Western Lands and the American Revolution

By Thomas Perkins Abernethy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
THE WEST IN DISTRESS, 1786

DURING the years immediately following the Revolution Alexander McGillivray was perhaps the most important personage who figures in the history of the Spanish-American border. Much has been said, yet little is known, of this half-breed chieftain of the Creeks. His father, Lachlan McGillivray, was a Scottish merchant who took the Tory side during the War and quitted Georgia to live among the natives. When ten years of age the son was sent to New York to be educated, and on the outbreak of the War he was commissioned a captain in the British service, leading parties of Indians during the struggle. In 1783 he was made "King and Head Warrior" of the Creek Nation. During this year he continued to correspond with British officials at St. Augustine, hoping to secure their aid against the government of Georgia which was trying to get a cession of lands from the Creeks. The British cautiously advised him against precipitating hostilities, but suggested that he apply to the Spanish officials of Louisiana for supplies of munitions. The result of this was that in June, 1784, McGillivray became an agent of the Pensacola firm of Panton, Leslie and Company and an ally of the Spanish power on the Gulf, with the rank and pay of colonel.1

On November 1, 1783, Georgia made a treaty with the Creeks at Augusta whereby the Indian boundary was extended westward from the Ogeechee to the Oconee River. But McGillivray set himself against the surrender of any lands to the whites, and the treaty was not carried out. From May until November, 1785, the Creeks were at war with the Georgians, the conflict coming to a temporary end with the treaty of Galphinton on November 12, by which the boundary as set at the treaty of Augusta was reestablished. McGillivray would have nothing to do with this pacification, and the question of the boundary remained open for further dispute.2

____________________
1
McGillivray to Lt. Col. Thomas Brown, April 10, 1783, P.R.O., C.O., series 5, 82; same to same, Aug. 30, 1783, ibid.; Thomas Brown to Lord North, Oct. 24, 1783, ibid.; William B. Stevens, A History of Georgia ( Philadelphia, 1859) II, 431; Mohr, Federal Indian Relations, pp. 144-145; Littell, Political Transactions, p. xiii.
2
Articles of the treaty of Augusta, Nov. 31, 1783, MS. vol., Bonds, Bills of Sale, etc., 1783- 1792, G.D.A.; Articles of the treaty of Galphinton, Nov. 12, 1785, ibid., (also in A.S.P., Indian Affairs, I, 16, dated Nov. 17); Thomas Brown to Lord North, July 30, 1783, P.R.O., C.O., series 5, 82; Bemis, Pinckney's Treaty, p. 57; Stevens, Georgia, II, 415-429; Mohr, Federal Indian Relations, pp. 146-147.

-311-

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