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Researching the Treaty of Lancaster

In June 1744, a treaty was signed with the Six Nations Indians in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Lancaster Treaty of 1744 aimed to settle land conflicts between Virginia, Maryland, and the Iroquois, or, in other words, ‘Six Nations.’ With conflict with France approaching, the English colonies worked with the Iroquois Confederacy to establish a distinct borderline across Indian territory and the western limits of the English colonies in order to achieve peace. Therefore, the Treaty also established a strong partnership between settlers and Indians, who helped defend Pennsylvania throughout the French War.

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The Great Indian Treaty of 1744 was negotiated and signed in Lancaster’s ancient courthouse, located in the heart of what is now Penn Square. From June 22 to July 4, colonial leaders from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia met with the Six Nations’ Indian rulers for two weeks. This crucial meeting had two primary goals: to acquire Native American territory for English colonization and to obtain assurances from the Indians that they would not assist the French in the frontier conflict. Indians negotiated for gunpowder, bullets, firearms, blankets, clothes, and rum for land claims in Maryland and Virginia. Indian leaders delivered lengthy speeches, swapped wampum belts, cheered, and yelled “Jo-Ha!” The Treaty of Lancaster was produced and dispatched to London in 300 pieces by Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), who recognized the English best interests of the nation in Iroquois’ ritual and rhetoric’ and amusement ‘with those barbarians. During the French War of 1744-1748, the Treaty of Lancaster saved Pennsylvania settlers from significant Indian incursions. Essentially, the Treaty also terminated Native American claims to thousands of hectares of land.

References

Hermes, Katherine A. 2020. “21. Peace Treaties Between Colonial Powers and Indigenous Peoples in North America.” In Handbuch Frieden im Europa der Frühen Neuzeit/Handbook of Peace in Early Modern Europe, pp. 413-434. De Gruyter Oldenbourg. Web.

Uncharted Lancaster. 2019. “The Great Indian Treaty of 1744.” Web.

Visit Historical Lancaster. 2021. “Treaty of 1744 – A Rousing “Jo-Ha!” Web.

World History Commons. “Primary Source: Excerpts from the Treaty of Lancaster (1744).” Web.

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