The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800

By Carol Sue Humphrey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12

The Issue of the Native Americans, 1791–1797

Almost from the moment of first contact, Europeans had trouble understanding the Native Americans. On the one hand, they admired and coveted the apparent freedom and flexibility of the American Indian lifestyle. But, on the other hand, they did not understand the Native American culture and society and, as a result, feared them greatly.

During the American Revolution, both the British and the Americans tried to get the Native Americans to side with them. The Iroquois Confederacy in New York sided with the British because of long-term economic ties, but most Native Americans tried to remain neutral until they saw who won the war.

The American victory in the Revolution probably sealed the doom of the Native Americans. The British might have set aside a large section of territory for the sole use of the American Indians. But American desire for land meant a steady push westward of settlers, which slowly drove the Native Americans into smaller and smaller pieces of land.

During the 1790s, conflicts with the Native Americans were centered in the Ohio Valley. On August 20, 1794, an American army under the command of General Anthony Wayne defeated a force of Miamis, Shawnees, Ottawas, Chippewas, Sauk, Fox, and some Iroquois at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in modern-day Ohio. Following this victory, Wayne dictated the Treaty of Greenville, signed on August 3, 1795, which opened the territory from the Ohio River north to present-day Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit. In exchange, the Native Americans would receive $10,000 a year. This opened up more territory for American settlement, but it also increased the tensions between the two competing cultures. Ultimately, Americans of European descent never did understand the Native Americans.

The first group of documents reflects the attitude that the Native Americans were human beings who could be dealt with fairly. The first selection

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The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chronology of Events xix
  • Chapter 1 1
  • Chapter 2 33
  • Chapter 3 49
  • Chapter 4 67
  • Note 79
  • Chapter 5 81
  • Chapter 6 93
  • Chapter 7 105
  • Chapter 8 119
  • Chapter 9 127
  • Chapter 10 137
  • Chapter 11 161
  • Chapter 12 181
  • Chapter 13 189
  • Chapter 14 201
  • Note 210
  • Chapter 15 211
  • Chapter 16 223
  • Chapter 17 233
  • Chapter 18 243
  • Chapter 19 253
  • Chapter 20 263
  • Chapter 21 277
  • Chapter 22 295
  • Chapter 23 303
  • Chapter 24 313
  • Chapter 25 323
  • Notes 335
  • Chapter 26 337
  • Selected Bibliography 349
  • Index 353
  • About the Author 359
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