restricted access 3. Report of Committee on Indian Affairs, October 15, 1783
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3 By the United States in Congress assembled. A Proclamation. Whereas by the ninth of the Articles of Confederation, it is among other things declared , that “the United States in Congress assembled have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the trade, and managing all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the states, provided that the legislative right of any State, within its own limits, be not infringed or violated.” And whereas it is essential to the welfare and interest of the United States as well as necessary for the maintenance of harmony and friendship with the Indians, not members of any of the states, that all cause or quarrel or complaint between them and the United States, or any of them, should be removed and prevented: Therefore the United States in Congress assembled have thought proper to issue their proclamation, and they do hereby prohibit and forbid all persons from making settlements on lands inhabited or claimed by Indians, without the limits or jurisdiction of any particular State, and from purchasing or receiving any gift or cession of such lands or claims without the express authority and directions of the United States in Congress assembled. And it is moreover declared, that every such purchase or settlement, gift or cession, not having the authority aforesaid, is null and void, and that no right or title will accrue in consequence of any such purchase, gift, cession or settlement. . . . [ Journals of the Continental Congress, 25: 602.] 3. Report of Committee on Indian Affairs October 15, 1783 A select committee headed by James Duane, to whom papers relating to Indian affairs had been committed, made a report to the Continental Congress on October 15, 1783, which outlined procedure for dealing with the Indians in the North and West. The influence of Washington’s letter to Duane can be seen throughout the document. The following extracts from the long report are the introduction, which is a sort of prologue of policy, and the section relative to trade regulations. Other sections deal with the particular steps recommended to the commissioners for setting up a boundary line and negotiating with the tribes. An almost identical report was submitted in relations to the southern Indians. [The committee report:] That they have attentively considered the several papers referred to them, and have conferred thereon with the Commander in Chief. . . . That it is represented, and the committee believe with truth, that although the hostile tribes of Indians in the northern and middle departments, are seriously disposed to a pacification, yet they are not in a temper to relinquish their territorial claims, without further struggles. That if an Indian war should be rekindled, repeated victories might produce the retreat of the Indians, but could not prevent them from regaining possession of some part of the distant and extensive territories, which appertain to the United States; that while such temporary expulsions could only be effected at a great charge, they could not be improved to the smallest advantage, but by maintaining numerous garrisons and an expensive peace establishment; that even if all the northern and western tribes of Indians inhabiting the territories of the United States could be totally expelled, the policy of reducing them to such an extremity is deemed to be questionable ; for in such an event it is obvious that they would find a welcome reception from the British government in Canada, which by so great an accession of strength would become formidable in case of any future rupture , and in peace, by keeping alive the resentment of the Indians for the loss of their country, would secure to its own subjects the entire benefit of the fur trade. That although motives of policy as well as clemency ought to inclineCongresstolistentotheprayersofthe hostile Indians for peace, yet in the opinion of the committee it is just and necessary that 4 lines of property should be ascertained and established between the United States and them, which will be convenient to the respective tribes, and commensurate to the public wants, because the faith of the United States stands pledged to grant portions of the uncultivated lands as a bounty to their army, and in reward of their courage and fidelity, and the public finances do not admit of any considerable expenditure to extinguish the Indian claims upon such lands; because it is become necessary, by the increase of domestic population and emigrations from abroad, to make speedy provision for extending the settlement of...


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