McGillivray, Alexander

McGillivray, Alexander məgĭlˈĭvrā [key], 1759–93, Native American chief. He was born in the Creek country now within the borders of the state of Alabama, the son of Lachlan McGillivray, a Scots trader, and Sehoy Marchand, his French-Creek wife. Given a classical education at Charleston, S.C., he returned to his mother's people at the beginning of the American Revolution when Georgia confiscated the property of his Loyalist father, who thereupon returned to Scotland. In the war he was a British agent, influential in maintaining Creek loyalty to the crown. At Pensacola in 1784, McGillivray, now dominant in his nation's councils, concluded with the Spanish a treaty confirming the Creek in their lands, giving the Spanish a trade monopoly, and making him Spanish commissary. With arms provided by the Spanish, his warriors periodically attacked American frontier settlements from Georgia to the Cumberland River. In 1790, President Washington, seeking to end the depredations, invited him to a conference in New York City. McGillivray, an intelligent diplomat, accepted, meanwhile assuring Spanish authorities of his loyalty, and was well received. By the Treaty of New York (1790), the Creek acknowledged U.S. sovereignty over part of their territory, acquired lands claimed by Georgia, and agreed to keep the peace. McGillivray himself accepted a brigadier generalcy and a yearly pension. He continued in the pay of the Spanish, however; in 1792 when they increased his subsidy, he entered upon another treaty with them that practically repudiated his treaty with the Americans, and the Native American attacks were resumed.

See J. W. Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks (1938).

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