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tv   Lectures in History Western Lands Before After American Revolution  CSPAN  August 30, 2021 11:06pm-12:23am EDT

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conflicts and relationships between the new federal government, settlers, and native americans. we have been talking about the revolution, what changes did it initiate in american society, american government, why should we think of it as a revolution rather than simply a war for independence? we have talked about this in various frameworks. we talked about whether the
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revolution altered the social structure of the states that were involved in the revolution. and on the last time we met we talked about the impact of the revolution on african-americans and on the institution of slavery. we saw that in that case the legacy was quite mixed right? the revolution set the institution of slavery on the path to destruction in the northern states but was instrumental in deepening and strengthening the institution in the southern states. today, i want to talk about two topics that are two sides of the same coin. how the revolution affected native americans and how the revolution created a new system for thinking about making western lands widely available
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to ordinary people. those are two sides same coin. on the one hands, the revolution initiated a new kind of commitment to pretty rapid westward territorial expansion n a widely democratic system of land holding, land ownership, which was, you know, a really powerful engine of economic opportunity and democracy for a lot of ordinary whites, men and women in their families. but it also applied a pretty exploitive approach to native americans. as i say, these are two sides of the same coin. to begin kind of thinking about this just in those abstract sense, there were people involved in the american revolution. and foremost among them, thomas jefferson, who thought a great deal about this problem who believed that one of the most
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revolutionary aspects of the revolution ought to be making land more widely available to ordinary people on he willtively easy terms. and this constituted a fundamental resolution in thinking about the availability of land. because in the old british system n the old english system, land was a by-product of aristocratic privilege. and land holding was something that flowed from the top of society downward. in england, the land was owned by a relatively small number of people who owned a lot of it. and they made it available on their own terms through -- you know, through rental agreements. if you think about the feudal system, this is a system where tenants farm the lands of great lords. and it's a system that really --
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where land ownership and the power associated with it all resides at the top of society. and that principle was woven into the fabric of colonization because if you think about the way lands became available in the colonies, the biggest colonies began with proprietary ownership. if you think about the colony of pennsylvania. the first opinions prel is the king gives all the land to william penn and tells him he can do whatever he wants with it. right? this is kind of an offshoot of that same aristocratic model where land starts at the top and is distributed downward according to whatever principles the powerful people who control it want to employ. and we talked last week about the fact that far from seeing that stuff die away, we talked about the fact of a feudal revival. there were a lot of absentee
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land owners who had control of a lod of land and they were beginning to assert their privileges more strongly. they are collecting rents in a way that they couldn't in an earlier period. so this idea of land being tied to privilege, the privilege of a small number of powerful man is foundational, not only to english society, but to the way the colonies were organized. and for jefferson, this was one of the most important things that needed to be overturned. we talked about his attack on prima jenniture and entail trying to break up the estates of the most powerful family. this is kind of a parallel idea. one of jefferson's cornerstone principles is the idea that the best social foundation for a republican government was to have a large number of yeoman farmers that owned relatively small, relatively similar
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amounts of lands in fee simple, meaning they did not pay rent to great landlords. they held the land on their own terms. and so this idea of yeoman society, a republic of yeoman farmers, was one of the foundational principles that many people, including especially jefferson, wanted to work pretty hard to implement after the american revolution. the problem is, of course, that making abundant amounts of land widely available on cheap terms means you have to control that land in the first place. and this was not that simple. because, of course, the lands that the united states aspired to control and redistribute were lapds that were occupied by native american populations with their own claims, their own sense of legitimacy. and in the process of trying to enact this theoretical
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revolution in the availability of land, we will see that the united states took a very exploitive approach to its relationship with native peoples throughout the -- throughout eastern north america. and that is a process that began in the revolution itself. in order to kind of focus our discussion of this issue, i want to focus on the ohio country and the ohio indians. there were indian populations all up and down the eastern seaboard in the kinds of transappalachian west. and there are all kinds of different stories associated with these groups. but for our purposes, just to kinds of focus on one of these groups, i want to focus on the ohio country, which we have already talked about, because the ohio valley was the focus of lord dunn moore's war of 17 --
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bun fors frts to claim kentucky, what is now kentucky from the shawnees through his victory in dunn moore's war. the ohio country population is kinds of an interesting and complicated population because in the early 18th century, the ohio valley was largely depopulated for complicated historical reasons. in the decades before the american revolution, the ohio country was being repopulated by a pretty large and diverse group of indians that were come both from the east, from pennsylvania and new jersey and new york, and also coming from the north and the west. and so from the east, groups that were basically being displaced by the growth of pennsylvania, new jersey, and new york, were three populations in particular, the delawares,
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the shawnees, they were migrating west out of pennsylvania and new jersey. and the western iroquois. so a group of iroquois, so-called mingos is what -- the name that they were given in the ohio country. and these groups were forming, in many cases, shared communities. the most important communities in the ohio valley were often multiethnic communities. and they were moving into the ohio valley both to move away from the immediate pressures of the growth of colonial settlement. and also because the ohio valley was a really good place to hunt and trade. pennsylvania traders started traveling into the ohio valley. so as they moved -- as these groups moved into the ohio valley, pennsylvania traders
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followed them. and they had robust economic sets of chunts in the 1740s, '50s, and '60s. so you had these groups moving in from the east. at the same time, again, in response to the economic tuned created by traders from pennsylvania, a pretty wide array of groups from the north and west that were moving out of the french sphere and into the british sphere in the 1740s and '50s, including wyan dots, chippewas, odawas -- a die population of native groups. the main thing i want you to understand is when we talk about the ohio indians, we are talking about a diverse array of peoples that had not functions -- they were not a coherent political unit. they had not operated together for a very long time at the time of the revolution. and the revolution forced them
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to make new kinds of collective choices in response to the pressures of that war. they had relied on a pattern of trade with pennsylvania, an alliance both with pennsylvania, and really, with each other, for a number of years without really having further coalesced as any kind of a political unit. and then this was the group, of course, that was directly attacked by virginia militia in dunn moore's war in 1774, particularly the shawnees who bun for thought was the most hostile of these groups. the shawnees were engaged in that war, a battle at point pleasant in 1774. you remember that dunn moore's war established the principle at least in the minds of virginians, that kentucky was
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now open to settlement. so one of the oddities of the american revolution is that in the spring and summer of 1775, this is the same time that the shot heard round the world was fired at lexington -- or at concord, rather. the battle of lexington and concord. the battles of bunker hill. at the same time all that stuff was going on in new england. at the same time, parties of virginians were moving into this newly claimed land in 1775. and without permission from the crown, without any legitimate authority from above, but having taken part of the war in 1774 hundreds of dozens of people begin to occupy kentucky in the spring and summer of 1775. this is a map i just want to
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take a minute to look at. i am sure that you have a vision of what we are talking about when i am talking about the ohio country. this is actually a map that depicts battles in the -- during and after the american revolution. when we talk about the ohio country, i'm basically talking about this area mostly north of the ohio river. here's where the three rivers come together at fort pitt to define the head waters of the ohio. this is the ohio country. and then kentucky, the territory that people were beginning to occupy in 1775 and 1776 is down here. and you can see some of these early stations, boons borrow is one of the early kentucky stations. st. assaff. riddles and martins stations. this became kinds the leading edge of anglo american settlement even before there was
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an american revolutionary war, right? so this is something -- this is a process that's moving forward independent of the revolution. and yet, it intersects with the revolution. and the revolution fundamentally changes the fortunes of these people who are moving west. because under the auspices of the crown, they were criminals. right? they were beyond the proclamation line of 1763. what they were doing was illegal. but under the -- in the context of the american revolution, as the second continental congress was sitting, as revolutionary legislatures were taking over in the states, it was possible for them to make new claims to legitimacy. that's exactly what these kentucky settlers did. in the course of the american revolution, these kentucky settlers made common cause with the united states and with the revolutionary governments that managed them. and they made very specific
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pleas about -- about the legitimacy of their occupation and settlement. they specifically talked about the fact that the king had limited, had restricted access to these western lands, but that they had fought and bled for these lands at the battle of point pleasant. they had a legitimate and meaningful claim to these lands. and moreover, just as the united states seemed to be interested in liberty, they were also interested in liberty. and they really thought what the united states was talking about was pretty great and they wanted to be a part of it. and they said the united states would be foolish to miss the opportunity to incorporate such skilled riflemen into their ranks. they petitioned congress and said, you know, if you support us out here, we will fight for you and we will keep the native
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peoples off of your backs. so they basically made the case that in addition to the fact that they adhered to the same principles of liberty that the united states did, they also made a strategic argument that they could be very useful allies. and that was an argument that got traction. it got traction with the new revolutionary state of virginia, which began arming and supporting their little forts. the communities that were settled in central kentucky all took a form something like this where cabins were built in a circle with palisades so that the community became kind of a makeshift fort because these guys recognized from the beginning that they were operating in territory where they would be regarded as hostile invaders. and it was incumbent upon them to defend themselves against both native americans that might not want them there and also as
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the war progressed, against, you know, the pressures of british arms as well. one of the key people involved in this process -- let me ask you this. when you think of daniel boone, do you think of the american revolution? do you think of him as a figure of the american revolution? he's familiar, right? daniel boone is familiar? everybody knows who daniel boone was. he is a great american frontiersman. think of him in the era of davey crockette. it is weird because daniel boone and davey crockette are generations apart. right? davy crockette was at the alamo. can anybody place this date and time? when was the battle of the alamo? 1840s? we are talking about 1775. this is when -- this is when daniel bonino's singest most famous act of pioneering took
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place. he led a party of settlers in the wake of doesn't moore's war through the cumberland gap and into central kentucky. and one of the first towns founded in central kentucky was boones borrow. it was founded in 1775. it is weird to think of daniel boone as a revolutionary war hero, right? his most famous act occurred before the united states even existed. it's fascinating that we don't -- you know n the popular imagination, we don't place him in time here because we don't think of the american revolution as a pioneering era. but the american revolution is the first pioneering era and the first intrepid western explorers, slash, occupiers, swung into action in the revolution, and in kentucky. i want to say a little bit more about daniel boone in just a minute. but hold that thought. and just to kind of talk quickly
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about the war experience in central kentucky, the various communities of central kentucky petitioned both the virginia legislature and the continental congress for support. and they received that support. they -- the virginia house of delegates first of all extended its jurisdiction across all of what is now kentucky. it created a great big new western county so that those communities in central kentucky would have a framework for government. and it started sending regular supplies of powder and lead so that these settlements could defend themselves. the continental congress also responded favorably to these petitions and beginning in july of 1776 the continental
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congressmaned and supplied three new forts on the ohio river. during the fall and winter of 1776, it sent two tons of powder, four tons of lead, boats and food to support people for six months. that's a fair amount of war material that the continental congress was providing kentucky at a early stage. when conditionsry deteriorated in the following spring congress sent another be in of rifles and a ton of lead. in the beginning of the war efforts these small embattled kentucky communities were fortunate to receive the support of revolutionary governments both at the state level and at the national level. the ohio indians, meanwhile, were in a difficult position. they were somewhat divided in
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terms of their sense of loyalties. the article that i asked you to read for today talks a little bit about the ohio indians and their decisions, their loyalties. the ohio indians had had a fairly long connection by 1776 to the british empire. but they had also had a fairly long connection to the pennsylvania traders. so they had preexisting relationships with both the british and the americans that could have like led them in either direction. initially, both governments hoped that they would remain neutral and u.s. leaders pleaded with them to just stay out of the revolution, told them it was just an internal spat between, you know, the colonies and the english and they didn't have to have anything to do with it. but it became clear quickly that in fact the united states was putting a lot of new pressure on their territory.
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and so, gradually, by about 1777, a large coalition of ohio indians had decided that their interests lay with the british empire w the efforts of the british to defeat the americans. and they began fighting against the kentucky settlements with british support. and so from 1777 on, most of the ohio indians found themselves aligned with the british even though you know from that article we read a little earlier in the semester about white eyes and the delawares there was an earlier period where white eyes and a large faction of delawares thought maybe their best bet was to align themselves with the united states. the kentucky settlements really helped change that dynamic for them. the war ended in 1783 -- the
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fighting ended in 1781 but the war was formally ended in 1783 with the treaty of paris. one of the well-known facts about this treaty is that in this document that defined the peace between great britain and the united states, no mention was made of britain's native american allies. they are simply not a subject of the treaty of paris of 1783. this meant in a the united states could interpret the significance this treaty for native peoples any way that it wanted to. and it chose -- the united states chose to interpret the treaty of paris where britain basically says, we lost the war -- the united states interpreted this treaty to extend to britain's native allies and in fact to all the native peoples in the near east, whether they were allied with
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great britain or neutral or allied with the united states. in the case of the oneida indians it didn't help them at all in the post war period that they had been an ally of the u.s. during the war. and so the logic of victory in the revolution for the united states meant that not only had great britain been defeated but all the near peoples of the eastern region, the transappalachian west also had been defeated by extension. the ohio indians didn't accept this premise. in fact, the ohio indians had never been defeated themselves in the course of the american revolution. they were still in a pretty strong position in 1783. kentucky was still -- was starting to grow a lot faster. but it was still embattled. and they simply did not accept the logic that the u.s. applied to the treaty of paris. so at the end of the war, everything was unclear in terms
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of relations between the u.s. and the ohio indians. in this sense, it was kind of a similar situation, the u.s. relation with indians groups throughout the transappalachian west. i want to just pause at this point and talk a little bit about daniel boone. because the -- you know, his -- placing him in kentucky in 1717 -- in 1775 is a little bit surprising. if you don't know about him. you never thought very much about daniel boone. i want to talk for a minute about how daniel boone first became famous. because he became a famous figure right after the revolutionary war. he became famous as a result of the publication of this text. john philson's discovery and settlement of kentucky. john philson was a land
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speculator and promoter who was interested in encouraging the rapid occupation of kentucky. and in the year after the signing of the treaty of paris, he published this book on the the discovery and settlement of kentucky. it's interesting. it narrates the story of the occupation of kentucky, its experiences in the revolution, and it includes an appendix entitled the adventures of colonel daniel boone including the wars in kentucky. the appendix included this illustration that shows daniel boone with his rifle and his hunting dog. the earliest depiction of boone. and the purpose of this -- well, the purpose of the pamphlet was to promote settlement in kentucky and the purpose of the
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appendix on daniel boone was both to describe his heroism and experiences during the war and also to express that those harrowing experiences were now over. boone became this kind of -- he became the first american pioneer hero. and his fame took off rather quickly. he became famous even in his own lifetime. this is the first -- this is the first portrait painted of boone. this was painted late in his life by a man named chester harding. it's a well-known image of boone later in life. there's another early, unattributed painting depicting him. it's interesting to look at the clothing in these three portraits. what strikes you about this one? what do you see? what is he wearing?
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ian. >> he's wearing a lot of furs, implying he spent time in the west sort of in the fur trading areas rather than just being settled in the east. he's wearing leather. he's carrying a rifle. he looks like he is armed to go out and take on the frontier. rather in the portrait where he looks more like a gentleman, a scholar type individual. >> yeah, you see the fur trim in this suit of clothes. you can also see that -- you know, the leather leggings, and the coat -- the coat is kind of stitched together. this is obviously not, you know, factory-made clothing. you can also see his trademark coonskin cap apparently in his
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hand as well as hunting quilt. he has a powder horn around his shoulder, and a rifle. this portrait does seem as ian just said to depict him as a more you are bane gentleman. it is not fancy clothing but he seems to be wearing an ordinary suit of clothes with a white colored shirt. this depiction begins to i think take on some of the familiar trappings of daniel boone as a kind of a mythic figure in american culture where the collared shirt and wool jacket that we saw in the previous portrait has been replaced by a fringed buck skin jacket. it is unclear what kind of shirt
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he's wearing, but it's not a fancy one. the most famous depiction of daniel boone of the 19th century is this painting that was done by george caleb bingham in the 1850s. bingham is one of the great genre painters of the 19th century. really, if you are not familiar with his work, i recommend checking it out. he did a lot of really interesting stuff. this is a -- one of his most famous paintings. daniel boone excourting settlers through the cumberland gap. in 1851, 1852 he is depicting something that occurred four generations earlier. this is a much later painting. what strikes you about this depiction of daniel boone? and of the party that he was leading? what do you see here? >> i think it is interesting
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that it's choosing to pour fray the party as come out of the shadows into the light. the light of entering a new land. but in the end it was still more of a new, ann explored fend for themselves. it depicted the beginning of an era i suppose if you want to put it that way in that's well said. you do have the sense of coming out of darkness into light. and to think of that as historical as well as geographical i think is really useful. this is a dangerous wilderness these people are traversing. you can see by the blasted tree, by the threatening weather, by the craggy rocks, right, also just by how dark everything is. you see the swordsmen, you know, in the background. i think that's a sword. presumably, fending oven mes, hostiles, probably hostile native peoples. in fact, boone's party was
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attacked by native warriors. what else? >> the woman on the horse is kind of reminiscent of the virginia mary, it seems, maybe, which would suggest maybe that divine providence is smiling down on this act. >> yeah. exactly. her -- this female figure is clearly echoing traditional artistic depictions of mary, the virgin mary. and so there is, yes, the idea of divine providence at work in this emigration, i think, for sure. >> i have a different interpretation of this guy in the back when i first looked at this due to his elevated status. it strikes me that he has got a crop. >> could be a crop. >> striking an objection or -- >> he could be driving livestock forward. that's true. yeah, i am not sure which it is.
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yeah, chris. >> to tie their two comments together, the saying, yea, though i walk through the shadow of death i fear no evil. they are walking auto out of the darkness into the light and the divine providence. ? it does make you think about the 23rd psalm. what about boone? sorry, emma. >> i was going the say it is interesting to see how you can clearly see the perspective of the artist. and how it seems like this party thinks they are going to come and save kentucky and make it so much better. they don't seem to be struggling even though there is all the wood around them. how wilderness it was. like it just seems like we are going to come and do this, no problem. like we are just that good.
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>> yeah. that's a good point. they are surrounded by dangers, but they don't seem to be -- they seem to be apart from the dangers. yeah, and bringing a new kind of civilized existence into the wilderness. what about daniel boone himself? what would you say about the way that he is depicted? >> seems depicted as a very plain and ordinary man. >> plain and ordinary? yeah. okay. >> seems like -- my interpretation of that is that he is trying lead regular, normal american people into the west and that it's a place for the people of the united states, to go west into, you know, head into this brave new world and that any man can do it. it's not just some military
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officer, some wealthy person who is paying for this expedition. it's normal men, he's taking them and exploring into this new world. >> yeah. yeah. that's interesting. i like that emphasis on ordinary. the ordinariness of this party. i also -- i also think it is interesting, like he seems to be wearing, you know, kind of like the leather suit that it's appropriate to picture him in and yet bingham has kinds of transformed it into a very respectable looking kinds of -- he looks almost like a middle class gentleman. and particularly i think by giving him a different kind of hat there is a way that he's kind of been dressed up from those earlier depictions. anyway, this is a very -- this is a very -- i think an interesting and important painting, and one that really captures the sensibilities of
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mid 19th century america about if whole westering enterprise, the whole idea that american westward expansion is about drig civilization to a howling wilderness. this is another painting that i could not find an adescription for. but i think this is a really interesting variation on the bingham depiction. and i think it kind of characteristic of mid to late 20th season tree values of the same process. what strikes you near contrast? how would you say this painting differs from bingham's painting from depicting the enterprise of westward expansion? >> in the first picture, the light was really just shining on boone. here, the light is on everybody. you can see it all the way across. it's not just the guy in front.
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>> yeah. the light is on everybody. so it is a more democratic depiction of the group itself. what about the natural setting? >> it is softer. >> looks like their way is being lit through the light flowing through these trees. looks easier for them than it did in the first painting. >> softer. it looks easier. it is a cathedral of nature, right? it is not a howling wilderness. that seems to me to capture a lot about the difference between 19th century sensibilities about the westward enterprise and 20th century sensibilities about the benign glories of nature. there were no benign glories in the bingham painting. it is interesting to think about why -- you know, why boone is misplaced in our imaginations, why we tend to confuse him with the sort of davey crockett era. i do have one theory.
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this might not relate at all to your generation, but it relates to mine. when i was a kid, i think i confused daniel boone and davey crockett because fess parker played them both in walt disney tv shows and he wore if i am not mistaken almost exactly the same kind of costume for both roles. that's what i blame my confusion on. but i do think, more fundamentally, we don't really think of the era of the revolution as being also an era of westward expansion. but it really is. in fact, in the experience of those early kentucky settlements, the american revolution legitimatizes westward expansion. kinds of an unbridled form of westward expansion, for the first time in american history. this is a map that was printed in that john fillson -- that 1784 book about the discovery and settlement of kentucky.
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what strikes you about this image? if you were, i don't know, renting land in new jersey and contemplating the possibility of moving to kentucky, what would this image tell you about what you could expect in kentucky? >> it is empty. there is nobody there. there is no divisions, no american lines or anything. it is just open land. >> it looked like open land. if you look carefully, you will see some of those early settlements but there is a lot of open space. yeah, what else? >> it seems to me like they -- there is a lot of detail on the river networks. but there is not a lot of detail on a whole lot else, which to me would tell me they don't really know what's out there. or the government owns the land but -- controls the land but they don't know what's out there
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any more than anybody else does. so i have no idea when i am getting into the i actually buy land out there. >> yeah. it is true. there is not a lot of -- there are not a lot of political demarcations. i think the point you started with is the point i would emphasize most, which is if you are a farmer, what you want is well-watered, fertile land. this is a picture of what appears to be extraordinarily well watered fertile land. in fact it is. if you know the kentucky blue grass, this is a great place to be a farmer. fillson is basically, you know n this pamphlet, and especially in this map throwing the doors of people's imaginations open to the possibility of settling in kentucky. so it's an interesting question. a, did it work? and b, if you chose to follow fillson's advice and move there, what would your experience be?
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and the answer is, man, it was complicated. people who took up land in early kentucky stumbled into a kind of nightmarish set of problems associated with land distribution. the problems are really embodied in the virginia land ordinance of 1779. remember, i said that virginia extended its jurisdiction over all of kentucky, it created a big new western county? so in 1779, the virginia house of delegates passed a law that set out the terms by which people could claim land in this new western county. and it was really complicated.
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the first thing about the virginia land ordinance of 1779 is it gave priority to settlers rather than speculators. so in this you can see a kinds of revolutionary impulse to make sure that, you know, some rich guy who never goes out there doesn't get control of all the land. it gave priority to people who had actually settled the land. but it created a bebilledering and expensive -- bewildering and expensive process that they had to follow in order to actually gain title. so the process was multistage. the first thing you had to do -- first of all, you had to go to the kentucky in order to have a legitimate claim, right? because it gave priority to settlers. but then, once you had gone to kentucky, then the next thing you have to do is go back to
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richmond in order to pay the fees that would allow you to claim the lands that you had -- that you had already visited. so you would go to the treasurer's office in richmond to pay a patent fee, get a treasurer's receipt. then to the auditor's office. sorry, that's where you would get the receipt. then you go to the land office where the receipt and certificate entitles you to a land warrant. with the land warrant in hand you could return to kentucky, in kentucky register with the county surveyor and have the land surveys. you go first of all to kentucky to find out where you want to be in the first place. then you go back, you go through this elaborate series of steps in richmond to get all the legal paper that you need to go back to kentucky. then you have got to hire a
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surveyor to do a survey. and this is, you know, a lot of people are doing this at the same time. and there is no system in place in kentucky to make sure that any of this occurs in a kind of an -- in kind of an orderly way. then the surveyor issues you a plat and certificate along with an endorsement warrant. then you would go back to richmond to receive a land title. this is impossible. nobody can do this right. so what happened in the course of the revolution -- especially after the revolution very quickly is that lots of people went to kentucky and chaos ensued. the population of kentucky rose very slowly as long as there was active fighting going on it ebbed and flowed during the war years n. 1783 there were 12,000
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people in kentucky. 1783, the date of the treaty of paris. after that point, it rose really fast. by 1790 -- this is obviously a very rapid pattern of population growth. if you look at what resulted from all of these people going to a place that had a bad land distribution system, the early history of kentucky as a state features legal documents with a lot of pictures like this. this is a flat that was made by hancock taylor of mildred light foot's claim near the falls of ohio, near what's now louisville, kentucky, but shows
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all of the claims that overlapped and competed with hers. the early history of kentucky is a history of non-stop litigation over survey problems like this. but it's -- you know, this kind of problem is woven into the structure of that land distribution -- that land ordinance of 1779 which -- i mean, the kentucky legislature thought -- i mean, the virginia legislature thought they were creating a system that would be fair and democratic, right, because you had to do all this stuff in the right order and you have to do it the right way. but nobody can actually do what the statute describes effectively. many people can't. and so what you get is chaos on the ground. so it's with this in mind that people like thomas jefferson n the 1780s, were rethinking in fundamental ways the problem of land distribution.
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and this is a process, a reconceptualization process that culminated in the northwest ordinance of 1787. for today, i asked you to read, actually not about the northwest ordinance of 1787 but about the land ordinance of 1784 in the jefferson papers. the editors of the jefferson papers have a really good essay on the kind of revolution of thinking about western lands that i asked you to take a look at. so the -- there are a lot of details in the land ordinance of 1784. and then that got modified in the land ordinance of 1787. but what in your reading of that essay and the jefferson papers, what particularly struck you as the kind of main takeaway points that the editors emphasize in
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describing this process of developing a land system? do you remember any key points particularly focusing on jefferson and on his evolving thought about the transappalachian west, that territory beyond the bounds of the existing states? >> i think the editors might have diluted what jefferson was trying to get across. i think jefferson was radical in thinking that they should close off these lands and kinds just settle them and get it over with. and the editors really wanted to look at the land as colonies had and to not just put it off and say that we can't keep expanding. >> that is interesting. so you think that that essay dilutes the radicalism of jefferson's intention. yeah.
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and you can see jefferson's thought itself evolving. i mean, initially they talk about the fact that he's considering one or a couple of western states and eventually this evolves into -- this is a map -- there is no map in jefferson's hands of his intention, but there is a surviving map, the so-called jefferson-hartley map that the essay talks about from 1784. and one of the things that jefferson had in mind and thomas payne wrote a pamphlet about the importance of this, is that all of the colonies that had claims to western lands that extended far into the interior, because the colonies have sea to sea charters. so virginia was advantaged in new york, certain colonies were
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advantaged in this and the first thing that jefferson and others believed was important to do was to have all of the individual states cede their western land claims to the united states so the united states could collectively deal with all of them together. and so you could see that jefferson has imagined western boundaries including a pretty aggressive western boundary for the state of pennsylvania to open up these lands to new settlements. and then you can see by 1784, jefferson is imagining the possibility of 14 different new western states, right. and both the land ordinance of 1784 and the northwest ordinance of 1787, they're very conscious of the kind of problems that the land ordinance of 1789 created,
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and they want to have a system that will allow for rapid westward expansion in a more orderly way. so uniform surveys and public sales are principles that are woven into these early ordinances. and then the thing that is most famous, most noteworthy and also kind of i think most easily overlooked by americans, by us, because we take it for granted, the territorial system. what do i mean by the phrase the territorial system? what is the territorial system? >> isn't it like areas with less than a certain population cannot yet be incorporated as states until they reach a certain number, like technically there are states in the u.s. today that wouldn't have reached them. i think kentucky is one of them. >> no, kentucky is big enough to be a state. but that is right, you can't become a state until you reach a certain population.
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so it creates a territorial status, which is to say that it is an area that is governed by the federal government but doesn't yet have state status. but in the northwest ordinance, when 60,000 people reside in the territory, then they can, you know, gather together and apply for statehood status. this is so unusual. and it's really contrary to, for example, the british model of colonization, because great britain created the colony of -- name your colony, virginia, but it is never going to be a part of great britain. this is permanently a colony. this is a crazy idea to envision -- for a nation made up of states to envision this kind
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of elastic western boundary, elastic number of states. jefferson here has drawn a map in which new, not yet existing states, outnumber the original 13 states of the united states. what nation would do this to itself? it is a very strange idea, right. it is a very strange idea to have woven into the fabric of the constitution a system that allows for the indefinite expansion of the nation through space and through the accretion of additional political units that have the power over time to overwhelm the original, the political units, the states that originally made up the country. >> i just have a question about the expansion part. what did, like, france or spain or great britain think of this map? because this is very clearly
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incorporates territories that they supposedly claim and had claim to in the northwest or in the southwest, down there. >> well, that is right. and it became -- the united states had to worry a lot about the hostility of foreign powers in the early decades of its existence. and even in the territories by then had been ceded by the treaty of paris in 1783, britain continued to -- it never gave up its western posts in the great lakes region and it continued to harass or encourage native allies to harass settlement, the war of 1812 is a kind of a -- a british assault on american sovereignty on multiple fronts at once. and similarly in the southeast, spain in particular, challenges american sovereignty over the american southeast and erin burr
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and various other people considered conspiring. actually, a lot of people who settled in kentucky and tennessee spent some time -- people like john severe in kentucky spent some time thinking about whether a spanish -- an alliance with spain would serve them better than an alliance with the united states. so the united states had a real problem. this map is envisioning a system that will encourage the rapid occupation and settlement of a gigantic new area of land. as people take up the challenge or the promise of that possibility, there is very good possibility that the united states would not be the kind of super intending power that would best serve their interests. and there's a period in the early -- in the early republic when a lot of people in the
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southwest were more interested in or as interested in spain as a possible ally as they were in the united states. >> wasn't the oregon territory -- i may be overstepping the bounds of this class, but wasn't the oregon territory split between britain and the united states for a good, long time? >> the oregon country was split, and there was -- you know, it's not resolved until the -- it's not clear until the 1840s that that boundary would be resolved with -- without a fight. but, originally, the dividing line between u.s. and british claims in oregon was fuzzy, just because the -- you know, the treaty of paris didn't really draw the line that far, that far out. well, this territorial system, i want to just stress, you know, this is a very -- a very radical
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system. this is a radical thing. there is no real clear precedent for a nation inventing a system for, you know, occupying new territory in this way. and the idea that new states would be admitted on equal footing as old states, i think is particularly striking. ultimately, what you see in these provisions is the creation of an elastic nation. here is a map, you know, that shows the northwest territory as ultimately created in 1787. you know, this is a map that stands. in 1787, 1787, this was an act of the second continental congress.
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this is before the constitution had even been drafted, so this is at a point where the united states is still, you know, kind of an infant, ill-defined nation. yet, this map stands as an open invitation to people interested in westward expansion, to moving onto new lands on easy terms. this is kind of an open invitation, that the united states is somehow going to oversee and guarantee that process. the idea of a kind of uniform public system of land distribution was partly -- was partly undermined by the -- a more complicated set of arrangements in the revolutionary period. in an ideal sense, jefferson thought it would be great to have this sort of blank slate,
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where you could ensure some kind of open public access. but, in fact, there were -- congress had all kinds of reasons to favor and support other kinds of purchases. particularly because congress needed money and was always willing to take shortcuts with western lands. and so at the same time that it was, you know, inventing the territorial system, it was also proceeding with other kinds of private sales. for example, in 1787, it sold 5 million acres of land to the ohio company of new england. this was a company that was made up of former officers of the continental army. this 5 million acres became the original core, the core settlements of the new state of ohio. that group subcontracted a sale of about 1 million acres to a second company, the scioto
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company. congress sold 300,000 acres to john cleves symmes in 1788. and at the same time, connecticut was claiming lands that resulted in a so-called western reserve of 3.36 million acres. so the point of this is to say that even at the same time that congress was trying to map out this uniform system, it was also sowing confusion in various ways by allowing other groups to purchase or claim lands on their own terms. and then there was the problem of officers warrants from the revolution, which also gave continental army officers a claim to western lands. and state officers, as well. so that results in the creation
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of the virginia military district, a 4.2 million acres, and the u.s. military district of 2.5 million acres. so it's interesting. we think of the northwest ordinance as being a clear and clean set of provisions about how western lands are going to be occupied. but at the very same time that congress is formulating that policy, it is also hastily disposing of gigantic parcels on different terms in the west. and so in the fall of 1787, congress also auctioned off 73,000 acres in the first federal range under the terms of the northwest ordinance. and so all of this stuff is going forward together at the same time.
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resulting in a map of, you know -- ohio did not yet exist at this point, but this is a map of the modern state of ohio that shows all of these things laid out in relation to each other. the ohio company purchase. the u.s. and virginia military districts. the symmes purchase. the connecticut western reserve. and the seven ranges that were being surveyed under the terms of the northwest ordinance. this is a kind of really complicated and chaotic system, and, by the way, every inch of that ground was claimed by some combination of native peoples who still had legitimate claim to control that land. so what this meant, because the united states was so enthusiastic about western lands, it was proceeding on all of these fronts at once because it desperately needed the money that western land could produce.
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this meant it had to deal hastily and expeditiously with a very large and complex native population that occupied the ohio country. as i said, believe they had won whatever battles were fought in the course of the revolution. the united states implemented what can be described as sham treaties. we often say, you know, indians were cheated in the treaty making process. the truth is, different treaties have different stories. some of them were very, you know, legitimate enterprises, but this was a series of sham treaties. in most cases, the united states did not have legitimate representatives of the indian nations that they were trying to deal with. there was liquor involved. there was coercion involved. the first of those treaties was the treaty of fort stanwix. that was right after the treaty of paris. representatives of the
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continental congress raced off to upstate new york, trying to get there before the other representatives. the treaty is one of the treaties in which the native representatives present explicitly said that they did not have the authority to sign any binding document. but the united states presented them with the doctrine that they had been defeated as a result of the british defeat, and insisted that they ceda all of their claims to hands in the ohio country. and they got a document that was signed, to it was contested by the iraquoix from the beginning. the delaware and the treaty of fort finney in 1786, dealing with the shawnees. ultimately, congress came to recognize that these treaties
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were all so problematic, they tried to organize a single treaty meeting in 1789 that would bring together representatives of all the ohio indians in one mass gathering. again, the united states walked away with a signed document. but from the perspective of the native americans that attended, it was completely chaotic and undeterminative. again, they contested the outcome. so in that context with those failed treaties in the background, from 1787 until 1794, the united states was back at war with the ohio indians. this was a war that really was the first military undertaking of the new united states army. the first function of the u.s. army was to try to defeat this coalition of ohio indians, which the united states had failed to
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bargain with in the form of treaties, and which the united states really needed to get out of the way if it was going to proceed with its western land enterprise. arthur st. claire was the first commander of american forces in the ohio country. he did not do very well. in 1789 and 1791, he suffered major defeats. he was succeeded in his command by anthony wayne, so-called mad anthony wayne, who had more success. and finally defeated in a fairly decisive fashion the ohio coalition at the battle of fallen timbers in 1794. after that battle, the ohio indians signed the treaty of greenville to bring an end to the conflict. agreed to sign away some of their lands.
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so the treaty of greenville is the first treaty in the ohio country that was the product not of negotiation but of warfare. and the ohio coalition agreed to sign away a big chunk of -- a big chunk of the modern state of ohio and also part of indiana. so you can see that the result of this warfare was to basically give -- allow the united states to claim control of most of the territories that we just talked about, that they had, in effect, already arranged for the sale and settlement of. this pattern of, you know, really rapid westward expansion,
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without regard for native territorial claims and in a process that really accelerated violence between the united states and native americans and the kind of rapid dispossession of native lands, this, you know, series of experiences in the 1780s and 1790s really, in many ways, sets the pattern that the united states follows for a really long period of time to come, right? because the u.s. very soon comes to believe not only that it would be really great to settle everything east of the mississippi but, in fact, that this was a nation with a continental destiny, right? a manifest destiny to overspread the continent. that was a doctrine, the doctrine of manifest destiny, that worked very hard on the interest of native peoples throughout north america. >> did the u.s. look at this as an effective way of dealing with the native americans? they continued to do it until the industrial revolution, right?
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>> yeah. i mean, it's a good question. did the u.s. think this was an effective way to deal with the native americans? i think they thought it was the only way to deal with native americans. because of the fact that it was -- the u.s. was invested in such a rapid form of territorial expansion that it could not really take native claims to territory seriously. and the flip side of this story is the story of, you know, not only warfare against indians and sham treaties, but also the fact that the united states chose to perpetuate doctrines, that native americans didn't really own the land. that european claims superseded native american claims, right? that's the famous discovery doctrine, right? so european crowns from the 16th
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century forward would say, for example, you could divide up north america between france, britain, and spain, based on who discovered what. the presence of native americans was only incidental. it would have been possible for the united states in the era of all men are created equal, to say, you know what, that discovery doctrine is pretty problematic. and we really ought to think about putting people already on the ground on different footing the claims on a different footing and treating them more fairly, more respectfully. but that's not the doctrine that evolved in the united states. instead, the doctrine that evolved in the united states, the marshall court in the 1820s and '30s explicitly says in a couple of important treaty documents, explicitly says that that european doctrine of discovery remains in force.
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it's funny because marshall in, you know, sometimes almost sounds bemused by this doctrine. he says, this is the way it's always been done and this is the way we're still doing it. the two famous cases, which still get cited all the time in this context are -- johnson v mcintosh, decided in 1823. here, for the first time, chief justice john marshall explicitly says the discovery doctrine that european crowns used in earlier centuries is still the doctrine that holds today. and he described the people as perpetual inhabitants with rights and goes on to justify that description by saying they were an inferior race of people without the privilege of citizens and under the perpetual protection of the government.
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in order to justify the perpetuation of this discovery doctrine, he also needs to characterize them as racially distinct and inferior in american law. and the same kind of ideas further articulated in the cherokee nation v georgia case, in 1831, where marshall coined the phrase "domestic dependant nations" to describe the legal status of indians. which is a weird phrase. domestic dependence. unclear how you can be a nation but also dependent. nation implies sovereignty, but domestic and dependent imply no sovereignty. in fact, the contradiction inherent in that phrase is really at the heart of the legal status of the modern reservation system that continues to govern
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the relationship between indian tribes and the united states. so, yeah. it's an interesting -- so when we step back from this and think about, you know, return to the question of, what did the american revolution mean for native americans, was the american revolution revolutionary for native americans? no, not really. i mean, in terms of doctrine, it was the opposite. it explicitly perpetuated a doctrine that regarded them as, you know, less than legitimate claimants to territory. it was revolutionary only in the sense that it put into place a set of mechanisms for national expansion that dramatically accelerated the, you know, means by which they could be dispossessed, through violence, through treaty making, through a kind of expansion that ignored the legitimacy of native claims. any other questions, thoughts
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before we finish for today? >> domestic dependent nations. we talked about this a lot in one of my classes in high school. about how colonists would arm the natives with weaponry. they would, like, learn to hunt with rifles and through this use, they would depend on the colonists for gun powder. i think it describes the dependent nations very well. >> that idea of dependency, that has to do with the idea that native communities relied on european manufacturers, is a concept that anthropologists and historians have developed.
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i think, though, in this case, what marshall meant by dependent was not dependent on european manufacturers. i think he means dependent on american law. that is to say, they're not independent. they can't run their own affairs. they're dependent in the sense that, ultimately, what the united states says goes, right? so if you think about the reservation system, it's still true, right? they have certain, limited autonomy within the system, but they are dependent on the united states. they cannot act independently as nations. that idea of, you know, domestic dependent nations is, you know -- it's still the way, you know, native american tribes -- that's the official federal term -- it's still the way that native american tribes operate
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in relation to the united states. all right. i think that's everything for today.independence. he reviews each line and explores what the founding fathers may have intended by their word choices.


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