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"Indians and the American Revolution" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2018 10:00 p.m. PST

"The role of the American Indian during the American Revolution was a shadowy and tragic one, symbolized by Benjamin West's painting, now in the National Gallery of Art, of Colonel Guy Johnson, the British superintendent of Indian affairs in the North, and Joseph Brant, the great Mohawk warrior. It was a shadowy role, but an important one. It was shadowy not only because the Indian operated physically from the interior forests of North America and made his presence felt suddenly and violently on the seaboard settlements, but because the Indian was present also in the subconscious mind of the colonists as a central ingredient in the conflict with the Mother Country.

After a century and a half of exploration and settlement, the English colonists, in 1763, were finally masters of the coastal areas of North America. With rapidly growing populations they now turned inward away from the sea to a larger destiny. The Great War for Empire in the 1750s and 1760s had resulted in the expulsion of the French political and military presence from the interior. The powerful Indian nations who lived in the region were now unable to play one European power off against the other. Their conflicts with the English would now be conducted without benefit of European allies. The need to coordinate British power in America in the face of the French threat had led, in 1755, to the appointment of a superintendent of Indian affairs for the northern department, an office to which Sir William Johnson was appointed. In 1756 a similar superintendency for the southern colonies was established, with Sir Edmond Atkin as superintendent. The superintendents operated in subordination to the commander-in-chief of British forces in America. While not taking the conduct of Indian relations entirely out of the hands of the colonial governors and assemblies, the existence of these new colonial officers marked a significant diminution of the powers inherited and assumed by the individual English colonies…."
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