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enthusiastic, of iron constitution and restless activity, a trained soldier, and skillful partisan, was the very man to lead the Indians in their desultory warfare with the semi-civilized borderers. So he marries the beautiful sister of the chieftain, and is appointed Tustenuggee, or grand war-chief of the nation.
During the Revolutionary War, the Creeks unceasingly harass the Georgian frontier, Milfort taking the field as their leader, while McGillivray, remaining at home, oversees enlistments and manages refractory chieftains; his enmity against the Georgians yet further inflamed by the misfortunes of his father, who is forced at the evacuation of Savannah by the British to flee with them, and who, although he secured a large property to carry with him, lost all his real estate ; which, to the value of more than a hundred thousand dollars, was suinmarily confiscated by the provincials; an injury which the chief, who amidst all his patriotism and politics had always a keen eye to his personal profit and aggrandizement, neither forgot nor forgave.
But the Spaniards, meanwhile, have re-conquered Florida from England. At Pensacola resides William Panton, like McGillivray's father a Scotchman, a wealthy and extensive Indian trader, and no small politician. He has bartered the use of his powerful influence amongst the Indian tribes south of the Tennessee River, with the Spanish government, for
certain special privileges; and is now, as chief partner of the great firm of Panton, Leslie & Co., conducting a business, whose out-stations are all over Florida, from the St. Mary's to the Chickasaw bluffs, whose central depôt at Pensacola usually contains fifty thousand dollars' worth of goods, and employs fifteen clerks, and for whose carrying trade fifteen schooners, all owned by the firm, were busy up and down the coast.
McGillivray is dropped by the British, who, beaten out of the country, have no further use for him. Panton, well aware of his influence and appreciating his talents, seeks to engage him in the interest of Spain ; with the design of securing to his Spanish allies a valuable auxiliary, and to himself McGillivray's assistance in l.is trade, which ends were to be accomplished by demonstrating the value of the Spanish alliance to his nation, and moreover, by the direct personal advancement of the chieftain himself. Panton brings him to Pensacola; and on behalf of the Creek and Seminole nations he engages that the influence of Spain shall be paramount in their territories, and that Spain shall have all their trade; and for himself he receives the appointment of commissary in the Spanish service, with the rank and pay of a colonel.
For choosing the Spanish alliance, McGillivray's reasons, aside from his private aggrandizement, were amply sufficient. His primary purpose--the central
purpose of his life-was the independence and prosperity of his own people. While the Americans had exiled his father, confiscated his estates, threatened death to himself and extermination to his tribe, and had already, under the transparent pretence of an illegal and unratified treaty, appropriated a large and valuable portion of the Creek territory, known as the Oconee lands, the Spaniards wanted no land, but only trade, and they offered commercial advantages and personal honor. Henceforward McGillivray appears almost solely
a diplomatist. The provincial Congress had appointed commissioners to treat with the southern Indians, who sent to summon the chief to meet them and enter into a treaty. He answered complaisantly and politely, with apparent acquiescence, but avoided meeting them. They departed in disappointment; and contrary to their wishes, the Georgian commissioners who had accompanied them, protesting against their intended plans, proceeded alone to conclude a treaty with the chiefs of only two towns, who with sixty warriors were the only Indians present; and the State legislature made a county out of some of the land thus pretended to be ceded, which lasted only two weeks, the settlers being driven out by the Indian lords of the soil.
Congress next appointed a superintendent for the Creeks, Dr. James White, who wrote to McGillivray from Cusseta, announcing the fact. The chief replied in a long and involved epistle, complaining of the Georgian grievances, anticipating redress, and appointing time and place for an interview. They met in April, 1787, and White forthwith demanded the acknowledgment of the boundary claimed by the Georgians. McGillivray adroitly made a counterproposition, that the United States ought first to establish a government under federal authority south of the Alabama; and promising that if they should, he would then ratify the line required, and giving the checkmated superintendent until the first of August to consider on it, he departed.
All this time the extensive trade of the Creeks was shut to the United States, and the Indians, incensed beyond measure at the greedy seizure of the Oconee lands, incessantly depredated upon the border, to the great wrath and injury of the Georgian squatters, who would fain have procured the invasion of the Creeks by a national army.
But Congress is reluctant to enter into another war; and a third time sends other commissioners to negotiate with McGillivray. The powerful and fearless chieftain now absolutely refuses to treat unless the Georgians shall first be removed from the Oconee lands, which the commissioners cannot do, and again they go bootless home; while McGillivray, personally interested in Panton's extensive trade, valued, flat
tered, and amply supplied by the Spanish government, implicitly obeyed by the Creeks and by many of the Choctaws, Cherokees and Seminoles, and even supplicated to by the American Congress, is quite able to demand his own terms; and the indefatigable Tustenuggee and his warriors still unmercifully vex and devastate the disputed border.
The proud, bold and wary “ Alabama Talleyrand” as Pickett the historian calls him, scornfully refused to trust the pledge of personal honor, upon which commissioners from Georgia next invited him to meet them; evaded repeated like attempts by Governor Pinckney of South Carolina; and kept the commissioners of the federal government long waiting and urging him to a meeting, on his frontier.
McGillivray at length agreed to meet them; and knowing well what use to make of the Spanish fears that he might come to an accommodation with them, and ever influenced primarily by the interests of his nation, he wrote to Panton an ambiguous letter containing the following triumphant and powerful passage:
“In order to accommodate us, the commissioners are complaisant enough to postpone it (the meeting) till the 15th of next month, and one of them, the late Chief Justice Osborne, remains all the time at Rock Landing
In this do you not see my cause of triumph, in bringing these conquerors of the Old, and masters of the New World, as they call themselves, to bend and supplicate for peace,