Best Rugby Nations in 2021
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The Shattering of the Iroquois During the American Revolution?
How and why was the unity of the Six Nations of the League of the Iroquois shattered during the American Revolution?
According to Barbara Graymount in The Iroquois in the American Revolution; "When the English took over the colony of New Netherland from the Dutch, they also inherited the friendly relations the Dutch had maintained with the Iroquois. The proximity of the English to the six nations country, the importance of Albany as a trading center with the Indians, and the lower cost of English goods as compared to the French manufactures were factors of prime importance in drawing the Iroquois into the English orbit."
Mrs. Graymount later describes the further protection that the English gave the Iroquois: "in 1679 and 1684 had placed themselves and their country under the protection of the British. This arrangement gave rise to later misunderstanding, since the British place the broadest possible meaning on it by considering the Iroquois to be subjects of the King. For the Iroquois, the action symbolized a protective military alliance only and was not meant to deprive them of their territory or independence" (The Iroquois in the American Revolution).
The Iroquois developed an alliance with the English, even though during the King William's War the Iroquois sought treaties with both the French and the English. At the end of the War, the English gave the Iroquois treaties to protect them from French harassment and even drove the French settlers out of the land for them. Moreover; " Both the English and the French were fully aware of the important part the Iroquois were destined to bear in the drama of colonization; but the former, by their superior advantage of position, and from their greater dependence upon the forbearance of the League, were induced to pursue a course of policy which gained their unchangeable friendship." (The League of the Iroquois, Morgan).
The English developed long standing good relationship with the Iroquois. They maintained numerous successful missions in Iroquois encampments. The English gave the Iroquois fair trade rates as compared to the French and the Americans.
However; the development of missions from the New England colonies disputed the alliance the British had with the Iroquois. Samuel Kirkland developed a mission with the Oneidas that was highly successful. "His (Samuel Kirkland) labors among both the Oneidas and their dependents, the Tuscaroras, would gain him much affection among these people and make him a key figure in Indian diplomacy just prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution and during the early war years" (The Iroquois in the American Revolution, Graymount).
One of the major setbacks in Colonial American was the failure to recognize the importance in gaining Indian support early in the battle. American leaders were concerned with preserving the goodwill and maintaining neutrality with the neighboring Indian tribes. The Americans wanted to convince the Indians that this was a "Family quarrel" that they should stay out of.
However; in 1776 General Gage, commander of the British Forces in North America changed policy regarding Indian troops in battle. He raised an Indian Army in Canada and invaded the New England settlements. After the Americans heard of Gages actions, they too tried to win Indian support and to develop and Indian Army.
The Americans being very poor at this time could not provide the Indians with the gifts of gratitude that became accustomed too. The Americans lacked resources and other considerations that Indian leaders can to expect. "The Americans rarely could provide the weapons and ammunition needed by the Indian troops. British agents, on the other hand, were able to supply gifts, arms, and other expected considerations in abundance. And their repeated warnings of American expansion onto Indian hunting grounds were confirmed by the extension of American settlements in the Tran-Appalachian region while the war was still in progress" (The American Indian, Gibson).
However; the American congress passed a resolution for a direct military alliance with the Indians and authorized Washington to raise a force of Indian Allies. "The Oneida chiefs had further confided to Kirkland the rather startling but highly secret news that their tribe, along with the Tuscaroras, Onoquagas and Casughnawagas, had formed a defensive alliance to protect themselves in case of attack and were "resolved that if the others join the King's party they would die with the Americans in the contest" (The Iroquois in the American Revolution, Graymount).
Many battles occurred through out the New York region. Sustained campaigning ruined the Iroquois villages, hunting grounds and farm land. In 1777 American forces aided by the Oneida and Tuscarora troops attempted to defeat the British at Fort Stanwix, but were defeated at the Battle of Oriskany. Again in 1777, the Americans defeated British General Burgoyne's force. Moreover, in 1778 Seneca and Cayuga troops led by the British invaded the Wyoming Valley and Cherry Valley. There the Indians burned settlements and massacred villagers. General Washington responded by appointing General Sullivan to go to the Iroquois village and destroy them. Sullivan killed men, women and children, burned the villages, destroyed all the food, and cut down the orchards. The surviving Iroquois fled to Canada.
After the Americans won the revolution, and Lord Cornwallis surrendered, the Seneca were still raiding on American villages. The Americans responded by raising a militia and severely attacking the Seneca.
The signing of the Treaty of Paris did not address the concerns of what to do with the Indians. It allowed the Americans to care for the Indians how they saw fit. Most Americans viewed the Indians that fought along the side of the British and guerilla traitors and were treated as such. Many Indians fled for the security of Canada. The Iroquois nation was separated and by conflict and now scattered through out North America, to Wisconsin, Virginia and Canada. They were never to be the same again.