Proficient in French, young Benjaimin Hawkins (1754-1816) was studying at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) when General George Washington recruited him to serve as an interpreter on his field staff. Thus commenced a life of public service for the native of Warren County. On adoption of the federal constitution, Hawkins became one of North Carolina’s first two U.S. Senators. A staunch Federalist, he was defeated for reelection in 1795 by Timothy Bloodworth, a Jeffersonian.
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Hawkins from an early age took an interest in the welfare of American Indians. In 1785 he was appointed a commissioner to negotiate with Cherokees and other Southern Indians, leading to the Treaty of Hopewell. Soon thereafter followed work with Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks. In 1796 Washington appointed Hawkins Principal Temporary Agent for Indian Affairs South of the Ohio River. He chose to live among the Creek Indians.
From that point forward, Hawkins’s life was dedicated entirely to Indian affairs. The War of 1812 interrupted his efforts. British emissaries provoked discontent with Creeks and other Indians farther to the west. Hawkins was bitterly disappointed with the war and its course. He died in Crawford County, Georgia, where he was buried.
Merritt Pound, Benjamin Hawkins: Indian Agent (1951)
Merritt Pound, “Benjamin Hawkins, North Carolinian: Benefactor of the Southern Indians,” North Carolina Historical Review (April 1942): 168-186
Florette Henri, The Southern Indians and Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1816 (1986)
Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, V, 142-153—sketch by Stephen B. Weeks
Dumas Malone and others, ed., Dictionary of American Biography, VIII, 413-414—sketch by Robert Preston Brooks
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 72-73—sketch by Armistead Jones Maupin