Creek headman Alexander McGillivray (Hoboi-Hili-Miko) seeks to build an alliance with Spain, 1785

Creek headman Alexander McGillivray (Hoboi-Hili-Miko) seeks to build an alliance with Spain, 1785

Native peoples had long employed strategies of playing Europeans off against each other to maintain their independence and neutrality. As early as 1785, the Creek headman Alexander McGillivray (Hoboi-Hili-Miko) saw the threat the expansionist Americans placed on Native peoples and the inability of a weak United States government to restrain their citizens from encroaching on Native lands. McGillivray sought the aid and protection of the Spanish in order to maintain the supply of trade goods into Creek country and counter the Americans.

Little Tallasie 22d August 1785

His Excellency Governor de Zespedes


I have the honor of acknowledging the receipt of Your Excellency’s most esteemed favor of 13t. June. the letters enclosed for Governor ONeil & Colo. Piernass were delivered to the former the latter is at Orleans Commanding in absence of Governor Miro who is gone to the Natchez to regulate some matters. a great many troops having arrived & gone up that river.

The reports Your Excellency has heard concerning the americans are not founded in truth although they are proceeding in great numbers to the Mississippi with an Intent to establish-themselves upon the Territory as given them by the treaty of Peace between Britain & the State of America. But as Yet no hostilities have Commenced between any forces on the river — Nor is there any Post on the Cherokee river tho a very proper place for one at the mouth of it where it Joins the Mississippi. The americans will certainly attempt to establish a New State in that Country at the risque of a war. The Authority of Congress is but weak even in the heart of the States & those that are settled at the distance of five or Six hundred miles from the Seat of Government – despite its mandates. but before they attempt any great matters they will do all they can to gain over the Indian Nations that lay in their way & are most able to obstruct their views in Some measure. The gaining of these Creek Nations over to them is more Immediately an object of their Policy & to effect which purpose they have held forth the most tempting baits to my people to Induce them to meet the Commissioners of the States in Congress twice in the course of this Summer. but being Sensible of their Insidious Views I have hitherto prevented the Indians from Complying with their wishes & which I have the more effectually been enabled to do from the Support I have met with from Your Excellency permitting the House of Panton Leslie & Co. to supply the wants of the Indians from the Store at Apalachy & if the establishments that are made are kept up & well Supported so as the Indians are Certain of a permanent & well regulated Support of the Goods that they have been accustomed to it will remove from their minds the prejudices they have Conceived in favor of other Nations & attach themselves to that Government which Supports them in a trade on liberal principles. there are no other modes Can be adopted to Conciliate their minds so effectually as that. they have very little Consideration for any professions of Friendship that can be made to them without it.

I imagine that the Apalachy Store must now be nearly or quite drained of Goods. it will be therefore extremely necessary that there shoud be soon in Store there the usual Winter Supplies & that Messr. Panton Leslie & Co. be enabled to effect the same without loss of time.

Perryman Certainly meant no more in the Step he took than a Compliment for the many favors he had received. an Indian in the honesty of his heart seldom attends to & is Ignorant of those nice distinctions practised by Civilized people. but I can assure Your Excellency he has always been Steady in such measures as has been recommended to him for theGood of his Country & will adhere in the same Steps that the rest of the Chiefs his Countrymen shall pursue. – – –

It has long been a matter of great Concern to me that the very fluctuating Situation of Affairs has been such that it has hitherto prevented my direct– Compliance with Your requisitions but I Shall now prepare to do myself that pleasure which I have long wished for that of repairing to St. Augustine to receive-in person Your Commands & Shall Set out from the in the missile of the next month as the Season then will be favorable for traveling in Florida From the Wisdom of the measures adopted & pursued by Your Excellency with regard to Indian Affairs has been attended with the best Consequences for the Interest of Your Government & a Confidence that the Court will enable You to Continue the same line of Conduct & – which affords me the greatest encouragement to persevere in the arduous Task I have undertaken to Conciliate the minds of the different Indians Nations to his Majesty Interest on the most permanent basis.”

That Your Excellency may enjoy many years of Health & happiness is the Sincere wishes of Sir Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Servant

Alex: McGillivray

“Transcript of a letter From Alexander McGillivray to Governor Zéspedes,” August 22, 1785, in the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Alabama Textual Materials Collection, from the East Florida Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Available from the Alabama Department of Archives and History