Treaty of Fort Harmar

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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 Wyandot, Delaware, Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi 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. Several regional tribes, such as the Shawnee, were excluded from the negotiations. As a result, the Shawnee 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. The failure of the treaty led to an escalation of the Northwest Indian War as the tribes tried to expel the pioneers; it continued for six years until the United States defeated the tribal alliance at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794.

In 1795, with the 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.

See also[edit]


  • Laurence M. Hauptman, Conspiracy of Interests: Iroquois Dispossession and the Rise of New York State (2001).

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