We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more


The Iroquois, the United States, and the Treaty of Canandaigua, 1794

Michael Leroy Oberg

Publication Date - 31 July 2015

ISBN: 9780199913800

216 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

The Critical Historical Encounters series focuses on major critical encounters in the American experience


Peacemakers: The Iroquois, the United States, and the Treaty of Canandaigua, 1794 offers a glimpse into how native peoples participated in the intercultural diplomacy of the New Nation and how they worked to protect their communities against enormous odds. The book introduces students, in detail, to the Treaty of Canandaigua, which is little known outside of Central New York. It examines how the Six Nations of the Iroquois secured from the United States a recognition of their sovereign status as separate polities with the right to the "free use and enjoyment" of their lands.

In the fall of 1794 leaders from the Six Nations of the Iroquois met with officials from the U.S. in Canandaigua, New York. Iroquois leaders sought the restoration of lands they had lost a decade before at the coercive treaty of Fort Stanwix, which was negotiated with delegates sent from the American Congress under the Articles of Confederation. They felt cheated and aggrieved. The Iroquois delegates also sought the "brightening" of the Covenant Chain alliance which historically had linked the Six Nations to their non-Indian friends and allies. President George Washington sent Timothy Pickering to represent the U.S. at Canandaigua. Washington instructed Pickering to secure from the Six Nations a pledge to take no part in the powerful Indian uprising then occurring in the Northwest Territory. Washington, Pickering, and others in the national government feared that hostile Indians could set the young republic's frontiers ablaze from New York through the Carolinas. Land-hungry New Yorkers, who saw in the acquisition and sale of Iroquois lands a means to finance state government without resorting to a politically inexpedient program of taxation, watched closely and with great suspicion Pickering's actions. The British, meanwhile, still clung to a number of their posts on American soil in the early-1790s. Quietly, they hoped connections to Indian communities on American territory might restrain the territorial aggressiveness of the young republic.

About the Author(s)

Michael Leroy Oberg is Distinguished Professor of History at the State University of New York, College at Geneseo, where he has won awards and recognition for both his teaching and research. He is the author of several books including Professional Indian: The American Odyssey of Eleazer Williams (2015) and The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand: Roanoke's Forgotten Indians (2010).


"Peacemakers is one of the best--if not the best--works to explore the pioneering work of U.S.-Native American diplomacy during America's early days as a republic."--Ronald Angelo Johnson, Texas State University

"Peacemakers is an excellent single-volume treatment of the Treaty of Canandaigua that combines deep research in primary sources with attention to readable prose. Oberg's study will bring a new appreciation of its significance to a wide readership."--Jon Parmenter, Cornell University

"If you want a thorough yet concise and readable history of Iroquois-U.S. relations around the time of the American Revolution, this is the book."--Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut

Table of Contents

    Editors' Foreword

    Chapter 1. Guswenta
    Chapter 2. Broken
    Chapter 3. Critically Circumstanced
    Chapter 4. St. Clair's Defeat, And Its Consequences
    Chapter 5. Disaffected
    Chapter 6. Fallen Timbers
    Chapter 7. A Treaty at Canandaigua
    Chapter 8. "All Causes of Complaint"
    Chapter 9. The Long Life of the Treaty of Canandaigua

    List of Abbreviations in Notes

Related Titles