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Territorial Period


Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark
Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark

The British made no attempt to settle Indiana, and the Native Americans came to realize that the inhabitants of the 13 colonies to the east, who did covet this land, were a greater threat. Thus, during the American Revolution (1775-1783), the Miami and the other tribes of the Ohio Valley fought on the side of the British against the United States. However, those French who still lived in Indiana tended to sympathize with the United States.

In the third year of the revolution, 1777, U.S. Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark embarked on a campaign to wrest control of the Ohio Valley from the British. In July 1778, Clark captured several British posts in Illinois. He then dispatched emissaries to Vincennes, from which the British garrison had been withdrawn in January to reinforce Fort Detroit. Welcomed by that settlement’s predominantly French population, Clark’s men took over Vincennes, only to have to surrender it to the British in December.

In February 1779, with about 130 U.S. and French soldiers, Clark set out from Kaskaskia, in southwestern Illinois, on an arduous trek to recapture Vincennes. Clark’s recapture of this major British post marked the end of British dominance in the Ohio Valley. It may also have led the British to cede this area to the United States at the end of the war.

At the time of the revolution, Virginia and several other states of the United States maintained territorial claims in the west. Shortly after the war they ceded their claims to the federal government. By the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the United States organized the possessions north of the Ohio River as the Northwest Territory. As settlers poured into the new territory from the east, the Native Americans again became alarmed.

Little Turtle, a chief of the Miami, led a widespread revolt in Ohio and Indiana. It was brought to an end in August 1794, when troops led by U.S. General Anthony Wayne inflicted a crushing defeat on the Native American forces at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, near present-day Toledo, Ohio. Wayne then continued into Indiana and built a stockade across the river from old Fort Miami. The new fort became the center of a white settlement that is now the city of Fort Wayne.

In 1795 the Miami signed a treaty with Wayne, giving up a large part of their land. Between then and 1854 they signed another 12 treaties, ceding nearly all their lands to the United States. In 1827 most of the tribe moved to Kansas, where the remaining members live today.

In 1800 the Congress of the United States created the Indiana Territory out of the western part of the Northwest Territory. The eastern part became the state of Ohio in 1803. The huge new Indiana Territory was a sparsely populated area. With a settler population of only about 5,600, it included almost all of what is now Indiana as well as all of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois and parts of Minnesota. William Henry Harrison, who had fought under Wayne at Fallen Timbers and was later to become president of the United States, was appointed the first governor of the Indiana Territory. Vincennes was designated the capital. "Indiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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