Restoring the Chain of Friendship: British Policy and the Indians of the Great Lakes, 1783-1815

By Timothy D. Willig | Go to book overview

1
The Quest for a Just Peace, 1783–95

The twelve years immediately after the United States and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783 were marked by great volatility in British relations with the Crown's wartime Native allies in North America. British officials in western territories, Quebec, and London struggled to find a balance between competing and often contradictory aims: restoring the Indians' faith in British friendship and maintaining strong trade ties with them, while avoiding a general conflict between the United States and western tribes that might draw Britain into another unwanted war with its former colonies. Meanwhile, Indians who lived in parts of western New York, the upper Ohio River valley, and the Great Lakes region that Britain had ceded to the United States labored to construct military, cultural, and political alliances that would enable them to retain their lands and their sovereignty in the face of expansionist pressure from the newly established United States.

This chapter traces how these themes played out in three brief periods between the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of Greenville (1795), the latter negotiated between the United States and tribes in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. The first period, 1783–89, saw Britain retain possession of its forts in the trans-Appalachian West and witnessed Native efforts to build an intertribal coalition capable of resisting U.S. expansion. The second period, 1789–92, produced a number of successes for the Natives as they developed, with encouragement from

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