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

By Timothy D. Willig | Go to book overview

5
John Norton and the Continuing Struggle at
the Grand River, 1801–12

In the history of the intertribal community at the Grand River, the years between 1801 and 1812 divide into two broad periods. From 1801 until his death in November 1807, Joseph Brant, the Mohawk chief, remained the dominant figure in the community. But as described in this chapter, John Norton, a younger leader whose career was promoted by Brant, came to prominence at the Grand River in this period. Together, Brant and Norton attempted to defend the rights and future of the residents of the Grand River. Brant's passing inaugurated a new phase of the community's history. From 1807 to 1812, Norton was Grand River's most prominent local leader, even though his leadership was challenged by leading British officials in Canada and also by some Native opponents. As the War of 1812 approached, certain factions emerged at the Grand River, particularly those favoring British interests, neutralists, and even a handful of Grand River residents who might have cooperated with a successful American invasion of Upper Canada. In spite of considerable opposition from leaders in Canada, never would John Norton's career be more important to the future of British Canada than in the years following Brant's death. Hence, the years between 1801 and 1812 were a time when the future nature of the Grand River community was debated and its very survival often at stake.

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