Lot 230: LS signed "H. Knox, Secy of War," five pages on two sets of adjoining sheets, 8 x 12.5, August 17, 1791. Letter to Governor George Clinton of New York. In part: "The President of the United States has commanded me to transmit to your Excellency an extract of the report of Colonel Timothy Pickering, who acted as the commissioner of the United States at a late council held with the five nations of indians, at the painted post on the Susquehanna. The object of the said council was to conciliate the said indians, and attach them to the United States: to prevent their listening to, or being combined with, the western hostile indians. The more effectually to carry this design into execution, it was thought proper to draw them to a greater distance from the theatre of war, and at a critical period, to hold out an object of employment for the minds of their young men, who are with difficulty restrained from indulging their ruling passion for war.These objects appear to have been executed with ability and judgement…But it appears that the commissioner's desire to accomplish the objects of his commission in the greatest degree, has led him incautiously, at the earnest request of the Cayugas present, to ratify and confirm a certain lease of lands belonging to the Cayuga nation of indians to John Richardson, and to certify that a certain assignment of the Seneka indians to the daughters of Ebenezer Allen was done at a public treaty held under the authority of the United States.…I do…transmit to your Excellency an explicitly disavowal of the conduct of the said commissioner relative to the said lease of the Cayugas lands…and also of the certificate relative to the Senekas assignment of lands…And, I am further ordered to inform your Excellency, that the said acts of the said commissioner were unauthorized by his instructions, and will be considered as entirely null and void by the United States." In very good condition, with partial separations to horizontal folds, brittle overall toning, and chipping to edges.Timothy Pickering had been appointed commissioner to the group of Native American Indians known as the Six Nations by President Washington in 1790, and it was declared that any sale of land by Indians had to be approved by the federal government. Although he was not empowered to do so, Pickering authorized two leases to John Richardson and Ebenezer Allen during one of his many meetings with the chiefs of the Seneca and Cayuga. With this letter, Knox officially disavows the transaction. Land disputes and treaties in New York were an ongoing problem for several years. A fascinating letter related to the difficulties of preserving the rights of Native Americans while also acting in the interest of white settlers.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 467
Wednesday, 13th January 2016
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