Indiana’s Timeless Tales – 1792 – 1794
In early 1792, the region that would become Indiana consisted of land claimed by the various Indian tribes that lived in the dense forests, swamps and prairies, traveling and using the fishes of the rivers and streams as a valuable food source.
In 1792, only three settlements existed in the future state, Vincennes, Clarksville and Jeffersonville. Cincinnati, located in the southwest corner of the future state of Ohio served as capital of the Northwest Territory. All of these settlements lay along major rivers.
Major John Hamtramck commanded Fort Knox I at Vincennes, constructed in 1787, was the westernmost fort of the United States. Arthur St. Clair governor of the Northwest Territory, which included the lands comprising the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and a portion of Minnesota.
The great cost of waging the Revolutionary War had left the government of the United States with an almost overwhelming debt that the new nation could not pay. The lands of the Northwest Territory beckoned, providing a means of paying the soldiers that fought the war. The United States granted land to Revolutionary War veterans, who began moving into the areas north of the Ohio River granted to them. The land also provided a much needed cash flow medium, as the government could have tracts of land surveyed and sold off to the public. The government established land offices for people to buy this land. These people also moved into their new holdings, many of which were north of the Ohio River. Amerindian tribes that lived in the region saw these new settlers as a threat to their way of life. They also viewed them as a violation Treaty of Fort Stanwix, signed in 1768, that set the border between the whites and the Amerindians at the Ohio River. The United States, with great reluctance, created an army to deal with the threat. However, the government did not give this early army the resources it needed to succeed. This policy led to the disasters of General Harmar in 1790 and St. Clair’s Defeat (Battle of the Wabash) in 1791. After the disastrous Battle of the Wabash, the United States set out on a different course to enlarge its settled territory.
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