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  • Linda A Metzger

Battling two Wars

While America was fighting the British during the Revolutionary War, a war that is more consistently written and thought about, there was another war on America's soil between the colonial settlers and the Indians.


On April 26, 1788, a gentleman from Georgia wrote a letter to congress seeking assistance and support against the Native Americans, then referred to as Indians. This man, unnamed, in the extracted letter found in the Poughkeepsie Journal (I love how even centuries ago news traveled to the different areas!) wrote that the Indians had carried off a number of Negroes from Liberty County. This was an obvious attempt at commerce in a well established county in the state of Georgia. The letter stated that the Indian Chief, Alexander McGillevray (1759-1793), threatened that unless the colonists were to give up the lands that were initially extorted from them, along with assurance of no longer being threatened, that he would bring 5,000 gunned warriors to drive to the colonists from their homes and over the Savannah River.


The letter was written as not just a plead for support but in desire of a more efficient government that would support liberty and defend the lives and property of the colonists. It was such an interesting time for the country. We were fighting the English to give us liberty from English rule and yet at the same time wishing for government to help support freedom from the war with the natives. It was understood that Congress could not truly govern the people without money or power which at that time was held by the English. There was a plead for the empowerment of new federal constitution that was signed the previous year. The constitution existed, but had not yet changed the lives those it was meant to protect. Not the colonists. Not the natives. Not those enslaved.


Chief McGillevray wasn't just an Indian chief, but he was also Scottish and French, giving him an interesting background as we know the French ended up supporting the colonists during the Revolutionary War. In fact, McGillevray was only a quarter Indian! He was educated in Charleston. His Scottish father was a loyalist who's property was confiscated. McGillevray's story seems to be of an intelligent man who was passionate for his mother's culture, his father's culture and his Native American culture. During the American Revolution the British commissioned him Colonel and an Indian agent. It would seem he had conflicting agendas.


Aside from McGillevray and the struggle in southern American with the natives, the Indian War is really more known during this era as happening in the west. However, it existed in just about all of the colonies. As colonists forced their way into native lands some natives stood strong and fought, making this alternate war an additional struggle in dissected America. But the colonists ended up joining forces and became strong and would eventually overcome, to some extent, both wars. But not everyone won. Not the Natives. Not those enslaved.






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