Treaty of Fort Harmar (1789)

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During the late 1780s, the Northwest Territory was a violent place as American settlers moved onto land that Native Americans claimed as their own. The United States government lacked the funds to equip an army to deal with the Native American threat. Henry Knox, the Secretary of War, demanded that Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, establish a peaceful relationship between the settlers and the natives.

Governor St. Clair called for a meeting with the Native American chiefs to negotiate an agreement. The meeting took place at Fort Harmar, near what is now Marietta, Ohio, and began on December 13, 1788. The natives present included representatives from the Wyandot natives, the Delaware natives, the Ottawa natives, the Chippewa natives, the Potawatomi natives, and the Sauk natives. The natives hoped that St. Clair would agree to establish a Native American reservation consisting of the land west of the Muskingum River and north of the Ohio River. St. Clair refused and demanded that the chiefs agree to the reservation boundary established in the Treaty of Fort McIntosh in 1785. St. Clair threatened the Native Americans with attack if they refused and then proceeded to bribe them with three thousand dollars in presents. The chiefs signed the Treaty of Fort Harmar, which reiterated the terms of the Treaty of Fort McIntosh, on January 9, 1789.

The Treaty of Fort Harmar did nothing to stop the bloodshed between the Americans and the Native Americans. Many Native Americans refused to honor the treaty, including the Shawnee natives. They claimed that the tribes represented at the treaty negotiations did not speak for the Shawnees. Native attacks on white settlers in the Northwest Territory worsened following the treaty. St. Clair had failed to attain peace. Beginning in 1790, the American military decided to force the Native Americans from the Ohio Country. Warfare between the Americans and natives continued for the next several decades.

See Also


  1. Edmunds, R. David. The Potawatomis: Keepers of the Fire. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978.
  2. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.
  3. Tooker, Elisabeth. An Ethnography of the Huron Indians, 1615-1649. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1991.
  4. Vogel, John J. Indians of Ohio and Wyandot County. New York, NY: Vantage Press, 1975.