Arthur St. Clair
Revolutionary War Major General
1734: Born in Thurso, Caithness County, Scotland, March 23, 1734 (some sources cite 1736).
Purchased a commission as ensign in the 60th Regiment (Royal Americans) on 13
May 1757. Came to America with
Admiral Edward Boscawen's fleet.
1757: Officer in the British Army. Spends five years in Canada during the French & Indian War.
Served under Gen Jeffrey Amherst at the capture of Louisburg, 26 July 1758.
1759: Received a lieutenant's
commission on April 17, 1759 and was assigned to the command of Gen. James Wolfe in Quebec.
1760: Married Phoebe Bayard in May of 1760 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Boston.
Resigned his commission on 16 April 1762 and moved to Bedford Pennsylvania to
survey land for the
(Retirement from the military).
1764: Settled in Ligonier Valley,
Pennsylvania. St. Clair purchased a substantial estate and erected mills
becoming the largest
landowner in western Pennsylvania and a quite prominent British subject. Worked as the agent of the colonial
governor. Engaged in iron business.
1770: Surveyor of the District of
Cumberland; held positions as a justice of the court of quarter sessions and of
pleas; a member of the proprietary council, a justice, recorder, clerk of the orphans' court, and prothonotary of
Bedford and Westmoreland counties.
1774: His most memorable role in Colonial
Western Pennsylvania occurs. The colony of
Virginia takes claim of the area
around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and some residents of western Pennsylvania took up arms to reject them. St. Clair
issued an order for the arrest of the officer leading the Virginia troops. This event leads St. Clair to break from the
1775: Joined the colonial army when the
Revolutionary War started. First served in the Pennsylvania Militia as a colonel
then as a Major General in the Continental Army.
1776: Sent to defend Fort Ticonderoga in April 1776.
Appointed a Brigadier General in August of 1776, and was sent by
George Washington to help organize the
Jersey militia. He took part in Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 before the Battle
of Trenton. Many biographers credit St. Clair with the strategy which led to Washington's capture of Princeton, New
Jersey in the following days.
1777: Forced to withdraw at the Battle of
Ticonderoga (abandonment of the fort to the British on 5 July 1777), which led
1778: A court-martial due to the loss of
Ticonderoga. St. Clair was recalled from service. Congress exonerated and
him within the year, and he was returned to duty.
1779-80: Winter headquarters in Morristown,
NJ at the Wick House. The Continental Army spent that winter camped on the
Wick and Kimbel Farms approximately four miles southwest of Morristown.
1783: Member of the Pennsylvania council of censors.
1784-1785: Served as a delegate to Congress;
made Administrator of Indian Affairs; successfully supervised the
implementation of Native American treaties and was responsible for enforcing the terms of the treaties made
with the Indian peoples of America's western territories.
1785-1787: Member of the Continental
Congress (chosen on 11 Nov 1785). He served from 2 November 1785 through 28
1787: Elected as the 9th
President of the Congressional Congress under the Articles of the Confederation
on 2 Feb 1787 by
the votes of eight states; served until 4 Nov 1787. Congress endorsed a resolution calling for a constitutional
convention, which convened in Philadelphia on 25 May 1787, and began to work on the Constitution of the United
States on 19 Jun 1787. On 13 Jul 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, which established formal
procedures for transforming territories into states. It provided for the eventual establishment of three to five states in
the area north of the Ohio River, to be considered equal with the original 13. On 17 Sep 1787, thirty nine delegates of
the Constitutional Convention voted to approve and then signed the final draft of the new Constitution.
1787: Under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787
which created the Northwest Territory, General St. Clair was appointed
governor of what is now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, along with parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. He named
Cincinnati, Ohio after the Society of the Cincinnati, and it was there that he made his seat.
1789: Appointed Governor of the Northwest
Territory (July 1788) upon its formation and served until November 22, 1802.
Succeeded in getting certain Indians to sign the Treaty of Fort Harmar.
1791: Named commander of Federal Troops,
March 4, 1791. War began over Native American treaty negotiations. The
Miami chief, Little Turtle, defeated St. Clair's troops in an ambush near the Wabash River. St. Clair personally led a
punitive expedition comprised of militia, and two Regular Army regiments. This force advanced to the location of
Indian settlements on the Wabash River, but on November 4 they were routed in battle by a tribal confederation led
by Miami Chief Michikinikwa. After this debacle, he resigned from the Army at the demand of President George
Washington, but he continued to serve as Governor of the Northwest Territory.
1800: When the Northwest Territory which he
presided over was divided in 1800, he served as governor of the Ohio
Territory. As Governor he formulated Maxwell's Code, the first laws of the territory. He also sought to end Native
American claims to Ohio land and clear the way for white settlement.
1802: Removed from Governor’s Office by
President Thomas Jefferson for his opposition to Ohio statehood. A Federalist,
he hoped to see two states made of the Ohio Territory in order to increase Federalist power in Congress. His partisan
opposition to plans for Ohio statehood led to his removal from office as territorial governor. He thus played no
part in the organizing of the state of Ohio in 1803.
1818: Arthur St. Clair dies near his old
home, “Heritage”, near Youngstown, PA; interment in General Arthur St. Clair
Cemetery, Greensburg, PA on 31 August 1818.
Points of Interest:
enjoyed a great family inheritance and then ended his life in desolate poverty
presiding as President of the United States in the Congress Assembled that produced the US Constitution and Northwest Ordinance
played a tremendous role in the development of western Pennsylvania as well as the United States
he was President of the United States in Congress assembled when Shays' Rebellion took place
commanded the Pennsylvania Line
achieved the highest rank of any Pennsylvanian during the Revolutionary War
helped ratify the U.S. Constitution
commanded troops of the Pennsylvania Line,
presided over West Point, and served as an aide to General Washington
For more information on General Arthur St. Clair
Arthur St. Clair: http://www.rt23.com/american_revolution/arthur_st_clair.shtml
1776 New Jersey’s Constitution: http://www.rt23.com/american_revolution/nj_constitution_1776.shtml
Early America’s Bloodiest Battle: http://earlyamerica.com/review/summer/battle.html
Arthur St. Clair: http://www.arthurstclair.com/
A Crushing Defeat For A Young Nation: http://www.wennawoods.com/historicalessays.html
General Arthur St. Clair: http://www.rootsweb.com/~ohmccogs/st_clair.htm
Fallen Timbers: http://earlyamerica.com/review/fall96/anthony.html
Museum Management Program: