User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 
Benjamin Hawkins

Colonel Hawkins, patriot, soldier, United States senator and Indian agent, was born August 15, 1754, in the county of Butts, now Warren County, North Carolina. He was the son of Colonel Philemon and Delia Hawkins. He attended Princeton College until his senior year when the institution was closed on account of the Revolutionary War.

 

His knowledge of the French language led Washington to press him into service as a member of his staff to act as interpreter with the French allies. He was one of the founders of the Society of Cincinnati in 1783.

He was a gallant Revolutionary soldier, having participated in several important engagements, among the number the Battle of Monmouth. After North Carolina ratified the federal constitution he was elected United States Senator from that state, taking his seat in 1790. At the close of his term in the senate he was appointed agent of the three great Indian tribes east of the Mississippi and entered upon his duties in the part of Georgia now known as Crawford County, but at that time called "The Agency Reserve."

This place became an important trading post and was selected by Colonel Hawkins as a convenient locality for the transaction of duties that devolved upon him. He infused progression, activity and thrift into the little village. Mills, workshops, and comfortable homes appeared on every side.

"Colonel Hawkins brought his own slaves from his old home in North Carolina, and under the right conceded to his office, he opened and cultivated a large plantation at the agency, making immense crops of corn and other provisions."

"While he lived his cattle brand was rigidly respected by the red men; although soon as his death, if reports be true, the Creeks, oblivious of former obligations, stole numbers of his cows and hogs."

To him does the state of Georgia owe a debt of special gratitude. He not only risked his life for the state of his adoption, but preserved the history of the Creek country, some of which is most valuable and interesting.

The French general, Moreau, who in exile, was his guest for some time, was so much impressed with his character and labors, that he pronounced him one of the most remarkable men he met in America.

Colonel Hawkins possessed great adaptability and through his beneficence he acquired the respect of the Indians. It is said he gained their love and bound them to him by "ties as loyal and touching as those of old feudal allegiance and devotion."

He was closely associated with Generals Floyd, Blackshear and John McIntosh, and Governors Troup, Mitchell and Early.

The Indians of Chehaw were closely allied to Colonel Hawkins. They frequently furnished him with valuable information in regard to the treachery of the British and the unfriendly Indians.

It has been conceded to some of our patriots that they were great in war. Benjamin Hawkins was not only great in war, but, like Washington, was great in peace. It was he who most strongly advocated terminating the War of 1812. He knew well how to approach the "children of the forest." The simple and diplomatic way in which he addressed the Indians is displayed in his quaint letter to the Ammic-cul-le, who lived at the Indian town of Chehaw:

"The time is come when we are to compel our enemies to be at peace, that we may be able to sit down and take care of our families and property without being disturbed by their threatening and plundering of us.

"General Blackshear is with you to protect and secure the friendly Indians on your river, and to aid in punishing the mischief-makers. Go you to him; see him; take him by the hand, and two of you must keep him. You must point out sixty of your young warriors, under two chiefs, to be with, and act under the orders of the general till you see me. He will supply them with provisions and some ammunition.

"You must be very particular about spies. You know all the friendly Indians, and all who are hostile. If any spies come about you of the hostiles, point them out to the general. And your warriors, acting with the general must be as quick and particular as his white soldiers to apprehend or put to death any enemy you meet with. Your warriors will receive the same pay as the soldiers in the service of the United States.

"Tell your women and children not to be afraid,--that friends have come for their protection, and that I am at the head of the Creek warriors.

"I am your friend and the friend of your nation."

Colonel Hawkins was closely identified in the negotiation of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Indians. His name, together with George Clymer and Andrew Pickens, was signed as commissioners on the part of the United States to the Treaty held at Coleraine, in Camden County, Georgia, March 18, 1797.

A treaty of limits between the United States and the Creek nation of Indians, was held near Milledgeville, at Fort Wilkinson, on the part of the United States. The signers were Benjamin Hawkins and Andrew Pickens. This treaty was signed by forty chiefs and warriors. Treaty with the Creeks at the agency, near Flint River, on November 3, 1794, signed by Hopoie Micco and other Indians, also bore Hawkins' signature.

"In 1802 Colonel Hawkins recommended the establishing of a fort and trading post on the Old Ocmulgee Fields." The right to establish such a post was obtained by the Fort Wilkinson treaty. Colonel Hawkins selected a site on an eminence near the river where the city of Macon now stands. A tract of one hundred acres of land was set apart for the use of the post.

Fort Hawkins was built in 1806 and was garrisoned by troops from Fort Wilkinson early in the following year. The fort was named in honor of Benjamin Hawkins, one of the few honors bestowed upon him by the state he had so ably served. "This fort was considered one of the most formidable on the frontier. Two block houses, each twenty-eight feet square with two stories and a basement were built with heavy mortised logs. This place was provided with port holes for both cannon and musketry, and stood at the southeast and northwest corner of a strong stockade. During the war of 1812 the fort was a strong point for the mobilization of troops."

Colonel Hawkins died at the agency in Crawford County, June 6, 1816, and was "buried on a wooded bluff overlooking the Flint River." The little graveyard that served as a last resting place for those who lived around the agency has long since been abandoned. The unmarked grave of a patriot is there, sleeping unhonored amid the tangled vines and weeds.