Considering that we have shortly to ask a favour ourselves from the Creeks [Creek Indians], the Tuckabatché road, may we not turn the application of Hawkins to our advantage, by making it the occasion of broaching that subject to them? … it is becoming indispensible for us to have a direct communication from the seat of our government with that place [New Orleans], by a road which, instead of passing the mountains … shall keep below the mountains the whole way … that we do not mean to ask this favor for nothing, but to give them for it whatever it is worth; besides that they will have the advantages of keeping taverns for furnishing necessaries to travellers, of selling their provisions & recieving a great deal money in that way …
To Henry Dearborn, February 9, 1804
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders use gifts to open negotiations.
The “application of Hawkins,” U.S. Indian Agent for the southern tribes, was approved, granting a number of supplies needed by the Creek Indians. The President asked his War Secretary to use the granting of these supplies to open negotiations for a concession from the Creeks.
The current road from Washington to New Orleans was through the mountains of Tennessee. U.S. acquisition of Louisiana required a better, faster route. That road would be south of the mountains, through Creek Indian land, across Georgia and Alabama. The U.S. would soon be asking the Creeks for permission to build that road.
Jefferson insisted the U. S. would not take the needed land but would pay for it. The granted supplies might open the door with the Creeks. Not only would they be reimbursed for the right-of-way, the Creeks would profit from maintaining the business development rights along the new road.