Settling the Ohio Country

Meanwhile, the intensifying global conflict between the French and English found traction in the Ohio Country, where the fur trade had become the most important bargaining chip in the power struggle between the European and Native American groups living around the region. The French seized several English trading posts and built fortifications such as Fort Duquesne (present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). The English Crown granted 200,000 acres of Ohio Country land to the Ohio Company, formed by investors from Virginia to sell Ohio Country land to settlers.

In 1750, the Ohio Company sent Christopher Gist to survey their lands, and, in 1753 1754, they sent one of their investors, George Washington, with Gist and some Virginia militiamen to attack Fort Duquesne. Washington failed, but the fighting quickly spread throughout the entire Ohio Country and became part of the French and Indian War (known as the Seven Years’ War in Europe).

A later expedition under General Edward Braddock, which included Washington and the famous frontiersmen Daniel Boone and John Finley, also failed. During the American Revolution, Boone led the Americans’ fight against the British and their Native American allies in the Ohio Country; he was captured and adopted by the Shawnee (from whom he later escaped).

The Treaty of Paris at the end of the French and Indian War ceded to the English all French claims to the Ohio Country. The agreement upset the native peoples greatly, since they themselves had never been conquered. Furthermore, the English Parliament issued the Proclamation of 1763, which promised the native peoples that white settlers would remain east of the Allegheny Mountains, but Native Americans felt that Britain failed to enforce it. Worse, the British believed they had made the Native Americans into English subjects and treated them with increasingly heavy-handed policies. As the Native Americans had become dependent on European weapons and supplies, their situation became desperate. In response, many joined a militant cultural movement led by the Delaware prophet Neolin, who called on his people to return to traditional ways and a mixture of Christianity and Native American spirituality. They also followed the Ottawa war chief Pontiac, whose ingenious tactics seriously threatened the Ohio frontier from 1763 to 1766.

In part due to resentment over the Proclamation of 1763, the colonists revolted and won their independence in the War for Independence. After the war, the Confederation Congress of the United States of America passed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which incorporated the Ohio Country into the Northwest Territory. Eventually, the state of Ohio, along with significant parts of Indiana, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, were created from the Ohio Country. Ryan L. Ruckel See also: Exploration; French; French Colonies on Mainland North America (Chronology); Mississippi River. Bibliography Hatcher, Harlan. The Buckeye Country: A Pageant of Ohio. New York: H. C. Kinsey, 1940. Hinderaker, Eric. Elusive Empires: Constructing Colonialism in the Ohio Valley, 1673 1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720 1830. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996. White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650 1815. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Settling the Ohio Country Photo Gallery

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