Treaty with the Delawares (1778)

From Ohio History Central
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In 1778, during the American Revolution, the Continental Congress sent representatives to negotiate a treaty with the Delaware Indians, who resided in the Ohio Country. British forces had spent the first several years of the war making their own treaties with the Ohio Country's Indian peoples, hoping to secure the area west of the Appalachian Mountains for Great Britain.

Of all of the Native Americans in the Ohio Country, the Delaware Indians were among the friendliest towards white Americans. To maintain the Delawares' support, the Congress agreed to a Treaty with the Delawares on September 17, 1778. Under this treaty the Americans in revolt and the Delawares agreed to assist each other against the British. The Congress also agreed to erect a fort on the Delaware Indians' land to protect the natives from British attack. Named Fort Laurens, after the president of the Continental Congress, Henry Laurens of South Carolina, the Americans completed the structure by early December 1778.

Despite the Treaty with the Delawares, friendly relations between revolutionary America and these Indians did not last. In March 1782, Pennsylvania militiamen killed approximately ninety-six defenseless Delawares at Gnadenhutten. The militiamen incorrectly believed that the Indians were responsible for attacks against whites in Pennsylvania. This event became known as the Gnadenhutten Massacre and helped convince the Ohio Country's Indian population to support the British.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.