Treaty of Fort Harmar (1789)

From Ohio History Central

During the late 1780s, the Northwest Territory was a violent place as American settlers moved onto land that American Indians claimed as their own. The United States government lacked the funds to equip an army to deal with the American Indian 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 American Indian chiefs to negotiate an agreement. The meeting took place at Fort Harmar, near what is now Marietta, Ohio, and began on December 13, 1788. American Indian leaders present included representatives from the Wyandot nation, the Delaware nations, the Ottawa nation, the Chippewa nation, the Potawatomi nation, and the Sauk nation. American Indians hoped that St. Clair would agree to establish a American Indian 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 American Indians 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 American Indians in the region. Many American Indians refused to honor the treaty, including the Shawnee. They claimed that the tribes represented at the treaty negotiations did not speak for them. American Indian 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 American Indians from the Ohio Country. Warfare between the Americans and American Indian 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.