Greenville Treaty

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GREENVILLE TREATY of 3 August 1795 resulted directly from General "Mad" Anthony Wayne's victory over a confederation of Native warriors at Fallen Timbers (near modern Toledo, Ohio) in 1794. Over 1,100 Indians attended Wayne's council, which began in earnest in mid-July. Wayne read the Indians copies of the Treaty of Paris (1783) and the new Jay's Treaty (1794) to drive home the point that Britain had abandoned the Ohio Country, and the United States was now sovereign in the region. Jay's Treaty, in which Britain promised to evacuate its forts in American territory, proved crucial to Wayne's case. This agreement (this was probably the first the Indians had heard of it) convinced most of the confederacy's chiefs and warriors that the British material aid necessary for continued resistance would cease, and that they should therefore make peace with the Americans and cede the Ohio Country to the young nation.

Many of the Indian leaders present accepted the American terms. Chief Little Turtle of the Miamis delivered a rebuttal speech denying former British claims to Ohio. He proposed a compromise, in which the new boundary would extend no farther north than Fort Recovery (in present-day Mercer County, Ohio). Wayne insisted on his original proposal, however. He made extensive use of liquor, presents, spies, and bribes to further the American agenda, and on 3 August, representatives from all the tribes present marked the treaty. Little Turtle held out until 12 August, but then relented in a private council with Wayne.

The treaty allotted annuities (yearly payments) of $1,000 in trade goods (minus the cost of shipping) each to the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis, Ottawas, Chippewas, and Potawatomis. A $500 annuity (minus shipping) went to the Kickapoos, Weas, Eel Rivers, Piankashaws, and Kaskaskias. Ideally, the annuities went to the chiefs who had signed the treaty and were then distributed to their people, though this was not always the case in practice. The Kickapoos disdained what they saw as an inconsequential annuity, and declined even to collect it for several years. The United States received all of modern-day Ohio, minus the northwest quadrant. Wayne further reserved 150,000 acres on the Ohio River opposite Louisville, Kentucky, for the veterans of George Rogers Clark's Vincennes campaign. The treaty also reserved numerous small plots of land for the United States and the old French holdings, which became the subject of later dispute.

The Greenville Treaty established a general peace between Americans and Indians in the Old Northwest that held until 1811. It inexpensively opened most of Ohio to rapid American settlement, and proved that Indian lands could be purchased, rather than merely taken. The treaty also, through the annuity system, increased Indian dependence on manufactured goods and established some chiefs, like Little Turtle, as prominent leaders. American officials would later force these tribes into land cession treaties by threatening to withhold their Greenville annuities. While it seemed Wayne had negotiated with the confederation, in reality he met with disgruntled, feuding villagers who could not even agree on the distribution of their annuities. A great many of the chiefs who attended the treaty died soon after from disease, further compromising Indian leadership in the Old Northwest. Wayne's use of bribery, spies, and threats of force helped him play one tribe against another to secure the treaty. His aide-de-camp, William Henry Harrison, utilized all these tactics when he became governor of Indiana Territory in 1800.


Kappler, Charles J., ed. Indian Treaties 17781883. New York: Interland, 1972.

Sword, Wiley. President Washington's Indian War: The Struggle for the Old Northwest, 17901795. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.

White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 16501815. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Robert M. Owens

See also Fallen Timbers, Battle of ; Indian Land Cessions ; Indian Policy, U.S.: 17751830 ; Indian Treaties ; Jay's Treaty .

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Greenville Treaty

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