Ohio History Journal

Address of Governor McKinley

Address of Governor McKinley.          207







(INTRODUCTION BY J. R. KNOX: - The people of Ohio like

to see their Governor, the soldiers of the army like to see their

old comrade, everybody wants to see McKinley, and I have the

pleasure now, fellow citizens, of presenting to you Governor Mc-

Kinley of Ohio, who will now address you.)


Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Your president has said that the people of Ohio want to see

the Governor of their state. I heartily reciprocate that feeling

when I say that the Governor of Ohio wants to see the people of

Ohio. It affords me special pleasure, to be present and rejoice

with you here to-day. It is pleasant, not only to meet on this

historic ground and occasion, but both a privilege and pleasure

to have the opportunity to attest my respect and veneration for

the brave men and noble women who were the pioneer settlers

of Ohio and of the great Northwest. It is not too eulogistic for

us to claim that no better or purer people ever laid the founda-

tions of society and government at any other time or place in

all the world's history. Certainly the record of the pioneers of

Ohio from 1788 to 1803 is a broad heritage, a priceless legacy,

for any commonwealth to enjoy. Seldom has a great community

been established under circumstances more adverse, nor with

greater cost in blood and suffering, privation and toil, than at-

tended the erection of the state of Ohio in what was then a sav-

age and unbroken wilderness from the river to the lake. It is

fitting that we should rejoice that it is now so great and so pros-

perous and everywhere celebrated as perhaps the fairest and most

beautiful land anywhere to be found in our majestic common


But not to us of the present day is the praise and gratitude

due, but to the grand men of that historic age, which produced

a Washington, a Wayne, a St. Clair, a Putnam, a Cutler, a

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Symmes, a Worthington, a Tiffin and a Meigs, and the hosts of

other illustrious patriots whose name and fame are indissolubly

linked with the history of Ohio and their common country. No

lack, my fellow-citizens, was in our primal stock, no weakling

founders builded there. They were the men of Plymouth Rock,

the Puritan, and the Cavalier. To them let us give the honor

and tribute for the courage and sacrifice which made us all we

are to-day.

The centennial anniversary we meet to celebrate is of far

more than local or mere state interest. If we may judge events

by their subsequent results, we can heartily agree with the his-

torians that the signing of the treaty of peace at Greenville on

August 3rd, 1795, was the most important event necessary to per-

manent settlement and occupation in the existence of the whole

Northwest territory. Indeed, its good effects far outstretched

even the boundaries of that great domain. The campaign which

preceded it is justly said by Atwater in his clean history of Ohio

to have subdued the whole Indian territory from Florida to the

northern lakes. The power of the savages to stop the onward

march of civilization was broken, and the soil of Ohio was prac-

tically free from Indian outbreaks and outrages, from which the

struggling settlements had severely suffered for more than seven

years. It is, my countrymen, at this remote period difficult to

conceive the unprotected state of the frontiersmen a century ago.

We too little appreciate their sacrifices. From the first settle-

ment at Marietta until Wayne's great victory there was not a day

and scarce an hour when the few white inhabitants over a wide

region of the wilderness were not in constant danger of massacre

by the Indians. They intercepted almost every boat that passed

up the Ohio river. They picked off the few farmers who ven-

tured to attempt to level the forests or cultivate the soil beyond

the close proximity of the block house, and emboldened by their

success, frequently attacked the garrisons themselves. They

were constantly inspired to attack the Americans, not only by

the Indians themselves and their principal chiefs, but by almost

equally cruel and vindictive British and Canadian officers of De-

troit, and at other lake posts still occupied by them. So numer-

ous were these affrays and massacres and murders that it is as-

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Address of Governor McKinley.           209

sumed by one writer that twenty thousand men, women and chil-

dren were killed by the Indians before they finally abandoned the

attempt to prevent the occupation of Ohio by the white people.

They had viewed the coming of the whites from the first

with distrust, but it was not until 1790 that the lurking dangers

had become so great, from the constant watchfulness and treach-

erous attacks of the Indians, that literally a reign of terror pos-

sessed all the settlements. In September, 1790, General Josiah

Harmar, then chief lieutenant of the United States Army, made

a raid into the Indian country, as the whole territory northwest of

the Ohio was then properly called. This expedition was unsuc-

cessful and also resulted in the annihilation of his command.

So terrible were the perils to which the people of the frontier

were now exposed that they attracted the attention of the whole

country, of Congress and the President. President Washington

had in person witnessed all the horrors of savage warfare, and

persuaded Congress in 1791 to authorize him to raise a regiment

of regulars and two of volunteers for a campaign of six months

against the Indians. The command of this army was intrusted

to General Arthur St. Clair, the Governor of the Northwest terri-

tory, and late in October, 1791, he advanced with a large force

upon the hostile savages whose principal villages were upon the

Miami and Wabash rivers. The army had reached a point about

twenty-three miles north of this city in its toilsome march

through the wilderness, when it was surprised by a large body

of Indians and routed with great loss and confusion. More than

half the army was killed or captured. The engagement occurred

November 4th, 1791, and the horde of victorious Indians was led

by the noted chiefs Blue Jacket and Little Turtle, and Girty, the

renegade. The shattered remains of St. Clair's army retreated

to the walls of Fort Jefferson, or to within about fifty miles of

the present city of Hamilton. Nearly half the settlers of the ter-

ritory had entered upon this fatal campaign, and so terrible was

the loss and panic attending the defeat that all the settlements

of the Miami country, except those in the immediate vicinity of

the forts, were almost entirely abandoned. Many of the retreat-

ing soldiers continued their flight into Kentucky, and it is said

that the Indians were so emboldened by their great victory that

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they even ventured by night into the streets of Cincinnati to spy

out the exposure of the town and the best points from which to

make an attack upon Fort Washington.

The situation of the frontier was critical in the extreme, but

it was nearly a year before the national government took any de-

cisive measures for the punishment of the Indians. Meanwhile,

constant attacks were made upon them with varying success

whenever opportunity presented. Negotiations for peace were

attempted time and time again, but all failed. Negotiations for

peace were again attempted by a commission appointed by the

President, consisting of Benjamin Lincoln, Beverly Randolph

and Timothy Pickering, but the hostile savages could not be

brought to satisfactory terms. Further military operations and

expeditions into the Indian country were attempted by Colonel

Wilkinson and General Charles Scott, who rendered excellent

services in the western frontier wars. These were not entirely

without success, but they gave no permanent relief to the imper-

iled settlements. The people of the country were weary of the

distress and bloody massacres of the Ohio Valley, and yet a few

opposed further preparations for the prosecution of the war upon

the Indians. Indeed, so disheartened was the country that it

was even proposed by a few timid members of Congress to aban-

don the whole of the Northwest territory and make the Ohio

river the northern bounds of the United States. What an inex-

cusable and criminal blunder this would have been. In these

fears, however, President Washington fortunately did not share,

and the national government gradually began gathering men and

supplies for a new expedition into the Miami country. The rep-

utation of the nation was at stake and a third defeat could not

be contemplated or permitted.

On April 17th, 1792, General Anthony Wayne was ap-

pointed by Washington to command this expedition. He was

then the Commander-in-chief of all the armies of the United

States, and enjoyed not only great reputation as a soldier, but

the confidence of the country as a brave and fearless and ener-

getic man. In a hasty and necessarily very imperfect sketch

like this his heroic services and fame in the Revolution can only

be mentioned. One of his biographers happily describes him as

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a "born soldier," and says that such was his aptitude and dili-

gence that in six weeks after the fight at Lexington and Con-

cord he had organized the volunteers of Chester county so per-

fectly that they had more the appearance of a veteran than of a

militia regiment. With this command he accompanied General

Sullivan in his ill-fated expedition to Canada in 1776, and, al-

though wounded, effected the retreat that saved the American

army both from capture and serious loss. At Brandywine he

commanded a brigade, and at Germantown he led a division in

the thickest fight, receiving two wounds and a horse killed under

him. At Monmouth his conduct was marked with particular ap-

proval by Washington, while his capture of Stony Point in 1779

was one of the most brilliant exploits of the Revolution. At the

commencement of the attack Wayne was struck on the head by a

musket ball and sank to the ground. Instantly recovering him-

self, he arose on one knee and exclaimed, "March on! carry me

into the fort, I will die at the head of this column." For this he

received the thanks of, and a gold medal from, the Congress of the

United States. His attack upon Fort Lee in 1780 was equally

brave but not so fortunate; while in 1781 he rendered the most

important service in quelling a revolt against the Pennsylvania

troops to the great advantage of the country and the entire satis-

faction of the discouraged troops. At Green Springs, Virginia,

he was again wounded, but succeeded by his splendid tactics in

frustrating Cornwallis and saving La Fayette's army. He was

actively engaged in the investment and capture of Yorktown.

Toward the close of revolutionary days he was again in active

command, and was soon after sent to Georgia to re-establish the

supremacy of the United States there. He completely defeated

the British, the Tories, and the Indians, and compelled them to

retire to and within the garrison at Savannah. For this great

service the state of Georgia subsequently made him a large grant

of land, upon which he went to live in 1789. He had the su-

preme satisfaction of receiving the capitulations of the British

garrisons both at Savannah and Charleston; and was made Ma-

jor-General in 1793, at a time when sickness compelled him to

retire temporarily from the army, but not until after hostilities

had entirely ceased.

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In civil life he was a member of the council of the govern-

ment of Pennsylvania, and was also elected to the convention

which framed the constitution of that state. When he returned

to Georgia he was elected to Congress in 1790, but his seat was

contested and at last declared vacant. Disgusted with politics,

he returned to the army with greater zeal and ardor than ever,

determined at all hazards to achieve complete success.

Instead of proceeding precipitately into this disturbed terri-

tory, he spent nearly a year in collecting and drilling his men.

Meanwhile the commissioners of the government exhausted

every effort for peace. But all such efforts were unavailing. In

September, 1793, General Wayne had so organized his army

that by rapid marches he advanced up the valley of the Great

Miami to Fort Jefferson and thence proceeded to establish a

strongly fortified camp for the winter headquarters and called

the place Greenville. From that point he advanced to the scene

of St. Clair's defeat and here built another stockade, which he

named Fort Recovery. He pushed on through the wilderness,

during the following summer, driving the Indians before him to

the junction of the Auglaize and Maumee rivers. Here he con-

structed in the very heart of the Indian country a very strong

and scientifically arranged work which he styled, in intrepidity,

Fort Defiance. The Indians had entirely failed to surprise him

and did not dare to stand before his brave and well-disciplined

troops. They vainly assailed Fort Recovery on June 30th, 1794,

with great loss and slaughter. They realized they must at last

fight one who, they were clear to see, deserved their own titles,

"The Wind," "The Tornado," and "The Warrior who never

sleeps." Having finished Fort Defiance, Wayne again pressed

forward to what are called the Rapids of the Miami and here

built Fort Wayne. His army consisted now of 2,000 regulars and

1100 riflemen under command of General Scott. On August 13th

he sent a pacific message to the Indians, urging them to come into

camp and enter a permanent and lasting peace with the United

States. They did not come. Encouraged by assurances of assist-

ance from the British, the Indians, contrary to the advice of their

chieftain, declined all these overtures. General Wayne immediately

prepared for battle and on August 20th attacked the savages almost

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within the range of the guns of the British forts. The Indian

forces amounted to fully 2,000 braves, the resistance was stub-

born, but they were at length completely routed and driven more

than two miles through the woods with great slaughter until

within pistol shot of the British garrison. Their houses, corn,

and personal effects were completely destroyed throughout the

whole country, on both sides of the Miami, for a distance of fifty

miles. General Wayne in his official report to the President said,

"The horde of savages abandoned themselves to flight, dispers-

ing with terror and shame, leaving our victorious army in full

and quiet possession of the field."

The army returned to Greenville, where it again went into

winter quarters, and here the humble and subdued Indians soon

began to arrive to ask for peace upon any terms which their re-

cent conqueror might dictate. Early in January, 1795, measures

were taken to assemble all the tribes of the Northwest to Green-

ville, and the following June the council began between General

Wayne, acting for the United States, and some 1100 chiefs, rep-

resenting the twelve principal tribes of the West. After six

weeks deliberation the treaty was signed. The Indians relin-

quished practically all control of the soil of Ohio, with certain

small and unimportant reservations along the Auglaize, St.

Marys, Sandusky and Miami rivers.

Washington was quick to recognize the importance and ex-

cellence of Wayne's services, and cordially commended them in

a public letter of thanks and in his following message to Con-

gress. Wayne visited the city of Philadelphia late in 1795, and

his entering into that city was like the conqueror triumphal.

Business was suspended and he was conducted through the

streets amidst the ringing of bells, the roaring of cannons, and

the acclamations of the grateful people. Congress, then in ses-

sion in that city, unanimously adopted resolutions highly com-

mendatory of the General and the whole army. There could not

have been a more gratifying or spontaneous outburst of public

admiration than was shown to General Wayne after the signing

of the Treaty of Greenville one hundred years ago. On every

hand Wayne was greeted as a public benefactor and a hero and

was given the most pleasant evidences of the high appreciation

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by people and government of the important services he had ren-

dered to his country.

Besides putting an end to a brutal and bloody war, waged

without respect for age or sex throughout our western territory,

his success had the effect of quieting Indian disturbances both

north and south, of opening to the civilized population the fertile

region which had been the theatre of the late hostilities, and

eventually added much greater territory equally inviting to set-

tlement and culture. A further and most useful effect was to

allay the agitated feeling at home, for the disastrous defeat of

Harmar and St. Clair had gone far to shake the confidence of

the people in the executive branch of the federal government.

Abroad Wayne's services were equally beneficial to the

United States, for they hastened the execution of the pending

negotiations with Great Britain by which the American posts, so

long and so stubbornly held by the British, were at last given up.

He was appointed sole commissioner to treat with the

Northwestern Indians. He soon returned to the West, but his

life of singular activity and usefulness was soon to come to a

close. After a prompt and faithful discharge of his new duties,

he died at or near the humble log cabin which was his home at

Presque Isle, on the shores of the lake, now Erie, Pennsylvania,

in December, 1796, at the comparatively young age of fifty-two.

His last request was that of a soldier. He asked that his remains

be buried under the flag staff of the old fort at Erie. Here they

remained until 1809, when they were conveyed to Chester county

and buried with all the honors of war by his late companions in

arms, The Pennsylvania State Society of the Cincinnati.

Wayne, my fellow citizens, was in every way a most remark-

able soldier. To my mind he was more like the dashing Phil.

Sheridan than any other great military chieftain in our history.

He was called Mad Anthony, not on account of his imprudence,

but because of his mad zeal for his country (and I wish we had

more of it now), and for his wonderful bravery in every engage-

ment. Grant said that Sheridan never needed but one command,

and that was, "to go in," and he went in and always won. Wash-

ington had the same supreme confidence in Wayne and is said

to have spoken sadly of his death in the full vigor of life, in the

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Address of Governor McKinley.          215


noontide of glory, and in the midst of a most splendid usefulness.

On the other hand, Wayne's confidence in Washington and his

obedience to him were without limitation or bound. It was this

trust and love that led the brusque old soldier once to say to

Washington, when asked by him if he would accept the com-

mand of a most perilous expedition: "If your Excellency will

plan it, I will undertake to storm hell itself." The language

was emphatic but in no sense profane, nor the expression of a

man who was deficient in respect for piety and religion. It was

simply a natural outburst of admiration for his old General, for

whom he would have cheerfully died at any time.

My fellow citizens, of such stuff true heroes are made, and

leaders that seldom fail. It is said that on the morning of the

battle of Fallen Timbers William Henry Harrison, of the staff of

General Wayne, said to his commander, "General Wayne, I am

afraid you will go into this battle and forget to give me the neces-

sary field orders." "Perhaps I may," General Wayne replied,

"but if I do, recollect the standing order of the day is to charge

all the rascals with the bayonet."

As characteristic of this illustrious soldier, I want specially

to call your attention to the correspondence which passed be-

tween him and the commander of the British post on the banks

of the Maumee one hundred years ago. Wayne's letter has the

genuine American ring. It is firm, fearless and aggressive. It

is the language of a brave man engaged in a great and holy

cause. It has the true American spirit, and I wish we had more

of it now.

"Miami River, August 21st, 1794." (I read a letter now

from the British commander to General Wayne. He says):

"Sir: The army of the United States of America said to be un-

der your command have taken post on the banks of the Miami

for upwards of the last twenty-four hours, almost within the

reach of the guns of this fort, which, being a post belonging to

his Majesty, the King of Great Britain, occupied by his Majesty's

troops, and which I have the honor to command, it becomes my

duty to inform myself as speedily as possible in what light I am

to view your making such near approach to this British garrison.

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Signed, William Campbell, commanding a British post on the

banks of the Miami."

To that letter old General Wayne replied: "I have received

your letter of this day." (He didn't wait until the next day). "I

have received your letter of this day requiring from me the mo-

tives which have moved the army under my command to the po-

sition they at present command. Without questioning the au-

thority or the propriety, sir, of your interrogatory, I think I may

without breach of decorum observe to you that, were you entitled

to an answer, the most full and satisfactory one was announced

to you from the muzzle of my gun yesterday. I have the honor

to be, sir, yours with great respect, Anthony Wayne, Major-Gen-

eral, Commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States."

To me one of the greatest benefits of the Treaty of Green-

ville has always seemed that it opened wide the gateway of op-

portunity to the free and easy settlement of the great West.

Other Indian wars and outbreaks there were, but none so for-

midable after that great treaty was signed. The immense flood

of emigrants that poured into Ohio found happy and peaceful

homes on the old hunting grounds and in the Indian villages of

the Northwest, and from them has descended a sturdy people,

whose pluck and enterprise and energy have never been surpassed

anywhere in the United States.

Mr. President, Greenville may justly congratulate herself

that she is the site where the treaty was signed, that her name

and fame are forever linked with its history. Let us keep alive

those precious memories of the past and instill into the minds of

the young the lessons of the stirring patriotism and devotion to

duty of the men who were the first to establish here the authority

of the Republic and founded on eternal principles its free and

noble institutions. The centuries may come, the centuries may

go. but their fame will survive forever on this historic ground.

The day thrills with historic interest. It is filled with stir-

ring memories, and recalls the struggles of the past for peace,

and the majesty of constitutional government. It is most fitting

to celebrate this anniversary. It marks an epoch in our civiliza-

tion. One hundred years ago Indian hostilities were suppressed

and the compact of peace concluded between the government

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Address of Governor McKinley.            217


and the Indians, which made the great Northwest the undisputed

territory of the United States, and what was once a dense wilder-

ness inhabited by barbarous tribes is now the home of a happy

and progressive people, and the center of as high an order of

civilization as is to be found anywhere in the world.

It is a great thing to make history. The men who partici-

pated in the Indian wars won victories for civilization and man-

kind. And these victories all of us are enjoying to-day. Noth-

ing, therefore, could be more appropriate than that this great

section of the country, which a century ago was the theatre of

war, should pause to celebrate the stirring events of those times

and the peace which followed, and do honor to the brave men

who participated in them.

It is a rich inheritance to any community to have in its keep-

ing historic ground. As we grow older in statehood, interest in

these historical events increases, and their frequent celebration

is calculated to promote patriotism and a spirit of devoted loyalty

to country. So many mighty events in our national history have

transpired since the signing of this treaty of peace, that in the

popular mind it does not possess that importance which it de-

serves. I am glad that you have planned this centennial cele-

bration to commemorate the event and emphasize its importance

and value. It is well to realize that it is one of the landmarks

of civilization and that it beckoned the people on to greater and

greater achievements which opened the way to progress, and its

celebration to-day is alike profitable and inspiring to every true

lover of country and its happy and peaceful homes.

We cannot have too many of these celebrations with their

impressive lessons of patriotism and sacrifice. Let us teach our

children to revere the past, for by its examples and lessons alone

can we wisely prepare them for a better and nobler future. The

city of Greenville, the people of Ohio, the people of the country.

should see to it that at no distant day a great monument shall

be erected to celebrate this great event.