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McIntosh, William


McIntosh was the son of a Creek Indian mother and a Tory officer father. Through his father he was related to several notable Georgia officials, including his cousin George Troup, governor from 1823-1827. But the Creeks traced lineage through the mother; thus McIntosh became a chief among the Lower Creeks, who lived near and interacted more with whites than did the Upper Creeks, who lived along the Alabama, Tallapoosa, and and Coosa Rivers. McIntosh was successful in the white man’s world, operating a tavern and a large plantation. Much of his land was obtained through treaties he helped to negotiate, treaties that ceded more and more Creek lands to Georgia. McIntosh believed in living amicably with whites, which earned him many enemies among the Upper Creeks. Civil war actually broke out between the Creek factions in 1813, requiring federal intervention led by General Andrew Jackson. McIntosh fought with the Americans, eventually rising to the rank of brigadier general. In 1821, McIntosh helped negotiate the Treaty of the Indian Spring, which ceded to Georgia all lands between the Ocmulgee and Flint Rivers. The Upper Creeks took a stand, vowing death to anyone who agreed to cede any more Creek land. When McIntosh’s cousin Troup became governor he intended to remove all Indians from Georgia soil. No upper Creeks would negotiate with American officials, but a group of Lower Creeks, led by McIntosh, signed the Treaty of Indian Springs in 1825 which ceded all remaining Creek lands to Georgia, giving them equal acreage in Arkansas, but also rewarding McIntosh with more money and land. The negotiations were rife with bribery and corruption; when the Upper Creeks received word of the treaty they took immediate action. Surrounding McIntosh at his plantation home (called Lockchau Talofau, in what is now Carroll County, Georgia on April 30, 1825), they set the house on fire. When McIntosh was forced from the building he was attacked and killed, being stabbed numerous times, then scalped. Due to the circumstances in which the Indian Springs treaty had been negotiated and signed, president John Quincy Adams refused to present it to the Senate for ratification, but separate treaties in the next two years completed the Creek removal from Georgia. William McIntosh remains an enigmatic figure in Georgia history, viewed by some as a talented businessman and military leader who foresaw the inevitable advance of the white man and tried to salvage what he could for the Creeks, while being viewed by others as a traitor to his people.

McIntosh, William View large image

Source: Portrait by Charles Bird King