1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/McGillivray, Alexander

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

McGILLIVRAY, ALEXANDER (c. 1730-1793), American Indian chief, was born near the site of the present Wetumpka, in Alabama. His father was a Scotch merchant and his mother the daughter of a French officer and an Indian “princess.” Through his father's relatives in South Carolina, McGillivray received a good education, but at the age of seventeen, after a short experience as a merchant in Savannah and Pensacola, he returned to the Muscogee Indians, who elected him chief. He retained his connexion with business life as a member of the British firm of Panton, Forbes & Leslie of Pensacola. During the War of Independence, as a colonel in the British army, he incited his followers to attack the western frontiers of Georgia and the Carolinas. Georgia confiscated some of his property, and after the peace of 1783 McGillivray remained hostile. Though still retaining his British commission, he accepted one from Spain, and during the remainder of his life used his influence to prevent American settlement in the south-west. So important was he considered that in 1790 President Washington sent an agent who induced him to visit New York. Here he was persuaded to make peace in consideration of a brigadier-general's commission and payment for the property confiscated by Georgia; and with the warriors who accompanied him he signed a formal treaty of peace and friendship on the 7th of August. He then went back to the Indian country, and remained hostile to the Americans until his death. He was one of the ablest Indian leaders of America and at one time wielded great power — having 5000 to 10,000 armed followers. In order to serve Indian interests he played off British, Spanish and American interests against one another, but before he died he saw that he was fighting in a losing cause, and, changing his policy, endeavoured to provide for the training of the Muscogees in the white man's civilization. McGillivray was polished in manners, of cultivated intellect, was a shrewd merchant, and a successful speculator; but he had many savage traits, being noted for his treachery, craftiness and love of barbaric display. (W. L. F.)