Excerpts from the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768)
After decades of skirmishing and cold-war jostling, tensions between Great Britain and France all across the globe finally came to a head in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). Indians were central players in the war, however many indigenous on both sides were concerned about the futures of themselves and their lands since the war ended with French cessions of their claims in North America. What would English policies for Indian affairs become? With warriors having died supporting the British during the war, the Iroquois no longer had the military might to stand against the English on their own and, with French defeat, they could no longer threaten to defect to the French as a bargaining chip. Despite this, the Iroquois Confederacy remained a significant power in North America—even if it came to war, the English knew they could not win without major casualties. Peace was the best option for all parties involved. In 1768, Sir William Johnson received permission from the British Crown to hold a treaty council with the Iroquois Confederacy and its dependents in order to establish a more official and lasting boundary line without French pressures. A clear boundary line between the Indians and Europeans would prevent colonial encroachments on Indian lands and minimize violence between the two parties. As such, the Treaty of Fort Stanwix resulted in massive cessions of Indian lands, however the Iroquois still managed to divert English attention from their ancestral lands in New York by selling off their last claims in the Ohio country. Though this was done at the expense of the Confederacy’s tributary tribes like the Ohio Delawares, the Shawnee, and other western Indian nations, the Iroquois succeeded in maintaining their sovereignty in the eyes of the English.
This source is a part of the Treaties between the Iroquois Confederacy and English Colonies in the 18th Century teaching module.
Proceedings at a Treaty held by Sir William Johnson Baronet with the Six Nations, Shawanese, Delawares, Senecas of Ohio and other dependant Tribes, at Fort Stanwix in the months of October & November 1768, for the settlement of a Boundary Line between the Colonies and Indians, pursuant to His Majesty's orders…
At a Congress Wednesday Oct. 26.
Then Sir William addressed them
Hearken to me who have good words to speak to you, such as are for the benefit of your whole confederacy and of your children yet unborn.
You all remember that three years ago I signified to you His Matys desire to establish a Boundary Line between his people and yours and that we then agreed together how some part of that Line should run, whenever, the same came to be settled
You all, I am hopefull, recollect the Reasons I then gave you for making such a Boundary never the less I shall again repeat them. You know Brethren that the encroachments upon your Lands have been always one of your principal subjects of complaint, and that so far as it could be done endeavors have not been wanting for your obtaining Redress. But it was a difficult Task, and generally unsuccessfull—for altho' the Provinces have bounds between each other, there are no certain Bounds between them & you, And thereby not only several of our people ignorant in Indian Affairs have advanced too far into your country, but also many of your own people through the want of such a Line have been deceived in the Sales they have made or in the limits they have set to our respective claims This, Brethren, is a sad Case, which has frequently given us much trouble, and turned many of your heads ; but it is likely to continue so untill some Bounds are agreed to, fixed upon and made public between us. The Great the good King of England my master, whose friendship and tender regard for your Interests I wish you may ever hold in remembrance has amongst other Instances of his Goodness after long deliberation on some means for your releif, and for preventing future disputes concerning Lands, at length resolved upon fixing a general Boundary Line between his subjects and you, and that in such a manner as shall be most agreeable to you, in consequence of which I have received his Royal commands to call you together for the establishment thereof, and after conferring with the Governments interested hereupon, you now see before you the Govr of the Jerseys, the Commissioners on behalf of Aseregoa, Govr of Virginia & Commissioners from Pensylvania in order to give you the strongest assurances on behalf of the respective Governments of their Resolutions to pay due regard to what shall be now entered into, the presence of so many great men will give a sanction to the transaction and cause the same to be known as far as the English Name extends— His Majesty has directed me to give you a handsome proof of his Generosity proportiond to the nature and extent of what Lands shall fall to him—Upon the whole I hope that your deliberations will be unanimous & your Resolutions such as His Maty may consider as proofs of your gratitude for all his favors—
A fine New Belt…
At a Congress with the several Nations on Friday the 25th day of October 1765
Being all seated the Speaker addressed Sir William
We have been for some time deliberating on what you said concerning a Line between the English and us, & we are sensible it would be for our mutual advantage if it were not transgressed, but dayly experience teaches us that we cannot have any great dependance on the white People, and that they will forget their agreements for the sake of our Lands—However you have said so much to us upon it that we are willing to beleive more favorably in this case.
You remember when we spoke last concerning this Boundary, that we did not agree about the way it should run from Oswegy'—This is a point that must now be settled for to what purpose could it be to draw a Line between us & the country of Virginia & Pensylvania whilst the way to our Towns lay open We would therefore know what you intend to propose as a Boundary to the Northward that we take it into consideration and we shall be glad that you explain it fully to us, that no mistake may be made on either side…
[Sir William] spoke as follows
Here is the Map of which I spoke to you, where all that Country which is the subject of our meeting is faithfully laid down. The Line here described between the Kanhawa River & Oswegy was what we spoke about—The King has not fixed upon any particular place to continue it to It therefore remains for me to obtain a continuation of that Line which will be secure to you and advantageous to us on which subject we now meet—I have likewise to observe to you that the piece of Land in the Forks of Susquehanna is very much desired by the Commissioners from Pensylvania and would be more advantageous to them than to you, besides as it is or will be soon partly surrounded by Settlements it will be a very difficult matter to get any people to go far to the Northward, & leave such Land as it were behind them—I would therefore propose, the Bounds from Fort Pitt be continued up to the Ohio to Moghulbughilum Creek, Thence up that Creek & along the eight mile Carrying Place to the West Branch of Susquehanna thence along that River to the Allegany Ridge. Thence along that Ridge of Mountains to the Cayuga Branch & down the same to the Great East Branch of Susquehanna, from thence up that East Branch to Oswegy, from whence it can be run Eastward to the Delaware River, which is very near it at that Place and for that part of this additional Cession which will fall to Mr Penn, you will receive a large & handsome consideration over and besides His Matys Royal Bounty And as to the continuation of that Line from the Delaware so as to close it, I must desire to hear what yourselves think & I expect that your Resolutions will be advantageous to us, &that you will make proper allowance for the increase of our People whereby you will recommend yourselves to the King, and become so pleasing to his subjects that it will greatly contribute to the due observance of the Boundary Line…
They then withdrew taking with them a Map in order to consider the affair in private. At night Sir William had a private conference with the Cheifs of the most Influence with whom he made use of every argument to bring matters to an agreeable issue…
In the morning the Indians again met in Council, when the Warriors came and laid before their Sachems the result of their deliberations yesterday concerning the Northern "part of the Line who directed four of their Sachems viz Tyaruruante, Ganaquieson, Tyeransera, and Tagawaron to wait on Sir William and communicate the same which was, that the Line should run from Oriscany to Tianderhah, and down that River to the Susquehanna, thence in a straight Line to the Hills, and so to the Delaware Branch & down the same to Oswegy, thence down the Susquehanna to Shamokin, and so along the West Branch of that River to Kittanning declaring they would not part with any Lands to the Westward of Oriscany or down towards Wioming or the Great Island, as they reserved that part of the Country for their Dependants.
But Sir William finding that some busy persons had been alarming those Nations most immediately affected by the Line, and that many others could be induced to settle it more advantageously he in a long and warm speech to the Cheifs shewed them that the Line was not proposed to injure them, but that for a handsome consideration it was intended to obtain a Cession of as much Land as would give the people Room on the Frontiers ascertains the Boundary at the same time between them—that with the help of proper Laws it would not be liable to intrusion—that the Line proposed at Oriscany interfered with a patent granted above sixty years ago now in possession of some Gentlemen at New York the Indian Deed for which, he had before shewn them… He therefore recommended it to them to consider this point farther, and as his Majestys Bounty, or that of the Colonys would be proportioned to the extent of their Cession, a rule which he should observe upon this occasion — That he hoped for a more favorable Answer as it would be more to their immediate advantage and would tend to the better observance of the Line hereafter. After these and many other arguments, & farther explaining the several courses laid down on the draft, they agreed to take the Map back to their Council Hutt for farther consideration, promising to use their Interest with the rest for a more favorable Line then withdrew Sir William assuring them at parting that they should be particularly rewarded for their services or endeavours to shew the Indians the reasonableness of the requisition.
At night Tagawaron returned with the Map to Sir William, informed him that they were then debating on the subject but much divided in opinion, and added that he thought his Nation disagreeably circumstanced the rest having thrown so much of the transaction to the Northward on their hands, nevertheless he would do all he could to obtain a more favorable settlement
After which Sir William had many other private conferences which occupied a great part of the night—In particular Six Cheifs of the Oneidas, came to him at nine of the clock at night and they very much doubted the validity of the purchase above Orisca—But through Sr Williams solicitations and to shew their good disposition towards compleating the work in hand, they would agree that the Line- should run from the Susquehanna North across at Fort Newport near Fort Stanwix where the Boats are launched, and from thence to the Northwest corner of the late purchase for Lord Holland & others—Sir William thanked them for the Amendments but told them that he could not think it would answer, that it did not even include the carrying place, and therefore desired them again to consider the matter and that as they could extend it much farther to the westward without any sensible inconvenience, he expected they would do so, for which their Nation, over and besides the rest should have five hundred Dollars & a handsome present for each of the cheifs.—They promised to use their best endeavours for that purpose & withdrew
Monday. Oct 31st…
Messenger then arrived to call them to attend the consultation about the rest of the line
At night Canaquieson came to inform Sir William that they had further considered the general subject of the Line & would send a cheif & Warrior from each Nation with their final resolves which they would deliver in public the next day—They accordingly came to Sir Williams Quarters, when Sir William told them, he hoped they were now come with such an answer as would be pleasing to all Parties. The Map being then laid before them, they said, that what they had to say was the final resolves of all the Nations, then said at the same time, tracing it on the Map that they would agreeable to their just Claims begin the Line at the mouth of the Cherokee River, then go along to the South East side of the Ohio to Kittanning, from thence to the Head of the West Branch of Susquehanna thence down the same to Bald Eagle Creek thence across the River at Tiadaghta Creek below the great Island, thence by a straight Line to Burnett's Hills and along the same to the mouth of Awanda Creek on the West Side of the East Branch of Susquehanna, thence up the stream thereof to Oswegy, thence Eastward to the Delaware River, thence up the stream thereof till they come opposite to the mouth of Tianaderah Creek emptying into Susquehanna, thence up the West side of Tianaderrah to the head of its Westerly Branch, and from thence to the mouth of Canada Creek on Wood Creek.
This they delivered as their final determinations subject to several conditions for the security of their possessions and engagements entered into, and for that part which would fall within Mr Penns Govr they insisted on having 10,000 Dollars Sir William told them he would take the matter into consideration and would assemble them all tomorrow and after parting conferred with the Commissioners of Pensilvania concerning the same who approvd it, and agreed to the consideration on behalf of the Proprietors
At a General Congress with the several Nations at Fort Stanwix Tuesday Nov 1st 1768
Being all seated they desired to know whether Sir William was prepared to hear them, and on being answered in the affirmative, the speaker stood up and spoke as follows…
Then after repeating all that had been said concerning the Line proceeded
We have long considered this proposal for a Boundary between us, and we think it will be of good consequence if you on your parts pay due regard to it, and we in consequence thereof have had sundry Meetings amongst ourselves and with you and from all that you have said to us thereon, we have at length come to a final resolution concerning it, and we hope that what is now agreed upon shall be inviolably observed on your parts as we are determined it shall be on ours and that no further attempts shall be. made on our Lands but that this Line, be considered as final and we do now agree to the Line we have marked upon your Map, now before you on certain conditions on which we have spoken and shall say more and we desire that one Article of this our agreement be, that none of the Provinces or their People shall attempt to invade it under color of any old Deeds, or other pretences what soever for in many of these things we have been imposed on, and therefore we disclaim them all, which Bounds now agreed to we begin on the Ohio at the mouth of the Cherokee River which is now our just right, and from thence we give up on the South side of Ohio to Kittanning above Fort Pitt, from thence a direct Line to the nearest Fork of the West Branch of Susquehanna thence through the Allegany Mountains along the south side of the said West Branch till we come opposite to the mouth of the Creek called Tiadaghton thence across the West Branch & along the East side of that Creek and along the ridge of Burnets Hills to a Creek called Awandae thence down the same to the East Branch of the Susquehanna, and across the same and up the East side of that River to Oswegy, from thence Eastward to Delaware River, and up that River to opposite where Trinaderha falls into Susquehanna, thence to Trienaderha and up the West side thereof and its West Branches to the Head thereof thence by a straight Line to the mouth of Canada Creek where it emptys itself into Wood Creek at the end of the long carrying place beyond Fort Stanwix, and this we declare to be our final Resolves and we expect that the conditions of this our Grant will be observed A Belt.
Now as we have made so large a Cession to the King of such a valuable and Extensive Country, We do expect it as the Terms of our Agreement that strict regard be paid to all our reasonable desires—We do now on this on behalf and in the name of all our Warriors of every Nation, condition that all our Warriors shall have the liberty of hunting throughout the Country as they have no other means of subsistance and as your people have not the same occasions or inclinations—That the White people be restricted from hunting on our side of the Line to prevent contensions between us A Belt.
By this Belt we address ourselves to the Great King of England through You our superintendent in the Name and in behalf of all the Six Nations Shawanese, Delawares and all other our Friends, Allies, & Dependants, We now tell the King that we have given to him a great and valuable Country, and we know that what we shall now get for it must be far short of its value—We make it a condition of this our Agreem' concerning the Line that His Majesty will not forget or neglect to shew us His' favor or suffer the Chain to contract Rust, but that he will direct those who have the management of our affairs to be punctual in renewing our antient agreements. That as the Mohocks are now within the Line which we give to the King, and that these people are the true old Heads of the whole confederacy their several villages and all the Land they occupy unpatented, about them as also the Residences of any others in our confederacy. affected by this Cession shall be considered as their sole property and at their disposal both now, and so long as the sun shines, and that all grants or engagements they have now or lately entered into, shall be considered as independant of this Boundary so that they who have so little left may not lose the benefit of the sale of it, but that the people, with whom they have agreed, may have the Land—…
At a Congress with the several Nations Saturday Nov 5
The Deed to His Majesty, that to the Proprietors of Pensylvania, with that to the Traders being then laid on the Table were executed in the presence of the Gov' Commissioners, & the rest of the Gentlemen
After which the Cheifs of each Nation received the Cash which was piled on a Table for that purpose and then proceeded to divide the Goods amongst their People which occupied the remainder of that day…
Sunday Nov 6th
The Indians began to decamp & Sir William sett off on his return for Johnston Hall where he arrived on the ninth of that Month
A True Copy examined by
G Johnson Deputy Agent as Secretary.
E.B. O’Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York, Vol. 8 (Albany: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1857), 111-137, https://archive.org/details/documentsrelativ08brod/page/110/mode/2up, accessed August 25, 2021.