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Olivia's Genealogy Site: Washington Indian Policy of 1700-1800.

This Web page is based on research of records known to be valid from  State records,  Federal records, manuscripts, and private papers. These records are land records, wills, and financial  transactions center on  the Washington Indian Policy of 1700-1800.


Collected and Arranged by John Frederick Schroeder, D.D.

A citizen of the United States

The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association

Mount Vernon, Virginia 1963

 Few men exhibit greater diversity, or, if we may so express it, greater antihesis of character, than the native warrior of North American.  In war, he is daring, boastful, cunning, ruthless, self-denying, and self-devoted; in peace, just, generous, hospitable, revengeful, superstitious, modest, and commonly chaste.  J. Fenimore Cooper ; p. 160

If they had the vices of savage life, they had the virtues also.  They were true to their country, their friends, and their homes.  If they forgave not injury, neither did they forget kindness.  Chief Justice Joseph Story; p. 160 

Washington's policy in regard to the Indians was always pacific and humane.  He considered them as children, who should be treated with tenderness and forbearance.  He aimed to conciliate them by good usage, to obtain their lands by fair purchase and punctual payments, to make treaties with them on terms of equity and reciprocal advantage, and strictly to redeem every pledge.  Jared Sparks; p. 160 


..While the measures of government ought to be calculated to protect its Citizens from all injury and violence, a due regard should be extended to those Indians whose happiness in the course of events so materially depends on the national justice and humanity of the United States.

  To the Senate and the House of Representatives, August 7, 1789 

 Writings Vol. 30 p. 372;  p. 160 


..The basis of our proceedings with the Indian Nations has been, and shall be justice, during the period in which I may have any thing to do in the administration of this government.

 To Mar5quis de Lafayette, August 11, 1790

Writings Vol. 31 p. 87;  p. 160 


…It is sincerely to be desired that all need of coercion, in futuire, may cease; and that an intimate intercourse may succeed; calculated to advance the happiness of the Indians, and to attach them firmly to the United States.

 …It seems necessary:  That they should experience the benefits of an impartial administration of justice,  That the mode of alienating their lands the main source of discontent and war, should be so defined and regulated, as to obviate imposition, and, as far as may be practicable, controversy concerning the reality, and extent of the alienations which are made.  The commerce with them should be promoted under regulations tending to secure an equitable deportment towards them, and that such rational experiments should be made, for imparting to them the blessings of civilization, as may, from time to time suit their condition.  That the executive of the United States should be enabled to employ the means to which the Indians have been long accustomed for uniting their immediate Interests with the preservation of Peace.  And that efficatious provision should be made for inflicting adequate penalties upon all those who, by violating their rights, shall infringe the Treaties, and endanger the peace of the Union.

 Third Annual Address to Congress, October 25, 1791

Writings Vol. 31 p. 398;  p. 161 


…A disposition to peace in these people can only be ascribed to an apprehension of danger and would last no longer than till it was over and an opportunity offered to resume their hostility with safety and success.  This makes it necessary that we should endeavour to punish them severely for what has past; and by an exam0le of rigor intimidate them in future.

 To the President of Congress, May 3, 1779

Writings Vol. 14 p. 484;  pp. 161-162



…a trade with the Indians should be upon such terms, and transacted by men of such principles, as would at the same time turn out to the reciprocal advantage of the colony and the Indians, and which would effectually remove those bad impressions, that the Indians received from the conduct of a set of rascally fellows, divested of all faith and honor, and give us such an early opportunity of establishing an interest with them, as would be productive of the most beneficial consequences, by getting a large share of fur-trade, not only of the Ohio Indians, but, in time of the numerous nations possessing the back countries westward of it.  And to prevent this advantageous commerce from suffering in its infancy, by the sinister views of designing, selfish men of the different provinces, I humbly conceive it absolutely necessary that commissioners from each of the colonies be appointed to regulate the mode of that trade, and fix it on such a basis, that all the attempts of one colony undermining another, and thereby weakening and diminishing the general system, might be frustrated. 

To Francis Fauquier, December 2, 1758

Writings Vol. 2 p. 313;  p. 162 


 …there is nothing to be obtained by an Indian War but the Soil they live on and this can be had by purchase at less expence, and without that bloodshed, and those distresses which helpless Women and Children are made partakers of in all kinds of disputes with them.

 To James Duane, September 7, 1783

Writings Vol. 27 p. 140;  pp. 162-163


…The plan of annual presents in an abstract view, unaccompanied with other measures, is not the best mode of treating ignorant Savages, from whose hostile conduct we experience much distress; but it is not to be overlooked, and they, in turn, are not without serious causes of complaint, from the encroachments which are made on their lands by our people; who are not to be restrained by any law now in being, or likely to be enacted.  They, poor wretches, have no Press thro' which their grievances are related; and it is well known, that when one side only of a Story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it, insensibly.  The annual presents however, which you allude to, are not given so much with a view to purchase peace, as by way of retribution for injuries, not otherwise to be redressed.

 To Edmund Pendleton, January 22, 1795

Writings Vol. 34 p. 99;  p. 163 

…such is the nature of Indians, that nothing will prevent their going where they have any reason to expect presents, and their cravings are insatiable.

 To Francis Halkett, May 11, 1758

Writings Vol. 2 p. 199;  p. 163



…To enable, by competent rewards, the employment of qualified and trusty persons to reside among them, as agents, would also contribute to the preservation of peace and good neighbourhood.  If, in addition to these expedients, an eligible plan could be devised for promoting civilization among the friendly tribes, and for carrying on trade with them, upon a scale equal to their wants, and under regulations calculated to protect them from imposition and extortion, its influence in cementing their interests with our's could not be considerable. 

Fourth Annual Address to Congress, November 6, 1792

Writings Vol. 32 p. 208;  pp. 163-164 


…My Men are very bare of Cloaths (Regimentals I mean), and I have no prospect of a Supply; this want, so far from my regretting during this Campaigne, that were I left to pursue my own Inclinations I wou'd not only order the Men to adopt the Indian dress, but cause the Officers to do it also, and be the first to set the example myself.  Nothing but the uncertainty of its taking with the General causes me to hesitate a moment at leaving my Regimentals at this place, and proceeding as light as any Indian in the Woods.  Tis an unbecoming dress, I confess, for an officer; but convenience rather than shew, I think shou'd be consulted.  The reduction of Bat Horses alone, is sufficient to recommend it; for nothing is more certain than that less baggage will be requir'd and that the Publick will be benifitted in proportion. 

To Henry Bouquet, July 3, 1758

Writings Vol. 2 p. 229; p. 164 

…It is evident, Sold'rs in that trim are better able to carry their Provisions; are fitted for the active Service we must engage in; less liable to sink under the fatiegues of a March; and by this means, get rid of much baggage that wou'd consequently, if carri'd protract our line of March; this, and not whim or caprice, are really my reasons for ordering them into it. 

To Henry Bouquet, July 13, 1758

Writings Vol. 2 p. 235;  pp. 164-165 

…It occurs to me that if you were to dress a Company or two of true Woods Men in the right Indian Style and let them make the Attack accompanied with screaming and yelling as the Indians do, it would have very good consequences. 

To Daniel Morgan, June 13, 1777

Writings Vol. 8 p. 236;  p. 165


…The honorable Continental Congress, recommends my procuring from the Colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island a Quantity of Tow Cloth, for the purpose of making of Indian or Hunting Shirts for the Men, many of whom are very destitute of Cloathing;…It is designed as a Species of Uniform both cheap and convenient. 

To Nicholas Cooke, August 4, 1775

Writings Vol. 3 p. 387; p. 165 


…However absurd it may appear, it is nevertheless certain, that five hundred Indians have it more in their power to annoy the inhabitants, than ten times their number of regulars.  For besides the advantageous way they have of fighting in the woods, their cunning and craft are not to be equaled, neither their activity and indefatigable sufferings.  They prowl about like wolves, and, like them, do their mischief by stealth.  They depend upon their dexterity in hunting and upon the cattle of the inhabitants for provisions. 

To Robert Dinwiddie, April 7, 1756

Writings Vol. 1 p. 300; p. 165 


 …For without Indians to oppose Indians, we may expect but small success.

 To Robert Dinwiddie, April 24, 1756

Writings Vol. I p. 330; p. 166 

…A small number, just to point out the wiles and tracks of the enemy, is better than none.

To Robert Dinwiddie, April 27, 1756

Writings Vol. I p. 341; p. 166 


…My Ideas of contending with the Indians have been uniformly the same, and I am clear in opinion, that the most economical (tho' this may also be attended with great expence) as well as the most effectual mode of opposing them, where they can make incursions upon us, is to carry the war into their own Country.  For supported on the one hand by the british, and enriching themselves with the spoils of our people, they have every thing to gain and nothing to lose, while we act on the defensive, whereas the direct reverse would be the consequence of an offensive war on our part. 

To James Duane, January 11, 1779

Writings Vol. 13 p. 501; p. 166 


…great Care should be observed in choosing active Marksmen; the manifest Inferiority of inactive Persons,. Unused to Arms, in this kind of Service, although equal in Numbers, to lively Persons who have practiced Hunting, is inconceivable.  The Chance against them is more than two to one. 

To Robert Dinwiddie, April 16, 1756

Writings Vol. I p. 313; p. 166 


…I beg leave to suggest as general rules that ought to govern your operations, to make rather than receive attacks attended with as much impetuosity, shouting and noise as possible, and to make the troops act in as looser and dispersed a way as is consistent with a proper degree of government concert and mutual support.  It should be previously impressed upon the minds of the men when ever they have an opportunity, to rush on with the warhoop and fixed bayonet.  Nothing will disconcert and terrify the Indians more than this. 

To John Sullivan, May 31, 1779

Writings Vol. 15 p. 190; p. 167 


…great caution will be necessary to guard against the snares which their treachery may hold out….Hostages are the only kind of security to be depended on. 

To John Sullivan, May 31, 1779

Writings Vol. 15 p. 192; p. 167 


…By…a Resolve of Congress, that I am impowered to employ a body of four hundred Indians, if they can be procured upon proper terms.  Divesting them of the Savage customs exercised in their Wars against each other, I think they may be made of excellent use, as scouts and light troops, mixed with out own Parties.  I propose to raise about one half the number among the Southern and the remainder among the Northern Indians.  I have sent Colo Nathl. Gist, who is well acquainted with the Cherokees and their Allies, to bring as many as he can from thence, and I must depend upon you to employ suitable persons to procure the stipulated number or as near as may be from the Northern tribes.  The terms made with them should be such as you think we can comply with, and persons well acquainted with their language, manners and Customs and who have gained an influence over them should accompany them. 

To the Commissioners of Indian Affairs, March 13, 1778

Writings Vol. 11 p. 76;  pp. 167-168 


…To know the affinity of tongues seems to be one step towards promoting the affinity of nati9ons….Should the present or any other efforts of mine to procure information respecting the different dialects of the Aborigines in America, serve to reflect a ray of light on the obscure subject of language in general, I shall be highly gratified.  For I love to indulge the contemplation of human nature in a progressive state of improvement and melioration; and if the idea would not be considered visionary and chimerical, I could fondly hope, that the present plan of the great Potentate of the North* might, in some measure, lay the foundation for that assimilation of language, which, producing assimilation of manners and interests, which, producing assimilation of manners and interests, which, should one day remove many of the causes of hostility from amongst mankind. 

To Marquis de Lafayette, January 10, 1788

Writings Vol. 29 p. 374; p. 317 

*The Empress of Russia, Catherine the Second, who was compiling a Universal Dictionary.  She obtained, through Washington, vocabularies of the Delaware and Shawnee languages. 


…The supplicating tears of the women, and moving petitions from the men, melt me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, if I know my own mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the butchering enemy, provided that would contribute to the people's ease. 

To Robert Dinwiddie, April 22, 1756

Writings Vol. 1 p. 325; p. 198



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