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In Their Own Words

December 12, 1801

Hawkins Met with Choctaws Regarding New President

Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins, along with fellow agent Andrew Pickins and Brigadier General James Wilkinson, met the chiefs of the Choctaw Nation for a conference at Fort Adams. Hawkins wrote the following in his notes:

“The conference commenced. The interpreters being called forth and warned to correct each other, & after having gone thro’ the ceremonies of the pipe, General Wilkinson, in the name of the Commission, addressed them as follows: Mingcos, Chiefs & Principal Men of the Choctaw Nation: You have all heard of the death of your father, the great [George] Washington, and you have no doubt wept for the loss; since we experienced that heavy misfortune the people of the sixteen fires assembled in their great national council house have thought proper to elect our beloved chief, Thomas Jefferson, to be President of these United States. Brothers: Open your ears and listen well. Your new father, Jefferson, who is the friend of all the red people and humanity, finding himself at the head of the white people of the sixteen fires, immediately turned his thoughts to the condition of his red children, who stand most in need of his care and whom he regards with the affection of a good father… .”

Source: Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, Vol. IX, Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1806 (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1916), p. 397.