SIR: I have the honor to inform you that, on the 13th of May, I received from Richard Bennett a draft on the branch of the Planters’ Bank of Tennessee, at Athens, for $200,000, to be disbursed under the Cherokee treaty of 1835; which draft has been returned to me protested, under the following circumstances:
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The commissioners deeming it expedient to have $100,000 delivered at New Echota, before the funds there on hand should be exhausted, requested that, as my personal services at New Echota would no readily be dispensed with, Dr. Reynolds should take my draft, proceed to Athens, and procure for the present wants of the disbursing agent $100,000; twenty-five thousand to be in specie, and seventy-five thousand in notes of the Planters’ Bank, payable at Nashville. The draft was accordingly presented by Dr. Reynolds at the bank, with the instructions of the commissioners with regard to the kinds of money wanted; when the cashier refused to pay any other money than notes of the Planters’ Bank, payable at New Orleans.
Upon receiving this refusal, Dr. Reynolds had the draft formally protested, and returned it to me at New Echota.
It was omitted to be stated in the body of the protest, that the notes offered were those payable at New Orleans. This being considered necessary by the commissioners and myself, who were the endorsers of the draft, I called upon the notary public who drew up the protest, to have this inserted. He returned it to me, stating that the cashier declined any further answer.
When requested to state this fact, the notary was suddenly struck with the recollection that something else had been said, and refused a certificate as to his first assertion. I have for several days been exerting myself to procure, through him, an answer from the bank, in answer to the simple question as to where the notes offered to Dr. Reynolds were payable, and to have it inserted in the protest. The notary exhibiting so much evasiveness, I thought proper to call on the cashier myself this morning, and inquire if he had any objection to give an answer of some kind. The cashier received me politely, and replied he had no objection; and after I left him wrote me a note, a copy of which I transmit herewith. Before writing to you, and after receiving this note, I thought proper to see the notary again, who had left me some hours previous to ask the simple question before mentioned. He informed me that he had been to the bank and could obtain no satisfactory answer. I told him at once, sternly, that he and the bank were trifling with me, and that I must and would have an answer, or expose their whole conduct. This had the desired effect, and in ten minutes I obtained the certificate of the notary, which is herewith transmitted. What could be the object of the bank in evading this question is more than I can divine, but that they have done so it very evident; and the notary himself said to me that a gentleman of the law, who is pretty well understood to be the bank adviser, had advised him that it was not necessary to trouble himself further with the protest.
You will readily perceive from the protest, a copy of which is herewith transmitted that it was almost tantamount to no protest; for the notes therein asserted to have been offered as payable on demand are not described, and for all we can learn from the document, may be payable at Athens, New Orleans, or London. It is, no doubt, the fault of the notary that this was not inserted in this first instance; and it seems to me an extraordinary proceeding that the bank should evade, upon a second application of an officer of the Government, to state the whole truth concerning the matter.
When the commissioners were advised of the facts, they instructed me, as my funds were exhausted, to procure from Lieutenant Bennett, a draft for one-half of the two hundred thousand dollars, which he has been advised, was subject to his order, and placed in the branch of the Planters’ Bank of Tennessee, at this place, payable at Augusta. I was further instructed that upon procuring this draft, I would proceed to Augusta, and ask of that bank $25,000 in specie, and $75,000 in their own notes. On my arrival at this place, I find that the warrant for this money has not yet reached the bank..
A few days since I presented the commissioners the order from the Adjutant’ General’s office, recently transmitted to me through your office, and requested to know in what manner I was to be governed. I received, on the following day, a written answer, a copy of which is transmitted.
I have the honor to be your most obedient servant.
J. P. SIMONTON,
Capt. U. S. A.,
C. A. HARRIS, Esq.,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.