"Secret" Journal on Negotiations of The Chickasaw Treaty of 1818
Treaty Ground Near Old Town Chickesaw Nation
September 29th, 1818.
The commissioners and suite arrived this evening at the ground
chosen by the chiefs to hold the treaty; the agent of the Nation
not having arrived, Maj. General Jackson proceeded to Colo. Geo.
Colberts in hopes of hearing from him at that place, leaving Governor
Shelby and some Gentlemen in camp. The General not hearing from
the Agent at Colberts addressed him a note by a runner, and the
next morning arrived at Camp. Nothing occurred this day, and the
Genl. accompan'd by Governor Shelby returned to Colberts for the
Thursday, October 1st
Commissioners arrived after 9:Oclock in the morning and after waiting
until twelve Oclock, and not hearing from the Agent Capt Carter,
A. D. Qr Mr General was dispatched to bring him, as the Indians
began to collect, and no person attending to have their returns
made for Provisions. And George Colbert having stated that the Agent
said he was not coming to the treaty. The Capt. met the Agent about
twenty four miles from the camp on his way, from whom he learned
that no money was in his possession to pay the annuities due the
Nation although he had a draft in his possession on the Branch Bank
at New Orleans for $19850 for several weeks unnegotiated. The Capt.
returned late this evening giving the foregoing information and
added that the Agent would reach us to breakfast on the ensueing
The chiefs and Indians look very distant and gloomy and complain
that their annuities were withheld, and when they expected money,
goods were offered them. 10:Oclock A.M. the Agent arrived when it
was ascertained that no arrangements whatever were made to distribute
the annuities, and even the nation not notified to meet for that
purpose; although the Agent had been particularly informed of the
arrangements made, to have them furnished with supplies during that
event, together with the holding of the treaty. Measures were immediately
adopted by the Commissioners to obtain funds on the draft in the
hands of the agent, and on his bills for the ballance due the nation,
and Mr. Benj. Smith dispatched to Nashville to have them negotiated
under special instructions to Mr. James Jackson at that place. The
chiefs were then informed of this arrangement and measures taken
to have the nation assembled to meet the arrival of the funds, which
seems to have worked a happy change in the countenances of the natives.
Noting decisive is contemplated by the commissioners until the arrival
of the funds, but their unremitting attention seems given to prepare
the minds of the Chiefs for the ultimate object of their mission;
the United States Interpreter James Colbert has not made his appearance
at the Treaty ground.
Nothing occurred this day, but a few chiefs waited on the Commisioners
and in the evening James Colbert the U.S. Interpreter arrived.
Noting of importance has occurred this day worthy of note.
This day much pains taken by the Commissioners to impress upon
the chiefs by individual conversation the object and intention of
their mission; Mr. Alexander (an Express) arriving from Nashville,
bringing the books containing copies of the grants by North Carolina
to Individuals lying within the bounds to be treated for. Levi Colbert
one of the principal chiefs having asked for a perusal of them,
they were given to him, after which he seemed much satisfied.
The Commissioners much engaged this day in preparing the minds
of the chiefs for the talk to be delivered in Council on the arrival
of the money from Nashville to pay their annuities.
The Agent by his Secretary engaged in taking a list of the clans
preparatory to the distribution of the money; and the Commissioners
engaged as on the proceeding day.
Capt. Easter and Maj. Shelby dispatched to meet Mr. Ben Smith on
his return from Nashville with the funds. Martin Colbert (the son
of Levi) with a white man by the name of Carter and some other indians
called on the Commisssioners for a plain exposition of the nature
of their mission, also of the several treaties with Great Britain
and those held with their nation by the United States; they appeared
much satisfied with the explanation. The following letter was addressed
to Maj. Wm. B. Lewis by the Commissioners, the object of which is
explained in the body of it --
Treaty Ground Chickasaw Nation, 9 October 1818
Having been advised that you have knowledge of the quantity of land
covered by the chickasaw claims which lies within the Charted limits
of the states of Kentucky and Tennessee which has been patented
by the State of North Carolina. You will if so, have the goodness
to make us a report of the quantity and also the amounts of lands
within the State of Tennessee, within the aforesaid bounds that
is entered, or has been granted by the State of North Carolina and
what quantity now remains unappropreated. This information is importaint
to us at this time, to enable us to apportion the annuity, to be
tendered to the nation for their relinguishment of claim to this
We are sir very respectfully
- Yr Mo obt Svt
- Isaac Shelby
- Andrew Jackson
- Major William B. Lewis
Saturday 10th October
Maj. Willaim B. Lewis handed the following answer to the letter
of the Commissioners of yesterdays date.
October 10th. 1818
I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of
yesterday, requesting that I would furnish you with such information
as I may be in possion of, relative to the quantity of land claimed
by the Chickesaw Indians within the chartered limits of the State
of Tennessee and also how much of that within the limits of Tennessee
has been patented by the State of North Carolina. The information
which I possess upon this subject will be cheerfully accorded.
I had determined as early as 1810 to make a map of the State of
Tennessee, and accordingly commenced collecting the necessary materials
for that purpose from the different Surveyors offices. I found,
however, after making some progress in my undertaking, that neither
the North nor South boundry lines of the State had been run further
Westwardly than the Tennessee River. Owing to this circumstance
I was obliged to extend the North boundry line, myself, from the
Tennessee river to the Mississippi in order to get the precise length
of the State, East and West. I found the distance, on the north
boundry of the State of Tennessee from the river Tennessee to the
Mississippi to be, by actual admeasurement, fifty Six and a quarter
miles; and having the meanders of the Tennessee and the Mississippi
rivers, and having connected them with the North boundry, I found
the distance on the South boundry between those rivers, to be about
112 miles, which will make the average distance, East and West.
84 miles. The width of the State North and South, is 105 miles which
multiplies by 84 will make 8820 Square miles, equal to 5,644,800
Acres of land, in what is called the western district of Tennessee
and now owned by the Chickesaw Indians.
next enquiry is, how much of this land has been patented by the
State of North Carolina. I have at this time in my possession an
Authenticated Copy of all grants issued by the State of North Carolina
for that land which in the aggregate amounts to 1,073,918 Acres.
Besides these grants there are perhaps 2 or 300,000 acres which
have been entered in the land offices of North Carolina and not
yet ripened into grants, making in the whole about 1,373,918 acres
which have been apportioned and leaving a balance of 4,270,882 acres
that are vacant and unappropriated; of this perhaps at least one
third is first rate land; for it is universally admitted that, that
part of the State of Tennessee which is now in the possession of
the Chickasaws, is the finest and most desirable of the whole State.
It is required also, to know the extent of the Chickasaw Claim
in the Chartered limits of the State of Kentucky. I am not prepared
to answer this enquiry with as much Certainty as the others, but
am of the opinion that the following calculation will be found not
very erroneous. This tract of Country is bounded on the South by
the State of Tennessee and is 56 1/4 miles Et it is bounded on the
North by the river Ohio and is supposed to be about 30 miles on
a right line, making the average length Et very much injured; damaged
equal to half their value; without injury could not be retailed
for more than cost. (see invoice). Bridles of good quality but in
similar situation; Rugs also.
- No. 13 Saddles See report no. 12.
- No. 14 9 pieces Strouds. In tolerable order of good quality;
not too high priced.
- No. 15 6 pieces Strouds; the same 1 ps green cloth; Color not
injured; not too high. 2 ps Scarlet color injured; Stained. 2
ps Swanskin; good order.
- No. 16 The contents of this tierce are in good order the colors
of the Scarlet and green excepted.
- No. 17 Not essentially injured.
- No. 18 Remark as No. 14, 15.
- No. 19 But little injured.
- No. 20 This cloth could not be seperated; but all of this kind
in good order; flannel also.
- No. 27 Blue cloth; Color good; not rotten; Scarlet faded; Shirting
weak, stained; plaids ruined; Sashes, Colors injured; fishing
lines, good; fish hooks, rusted very much; thimbles, brass, Cotton
balls, doubtful; Box Combs, not injured; All the Sissors very
much rusted; and needles ruined; Rings, stained and weak.
- No. 28.29 The hats but little injured; and well laid in.
- No. 30 Looking glasses; every one injured; not worth the Carriage;
deficient four dozen.
- No. 31 A little rusted; in tollerable order.
- No. 32 Most of the blankets in good order; some of them stained,
but well selected.
- No. Rifles a good deal rusted; one box deficient.
- Perhaps on half the Powder may be fit for use.
9th October 1818
Monday 12th continued
Benjamin Smith returned from Nashville this morning with $37,550
to pay the Annuities which was delivered over to the Agent Colo.
Henry Sherburn. The Commissioners were informed by the Interpreter
that the Nation was assembled to hear the talk, which was accordingly
delivered between the hours of eleven and twelve in the forenoon
and of which the following is a copy (Bartley McGee Interpreter).
Friends and Brothers,
We have been chosen by your father the President of the United States
to meet you in council, and brighten the chain of friendship, by
shaking hands and greeting you as his children, we come to see that
the sums due your nation be equally distributed among the poor and
the rich to benefit all and make you happy. Your Agent is prepared
to pay you all that is due so soon as you can furnish him with the
numbers of each Chiefs clan.
Your Father the President always anxious to keep peace and friendship
between his red and white children and to do justice to all has
charged us again to bring to your view that neck of land lying i
n the States of Tennessee and Kentucky which was sold by North Carolina
and Virginia about 35 years ago to pay the debt of the revolutionary
This piece of Land is claimed by your nation but our white [people]
paid for it many years ago: and our father the President has kept
them away from it, that his red children might hunt on it; but the
game is now gone and his white children claim it now from him.
Next Year your white brethern will have nearly one hundred Steam
Ships running up and down the Mississippi river, and they will want
much wood for their fires that make them go on the water; and when
a Ship gets broke your white brethern wants to be on the Shore with
their own people until it is mended; this helps to make your white
brethern uneasy about their Land.
Friends and Brothers,
Your father the President must do justice to all his children and
to prevent ill will between his red and white people, he has charged
us to speak plain which we intend to do.
The paper which we hand you, shew[s] the land purchashed by your
white brethern; it lies in Tennessee and Kentucky and they have
called on your father the President for it and he cannot keep it
from them any longer.
Your father the President wants to have your lines finally settled,
and he wants to give you much land over the Mississippi for this
Country which is granted to your white brethern, where there is
no claim by any other state or people and where there is plenty
of game and good land.
Your father the President has told us, if you dont want to exchange
land to give you a fair and reasonable price in money for your claim
to this tract of Country which will not interfere with the Settlement
or arrangement of your nation. You will then have more land left
than your nation can cultivate for Six hundred years, and your father
will feel happy in protecting and perpetuating your nation here.
Friends but when your father asked for it, your Nation should be
ready to sell their claim for a fair compensation in land or money.
Jackson also told you, that if you refuse to sell your claim, that
your white brothers would move on this land which is granted to
them, and then your nation would have to apply to Congree for compensation
for if you refuse the good intentions of your father the President
you cannot look to him for redress.
Your father the President does not wish to see this course pursued;
he wants to give you a fair and reasonable price for your claim
and make the Southern boundry of the State of Tennessee the lasting
mark of land and friendship.
Friends and Brothers,
Listen -- your father the President has shewn to you his care and
justice, by choosing to come and give you a fair price for your
claim to this land, and if you refuse to let him have it, and your
white brethern go and settle on their land, which they are sure
to do, you must not blaim him, but your chiefs if they refuse his
friendly and just offer.
Brothers listen -- The lands we ask
you for was granted by England almost two hundred years ago to the
State of Virginia and North Carolina, and was conquered from England
in the revolutionary War, when the Treaty of 1783 was made with
England. She acknowledged the States to be the owners of all their
land within their Charter to the great river Mississippi.
Listen -- These States having Spent all their money in carrying
on the war, opened a land office and sold this land to their children
to pay the debts which they owed when the war was ended; but, to
keep peace with your nation, and give you the benefit of the game,
your white brothers have been kept off their land; but now the game
is destroyed, your father the President is bound to give it to them
and protect them in their possession.
Friends all Indian claims is considered
merely as hunting privilege, subject to the will and pleasure of
the General Government and which you agreed to by the 2d 3d if this
is true we call you all to listen well -- If the bad men of your
nation do any act of violence upon your chiefs for treating with
your father the President, he will put them to death for it. Your
nation has felt much of the bounty and care of your father the President,
and he will not Suffer such threats and insolent conduct to pass
Listen once more -- for we must speak plain and tell you the truth;
if you refuse the friendly offer of your father the President the
land will be taken possession of by your white Brethern who have
patents for it, and your father will look on your conduct as acts
of ill will and ingratitude.
Friends take our talk with you and think well, and let us have
your Answer as soon as you can.
- Isaac Shelby
- Andrew Jackson
It was ascertained this day that a Mr. Malbone was hostile to the
views of the government and had secretly done much injury; he is
a step son of the Agent Colo. Sherburne who not understanding much
of the nature of the business had not counteracted his endeavours,
used to make the Indians disavow the Treaty of Hopewell which is
the only grounds they have of Protection from our government.
Nothing occured this day. Mr. Graham it was accordingly furnished;
this is received in a favorable light; these chiefs desire the Commissioners
not to be impatient; as it was a business which concerned so many,
it necessarily took much time to gain a knowledge of the wishes
of the Nation; after this interview, they visited the different
departments and gave them a talk explaining the powers of the commissioners.
On this evening about sun set three Indians supposed to be Creeks
were discovered about six miles from the Treaty ground, and who
fled leaving behind their packs, which on examination is found to
contain a Militia regimental coat, different article of family clothing,
bedding and callico homespun but some more of their plunder was
found which had been pillaged from some house.
The Commissioners has been able to ascertain from the transactions
of this week, that an appeal becomes absolutely necessary to the
avarice of the Chiefs in addition to the address to their fears
delivered on Monday; and, finding the sum authorized entirely too
small, the following plan was adopted and pursued -- The reservations
made by the Treaty of September 1816 to George but to render the
thing perfectly secret to secure the chiefs, that it should be made
to an individual, and placed in my hands as an escrow until the
option of the government was had; the sum proposed for these reservations
in the first instance was $10,000, but would not be heard; the Confidential
Agent was then instructed to offer Seventeen thousand dollars, which
made them listen, but after a long dicussion the Council was about
to break up abruptly, with a determination to send a deputation
to the President remonstrating against selling or exchanging their
land; this being communicated by the confident and that three chiefs
who were decidedly hostile to the measure might be brought over
by a doceur the farther sum of 3,000 dollars was added with information
that if this proposition was not met, the white people would certainly
move on their lands by thousands and all the evils which their Father
the President was trying to avert would ensue; this had the desired
effect and a deed was accordingly taken in the name of James Jackson
of Nashville, for the reservations and placed in my hands for the
purposes aforesaid. A bond was given for the payment of the sum
of twenty thousand dollars in cash or merchandize at their option
inder the manner of distribution contained in the following memorandum,
all which being prepared was held ready for signing after the treaty
should be signed -
"Be it remembered that the sum of twenty thousand "dollars,
stipulated to be paid for the reservations secured to "George
and Levi Colbert at the treaty made and conducted "between
the United States and the Chickasaw Nation on the "20th September
1816 is intended and shall be distributed in the "following
manner that is to say, to
- "George Colbert ---- $ 8,50
- "Levi Colbert ---------- 8,500
- "James Colbert ------ 1,666 2/3
- "Capt. Sealy ------------ 666 2/3
- "Capt. McGilvery ------ 666 2/3
to be paid in cash or merchandize, if in cash agreeable to being
executed by the undersigned of this date; if in merchandize the
whole to be paid in Philadelphia within sixty days after the ratification
of the Treaty, or if prepared to be delivered in the Chickasaw Nation
within four months thereafter, unavoidable accidents excepted and
subject to the deduction of twenty five p. cent for carriage. It
is understood that the option, as to whether they will receive the
money or merchandize is to be made when the Treaty is signed and
the plan of delivery to be designated if the Merchandize should
be preferred, and that option to be endorsed on the back of this
memorandum, attested and a copy to be delivered to the undersigned."
- "Andrew Jackson"
- "Wm. B. Lewis
- "October 17th 1818"
The adoption of this course was the only one calculated to secure
the grand object, and obtain secrecy as the lifes of the chiefs
would be jepordized by a disclosure; it places these reservations
at the option of government, should the government think proper
to advance the amount, by giving an order on Philadelphia for the
merchandize, the land is to be transfered by Mr James Jackson to
the government, to secure which the deed as before said is placed
in my possession by the Commissioners; should however the Excutive
not think proper to make the advance; arrangements will be made
by Mr James Jackson to meet the delivery of the merchandize through
Mr. Kirkman wholesale merchant in Philadelphia within the period
specified by the bond; the plan above adopted was communicated to
Mr. Graham, as being the last alternative to obtain the object the
manner of which seemed to meet his cordial approbation.
The chief met the commissioners in council to answer their talk
delivered on Monday, and after many shrewd enquiries and observations
relating to the negotiation by Levi Colbert, he informed the Commissioners
that their offer of land west of the Mississippi in exchange for
the land in question would not be received, that they new nothing
about that country and as they were not born there they would have
nothing to do with it, and that if they let their Father the President
have this land they wanted what he had in exchange and that was
mony; the Commissioners answered they would give mony. Colbert then
addressed the King and chiefs severally and lastly their agent asking
their opinion publickly in the hearing of all the surrounding warriors,
on obtaining which he gravely remarked that he gave up to his Father
the President the land he asked for observing that it was the best
part of their country and he hoped their Father by his Commissioners
would be liberal to them in the price. The Commissioners told him
they would be liberal as their Father the President had told them
to be so; $20,000 pr. annum for twelve years was then proposed by
the commissioners, which they sternly refused remarking they loved
money well but they loved their land much better. It was then proposed
to add one year, which was likewise rejected; Genl. Jackson then
observed to make all hearts straight he would agree to make the
annuity fourteen years, and that he hoped the chiefs and the nation
would consider that as a liberal price from their Father the President.
Levi Colbert then remarked that they would consider of it and adjourned
for a few hours. On again meeting, Colbert enquired if one cent
would not be given, and being informed that the Commissioners had
gone to their limit, he observed the American nation is as strong
as iron, great rich and strong, and one cent was nothing to it and
this would satisfy the nation. Genl. Jackson replied by asking if
one solitary cent would satisfy the nation, and the speaker replied
it would, observing that the American nation was strong and the
younger brother must therefore yield to its elder brother, on which
they shook hands with the commissioners and parted. In a conversation
shortly after with the Interpreter, he said they shook hands on
fifteen years annuity which was not the understanding of the Commissioners
and thus the thing rested until the time arranged for signing the
The commissioners consider it due to Colo. Sherburn and the Sub
Agent Mr. Cook to enter an expression of their appreciation for
the zeal they manifested last week, in advising the chiefs and warriors
to their true interest, and to remark that their want of knowledge
on the subject heretofore prevented them from exercising their influence
in a proper manner. The services of Mr. Cook, in obtaining an enumeration
of the whole nation to enable the Agent to approtion the annuities,
is highly praiseworthy, and was a very labourious task through which
he waded with great perserverance and industry. The effect which
the payment will produce on the minds of the poor will be very great.
"The Chiefs" arrived this morning about eleven Oclock,
and the Commissioners attempted to explain how they mistook the
meaning of the speaker about the cent, but they could not not would
not understand it in any other light, than that his meaning was
an additional annuity on which they shook hands and that they had
come prepared to sign the treaty agreed upon. The Commissioners
finding from the stern manner in which they viewed an attempt to
explain away their understanding of the annuity, deemed it prudent
not to jeopardize the grand object for the pittance of $20,000 to
be paid fifteen years hence and accordingly filled up the blank
in the treaty with Fifteen and the instrument was duly and solemnly
executed and attested after being read and explained in the presence
of the numerous concourse of young men.
On this business having be concluded Colo. Sherburn proceeded to
deliver over the mony to the Department chiefs, who aided by several
gentlemen in the commissioners suite distributed to the heads of
families agreeably to the apportionment made out; the amount seemed
to surprise them very much and it is believed that the annuities
heretofore distributed never could have had its direction through
the hands of the poor. The arrangement now made will I am persuaded
make the poor much more happy and comfortable hereafter.
As explanatory of the sums to be paid, embraced by the treaty,
the following is the distribution to be made in addition to that
embraced in the memorandum of the 17th -- $500 of the sum secured
to James Colbert, he is bound to pay to Maj. James Brown as his
doceur. The sume to John Gordon being the debt due by General Colbert
for fourteen years, secures the General and his interest with the
warriors of the Nation; the sum to Arpusantubby for his reserve
was his price, and the sum to Dacid Smith to satisfy the nation
by not taking it out of their annuity. In addition to the distribution
mention in the memorandum George Colbert is bound to Pettygrew for
$500 and a like sum to the Yazoo chief and Levi to Meatubby and
To Teskuamingo the commissioners have directed me to pay the sum
of $500, and to Peachlynn a confidential young man $100. The Deed
of conveyance alluded to in the minutes of the 17th was this day
executed and regularly attested and placed in my possession; and
the following endorsement was entered on the back of the memorandum
of the 17th inst. It is the election of the within names persons
to take the sum as stipulated in merchandize, delivered in Philadelphia.
October the 19th 1818
Agent for the within named persons
Arrangements are made to set out on and return to Tennessee at
the close of a ball play which the natives are about to give the
Commissioners and a bill has been drawn and exected in my presence
on Mr. Thomas Kirkman of Philadelphia in favor of Martin Colbert
for Twenty thousand dollars worth of Merchandize to meet the bond
given with sixty days after the ratification of the Treaty, should
the Executive not advance the amount, on account of the reservations.
The Commissioners set out in the evening leaving the Nation more
happy and contented than it ever was known to be, and Levi Colbert
took occasion to remark "we have made a good treaty";
observing we are now safe from the claims of our white brothers
and we can live in peace and friendship.
Examined and approved --
- Isaac Shelby
- Andrew Jackson - Commissioners
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