One of UT’s best hidden gems—the treasure trove of historical artifacts at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History—has added another priceless relic to its collection, thanks to the generosity of one Texas Ex.
“This letter is an important acquisition for the center,” Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center, said in a press release. “It sheds light on Washington’s views on Indian relations.”
Dated Aug. 24, 1769, Washington’s letter informed one of the president’s advisors, John Armstrong, about the murder of three Mingo Indian tribe leaders by white settlers near the Potomac River. Washington writes about the “villainy” of the event and asks for “justice” for the unprovoked killings.
Armstrong, a land surveyor who later served as a justice of the peace, assisted Washington with many of his land dealings and held similarly progressive beliefs regarding Indian relationships. “No injury or violence be offer’d to the Indians,” Washington writes. “[Settlers] should be caution’d that if they wantonly draw on a quarrel with the Indians, they will not be supported by Government.”
The letter was donated by Barron U. Kidd, BA ’58, and his wife Dedo Kidd, Life Members, who purchased it in 1973 from a historical dealer. A conversation with Carleton assured Kidd that the Briscoe Center was the right place for the letter, Kidd says. “I have recently been looking for a home for the Washington letter and discovered the Briscoe Center. After talking to Don [Carleton] we were convinced that the letter and the center are an excellent fit for each other.”
A facsimile of the letter can be viewed by visitors in the Briscoe Center’s reading room in Sid Richardson Hall.
Original Letter from George Washington to John Armstrong, Aug. 24, 1769. Photo courtesy Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.