Treaty of Greenville
Treaty of Greenville
Excerpt from "Treaty with the Wyandot, etc., 1795"
Known historically as "Treaty of Greenville"
Published in Law and Treaties, edited by Charles J. Kappler, 1904
In the early eighteenth century, a number of Native American tribes with distinct histories and often speaking distinct languages lived north of the Ohio River in the Great Lakes region. Among them were the Miami, Potawatomi, Shawnee, Ottawas, Wyandot, and Chippewa. They maintained a well-established fur trade relationship with the British. Facing the expansion of U.S. settlements onto their lands, they took the side of the British during the American Revolution (1775–83), the war the colonies waged for independence from Britain.
Warfare between white American settlers and Native Americans in the area reached a climax in August 1782, when some 200 Wyandot and other Native Americans defeated a Kentucky militia force that had ventured north across the Ohio River; in the battle, 146 militiamen were killed or wounded. In retribution in early November, a force led by war hero George Rogers Clark (1752–1818) attacked and burned five Shawnee towns in southern Ohio. Hard feelings between the Americans and Native Americans resulted from the fighting.
After the American Revolution ended, the new Confederation government of the United States signed a series of treaties with tribes residing in the northern frontier region between the Ohio River and the Mississippi River. The treaties were signed at Fort Stanwix in 1784 with the Iroquois Confederacy of upper New York; at Fort McIntosh, downstream from Pittsburgh, in 1785 with the Delaware, Wyandot, Chippewa, and Ottawas; and at Fort Finney in 1786 with the Shawnee.
At these treaty sessions, U.S. officials told the tribes they would have to give up certain lands north of the Ohio River because they had taken sides with the British and fought against U.S. forces during the American Revolution. The treaties, which together forced the cession (surrender) of much of the future state of Ohio, created further Native American hostility toward the United States. Meanwhile, the U.S. government had no money to raise an army to enforce the treaties. Representatives of numerous tribes met on several occasions in 1785 and 1786 to discuss how to reverse the land cessions of the treaties. From 1786 to 1789, their response was to violently resist U.S. expansion. From 1786 to 1789, white settlers could not safely cross to the north side of the Ohio River to settle lands supposedly ceded in the treaties.
Seeing its Native American policies failing, the Confederation created separate Native American departments north and south of the Ohio River and assigned superintendents who would deal more directly with the Native Americans. In July 1787, the Confederation passed the Northwest Ordinance, which established plans for three to five future states to be created in the area north of the Ohio River. This region, which was designated the Northwest Territory, included the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota.
The ordinance proclaimed the Confederation's dominance over Native American relations in the region as opposed to individuals or local governments and stated that no lands would be taken away from Native Americans without their consent. The Native Americans would no longer be treated as defeated enemies, and they would be protected from the aggressive actions of the states and frontiersmen. The Confederation could not afford to take the region by military conquest and, besides, that would be contrary to the new republican society that claimed to respect the natural rights of humans. (A republican society is governed by the consent of the people and for the benefit of the people through elected representatives. Natural rights refers to the concept that human beings are rational beings who can interpret the world's events in a scientific manner and even influence them on occasion; therefore, humans have natural rights to be free to pursue these ideas.) As a result, a peaceful means was adopted for conquest. The American leaders did not anticipate that the Native Americans would perhaps not take money for their lands, especially when the inevitability of U.S. settlement was apparent.
Under the redesigned policy, the United States signed the Fort Harmar Treaty in January 1789 with the Wyandot, Delaware, Potawatomi, Ottawas, and Sauk. This treaty confirmed the land cessions of eastern and southern Ohio that were detailed in the 1785 Fort McIntosh Treaty. The new treaty also provided for a small payment for the land and gave the tribes permission to hunt in their old lands as long as peace was maintained.
Many Native Americans in the Northwest Territory were angered further by the Treaty of Fort Harmar. U.S. officials thought they had acquired Native American lands fairly, through various treaties, but the Native Americans were determined to make the United States fight for those lands. British troops stationed at fur-trading posts in the Northwest Territory encouraged Native American discontent. The British provided arms and ammunition to the Native Americans to resist American expansion. Although the American Revolution was over, the British continued to fight against U.S. interests.
President George Washington (1732–1799; served 1789–97) was eager to establish control of the Northwest frontier. The first major U.S. military campaign directed against the Native Americans in the region occurred in 1790. Twice in that year, Brigadier General Josiah Harmar (1753–1813) led a force from Fort Washington, in present-day Cincinnati, Ohio, onto Native American land, burning several empty Native American towns and crops. The Native Americans had fled just before the military force had arrived. The military hoped that by burning the villages and crops, the Native Americans would have nothing to return to and abandon the region. However, in the fall, a united Native American force pushed Harmar and his troops back to Fort Washington.
During the summer of 1791, battles between the Native Americans and militia groups from Kentucky occurred along the Wabash River. Next, President Washington instructed the governor of the Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair (1736–1818), to lead a new force to gain control of the region. In the fall of 1791, St. Clair led approximately 3,000 regular troops and militiamen back to the Wabash River area. A combined Native American force of Wyandot, Chippewa, Miami, and Kickapoos ambushed St. Clair's camp on November 4. Some 630 of the U.S. command were killed and another 300 were wounded. It was the worst U.S. military defeat at the hands of Native American forces in U.S. history.
In 1792, Washington assigned General Anthony Wayne (1745–1796) to prepare a force of over five thousand regular troops called the Legion of the United States. Wayne trained the force for two years at Fort Washington while waiting for the president's command to launch an attack against a combined force of Chippewa, Miami, Delaware, Shawnee, and Potawatomi. Receiving Washington's order in 1794, Wayne's troops engaged some eight hundred Native American warriors on August 20 of that year. The skirmish, known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers, was brief before the combined Native American force retreated.
Wayne's strong show of force and his decisive defeat of the Native American alliance led to the Treaty with the Wyandot, better known historically as the Treaty of Greenville, signed on August 3, 1795. Representatives of the Miami, Potawatomi, Shawnee, Ottawas, Wyandot, and Chippewa ceded much of eastern and southern Ohio, largely the same land ceded by the 1785 Treaty of Fort McIntosh but never controlled by the United States. The treaty provided $20,000 in goods and an annual payment of $9,500 in exchange for the land. In the treaty, the government promised that the Native Americans could keep the lands not ceded to the United States for as long as they desired.
Things to remember while reading excerpts from "Treaty of Greenville":
- The Native Americans believed that by signing the treaty they would gain a permanent home; the Americans believed the agreement was temporary, in effect only until more lands were needed for settlement.
- In 1795, most land between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers still belonged to Native Americans; only a few thousand U.S. frontiersmen had settled in the area.
- U.S. leaders were strongly promoting their "civilization" program in the mid-1790s. They wanted to turn the Native American population into American farmers and often promised agricultural tools and spinning wheels in the treaties to enable Native Americans to adopt a farming lifestyle. This change would also keep them on less land rather than their traditional ways of ranging across a broad landscape hunting and gathering wild foods.
- The community of Greenville has also been known as Greeneville; the treaty excerpt includes both spellings.
Excerpt from "Treaty with the Wyandot, etc., 1795" (Treaty of Greenville)
A treaty of peace between the United States of America and the Tribes of Indians, called the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanoes, Ottawas, Chipewas, Putawatimes, Miamis, Eel-rivers, Weea's, Kickapoos, Piankashaws, and Kaskaskias.
To put an end to a destructive war, to settle all controversies, and to restore harmony and friendlyintercourse between the said United States and Indian tribes; Anthony Wayne, major-general, commanding the army of the United States, and sole commissioner for the good purposes above-mentioned, and the said tribes of Indians, by theirSachems, chiefs, and warriors, met together at Greeneville, the head quarters of the said army, have agreed on the following articles, which, when ratified by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States, shallbe binding on them and the said Indian tribes.
Article I: Henceforth all hostilities shall cease; peace is hereby established, and shall beperpetual; and a friendly intercourse shall take place, between the said United States and Indian tribes.
Article II: All prisoners shall on both sides be restored. The Indians, prisoners to the United States, shall be immediately set at liberty. The people of the United States, still remaining prisoners among the Indians, shall be delivered up in ninety days from the date hereof, to the general or commanding officer at Greeneville, Fort Wayne or Fort Defiance; and ten chiefs of the said tribes shall remain at Greenville as hostages, until the delivery of the prisoners shall be effected.
Article III: The general boundary line between the lands of the United States, and the lands of the said Indian tribes, shall begin at the mouth of Cayahoga river, and run thence ... to intersect that river opposite the mouth of Kentucke or Cuttawa river. And in consideration of the peace now established; of the goodsformerly received from the United States; of those now to be delivered, and of the yearly delivery of goods nowstipulated to be made hereafter, and toindemnify the United States for the injuries and expenses they have sustained during the war; the said Indian tribes do herebycede and relinquish forever, all their claims to the lands lying eastwardly and southwardly of the general boundary line now described: and these lands, or any part of them, shall never hereafter be made a cause ... of war or injury to the United States, or any of the people thereof.
And for the same considerations, and as an evidence of the returning friendship of the said Indian tribes, of their confidence in the United States, and desire to provide for their accommodation, and for that convenient intercourse which will be beneficial to both parties, the said Indian tribes do also cede to the United States the following pieces of land . ... [The treaty goes on to describe sixteen specific properties for existing and future government posts.] And whenever the United States shall think proper to survey and mark the boundaries of the lands hereby ceded to them, they shall give timely notice thereof to the said tribes of Indians, that they may appoint some of their wise chiefs to attend and see that the lines are run according to the terms of this treaty.
And the said Indian tribes will allow to the people of the United States a free passage by land and by water, as one and the other shall be found convenient, through their country, along thechain of posts herein before mentioned . ... And the said Indian tribes will also allow to the people of the United States the free use of the harbors and mouths of rivers along the lakes adjoining the Indian lands, for sheltering vessels and boats, and liberty to land their cargoes where necessary for their safety.
Article IV: In consideration of the peace now established and of the cessions and relinquishments of lands made in the preceding article by the said tribes of Indians, and tomanifest the liberality of the United States, as the great means of rendering this peace strong and perpetual; the United States relinquish their claims to all other Indian lands northward of the river Ohio, eastward of the Mississippi, and westward and southward of the Great Lakes and the waters uniting them, according to the boundary line agreed on by the United States and the king of Great Britain, in the treaty of peace made between them in the year 1783. ...
And for the same considerations and with the same views as above mentioned, the United States now deliver to the said Indian tribes a quantity of goods to the value of twenty thousand dollars, the receipt whereof they do herebyacknowledge; and henceforward every year forever the United States will deliver at some convenient place northward of the river Ohio, like useful goods, suited to the circumstances of the Indians, of the value of nine thousand five hundred dollars;reckoning that value at the first cost of the goods in the city or place in the United States, where they shall beprocured. The tribes to which those goods are to be annually delivered, and the proportions in which they are to be delivered, are the following . ... [The treaty details the amount of money to be paid to each tribe.]
Provided, That if either of the said tribes shall hereafter at an annual delivery of their share of the goods aforesaid, desire that a part of theirannuity should be furnished in domestic animals,implements of husbandry, and other utensils convenient for them, and in compensation to usefulartificers who may reside with or near them, and be employed for their benefit, the same shall at the subsequent annual deliveries be furnished accordingly.
Article V: To prevent any misunderstanding about the Indian landsrelinquished by the United States in the fourth article, it is now explicitly declared, that the meaning of that relinquishment is this: the Indian tribes who have a right to those lands, are quietly to enjoy them, hunting, planting, and dwelling thereon so long as they please, without anymolestation from the United States; but when those tribes, or any of them, shall be disposed to sell their lands, or any part of them, they are to be sold only to the United States; . ... and until such sale, the United States will protect all the said Indian tribes in the quiet enjoyment of their lands against all citizens of the United States, and against all other white persons who intrude upon the same. And the said Indian tribes again acknowledge themselves to be under the protection of the said United States and no other power whatever.
Article VI: If any citizen of the United States, or any other white person or persons, shall presume to settle upon the lands now relinquished by the United States, such citizen or other person shall be out of the protection of the United States; and the Indian tribe, on whose land the settlement shall be made, may drive off the settler, or punish him in such manner as they shall think fit; and because such settlements made without the consent of the United States, will be injurious to them as well as to the Indians, the United States shall be at liberty tobreak them up, and remove and punish the settlers as they shall think proper, and soeffect that protection of the Indian lands herein before stipulated.
Article VII: The said tribes of Indians, parties to this treaty, shall be at liberty to hunt within the territory and lands which they have now ceded to the United States, without hindrance or molestation, so long as theydemean themselves peaceably, and offer no injury to the people of the United States.
Article VIII: Trade shall be opened with the said Indian tribes; and they do herebyrespectively engage toafford protection to such persons, with their property, as shall beduly licensed to reside among them for the purpose of trade; ... but no person shall be permitted to reside at any of their towns or hunting camps, as a trader, who is not furnished with a license for that purpose, under thehand and seal of the superintendent of the department north-west of the Ohio, or such other person as the President of the United States shall authorize to grant such licenses ... And if any licensed trader shall abuse his privilege by unfair dealing, upon complaint and proof thereof, his license shall be taken from him, and he shall be further punished according to the laws of the United States. And if any person shallintrude himself as a trader, without such license, the said Indians shall take and bring him before the superintendent, or his deputy, to be dealt with according to law. And to preventimpositions byforged licenses, the said Indians shall at least once a year give information to the superintendent or his deputies of the names of the traders residing among them.
Article IX: Lest the firm peace and friendship now established should be interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, the United States, and the said Indian tribes agree, that forinjuries done by individuals on either side, no private revenge or retaliation shall take place; but instead thereof, complaint shall be made by the party injured, to the other: By the said Indian tribes, or any of them, to the President of the United States, or the superintendent by him appointed; and by the superintendent or other person appointed by the President, to the principal chiefs of the said Indian tribes, or of the tribe to which the offender belongs; and suchprudent measures shall then be pursued as shall be necessary to preserve the said peace and friendship unbroken, until the Legislature (orGreat Council ) of the United States, shall make otherequitable provision in the case, to the satisfaction of both parties. Should any Indian tribesmeditate a war against the United States ... and the same shall come to the knowledge of the before-mentioned tribes, ... they do herebyengage to give immediate notice thereof to the general or officer commanding the troops of the United States, at the nearest post. ... In like manner, the United States shall give notice to the said Indian tribes of any harm that may be meditated against them ... that shall come to their knowledge; and do all in their power to hinder and prevent the same, that the friendship between them may be uninterrupted.
Article X: All other treaties heretofore made between the United States and the said Indian tribes ... since the treaty of 1783, between the United States and Great Britain, that come within thepurview of this treaty, shall henceforth cease and become void.
In testimony whereof, the said Anthony Wayne, and the sachems and war chiefs of the beforementioned nations and tribes of Indians, have hereuntoset their hands and affixed their seals. Done at Greenville, in the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio, on the third day of August, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five.
What happened next ...
The events of 1794 and 1795, including the defeat of the Native American alliance at Fallen Timbers and the cession of Native American land at Greenville, brought a temporary peace to the region. However, the "civilization program" saw little success; by 1802, few Native Americans in the Old Northwest had become farmers.
To prepare for expanded farming settlement, President Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826; served 1801–9) directed the governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison (1773–1841), to sign another series of treaties with tribes in the former Northwest Territory. Between 1802 and 1809, the Native Americans ceded most of southern Indiana, much of Illinois, and parts of Wisconsin. As the treaties multiplied, Native American resentment grew; the Native Americans resented both the Americans and the Native American leaders who were signing the treaties. By 1807, Shawnee chief Tecumseh (1768–1813) and his younger brother Elskwatawa (c. 1768–1834), who was known as "the Prophet," were organizing a tribal resistance movement to stop continued American expansion. With a growing following, they established a town at the mouth of the Tippecanoe River in northern Indiana; it was known as Prophetstown. By 1810, sporadic fighting had broken out between the Native Americans and settlers in that area. Harrison meanwhile pressed on, pushing Native American leaders to sign more treaties, and by the fall of 1811 he had gained much of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois for the United States.
While Tecumseh was on a trip to the South recruiting more tribes to the alliance, Harrison took advantage of the opportunity to attack and destroy Prophetstown. The assault hardened Native American resistance even further.
When fighting broke out between Britain and the United States in the War of 1812 (1812–15), Tecumseh and his alliance took sides with the British. Through 1812 and 1813, the Native American alliance played a big role in helping Britain gain control of several locations in the western Great Lakes region along the U.S.-Canadian border. However, in 1813, the U.S. Navy defeated the British navy on Lake Erie. The British forces in the western Great Lakes region had received their supplies by ship across Lake Erie. With that supply line across Lake Erie now blocked, British forces began a retreat deeper into Canada. On October 5, 1813, Harrison and an army of five thousand pursued the retreating British and Native American force into western Ontario. There they engaged in the Battle of the Thames, and the Americans won a decisive victory. During the battle, the American forces killed Tecumseh. His death essentially ended the united Native American resistance to American expansion in the Old Northwest. Settlers were free again to press westward in relative safety.
On September 8, 1815, following the conclusion of the War of 1812, the Wyandot, Delaware, Seneca, Shawnee, Miami, Chippewa, Ottawas, and Potawatomi who had fought on the side of the British signed a treaty restoring friendship with the United States. The brief treaty renewed the terms of the 1795 Treaty of Greenville and later treaties and pardoned the Native American chiefs for the hostilities. The treaty also acknowledged the "fidelity," or loyalty, of those bands of Wyandot, Delaware, Seneca, and Shawnee who sided with the United States in the war.
Tribes of the Old Northwest
A number of different Native American peoples lived in the Old Northwest in the 1790s:
The Wyandot, also known as the Huron by early French explorers, lived in the upper Great Lakes region until driven south by conflicts with other tribes in the late seventeenth century. Some settled in the Detroit area, and others moved farther south into the Ohio country in the Sandusky Bay and Scioto areas. A 1752 smallpox epidemic killed many Wyandot, but those who survived (about a thousand) remained active in tribal alliances with the British and French. In the 1840s and 1850s, the Wyandot were forced west to Kansas and Oklahoma. In 1983, the Wyandot received a $5.7 million settlement payment from the United States for lands lost to American settlers in Ohio.
The Miami resided at the headwaters of the Scioto River in north central Ohio. Their population was about twenty-four thousand in the mid-seventeenth century. However, much competition soon grew among the tribes over the fur trade business with the French. As a result, other tribes inflicted large population losses on the Miami. The conflicts drove them south into the Mississippi River valley in the area of present-day Missouri. They later returned to Ohio and settled along the Wabash and Maumee rivers by the 1790s.
The Shawnee were a nomadic (traveling) group of Native Americans. There were possibly some twelve thousand Shawnee in the Tennessee and interior South Carolina areas when French trappers arrived there in the 1670s. By the eighteenth century, the Shawnee had moved to the Kentucky and Ohio River valley region of western Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River. The Shawnee were skilled in battle, and they were particularly aggressive in resisting expansion of U.S. settlement across the Appalachians. Like the Wyandot, the Shawnee were relocated to Kansas and Oklahoma in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Ottawa lived in the Great Lakes region and had a long-standing relationship with the Wyandot, Chippewa, and Potawatomi. About five thousand Ottawa lived in the region when French explorers arrived there in 1615. By the mid-1600s, the Ottawa and other Native Americans moved out of the region as the Iroquois migrated westward from New York. The Ottawa resettled in a number of locations in the Great Lakes region, but primarily in the area of present-day Michigan. The Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi, and Miami formed a strong alliance in the mid-1700s under Ottawa leader Pontiac (c. 1720–1769) and fought the British to reclaim homelands in Canada. In the 1830s, the Ottawa were relocated to northeast Kansas and then to Oklahoma.
Unlike the other tribes in the Ohio area who were involved in the Treaty of Greenville, the Delaware originated from the Atlantic Coast region along the Delaware River in New Jersey, New York, eastern Pennsylvania, and Delaware. When Europeans began colonizing the area in 1609, the Delaware population was about twelve thousand. Under pressure from increased European colonization, the Delaware began a shift westward, settling in various locations west of the Appalachians, including eastern Ohio along the Muskingum River, northwestern Ohio, Ontario, and the Pittsburgh area. Around 1800, they shifted farther west to Indiana, then to eastern Kansas in 1829, and finally to Oklahoma in 1859, where they joined another tribe, the Cherokee.
After the war, the U.S. Army was eager to maintain control of the Old Northwest. Army troops occupied a series of forts in the Great Lakes region and along the upper Mississippi River to maintain peace and protect American fur trade. The military also launched expeditions into the Louisiana Territory along the Missouri River, where the Corps of Discovery expedition, led by explorers Meriwether Lewis (1774–1809) and William Clark (1770–1838), had traveled a decade earlier. The government established its own trading houses to build relations with tribes on the frontier. However, private fur-trading companies considered the U.S. trading posts unfair competition, and by 1822 the government shut down its posts. By 1840, new treaties with the Wyandot, Wea, Delaware, Miami, Potawatomi, and others ceded more of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.
Did you know ...
- In another 1795 treaty, the Jay Treaty between the United States and Britain, the British agreed to abandon their forts in the Northwest Territory. In 1796, U.S. forces took over seven abandoned British forts to assert control over the Great Lakes region.
- Peace settled over the Northwest Territory for the next decade as U.S. settlements multiplied at an even greater rate.
- By 1815, the United States established treaties with tribes on the lower Missouri River. By 1860, the United States extended to the Pacific Ocean, isolating Native American populations on remote reservations.
- The 1814 Treaty of Ghent, between the United States and Britain, ended the War of 1812. The treaty required that the United States guarantee Native Americans their territories as they existed in 1811. However, the United States refused to give up control of lands it had gained in the war. As a result, the treaty condition led to fourteen treaties with Native American tribes between July and October 1815 that primarily attempted to establish peaceful relations without recognizing tribal ownership of their territories.
Consider the following ...
- Often treaties are negotiated between two parties of relatively equal strength. Did the United States and the Native American tribes of the Old Northwest have equal standing? Consider the superior weapon technology of the Americans and the fact that the treaties were written in English.
- The Native Americans were dissatisfied with the treaties partly because the Native American representatives who signed the agreements were often chosen by U.S. officials and lacked real authority to sell Native American land. How did Native Americans consider their land, as private property or as something owned or controlled by all Native Americans? How would this influence acceptance of treaties?
- Research the general background of the Great Lakes tribes before the arrival of European explorers in the early seventeenth century. How did their way of life differ from American farmers' way of life?
Sachems: High officials of the tribe.
Be binding: Become law.
Perpetual: Never ending.
Cede: Give up.
Chain of posts: A series of military and trading posts.
Manifest the liberality: Show goodwill and generosity.
Annuity: Yearly income.
Implements of husbandry: Tools of agriculture.
Artificers: Artisans; people skilled at devising things.
Relinquished: Given over.
Break them up: Take apart these settlements.
Effect: Bring about.
Respectively engage: Promise.
Duly licensed: Officially approved.
Hand and seal: Signature.
Injuries: Disruptions of peaceful relations.
Prudent measures: Carefully considered actions.
Great Council: U.S. Supreme Court.
Set their hands and affixed their seals: Placed their signatures or X marks.
For More Information
Dowd, Gregory. A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745–1815. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1992.
Gaff, Alan D. Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne's Legion in the Old Northwest. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.
Kappler, Charles J., ed. Law and Treaties. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1904.
Washburn, Wilcomb E., ed. Handbook of North American Indians: History of Indian-White Relations. Vol. 4. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1988.
The Battle of Fallen Timbers.http://www.fallentimbersbattlefield.com/ (accessed on July 21, 2005).