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Monette, John W. History of the Discovery and Settlement of the Valley of the Mississippi, by the Three Great European Powers, Spain, France and Great Britain, and the Subsequent Occupation, Settlement, and Extension of Civil Government by the United States, Until the Year 1846, in two volumes, Volume II . New York: Harper and Brothers, Publishers, 1846. [format: book], [genre: history]. Permission: Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures, Aurora University
Argument. Retrospect relative to the Northwestern Boundary. Reluctantly assented to in the Treaty of 1783 by Great Britain. Disregard of Treaty Stipulations relative to the Northwestern Posts by British Cabinet. British and Indian Alliance during the Revolutionary War. Western Feeling toward the Indians. Jealousy of the Indians at the rapid Advance of the White Settlements. Measures of Congress to conciliate Indian Jealousy. Preliminary Steps for Treaties with all the Tribes. Treaties by individual States prior to 1784. Treaty of Fort Stanwix, and the Treaty Line. Treaty of Fort M'lntosh, and Boundary Line. Treaty of the Miami with the Shawanese, and their Cession of Lands. Treaties of Hopewell with Southern Indians. Cherokee Treaty. Choctâ Treaty. Chickasâ Treaty. Extent of Country and Number of Warriors of each Nation respectively. Dissatisfaction of the Six Nations relative to the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. Their Grievances. Preparations for a new Treaty. Treaty of Fort Harmar in 1789. The Shawanese refuse to attend. Shawanese encouraged to Hostilities by British Traders at Detroit. Connivance of the British Government at these Intrigues. Hostilities commenced upon the Ohio Frontier. Pacific Overtures of Governor St. Clair. Unsettled Condition of the Southern Indians. The Cherokees. Encroachments of the Cumberland Settlements. Treaty of Holston, July 2d, 1791. Creek Disturbances. Measures to conciliate the Creeks. The Treaty of New York with M'Gillivray and other Creek Chiefs. Efforts of Spanish Agents to embarrass the Negotiations. M'Gillivray's Opposition. The Creeks instigated to War. Cherokees commence Hostilities. Spanish Intrigue with Creeks and Cherokees. Creek Preparation for Hostilities against Cumberland Settlements. Bowles, a Creek Chief. Indian Tribes generally make Overtures for Peace and Friendship after Wayne's Victory. Treaty with Six Nations in 1794. Treaty of Greenville in 1795, comprising all Northwestern Tribes. Termination of Indian Wars.
[A.D. 1783.] BY the treaty of Paris, September 3d, 1783, Great Britain renounced all claim to the territory of the United States south of all the great lakes, and east of the Mississippi to its sources. That power also stipulated to withdraw her troops and military garrisons, as soon as convenient, from every part of the relinquished territory. Among the most important posts held by Great Britain within the said territory were those of Niagara. Detroit, and the Miami, on the Maumee River, below the Rapids, besides other posts of minor importance upon the head waters of the Wabash.
The stipulations for this relinquishment were made with great reluctance on the part of the British government. During the greater part of the negotiations preceding the treaty, Mr.
Oswald, the British commissioner, persisted in his demands that the Ohio River should form the northwestern boundary of the United States; and it was only after every effort had failed to move Mr. Adams and Mr. Jay that he consented to adopt the present boundary through the middle of the great lakes.
[A.D. 1784.] We have already seen that, during the war of Independence, Great Britain had armed all the northwestern tribes against her revolted colonies; that her agents and emissaries had instigated all the tribes south of the lakes, and as far west as the Mississippi, to carry the scalping-knife and the tomahawk, with all the horrors of Indian warfare, upon all the frontier settlements from the Hudson River to the western parts of North Carolina and Georgia. To carry out this plan of Indian hostilities, the agents and military officers of Great Britain at her western posts were authorized to enter into treaties of alliance with the savage tribes, with stipulations to protect and defend them, and to furnish them with arms, ammunition, and all the means necessary to their hostile operations. Still further to inflame their avarice and stimulate them to deeds of blood, the agents of Great Britain were encouraged to pay a premium upon every scalp taken from the head of the colonists, whether male or female, child or adult. Such was the spirit in which England carried on the war with her colonies.
By such means, the greater portion of the "Six Nations," inhabiting the northern and western parts of New York and Pennsylvania, had been involved in hostilities with the colonies. All the tribes south of Lake Erie, embracing the Shawanese, Wyandots, Delawares, Ottawâs, Chippewas, and many smaller tribes, had been enlisted in the British interest. The hostilities which had been incessantly waged against the frontier inhabitants during the struggle for Independence, had created and kept alive in the breasts of the western people of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia an undying hatred and desire of revenge against those tribes, who continued their hostility after the war with Great Britain had been terminated. Compelled to contend alone with the savages, while their eastern friends were engaged with the ruthless armies of the mother country, the western people were now anxious to conciliate the Indian power, after the support and protection of England had been withdrawn.
After a persevering negotiation in behalf of the Indians as independent allies, England, by treaty, had abandoned the savages, and left them to make such terms as they could with the United States. Yet, in order to extend partial protection to them, Great Britain, in violation of her treaty with the United States, continued to hold possession of the northwestern posts, especially those of Niagara, Detroit, and Miami, 229 in the heart of the Indian country. From these points British agents controlled the action of the Indians, while British traders, holding a monopoly of the fur-trade, failed not, on all occasions, to instill into the dependent savages a settled hostility to the American people on the waters of the Ohio.
To conciliate the feelings of the frontier people, as well as of the hostile tribes, Congress took the subject under the earliest consideration. The necessity for some prompt action was the more evident, as the tide of emigration had begun to set westward in every direction immediately after the cessation of hostilities with Great Britain. Thousands of emigrants were pushing westward, often regardless of any claim which the Indians asserted to the territory.
The rapid immigration alone, independent of the collisions between the border settlers and the Indians, was calculated to create and foster a spirit of hostility in the native tribes, who saw in it the certain presage of their own destruction or expulsion from the country.
The same circumstances generated a similar feeling of hostility and resistance on the part of the Southern Indians, who also saw the white settlements rapidly encroaching upon their territories. The confederated tribes, who inhabited and claimed the southwestern frontier, and who were most deeply interested in the advance of the settlements from North and South Carolina, were the Cherokees and Creeks. These were powerful and warlike tribes, and had occasionally, during the war of Independence, sent bands of warriors to join the hostile tribes on the northwest. They occupied the western parts
of both Carolinas and of Georgia, and were each able to bring at least twenty-five hundred warriors into the field in case of a general war.
In this state of things, the Federal government adopted a humane and conciliatory course of policy toward the native tribes, while it exerted its whole power and influence to restrain the western people from aggressions upon the Indian territories. Every effort was used to prevent collisions and difficulties between the frontier people and the Indians, to cultivate harmony and friendship, by the establishment of Indian agencies, by granting annuities, and by entering into treaty stipulations for the purchase of the Indian title to such lands as they were willing to relinquish. The agents of the United States and the military commandants on the frontiers were instructed and commanded to cultivate peace and friendship with all the tribes, by a strict observance of justice and forbearance toward all the natives with whom they might have intercourse. They were required strictly to enforce all the laws of Congress prohibiting lawless white men from residing in the Indian country, and from carrying on any contraband trade with them. Agencies were to be established by the general government, well supplied with articles of Indian trade, where they could obtain, at fair and reasonable prices, such articles as they might wish to purchase, free from the impositions and extortions of private traders. Messages were sent from the war department to the different agents in the Indian nations, and to the chiefs, head men, and warriors of the frontier tribes, proposing peace and amity, by the adoption of regular and formal treaties. To conciliate, and as tokens of friendship, presents were sent to influential chiefs and warriors throughout all the tribes from the western part of New York to the southern limit of Georgia.
Great Britain had claimed the sovereignty over the region south of the Ohio, comprising the present State of Kentucky, in virtue of the cession made by the Six Nations, in the treaty of Fort Stanwix, on the Mohawk River, in the year 1768. This claim was never recognized by the Chickasâs and Cherokees, the real owners of the country, who denied the right of the Six Nations to make such cession. As the cession, if ever made, was a fraud upon the true owners of the soil, and was never intended by the Six Nations, the confederated states
individually, as well as Congress, declined to set up any claim on the score of the British treaty. 230
The Creeks were a powerful confederacy, inhabiting the western parts of Georgia, upon the head waters of the Savannah, Oconee, Ocmulgee, and Chattahoochy Rivers. This confederacy had maintained a hostile attitude during the whole of the war of Independence, and the states of South Carolina and Georgia had conducted the Indian wars and treaties in this region up to the termination of hostilities by Great Britain. During this time, several treaties with those Indians had been made by those states, and certain cessions of territory had been obtained from them.
Yet a large portion of the southern part of Kentucky had been disposed of by the Cherokees to Colonel Henderson and company by the treaty of Watauga in March, 1775. At the close of the Revolutionary war, the State of North Carolina obtained from the Chickasâs, in a treaty held by Colonels Donaldson and Martin, near the present site of Nashville, in the autumn of 1783, the relinquishment of a large district of country upon the Cumberland River, extending southward to the sources of Duck River. This territory was subsequently comprised in the district of Miro, and the jurisdiction of North Carolina was peaceably extended upon the Valley of the Cumberland River. 231
Other portions of territory, occupied and claimed by the Chickasâs, Creeks, and Cherokees, within the present states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, were successively relinquished to the Federal government of the United States by the tribes respectively claiming the same, in the different treaties subsequently held and concluded with them.
The extinguishment of the Indian title to the territory in the western parts of New York and Pennsylvania, as well as in the Northwestern Territory, became an object of primary importance with the Federal government. For this purpose, preliminary measures were taken for a general treaty with the Iroquois confederacy, known as the Six Nations. The first treaty by the Federal government with the Six Nations was designated.
The Treaty of Fort Stanwix. This treaty was held at Fort Stanwix, or Fort Schuyler, on the Mohawk River, one hundred
and ten miles west of Albany. A large number of confederate tribes attended with their chiefs, head men, and warriors. On the part of the United States were Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee, commissioners. The treaty was concluded and signed on the 22d of October, 1784.
By this treaty, the United States grant peace to the hostile Senecas, Mohawks, Onondagas, and Cayugas, and receive them under their protection, upon condition that they deliver six hostages for the surrender of all American prisoners in their possession which had been captured by any of these tribes during the previous wars. The Oneidas and Tuscaroras nations are permitted to remain upon the lands then in their occupancy. The boundary line between the Indian territory and the white settlements was established. By this treaty, the Indian title was peaceably extinguished to a large portion of western New York. 232
[A.D. 1785.] In January following, another treaty was concluded with the tribes inhabiting the northwestern territory south of Lake Erie. This was
The Treaty of Fort M'lntosh. This treaty was conducted by George Rogers Clark, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee, commissioners on the part of the United States, and signed on the 21st day of January, 1785, at Fort M'Intosh, in the western part of Pennsylvania. The tribes represented in this treaty were the Wyandots, Delawares, Ottawâs, and Chippewas, then inhabiting the extreme northern portions of the present State of Ohio, west of the Cuyahoga River.
In this treaty, the chiefs, sachems, and warriors of these tribes relinquish to the United States all claim to the lands lying south of Lake Erie, and east of Cuyahoga River, as well as all the southeastern portion of the present State of Ohio. The boundary line agreed upon at this treaty was as follows: "Beginning at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, on the southern shore of Lake Erie; thence up the east bank of the Cuyahoga River to its lake source: thence across to the source of the Tuscarawa, and down that stream to its junction with Walhonding Creek, near the site of the old American ‘Fort Laurens;’" thence in a direct line south of west, to the mouth of Mad River, a large eastern tributary of the Great Miami, or Stony River; "it being that branch of the Stony River on
which the French had a fort" in the year 1752; 233 thence up the main branch of the Miami or Stony River, to the portage across to the St. Mary's River, or main branch of the Maumee; thence down the southwestern bank of the St. Mary's and the Maumee to Lake Erie.
East and south of this line the lands are ceded and relinquished to the United States, for the use of the people thereof. The United States grant and relinquish to the Indians all lands north and west of this line for their use and occupancy, as dwelling-places and hunting-grounds, free from encroachment by the whites, excepting certain roads therein specified, leading to the principal military posts on the northwestern frontier, and also six miles square contiguous to and including each of said posts; also, six miles square at the Rapids of the Maumee, and six miles square, also, at its mouth; also, six miles square on the Sandusky River, another at Detroit, and one on the River Raisin. 234
In the fall of 1785 the United States took formal possession of the eastern portion of the country ceded by the treaty of Fort M'Intosh, by a detachment of troops under Major John Doughty, who was in the autumn ordered from Fort M'Intosh to the mouth of the Muskingum. Here he commenced a block house and other works of defense, which were finished the following summer, when he gave to the whole the name of "Fort Harmar," in honor of his commanding general at Fort M'Intosh. This was the first military post of the United States within the limits of the present State of Ohio, if we except the old Fort Laurens, built in the year 1778, on the right bank of the Tuscarawas, not far below the mouth of Sandy Creek. 235
[A.D. 1786.] The next treaty with the northwestern tribes was
The Treaty of the Great Miami, concluded with the chiefs, warriors, and head men of the Shawanese nation, and signed on the 31st day of January, 1786. It was conducted by General George Rogers Clark, Colonel Richard Butler, and Samuel H. Parsons, commissioners on the part of the United States, near the mouth of the Great Miami River.
In this treaty the Shawanese nation acknowledges the United States to be the sole and absolute sovereign of all the territory heretofore relinquished to them by their chiefs in the treaty of January 14th, 1784. The nation agrees to be peaceable, and to abstain from hostilities against the white settlements; to surrender three hostages for the faithful delivery of all prisoners in their possession; to punish such of their young. warriors as should be guilty of murder or robbery against the whites ; and to give notice to the officers of the United States of any contemplated incursion by any of the savages upon the frontier inhabitants.
The United States, upon these conditions, grant peace to the Shawanese, and receive them under their protection and friendship, and allot to them, as their hunting-grounds, the territory lying west of the Great Miami, and north of a line drawn due west from the mouth of Mad River to the River de la Panse, and down that stream to the Wabash. The United States stipulate to prevent the intrusion and settlement of white men north of this boundary, and the Shawanese relinquish all claim whatever to all lands east and south of the same. 236
The next important treaty was with the great southern nations occupying the country from the settlements of Georgia westward to the Mississippi. In the preparation for this treaty, the object of the Federal government was to assemble the delegates from all the southern tribes, and thereby to establish a general peace throughout the whole southern frontier.
After due notice and preparation, the savages, in large numbers, attended at the place designated, on the Keowee River, in Georgia, known as Hopewell, for the contemplated treaty.
The Treaty of Hopewell commenced in October, 1785, and was continued until late in January following. The Cherokees being more convenient, were first on the ground, some weeks before the arrival of the Chickasâs and Choctas, who came more than three hundred miles from their western towns.
At this treaty the Indian tribes were amply represented by chiefs, warriors, and sachems from each of the above-mentioned nations.
The commissioners on the part of the United States were Benjamin Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, Joseph Martin, and Laughlin M'Intosh; and also William Blount as commissioner
on the part of North Carolina. Three separate treaties were negotiated, one with each of the respective nations.
The treaty with the Cherokees was concluded and signed on the 28th day of November, 1785, at which time the delegates from the Chickasâs and Choctâs had not arrived. By this treaty the Cherokee nation placed itself under the protection of the United States, and recognized an established boundary between the Indian territory and the lands claimed by the State of North Carolina, in the "Western District," upon the branches of Holston River, and also by the States of South Carolina and Georgia.
The Choctâ delegates having arrived, negotiations were commenced, which terminated in a treaty, which was signed on the 3d day of January, 1786. The Choctâs stipulate for peace and friendship with the United States, and the recognition of certain boundaries established between the United States and other conterminous tribes. Having no territory contiguous to the American settlements, they made no cessions of lands. 237
Immediately after the conclusion of the Choctâ treaty, negotiations were opened with the Chickasâs, and terminated in a treaty, which was signed on the 10th of January. The Chickasas stipulated for peace and friendship, and they agreed to ratify and confirm the treaties heretofore made in 1783 with Colonels Donaldson and Martin, commissioners of North Carolina, for the relinquishment of certain lands on Cumberland River. They also agreed to cede and relinquish, for a valuable consideration, extensive bodies of lands on the southern branches of Cumberland River, and upon the head waters of Duck River, nearly as far west as the lower portion of Tennessee River, 238
At this time the Cherokee Indians were a powerful confederacy, and inhabited the region drained by all the branches of the Holston River and the whole Valley of the Tennessee above the Muscle Shoals. Their hunting-grounds formerly comprised one third of Western Virginia, all East Tennessee, one third of North Carolina and Georgia, and nearly all North Alabama. For nearly fifty years they had been the terror of the western frontier of Virginia and the two Carolinas. At the period of the treaty, their national strength was estimated at more than two thousand warriors; two years subsequently, Colonel Joseph Martin, experienced in Indian affairs, estimated their strength at twenty-six hundred and fifty warriors.
The Chickasâs occupied and claimed the country east of the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Ohio to the mouth of the Yazoo, and westward to the Cumberland Mountains on the north, and to the Tombigby and Black Warrior on the south. The claims of this nation included all the western half of Kentucky and Tennessee, and the northern half of Mississippi. Subsequently, in the year 1787, their strength was estimated at twelve hundred warriors. 239
The Choctâs, one of the most powerful nations of the South, occupied all the country south of the Chickasâs and west of the Cherokee and Creek territories. Their limits comprised all the regions drained by the Lower Tombigby and the western tributaries of the Black Warrior, and westward to the Mississippi, including the whole country drained by the Pearl and Pascagoula Rivers. Their fighting men were estimated at six thousand.
[A.D. 1787.] The treaty of Fort Stanwix, signed October 22d, 1784, had been a source of great dissatisfaction and complaint with the Six Nations. The chiefs persisted in their declarations that they had been deceived by the commissioners of the United States, both as to the amount of territory relinquished and the line fixed in the treaty, as well as in the consideration which they believed was stipulated in the same. They declared, also, that, coerced by threats of war upon their people, and the destruction of their towns, they had been induced to sign the treaty against their will; that they had been thus compelled to relinquish more territory to the United States than they were authorized to cede, and that the nations would not ratify the cession.
They declared, moreover, that they had been defrauded out of the goods stipulated in the treaty, and, consequently, the same was not binding upon them. The government endeavored, without success, to satisfy them on these points. In the mean time, notwithstanding their remonstrances and protestations, the whites continued to advance upon the lands claimed to have been ceded by the treaty. At length, finding all their efforts unavailing, they had seriously contemplated a league offensive and defensive with the western tribes, for resisting by force of arms the encroachments of the whites. To this measure they were strongly incited by the western tribes.
The latter upbraided them with a want of courage in surrendering their own lands, and being compelled to fall back upon those tribes who had the courage to defend and hold their country. On this subject the British agents and traders at Niagara and Detroit neglected no opportunity to poison the minds of the savages, for the purpose of exciting animosity against the border settlements of the United States.
[A.D. 1788.] Under these circumstances, the frontiers had been almost continually harassed by depredations, murders, and thefts, constituting a series of petty hostilities, perpetrated by lawless bands of Indians, almost from the signing of the treaty of Fort M'Intosh. To allay this feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of the Six Nations, the government issued instructions to General Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwestern Territory, to assemble the sachems, warriors, and head men of all the northwestern tribes and nations in general convention at Fort Harmar, at the mouth of the Muskingum, for the purpose of negotiating a new treaty and satisfying any demands which they might urge for further compensation under the treaty of Fort Stanwix.
Agreeably to the invitation of Governor St. Clair, the Indians began to assemble near Fort Harmar early in the winter. Negotiations were opened and conducted by the governor as Commissioner Plenipotentiary of the United States. The sachems, chiefs, and warriors of the "Five Nations," exclusive of the Mohawks, of the Wyandots, Delawares, Ottawas, Chippewas, Potawatamies, and Sauks, attended on the part of the hostile tribes. The negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Fort Harmar, signed on the 9th day of January, 1789. 240
The treaty of Fort Harmar consisted of two separate parts:
first, a treaty with the Five Nations, the Oneidas, Onondagas, Tuscaroras, Cayugas, and Senecas; second, a treaty with the six northwestern tribes before enumerated.
[A.D. 1789.] The treaty with the Five Nations of the Iroquois was designed to confirm and ratify the treaty of Fort Stanwix, and to establish the boundaries designated in that treaty. Therefore the United States stipulated to pay to the Indians the additional sum of three thousand dollars, to be properly distributed among them. Besides this amount, in cash or its equivalent, various presents of valuable goods and necessary articles of Indian costume were made to the chiefs and warriors. Upon these conditions, they ratified and confirmed the former treaty.
In like manner, the treaty with the six northwestern tribes stipulated for peace and friendship between their people and those of the United States, and for the recognition of the treaties of Fort Stanwix and Fort M'Intosh, and the lines established by them respectively. For and in consideration of said recognition, and relinquishment of all claim to said designated territory, the United States stipulate to pay them, for distribution, six thousand dollars, besides sundry valuable presents to the chiefs and warriors. 241
The Shawanese, and some other bands upon the head waters of the Wabash and Maumee, still maintaining a hostile attitude, refused to attend the treaty or to sanction its provisions. These dissenting tribes and bands soon after resumed their hostilities against the frontier settlements of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, embracing the settlements east and south of the Ohio River, from the Monongahela to Green River.
From the close of the war of Independence, the Indian tribes, instigated by British agents and traders at Detroit and other western posts within the United States, had urged the Ohio River as the proper boundary between the white man and the Indian, as fixed by the English treaty of Fort Stanwix, under Sir William Johnson, in 1768. Hence it is evident that the British cabinet, in retaining the northwestern posts, had not abandoned the hope that circumstances might yet compel the United States to recognize the Ohio River as their northwestern boundary. 242
This policy of the British government having been defeated, the traders and agents in Canada, being fully convinced that their influence and the lucrative trade with the northwestern Indians would cease with the advance of the whites, sought every occasion to prolong their own power by instigating the Indians to arrest the advance of the settlements by a resort to open warfare.
The spirit of dissatisfaction and hostility which prevailed so extensively among the northwestern tribes soon after the treaties of Forts Stanwix and M'Intosh was clearly traced to British influence and intrigue, under the superintendence of Colonel M'Key, the British agent at Detroit, and afterward at the Rapids of the Maumee. 243
Detroit had long been an important central dépôt for the British fur traders with the northwestern Indians. It was an important place of business, and many Scotch and English capitalists had large investments in the lucrative trade with the natives. To comply with the treaty stipulations would incommode these important personages, by interrupting their trade and restricting their influence over the savage tribes south and west of the lakes. A state of hostilities between the Indians and the American people of the West would be a sufficient guarantee to them that, for a time, they should be free from interruption; hence they desired to arrest the advance of immigrants across the Ohio River.
[A.D. 1790.] Although these hostile demonstrations of the Indians produced a temporary check to the advance of the whites into the territory west of the Ohio, yet large settlements had been advanced to the west and north banks of the river, under the protection of Forts Harmar and Washington. It required no great foresight in the British traders to perceive that, if the late treaties were observed, the whole country north of the Ohio would soon be filled with a white civilized population. This state of things would completely annihilate the fur trade in that region. Should the interests of a privileged monopoly be interrupted by the obligations created by treaty stipulations? Such must have been the reasoning of the British court, 244
Hence Indian discontent was fanned into a flame of war.
Open hostilities were encouraged; the savages were induced to disregard the stipulations of the recent treaty of Fort Harmar; and the warrior bands, prepared for war and plunder, having obtained their outfit of arms and ammunition from British traders and agents, were sent, with the tomahawk and scalping-knife, against the defenseless border population and the tide of emigration flowing down the Ohio.
During the critical state of affairs which preceded the first military movement of the United States under General Harmar, Governor St. Clair, of the Northwestern Territory, had been unintermitting in his efforts to bring about a better state of feeling among the northwestern tribes. By negotiations and treaties, he had endeavored to convince them, not only of the justice, but of the humane policy of the Federal government. At length, finding all overtures abortive and unavailing, he had devoted his whole attention to the protection of the frontier settlements from their aggressions.
Yet the military posts, although kept in a state of complete defense, and amply garrisoned, were found wholly insufficient to protect the feeble and remote settlements from continual incursions by small detachments and straggling parties of Indians, who studiously avoided the fortified places and the military force. Hence the stationed garrisons were a protection only to those settlements within their immediate vicinity. Such was the state of Indian affairs on the northwestern frontier previous to the active military campaign of the United States in that quarter; and no settlement within fifty miles of the Ohio was safe unless within a stockade inclosure.
In the mean time, the hostile attitude of the northern tribes was fully known to the Southern Indians. Between the Shawanese on the Wabash, and the Cherokees and Creeks south and east of Tennessee River, an uninterrupted intercourse existed, and a regular interchange of feeling was sedulously cultivated by the prominent chiefs, who desired to bring about a general league against the white inhabitants both north and south of the Ohio. In effecting this object, they had so far succeeded that the government of the United States was compelled again to adopt measures for conciliating the hostile spirit among the Creeks.
The Federal government had used great exertions to settle the difficulties existing between the Creek nation and the people
of Georgia; yet they had failed to conciliate the chiefs, who were believed to be under Spanish influence. No effort had been spared by the Federal government to assemble a large portion of the nation for the purpose of entering into a treaty of peace and friendship, with an adjustment of boundaries. For this purpose, the chiefs, warriors, head men, and other Indians, to the number of two thousand, were assembled during the last summer at Rock Landing, on the Oconee River. The treaty was concluded, and ready for signatures, when, under some frivolous pretext, M'Gillivray abruptly broke off all negotiation, and the treaty was not signed. 245
The following spring, Colonel Marius Willet, a distinguished officer of the Revolution, and a man of great prudence and firmness, was appointed to visit the Creek nation, in order to effect an amicable arrangement. After some time spent in the nation and about the Creek agency, he succeeded in his delicate mission so far as to induce M'Gillivray and twenty-nine chiefs to accompany him to New York, for the purpose of negotiating with the heads of the Federal government. They were formally introduced to the president and the heads of departments, and entertained with marks of great distinction. On the 7th day of August a treaty was concluded, and signed by these chiefs on the part of their nation, and by General Knox, Secretary of War. This treaty, it was hoped, would produce harmony between the people of Georgia and the Creeks; but the hope was fallacious. 246
The treaty stipulated for perpetual peace and friendship between the United States and the Creek nation; that the Creek nation should remain under the protection of the United States; and that their warriors should be restrained from committing outrages against the white settlements, and made to observe their obligations of friendship. The United States stipulated to restrain the encroachments of the white people upon the lands and hunting-grounds of the Creeks. A boundary line was agreed upon, and commissioners were to be appointed by both nations to run out and mark the line separating the lands of the Indians from those of the whites. M'Gillivray was honored with the title of Brigadier-general of the United States.
As soon as it was made known to the Governor-general of Cuba that the Creek chiefs were to visit New York, he took immediate measures for observing the tendency of the negotiations, and for embarrassing the operations of the commissioners of the Federal government in conducting them. For this purpose, the Secretary of East Florida was dispatched from St. Augustine to the city of New York with a large sum of money, for the ostensible purpose of purchasing flour for the Spanish garrisons, but in fact for observing, and, as far as practicable, for the purpose of embarrassing the negotiations with the Creek chiefs. The watchful eye of the government was upon the Spanish emissary, and all interference on his part was circumvented. 247
But the efforts of the Spanish authorities did not stop here, Intrigues were set on foot in the Creek nation, and with the chiefs after their return from New York, by which the objects of the treaty were for a time effectually defeated. M'Gillivray, bought over to the Spanish interest, resigned his nominal commission of brigadier-general under the United States, and accepted the same rank under the Spanish crown, with an annual salary of fifteen hundred dollars. 248
The treaty was rejected by the Creek nation; the line of demarkation was never run, and a spirit of revenge against the American settlements was manifested in no ambiguous manner for several years afterward.
In the mean time the Cherokees had become highly exasperated at the lawless encroachment of the white population into their territory. The Chickamaugas on the Lower Tennessee had repeatedly indicated their resentment to these encroachments by depredations and acts of hostility upon the settlements, which were advancing upon the waters of Duck River and Elk River into the Indian territory. These acts of hostility by the Indians had given occasion to partisan warfare on the part of the white inhabitants south of Nashville, until a regular war had broken out between these settlements and a portion of the Creek and Cherokee Indians, Notwithstanding the efforts made by the Federal government to restrain the encroachments of the American people, and to compensate the Indians for the unlawful intrusion of
the whites, hostilities were not finally suspended until the spring of 1794. 249
The Indians had remonstrated without effect, and the proclamations of the Federal government had been disregarded. As early as 1788, soon after the first Cherokee incursions, the old Congress issued their proclamation on the first of September, forbidding "the unwarrantable intrusions" upon the Indian territory on the waters of Duck and Elk Rivers. 250
Again, in August, 1790, President Washington presented the subject to Congress in a message as one well deserving their serious attention. On this subject he says, "Notwithstanding the treaties with the Indians, and the proclamations of the Federal government against encroachments on the Indian territory, upward of five hundred families have settled on the Cherokee lands, exclusive of the settlements between the French, Broad, and the Holston Rivers." 251
Before the close of the year 1790, marauding parties of Cherokee and Creek Indians had begun to assail all the exposed settlements, from the eastern limit of Washington District, on Holston River, to the western limit of Miro District, on the Cumberland.
[A.D. 1791.] To check hostilities on the part of the Cherokees, William Blount, "Governor of the Southwestern Territory, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs," was instructed to convene the chiefs and head men of the Cherokee nation for the purpose of entering into negotiations for the amicable relinquishment of certain lands on the south side of Cumberland River. The Indians were convened accordingly, and a treaty was concluded and signed on the second day of July, 1791, near the present site of Knoxville, on the Holston River. This treaty, signed by William Blount on the part of the United States, and by forty-one chiefs and warriors of the Cherokee nation, is known as the "Treaty of Holston."
By this treaty the Cherokee nation ceded to the United States extensive tracts of land situated south of the Cumberland, and upon the waters of Duck River, and as far as the sources of Elk River.
They also agreed, for a stipulated annuity, to grant to the
people of the United States the right of a road through their country to the Cumberland settlements from the Southwest Point, at the junction of Holston and Clinch Rivers, and the free navigation of the Tennessee River. They also entered into obligations to observe peace and friendship with the United States. 252
[A.D. 1792.] But the treaty of Holston did not restore peace to the whole Cherokee nation, and partial hostilities against the white inhabitants upon the Cumberland and the Holston Rivers continued for several years, notwithstanding all the efforts of the Federal government to establish peace, 253 War parties also penetrated through the country, and co-operated with the tribes north of the Ohio. The northern Indians, who had been unremitting in their efforts to engage the southern Indians in a general league, had twice encountered the Federal troops and returned triumphantly to their towns. Elated with the success of their northern friends, the Cherokees had almost consented to involve themselves in a general war with the United States. Conceiving that the only protection attainable for them, in the quiet possession of their lands, was open war, by which the invaders should be driven from their soil, they had well-nigh entered into the general league Encouraged by two successive defeats of the Federal army, and warmly encouraged by the Spaniards of Florida and Louisiana, they were restrained only by the persevering efforts of the Federal authorities in their negotiations for peace.
The natural jealousy of the Indian character required but little prompting to induce them to resist the white man's encroachments. The American people, believing the region upon which they were advancing to be within the proper limits of the United States, and that the Indian claim was a mere nominal right of occupancy, were less scrupulous in their advances, because the encroachment was one for which the government could easily compensate them.
The government of the United States invariably endeavored to maintain the utmost good faith toward the Indians, although it was not always practicable to restrain and prevent aggression by individuals. Hence, under the influence of some new alarm or popular excitement, partisan warfare has been carried on against innocent towns, and occasionally the tribe has been made to suffer for the acts of lawless individuals. But the general government, in all its intercourse with the Indian tribes, has scrupulously observed the stipulations and obligations of treaties and natural justice.
The Spanish authorities in Louisiana and Florida had indulged a spirit of jealous hostility toward the rapid extension of the American settlements into the territory occupied by the southern tribes. As they could not occupy it themselves, they were anxious that it should remain neutral, in the exclusive possession of the savages. Foreseeing a collision between the Federal government and the native tribes, under which the latter must melt away, the Spanish authorities had taken the precaution to secure the alliance and friendship of the Indians by formal treaties, and by means of traders and agents located among them. By the same means they exerted a secret influence upon them in favor of the Spanish monarchy, while they encouraged them to resist the encroachments of the whites on the east and north.
In this manner hostilities had been instigated by the Spaniards against the settlements on Cumberland and Holston Rivers for more than two years past, until the territory was necessarily placed in a defensive attitude, and troops were advanced toward the Indian country for the protection of the inhabitants from surprise and massacre. The Indians resorted to their usual mode of operations, harassing the exposed population by sudden incursions of their scalping-parties. But it was not long before the whole nation was in arms for the entire destruction of the advanced settlers.
At length, in September, 1792, Governor Blount received certain intelligence of the intrigues of the Spanish authorities in Louisiana and Florida. This intelligence was conveyed by Richard Finnelson, a half-breed Cherokee Indian, and Joseph Deraque, a Canadian half-breed, who had been sent by the Governor of Louisiana as agents and bearers of dispatches to the Indian tribes. These men, having been well paid by the
Spanish agents for discharging their duties as emissaries, and seeing the imminent danger which might suddenly overwhelm the settlements on the Cumberland River, resolved to convey to them due notice of their danger. Therefore, while in the Indian country, and seeing the savages prepared for the sudden destruction of the white inhabitants, they desired and urged the Indians to defer their expedition for ten days, until they could return from Knoxville, alleging that the Spanish intendant had required them to convey letters to a friend of his in that town before war should be commenced. Instead of returning to the Indians, they communicated to Governor Blount the facts which had transpired in the Creek nation.
By this information, it appeared that it was the Spanish governor at New Orleans, the Baron de Garondelet, and Don O'Neil, governor of Florida at Pensacola, who had been instigating the southern Indians to hostilities against the United States. Agents had been sent to the Choctâs, Chickasâs, Creeks, and Cherokees, to distribute among them presents, and to encourage them to resist the advance of the white population into the Cumberland country, and to assure them of the aid of the King of Spain, who would see justice done to them in case of a war with the United States; that he would supply them with ammunition and arms to carry on the war; and they were instructed to urge the Indians to strike now! that now was the time, while the United States were engaged with the Shawanese and other northern tribes, unless the Americans would agree to give up and withdraw from the lands on the Cumberland and Oconee Rivers.
It also appeared that Alexander M'Gillivray had been on a visit to New Orleans, in consequence of a special invitation from the Spanish governor, upon matters of importance.
It also appeared that a half-breed Creek, by the name of Bowles, had returned from England or some of the British West India Islands, and that he was exerting his influence among the Creeks, encouraging them to war against the United States, and assuring them that both England and Spain were ready to aid them in the undertaking. These emissaries, moreover, declared that they had seen six hundred Indian warriors, armed and painted black, holding their war-dances preparatory to an invasion of the American settlements.
[A.D. 1793.] Thus was the Cherokee nation and the
Creeks for nearly three years wavering between war and peace, closely observing the progress of events in the Indian war north of the Ohio. Had General Wayne been as unfortunate as his predecessors, in all probability the southern Indians, from the banks of the Savannah to the Mississippi, would have been united in one general league with those of the north, under the auspices of English and Spanish diplomacy. But the successes of General Wayne during the years 1793 and 1794, and is impetuous and vigilant character, struck terror into the savage warriors, and dispelled all intentions of a general league.
[A.D. 1794.] The Cherokees at length evinced a willingness to treat with the Federal government, and sent a deputation of thirteen chiefs to Philadelphia, authorized to enter into treaty stipulations for the Cherokee nation. On the 26th of June, 1794, a treaty was concluded and signed in Philadelphia; in which, for an additional annuity, the chiefs stipulated to ratify and confirm the treaty of Holston, made in 1791, and also the treaty of Hopewell, made in 1785. 254
During the latter months of this year, several treaties were concluded with the northwestern tribes by Timothy Pickering, acting as commissioner of the United States. The first and principal was that with the Six Nations, at Canandaigua, in New York, concluded and signed November 4th, 1794. The second was that with the Oneidas, Tuscaroras, and Stockbridges, signed at Oneida on the 2d of December following. These treaties established the boundaries between the white settlements and the Indian territory within the limits of the State of New York, and secured the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania from the hostile incursions of these warlike bands.
[A.D. 1795.] In January following, General Wayne entered into preliminary articles of treaty with the Chippewas, Ottawâs, Potawatamies, Sauks, and Miamis, on behalf of the northwestern tribes, for a general treaty of peace and friendship, to be holden by the hostile nations of the West in the course of the following summer. Accordingly, in July, the chiefs and warriors of the northwestern tribes east of the Mississippi had convened in the vicinity of Fort Greenville. After protracted negotiations for more than six weeks, a treaty was signed on the 3d day of August, 1795, by General Wayne, commissioner plenipotentiary of the United States, and by the
chiefs of the following twelve tribes, to wit: the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanese, Ottawâs, Chippewas, Potawatamies, Miamis, Eel Rivers, Weas, Kickapoos, Piankeshas, and Kaskaskias. 255 These Indians remained on the treaty-ground until the 10th of August.
The Treaty of Greenville, besides the usual stipulations of peace and friendship, ratifies and confirms the cessions made by the treaties of Fort M'Intosh and Fort Harmar, as also a complete relinquishment of sixteen square tracts in the vicinity of the several military posts, then held or claimed by the United States, south of the lakes, together with the right of way to and from them.
The United States delivered to the Indians at the treaty, for proper distribution, goods to the amount of twenty thousand dollars, and stipulated to pay annually forever, while the treaty was observed, an annuity of nine thousand dollars in goods.
Ever since the decisive battle of the Maumee Rapids, on the 20th of August, 1794, the Indian tribes had been reduced to great privation and suffering by the destruction of their towns and the extensive fields of corn which had lined the banks of the Au Glaize and Maumee for more than fifty miles above the Rapids. Thrown out of their villages and winter residences, destitute of every comfort which the savage is enabled to collect around him, and deprived of the sustenance which their fertile fields were so well calculated to yield, they were anxious for peace, and were obliged to receive it at the dictation of the conqueror.
The treaty of Greenville is an important epoch in the history of the Indian wars upon the Ohio region, and closes the long series of hostilities which had been kept up against the western frontier, with but few interruptions, ever since the beginning of the French war in the year 1754.
Monette, John W. History of the Discovery and Settlement of the Valley of the Mississippi, by the Three Great European Powers, Spain, France and Great Britain, and the Subsequent Occupation, Settlement, and Extension of Civil Government by the United States, Until the Year 1846, in two volumes, Volume II . New York: Harper and Brothers, Publishers, 1846. [format: book], [genre: history]. Permission: Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures, Aurora University
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