June 10 1812: Monroe to Foster

On June 10, 1812, Secretary of State James Monroe, is not leaving any diplomatic note from Augustus Foster unanswered. This time he is responding to Foster's  letters of June 7 and 8 that denied that the British government was involved in stirring up "Indian hostilities". Monroe responds by attaching a long list of extracts from letters on the issue. The conclusion that Monroe draws and communicates to Foster is that whatever may have been the disposition of the British Government "the conduct of its subordinate agents has tended to excite the hostility of those tribes towards the United States".  Monroe also cannot help but add a line that references indirectly John Henry's "spy" mission to the United States. Monroe's letter is reproduced below.

Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.
Department Of State, June 10, 1812.

Sir: In answer to the letters of the 7th and 8th instant, which I have had the honor to receive from you, disclaiming any agency of your Government in promoting the hostility of the Indians, it is my duty to communicate to you such information as has been transmitted to this Government on the subject, at different periods, since the year 1807. From these documents it appears, that, whatever may have been the disposition of your Government, the conduct of its subordinate agents has tended to excite the hostility of those tribes towards the United States.

In estimating the comparative evidence on this subject, it is impossible not to recollect the communication lately made to this Government respecting the conduct of Sir James Craig in another important transaction, which, it appears, was approved by Lord Liverpool.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,

Augustus J. Foster, Esq., ifcc.

[The following papers are those referred to and enclosed in Mr. Monroe's letter of June 10.] Extracts of letters to the Secretary of War, from Captain Dunham, of the United States'1 army, dated Michilimackinac, May 24, 1807.

There appears to be a very general and extensive movement among the savages in this quarter. Belts of wampum are rapidly circulating from one tribe to another, and a spirit is prevailing by no means pacific. The enclosed talk, which has been industriously spread among them, needs no comment.

There is certainly mischief at the bottom, and there can be no doubt, in my mind, but that the object and intention of the great Maniton, or second Adam, under the pretence of restoring to the aborigines their former independence, and to the savage character its ancient energies, is, in reality, to induce a general effort to rally, and to strike somewhere a desperate blow.

Extract from a talk delivered at Le Marouitinong, entrance of Lake Michigan, by the Indian chief Lc Magouis, or the Trout, May 4, 1807.

I am the father of the English, of the French, of the Spaniards, and of the Indians; I created the first man, who was tiie common father of all these people, as well as yourselves; and it is through him, whom I have awaked from his long sleep, that I now address you. But-the Americans I did not make. They are not my children, but the children of the evil spirit. They grew from the scum of the great waters, when it was troubled by the evil spirit, and the froth was driven into the woods by a strong east wind. They are numerous, but I hate them. My children, you must not speak of this talk to the whites. It must be hidden from them. I am now on the earth, sent by the Great Spirit to instruct you. Each village must send me two or more principal chiefs to represent you, that you may be taught. The bearer of this talk will point out to you the path to my wigwam. I could not come myself to Abre Chocle, because the world is changed from what it was. It is broken and leans down, and, as it declines, the Chippewas and all beyond will fall off and die. Therefore you must come and see me, and be instructed. Those villages which do not listen to this talk, and send me two deputies, will be cut off from the face of the earth.

• From Captain Dunham to the Secretary of State.
Michilimackinac, August 30, 1807.
The cause of the hostile feelings on the part of the Indians is principally to be attributed to the influence of foreigners trading in the country.

From Governor Harrison.
Jeffersonville, (Fans of Ohio,) April 14, 1808.
A young man from the Delaware towns came to inform me that a Pattawatamie Indian had arrived at the towns with a speech from the British, in which they were informed that they (the British) were upon the point of commencing hostilities against the United' States, and requesting the Delawares to join them.

From General William Clark.
St. Louis, Aprjd 30, 1809.
I have the honor to enclose to you a copy of a letter which confirms my suspicions of the British interference with our Indian affairs in this country.
Extract referred to above.

I am at present in the fire, receiving Indian news every day. A chief of the Puant nation appears to be employed by the British to get all the nations of Indians to Detroit, to see their fathers the British, who tell them that they pity them in their situations with the Americans, because the Americans had taken their lands and their game; that they must join, and send them off from their lands. They told the savages that the Americans would not give them a blanket, nor any thing good for their families.

They said they had but one father that had helped them in their misfortunes; and that they would assemble, defend their father, and keep their lands. It appears that four English subjects have been at Riviere k la Roche this winter, in disguise; they have been there to get the nations together, and send them on the American frontiers. The Indians are pushed on by our enemies to take the fort at Bellevue.

From Samuel Tupper, Indian factor.
Sandusky, June 7, 1809.
The conduct of British traders in introducing spirituous liquors among the Indians in this part of the country, and their determined hostility to the measures of our Government, have long been subjects of complaint

From Governor William Hull.
Detroit, June 16, 1809.
The influence of the Prophet has been great, and his advice to the Indians injurious to them and the United States. The powerful influence of the British has been exerted in a way alluring to the savage character.

From Governor Harrison.
Vincennes, June 14, 1810.
An Iowa Indian informs me that two years' ago this summer an agent from the British arrived at the Prophet's town, and, in his presence, delivered the message with which he was charged; the substance of which was to urge the Prophet to unite as many tribes as he could against the United States, but not to commence hostilities until they gave the signal. From this man, and others of his nation, I learn that the Prophet has been constantly soliciting their own and other tribes of the Mississippi to join him against the United States.

From Governor Harrison.
Vincennes, July 18, 1810.
A considerable number-of Sacs went, some time since, to see the British superintendent, and, on the 1st instant, fifty' more passed Chicago.for the same destination. A Miami chief, who has just returned from his annual visit to Maiden, after having received the accustomed donation of goods, was thus addressed by the British agent: "My son, keep your eyes fixed on me; my tomahawk is now up; be you ready, but do not strike until I give the signal."

From General William Clark.
St. Louis, July 20, 1810.
One hundred and fifty Sacs are on a visit to the British agent, by invitation, and a small party on a visit to the island of St. Joseph, in Lake Huron.

From Governor Harrison.
Vincennes, July 25th 1810.
There can be no doubt of the designs of the prophet and the British Agent of Indian Affairs to do us injury.

This agent is a refugee from the neighborhood of , and his implacable hatred to his native country prompted him to take part with the Indians in the battle between them and General Wayne's army. He has, ever since his appointment to the principal agency, used his utmost endeavors to excite hostilities; and the lavish manner in which he is allowed to scatter presents among them shows that his Government participates in his enmity, and authorizes his measures.

From Governor Hull.
Detroit, July 27, 1810.
Large bodies of Indians from the westward and southward continue to visit the British post at Amherstburg, and are supplied with provisions, arms, ammunition, &c. Much more attention is paid to them than usual.

Extract from the speech of Red Jacket, in behalf of himself and the other deputies of the Six Nations. February, 1810.
Since you have had some disputes with the British Government, their agents in Canada have not only endeavored to make the Indians at the westward your enemies, but they have sent a war-belt amongst our warriors, to poison theif minds, and. make them break their faith with you. At the same time, we had information that the British had circulated war-belts among the Western Indians, and within your territory.

From John Johnson, Indian Agent.
Fort Wayne, August 7, 1810.
Since writing to you on the 25th ultimo, about one hundred men of the Saukies have returned from the British agent, who supplie.d them liberally with every thing they stood in want of. The party received forty-seven rifles and a number of fusils, with plenty of powder and lead. This is sending fire-brands into the Mississippi country, inasmuch as it will draw numbers of our Indians to the British side, in the hope" of being treated with the same liberality.

From Governor Harrison.. , • Vincennes, February 6,1811.
If the intentions of the British Government are pacific, the Indian Department of Upper Canada have not been made acquainted with them; for they have very lately said every thing to the Indians who have visited them to excite them against us.

From John Johnson.
Fort Wayne, February 8, 1811. has been at this place. The information derived from him is the same I have been in possession of
for several years, to wit, the intrigues of the British agents and partisans in creating an influence hostile to our people and Government within our territory.

From Mr. Irwin, Indian factor.
Chicago, May 13, 1811.
An assemblage of the Indians is to take place on a branch of the Illinois, by the influence of the Prophet. The result will be hostile, in the event of a war with Great Britain.

From Governor Harrison.
Vincennes, September 17, 1811.
states that almost every Indian from the country above this had been, or were then gone, to Maiden, on a visit to the British agent. We shall probably gain our destined point at the moment of their return. If, then, the British agents are really endeavoring to instigate the Indians to make war upon us, we shall be in their neighborhood at the very moment when the impressions which have been made against us are more active in the minds of the savages succeeded in getting the chiefs together at Fort Wayne, though he found them all preparing to go to Maiden. The result of the council discovered that the whole tribes (including the Weas and Eel Rivers, for they are all Miamies) were about equally divided in Javor of the Prophet and the United States. Lafrousier, the Weachief, whom I before mentioned to you as being seduced by the Prophet, was repeatedly asked by what land it was that he was determined to defend with his blood—whether it was that which was ceded by the late treaty or not? But he would give no answer to reports that all the Indians of the Wabash have been, or now are, on a visit to the British agent at Maiden. He has never known one-fourth as many goods given to the Indians as are now distributing. He examined the share of one man, (not a chief,) and found that he had received an elegant rifle, twenty-five pounds of powder, fifty pounds of lead, three blankets, three strouds of cloth, ten shirts, and several other articles. He says that every Indian is furnished with a gun, (either rifle or fusil,) and an abundance of ammunition. A trader of this country was lately in the King's stores at Maiden, and was told that the quantity of goods for the Indian Department which had been sent out this year exceeded that of common years by twenty thousand pounds sterling. It is impossible to ascribe this profusion to any other motive than that of instigating the Indians to take up the tomahawk. It cannot be to secure their trade; for all the peltries collected on the waters of the Wabash in one year, if sold in the London market, would not pay the freight of the goods which have been given to the Indians.

I am decidedly of opinion that the tendency of the British measures is hostility to us.

From Governor Willie Blount.
Nashville, September 11, 1811.
There is in this place a very noted chief of the Chickasaws, a man of truth, who wishes the President should be informed that there is a combination of the Northern Indians, promoted by the English, to unite in falling on the frontier settlements, and are inviting the Southern tribes to join them.

From Governor Ninian Edwards.
Cahokia, St. Clair County, Illinois Territory, April 24, 1812.
The opinion of the celebrated British trader Dixon is, that, in the event of a British war, all the Indians will be opposed to us, and he hopes to engage them in hostility by making peace' between the Sioux and Chippewas, two very large nations, and getting them to declare against us.

Extract of a letter from Ninian Edwards, Esq., Governor of the Illinois Territory, to the Secretary of War, dated Illinois Territory, January 25, 1812.
Many of those Indians certainly contemplate joining the British. They are in the habit of visiting Fort Maiden annually; and, as soon as they are prepared for their departure thither, they will (as I believe they have already declared) make inroads upon our settlements, as well to take scalps as to steal horses.'

Extract of a letter from General William Clark to the Secretary of War, dated
St. Louis, February 13, 1812.
If possession was taken of a point about the mouth of Fox river, where it enters into Green bay, communications would be cut off between the traders and Indians on the Mississippi, below Prairie du Chien and the British trading-houses on the lakes. Smuggling might be prevented through that channel. Mr. Dickson and those British traders, who are also agents, who have smuggled an immense quantity of goods through that channel this year, and now in the Mississippi, could be caught on their return as they go out in the spring. This description of people grasp at every means in their power to wean the affections of the Indians from any thing that is American; having it in their power to make large presents to the Indians, the most of whom are to be bought, and by this means create great difficulty wherever they have an influence.

Extracts of a letter from John Shaw, Esq., Indian agent, to the Secretary of War, dated Fort Wayne, 10th  of 3d month, 1812.

It appears that the hostile disposition of the Indians, confederated under the Shawanese Prophet, that so recently manifested itself in the conflict on the Wabash, is not yet changed. By every thing that I am able to learn, they are secretly plotting to strike an effective blow on our frontier, and it is said that they have been this winter invited by the British agent at Fort Maiden to pay him a visit; and I believe it is a fact that a considerable number of them have recently gone to that place with a view of procuring ammunition.

A speech is also said to have been recently sent to Winnemac, a Pattawatamie chief, from Elliott, the British agent, but to what purpose I have not yet been able to learn.

Extracts of a letter from John Shaw, Esq., Indian agent, to the Secretary of War, dated Fort Wayne, 1st of 3d month, 1812.
It has been reported by a Miami Indian, who was hunting a few miles from this, that twenty-four Indians of the Shawanese Prophet's band, composed of Winnebagoes, Kickapoos, and Shawanese, passed his camp about six days ago, on their way to Sandusky, for a quantity of powder and lead, which they said was to be sent them from Canada.
It also appears, from the statements of a gentleman of Detroit, that the Morpock, (Pattawatamie chief,) with a small party of Indians, has been, for a considerable time past, encamped on the river Raisin, and constantly getting provisions from the British at Fort Maiden; and that it is firmly believed that he is waiting for a signal from Elliott, the British agent, to commence hostilities on our frontier.

Extract of a letter from Robert Forsyth, Esq. to Captain Rhea, commanding at Fort Wayne, dated Fort Wayne, March 10,1812.
I have no doubt but those Indians that passed this post some time ago are a deputation sent to the British garrison for the purpose of procuring ammunition.
The Morpock, a Pattawatamie chief, wintered at river Huron, about twenty miles from the garrison of Amherstburg, and has drawn provisions and ammunition during the whole winter; he has about twenty men with him.

Extract of a letter from B. F. Stickney, Esq., Indian agent, to His Excellency William H. Harrison, dated Fort Wayne, April 18, 1812.
Mr. Shaw has informed you that twenty-four of the Prophet's band had passed this place, in the last of February, for Fort Maiden, to receive ammunition which was promised to be ready for them. They returned on the 4th instant, with as much gunpowder, lead, and new fusils as they could carry.

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