Ohio History Journal

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews



Ohio in the American Revolution: A Conference to Commemorate the 200th

Anniversary of the Ft. Gower Resolves. Edited by Thomas H. Smith. Volume

I of The Ohio American Revolution Bicentennial Conference Series.

(Columbus: The Ohio Historical Society, 1976. 34p.; illustrations. $2.00.)


Though not one of the thirteen original colonies, the Ohio country did play a

role in the revolutionary events that the American people have been

commemorating during the bicentennial. During the decade before war broke

out, the Ohio-Kentucky region was the chief dream of seaboard land

speculators, a cause of considerable inter-colonial rivalry, and a matter of

concern to every British minister from Grenville to North. Though not a general

cause of colonial discontent, British policy on the colonial West did irritate some

very influential Pennsylvania and Virginia politicians. During the war, Ohio lay

athwart the main routes between the British post at Detroit and the American

position at Fort Pitt. Though the essay by Dr. Otis Rice touches upon Ohio as a

battlefield during the War for Independence, this pamphlet, Ohio in the

American Revolution, is largely limited to that chapter in land speculation

known as Lord Dunmore's War against the Shawnee Indians in 1774. Several

things happened during that short war: an inconclusive battle between the

Shawnee and the southern wing of Dunmore's force fought at Point Pleasant on

October 10, 1774; Dunmore's invasion of the Scioto country and his imposition

of the Treaty of Camp Charlotte upon the Shawnees; the building of a rude

fortification, Fort Gower, at the mouth of the Hocking River; and the drafting of

the Fort Gower Resolves by a group of Dunmore's officers. On November 24,

1974, the Ohio American Revolution Bicentennial Commission sponsored a

scholarly conference to investigate the significance of these events. This

pamphlet prints the six papers read at Ohio University, site of the conference,

and a brief introduction by the editor.

Rice's paper provides a summary of the competing interests of Pennsylvania

and Virginia speculators in the Ohio country, as well as a narrative of the warfare

in that region. The British superintendents of Indian affairs had negotiated

treaties with the Cherokees and the Six Nations, but not with the Shawnee who

considered the Scioto area as homeland and Kentucky as hunting ground. Rice

suggests that Dunmore's aim was to secure for Virginia the lands south of the

Ohio River. But Fort Pitt was his point of departure, and much of his own

campaign was in Ohio-facts that further alarmed Pennsylvania jealousies. In a

sketch of Dunmore himself, John W. Shy describes a temperamental, violent,

flamboyant, greedy governor who had been disliked in New York and shortly

was to be cordially hated in Virginia. Though his campaign may have been

motivated partly by his desire to carve out a personal domain in the West, it was

supported by the whole colony, including such prominent speculators as George

Washington. These and most of the other papers in this volume say little of the

hapless Indians who stood in the path of this remorseless land-hunger of the

colonists. James O'Donnell provides a corrective to this in his paper, "The

Native American Crisis in the Ohio Country, 1774-1783." He outlines the

ruthless cheating of the Indian by traders, and suggests that many whites on the

frontier favored the wiping out of Indian tribes. The alternative to warfare was