Historical Markers
Easton Historical Marker
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Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
PA 115 N at city line

Dedication Date:
August 4, 1947

Behind the Marker

Located strategically at the forks of the Delaware River in Northampton County, Easton during the American Revolution was an important site for peace negotiations between Indians and whites, as well as the starting point for the markerGen. John Sullivan's decisive campaign against the Iroquois Confederation in 1779. Founded in 1752 as an important center of frontier trade, Easton hosted a series of treaty councils between the Delaware Indians and provincial military and political officials from both Pennsylvania and Virginia, which paved the way for a settlement of the French and Indian War.

By 1752 the Ohio Valley was subject to competing claims by Pennsylvania, Virginia, France, and the Iroquois, as well as the Lenape and other smaller Indian tribes who lived there. While Pennsylvania traders established several outposts in the Ohio Valley during the 1740s, the French, to reclaim the Indian trade and block further English expansion, built new forts between Lake Erie and modern-day markerPittsburgh to tighten a circle of military posts that stretched from the St. Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes, and southward into the Ohio and Mississippi valleys.

In the early summer of 1754 George Washington, then a young Virginia militia officer, led an expedition of 300 militiamen and 100 British regulars to halt French expansion. Guided by Lenape and Iroquois scouts, Washington's forces ambushed a small French patrol near present-day Pittsburgh. A larger French unit forced Washington's troops to retreat to south to markerFort Necessity. On July 4, 1754, Washington, outnumbered by the French, surrendered and marched back to Virginia. Thus began the French and Indian War.

At first, Indian warriors from Pennsylvania's various Delaware tribes fought for both the French and the British. But soon they abandoned their Covenant Chain with the English colonists and sided with the French because of the Britain's failure to protect their trading and land interests. Realizing that the survival of their peoples required independence from all European powers, as well as unity among themselves, the leaders of the scattered Delaware settlements formed a nation in the Ohio Valley. They began thinking of themselves simply as "Delaware Indians" and looked to their own warriors and leaders for guidance.

Moravian missionaries also attracted some Delaware converts, who preferred to give up their tribal ways and live as Christians. One of these converts, Chief Teedyuscung, was responsible for negotiating a series of peace treaties at Easton between 1756 and 1758 that eventually brought an end to the French and Indian war in Pennsylvania. The English promised the Indians peace, protection, fair trade, and the return of Indian prisoners. In return, the Delaware and other Indian tribes adopted a position of neutrality and granted English troops free passage through their territory with the understanding that British soldiers would leave once the French had been defeated.

Native American abandonment of the French allowed the British to claim title to Canada and all territory east of the Mississippi River, except for New Orleans. After concluding peace with the French, the English government launched a new Indian policy that would separate Native Americans and white colonists by creating a firm boundary. Following the crest line of the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia, the "Proclamation Line of 1763" forbade any new white settlement on lands west of that line, which the Crown reserved for the Indian nations. Though well-intentioned, the attempt to legislate interracial accord quickly failed.

Royal governors could not prevent land speculators from encroaching on Indian lands. A pan-Indian movement was organized by Ottawa chief Pontiac to drive the British out of the Ohio Valley. Outraged German and Scots-Irish settlers exacted vengeance by moving against the Delaware. The conflict came to an end when Col. Henry Bouquet defeated Delaware and Shawnee warriors at the markerBattle of Bushy Run in August 1763, and captured the settlement of Coshocton the following year. The Delaware were forced to lay down their arms, give hostages as a guarantee of their good behavior, and return all prisoners they had taken captive.

On May 8, 1765, the Ohio and Pennsylvania Delaware Indians signed a formal peace treaty with the English that superseded the 1763 Proclamation. Under the terms of the treaty, the Delaware were forced to accept any general frontier boundary demanded by the Iroquois and the British. Three years later, Iroquois sale of the Susquehanna Valley country to the English left the Delaware without a homeland. The French and Indian War had destroyed the eastern Delaware tribes, who were forced to move north among the Iroquois or west to Ohio.

The peace was short-lived. Still bitter over the taking of their Pennsylvania homeland, the Delaware allied with the Iroquois and British during the American Revolution and conducted spontaneous raids on Pennsylvania's frontier settlements until 1779 when Gen. John Sullivan marched his expeditionary force into northern Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Eliminating all but small pockets of resistance, the Sullivan campaign also destroyed remaining Indian settlements and fields. Three years later, in 1782, Col. Daniel Brodhead, who had been part of the Sullivan expedition, led another army, containing many Delawares, into the Ohio Valley, where it destroyed the new Delaware capital at Coshocton and other Indian towns.

Signed in London in 1783, the Treaty of Paris brought a formal end to the Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the newly created United States. It ignored, however, the interests of the Indian allies. England surrendered its territorial claims to the Ohio Valley, but retained posts along the Great Lakes, from which it continued to support Native American resistance to American settlement. Fighting between the Delaware and American troops continued for two more years, until January 21, 1785, when the Treaty of Fort McIntosh briefly ended the conflict. Under the terms of the treaty, the Delaware were forced to surrender their claim to Tuscarawa River country and move to western Ohio. Native American resistance would not end until their defeat by Gen. Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794.
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