An Ohio River boundary? The contested Ohio country, 1783--1795

Sarah E. Miller
Dept. of History, University of Toledo
July, 2006


This dissertation examines the complex relationships of peoples in the Ohio country from the end of the American Revolution until the Treaty of Greeneville. The Native Americans hoped to retain the land for themselves, but the new United States expected to sell the property to eager settlers. Immediately following the war, the Americans dictated terms to the Indians at the Treaties of Fort Stanwix, Fort McIntosh and Fort Finney. The Indian confederacy rejected these treaties and hoped to restore a previous Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768) which specified the Ohio River as the boundary between Native Americans and white settlement. To appease the Indians, the United States called another treaty at Fort Harmar but few members of the confederacy attended and a council denied its validity. Frustrated with the failure to peacefully resolve the land issue with the Native Americans, the United States ordered a military strike against the Indian confederacy. The first two attempt, by Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair ended in disastrous defeats for the Americans. Another attempt to treat with the Indians occurred in 1793, but failed when the Indians insisted on the Ohio River boundary as a prerequisite for negotiations. Anthony Wayne then commenced his campaign into the heart of Indian country. Advancing to the Glaize, the multinational center of the Indian confederacy, Wayne again offered peace to the Native Americans. The confederacy refused, confident in their military might and the support of their presumed British allies. In the short Battle of Fallen Timbers that followed, the Americans defeated the Indians in the field. As the Indian confederacy retreated to regroup, the British closed the gates of Fort Miamis refusing the Indians shelter. Because of the devastation of Wayne's victory, the deterioration of the Indian confederacy and the betrayal of the British government, the tribes opted to treat with the Americans. Advancing to Greeneville in the winter of 1795, chiefs and warriors agreed to a preliminary peace. The Treaty of Greeneville, held that summer, ceded much of the present state of Ohio to the Americans and eliminated any possibility of an Ohio River boundary.