Page images

highly insulting to this country, and leads to consequences, which, if not resisted, must prove wholly destructive of its independence. It amounts to saying, “ when you have a dispute to settle with us, you shall not choose the negotiators, but we will choose them; they shall not be such persons as you can trust, but such as we like, as we may think the most manageable.” When a nation submits to conduct like this, its independence is a mere shadow; the substance is gone.

From this it appears that the arrival of General Pinckney and Mr. Gerry may be hourly expected; but nothing has been heard from either of them since the 4th of April.,

WILLIAM BLOUNT. . During the last secession of Congress, the farcical affair of “ Blount's Conspiracy,” as it was called, was brought to a conclusion; or rather, it was buried in oblivion, without ever being brought to any conclusion at all,

WILLIAM BLOUNT, who was a native of North Carolina, and who had been governor of the new state of Tennessee, was, in 1797, a member of the Senate of the United States for the said state of Tennessee. What were his moral principles, the reader will be able to guess from the part he acted in the transactions about to be detailed; but, it may be necessary to observe, that he was a flaming patriot, always full of professions in favour of France and against Great Britain. On all questions, which came before the Senate, and in which these two nations were implicated, he never failed to give the strongest and most unequivocal proofs of attachment to the former, and of hatred of the latter. But, of all changeable things, what is so changeable as the affections of a republican patriot !

Blount was a great dealer in lands, which implies, at once, every quality usually possessed by a fortune hunter and a gambler. He was, as the well-born men of the Southern States generally are,

§ 4

a gentle

[ocr errors]

a gentleman-like, easy, engaging man. By his address, and perhaps by his zeal in their service, he had acquired great weight, not only amongst the people of Tennessee, but also amongst the Indians in the neighbourhood of the state. This circumstance rendered him a dangerous man, ifin any case, he should become disaffected to the United States.

The lands, which he owned in Tennessee, and in other parts of the country bordering on the Mississippi, were of immense extent; and, as all, and ten times more than all his fortune, was embarked in these' lands, every circumstance which could affect their value deeply engaged his attention. The United States had made a treaty with Spain, in 1795, which was considered very advantageous to the Western territory of the United States; but, before the boundary lines were drawn, in fulfilment of that treaty, Spain made a peace with France, by a secret article of which, it was thought, and is yet thought (in 1799], that Louisiana was ceded to France, and was to be delivered up to her at the conclusion of a general peace. Mr. Blount, patriot as he was, did not like the prospect of having the republican French for neighbours. In fact, he knew, that it would prevent the Western countries of the United States from being settled, and would, of course, not only prevent his lands from rising in value, but would take from them all the value they then possessed, and reduce him and his constituents to ruin.

In looking about him for means to prevent this, he could find nothing whereon to place any reliance, but the aid of Great Britain. This aid, however, could not be expected, without an offer of something substantial, as a compensation for the risk and expense. BLOUNT, therefore, and others concerned in the scheme, resolved to make an offer to put Great Britain in possession of Loui


[ocr errors]

siana and the Floridas, if she would send a squadron to take New Orleans and to guard the mouth of the Mississippi. The people of Tennessee and Kentucky were to be joined by a body of Indians, and these, under the direction of Blount and his associates, were to assist the British in dividing the Spaniards from the Continent of North America, and thus render it impossible for the French to form a settlement in Louisiana, for the purpose of annoying the people and influencing the parties and government of the United States.-Such was the plan ; never was one better laid, or more easy to execute. How it came to fail will be gathered from the following documents, and the notes, which I have thought it necessary to add. These documents are taken from a “ Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives of the United States,

appointed to prepare and report Articles of Impeachment against WILLIAM BLOUNT, a Senator of " the United States."

But, before I insert the documents, I must mention some circumstances, a knowledge of which is necessary to a clear comprehending of their meaning.–While Blount was at Philadelphia, in the capacity of a Senator, in the winter of 1797, his plan was opened to Mr. Liston (the British Minister there) by one CHISHOLM, whom American courtesy styled CAPTAIN CHISHOLM. It does not appear, that ChisHOLM was the agent of BLOUNT; but, that BLOUNT having communicated something of his intentions to him, CHISHOLM anticipated his propositions with the British Minister, and thus became, through the incautiousness of the latter, the principal in an enterprise, in which it was intended, that he should act as a very subordinate agent.—The Congress, which broke up in March, left BLOUNT leisure to return to Tennessee until June, when the Congress met again. On his


return to Philadelphia, he wrote the following letter to one JAMES CAREY, an interpreter of the Indian language at Tellico.

Colonel King's Iron Works,

April 21st, 1797.
I wished to have seen you, before I returned to

Philadelphia; but I am obliged to return to the session of Congress, which commences on the 15th May.

Among other things that I wished to have seen you about, was the business Captain Chesholm mentioned to the British Mi, nister last winter at Philadelphia.

I believe, but am not quite sure, that the plan then talked of will be attempted this fall; and if it is attempted, it will be in a much larger way than then talked of; and if the Indians act their part, I have no doubt but it will succeed. A man of consequence bas gone to England about the business, and if he makes arrangements as he expects, I sball myself have a hand in the business, and probably shall be at tbe bead of the business on the part of the British. You are, however, to understand that it is not yet quite certain that the plan will be attempted; yet you will do well to keep things in a proper train of action in case it should be attempted, and to do so will require all your management. I say require all your management, because you must take care, in whatever you say to Rogers, or any body else, not to let the plan be discovered by Hawkins, Dinsmoor, Byers, or any otber person in tbe interest of the United States or Spain.

If I attempt this plan, I shall expect to have you, and all my Indian country and Indian friends with me; but you are now in good business, I hope, and you are not to risk the loss of it by saying any thing that will hurt you until you again hear from me. Where Captain Chesholm is I do not know : I left him in Philadelphia in March, and he frequently visited the minister, and spoke upon the subject; but I believe he will go into the Creek nation, by way of South Carolina or Geor. gia. He gave out he was going to England, but I did not believe bim. Among things that you may safely do, will be to keep up my consequence with Waits, and the Creeks and Cherokees generally, and you must by no means say any thing in favour of Hawkins, but as often as you can with safety to yourself, you may teach the Creeks to believe be is no better tban be should be. . Any power or consequerce he gets will be against our plan. Perhaps Rogers, who has no office to lose, is the best man to give out talks against Hawkinst. Read the letter

* An Agent of the United States with the Creek Nation.


[ocr errors]

to Rogers *, and if you think it best to send it to him, put a wafer in it, and forward it to him by a safe hand, or perbaps you had best send for him to come to you, and speak to him yourself, respecting the state and prospect of things.

I have advised you in whatever you do to take care of yourself, I have now to tell you to take care of me too, for a discovery of the plan would prevent the success, and much injure all parties concerned. It may be that the commissioners may not run the lines as the Indians expected, or wish, and in that case it is probable the Indians may be taught to blame me for making the treaty.

To such complaints against me, if such there are, it may be said by my friends, at proper times and places, that Doublehead confirmed the treaty with the President at Philadelphia, and receives as much as 5000 dollars a year to be paid to the nation over and above the first price: indeed, it may with truth be said, that though I made the treaty. that I made it by the instructions of the President, and in fact it inay with truth be said, that I was by the President instructed to purchase much more land than the Indians would agree to sell. This sort of talk will be throwing all the blame off me, upon the late President, and as he is now out of office, it will be of no consequence how much the Indians blame him. And among other things that can be said for me, is, that I was not at the running of the line, and that if I had been, it would have been run more to their satisfaction. In short, you understand the subject, and must take care to give out the proper talks to keep up my consequence with the Creeks and Cherokees. Can't Rogues contrive to get the Creeks to desire the President to take Hawkins out of the nation, for if he stays in the Creek pation, and gets the good will of the nation, he can and will do great injury to our plans. W ben you have read this letter over three times then burn it. I shall be at Knoxville in July or August, when I will send for Watts, and give him the whiskey I promised, &c.


This letter was left with COLONEL KING, to be by him sent on to CAREY; but Blount happening to meet on his journey, a man of the name of GRANT, he requested him to go to King's, to take the letter, and give it to CAREY. Both GRANT and CAREY were afterwards examined

An Agent of the United States with the Cherokee Nation.


« PreviousContinue »