The Mohawk Valley during the Revolutionary War
March 30, 2007 6:46 AM   Subscribe

Horton's Historical Articles. "Gerald (Jerry) Horton has always been interested in American History, particularly the era from 1750 to 1820. Upon his retirement in 2000, he found more time for reading and research. It was through this research Jerry became intrigued with the Mohawk Valley during the Revolutionary War." It's a narrow focus, but if you're interested in the American Revolution the articles on this site provide incredibly detailed timelines, with impartial attention to all sides. What Happened to 7,000 People?, for example, explains just how the population of the Mohawk Valley dropped from 10,000 to 3,000 people in a few years in a "civil war that pitted neighbor against neighbor."
posted by languagehat (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Serves 'em right, damn tory loyalists.

Just kidding. These are great links about a fascinating period in US history. Thank you for this post.
posted by psmealey at 7:26 AM on March 30, 2007

This is really a great site. The article you linked to is fascinating. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 7:35 AM on March 30, 2007

Retirement well spent Mr. Horton. Heart rending history. "In November, almost 3,000 Indians were huddled around the gates of Fort Niagara seeking aid from the British." How many times has this sort of betrayal been repeated by the British.
posted by tellurian at 7:57 AM on March 30, 2007

How many times has this sort of betrayal been repeated by the British.
For a couple of seconds I considered writing an angry rant about this line. But you're damn right, tellurian, we pulled that kind of shit all the time.

posted by Aloysius Bear at 8:06 AM on March 30, 2007

That's fine Aloysius Bear. We (I'm British) did a whole bunch of colonial shit that doesn't stand up to moral/ethical justification. This is just another example. I would be interested to hear about the reasoning behind this particular incident though. So often there is a political background but in this case it could have been simply “The Hard Winter” and a matter of selfishness/self preservation (which does not justify abandoning your allies).
posted by tellurian at 9:00 AM on March 30, 2007

friend of mine had a small part in
"Pursuit of Honor - The Rise of George Washington (2006)"
and talked a bit about tactics esp. Pontiac, whom we agree is the greatest gu-rilla fighter North America produced.
though not to relevant to post at hand, an interesting find, plus i had to plug the dvd.
opps...well i'm aloud one for petes sake.

I would be interested to hear about the reasoning behind this particular incident though.

In the years 1775 – 1777, Loyalists were pressured and harassed incessantly. They were constantly under surveillance. Should the Committee of Safety believe the man of the house posed a threat to the area (i.e., by providing food, shelter, or information to British scouts) then that man was jailed. The property and possessions of Loyalists were seized and sold at auction. Their wives and children were incarcerated in homes in Schenectady, Albany, or some other designated location.
posted by clavdivs at 11:25 AM on March 30, 2007

Great website.

Off-topic, but related... I have always liked this Raid on Deerfield website.
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on March 30, 2007

Thanks, Languagehat: this is my backyard. (Last summer I took my kids to the Ft. Plain recreation of "the burning of the Valley.")
Good stuff.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:01 PM on March 30, 2007

Obviously the work of a dilletante. I mean, Horton doesn't even cover the genesis of the greatest ice cream flavor name of all time.

Seriously, you don't usually see too much about the area's history before the Erie Canal went in. This is good stuff.
posted by Opposite George at 6:33 PM on March 30, 2007

While the split over individual nations siding with the British or the Americans tore the Iroquois Confederacy apart, it didn't entirely destory the League's power; the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua was remarkably favorable to these former enemies. By the early 1800s, Seneca prophet Handsome Lake spoke favorably of President Washington in one of his visions:

"Then said the messengers, 'What did you see?'

"He answered, 'I saw a house suspended in the air and on the porch with a railing about it a man was walking and with him was a penny dog. Now moreover the man was a white man.'

"Then the messengers said, 'Truly you have seen. It is said that the man is the first and oldest president of the United States. Now he enjoys himself and he is the only white man so near the new world of our Creator. Now it is said that there was once a time when the Thirteen Fires and the King were in trouble. The Thirteen Fires were victorious and this man won the victory from the king. Said the king, "You have overpowered me, so now I release everything that was in my control, even these Iroquois who were my helpers. It rests with you what shall be done with them. Let them be to you a thing for a sacrifice." Then said the president, "I shall let them live and go back to the places that are theirs for they are an independent people." So it is said. Now this man did a great work. He has ordered things that we may enjoy ourselves, as long as the sun shines and waters run. This is the doing of our Great Creator.'"

High praise indeed, for the man who as an enemy general was called "Town Taker" or "Devourer of Villages".
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 11:12 PM on March 30, 2007

Good point. As Fred Anderson and Andew Cayton say in their (excellent) overview of America's expansionist history, The Dominion of War:
The Treaty of Greenville, concluded on August 3, 1795, signaled an end to native resistance between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River, from Pittsburgh as far west as Cincinnati. The Indians surrendered their claims to two-thirds of the modern state of Ohio and gave up their attempt, now decades old, to prevent Anglo-American settlement north of the river. The treaty, moreover, represented much more than an act of dispossession. As the representative of President Washington and the government of the United States, General Wayne took great care at the negotiations to establish the legitimacy as well as the power of the American empire. In ways that had not been seen since the Seven Years' War, he adhered scrupulously to Indian diplomatic protocols, striving by ritual oratory and the giving of gifts to convince the Ohio Indians that the United States government was indeed a great Father on whom they could rely for protection from their enemies, including grasping land speculators and Indian-hating whites. For Wayne, as for Washington and Knox, it was not enough for the Indians to acquiesce in American rule. It was essential that they offer their willing consent and cooperation.
Everybody had such good intentions...
posted by languagehat at 5:57 AM on March 31, 2007

Or, at the very least, pragmatic intentions. I see that I forgot to include this link to an excerpt from a NYT review of a book on the Treaty of Canandaigua:

The documents included in the appendix testify to the Iroquois's bargaining acumen. Unrepresented at the peace negotiations that ended the Revolutionary War in 1783, they found themselves, over the following decade, neglected by the British, pursued by American land speculators, invaded by squatters and besieged by the governments of New York and Pennsylvania.

Yet at Canandaigua, Iroquois diplomats induced the United States to recognize the League's sovereignty over tribal territories, define the bounds of its landholdings in New York expansively, provide a $10,000 payment, promise annual delivery of $4,500 in trade goods as tokens of a perpetual alliance and affirm that only the federal government could negotiate for future land sales. In return the Haudenosaunee promised peace with the United States, surrendered all claims to land outside New York and agreed that American citizens could pass freely through their territories. In short, the League walked away with a terrific deal.

Why did Pickering offer such terms? In part it was because the government needed Iroquois cooperation. Since the 1780's Indians farther west had thwarted American expansion militarily. Three years earlier, warriors of the Miami tribe under Little Turtle had handed the Army the worst defeat it would ever suffer at Indian hands, killing far more soldiers than would die a century later at the Little Bighorn. Meanwhile, Britain maintained forts in the United States' Northwest Territory; an armed taxpayers' revolt, the Whiskey Rebellion, was in progress in western Pennsylvania; foreign trade was suffering severely at the hands of the British and the Spanish; and the treasury was sliding headlong into insolvency.

The full text of the treaty can be read here on the Seneca Nation's site. The $4,500 stipend for trade goods specified in Article 6 still arrive on the reserves in the form of an annual shipment of treaty cloth -- nowadays it's typically muslin of the thinnest, cheapest sort and even so that's not a lot of yardage when spread across the membership of the nations -- but at this point it's far more valuable as a symbol than as actual dry goods. That treaty may have been violated countless times since Pickering's day -- the massive seizure of Seneca lands for the Kinzua Dam project was particularly egregious recent example; "call it Lake Perfidy"...yet the treaty still stands.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 1:40 PM on March 31, 2007

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