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Wampum Belt Archive


Fort Harmar - Iroquois Treaty


R. D. Hamell Drawing Jan. 25, 2020


Clements Lib Belt
Original Size:
Rows: 8. Length: 17.5 inches


Clement Library Univ Michigan

Michigan CLUM u (Newberry)

James O'Hara letter to Arthur St. Clair


[written in different hand in corner]1788 [written in different hand] Feb. 12 Sir It having been determined that in meeting with the Indians NW of the Ohio, in order to form a Treaty of Peace and Commerce, should be held at the Falls of the Musk = kingham River in May next, and sundry Articles of merchandise will be wanted for the usual Presents that are made to them on such Occasions, and knowing that you are perfectly acquainted with the nature price of such Articles both from your private transactions, and from having before done the same for the public I have to request that you will purchase on the best terms possible and cause to be transported to the mouth of the Muskingham River the Articles mentioned in the encl [crossed out] annexed List _ for that purpose I will put into your Hands the Warrants of the Board of Treasury upon the receiver of continental Taxes in Maryland, and you will be allowed for doing the Business the same Commission as was allowed to you upon the former occasion including the charge of Transportation I am Sir [illegible] Copy To Cap t. [superscript] James O'Hara Philad a. [superscript] Febr y. [superscript] 12 th. [superscript] 1788 [underlined] [written to side] 2000 2000 1500 1250 1733 850 [horizontal line] 9333 [end] (Ohio History Connection.


Treaty of Fort Hamar

The Treaty of Fort Harmar was an agreement between the United States government and numerous Native American tribes with claims to the Northwest Territory. It was signed at Fort Harmar, near present-day Marietta, Ohio, on January 9, 1789. Representatives of the Iroquois Six Nations and other groups, including the WyandotDelawareOttawaChippewaPotawatomi and Sauk met with Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, and other American leaders such as Josiah Harmar and Richard Butler.

The treaty was supposed to address issues remaining since the 1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix and the 1785 Treaty of Fort McIntosh; but, the new agreement did little more than reiterate the terms of those two previous documents with a few minor changes. The negotiations and document failed to address the most important grievances of the tribes, namely, the settlement of New Englanders in the Firelands portions of the Western Reserve, an area that extended into the territory set aside for the tribes.

Governor Arthur St. Clair had been authorized by Congress and Secretary of War Henry Knox to offer back some lands reserved for American settlement in exchange for the disputed Firelands of the Western Reserve. St. Clair refused to give up these lands and instead, through threats and bribery, negotiated a treaty that simply reiterated the terms of previous treaties. Many Native American leaders met prior to the treaty negotiations to determine an appropriate strategy. Joseph Brant offered a compromise position which moved the boundary line to the Muskingum River.[1]:108–110 Some hardline leaders rejected Brant's compromise, so Brant sent St. Clair a letter asking for early concessions; St. Clair refused, and accused Brant of acting for the British. Brant decided to boycott negotiations with the United States, and suggested others do the same. To make matters worse, white settler Lewis Wetzel murdered Seneca Chief Tegunteh on his way to Fort Harmar.[2] Several regional tribes, such as the Shawnee and Miami, refused to participate when St. Clair refused to attend or sign the treaty, and therefore refused to abide by the treaty.

The new treaty did almost nothing to stop the rash of violence along the frontier from confrontations between settlers and Indians. Many native nations were infuriated at the treaty, which recognized native rights to sell their lands, while claiming U.S. sovereignty and forcing native tribes to sell their lands immediately.[1]:113 The failure of the treaty led to an escalation of the Northwest Indian War as a new Western Confederacy fought against settlement and invasion from the United States. The war would continue for six years and see thousands killed, including some of the worst defeats in U.S. Army history, until the United States defeated the tribal alliance at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794.

In the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, the tribes were forced to give up claims to most of what is now the state of Ohio. This treaty divided the Northwest Territory into two parts; one for the Native Americans and one for the United States settlers.



Marietta SAR. 2009.

Ohio History Central.

Walker, Richard. Ph.D. 2009, The Theft of Ohio: Treaty of Fort Harmar 1789. (MSS., 2009); Ohio History Central: An Online Encyclopedia of Ohio History.