Treaty of Fort Pitt (1778)
The Treaty of Fort Pitt — also known as the Treaty With the Delawares, the Delaware Treaty, or the Fourth Treaty of Pittsburgh, — was signed on September 17, 1778 and was the first written treaty between the new United States of America and any American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

—the Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

 (Delaware Indians) in this case. Although many informal treaties were held with Native Americans during the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 years of 1775–1783, this was the only one that resulted in a formal document. It was signed at Fort Pitt
Fort Pitt (Pennsylvania)
Fort Pitt was a fort built at the location of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.-French and Indian War:The fort was built from 1759 to 1761 during the French and Indian War , next to the site of former Fort Duquesne, at the confluence the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River...

, Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, site of present-day downtown Pittsburgh. It was essentially a formal treaty of alliance.

The treaty gave the United States permission to travel through Delaware territory and called for the Delawares to afford American troops whatever aid they might require in their war against Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

, including the use of their own warriors. The United States was planning to attack the British fort at Detroit, and Lenape friendship was essential for success.

In exchange, the United States promised "articles of clothing, utensils and implements of war", and to build a fort in Delaware country "for the better security of the old men, women and children ... whilst their warriors are engaged against the common enemy." Although not part of the written treaty, the commissioners pointed out the American alliance with France and intended that the Delaware would become active allies in the war against the British.

According to Daniel Richter in "Facing East from Indian Country" the Delaware perceived the agreement as "merely as free passage" of Rebrel troops and the building of a protective fort for defending White settlers, the American leaders intended to use the fort for offensive campains and wrote into the treaty that the Delaware would attack their native neighbors.

The treaty also recognized the Delawares as a sovereign nation and guaranteed their territorial rights, even encouraging the other Ohio Country
Ohio Country
The Ohio Country was the name used in the 18th century for the regions of North America west of the Appalachian Mountains and in the region of the upper Ohio River south of Lake Erie...

 Indian tribes friendly to the United States to form a state headed by the Delawares with representation in Congress. This extraordinary measure had little chance of success, and some suggest that the authors of the treaty were knowingly dishonest and deceitful. Others suggest that it was the Delaware chief White Eyes
White Eyes
White Eyes, named Koquethagechton , was a leader of the Lenape people in the Ohio Country during the era of the American Revolution. Sometimes known as George White Eyes, his given name in Lenape was rendered in many spelling variations in colonial records...

 who proposed the measure, hoping that the Delaware and other tribes might become the fourteenth state of the United States. In any case, it was never acted upon by either the United States or the Delaware Indians.

Within a year the Delaware Indians were expressing grievances about the treaty. A delegation of Delawares visited Philadelphia in 1779 to explain their dissatisfaction to the Continental Congress, but nothing changed and peace between the United States and the Delaware Indians collapsed. White Eyes, the tribe's most outspoken ally of the United States, was murdered by frontiersmen, and soon afterwards the Delawares joined the British in the war against the United States.

Signers of the treaty were White Eyes, Captain Pipe
Captain Pipe
Captain Pipe , called Konieschquanoheel and also known as Hopocan, was an 18th-century chief of the Algonquian-speaking Lenape and a member of the Wolf Clan...

 (Hopocan), and John Kill Buck (Gelelemend
Gelelemend , also known as Killbuck or John Killbuck Jr., was a Delaware chief during the American Revolutionary War...

) for the Lenape, and Andrew Lewis
Andrew Lewis (soldier)
Andrew Lewis was an American pioneer, surveyor, and soldier from Virginia. He served as a colonel of militia during the French and Indian War, and as a brigadier general in the American Revolutionary War...

 and Thomas Lewis
Thomas Lewis (Virginia)
Thomas Lewis was an Irish-American surveyor, lawyer, and a pioneer of early Virginia. He was a signatory to the Fairfax Resolves preceding the American War for Independence, and after the conflict, contributed to the settlement of western Virginia in an area that would one day become part of West...

 for the Americans. Witnesses included Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh
Lachlan McIntosh
Lachlan McIntosh was a British-born American military and political leader during the American Revolution and the early United States. In a 1777 duel, he shot dead Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.-Arrival in Georgia:Lachlan McIntosh was born near Raits, Badenoch,...

, Colonel Daniel Brodhead
Daniel Brodhead IV
Daniel Brodhead IV was an American military and political leader during the American Revolutionary War and early days of the United States.-Early life:...

, and Colonel William Crawford
William Crawford (soldier)
William Crawford was an American soldier and surveyor who worked as a western land agent for George Washington. Crawford fought in the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War...


External links

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