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Council Fires On the Upper Ohio

Council Fires On the Upper Ohio

Randolph C. Downes
With Headpiece Illustrations by Alex Ross
Copyright Date: 1968
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Council Fires On the Upper Ohio
    Book Description:

    Told from the viewpoint of the Indians, this account of Indian-white relations during the second half of the eighteenth century is an exciting addition to the historical literature of Pennsylvania.

    From the beginning, when the white traders followed the first Shawnee hunters into Pennsylvania, until the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, the region's history was the history of the relationship between the Indians and the whites. For nearly half a century the Indian maintained a precarious hold upon Western Pennsylvania by playing one white faction off against the anther, first the French against the British, then the British against the Americans.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7126-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. 1 The Indian Point of View
    (pp. 1-15)

    An american indian arose from the circle around a council fire to address his fellow tribesmen and his brothers, the white men. It matters not who, or when, or where. It was a treaty council at the close of a brief but bloody racial war, the inevitable outcome of which had been a crushing defeat for the Indians. The terms, of course, were settled; to his white listeners, therefore, the Indian spoke to no purpose save that of repentance. His talk was the description of a dream, by which he meant to symbolize his message, which was the narrative of...

  2. 2 The Indians of Allegania, 1720-1745
    (pp. 16-41)

    There was peace in the hills and forests of western Pennsylvania in 1700. The waters of the Allegheny and the Monongahela flowed untroubled to their union, where no trader’s fort, nor even an Indian’s wigwam, marred the prospect. No man had learned to call this land a homeland. Tombs and graves there were, of a people called the Mound Builders, whose bones were now piled high to remind those who should come after that here man once had lived and died. But these were vain mockeries, like the pedestal of Ozymandias; for these folk were utterly forgotten—those in the...

  3. 3 A Decade of Iroquois Supremacy, 1745-1754
    (pp. 42-74)

    The history of Indian affairs in western Pennsylvania in the decade following the departure of the Shawnee is about as different from that of the decades preceding as it possibly could be. The period now under consideration is characterized by a marked improvement in the conditions of the fur trade, largely as a result of the activities and influence of George Croghan and his associates. Conditions did not become perfect, and Indian complaints did not disappear, but, considering the volume of the trade and the number of Indians involved, conditions were much better in the region than they had been...

  4. 4 The Breakdown of French Ascendancy, 1755-1758
    (pp. 75-92)

    We are alleghany indians, and your enemies. You must all die.” Thus spoke the leader of the band of Delaware Indians from the Ohio who entered the home of Barbara Leininger on Penn’s Creek in what is now Snyder County, Pennsylvania, in the early morning hours of October 16, 1755. The band then shot her father, tomahawked her brother, and took her and her sister Regina prisoners. A similar tragedy was enacted at the near-by Le Roy home. When the three days’ slaughter in the neighborhood was over, nineteen scalps had been collected, more than ten prisoners taken, farmhouses burned,...

  5. 5 Indian Revolt Against British Economy, 1758-1765
    (pp. 93-122)

    The indian enthusiasm for a change from French to English rule should not be misunderstood. No sooner had the English flag been raised in the Ohio Valley than the Indians sought to have it hauled down and the country left to the undisturbed possession of the Delawares, Shawnee, and the rest of the tribes. The dominant thought in the minds of these Indians after the days of rejoicing over the fall of Fort Duquesne had passed was that the British would soon imitate the French and depart from the Ohio. Such a thought was clearly an unreasonable one from the...

  6. 6 A Decade of British Muddling, 1765-1774
    (pp. 123-151)

    With the close of the military phases of the suppression of Pontiac’s Conspiracy, the English government was again presented with the problem of restoring its influence to the French-ridden and war-ridden Indians of the Northwest. It did not fumble the problem as badly, perhaps, as it had in the days of Amherst, who had returned to England in the fall of 1763, but neither did it handle the matter in a way satisfactory to the Indians or to the people of America. What the government did was to drop the Amherst policy of economy long enough to give most of...

  7. 7 Dunmore’s War
    (pp. 152-178)

    The shawnee nation, too remote from the French in Louisiana to benefit by their trade, was the most neglected and unfortunate tribe of the whole region of the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes. The reader has followed these Indians through their unhappy vicissitudes from 1763 to 1774; he is now to witness them goaded into desperate warfare by the aggressions of American frontiersmen. This Shawnee war of 1774 is better known as Lord Dunmore’s War.

    At the close of his “Account of the Rise of the Indian War, 1774,” Richard Butler, later Indian commissioner and agent of the United...

  8. 8 The Indians and the Outbreak of Revolution on the Frontier
    (pp. 179-211)

    The american revolution, coming close on the heels of Dunmore’s War, brought new and difficult problems to the inhabitants of the upper Ohio Valley. A danger in every American community in those anxious days of 1775 was that of a Loyalist counter-revolt against the patriots, and in frontier communities the danger was doubly felt because of the possibilities of alliance between the supporters of King George and the redskins who ranged the neighboring forests. It was to take the part of wisdom, then, for patriots to befriend the Indians before their British rivals, with their long experience and prestige among...

  9. 9 The Fort McIntosh–Fort Laurens Indian Frontier, 1778-1779
    (pp. 212-227)

    The erection and attempted maintenance of the twin posts of Fort McIntosh and Fort Laurens during the years of 1778 and 1779 represents a distinct phase of American Indian policy. As has been pointed out, the need for a new policy developed from the fact, but recently realized, that the old measures neither provided an adequate system of defense nor made possible an effective means of offense. Ever since Dunmore’s War, frontiersmen had faced the Indians behind a fringe of stations and forts placed, not in the Indian country, as Fort McIntosh and Fort Laurens were to be, but in...

  10. 10 George Rogers Clark
    (pp. 228-247)

    While mcintosh was attempting to further American prestige in the Ohio Valley during 1778, developments were taking place to the west that enlarged the sphere of the contest with the Indians by bringing into its vortex the tribes on the Wabash and Maumee rivers and on Lake Michigan. Problems of Indian administration were thus complicated for the officials of the middle department, whose headquarters were at Fort Pitt and Fort McIntosh in western Pennsylvania. This enlargement, although operating throughout 1778 and 1779 to the benefit of the Americans under the immediate influence of George Rogers Clark’s victories, was destined in...

  11. 11 Indian War, 1779-1782
    (pp. 248-276)

    The expedition of Colonel Daniel Brodhead against the Seneca Indians, a tribe of the Six Nations, in August, 1779, was the one outstanding accomplishment of the Americans made possible by Clark’s victories in the Northwest and by the subsequent friendliness of the northern Indian tribes. The trend of events was to prove, however, that even this spurt was of little lasting benefit to the United States, and it was followed by a general chaos on the frontiers that lasted until the year 1782.

    Brodhead, in command of the western department, with headquarters at Pittsburgh, was highly encouraged by the favorable...

  12. 12 The Revival of American Aggression, 1782-1789
    (pp. 277-309)

    Peace returned to America in 1782, but a strange peace it was for the Indians. The conflict between the British and the Americans in the battlefields of the East was at an end, but the peace that came to the frontiers of the West was an anomalous one indeed. For reasons of political expediency in Europe, England had yielded up the American Northwest, leaving the Indians to come to whatever terms they could with the United States over the disposition of the lands involved. The Indians were thus confronted with the astounding facts that the Americans had conquered the British...

  13. 13 The War for the Ohio River Boundary, 1789-1795
    (pp. 310-338)

    The united states would have begun war against the tribes on the Wabash and the Maumee in 1789 directly after the treaty of Fort Harmar, if it had been able. By that treaty the United States had isolated those tribes and had fulfilled Secretary of War Knox’s hope, expressed in December, 1788, that St. Clair would be successful in making peace with some of the tribes so that “it would be more easy to punish the Wabash and more westerly Indians, if they should persist in their predatory incursions and murders.” And individuals of these tribes had resumed their attacks...