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Treaty Concluded February 17, 1792  

 Native American Nations | Cherokee Nation of Indians                    


Treaty Concluded February 17, 1792; Proclaimed February 17, 1792

Held at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, between Henry Knox, Secretary of War, on behalf of the United States, and certain chiefs and warriors, in behalf of themselves and the Cherokee Nation.

Material Provisions

This treaty was negotiated as, and declared to be, an additional article to the treaty of July 2, 1791, and provided as follows :
1. That the annual sum to be paid to the Cherokees by the United States, in consideration of the relinquishment of Iands, made in treaty of 1791, be 81,500 instead of $1,000.

Historical Data
Discontent Of The

As stated in considering the treaty of July 2, 1791, the Secretary of War notified Governor Blount1 that the President had ratified the same, and enclosed printed copies thereof to him for distribution. This was equivalent to its official promulgation, although the treaty as printed in the United States Statutes at Large gives February 17, 1792, as the date of proclamation.

But, whichever may be the correct date, during the interval elapsing between them, a Cherokee delegation, without the invitation or knowledge of the United States authorities, proceeded to Philadelphia (then the seat of Government), where they arrived on the 28th of December, 1791, bringing with them from Governor Pinckney: and General Pickens, of South Carolina, evidence of the authenticity of their mission.2

The delegation consisted of six, besides the interpreter, and was headed by Nen-e-too-y ah, or the Bloody Fellow. They were kindly received by the President, who directed the Secretary of War to ascertain their business.

Conferences were thereupon held with them, lasting several days, at which the Indians detailed at great length their grievances and made known their wants.

Causes of complaint.-The substance of their communications was to the effect that when they were summoned by Governor Blount to the conference which resulted in the treaty of July 2, 1791, they were unaware of any purpose on the part of the Government to secure any further cession of land from them; that they had protested vigorously and consistently for several days against yielding any more territory, but were met with such persistent and threatening demands from Governor Blount on the subject that they were forced to yield; that they had no confidence that the North Carolinians would attach any sacredness to the new boundary, in fact they were already settling beyond it; and that the annuity stipulated in the treaty of 1791, as compensation for the cession, was entirely inadequate. They therefore asked an increase of the annuity from $1,000 to $1,500, and furthermore demanded that the white people who had settled south of the ridge dividing the waters of Little River from those of the Tennessee should be removed, and that such ridge should be the barrier.

President Washington, believing their demand to be a just one, and also desiring that the delegation should carry home a favorable report of the attitude and disposition of the Government toward them, submitted the matter to the Senate3 and requested the advice of that body as to the propriety of attaching an additional article to the treaty of 1791 which should increase the annuity from $1,000 to $1,500.

Annuity increased.-To this proposition the Senate gave its advice and consent,4 and what is mentioned in the United States Statutes at Large as a treaty concluded and proclaimed February 17, 1792,5 became the law of the land.

War with Cherokees

This concession did not, however, in any large degree heal the differences and antagonisms existing between the Indians and the border settlers, with whom they were brought in constant contact. Even while the treaty of 1792 was being negotiated by the representatives of the Cherokees at the capital of the nation, a portion of their young warriors were consummating arrangements for the precipitation of a general war with the whites, and in September, 1792, a party of upwards of 700 Cherokee and Creek warriors attacked Buchanan's Station, Tenn., within 4 miles of Nashville. They were headed by the Cherokee chief John Watts, who was one of the signers of the treaty of Holston, and had he not been severely wounded early in the attack, it is likely the station would have been destroyed.6

A year later, between twelve and fifteen hundred Indians of the sane tribes invaded the settlements on the Holston River and destroyed Cavitt's Station, 7 miles below Knoxville.7 In fact, the intermediate periods between 1791 and 1795 were filled up by the incursions of smaller war parties, and it was not until the latter year that the frontiers found any repose from Indian depredations.

The general tranquility enjoyed after that date seems to have-been occasioned by the wholesome discipline administered to the tribes north-west of the Ohio by General Wayne, in his victory of August 20, 1794, and as a result of the expedition of Major Ore, with his command of Tennesseans and Kentuckians, in September of the same year, against the Lower Towns of the Cherokees, wherein two of those towns, Running Water and Nickajack, were destroyed.8

Treaty Concluded June 26, 1794; Proclaimed January 21, 17959

Held at Philadelphia, Pa., between Henry Knox, Secretary of War, on behalf of the United States, and the chiefs and warriors representing the Cherokee Nation of Indians.
Material Provisions.

Held at Philadelphia, Pa., between Henry Knox, Secretary of War, on behalf of the United States, and the chiefs and warriors representing the Cherokee Nation of Indians.

Material Provisions

The treaty of July 2, 1791, not having been fully carried into effect, by reason of some misunderstanding, this treaty was concluded to adjudicate such differences, and contains the following provisions:

  • 1. The treaty of July 2, 1791, declared to be in fall force in respect to the boundaries, as well as in all other respects whatever.
  • 2. The boundaries mentioned in the 4th article of treaty of July 2,1791, to be ascertained and marked after ninety days' notice shall have been given to the Cherokee Nation of the time and place of commencing the operation by the United States commissioners.
  • 3. The United States agree, in lieu of all former sums, to furnish the Cherokees with $5,000 worth of goods annually, as compensation for all territory ceded by treaties of November 28, 1785, and July 2, 1791.
  • 4. Fifty dollars to be deducted from Cherokee annuity for every horse stolen by Cherokees from whites and not returned within three months.
  • 5. These articles to be considered as additions to treaty of July 2, 1791, as soon as ratified by the President and Senate of the United States.

Historical Data.
Complaints Concerning Boundaries

The destruction of the official records renders it very difficult to ascertain the details of the misunderstandings alleged in the preamble of this treaty of June 26, 1794,10 to have arisen concerning the provisions of the treaty of 1791. But it is gathered from various sources that the principal cause of complaint was in reference to boundaries.

At the treaty of 1791, Governor Blount, as he alleges, sought, by every means in his power, to have the boundary of the cession follow, so far as might be, the natural barrier formed by the dividing ridge between the waters of Little River and those of the Tennessee,11 and such in fact was the tenor of his instructions from the Secretary of War; but the Indian chiefs unanimously insisted that the boundary should be a straight line, running from the point where the ridge in question should strike the Holston, and assumed as evidence of the crookedness of Governor Blount's heart the fact that he desired to run a crooked line.12

After that treaty was concluded, however, it became evident that there would be difficulty in determining satisfactorily where the ridge came in contact with the Holston, inasmuch as the white settlers in the vicinity could not agree upon it. The Indians also changed their minds in some respect as to the proper course of the line; but, in view of the fact that settlers were encroaching with great persistency upon their territory, they saw the necessity of taking immediate steps to have the boundary officially surveyed and marked. They also revived an old claim to pay for lands yielded by them in the establishment of the treaty line of 1785, for which they had received no compensation.

Increase of annuity. In the conference preceding the signature of this treaty of 1794 they insisted that for this and other reasons an in-crease should be made in the annuity provided by the treaty of 1791, as amended by that of 1792. This was agreed to by the United States, and the annuity was increased from $1,500 to $5,000.

Boundary line to be surveyed. It was also agreed that the treaty line of 1791 should be promptly surveyed and marked after ninety days' notice had been given to the Cherokees of the time when and the place where the survey should begin.

This, as has already been stated in connection with the treaty of 1791, had been so far performed in the fall of 1792 as to run but not mark a preliminary line for a short portion of the distance, hat in spite of the additional agreement in this treaty of 1791 the actual and final survey did not take place until 1797,13 three years after the conclusion of this treaty and more than seven years after it was originally promised to be done.

The treaty of 1794 was concluded by the Secretary of War himself with a delegation of the Cherokees who had visited Philadelphia for that purpose. It was communicated by President Washington to the Senate on the 30th of December, 1794.14

Cherokee Hostilities

While this treaty was being negotiated, and for some months there after, a portion of the Cherokees were engaged in the bitterest hostilities against the white settlements, which were only brought to a close, as has been incidentally remarked in discussing the treaty of 1792, by the expedition of Major Ore against the Lower Cherokee towns in September, 1794.

Peace conference. Following this expedition the hostile Cherokees sued for peace, and at their request a conference was held with them by Governor Blount, at Tellico Block House, on the 7th and 8th of November of that year.15

This council was attended by Col. John Watts, of Willstown, principal leader of the hostiles; Scolacutta, or the Hanging Maw, head chief of the nation, and four hundred other chiefs and warriors. A general disposition seemed to be manifested among them to abandon their habits of depredation and secure for themselves and their families that peace to which they, as well as their white neighbors, had long been strangers. Governor Blount met them in a friendly spirit and sought, by every means in his power, to confirm them in their good disposition.

In reporting the facts of this conference to the Secretary of War he asserted one of the most fruitful causes of friction between the whites and Indians to be the stealing and selling of horses by the latter, for which they could always find a ready and unquestioned market among unscrupulous whites. As measures of frontier protection he suggested the continuance of the three military garrisons of Southwest Point at the mouth of the Clinch, of Fort Granger at the mouth of the Holston, and of Tellico Block House, opposite the remains of old Fort Loudon, and also the erection of a military post, if the Cherokees would permit it, on the north bank of the Tennessee, nearly opposite the mouth of Lookout Mountain Creek. Subsequently16 he held a further conference with the Cherokees and endeavored to foster hostilities between them and the Creeks by urging there organization of a company of their young warriors to patrol the frontiers of Nero District, for its protection against incursions of the Creeks. To this the leading Cherokee chiefs refused assent, not because of any objection to the proposition, but because they desired time for preparation.

Intercourse Act Of 1796

Early in the following year17 President Washington, in an emphatic message, laid before Congress a communication from Governor Blount setting forth the determination of a large combination of persons to take possession of certain Indian lands south and southwest of the Cumberland, under the pretended authority of certain acts of the legislature of North Carolina, passed some years previous, for the relief of her officers and soldiers of the Continental line.

In view of the injustice of such intrusions and the mischievous con-sequences which would of necessity result there from, the President recommended that effective provision should be made to prevent them.
This eventuated in the passage of the act of Congress, approved May 19, 1793,1 providing for the government of intercourse between citizens of the United States and the various Indian tribes.

1 November 19, 1791. See American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol: I, p. 6.29.
2 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 203.
3 January 18, 1792.
4 January 20, 1792.
5 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p. 42.
6 This attack was made about midnight on the 30th of September, 1792. See American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 294.
7 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 463
8 Report of Maj. James Ore to Governor Blount, September 24, 1794. He left Nashville September 7, with 550 mounted infantry, crossed the Tennessee on the.12th, about 4 miles below Nickajack, and on the morning of the 13th destroyed Nickajack and Running Water towns, killing upwards of 50 and making a number prisoners. See American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 632.
9 United States Statutes at Large, Vol VII, p. 43
10 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII, p. 43.
11 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I. p. 629.
12 Letter of Governor Blount to Secretary of War, March 2, 1792. See American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 629.
13 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 628.
14 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 543.
15 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 536.
16 January 3, 1795. See American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 536.
17 February 2,1796. See American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 581.

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Bureau of Ethnology, Volume 5, Cherokee Nation of Indians, 1883-84

Cherokee Nation of Indians


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