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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Treaty Of Greenville Expanded The Early United States

Dallas Bogan on 29 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 382
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

I have made mention from time to time the Battle of Fallen Timbers, The Treaty of Greenville, and the Northwest Territory. These three subjects all have one thing in common: the expansion of the geographical United States. The result of the combination of the three meant the carving out and annexation of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota (the portion east of the Mississippi River) to the United States. The original flag of thirteen stars was changed to the flag of the United States. The success of the Revolutionary War was then assured bringing forth the birth of a new republic.
For 40 years the struggle with the Indians for new lands west of the Alleghenies took precedence over all other issues. George Washington had sent several of his generals, Gen. Bowman, Gen. Clark, Gen. Harmar, and Gen. St. Clair to quell the Indians, but only Anthony Wayne could make a final settlement with them. His defeat of the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794, was a stepping-stone for some type of permanent peace.
The actual Treaty of Greenville was signed August 3, 1795, at what is now Greenville, Ohio. The tribes under the Indian leaders Little Turtle, Tahre and Black Hoof had been defeated. Little Turtle, after the Battle of Fallen Timbers, declared that General Wayne "never sleeps; night and day are alike to him."
George Washington knew that the expansion of the original thirteen colonies depended upon defeat and ultimate peace with the Indians. He also knew that the salvation of his plans and the plans of those who had secured their name on the Declaration of Independence rested entirely on the banishing of all French and British interests in the Northwest Territory.
To do this the colonies resorted to bribery and tempting promises to secure the Indians as allies. Washington had complete faith in Anthony Wayne and he and all the colonies embraced news that peace had been secured.
It was the signing of the treaty that stopped violations of the Paris Treaty of 1783, and forced the British to surrender territory held against the terms of that pact. It was the most momentous event in American history since Cornwallis' surrender.
What if General Wayne had not won his campaign against the Indians? What would be the boundary lines for the United States? If the British had secured this territory, for which they continued to contest in the face of the Treaty of Paris assigning it to the colonies, the growth of the republic of the United States, as we now have it might have been stopped at the Ohio River. It would have meant a United States bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the north by the Ohio River, and on the west by the Mississippi River, from its junction with the Ohio, southward.
The French, at the time the Treaty of Greenville was signed, owned Louisiana, thus probably retaining that ownership. Great Britain would have had province over the Great Lakes and all that territory including what is now Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. All the property west of the Mississippi would have been a vast wasteland. With the continuing battle involving the original 13 states, Great Britain and France, the new Treaty averted all possibility of war.
The Ordinance of 1787 was the law that governed the new territory gained by the peace treaty. It was the model for future territorial governments. This was the third most important document ever written, next to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
In the initial stage the Northwest Territory was ruled by a governor, secretary, and three judges, all appointed by Congress. When the population reached 5,000 free adult males the territory was permitted an elected legislature and a nonvoting representative to Congress.
When the population reached 60,000 a constitutional convention could be summoned and drawn into a State constitution. The Ordinance also included a Bill of Rights, promising freedom of worship, the right to a jury trial, and the protection of habeas corpus. Last, but not least, the Ordinance prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory.

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