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The eight volumes of manuscripts, in possession of the Society, attest the industry and enlightened zcal of the author. He has preserved and transmitted to us, his talks and treaties, made with various Indian tribes; his correspondence with the General Government and with State authorities ; vocabularies of aboriginal languages, and invaluable records of the manners, customs, rites and civil polity of the tribes.
It is reported, that many valuable papers of Mr. Hawkins have been irreparably lost to the world, by the burning of his residence in the Creek country. The present manuscripts, it is supposed, have been preserved by their having been submitted to the Governor of the State, at Milledgeville, for his perusal. Colonel Hawkins was still living in the year 1825. In that year, these volumes were in Savannah, under the charge of Mr. Joseph Bevan, who had been appointed by the General Assembly “to collect, arrange and publish, all papers relating to the original settlement or political history of the State.” I learn this fact from a published report of his, made to Governor Troup. At the decease of Mr. Bevan, they were probably returned to the executive department at Milledgeville. At the institution of the Historical Society, a fortunate accident brought these valuable papers to the knowledge of J. K. Tefft, Esq., the corresponding secretary of the Society, and the actual cashier of the Bank of the State of Georgia, at Savannah. At his pressing instance, in favor of the Society, they were solicited and obtained, for the Society's library. It is a singular fact, unparalleled in this
of printing, that there are five copies existing, of this “ Sketch of the Creek Country.” The most plausible motive for this curious multiplication of written copies, was the desire of speculators in Indian lands, to learn the topography, resources and character of the Creek country.
In this publication I have used the original manuscript of Mr. Hawkins, which has been attested by Mr. Tefft, who has a wide reputation for his collection of autographs, and for his admirable tas.e in that department of æsthetics. The writing and condition of tlie volume, give evidence of its having been written as early as the year 1800.
COLONEL BENJAMIN HAWKINS, was for more than thirty years, employed by the Government of the United States, in its intercourse with Indian tribes. The influence which he obtained and exercised among these tribes, is forcibly stated by Mr. Gallatin: “Mr. Hawkirs, under the modest name of "Beloved Man of the Four Nations,' did govern, or, at least, exercise during his life, a considerable influence over the Creeks, Choctaws, and even the Chicasaws and Cherokees.” A legitimate curiosity prompts me to trace the public career of a man, who, on the highest authority, rendered efficient and valuable services to his country, for a long series of years.
The first official notice of Mr. Hawkins, presents him as joint commissioner with Andrew Pickens, Joseph Martin, and Lachlan McIntosh, to negotiate with the Creek Indians, in the year 1785. They concluded the treaty of Galphinton. In the same year, the treaty of Hopewell was concluded with the Cherokees. By the treaty of New York, in 1790, the Creek Indians placed themselves under the protection of the United States, and of no other Power. By the treaty of Galphinton, they had acknowledged themselves to be within the limits of Georgia, and members of the same. These two inconsistent states of political relationship, and which are the origin of all subsequent controversies between the State of Georgia and the Indian tribes, led to the appointment, by General Washington, of three commissioners to treat with the Creek confederacy. Accordingly, he nominated to the Senate, in June, 1795, Benjamin Hawkins, of North Car
olina, George Clymer, of Pennsylvania, and Andrew Pickens, of South Carolina, as commissioners for that object.
Mr. Hawkins was at this time, a Senator of the United States, from North Carolina.
In the year 1801, he was appointed by Mr. Jefferson, principal agent for Indian affairs south of the Ohio," and as joint commissioner with General Wilkinson and Andrew Pickens, he negotiated treaties with the Chicasaws, Choctaws and Natchez.
From that period, he remained as agent of the United States among the Creek Indians, till the year 1816, when at his own request, as shown by his official letters, he was succeeded in that office, by David Brydie Mitchell, of Georgia. Colonel John Crowell succeeded this last agent; and from a letter of complaint against Crowell, written to the War Department in 1825, by Mr. Hawkins, it appears that he was then living in the Creek nation. I have not been able to learn the time of Mr. Hawkins's decease.
From the several volumes of correspondence, official and private, of Colonel Hawkins, I have made some extracts which very forcibly pourtray the high qualities of his mind, for the government and control of unlettered, semi-civilized tribes. This demands sound judgment and inflexible justice. An apparent indifference towards the women of the tribes, who are the objects of great jcalousy, is not an unimportant quality. I have been assured from high authority, that this was one of the sources of Mr. Hawkins's extraordinary influence. In another part cf the world, I have witnessed a like influence acquired by an agent of the United States, over a semi-civilized people. To their minds, it implies a moral superiority over other men, when accompanied by ordinary manly energies. It is a self-control, the more respected by such people, as it is the object of their chief indulgence, and of their liveliest jealousies.
Extract of a letter from Mr. Hawkins to a friend.
CUSSETUH, Nov. 25, 1797. A few days ago, whilst I was sorely afflicted with rheumatism, so as not to be able to turn in my blanket, the
arrival of the Queen of Tuckabatchee was announced to me. That town is sixty miles distant. I invited herself and her friends, to spend two or three days with me, which they did. Early one morning, she came to my bed side and sat down. I awoke, and she accosted me thus :
My visit is to you; I am a widow ; I have a son so high; (holding her hand three feet from the ground ;) I have a fine stock of cattle, and I wish them secured for my use and for my son. I know you are the Isle-chatelige-osetat-chemis-te-chaugo, (the beloved man of the Four Nations,) and my relations are not careful of my interests. If you will take the direction of iny affairs, the chiefs have told me you may settle my stock where you please, and it shall be safe. When you go to Tuckabatchee, you will have a home. Perhaps I am too old for you, but I'll do any thing I can for you. I shall be proud of you if you will take me. If you take a young girl into the house I shall not like it, but I will not say one word; may be I can't love her, but I won't use her ill. I have brought some aus-ce (cassine yupon) for you. I want some clothes for my boy and for myself. You can give them to me, and make the traders take cattle for pay. If you direct them they won't cheat me. taken prisoner by the Chickasaws, with my boy, when he was so high (about two feet.) I ran off from them, and was seventeen days in the woods, getting to my nation. I had no provisions when I set out, and was like to perish. When you were in the upper towns last year, I went twice to see you, and dressed myself. You took me by the hand and asked me to sit down. I wanted to speak to you then, but I could not. I said then I would never have an Iste-chate (red man.)
I replied to her, you shall be gratified ; you may return home. I will have your cattle put out at a proper place, and I will take care of them and of your son. If any desire to call me cha-e-he, (my husband,) do so! But you must not forget, I have not yet determined to set up in that capacity in either of the Four Nations. But you are at liberty, as you already have one child, and know the trade, to carry it on under my name, and to choose any assistant you may deem suitable. The children will be mine and I will take care of them and of you.
It is not customary among the Creeks to associate with the women; and it is a curious fact, that there are white men in the nation who have been here five years, without ever entering an Indian house. I visit them, take them by the hand, talk kindly to them, and cat frequently with them. This day I had four Indian women to dine with me, with some chiefs and white men, a thing, they tell me, unknown before, to either of them. One thing I have noticed, in all I have conversed with, they have a great propensity to call every thing by its name. And, if the concurrent testimony of the white husbands may be relied on, the women have much of the temper of the mule, except when they are amorous, and then they exhibit all the am able and gentle qualities of the cat.
Extract of a letter to William Faulkner, Esq.
CUSSETUH, NOVEMBER 25, 1797. I am now, and have been in this town, which is on the Chattahoche, among the lower Creek towns, (an hundred and sixty miles from Fort Wilkinson, the residence of Colonel Gaither on the Ocenee,) for more than a month, and much engaged in the duties enjoined on me by my office. It is not necessary to detail to you the difficulties I have encountered daily, in adjusting with these people the differences in the way of a friendly intercourse between them and their neighbors. The men are bred in habits proudly indolent and insolent; accustomed to be courted, and to think that they conferred a favor when they were naked, by receiving clothes and comforts from the British agents; and they will reluctantly and with great difficulty, be humbled to the level of rational life. I spend the day at their public places, in conversation; or at my hut, where I entertain a number; and the evenings I devote till midnight at the town house, to see their dancing and amusements, or at my hut, studying their language, or making arrangements to decide on disputed property, and adjusting the misunderstandings between the Four Nations. As business increased on me, I found my mind and exertions always ready to rise above it; or as it would be better expressed, to be equal to my wishes, and even beyond my expectations. In this situation Í