Benjamin Hawkins

Benjamin Hawkins

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  • Name Benjamin Hawkins 
    Born 15 Aug 1754  Bute (now Warren) County, NC Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 6 Jun 1816  Crawford County, Georgia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Plantation near Roberta, Crawford County, overlooking the Flint River Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Benjamin Hawkins
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      Sen. Benjamin Hawkins

      Benjamin Hawkins (15 August 1754 6 June 1816), usually known as Colonel Hawkins, was an American farmer, statesman, and Indian agent from North Carolina. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and a United States Senator, as well as a long term diplomat and agent to the Creek Indians.

      Benjamin was born to Philemon and Delia Martin Hawkins on August 15, 1754, the third of four sons. The family farmed and operated a plantation in what was then Granville County, North Carolina, but is now Warren County. He attended the College of New Jersey, later to become Princeton, but left in his last year to join the Continental Army. He was commissioned a Colonel and served for several years on George Washington's staff as his main interpreter of French.

      Hawkins was released from federal service late in 1777, as Washington learned to rely on la Fayette for dealing with the French. He returned home, and was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1778. He served there until 1779, and again in 1784. The Carolina Assembly sent him to the Continental Congress as their delegate from 1781 to 1783, and again in 1787.

      In 1789, he was a delegate in the North Carolina convention that ratified the United States Constitution. He was then elected to the first U.S. Senate and served from 1789 to 1795. Although the Senate did not have organized political parties at the time, his views shifted during his term. Early in his Senate career, he was counted in the ranks of those Senators viewed as Pro-Administration, but by the third congress, he generally sided with Senators of the Republican or Anti-Administration Party.

      In 1785, Hawkins had served as a representative for the Congress in negotiations with the Creek Indians. He was generally successful, and convinced that tribe to lessen their raids for several years, although he could not conclude a formal treaty. The Creek wanted to deal with the head man, and finally signed the Treaty of New York after Hawkins convinced George Washington to become involved.

      In 1796, Washington appointed Benjamin Hawkins as General Superintendent of Indian Affairs dealing with all tribes south of the Ohio River. He personally assumed the role of principal agent to the Creek tribe. He moved to the area that is now Crawford County in Georgia. He was adopted by the Creeks, and took one of their women as his common-law wife.

      He began to teach agricultural practices to the tribe, starting a farm at his home on the Flint River. In time, he brought in slaves and workers, cleared several hundred acres and established mills and a trading post as well as his farm. His operation expanded until he had over 1,000 cattle and a large number of hogs. For years, he would meet with chiefs on his porch and discuss matters while churning butter. His personal hard work and open-handed generosity won him such respect that reports say that he never lost an animal to Indian raiders.

      He was responsible for the longest period of peace between the settlers and the tribe, overseeing 19 years of peace. When a fort was built, in 1806, to protect expanding settlements, just east of modern Macon, Georgia, it was named Fort Benjamin Hawkins.

      Hawkins saw much of his work toward building a peace destroyed in 1812. A group of Creeks, led by Tecumseh were encouraged by British agents to resistance against increasing settlement by whites. Although he personally was never attacked, he was forced to watch an internal civil war among the Creeks, the war with a faction known as the Red Sticks, and their eventual defeat by Andrew Jackson.

      During the Creek War of 1813-1814, Hawkins organized the friendly Creeks under Major William McIntosh to aid the Georgia and Tennessee militias during their forays against the Red Sticks. After the Red Stick defeat at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, activities in Georgia and Tennessee prevented Hawkins from moderating the Treaty of Fort Jackson in August 1814. Hawkins later organized friendly Creeks against a British force on the Apalachicola River that threatened to rally the scattered Red Sticks and reignite the war on the Georgia frontier. After the British withdrew in 1815, Hawkins began organizing a force to secure the area when he died from a sudden illness in June 1816.

      Benjamin never recovered from the shock of the Creek civil war. He had tried to resign his post and return from the Georgia wilderness, but his resignation was refused by every president after Washington. He remained Superintendent until his death on June 6, 1816. On his death bed, he married the woman who had given him four children over the years.

      Benjamin Hawkins was buried at the Creek Agency, on the Flint River near Roberta, Georgia. The modern Ocmulgee National Monument includes the site of the original Fort Hawkins.

      Hawkins County in Tennessee is named in his honor. [1]
    • Benjamin Hawkins (1754-1816)

      In 1796 U.S. president George Washington appointed Benjamin Hawkins as "Principal Temporary Agent for Indian Affairs South of the Ohio River," a position he held until his death in 1816. The city of Hawkinsville, the seat of Pulaski County, is named in his honor.

      Although Hawkins was agent to all Indians in the South, he chose to live among the Creek Indians, who resided in present-day Georgia and Alabama. He built the Creek Agency Reserve on the Flint River in what is now Crawford County, where he lived with his wife, Lavina Downs; six daughters, Georgia, Muscogee, Cherokee, Carolina, Virginia, and Jeffersonia; one son, Madison; about seventy African slaves; and a few Euro-American skilled laborers.

      Early Political Career

      Hawkins was born on August 15, 1754, in present-day Warren County, North Carolina, to a wealthy family. As a young man, he attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), where he studied French. While he was there, the American Revolution (1775-83) broke out, and upon Washington's request, Hawkins joined the general's staff as translator. After the war, Hawkins began a successful career in politics, serving not only in the Continental Congress but also as North Carolina state legislator and, later, as U.S. senator. While serving in Congress, Hawkins took an interest in Indian affairs, and he was involved in several treaty negotiations with the Cherokees and Creeks. Through this work, Hawkins gained a reputation for being fair and just in his dealings with the Indians, which led Washington to appoint him as Indian agent.

      U.S. Indian Agent

      At the time of Hawkins's appointment, the Creeks and other southern Indians were dealing with the economic stress of the failing deerskin trade as well as with the increasing pressures to cede their lands to cotton planters. To address these problems, the U.S. government devised the "plan for civilization," a program to train Indian men and women in ranching (or livestock herding), farming, and such cottage industries as cloth making.


      Fort Benjamin Hawkins
      underlying agenda, to acquire Indian lands, ignored the fact that the Creeks and other southern Indians had been farming since prehistoric times and that many had begun ranching when the deerskin trade started to falter. By transforming the Indians into yeoman farmers, so the thinking went, they would be assimilated as American citizens; they would then dissolve their national sovereignty and thus be willing to cede their territories to the U.S. government. Considering that the U.S. government was also considering more brutal methods for acquiring Indian lands, such as Indian removal and extermination, Hawkins understood the plan for civilization to be the best option for the Indians. He encouraged Creek men and women to experiment in growing such agricultural commodities as wheat and cotton and to increase the size of their herds of cattle and hogs, and he encouraged the women to learn cloth making.

      Because he was the highest-ranking federal officer in Indian country, Hawkins also often served as diplomat and general problem solver. There were the obvious diplomatic negotiations, such as treaty talks and trading arrangements. But Hawkins also intervened in more minor conflicts and disputes, and both Creeks and Americans often sought Hawkins's counsel and his presence as mediator. In all cases, both large and small, Hawkins took painstaking care to collect and carefully assess the evidence. He also oversaw most military affairs, and Fort Hawkins, in what would later become Macon, was named after him.

      Red Stick War

      By 1813 the Creeks were transitioning from commercial hunters to commercial farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, and landholders. But, with increasing pressure to sell land to the United States, the Creek Confederacy soon divided over the issues of land sales, the plan for civilization, and whether to negotiate the never-ending American demands for land or to defy them. In 1813 these tensions erupted into a violent civil war. This was the Red Stick (or Creek) War of 181314, named after the rebels who became known as the Red Sticks. After a group of Red Sticks attacked
      Courtesy of Crawford County Historical Society
      Hawkins Monument
      Fort Mims in Alabama, the federal government got involved, and a combined force of Cherokees, Creeks, and Americans, led by Andrew Jackson, defeated the Red Sticks and razed most of the towns in Creek country.

      Hawkins was disheartened, dispirited, and deeply depressed. He tendered his resignation on February 15, 1815, but in August, before he could resign, Jackson forced the Creek Confederacy to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which took lands from both allies and opponents, cutting away two-thirds of Creek country. Hawkins reported later that he was "struck forcibly" by the unfairness of the treaty, as were the Creeks. A year later, on June 6, 1816, Hawkins died in his home at the Creek Agency Reserve.

      Suggested Reading

      Robbie Ethridge, Creek Country: The Creek Indians and Their World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

      Benjamin Hawkins, The Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1810, ed. Thomas Foster (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003).

      Benjamin Hawkins, The Letters, Journals, and Writings of Benjamin Hawkins, 2 vols., ed. C. L. Grant (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1980).

      Florette Henri, The Southern Indians and Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1816 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).

      Merritt Bloodworth Pound, Benjamin Hawkins, Indian Agent (Athens: University of Georgia Press, [1951]).

      Robbie Ethridge, University of Mississippi, Oxford

      Published 10/28/2006 [2]
    • Will of Benjamin Hawkins

      "By this my last will and testament, I give all my lands and Negroes and property of every description to my wife, Lavinia Hawkins and our daughters, Georgia, Muscogee, Cherokee, Carolina and Virginia, and our son Madison, and William Hawkins, my nephew of North Carolina to be divided in eight equal parts to their heirs forever. If my wife finds or chooses to stay here, she can do so with the property, or if she should move into Georgia or any State to settle, she has full power to do so, to purchase a settlement for her convenience and accommodation for her children as her judgment may direct. I appoint my wife Lavinia Hawkins executrix and my nephew William Hawkins Executor of this my last will and testament given under my hand at the Creek Agency {Spring} this ninth day of January, one thousand eight hundred and twelve.

      Witnesses:

      Christian Limbough

      Thomas M. Ellis

      John Jameson

      Signed: Benjamin Hawkins

      Georgia, Jones County, Personally appeared in open court John Jameson one of the witnesses to the within will, who being duly sworn saith that he saw the testator, Benjamin Hawkins sign the same and saw the other witnesses, Christian Lumbough, Thomas M. Ellis signed in the presence of each other and the testator was in sound mind and memory. Sworn in open court September 2, 1816.

      Test. A. Clark John Jameson

      This will is recorded in Will Book B, page 1 in the Courthouse in Gray, Jones County, Georgia.
    • The Letters of Thomas Jefferson: 1743-1826

      CIVILIZATION OF THE INDIANS

      To Benjamin Hawkins
      Washington, Feb. 18, 1803

      DEAR SIR,

      -- Mr. Hill's return to you offers so safe a conveyance for a letter, that I feel irresistibly disposed to write one, tho' there is but little to write about. You have been so long absent from this part of the world, and the state of society so changed in that time, that details respecting those who compose it are no longer interesting or intelligible to you. One source of great change in social intercourse arose while you were with us, tho' it's effects were as yet scarcely sensible on society or government. I mean the British treaty, which produced a schism that went on widening and rankling till the years '98, '99, when a final dissolution of all bonds, civil & social, appeared imminent. In that awful crisis, the people awaked from the phrenzy into which they had been thrown, began to return to their sober and ancient principles, & have now become five-sixths of one sentiment, to wit, for peace, economy, and a government bottomed on popular election in its legislative & executive branches. In the public counsels the federal party hold still one-third. This, however, will lessen, but not exactly to the standard of the people; because it will be forever seen that of bodies of men even elected by the people, there will always be a greater proportion aristocratic than among their constituents. The present administration had a task imposed on it which was unavoidable, and could not fail to exert the bitterest hostility in those opposed to it. The preceding administration left 99. out of every hundred in public offices of the federal sect.

      Republicanism had been the mark on Cain which had rendered those who bore it exiles from all portion in the trusts & authorities of their country. This description of citizens called imperiously & justly for a restoration of right. It was intended, however, to have yielded to this in so moderate a degree as might conciliate those who had obtained exclusive possession; but as soon as they were touched, they endeavored to set fire to the four corners of the public fabric, and obliged us to deprive of the influence of office several who were using it with activity and vigilance to destroy the confidence of the people in their government, and thus to proceed in the drudgery of removal farther than would have been, had not their own hostile enterprises rendered it necessary in self-defence. But I think it will not be long before the whole nation will be consolidated in their ancient principles, excepting a few who have committed themselves beyond recall, and who will retire to obscurity & settled disaffection.

      Altho' you will receive, thro' the official channel of the War Office, every communication necessary to develop to you our views respecting the Indians, and to direct your conduct, yet, supposing it will be satisfactory to you, and to those with whom you are placed, to understand my personal dispositions and opinions in this particular, I shall avail myself of this private letter to state them generally. I consider the business of hunting as already become insufficient to furnish clothing and subsistence to the Indians. The promotion of agriculture, therefore, and household manufacture, are essential in their preservation, and I am disposed to aid and encourage it liberally. This will enable them to live on much smaller portions of land, and indeed will render their vast forests useless but for the range of cattle; for which purpose, also, as they become better farmers, they will be found useless, and even disadvantageous. While they are learning to do better on less land, our increasing numbers will be calling for more land, and thus a coincidence of interests will be produced between those who have lands to spare, and want other necessaries, and those who have such necessaries to spare, and want lands. This commerce, then, will be for the good of both, and those who are friends to both ought to encourage it. You are in the station peculiarly charged with this interchange, and who have it peculiarly in your power to promote among the Indians a sense of the superior value of a little land, well cultivated, over a great deal, unimproved, and to encourage them to make this estimate truly. The wisdom of the animal which amputates & abandons to the hunter the parts for which he is pursued should be theirs, with this difference, that the former sacrifices what is useful, the latter what is not. In truth, the ultimate point of rest & happiness for them is to let our settlements and theirs meet and blend together, to intermix, and become one people. Incorporating themselves with us as citizens of the U.S., this is what the natural progress of things will of course bring on, and it will be better to promote than to retard it. Surely it will be better for them to be identified with us, and preserved in the occupation of their lands, than be exposed to the many casualties which may endanger them while a separate people. I have little doubt but that your reflections must have led you to view the various ways in which their history may terminate, and to see that this is the one most for their happiness. And we have already had an application from a settlement of Indians to become citizens of the U.S. It is possible, perhaps probable, that this idea may be so novel as that it might shock the Indians, were it even hinted to them. Of course, you will keep it for your own reflection; but, convinced of its soundness, I feel it consistent with pure morality to lead them towards it, to familiarize them to the idea that it is for their interest to cede lands at times to the U S, and for us thus to procure gratifications to our citizens, from time to time, by new acquisitions of land. From no quarter is there at present so strong a pressure on this subject as from Georgia for the residue of the fork of Oconee & Ockmulgee; and indeed I believe it will be difficult to resist it. As it has been mentioned that the Creeks had at one time made up their minds to sell this, and were only checked in it by some indiscretions of an individual, I am in hopes you will be able to bring them to it again. I beseech you to use your most earnest endeavors; for it will relieve us here from a great pressure, and yourself from the unreasonable suspicions of the Georgians which you notice, that you are more attached to the interests of the Indians than of the U S, and throw cold water on their willingness to part with lands. It is so easy to excite suspicion, that none are to be wondered at; but I am in hopes it will be in your power to quash them by effecting the object.

      Mr. Madison enjoys better health since his removal to this place than he had done in Orange. Mr. Giles is in a state of health feared to be irrecoverable, although he may hold on for some time, and perhaps be re-established. Browze Trist is now in the Mississippi territory, forming an establishment for his family, which is still in Albemarle, and will remove to the Mississippi in the spring. Mrs. Trist, his mother, begins to yield a little to time. I retain myself very perfect health, having not had 20. hours of fever in 42 years past. I have sometimes had a troublesome headache, and some slight rheumatic pains; but now sixty years old nearly, I have had as little to complain of in point of health as most people. I learn you have the gout. I did not expect that Indian cookery or Indian fare would produce that; but it is considered as a security for good health otherwise.

      That it may be so with you, I sincerely pray, and tender you my friendly and respectful salutations. [3]
    • http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3560



      Benjamin Hawkins (1754-1816)

      Benjamin Hawkins
      1796 U.S. president George Washington appointed Benjamin Hawkins as "Principal Temporary Agent for Indian Affairs South of the Ohio River," a position he held until his death in 1816. The city of Hawkinsville, the seat of Pulaski County, is named in his honor.

      Although Hawkins was agent to all Indians in the South, he chose to live among the Creek Indians, who resided in present-day Georgia and Alabama. He built the Creek Agency Reserve on the Flint River in what is now Crawford County, where he lived with his wife, Lavina Downs; six daughters, Georgia, Muscogee, Cherokee, Carolina, Virginia, and Jeffersonia; one son, Madison; about seventy African slaves; and a few Euro-American skilled laborers.

      Early Political Career

      Hawkins was born on August 15, 1754, in present-day Warren County, North Carolina, to a wealthy family. As a young man, he attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), where he studied French. While he was there, the American Revolution (1775-83) broke out, and upon Washington's request, Hawkins joined the general's staff as translator. After the war, Hawkins began a successful career in politics, serving not only in the Continental Congress but also as North Carolina state legislator and, later, as U.S. senator. While serving in Congress, Hawkins took an interest in Indian affairs, and he was involved in several treaty negotiations with the Cherokees and Creeks. Through this work, Hawkins gained a reputation for being fair and just in his dealings with the Indians, which led Washington to appoint him as Indian agent.

      U.S. Indian Agent

      At the time of Hawkins's appointment, the Creeks and other southern Indians were dealing with the economic stress of the failing deerskin trade as well as with the increasing pressures to cede their lands to cotton planters. To address these problems, the U.S. government devised the "plan for civilization," a program to train Indian men and women in ranching (or livestock herding), farming, and such cottage industries as cloth making.


      Courtesy of Middle Georgia Archives, Washington Memorial Library
      Fort Benjamin Hawkins
      underlying agenda, to acquire Indian lands, ignored the fact that the Creeks and other southern Indians had been farming since prehistoric times and that many had begun ranching when the deerskin trade started to falter. By transforming the Indians into yeoman farmers, so the thinking went, they would be assimilated as American citizens; they would then dissolve their national sovereignty and thus be willing to cede their territories to the U.S. government. Considering that the U.S. government was also considering more brutal methods for acquiring Indian lands, such as Indian removal and extermination, Hawkins understood the plan for civilization to be the best option for the Indians. He encouraged Creek men and women to experiment in growing such agricultural commodities as wheat and cotton and to increase the size of their herds of cattle and hogs, and he encouraged the women to learn cloth making.

      Because he was the highest-ranking federal officer in Indian country, Hawkins also often served as diplomat and general problem solver. There were the obvious diplomatic negotiations, such as treaty talks and trading arrangements. But Hawkins also intervened in more minor conflicts and disputes, and both Creeks and Americans often sought Hawkins's counsel and his presence as mediator. In all cases, both large and small, Hawkins took painstaking care to collect and carefully assess the evidence. He also oversaw most military affairs, and Fort Hawkins, in what would later become Macon, was named after him.

      Red Stick War

      By 1813 the Creeks were transitioning from commercial hunters to commercial farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, and landholders. But, with increasing pressure to sell land to the United States, the Creek Confederacy soon divided over the issues of land sales, the plan for civilization, and whether to negotiate the never-ending American demands for land or to defy them. In 1813 these tensions erupted into a violent civil war. This was the Red Stick (or Creek) War of 181314, named after the rebels who became known as the Red Sticks. After a group of Red Sticks attacked
      Courtesy of Crawford County Historical Society



      Fort Mims in Alabama, the federal government got involved, and a combined force of Cherokees, Creeks, and Americans, led by Andrew Jackson, defeated the Red Sticks and razed most of the towns in Creek country.

      Hawkins was disheartened, dispirited, and deeply depressed. He tendered his resignation on February 15, 1815, but in August, before he could resign, Jackson forced the Creek Confederacy to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which took lands from both allies and opponents, cutting away two-thirds of Creek country. Hawkins reported later that he was "struck forcibly" by the unfairness of the treaty, as were the Creeks. A year later, on June 6, 1816, Hawkins died in his home at the Creek Agency Reserve.

      Suggested Reading

      Robbie Ethridge, Creek Country: The Creek Indians and Their World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

      Benjamin Hawkins, The Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1810, ed. Thomas Foster (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003).

      Benjamin Hawkins, The Letters, Journals, and Writings of Benjamin Hawkins, 2 vols., ed. C. L. Grant (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1980).

      Florette Henri, The Southern Indians and Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1816 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).

      Merritt Bloodworth Pound, Benjamin Hawkins, Indian Agent (Athens: University of Georgia Press, [1951]).


      [4]
    • http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7826310 [5]
    Person ID I3353  Extended Families of Childress
    Last Modified 21 Apr 2019 

    Father Col Philemon Hawkins, Sr.,   b. 28 Sep 1717, Glouchester Co, VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Sep 1801, Pleasant Hill, Warren Co, NC Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 83 years) 
    Mother Delia Martin,   b. 1721,   d. 20 Aug 1794  (Age 73 years) 
    Family ID F1199  Group Sheet

    Family Lavinia Downs,   b. 10 May 1781, MD Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Mar 1828, Crawford Co., GA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 46 years) 
    Married 9 Jan 1812 
    Children 
     1. Georgiana Hawkins,   b. 4 May 1799,   d. 12 Feb 1818, Jones Co, GA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 18 years)
     2. Muscogee Elizabeth Hawkins,   b. 30 Jan 1802
     3. Cherokee Hawkins,   b. 16 Mar 1805, Fort Hawkins, Macon Co, GA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Feb 1849, Water Valley, Yalobusha Co, MS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 43 years)
     4. Mary Caroline Hawkins,   b. 10 Jun 1807,   d. 12 Apr 1817  (Age 9 years)
     5. James Madison Hawkins,   b. 1809, GA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft Mar 18 1850, Yalobusha Co., MS Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. Virginia Hawkins,   b. 6 Mar 1811, GA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Oct 1851, Water Valley, Yalobusha Co, MS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 40 years)
     7. Jeffersonia E. Hawkins,   b. 12 Jul 1813,   d. 15 Nov 1861  (Age 48 years)
    Last Modified 21 Apr 2019 
    Family ID F1198  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    Benjamin Hawkins
    Benjamin Hawkins

  • Sources 
    1. [S126] Wikipedia.

    2. [S129] http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org.

    3. [S132] From Revolution to Reconstruction - an .HTML project.

    4. [S435] georgiaencyclopedia.org.

    5. [S767] findagrave.com.