Front Page Titles (by Subject) Early U.S. Indian Policy - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1979, vol. 2, No. 4
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Early U.S. Indian Policy - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1979, vol. 2, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Early U.S. Indian Policy
“Confrontation at Coleraine: Creeks, Georgians, and Federalist Indian Policy.” South Atlantic Quarterly 78(Spring 1979):224–243.
In mid-1796 a delegation of Creek Indians, Georgians, and Federal officials met at Coleraine, an American frontier outpost on the St. Mary's River, bordered by Spanish Florida, to attempt to settle a dispute over territory. The land in the loop of the river, called Tallassee, was claimed by both the Indians and the state of Georgia, with the federal government tending to side with the Creeks.
The Georgia delegation, accompanied by some twenty militia, was headed by James Hendricks, with James Simms and James Jackson as members also. Jackson had gained some recent notoriety by leading the forces which had revoked the Yazoo Act, “a piece of legislation that had deprived the state of millions of western acres for a pittance.”
On the federal side were Benjamin Clymer of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Hawkins of North Carolina, and General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina, James Jackson's old commander at the Battle of the Cowpens during the Revolutionary War. Most of the arrangements for the conference had been made by Commissioner Hawkins, who had arrived at Coleraine in early may. When he arrived, British traders had been busy spreading a rumor that the Georgia militia intended to meet with the Creeks in order to force the land from them. To ease any tensions he issued regulations in essence separating the Indians and the Americans. These irritated the Georgia delegation upon its arrival, as an unconstitutional assumption of control.
This was, however, a reflection of deeper differences between the two. The federal government under George Washington had stressed centralization of power and a humanitarian concern for the Indian. Georgia, on the other hand, emphasized states' rights, and its primary concern was with the needs of a growing white population demanding expansion and land. Washington had for several years grown more disillusioned with Georgia's relations with the Indians.
The Yazoo bill of 1795, virtually giving away millions of western acres, with title still in dispute with the Indians, to politically involved speculators, had greatly raised tensions on the southern frontier. James Jackson had led the fight to have the legislature void that bill early in 1796. He was hated for this act and had been stabbed by one disgruntled partisan. Jackson came to Coleraine badly wanting to gain clear title over this disputed land for the state.
The federal government was interested in protecting the Indian. Military posts would help in this, while factories, or trading posts, would help to civilize the Indians in the long run. The federal commissioners were concerned about what they saw as several abuses which had been inflicted upon the Indians.
The Treaty signed at Coleraine June 29, 1796, essentially made the points demanded by the federal authorities. Georgian states' rights advocates wondered just who the people were whom the government was supposed to protect. The Federalist Party may have paid a high price, however, for its policy of protecting the Indian, for the state in 1800 turned to the Republicans.