American Revolution and Native Peoples
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), fought between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the thirteen United Colonies, was the culmination of the political American Revolution. The colonists fought for its political freedom and took control of every colony, driven out most royal officials in 1775, and proclaimed as a new nation, the United States of America, in 1776. In 1778 most of the European Nations had joined against Britain. Native Americans fought for both British and American sides. After American’s victory at Saratoga in 1777, France, with Spain and the Netherlands as its allies, joined the war against Britain. French naval victory in the Chesapeake led to the surrender of a British army at Yorktown in 1781. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States (wikipedia n.pag 2007).
This was not a clash mainly about economics, but about the values of democratic government. In other words this was also a conservative revolution. Many of those important in the freedom movement were most unwilling to break the link with Britain and considered it as a last option. They also insisted that in opposing the British government they were just stating their rights as Englishmen and it was the British government that had first disrupted the ‘status quo’ by enforcing illegal dealings in the colonies. The Quebec Act 1774 was the most intimidating, which authorize the French Canadians and Indian allies to settle in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, hence cutting off the development of the colonies to the west. Rising bitterness in the colonies led to the First Continental Congress in 1774. The Revolutionary War started at Lexington in April 1775 and the announcement of freedom formally breaking the connection between the colonies and Britain was signed on 4 July 1776 (Mervin n.pag.)
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 which tried to check colonial extension beyond the Appalachian Mountains, and had estranged many American colonists. The Native Indians understood that the Revolution was a fight for Indian land and for independence. A few Indian ethnic groups went to war against American colonists and conversely, some Indians from the mission town at Stockbridge in western Massachusetts, supported American colonists. They got recruited as minutemen even before the occurrence of the fighting, joined Washington’s military, and served in New York, New Jersey, and Canada. The Revolution divided the Iroquois union. Mohawks guided by Joseph Brant stuck on to their very old loyalty to the British, and ultimately the majority Cayugas, Onondagas, and Senecas united with them. However Oneidas and Tuscaroras supported the Americans. The Revolution seemed to be a civil war for the Iroquois, since Oneidas fought with Senecas at the Battle of Oriskany in 1777. Iroquois set back were increased in 1779 when General John Sullivan commanded an American army through their nation, setting fire on forty towns and ruining all crops.
Some of the Native Americans such as Guyashuta of the Senecas, Cornstalk of the Shawnees, and White Eyes of the Delawares of Ohio country tried hard to maneuver a neutral course in the beginning of the war. By the Treaty of Fort Pitt in 1778, Delawares and Americans promised lasting peace and friendship. However after Americans killed White Eyes and Cornstalk, and massacre civilians Moravian Delawares at the mission town of Gnadenhutten, Ohio Native Indians made common reason with the British. They won and continued to oppose American growth for years after the Revolution.
In the year 1783, as per the terms of the Peace of Paris, without giving any importance to its Indian allies, Britain returned United States its entire region. The United States continued to spread out westward, gaining Indian lands through treaty and by force. The Native Stockbridges and Oneidas who had helped the Americans lost their lands and also Senecas and Shawnees who had battled against the Americans. As a matter of fact, Indians struggled in the Revolution for Indian liberation and Indian native soil, not for the British kingdom. But majority of Americans believed that Indians had backed British kingdom. The nation envisioned in freedom requires, feel no regret about dispossess and drive out those who had battled against its birth (Calloway n.pag 2003).
Calloway, C.G. American Indians and the American Revolution 17 October, 2003. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. 30 June, 2007 <http://www.nps.gov/revwar/about_the_revolution/american_indians.html>
Mervin, D. American Revolution Answers.com. Political Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc 30 June, 2007 <http://www.answers.com/topic/american-revolution?cat=biz-fin>
Wikipedia, American Revolutionary War 29 June,2007. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 30 June, 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War>