a power derived from them to the said Clark to raise recruits, appoint officers, or impress provisions.

3.- That as the seizure of Spanish property was never authenticated to this Board before the receipt of the said letters, so had it been known at a period sufficiently early for prevention, it would have been prevented. But that this offence against the law of nations having been committed, it becomes the executive to declare their displeasure at the act, and to cause the national honor to be vindicated by the institution of legal proceedings against all persons appearing to be culpable. That the Attorney General be consulted on the documents aforesaid, and requested to take himself, or call upon the Attorney General of Kentucky, as the case may require, to take such steps as may subject to punishment all persons guilty in the premises. That the said seizure of Spanish property be disclaimed by government in a special proclamation. That a copy of this order be also sent to our delegates, [in Congress,] in order that they may, if it shall seem expedient, acquaint the minister of his Catholic majesty with these sentiments of the executive. And that another copy be forwarded to Thomas Marshall, esquire, and the other gentlemen who concurred in the letter aforesaid. All which several matters so advised, the Governor orders accordingly."

By a resolution of Congress, of the 24th of April, 1787, the Secretary of War was directed to order the commanding officer of the troops of the United States on the Ohio to take immediate and efficient measures “for dispossessing a body of men who had, in a lawless and unauthorized manner, taken possession of Post Vincennes in defiance of the proclamation and authority of the United States.”* The correction of the erroneous reports concerning a supposed treaty between the United States and Spain, the timely measures which were adopted by some of the most distinguished citizens of Kentucky, the prompt action of the government of Virginia, and the resolution of Congress of the 24th of April, 1787, operating successively on the minds of the western settlers, fortunately prevented the breaking out of a war in which Spain and

[ocr errors]

*Old Journals, iv. 740.

France, bound together by a family compact, would have been opposed to the United States.

On the 13th of July, 1787, Congress passed an Ordinance for the government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio.* In the same legislative body, on the 21st of July, 1787, the following resolution was adopted:

“Resolved, That the superintendant of Indian Affairs for the northern department, and in case he be unable to attend, then Colonel Josiah Harmar, immediately proceed to Post Vincennes, or some other place more convenient, in his opinion, for holding a treaty with the Wabash Indians, the Shawanees, and other hostile tribes: that he inform those Indians that Congress is sincerely disposed to promote peace and friendship between their citizens and the Indians: that to this end, he is sent to invite them, in a friendly manner, to a treaty with the United States, to hear their complaints, to know the truth, and the causes of their quarrels with those frontier settlers;t and having invited those Indians to the treaty, he shall make strict enquiry into the causes of their uneasiness and hostile proceedings, and form a treaty of peace with them, if it can be done on terms consistent with the honor and dignity of the United States."

In Congress, on the 3d of October, 1787, the following resolution was passed :-"Whereas the time for which the greater part of the troops on the frontiers are engaged, will expire in the course of the ensuing year:

Resolved, That the interests of the United States require that a corps of seven hundred troops should be stationed on the frontiers, to protect the settlers on the public lands from the depredations of the Indians; to facilitate the surveying and selling the said lands, in order to reduce the public debt, and to prevent all unwarrantable intrusions thereon."

On the 14th of November, 1787, the Secretary of War diSee Appendix D.

t"In my opinion our Indian Affairs have been ill managed. Indians have been murdered by our people in cold blood; and no satisfaction given : nor are they (the Indians) pleased with the avidity with which we seek to acquire their lands."--[Letter, da. ted December 14, 1786, from John Jay to Thomas Jefferson.

« PreviousContinue »