: This black-and-white illustration portrays the death of Richard Butler (1743-1791), frontiersman and military leader, on November 4, 1791, during the Battle of the Wabash (also known as St. Clair’s Defeat). It comes from an engraving in "History of the Discovery of America," written by Henry Trumbull and first published in 1811. The uniformed Butler is reclining against a tree, his right hand raised in supplication or in self-defense, as an American Indian man armed with a tomahawk approaches.
Butler was born in Dublin, Ireland, and at age five came to North America with his father. They settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Richard Butler had a long career in the military, serving an ensign in Bouquet's Expedition in 1764 and an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He participated in the Battle of Saratoga and eventually attained the rank of brigadier-general. In 1783 the Confederation Congress appointed him to be an Indian commissioner. He helped to negotiate a treaty with the Iroquois tribe, determining their western boundary with the United States.
In 1785 the Confederation Congress sent George Rogers Clark, Arthur Lee, and Butler to the Ohio Country to negotiate a treaty with the Delaware, the Wyandot, the Ottawa, and the Chippewa. Treaty negotiations took place at Fort McIntosh. Most of the tribal representatives were younger chiefs who did not have the legal authority to negotiate a treaty; despite this, American commissioners pressed for a treaty. After several weeks of negotiations and the consumption of a lot of alcohol provided by the Americans, the American Indians signed the Treaty of Fort McIntosh on January 21, 1785. Tribal leaders agreed that they lived under the American government and could not form alliances with any other powers. They were forced to relinquish their lands in southern and eastern Ohio, and were confined to the western corner of modern-day Ohio. Many American Indians rejected the treaty. The Shawnee were especially opposed to the treaty because they lost claim to all of their lands in southwestern Ohio.
Later that year, the Confederation Congress sent Butler and Samuel Holden Parsons to negotiate a new treaty with the Shawnee. The negotiations took place at Fort Finney near what is now Cincinnati. The Shawnee refused to give up their land, but Butler and Parsons threatened them with attack. Shawnee chiefs, fearing the power of the American military, agreed to the Treaty of Fort Finney on February 1, 1786. The Shawnee agreed to relinquish all claims to their land in southwestern Ohio and southern Indiana, and would move to the land set aside for them in the Treaty of Fort McIntosh. The Americans also promised to keep white squatters from settling on land reserved exclusively for the tribes.
Butler spent the remainder of the 1780s as the superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern District of America. He also served in the Pennsylvania legislature. Butler was killed during St. Clair's Defeat, a major confrontation between the U.S. military and a large alliance of American Indians, led by Shawnee chief Weyapiersenwah (Blue Jacket) and Miami chief Mishikinakwa (Little Turtle). View on Ohio Memory.
: AL06995 Subjects
: Butler, Richard, 1743-1791; Kekionga, Battle of, Ohio, 1791; American Revolutionary War, 1775-1783; American Indians--Warfare Places
: Ohio; Northwest Territory