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From 1789 until the Bureau of Indian Affairs was established in 1824, Indian affairs were under the direct control of the Secretary of War. Due to a fire in the U.S War Department in November 1800, only records from late 1800 to 1824 exist.

This Archives Unbound collection consists of the letters received by and letters sent to the War Department. The letters received consist of correspondence from Indian superintendents and agents, factors of trading posts, Territorial and State governors, military commanders, Indians, missionaries, and other public and private individuals. Among them are drafts of letters sent, vouchers, receipts, requisitions, abstracts and financial statements, certificates of deposit, depositions, contracts, and newspapers. The letters sent have a higher proportion of letters to such addressees as the Superintendent of Indian Trade, treaty and other commissioners, Treasury Department officials, and persons having commercial dealings with the War Department. Some of the letters were signed by clerks in the Department or by the President rather than the Secretary of War. Included are copies of speeches to Indians, proceedings of conferences with Indians in Washington, licenses of traders, passports for travel in the Indian country, appointments, and instructions to commissioners, superintendents, agents, and other officials.
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