Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816
Benjamin Hawkins (August 15, 1754 – June 6, 1816) was an American planter, statesman and a U.S. Indian agent He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and a United States Senator from North Carolina, having grown up among the planter elite. Appointed by George Washington in 1796 as one of three commissioners to the Creeks, in 1801 President Jefferson named him "principal agent for Indian affairs south of the Ohio [River]", and was principal Indian agent to the Creek Indians.
Born on his family's plantation in what was then Granville County in the Province of North Carolina, but is now Warren County. He attended county schools, then the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). When the College closed because of the approach of British troops, Hawkins 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 Lafayette for dealing with the French. He returned home, where he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1778. He served there until 1779, and again in 1784. The North Carolina General Assembly sent him to the Continental Congress as their delegate from 1781 to 1783, and again in 1787.
In 1789, Hawkins was a delegate to the Fayetteville Convention that ratified the United States Constitution. He was elected to the first U.S. Senate, where he served from 1789 to 1795. Although the Senate did not have organized political parties at the time, Hawkins' views aligned with different groups. 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 1796, Washington appointed Benjamin Hawkins as General Superintendent of Indian Affairs, dealing with all tribes south of the Ohio River. As principal agent to the Creek tribe, Hawkins soon moved to present-day Crawford County in Georgia where he established his home and the Creek Agency.
Hawkins' plans for the Indians was a "civilization plan", by which he meant adopting the European-American lifestyle, raising crops and animals on farms. He began to teach European-American agricultural practices to the Creek, and started a farm at his home on the Flint River. He brought his enslaved Black workers from North Carolina and eventually purchased others. He hired other workers to assist them in clearing several hundred acres for his plantation. They built a sawmill, gristmill, and a trading post for the agency. He contributed to the 19 years of peace between settlers and the tribe, the longest such period during European-American settlement. Hawkins saw much of his work to preserve peace destroyed in 1812. A group of Creek rebels, known as Red Sticks, were working to revive traditional ways and halt encroachment by European Americans. The ensuing civil war among the Creeks coincided with the War of 1812. During the Creek War of 1813-1814, Hawkins organized "friendly" Creek Indians under the command of chief William McIntosh to aid Georgia and Tennessee militias in their forays against the traditionalist Red Sticks. Hawkins later organized "friendly" Creek warriors to oppose 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 was organizing another force when he died of a sudden illness on June 6, 1816.
Benjamin Hawkins was buried at the Creek Agency near the Flint River and Roberta, Georgia. He was succeeded as Indian agent by David Mitchell, former Governor of Georgia.
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Creek War, 1813-1814|
|Five Civilized Tribes|
|Indians of North America|
|Indians, Treatment of|
|Delegates, U.S. Continental Congress|
|Senators, U.S. Congress|