Treaty of Easton gives sides new hope for peace
This series of occasional articles is presented in conjunction with this year's Ligonier 250 Celebration and follows the Gen. John Forbes Campaign as it marched across Pennsylvania in 1758. The series is written by Burton Kummerow, author of the book, "Pennsylvania's Forbes Trail."
By mid-October 1758, Gen. John Forbes and his 6,000-man redcoat army were still struggling to cross the Allegheny Mountains.
The far outpost at Loyalhanna (Ligonier) had survived a French and Indian assault on Oct. 12. Deputy commander Col. Henry Bouquet had finally discovered a practical path over the grueling slopes of Laurel Hill. Thousands of men and miles of supply trains were slogging through the mud and rain to beat the onset of winter and reach Loyalhanna, the base camp for the final assault on French Fort Duquesne.
On the other side of Pennsylvania, 300 miles to the east, another important drama was unfolding at Easton, the frontier settlement north of Philadelphia. An Indian council, the third in as many years, had been seeking regional peace for a week.
The outdoor gathering was a spectacular display of Indian diplomacy. Five hundred Indians were there to meet with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey governors.
The 13 nations in attendance included the Iroquois, who sent three important leaders to guarantee their continued domination of the whole region. One of their vexations was Teedyuscung. The flamboyant eastern Delaware headman had declared himself king of the Indian nations and had signed a separate peace treaty with Pennsylvania.
The meeting began with solemn ceremonies honoring the dead and cleansing the diplomats of bad spirits after their long journeys through the forest. Long speeches, punctuated with strings of wampum, and even longer pauses for reflection followed. The slow-moving proceedings were going nowhere.
Given to bouts of heavy drinking, Teedyuscung responded badly to diplomatic pressures at the conference. The Iroquois wanted the erratic upstart put in his place. Pennsylvania wanted his claims to more land, reserved for the Delawares, to go away. His Quaker supporter, Israel Pemberton, was now focused on peace with all Indian nations, if necessary at Teedyuscung's expense.
As the next week unfolded, a drunken, quarrelsome Teedyuscung embarrassed himself in front of the whole gathering. He told the Iroquois leaders they were fools and everyone else that he was king of the world.
William Denny, the irascible Pennsylvania governor, had little patience for the shenanigans.
Teedyuscung, rapidly losing his influence, was forced to apologize, calling himself a "bird on a bough." He confessed that "I look about and do not know where to go; let me ... come down upon the ground."
The confusion continued until the Western Delaware leader Pisquetomen, followed later by envoy Christian Frederick Post, rode in from the back country to break the impasse. They brought welcome word that Western Indians were willing to stop fighting the British if settlers stayed off their ancestral hunting lands.
An important bargain, known as the Treaty of Easton, was struck during the next five days. The Iroquois were given back large tracts of frontier land ceded to Pennsylvania for settlement a few years earlier. Denny rekindled a generations-old council fire, agreeing to again talk directly to the Delawares without Iroquois interference. With new hope that the treaty would end years of bitter fighting, the council ended Oct. 26 after the necessary feasting was held and wagonloads of gifts dispersed among the 13 attending Indian nations.
Now the burden again was on Post and his unlikely ally and protector Pisquetomen. They left immediately, carrying the treaty on another punishing ride across Pennsylvania, this time using the newly cut Forbes Road.
Post found the new road "one of the worst that was ever traveled." Pisquetomen, the recent brutal raider of frontier settlements, was recognized and harassed by settlers. But, just 13 days after leaving Easton, the small party was delivering the good news to Forbes, now finally at Loyalhanna.
A short time later, the exhausted but hopeful travelers were again finding their way to the Western Delaware villages. Stopping on the way, Post shared a letter with a pleased Pisquetomen from Forbes to the Indian nations: "The ancient friendship is renewed with our brethren, and fixed on a firmer foundation than ever. ... I write to you as a warrior should ... with candor and love."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NWS: Heavy rain coming our way this afternoon
- Steelers’ Pouncey investigated in alleged assault
- Senate leader Reid steers push to turn Nevada into renewable energy mecca
- McCutchen homers twice in Pirates’ extra-inning win
- Pirates’ McCutchen might be National League’s most cost-effective star
- As suicides spike, new Pa. law to start prevention efforts in 6th grade
- Pirates notebook: Similarity found in Alvarez throwing errors
- LaBar: Kurt Angle preparing for WWE return
- Despite challenges, ride-sharing operations flourish
- Love for shoes an ‘affair that never ends’
- Many college freshmen need remedial work, often delaying graduation, increasing costs