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The Indian Wars And St. Clair’s Defeat
by [?]

The Indians and the renegades at Sandusky would not believe their prisoners when Crawford’s men told them that Cornwallis and his army had surrendered to Washington; but the Revolutionary War had now really come to an end. The next year Great Britain acknowledged the independence of the United States, and gave up the whole West to them, as France had given it up to her before. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia claimed each the country lying westward of them, but the other states denied this claim. The West was finally declared the property of the whole Union, and in 1784 the first ordinance was passed by Congress for its government. It was not until 1787 that the great ordinance was passed which gave the future empire of the world to the West on terms of freedom to all men: “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory otherwise than in the punishment of crime.”

This made the West free forever, but no law of Congress could make it safe without the consent of the savage nations which had again changed masters by the treaty of foreign powers. The war between England and America was over, but the war between white men and red men raged more fiercely after our peace with Great Britain than before. The backwoodsmen took this peace for a sign that they might now cross the river from New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to settle in the Ohio country; and they were soon there by hundreds. It is true that the United States had made treaties with the United Tribes for certain tracts beyond the Ohio River, but the Indians declared that they had been tricked into these treaties. It is true that Congress meant to deal fairly by them so far as to drive the hard bargains with them for their lands which the white men had always driven with the Indians; but the backwoodsmen waited for nothing, and the old story of surprises and slaughters, of captivities and tortures, went on, with the difference that the war parties now need not cross the Ohio to take scalps and prisoners, and the vengeance of the pioneers had not so far to follow them in their return to the woods.

The first white settlers in Ohio were largely the kind of half-savages who had butchered the Christians at Gnadenhiitten. They built their cabins and cleared their fields on lands so shamelessly stolen that in 1785 a force of United States troops was sent to drive them out of their holdings. They seemed to go, but in reality they staid, and wherever the backwoodsman planted his foot west of the Ohio, he never turned his face eastward again.

He was unlawfully there, but from the Indian’s point of view he was no more unrightfully there than the settlers who came a few years later to take up farms under the land companies authorized by Congress. If any other proof were wanting that these companies possessed themselves of land which the Indians believed they had never sold, it would appear in the fact that the first thing the settlers did was to build a stockade, or high bullet-proof fence of logs with a strong blockhouse for a kind of citadel, where they might gather for safety in case of attacks from any of the wild natives of the woods about them.

The invaders were from New England, from New Jersey, from Pennsylvania, and from Virginia, and with their coming, nearly all in the same year, there began that mingling of the American strains which has since made Ohio the most American state in the Union, first in war and first in peace; which has given the nation such soldiers as Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, McPherson; such presidents as Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, McKinley; such statesmen and jurists as Ewing, Cor-win, Wade, Chase, Giddings, Sherman, Waite. We have to own, in truth and honesty, that the newcomers might be unlawfully and unrightfully in the great territory which was destined to be the great state, but it is consoling to realize that they were not unreasonably there. It was not reasonable that the land should be left to savages who must each keep fifty thousand acres of it wild for his needs as a hunter. The earth is for those who will use it, and not for those who will waste it, and the Indians who would not suffer themselves to be tamed could not help wasting the land.