[NATIVE AMERICANS]. HAWKINS, Benjamin (1754-1818), Indian Agent. Autograph letter signed ("Benjamin Hawkins") to Colonel David Hanley, "Jellico Blockhouse," [Tennessee], 16 April 1797. 1¼ pages, folio (12½ x 7½ in.), light blue stationery, slight fading at folds, very minor fold separation, otherwise in fine condition.
PLANNING A GATHERING OF THE "PRINCIPAL CHIEFS" OF THE CREEK CONFEDERACY
Benjamin Hawkins, a former member of George Washington's wartime staff and first full-term senator from North Carolina, played an integral role in the creation of a peace with the Creek tribes of the American South which lasted until the outbreak of the War of 1812. After negotiating the important Treaty of Colerain with the Creek Confederacy in 1796, Hawkins was named General Superintendent of all Indian Tribes South of the Ohio by President Washington. Administering an area comprising some 80,000 square miles, Hawkins established a stable relationship with the Creeks, earning the respect of the primary chiefs who named him the "Beloved Man of the Four Nations." (DAB, IV, p. 414).
Here, Hawkins updates an agent of the War Department on the current status of his territory: "Being desirous that you should possess all the information which comes to us interesting to the public while I am in this quarters, I have sent my young man up to you with this budget, and shall continue to do so as occasion offers." He speaks bluntly about a fellow officer who seeks an appointment: "I am of opinion that Capt. [Richard] Sparks [of the 3rd Infantry] has behaved himself as is unbecoming an officer and a gentleman...you will be able to judge whether you think the Executive can safely trust the important command of this frontier to such a character. I have been informed that in your presence he said he did not care, a damn, for his commission." Regarding an impending conference, Hawkins observes "I have directed Mr. [Silas] Dinsmoor to have returns of the Indians made, and to sign the provision returns himself. The Indians are invited here in conformity with orders received from the Secretary of War [James McHenry]. The Invitation extended to a few only of the principal Chiefs, who signed the treaty of Holston. The necessary measures have been taken, to prevent a crowd. The ration will be of meat and meal only, or corn, except in some instances an addition of Whiskey."
Ultimately, in spite of Hawkins' efforts, war broke out with the Creeks in 1814, as the result of British agitation and the rise of Tecumseh. After defeat at the hands of Andrew Jackson, the Creeks were forced to cede most of their ancestral lands. Hawkins died shortly thereafter, broken by the conflict.