portrait by Gilbert Stuart
(1750 - 1806)
The Indians being the prior occupants possess the right to the soil. It cannot be taken from them unless by their free consent, or by the right of conquest in the case of a just war.
The first Secretary of War and President Washington's closest
friend and most trusted advisor, Henry Knox.
man who came to government from the military with the utmost
respect for Indian tribes, believed (as Washington did) that the
sovereign status of Indian nations was long-settled business, and
that the Indian's inherent title to their homelands wasinviolate in
the eyes of the new government. At Washington's urging, Knox
wrote the famous Northwest Ordinance, which states that "the utmost
good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their land
and property shall never be taken from them without their consent."
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approved the Ordinance, and soon after, also approved the Indian
Non-Intercourse Act, also written by Knox, which made business
dealings with the Indian tribes the exclusive privilege of the