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My dear General,
Finding an opportunity to Augusta, I could not excuse myself from giving you the progress of our negotiation since my last.
On Monday last (that is to say, the day after the arrival of General Lincoln and myself), a Deputation from all the Creeks of the Tuccasee, the Hallowing, and the Tallassee Kings, waited upon us, to congratulate us on our arrival ; to express^ in general terms, their desire of peace ; to smoke the pipe of friendship as a token of it; and to brush our faces with the white wing of reconciliation, in sign of their sincere intention to wipe away all past grievances. We gave them friendly assurances in return. They, with the fat King, the Euchee King, and two or three other great Chiefs, dined with us, and seemed well satisfied. In the afternoon, we crossed to the Indian camp, had an interview with McGillivray, showed him our full powers, and asked, in writing, for such evidence of theirs as the nature of the case would admit. Much general talk, expressive of a real desire to establish a permanent peace upon equitable terms, took place.
The next day, McGillivray dined with us; and, although he got very much intoxicated, he seemed to retain his recollection and reason beyond what I had ever seen in a person when in the same condition. At this time I became intimate, to a certain degree, with him, and endeavoured to extract his real sentiments and feelings, in a conversation alone, confidentially. He declared he w^as really desirous of a peace ; that the local situation of the Creeks required that they should be connected with us rather than any other people ; that, however, they had certain advantages in their treaty with Spain, in respect to a guaranty and trade, which they ought not, in justice to themselves, to give up without an equivalent. Upon his desiring to know what were our intentions, especially as he knew from my character, and from my having been long in habits of intimacy with General Washington, that I would tell him what he might depend upon, I assured him, upon my honor, that our policy with respect to his nation was indeed founded upon honesty, magnanimity, and mutual advantages. We descended to no particulars, farther than my assuring him of our good opinion of his abilities, and desire to attach him, upon principles perfectly consistent with the good of his nation, to our interest. I concluded by intimating what, in that case, we might possibly consider ourselves at liberty to do for him. Mr. Griffin arrived that night.
Wednesday was occupied in arranging the proposed draught of a treaty, and drawing up a talk to be delivered the next day. The other Commissioners desired me to go over the Oconee, and communicate these draughts in confidence to McGillivray. I did, and found him dissatisfied with the proposed boundary, and some other things. General Lincoln had, in the morning, been in McGillivray's camp, and agreed with him that the Chiefs should receive our propositions at our camp ; but, finding a jealousy prevailed with some of the Indians, lest a design might be formed to circumvent them, on my return we wrote that, if it was more convenient, we would make our communications in their camp. This proposal they acquiesced in very gratefully. On Thursday, at eleven o'clock, we were received with more etiquette than ever I had before witnessed, at the great ceremony of Blade Drink. We made our communications in the square of the nation, and returned.
Yesterday morning McGillivray wrote to us that the Chiefs had been in Council until late the night before; that they objected to some part of our talks, and principally to that which related to boundary; that it w^as, however, his decision that the matter should rest as it was for the present ; and that a kind of truce should be established until they should hear further from us on the part of the United States. 111 the mean time, he signified that some presents to the Chiefs would be necessary. In answer, we wrote him, after recapitulating the substance of his letter, that, as the Chiefs objected to some of the articles proposed by us, we desired to receive from them in writing the only terms upon which they would enter into a treaty with us ; that we were as well prepared to treat now as we should be at any other time ; we did not believe that it was by any means probable that the United States would ever send another Commission to them; and that we were not authorized to make any presents whatever, unless we should conclude a treaty of peace with them.
Finding, from verbal information, that a capital misconception had happened to the Indian Chiefs, with regard to one of the rivers marked in the boundary, the other Commissioner wished me to go over to the Creek camp, explain the mistake to McGillivray, and make the necessary alteration in the draught. I had a very long private conversation with him, and he appeared for himself to be much better contented tho.n he had hitherto been. The difficulties in regard to boundaries seemed to be in a great measure overcome; and an apprehension of the ill consequences of their breaking with Spain, together with an earnest solicitude to have a free, unincumbered port, were now apparently the great obstacles. He was very much agitated, very much embarrassed, and hardly knew what to determine upon.
After I left him, he expressed to an interpreter a belief, that a permanent peace might take place before we parted. How that may be, probably this day will decide. In the afternoon, yesterday, McGillivray sent over John Galphin, with Galphin's father-in-law, the Hallowing King, to acquaint us that all the towns, except the Cowetas, were removed about two miles back, for the sake of pasture for their horses. Should they go off without any further discussions, it will be a clear indication that they prefer a connection with Spain rather than with America; and that they wish for war rather than for peace.
I have not leisure to give you a description of the person and character of McGillivray. His countenance has nothing liberal and open in it; it has, however, sufficient marks of understanding. In short, he appears to have the good sense of an American, the shrewdness of a Scotchman, and the cunning of an Indian. I think he is so much addicted to debauchery, that he will not live four years. He dresses altogether in the Indian fashion, and is rather slovenly than otherwise. His influence is probably as great as we have understood it was ; and his services may certainly be very important, if he can be sincerely attached to our interests. I hope to have hereafter the honor of reporting to you the substance of several confidential discourses, which have occurred between him and me.
My most affectionate regards to Mrs. Washington and the family. Conclude me with every sentiment of devotion and consideration, my dear General, Your most obliged friend and humble servant,
P. S. The Commissioners have acted perfectly harmoniously in every measure which they have hitherto taken. The characters of General Lincoln and Mr. Griffin have the greatest weight with McGillivray and the Creeks.
- David Humphreys