Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816

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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.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Hawkins family. Papers, 1791-1966, 1801-1900 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn United States. War Dept. Correspondence, 1811-1913, 1811-1882 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Coffee, John, 1772-1833. Papers, 1796-1887. Alabama Department of Archives and History
referencedIn Mattison, Ray H., 1903-1980,. Records of the Creek Trading House letter book, 1795-1816, [ca. 1940]. Newberry Library
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Benjamin Hawkins papers, 1790-1813 Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn Owsley, Frank Lawrence, 1928-. Papers, 1792-1980. Auburn University.
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 1787-1934. Library of Congress
referencedIn Bibb, William Wyatt, 1781-1820. William Wyatt Bibb letter, 1816 June 25. University of Georgia Main Library
creatorOf Odom family. Papers of the Odom and Turner families, 1785-1873. University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
creatorOf Henley, David, 1749-1823. David Henley papers, 1794-1808, bulk 1794-1801. Tennessee State Library & Archives, TSLA
creatorOf Benjamin Hawkins letterbook, 1798-1810, 1798-1810 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn McHenry, James, 1753-1816. Letter, 1797. Alabama Department of Archives and History
creatorOf Witherspoon, John, 1723-1794. ALS, 1787 Feb. 19, Tusculum, N.J., to William Blount and Benjamin Hawkins, [Philadelphia?]. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Journal of occurrences in the Creek agency, 1802. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn James McHenry papers 1777-1832 McHenry, James papers William L. Clements Library
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Letterbook, 1798-1799. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Andrew Ellicott Papers, 1777-1829 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Kenan, Michael Johnston. Michael Johnston Kenan notebook, 1872-1873. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Pickens, Andrew, 1739-1817. Journal, 1802. Newberry Library
creatorOf Brown, Bertram Erwin, b.1871. Pickett's, History of Alabama and incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi: scrapbooks, [188-?-]-[ca.1919]. Alabama Department of Archives and History
referencedIn Flournoy, Thomas, 1775-1857. Thomas Flournoy and James Wilkinson orderly books, 1812-1846. Library of Congress
referencedIn Panton Leslie and Company Collection, 1739-1847 University of West Florida Libraries
creatorOf Sketch of the Creek country in the years 1798 and 1799, [n.d.], n.d. American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Letters, 1779-1816. Auburn University.
referencedIn Waring, Antonio J. Antonio J. Waring papers, 1783-1961 Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn Gaither, Henry. Henry Gaither papers, 1792-1838 (bulk 1798-1801). Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Papers of Benjamin Hawkins, 1797-1802. Library of Congress
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin (1754-1816). A sketch of the Creek country in the years 1798 and 1799 [microform] / by Col. Hawkins. University of Southern Mississippi, Regional Campus, Joseph Anderson Cook Library
referencedIn Cauthen, Sally. Benjamin Hawkins : beloved father of the Indian / by Sally Cauthen. Mercer University, Jack Tarver Library
referencedIn Letters from Georgia settlers regarding Indian depredations, 1786-1838. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Lovett, Robert Watkins, 1818-1912. Robert Watkins Lovett papers, 1787-1916. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Burton, Robert, 1747-1825. Robert Burton papers, 1775-1866 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Journal of occurrences in the Creek agency, 1802, 1802 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Panton, Leslie & Company. Panton, Leslie & Company collection, 1739-1847. University of West Florida, John C. Pace Library
creatorOf William L. Clements Library. James McHenry papers, 1777-1832. William L. Clements Library
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Sketch of the Creek country in 1798 and 1799 : manuscript, [18--]. Houghton Library
referencedIn United States. Treaties, etc. Cherokee Indians, 1785 Nov. 28. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
referencedIn Blount, William, 1749-1800. William Blount papers, 1783-1823. Library of Congress
referencedIn Whatley, John. Sketch of the route of Benjamin Hawkins in Heard County, Ga., 1954. Alabama Department of Archives and History
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Benjamin Hawkins letters, 1797-1812. Newberry Library
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Benjamin Hawkins letters, 1800, 1802. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Henley, David, 1749-1823. Papers, 1791-1800. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Hawkins family. Hawkins family papers, 1740-1898. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Georgia. Georgia Commission to Attend a Treaty with the Creek Indians journal, 1796. Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn Rhees, William Jones, 1830-1907. Papers of William Jones Rhees, 1744-1907. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn McIntosh, Lachlan, 1727-1806. Lachlan McIntosh papers, 1742-1799. Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn Thomas Addis Emmet collection, 1483-1876 (bulk:1700-1800) New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Papers, 1798. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Tollowo Micco, Creek Indian. Claim : Camp near Fort Mitchell, [Ga.], 1815 Jan. 14. Newberry Library
referencedIn Parsons, Edwin. Edwin Parsons collection, 1759-1862 Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn Bailey family. Bailey family papers, 1801-1876. Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn Washington, George, 1732-1799. Letters and hair, 1778-1891. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Payne, John Howard, 1791-1852. John Howard Payne papers, 1794-1841, 1814-1841. Newberry Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Historical and Literary Committee, American Indian Vocabulary Collection, 1784-1828 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn War of 1812 mss., 1776-1879 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Sketch of the Creek country in the years 1798 and 1799, [n.d.]. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. Letter, 1803 February 18, n.p., to [Benjamin Hawkins], n.p. William & Mary Libraries
referencedIn Hawkins, Thornton,. Hawkins family papers, 1738-1905. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Whatley, John. Benjamin Hawkins Viatory, 1956. Georgia Historical Society
creatorOf Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816. Journal of the commissioners of the United States : appointed to hold conferences with the several nations of Indians south of the Ohio / commenced by Colo. Hawkins one of the commrs. on the 18th July. Newberry Library
referencedIn Battle, H. B. (Herbert Bemerton), 1862-1929. Herbert B. Battle speech, 1920. Georgia Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. Historical & Literary Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Bailey family. family
associatedWith Battle, H. B. (Herbert Bemerton), 1862-1929. person
associatedWith Bibb, William Wyatt, 1781-1820. person
correspondedWith Blount, William, 1749-1800. person
associatedWith Bowles, William Augustus, 1763 or 4-1805. person
associatedWith Brown, Bertram Erwin, b.1871. person
associatedWith Burton, Robert, 1747-1825. person
associatedWith Cauthen, Sally. person
associatedWith Clay, Joseph, 1741-1804. person
associatedWith Coffee, John, 1772-1833. person
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
correspondedWith Dearborn, Henry, 1751-1829 person
associatedWith Deering, Frank Cutter, 1866-1933, person
associatedWith Doublehead, d. 1807. person
associatedWith Edward E. Ayer Manuscript Collection (Newberry Library) corporateBody
associatedWith Edward E. Ayer Manuscript Collection (Newberry Library) corporateBody
correspondedWith Ellicott, Andrew, 1754-1820 person
associatedWith Emmet, Thomas Addis person
correspondedWith Flournoy, Thomas, 1775-1857. person
associatedWith Gaither, Henry. person
associatedWith Georgia. corporateBody
associatedWith Haujo, Esau. person
associatedWith Hawkins family. family
associatedWith Hawkins, Thornton, person
correspondedWith Henley, David, 1749-1823 person
correspondedWith Jackson, James, 1757-1806 person
associatedWith Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. person
associatedWith Kenan, Michael Johnston. person
associatedWith Lovett, Robert Watkins, 1818-1912. person
associatedWith McHenry, James, 1753-1816. person
associatedWith McIntosh, Lachlan, 1727-1806. person
associatedWith Newberry Library. corporateBody
memberOf North Carolina. General Assembly. House of Representatives corporateBody
associatedWith Odom family. family
associatedWith Owsley, Frank Lawrence, 1928- person
associatedWith Panton, Leslie & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Parsons, Edwin person
associatedWith Payne, John Howard, 1791-1852. person
associatedWith Pickens, Andrew, 1739-1817. person
associatedWith Pickens, F. W. (Francis Wilkinson), 1805-1869, person
almaMaterOf Princeton University corporateBody
correspondedWith Rhees, William Jones, 1830-1907. person
associatedWith Tollowo Micco, Creek Indian. person
correspondedWith Toulmin, Harry, 1766-1823 person
associatedWith United States. corporateBody
memberOf United States. Continental Army corporateBody
memberOf United States. Continental Congress corporateBody
associatedWith United States. War Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Waring, Antonio J. person
associatedWith Washington, George, 1732-1799. person
associatedWith Whatley, John. person
associatedWith Wilkinson, James, 1757-1825. person
associatedWith William L. Clements Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Witherspoon, John, 1723-1794. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Warren County NC US
Crawford County GA US
Princeton NJ US
Subject
Cherokee Indians
Chickasaw Indians
Choctaw Indians
Creek Indians
Creek War, 1813-1814
Five Civilized Tribes
Fort Wilkinson
Indian agents
Indian agents
Indians of North America
Indians, Treatment of
Land use
Manuscripts, American
Native America
Seminole Indians
Occupation
Delegates, U.S. Continental Congress
Indian agents
Planters
Senators, U.S. Congress
Slaveholders
Soldiers
State Representative
Activity

Person

Birth 1754-08-15

Death 1816-06-06

Male

Americans,

Britons

Creek,

English,

French

Information

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