Writings of James Madison, Volume 3

Author: James Madison

To the Secretary of War.

MONTPELLIER, May 20, 1814,

DEAR SIR,—I have received your letter of the 17th instant, covering further communications from General Pinckney; which are now returned.

The supplies necessary to save the Indians from starving cannot but be approved, notwithstanding the failure of legal provision for the purpose. It is a case of humanity and necessity which carries its own justification with it.

I mentioned in my last Col. Milton as a fit Commissioner to succeed General Pinckney, and as apparently within reach of the time and place for treating with the Indians. If Governor Holmes be so, he will be a very unexceptionable associate. McKee, also, may be well qualified, and is probably not too distant. But I think there will be a propriety in giving a preference to the Agent residing with the Cherokees, who is senior to him in several respects, who is very intelligent as well as experienced, and who will represent that meritorious tribe of Indians as well as the United States. I know not how far his age and other circumstances may admit of his attendance. You can better decide with the information you possess, or may obtain on the spot. There would be some advantage in associating both of them with Col. Hawkins, &c.; but, besides the expense of a numerous commission, there may he more danger of the want of concord. Make the selection you find best out of all that have been named; Col. Hawkins being of course retained.

Whether the friendly Indians ought to be a party to the arrangement with the hostile ones is a question it may be best to leave to the Commissioners, who can best appreciate the considerations on which it depends. It seems most suitable that, although the terms of the peace will be dictated to the hostile Indians, their pride should not be irritated by excluding even the form of consent on their part; especially as it is possible that a foreign enemy of the United States may still make experiments on their character, if the future circumstances of the war should suggest them. Even this question, however, may be left with the Commissioners, if they see in the other course the surest precaution against revolt. The most critical part of the task will be the demarcation of lands to be given up by the offenders, and of lands to be secured to the friendly Creeks. It may be proper, also, to reward the Cherokees, if not the Choctaws, by some accommodations to them; and to consult the views of the States of Georgia and Tennessee as far as justice and policy will permit,

These are points on which the information and discretion of the Commissioners must decide; subject, of course, to the constitutional ratification.

Nothing better can be done with the leading offenders who may be surrendered than to have them effectually secured, with a report of the circumstances, which ought to influence the disposal to be respectively made of them. The treatment of the aged Telassia King may be safely trusted to the humanity of Col. Hawkins.

I have much confidence in the judgment of General Pinckney in relation to the number of posts and men requisite for the conquered territory. But in the prostrate condition of the savages, and with the force which will be South of them, whilst the terror of Georgia and Tennessee will be on the other side of them, reductions in those respects will, I hope, be admissible very soon, if not at present. They are much to be desired, as well on account of the difficulty of keeping up regular supplies, as of the occasion there may be for increased exertions in other quarters.

I am just possessed of the intelligence last from France and Great Britain, and the proclamation of Cochrane addressed to the blacks; they admonish us to be prepared for the worst the enemy may be able to effect against us. The date concurs, with the measure proclaimed, to indicate the most inveterate spirit against the Southern States, and which may be expected to shew itself against every object within the reach of vindictive enterprise. Among these, the seat of Government cannot fail to be a favorite one.

I have the day for setting out for Washington still to fix. It was my original purpose to be back before the first of next month, and I shall endeavour to effect it.

Accept my respects and best wishes.



Related Resources

James Madison

Download Options

Title: Writings of James Madison, Volume 3

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Writings of James Madison, Volume 3

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: James Madison Jr., "To the Secretary of War.," Writings of James Madison, Volume 3 in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.398-399 Original Sources, accessed June 2, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LAKZ98FD244XPJX.

MLA: Madison, James, Jr. "To the Secretary of War." Writings of James Madison, Volume 3, in James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.398-399, Original Sources. 2 Jun. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LAKZ98FD244XPJX.

Harvard: Madison, J, 'To the Secretary of War.' in Writings of James Madison, Volume 3. cited in , James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 4 Vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), Pp.398-399. Original Sources, retrieved 2 June 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LAKZ98FD244XPJX.