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Native Americans in the American Revolution Essay

While most think of the American Revolution only as a battle between the American colonists and the British Empire, Native Americans were a major factor in the war. The British and Americans clamored for war alliances from various Native American tribes and in most cases, the British came out victorious. This presented the rebellious Americans with the dilemma of how to confront hostile Native American tribes as American settlers moved steadily westward into Indian country.

In order to weaken their new enemies as effectively as possible, the Americans used extreme violence to extinguish any Indian resistance they came across. While they maintained alliances with a small number of Indian tribes, the Americans were unflinching in their resolve to wipe out any Native American settlements that stood in the way of westward expansion or posed any sort of military threat. Hostilities between American forces and Indian tribes broke out even before the war started. Logan, a chief of the Mingo tribe, had long been friendly in his frequent relations with whites.

He himself was quoted as saying, “such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, ‘Logan is the friend of white men. ’”[1] However, he was steadfast in his decision not to choose sides between the British and American forces before the Revolutionary War broke out. As a result, an American war party led by Colonel Cresap attacked the Mingos, massacring Logan’s entire family and much of his tribe. Logan described it as such: “Col. Cresap…in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my women and children.

”[2] His emotional speech exemplifies the harshness with which his tribe and various others were treated. In fact, the attack even caused Logan to back down from his previous position of neutrality and ally himself and his, albeit weakened, Mingo troops with the British for the remainder of the Revolutionary War. This episode exemplifies the American mindset toward non-allied Indians at the time. Despite the fact that the Mingos had not even allied themselves with the British, the Americans saw fit to pre-emptively attack them due to settlers’ growing need for land west of the Appalachians.

Native Americans were not involved only in the conflict between British and Americans. They also faced pressure and violence from American settlers moving westward in search of land. Because the various Indian tribes had been on the land for centuries, they opposed the American advancement. An article in a Massachusetts paper from 1786 exhibits the Indian position: “Accounts from the southward…are pregnant with hostile appearances in the Shawonese, Mingo, Pottawatimie, Sock, and Cherokee tribes of Indians, to oppose the surveying of lands in the western territory.

”[3] As Logan learned, Americans were not searching out Native Americans to be military allies alone. Their land was equally as valuable. The Americans were intent on gaining as much land from the Indians as possible through any means necessary, intimidation serving as one example. The article continues, “we doubt not but these bipeds will speedily be convinced that the Thirteen Great Fires…will send forth a flame that shall consume all their enemies. ”[4] The Massachusetts Centinal, a public newspaper, essentially threatened these Native American tribes on behalf of the United States.

The lands to the west were extremely valuable to Americans, and the public believed that the Indians inhabiting them were just an obstacle to be removed. British influence before, during, and after the war also had a large influence on how Americans treated the Indians. While there was constant competition between the British and the colonists for Native American allies before the war, the British did not cease to be a factor even after the war had been lost.

The Massachusetts Centinal article proves as much: “These nations…have been stimulated to these inimical proceedings by the European agents…who endeavor to make them believe that the Americans are their greatest enemies; that they are unjustly depriving them of their land, and, in fact, that we are a weak and contemptible nation. ”[5] Even after they had emerged victorious from their War of Independence, Americans still believed the British were using their superior influence with the Indians to make expansion as difficult as possible for them.

This only led to harsher punishments for the Indians, as the Americans used the British ties to the Indians against them. For instance, after the Battle of Fallen Timbers, General Anthony Wayne addressed the Miami people about their lands: “I will now inform you who it was who gave us these lands, in the first instance; it was your fathers the British, who did not discover that care for your interest which you ought to have experienced.

”[6] Wayne was saying that the British were the ones who initially wronged the Native Americans in writing up the treaty that took away their lands. He used their positive image in the Indians’ eyes to legitimize the American seizure of their lands. This last paragraph is not mentioned in your intro (I’m not really sure where to go from here. I’ve tried thinking of other potential paragraph topics that link all of my sources together but I haven’t had any luck. Do you have any suggestions for where I can take this paper in the last few paragraphs? )

I am a little confused about what the focus of your paper is supposed to be about, are you just arguing that Indians had an important role in the American revolution? If so, you do not have many points backing that up, however you do talk a lot about pressures Indians from settlers moving west. I think you have a good paper with plenty of supporting evidence. In order to lengthen your paper, I advise that you should include a paragraph about the few tribes the Americans were able to form an alliance with and why they were able to maintain an alliance. Also, a nice long conclusion would help out too.

Since the focus of your paper seems to be about the pressures Indians felt from settlers moving west, I would suggest that you forget about the role they played in the American revolution and be more specific about the kinds of pressures and violence they faced. Additionally, you could talk about how the Native Americans resisted colonial expansion. Now I do not know what your primary sources detail, this kind of info might not even be in them.

I noticed you also include good analysis of the quotations that you do use, owever, the paper would read a bit smoother if you found a way to embed the quotes as opposed to just stating a fact in one sentence and then having a new sentence with a supporting quote. ———————– [1] “Logan’s Speech. ” American Indian History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www. fofweb. com. proxy. lib. umich. edu/activelink2. asp? ItemID=WE43&iPin=ind5783&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 14, 2012). [2] “Logan’s Speech. ” American Indian History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www. fofweb. com. proxy. lib. umich. edu/activelink2. asp? ItemID=WE43&iPin=ind5783&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 14, 2012).

[3] Massachusetts Centinel, page 51, vol. VI, iss. 13. November 1, 1786. The Massachusetts Centinel. Boston, Massachusetts. [4] Massachusetts Centinel, page 51, vol. VI, iss. 13. November 1, 1786. The Massachusetts Centinel. Boston, Massachusetts. [5] Massachusetts Centinel, page 51, vol. VI, iss. 13. November 1, 1786. The Massachusetts Centinel. Boston, Massachusetts. [6] U. S. Congress, American State Papers. Indian Affairs, 1789–1815 (Washington, D. C. : Gales and Seaton, 1832), Vol. 1: 567, 570–71, 576.

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