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Title: [Letter] 1812 Apr. 14, Highwassee Garrison [Tennessee, to] John Strother, Nashville [Tennessee] / Return J. Meigs : a machine readable transcription of an image
Author:Meigs, Return J.

This work is the property of the Special Collections Library, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. For all other use contact the Special Collections Librarian, Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996. (865) 974-4480.

Date: April 14, 1812
Extent: 4p
Summary:This is a letter from Return J. Meigs to Captain John Strother, dated April 14, 1812. Meigs writes about a tract of land that is in dispute between the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes. Meigs gives some history about the land's ownership and how it is used by the Natives. Rights to a salt petre cave are in dispute. Meigs also mentions the Hopewell Treaty of 1785, and an agreement from George Washington in 1794.
Collection:Return Jonathan Meigs Papers
Box:MS 2039
Document: sc214

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Highwassee Garrison14th April 1812

I received your letter of the 29th Ult. [Ultimo] last evening by mail. With respect to the salt Peter Cave at the mouth of Elk river on Dobleheads reserve /so called/ I will give you my view & conception of the rights claimed by the Cherokee s & by the Chickasaw s. Both these tribes have rights which have been admitted by the Government in their transactions with those people. The right to a very large tract of land including the [unclear: P ] Reserve was by an early treaty with the Cherokees to wit, at the Hopewell treaty in 1785 "allotted to the Cherokees for their hunting grounds" see articles 4th & 5th of that treaty. In 1794 9 years afterwards it appears that General Washington by an instrument which the Chickasaws call [unclear: their ] parchment declared or it amounts to this. that the same land belonged to the Chickasaws. The Cherokees complain that this was done by an [unclear: exparte ] representation of the Chickasaws. The Chickasaws also complain that the allotment in 1785 to the Cherokees the Commissioners were imposed on by an exparte Statement by the Cherokees then transactions perplexed [unclear: the rights of both their tribes ] and it is probable that both tribes may be charged with [unclear: exparte & unfair ] statements__ In order to remove their conflicting claims the Government bought in 1806 the Cherokee rights to the large tract in question. at the same time stipulating that the lands called Doubleheads reserve should be the Common property of the Cherokees then living on said reserve & two or three other Cherokees then [unclear: named & consented ] to have the conflicting claims [added: settled] in such manner as will be equitable & just and will [unclear: secure ] to the Cherokees the the title to the said Reservations" plural/ [added: because] there was a [unclear: reservation ] also for Melton & Hicks___

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this was done by convention the 7th day of January 1806. It must be recollected that the Cherokees were then & have ever since been in possession of the [unclear: P ] reservation & then never was an intimation from the Government that they must remove off said reservation and they still hold possession, they hunt. they raise corn; they make use of the land in any way they please, & have as good right to make salt Petre as to hunt or raise corn__ and here it must be observed that the claim of the Chickasaws to that land is not impaired the government by the former transactions mentioned are taken in by the parties & are now bound to extinguish the title of each party. & will faithfully do it at a proper time___ With respect to the Cave at the mouth of Elk. the late secretary at war had accorded the right to work it to Mr Bibb for his friend Leroy Pope esquire, provided the Indian Chiefs consented. Mr. Pope had as he informed me obtained the consent of the Chiefs & informed me that Jn walker & he had agreed to work at the same cave Jn walker having obtained the consent of the Cherokee Chiefs___ The secretary of war had previously given me [unclear: discretionary ] power to regulate the working salt Petre caves I therefore gave Walker [added: permission] morgan acted under him then has since given up to Walker and Leroy Pope & Walker are I believe now carrying on the manufacture of salt petre_ I hope amicably; tho [though] , walker was not well satisfied with the arrangements__

The Chickasaws risk nothing by all these oscillations to the right & the left they are safe their right to the [unclear: sail [sale] or a just ] compensation therefore. their rights are not

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in the least impaired by all that has been done__ The Cherokees having by long possession held the small tract mentioned has undoubtedly a right to hold it untill [until] the matter shall be settled by the United States & the Chickasaws__ The United States hold both those tribes in esteem & will do justice between them

The United States have bought the Cherokees title and must buy the title of the Chickasaws,_ On account of the early attempts to settle the respective boundaries of these tribes there were some misapprehension of their proper limits__ The United States act towards their tribes with justice and liberality, such as a good father would between his children

By comparing the treaty of Hopewell in 1785, The parchment of General Washington in 1794. And the Convention of January _ _ _ 1806. it will be seen how the conflicting claims have arisen _ The faith of the Government is pledged to settle in a manner that will be just & equitable all this seeming, or real uncertainty & give each party their just rights

I am Sir
with esteem
and respect
Return J Meigs
[added: P.S [Post Script] The salt Peter cave is not [not] of such value as to warrant any uneasiness between these friendly tribes. especially when we have a common enemy to contend with.]
RJ [Return Jonathan] Meigs
John Strother esqr [esquire]

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John Strother esqr Nashville
[added: Col [Colonel] Meigs to Capt [Captain]
Jno [Jonathan] Strother Apl [April] 14th 1812]

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