West Virginia, the Mountain State

By Charles H. Ambler; Festus P. Summers | Go to book overview

Chapter VIII
Border Warfare

THE SETTING

AS IN 1763, the Treaty of Paris of 1783 did not end Indian wars on the Virginia frontier.1 An immigrant movement of unprecedented size was then under way, and as usual, under the resulting stress the natives were concerned about their hunting grounds and the graves of their fathers. Following the Virginia land cession to the Confederation Congress and its acceptance, that body prepared to make the most of its newly acquired possession. Among other things, it planned to pay debts incurred in behalf of American independence. In due time it planned also to erect republican states west of the Ohio River.

For these purposes, treaties were made with Iroquois and other tribes; a system of rectangular surveys was authorized under the Ordinance of 1785; and finally the famous Ordinance for the Government of the Northwest Territory was enacted. Though this document has attracted much attention because of its bill of rights and its provisions for new states, its chief importance for present purposes lies in the fact that it was enacted at the request of and to pave the way for prospective settlers. On April 7, 1788, the first permanent settlement in Ohio was made at Marietta. About the same time, land surveyors were at work in the vicinity of present Steubenville, Ohio. Aroused by these activities, Indians, true to form under such provocations, forgot their treaties and took to the warpath. For more than half a decade thereafter they terrorized the Virginia frontier, carrying death and destruction in their paths.

Encouraged by the British who continued to occupy American posts about the Great Lakes, mainly in the region of present Detroit, Michigan,

____________________
1
See Withers, Chronicles of Border Warfare ( Thwaites ed., 1895); Wills De Hass, History of the Early Settlement and Indian Wars of Western Virginia ( Wheeling, 1851); Lucullus V. McWhorter , The Border Settlers of Northwestern Virginia from 1768 to 1795 ( Hamilton, Ohio, 1915); Doddridge, Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars ( Ritenour and Lindsay ed.).

-94-

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