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a point of critical investigation to know on which side they have been the greatest. Some of the inhabitants of Kentucky during the past year, roused by recent injuries, made an incursion into the Wabash country, and possessing an equal aversion to all bearing the name of Indians, they destroyed a number of peaceable Piankeshaws who prided themselves in their attachment to the United States. Things being thus circumstanced, it is greatly to be apprehended that hostilities may be so far extended as to involve the Indian tribes with whom the United States have recently made treaties. It is well known how strong the passion for war exists in the mind of a young savage, and how easily it may be inflamed, so as to disregard every precept of the older and wiser part of the tribes who may have a more just opinion of the force of a treaty. Hence, it results that unless some decisive measures are immediately adopted to terminate those mutual hostilities, they will probably become general among all the Indians northwest of the Ohio.
“In examining the question how the disturbances on the frontiers are to be quiered, two modes present themselves, by which the object might perhaps be effected: the first of which is by raising an army and extirpating the refractory tribes entirely: or, secondly, by forming treaties of peace with them, in which their rights and limits should be explicitly defined, and the treaties observed on the part of the United States with the most rigid justice, by punishing the whites who should violate the same.
“In considering the first mode, an enquiry would arise, whether, under the existing circumstances of affairs, the United States have a clear right, consistently with the principles of justice and the laws of nature, to proceed to the destruction or expulsion of the savages on the Wabash, supposing the force for that object easily attainable. It is presumable that a nation solicitous of establishing its character on the broad basis of justice, would not only hesitate at, but reject every proposition to benefit itself, by the injury of any neighboring community, however contemptible and weak it may be, either with respect
to its manners or power.
When it shall be considered that the Indians derive their subsistence chiefly by hunting, and that, according to fixed principles, their population is in proportion to the facility with which they procure their food, it would most probably be found that the expulsion or destruction of the Indian tribes have nearly the same effect: for if they are removed from their usual hunting grounds, they must necessarily encroach on the hunting grounds of another tribe, who will not suffer the encroachment with impunity--hence they destroy each other. The Indians, being the prior occupants, possess the right of the soil. It cannot be taken from them unless by their free consent, or by the right of conquest in case of a just war. To dispossess them on any other principle, would be a gross violation of the fundamental laws of nature, and of that distributive justice which is the glory of a nation. But, if it should be decided, on an abstract view of the question to be just, to remove by force the Wabash Indians from the territory they occupy, the finances of the United States would not at present admit of the operation.
• By the best and latest information it appears that, on the Wabash and its communications, there are from fifteen hundred to two thousand warriors. An expedition against them, with a view of extirpating them, or destroying their towns, could not be undertaken with a probability of success, with less than an army of two thousand five hundred men. The regular troops of the United States on the frontiers are less than six hundred : * of that number not more than four hundred could be collected from the posts for the purpose of the expedition. To raise, pay, feed, arm, and equip one thousand nine hundred additional men, with the necessary officers, for six months, and to provide every thing in the hospital and quartermaster's line, would require the sum of two hundred thousand dollars, a sum far exceeding the ability of the United States to advance, consistently with a due regard to other indispensable objects.”
On the 26th of August, 1789, about two hundred mounted
* Detachments of regular troops were stationed at Fort Pitt, Fort Harmar, Fort Wash ington, Fort Steuben, (at the Falls of the Ohio,) and at Post Vincennes.
volunteers under the command of Colonel John Hardin, marched from the Falls of the Ohio to attack some of the Indian towns on the Wabash. This expedition returned to the Falls on the 28th of September, without the loss of a man; having killed six Indians, plundered and burnt one deserted village, and destroyed a considerable quantity of corn.
On the 14th of September, 1789, Governor St. Clair addressed to President Washington a letter from which the following is an extract:-“The constant hostilities between the Indians who live upon the river Wabash and the people of Kentucky, must necessarily be attended with such embarrassing circumstances to the government of the northwestern territory, that I am induced to request you will be pleased to take the matter into consideration, and give me the orders you may think proper. It is not to be expected, sir, that the Kentucky people will or can submit patiently to the cruelties and depredations of those savages. They are in the habit of retaliation, perhaps without altending precisely to the nations from which the injuries are received. They will continue to retaliate, or they will apply to the Governor of the northwestern territory (through which the Indians must pass to attack them) for redress. If he cannot redress them, (and in the present circumstances he cannot,) they also will march through that country to redress themselves, and the government will be laid prostrate. The United States, on the other hand, are at peace with several of the nations, and should the resentment of these people (the Kentuckians] fall upon any of them, which it is likely enough to happen, very bad consequences may follow. For it must appear to them (the Indians] that the United States either pay no regard to their treaties, or that they are unable or unwilling to carry their engagements into effect. * * * They will unite with the hostile nations, prudently preferring open war to a delusive and uncertain peace.”
By an act of Congress, of the 29th of September, 1789, the President of the United States was empowered to call forth the militia of the states respectively, for the protection of the frontiers against the incursions of hostile Indians; and, on the 6th of October, 1789, the President, in his official instructions to Governor St. Clair said, "It is highly necessary that I should as soon as possible, possess full information, whether the Wabash and Illinois Indians are most inclined for war or peace. If for the former, it is proper that I should be informed of the means which will most probably induce them to peace. If a peace can be established with the said Indians on reasonable terms, the interests of the United States dictate that it should be effected as soon as possible. You will, therefore, inform the said Indians of the disposition of the General Government on this subject, and of their reasonable desire that there should be a cessation of hostilities as a prelude to a treaty.
“ If, however, notwithstanding your intimations to them, they should continue their hostilities, or meditate any incursion against the frontiers of Virginia and Pennsylvania, or against any of the troops or posts of the United States, and it should appear to you that the time of execution would be so near as to forbid your transmitting the information to me, and receiving my orders thereon, then you are hereby authorized and empowered, in my name, to call on the Lieutenants of the nearest counties of Virginia and Pennsylvania, for such detachments of Militia as you may judge proper, not exceeding, however, one thousand from Virginia and five hundred from Pennsylvania. * * The said Militia to act in conjunction with the Federal troops, in such operations offensive or defensive, as you and the commanding officer of the troops, conjointly, shall judge necessary for the public service, and the protection of the inhabitants and the posts. The said Militia, while in actual service, to be on the continental establishment of pay and rations: they are to arm and equip themselves, but to be furnished with public ammunition if necessary; and no charge for the pay of said Militia will be valid unless supported by regular musters, made by a field or other officer of the Federal troops.
“I would have it observed forcibly, that a war with the Wabash Indians ought to be avoided by all means consistently with the security of the troops and the national dignity. In
the exercise of the present indiscriminate hostilities, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to say that a war without further measures would be just on the part of the United States. But, if, after manifesting clearly to the Indians the disposition of the General Government for the preservation of peace, and the extension of a just protection to the said Indians, they should continue their incursions, the United States will be constrained to punish them with severity.
“You will, also, proceed, as soon as you can, with safety, to execute the orders of the late Congress, respecting the inhabitants at Post Vincennes, and at the Kaskaskias, and the other viilages on the Mississippi. It is a circumstance of some importance, that the said inhabitants should, as soon as possible, possess the lands to which they are entitled, by some known and fixed principles.”
The last paragraph of the foregoing instructions was based upon the resolutions of Congress of the 20th June and 29th August, 1788.* By these resolutions provisions were made for confirming in their possessions and titles the French and Canadian inhabitants, and other settlers, about Kaskaskia and Post Vincennes, who, on or before the year 1783, had professed themselves citizens of the United States, or any of them. By the same resolutions a tract of four hundred acres of land was donated to each head of a family of this description of settlers.
About the lst of January, 1790, Governor St. Clair, with the Judges of the Supreme Court of the Territory, descended the river Ohio, from Marietta to Fort Washington, at Losantiville. At this place the Governor laid out the county of Hamilton, appointed magistrates and other civil officers for the administration of justice in that county, and changed the name of the town from Losantiville to Cincinnati. On the Sth of January, 1790, St. Clair, and Winthrop Sargent, Secretary of the Territory, arrived at Clarksville, whence they proceeded to the Illinois country, to organize the government in that quarter, and to carry into effect the resolutions of Congress relative to the lands and settlers about Kaskaskia and Post Vincennes. Before
*Old Journals, vol. iv. 823-858.