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1783 Douglass

General Ephraim Douglass (ca 1749-1883) was given a commission by the United States War Office to inform the Indians that the Revolutionary War was over and the United States had won. He was to go as far as Detroit if necessary with the news. He chose one companion, Captain George McCully and one servant and proceeded to carry out his mission.

Princeton, 18th August, 1783.


In obedience to the instructions you honored me with on the 5th of May last, I have used every endeavour in my power to execute in the fullest manner your orders, and give effect to your wishes; and though I have not had all the success I at first hoped, I flatter myself the following report will not only shew that I have attempted all in my power, but that essential good consequences may justly be hoped from my endeavours to obey your commands. On the 7th of June, I left Fort Pitt and travelling about two hundred miles by the old trading path, arrived on the 16th at the Delaware and Huron settlements on the Sandusky River. . . .

Finding that I had little hope from continuing at Sandusky, and likely to effect as little by visiting the Miami if my Horses had even been able to have performed the Journey, I determined to proceed to Detroit by the nearest route, though I began to be doubtful I should succeed in my wishes there; determined however to leave nothing unattempted which promised even a probability of success, I concurred with the Pipe in a message to the Miami Indians, desiring that rather than wait to hear the dispatches of these Southern Indians, they should advise them to continue their Journey to Detroit, where they would certainly meet the Six Nations, to whom their business must be ultimately delivered, as the Deputation in consequence of which they had performed so long and difficult a journey, had originally proceeded from them. We desired them to send us an answer in three days what Resolution they would take and when we should meet them where the roads unite, that we might go together to Detroit. . . .

I left Sandusky on the 30th, accompanied by the Pipe and two other Indians in addition to my former Companions, and travelled onwards to Detroit till the afternoon of the 1st of July when we were met by Mr. Elliot and three other persons from that place, whom the Commandant had dispatched for the purpose of conducting us thither.. . . .

I was now nearly half way from Sandusky to Detroit, and could neither take or alter a resolution in consequence of this Letter, but continue my journey with my new companions - till the 4th when I arrived at Detroit, where I was received with much politeness and treated with great Civility by the Commandant, to whom I delivered your Letter, shewed your instructions and pressed for an opportunity of communicating them to the Indians as soon as might be. He professed the strongest desire of bringing about a reconciliation between the United States and the several Indian Nations, - declared that he would willingly promote it all in his power; but that until he was authorized by his Superiors in Command, he could not consent that any thing should be said to the Indians relative to the boundary of the United States; for though he knew from the King's Proclamation that the war with America was at an end, he had had no official information to justify his supposing the States extended to this place, and therefore could not consent to the Indians' being told so; especially as he had uniformly declared to them, that he did not know these Posts were to be evacuated by the English. He had no objection, he said, to my communicating the friendly offers of the United States, - and would chearfully make known to them the substance of your Letter to him.

In the morning of the 5th, I received an intimation from Colonel DePeyster, through Captain McKee, that it was his wish I would go on to Niagara, as soon as I had recovered from the fatigue of my journey.

In consequence of this I waited on him in the afternoon, and pressed with greater warmth than yesterday, the necessity of my speaking to the Indians and receiving an answer from them. I pressed him to suffer me to proceed on my business without his interference, and offered him my word that I would say nothing to them respecting the limits of the States, but confine myself to the offer of Peace or choice of War, and the Invitation to Treaty. He would not retract his resolution without further orders from the Commander in Chief, and I was obliged to submit however unwillingly. But must do him the justice to acknowledge that he made every offer of civility and service, except that which he considered inconsistent with his Duty.

On the 6th I attended the Council which Colonel DePeyster held with the Indians, to which he had yesterday invited me. After delivering his business of calling them together, he published to them your Letter and pressed them to continue in the strictest amity with the Subjects of the United States, - represented to them the folly of continuing hostilities, and assured them that he could by no means give them any future assistance against the people of America.

At this meeting were the Chiefs of the eleven Indian Nations, comprehending all the Tribes as far South as the Wabash. They were Chipewas, Otawas, Wyandots or Hurons, Shawneze, Delawares, Kickaboos, Oweochtanoos, Miamis, Pootawotamies and Pienkishas with a part of the Senecas; most of whom gave evident marks of their Satisfaction at seeing a subject of the United States in that Country. They carried their civilities so far that my lodging was all day surrounded with crowds of them when at home, and the Streets lined with them to attend my going abroad; that they might have an opportunity of seeing and saluting me, which they did not fail to do in their best manner, with every demonstration of joy.

On the morning of the 7th I took my leave of Colonel DePeyster, after having received more civilities from him than the limits of this report will suffer me to enumerate; but not 'till I had the honor of writing to you by my Guide, whom I directed to return to Fort Pitt as soon as the Pipe should be ready to return to Sandusky, on whom I depended for his safe conduct thither, and to provide one to accompany him to Fort Pitt.

I arrived at Niagara on the 11th . . .

From : EPHRAIM DOUGLAS AND HIS TIMES; A FRAGMENT OF HISTORY. Edited by Clarence C. Burton. NY: William Abbatt, 1910. (Being Extra No. 10 of the Magazine of History with Notes and Queries): 264-270.

See Also:

Burton, Clarence M. Ephraim Douglas and His Times: 219-251.