<br /> Lee Letter: n765

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: James Madison

Sir

I wish it were in my power to give you the satisfaction that I know it
would afford you to be informed that Congress was assembled and
proceeding well with the public business. Unfortunately, we have not
yet a Congress, & altho twenty days are elapsed since the time
appointed for its meeting, but 4 States have been convened. No doubt
Colo. Monroe has informed his Correspondents of the intelligence he
received on his Tour to Montreal, Niagara &c. that one reason
assign’d for detaining the western posts from the United States was,
because Virginia had not repealed her laws that impede the recovery of
British debts. It is sincerely to be lamented that our State should be
so charged, and it is much to be wished that the Advocates for
retaining those laws wd. no longer insist upon furnishing pretext for
detaining from the U.S. possessions of such capital importance to the
Union as these posts are. I have the honor to inclose you a copy of the
treaty lately made at Fort Stanwix with the six nations. It was brought
here by Mr. Wolcott,1 who informs us that
the other two Commissioners were gone to Pittsburg to hold a treaty
there with the western nations – he apprehends (from the content that
appeard at fort Stanwix among some Shawanese chiefs) that the
commissioners will not find much difficulty in treating with the
western Indians. The accounts that we daily receive of the powerful
emigrations from our State to Georgia, to North & South Carolina,
& from the interior parts to Kentucki, are very alarming. The
causes assigned, are two – the desire of removing from heavy taxes, and
the search after land. It certainly becomes our Legislature to consider
this point with great attention, and to remove, or lessen the causes
that effect the depopulation of the country. Do you not think Sir, that
the Taxes might be considerably lessened by funding all our debts, both
foreign and domestic – And then, by imposing such Taxes only as will
most punctually pay the interest & sink the principal by very slow
degrees and for support of the Civil list? This would satisfy the
public creditors, because the certainty of receiving the interest will
render the principal vendible on good terms. It seems to me, that by
this mode, the tax might be considerably lowerd from its present
enormous height. I think that I may venture safely to say, that our
Revenue, Certificate, and all other taxes, amount in the aggregate to a
heavier taxation than prevails in any part of the world! Upon this
circumstance, I find some British writers founding the hope of our
depopulation. It surprised me a good deal that our last Assembly did
not take up and adopt, for the ease of our fellow Citizens, the
Facilities given by Congress in their Act of the 28th of April
last.2 By this Act (which I understand is
before the Assembly) one fourth of the federal demand against us, may
be discharged with Certificates of interest for money loaned the U.S.
or for interest on liquidated debts of the U.S. If these certificates
were by law made receivable in the Revenue tax, it would certainly
& considerably facilitate the payment of that Tax.

It seems that the parliament of G. Britain was prorogued without any thing
being done respecting our Trade with them, altho a Committee of the
privy Council, upon the petition of the W. India planters &
merchants for a free trade between them & the U.S. had reported an
approbation of all the silly, malign commercial restraints upon our
trade with their W. India islands, that are to be found in Lord
Sheffields book on the Commerce of the two
countries.3

I have the honor to be, with much esteem and regard, Sir your most humble
servant,

Richard Henry Lee.

ENCLOSURE

Articles of a Treaty concluded at Fort Stanwix on the 22d day of October
1784 between Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee
Commissioners plenepotentiary from the United States in Congress
Assembled on the one part and the Sachems and Warriors of the Six
Nations on the other part.

The United States of America give peace to the Senecas, Mohawks, Onondagas,
& Cayugas, and receive them into their protection upon the
following conditions.

Article 1st. Six Hostages shall be immediately delivered to the
Commissioners by the said nations, to remain in possession of the
United States till all the prisoners, white & black, which were
taken by the said Senecas, Mohawks, Onondagas and Cayugas, or by any of
them, in the 1ate war, from among the people of the United States,
shall be delivered up.

Art. 2d. The Oneida and Tuscarora Nations shall be secured in the
possession of the Lands on which they are settled.

Art. 3d. A line shall be drawn, beginning at the mouth of a creek about
four miles east of Niagara called Oyonwayea or Johnsons landing place
upon the Lake named by the Indians Oswego, and by us Ontario. From
thence Southerly in a direction always four miles east of the Carrying
path between Lake Erie and Ontario to the mouth of Tehoseroron or
Buffaloe Creek on Lake Erie. Thence South to the north boundary of the
State of Pennsylvania. Thence West to the end of the said north
boundary. Thence South along the west boundary of the said State to the
river Ohio. The said line from the mouth of Oyonwayea to the Ohio shall
be the western boundary of the Lands of the Six Nations, so that the
Six Nations shall and do yield to the United States all claims to the
country west of the said boundary, and then they shall be secured in
the peaceful possession of the lands they inhabit East and North of the
same, reserving only Six miles square round the fort of Oswego to the
United States for the support of the same.

Art. 4th. The Commissioners of the United States in consideration of the
present circumstances of the Six Nations, and in execution of the
humane and liberal views of the United States, upon the signing of the
above articles, will order goods to be delivered to the said Six
nations for their use and comfort.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Madison Papers, Library of Congress. Enclosure endorsed by
Lee: “Treaty at Fort Stanwix between the United States & the six
Nations. October 1784.”

1 Oliver Wolcott had reached Trenton the preceding day with the treaty signed
on October 22 by himself and his fellow commissioners, Richard Butler
and Arthur Lee, and by the sachems and warriors of the Six Nations.
The treaty fixed the western boundary of the Indian domain and
secured the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, who had sided with the United
States during the war, in the possession of their lands, while it
compelled the hostile Senecas, Mohawks, Onondagas, and Cayugas to
give up six hostages pending the release of all hostages. Wolcott
submitted the treaty to Congress on November 30, the day after it
first convened a quorum, along with an October 22 speech of the
Oneida chiefs and an October 26 letter from the commissioners which
were referred to committee. When Congress considered the committee’s
December 2 report on the 3rd, it postponed action, resolving only to
transfer the troops at Fort Stanwix to West Point. The treaty itself
was not approved until June 3, 1785, when it was taken up in
conjunction with the January 21 Treaty of Fort McIntosh negotiated by
Butler and Lee. See JCC, 27:659 – 60, 723, 28:423 – 24; and PCC, item 56,
fols. 137 – 40, 309 – 16, item 135, fols. 172 – 74, item 174, fols. 1 – 3,
item 186, fol. 167. See also Thomas Mifflin to the Indian
Commissioners, March 22, 1784; and the following entry, note.

2 See JCC, 26:300-309, 311 – 14; and Thomas Mifflin to the States, May 6, 1784.

3 See these Letters, 20:608n.1.