George Washington’s Gift to Native Leader Featured on History Channel
A watch said to have been custom made as a gift from George Washington to Alexander McGillivray, an 18th century Creek leader, was featured in the June 6 episode of “Cajun Pawn Stars” on the History Channel.
The Natchez Democrat reported that the watch was given to McGillivray to help convince him to sign the 1790 Treaty of New York in which the Creeks ceded a significant portion of their hunting ground to the United States and the U.S. granted the Creeks the right to punish non-Indian trespassers on their land.
McGillivray, also known as Hoboi-Hili-Miko, was the son of a Scottish trader named Lachlan McGillivray. His mother was Sehoy, a member of the Creek Wind Clan. “Alexander spent his first six years fully immersed in the matrilineal Creek society, under the guidance of his mother and other members of her clan,” says the Encyclopedia of Alabama. “In addition to learning the Muskogee language, he also was immersed in the daily customs and seasonal rituals that defined Creek society.”
As part of the 1790 treaty he became a brigadier general of the U.S. Army and received a salary of $100 per month. The treaty also ended the Spanish monopoly of trade with the Creeks. Read more about the treaty here.
The 222-year-old watch is still partially owned by Finley Hootsell, owner of Natchez Pawn & Jewelry in Natchez, Mississippi and Concordia Pawn and Gun in Vidalia, Louisiana, after he chose not to sell it on “Cajun Pawn Stars.”
“Anytime you can hold something that has a direct connection to George Washington, it’s a great feeling,” he told The Natchez Democrat. “This is a significant piece of American history.”