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Description

Manuscript map of the British Colonies, extending from Montreal to the Delaware River and west to Ft. Niagara and the Ohio River, quite possibly related to the Indian Treaty signed at Fort Stanwix in 1768.

The map would seem to have been prepared with an interest in the Native American - Colonial Settler rights and claims in and around Colony of New York, as the detail in New York, showing several very obscure Indian names (see below) and including the treaties and agreements which formed its boundaries, are set forth in much greater detail than the neighboring regions. The detail along the Hudson River and the British Forts in New York are most heavily emphasized, including Fort Niagara, Ft. Oswego, Ft. Stanwix, Ft.George, Ft. Edward, Crown Point, and Ticonderoga. However, the inclusion of the West Branch of the Susquahanna River, and the Indian names Shamokin and Shohakin, and other details within northern Pennsylvania noted below leads us to conclude that the genesis of the map may be the Treaty of Ft. Stanwix.

Among the boundaries noted are:

"Ceded tin the Year 1726 to the Government of New York:" This likely refers to an agremeent made in 1726, whereby seven sachems among three of the Iroquois tribes deeded to the king a strip of land 60 miles wide, extending from the foot of Lake Ontario, all along that lake, the Niagara River along Lake Erie, "to the Creek called Canahogue" which was the earliest form of Cuyahoga. The king was to hold the land forever in trust for the Indians.

"Line established between N. York and Quebec by his majesties Proclamation 7th Oct. 1768:"

As noted above, it is possible that the map relates to the boundaries fixed by the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was an important treaty between North American Indians and the British Empire. It was signed in 1768 at Fort Stanwix, located in present-day Rome, New York. It was negotiated between Sir William Johnson and representatives of the Six Nations (the Iroquois). The reference to "Johnston" west of Ft. Stanwix is an erroneous reference to the town founded by Sir William Johnson (John's Town) in 1762, in honor of his father Sir John Johnson.

Several interesting Indian names appear. The name Shamokin refers not to the town of Shamokin, PA (founded in 1864 about 10 miles to the east), but to the Indian Village at the confluence of two branches of the Susquahanna River. The name Shamokin is a word in the language of the Delaware Indians which signifies "Eel Creek". Five nations of Indians occupied the Shamokin Indian Village at the confluence of the two branches of the Susquehanna River in what would later become Sunbury.

A second name to the west, Shohakin, is an obscure variant of the name Chehocton in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and Indian name meaning "wedding of the waters" (according to Jay Gould in his History of Delaware County, written in 1854). Gould noted that the earliest known white settler in this region was in 1784. The reference to these two obscure places, both of which are at the confluence of rivers at the southern part of the areas at issue in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, strongly suggests that the map was made at or about the time of the Treaty proceedings.

The purpose of the conference at Ft. Stanwix was to adjust the boundary line between Indian lands and British colonial settlements set forth in the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The British government hoped a new boundary line might bring an end to the rampant frontier violence which had become costly and troublesome. Indians hoped a new, permanent line might hold back British colonial expansion.

The final treaty was signed on November 5, 1768 with one signatory for each of the Six Nations and in the presence of representatives from New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania as well as Johnson. The nations present received gifts and cash totaling £10,460 7s. 3d. sterling, the highest payment ever made from colonists to American Indians. The treaty established a Line of Property which extended the earlier proclamation line of the Alleghenies (the divide between the Ohio and coastal watersheds), much farther to the west. The line ran near Fort Pitt and followed the Ohio River as far as the Tennessee River, effectively ceding the Kentucky portion of the Colony of Virginia to the British, as well as most of what is now West Virginia.

Although the Six Nations of New York had previously recognized English rights southeast of the Ohio River at the 1752 Treaty of Logstown, they continued to claim ownership (by conquest) over all land as far south as the Tennessee River - which they still considered their boundary with the Cherokee and other "Southern" tribes. Although representatives of the Indian nations who actually occupied these lands, primarily the Shawnee and Lenape, were present at the negotiations in 1768, they were not signatories and had no real role in the Iroquois' sale of their homeland. Rather than secure peace, the Fort Stanwix treaty helped set the stage for the next round of hostilities along the Ohio River, which would culminate in Dunmore's War.

The treaty also settled land claims between the Six Nations and the Penn family, the proprietors of Pennsylvania, where the lands acquired in 1768 were called the "New Purchase." Due to disputes about the physical boundaries of the settlement, however, the final treaty line would not be fully agreed upon for another five years.

The final portion of the Line of Property in Pennsylvania, called the Purchase line in that State, was fixed in 1773 by representatives from the Six Nations and Pennsylvania who met at a spot called Canoe Place at the confluence of West Branch of the Susquehanna River and Cush Cushion Creek in what is now Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania.

The reason for the Treaty of Fort Stanwix was that the press of population growth and economic development turned the attention of investors and land speculators to the area west of the Appalachians. In response to demands by settlers and speculators, British authorities were soon pressing the Iroquois and Cherokees for cessions of land in Indian country. The Treaty of Lochaber with the Cherokee followed in 1770, whereby the Cherokee withdrew their claim to part of the same country, encompassing the south part of present-day West Virginia. No longer able to play off rival colonial powers following the British victory in the French and Indian War, Indians were reduced to a choice between compliance and resistance. Weakened by the recent war, they negotiated away parcels of land in exchange for promises of protection from further encroachments. So in 1768, the Iroquois gave up their claim south of the Ohio, hoping thereby to deflect English settlement away from their own homeland.

Condition Description
Pen & Ink. Fragment of mid-19th Century map of Washington DC area used as backing.