McGillivray, Alexander

McGillivray, Alexander

(məgĭl`ĭvrā), 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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McGillivray, Alexander (b. Hippo-ilk-mico)

(?1759–93) Creek leader, trader; born along the Coosa River in present-day Alabama. The son of a Scottish merchant and an Indian, he was raised among the Creek but his father saw that he was also educated in some of the white people's ways. With the outbreak of the American Revolution, he was appointed a colonel by the British and he encouraged Indian attacks on American settlements. After the Revolution, he would spend the rest of his life trying to build up a "united front" of the Indians of the Southeast against the encroaching white settlements; it is agreed that he was also in part motivated by his desire to protect his own trading enterprise. To do this he made a treaty with Spain (1784) and then encouraged the Creeks to war against the frontier settlements (1785–87). He achieved some success, but in 1790 he went to New York City and signed a peace treaty; in 1792 he repudiated this and signed another treaty with Spain. In each of these treaties, he made sure that he was paid a generous sum for his support and he died a rich man.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.