Today in History: August 9
Major General Andrew Jackson, [detail],
Thomas Sully, artist,
James Barton Longacre, engraver,
Wm. H. Morgan, c 1820.
By Popular Demand: Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-present
On August 9, 1814, Major General Andrew Jackson, "Old Hickory," signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson ending the Creek War. The agreement provided for the surrender of twenty-three million acres of Creek land to the United States. This vast territory encompassed more than half of present-day Alabama and part of southern Georgia.
The war began on August 30, 1813, when a faction of Creeks known as the Red Sticks—because of their red war clubs—attacked American settlers at Fort Mims, near Lake Tensaw, Alabama, north of Mobile. This attack is considered a primary cause of the Creek War. In response, Jackson led a force of militiamen in the destruction of two Creek villages, Tallasahatchee and Talladega. On March 27, 1814, Jackson's forces destroyed the Creek defenses at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. More than 800 Creek warriors were killed defending their homeland.
Tensions between the frontier settlers and the Creeks had been brewing since the Revolutionary Era. During the years preceding the Creek War, the Continental Congress received numerous reports on the status of Indian affairs in the South. The following excerpt, from a 1787 report, identifies settler greed as a major cause of the conflict:
An avaricious disposition in some of our people to acquire large tracts of land, and often by unfair means, appears to be the principal source of difficulties with the Indians…various pretences seem to be set up by the white people for making those settlements, which the Indians, tenacious of their rights, appear to be determined to oppose.
"The committee consisting of Mr. Kearney, Mr. Carrington, Mr. Bingham, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Dane, to whom was referred the report…relative to Indian affairs in the Southern Department…," 1787.
Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789
- Search the Today in History archive on Native American and Indian to read additional features about Native Americans, including pages on the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, Jim Thorpe, Sarah Winnemucca, and Cherokee chief John Ross. Search on Andrew Jackson to learn more about his political and military career, events such as the Battle of New Orleans, his inauguration, and the nullification crisis.
- Search on Indian in Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789 to learn more about early conflicts between settlers and Native Americans.
- George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799 includes many references to Indian treaties and rights; to explore this aspect of Washington's correspondence, search the collection on Indian rights and Indian treaties.
- Primary Documents in American History links to documents on the American Revolution and The New Nation, 1763-1815, in the period before the Creek War.
- Browse by Tribe through Indian Land Cessions in the United States, 1784-1894. Click on Creek to read about the boundaries set for the Creeks and that nation's concessions to the U.S. government. This feature is part of the collection A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875.
- An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera contains the full (one-page) text of "Proposals for publishing by subscription the life of Major General Andrew Jackson, comprising a full history of the late war in the south, from the commencement of the hostilities with the Creek Indians, to the defeat of the British before New Orleans", by John Reid, Brevet Major U.S. Army, August 15, 1815.
- Among the most unique items in American Memory is a 1771 map documenting the confrontation between Native and European Americans of the middle British colonies in America. Found in Map Collections, the map documents the "antient & present seats of the Indian nations."