Treaty of Lancaster

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The Treaty of Lancaster was a treaty concluded between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (also known as "Six Nations" or Iroquois) and the colonial governments of Virginia Colony and Maryland Colony. Negotiations began at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on June 25, and ended on July 4, 1744.[1]

The negotiations were conducted in the old courthouse, which stood in the center of Lancaster at the time. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, built in 1874 to commemorate the U.S. Civil War, now stands on the site of the Treaty in Penn Square.[2]

In 1722, Virginia Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood had arranged the Treaty of Albany with the (then) Five Nations.[3] That treaty renewed the Covenant Chain and agreed to recognize the Blue Ridge Mountains as the demarcation between the Virginia Colony and the Five Nations (who that same year became known as the "Six Nations" with the addition of the Tuscarora).

Colonial governments were unable to prevent white settlers from moving beyond the Blue Ridge and into the Shenandoah Valley in the 1730s. When the Haudenosaunee Confederacy objected, they were told that the agreed demarcation was to prevent their trespassing east of the Blue Ridge, but not to prevent the English from expanding west of them. In 1743 the Iroquois skirmished with some Valley settlers. The Iroquois were on the verge of declaring total war on the Virginia Colony when Governor Gooch paid them the sum of 100 pounds sterling for any settled land in the Valley which they claimed. The following year, at the Treaty of Lancaster, the Iroquois sold all their remaining claim to the Shenandoah Valley for 200 pounds in gold.[4] At the same time, it was an attempt to make peace between the Iroquois and the southern Catawba.[5]

Even so, a difference in interpretation remained. The Virginians believed that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy had relinquished to the Crown any claim they had on all the lands within the 1609 Chartered boundaries of Virginia. They considered these boundaries to extend to the Pacific, or at least up to the Ohio River. The Iroquois understood that they had ceded only their lands up to the Ohio watershed; in other words, only the Shenandoah Valley east of the Allegheny Mountains.[6]

This difference was partly resolved at the 1752 Treaty of Logstown, where the Haudenosaunee Confederacy recognised English rights southeast of the Ohio River. Nevertheless, the Cherokee, the Shawnee, and other nations continued to claim by possession large portions of the area beyond the Allegheny Ridge. At the 1758 Treaty of Easton with the Shawnee ending "Braddock's War" (a portion of the French and Indian Wars), the colonies agreed to settle no further west of the Alleghenies (the Eastern Divide). The Royal Proclamation of 1763 confirmed this territory as Indian land.[7]

By the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy ("Six Nations") finally sold all their remaining claims between the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The Shawnee relinquished their claim on that area only following their defeat in Dunmore's War in 1774. The Cherokee ceded their claims in this region (encompassing most of present-day Kentucky and part of West Virginia) in the Treaty of Hard Labour (1768), the Treaty of Lochaber (1770), and the Henderson Purchase (1775).


Lt. Governor George Thomas
Thomas Lee,
William Beverly, Commissioners
  • For Governor of Maryland Colony (who received the name "Brother Tocarry-hogan" at this treaty):
Edmund Jennings,
Philip Thomas,
Robert King,
Thomas Colville, Commissioners
  • Six Nations deputies speaking at this Treaty:
Canassatego, Tachanoontia, Gachradodow
  • English-Iroquois interpreter: Conrad Weiser (called Tacharawagon by the Iroquois)


  1. ^ Treaty of Lancaster Proceedings
  2. ^ Harris, Bernard (2009-04-17). "Treaty of Lancaster mural coming to city center". Lancaster New Era (Lancaster Newspapers, Inc). Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  3. ^ "Treaty of Albany"
  4. ^ Joseph Solomon Walton, 1900, Conrad Weiser and the Indian Policy of Colonial Pennsylvania pp. 76-121.
  5. ^ Walton, p. 114 ff.
  6. ^ Walton, p. 117, 223-224.
  7. ^ Jayme A. Sokolow, 2003 The Great Encounter: Native Peoples and European Settlers in the Americas p. 206.

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