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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,* 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.
* The Miami was a British post, situated on the north side of the Maumee River, about two miles below the Rapids. This fort fell under the league of Pontiac, in 1763, and its garrison was massacred. It was reoccupied during the war of the Revolution, and was discontinued at the peace of 1783; but in November of 1793, when General Wayne was advancing into the Indian country, the British troops under Colonel Hamilton reoccupied it, under orders from the commandant at Detroit. It was strongly for. tified, and maintained until 1796, as a support to the Indian tribes in alliance with Great Britain.-See Marshall's Washington, vol. v., p. 569.
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 cul- , tivate 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.*
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.t
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 Stanwir.—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.
* Butler's Kentucky, p. 50, 51, Introduction. + American State Papers, Indian Affairs, vol. i., p. 15, folio edition.
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.*
[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 Intosh.—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, Ottawas, 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 ;* 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.
* American State Papers, Indian Affairs, vol. i., p. 10.
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. *
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. I
[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.
* Mr. Gist, in his explorations in 1752, visited this French fort, a mere trading-post with a stockade. By him the stream was called “Mad Creek;" and now it is known as Mad River.-See Imlay's America, p. 120.
1 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, vol. i., p. 7, folio edition. | American Pioneer, vol. i., p. 25, 26.