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Great Britain and the United States made peace in 1783 without providing for the Indian nations who had been allies of the king. At first each State made some attempts at an understanding with the Indians on its frontiers. Thus Georgia treated with the Creeks at Augusta, in 1783, providing for peace and a cession of land. But it did not seem effective. In 1785 Benjamin Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, Joseph Martin and Lachlan McIntosh were appointed commissioners plenipotentiary of the United States to make peace with all the Indians of the south, to settle the international status of the red man and arrange satisfactory limits. Georgia and the Carolinas were very jealous of this, and it was made difficult for the commissioners to do business. McGillivray, of the Creeks, after much delay, received the invitation to treat, and replied September 5, in a diplomatic note that apparently meant that he had already made a treaty with Spain, and the United States were too late. Only two towns of the Creeks were represented at Galphinton, where they were invited. After the American commissioners refused to do business with so few, the Georgia agents, present to protest against the United States commissioners treating on limits made with them a treaty purporting to open the Tallassee country to settlement. The commissioners went to the Keowee river to treat with the other nations, who were invited by Col. John Wood.

"The agents of Georgia and North Carolina attended the treaty, as will appear by their protests herewith enclosed." (Report to R. H. Lee) A treaty with about a thousand Cherokees was concluded November 28, at Seneca, defining limits and recognizing the supremacy of the United States. December 26 the Choctaw chiefs arrived at Hopewell, "a seat of General Pickens," after a journey of seventy-seven days, "the whole of them almost naked." The Creeks had stolen their horses and done all they could to hinder the journey, but the Choctaws "have apparently a rooted aversion to the Spanish and Creeks, and are determined to put themselves under the protection of the United States." "They are the greatest beggars, and the most indolent creatures we ever saw," said the commissioners after a more protracted acquaintance. "Their passion for gambling and drinking is very great;" when given blankets they would trade them for a pine of rum, or lose them at play, when they knew they had five hundred miles to travel home, with only a shirt on their backs. But they were in earnest about about seeking alliance with the United States. The chiefs brought their British medals and commissions, to exchange for American, of which, unfortunately there were none, and asked for three stand of colors. John Pitchlyn, "a very honest, sober young man," who had lived twelve years in the nation, was appointed interpreter to the board. The treaty made with the Choctaws, January 3, 1786, was of friendship and alliance and confirmation of the bounds they had in 1782.

The Chickasaws arrived a little later, and made a treaty at Hopewell, January 10, 1785. Piomingo and Mingotusha exhibited the medal left by the great man of their nation, then dead, and Piomingo announced that he was the head warrior. They promised land for a trading post on the Tennessee river, and agreed to a frontier line for settlements. The commissioners reported "that if the adjoining States were disposed to carry the treaties into effect, the INdians would be happy in the new change of sovereignty and in constant amity with us."

But Georgia and North Carolina repudiated them as invasions of the sovereignty of the States, and Governor Miro, in behalf of the Spanish, declared the treaties were "chimeras." They were confirmed as part of the supreme law of the land by the Treaty of Coleraine, 1796, and submitted to all parties concerned, after a struggle that occupied the whole administration of President Washington.

Copyright 2000, 2001 Mississippi State Coordinator,
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