American Revolutionary War and Its Impact on the West
How did the Revolutionary War impact the West?
George Rogers Clark was an American general in the Revolutionary War whose military successes against American Indians and the British in the Ohio River Valley are credited as a major factor in treaty negotiations that established the original boundaries of the United States.
By a treaty between the French and British that ended the French and Indian War in 1763, the British agreed to prohibit American settlers from crossing the Allegheny Mountains to settle in the Ohio River Valley. It had little impact on settlers, however, as colonists began arriving to stake claims to live there or hold them as speculators.
George Rogers Clark
Born in 1752, George Rogers Clark was the second of 10 children, including his younger brother William, who was a leader of the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the Missouri River in 1804. In his late teens, George learned surveying from his grandfather. At age 20, Clark led a survey expedition into Kentucky, relocated his family there and became a local leader as a guide for fellow Virginia arrivals.
American Indians who lived in the region resented and resisted the intrusion into their hunting lands. Frontier conflicts occurred when Shawnee, Mingo and Delaware tribes pushed back against growing numbers of settlers. Governor Dunsmore of Virginia raised a force against the Shawnee and drove them into central Ohio.
When the American Revolution began in 1776, Clark secured a commission from Virginia to raise an army and march against British forts and their American Indian allies. He routed the British from several small forts and earned a reputation as a successful American Indian fighter. The British launched a counter campaign later in the war and temporarily reclaimed some outposts, but Clark countered with an offensive that captured the British commander. Clark also continued to engage American Indians in battle and drive them westward in combat in order to make the territory safe for American settlers.
Clark's Impact on the West
His successes established an American military presence in the region. When the Treaty of Paris in 1783 officially ended the Revolution, the United States successfully claimed the territory from the Alleghenies to the Mississippi River in part pointing to Clark’s successful "occupation." American Indians were never included in those treaty discussions. In recognition of his military achievements, Clark was named as a principal surveyor of the region and was consulted on American Indian affairs, because he had shown an ability to fight and kill American Indians and colonize their land.
How did the war in the West influence the outcome of the Revolution?
- Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington about George Rogers Clark and the Illinois Expedition, June 17, 1779 (Document)
- Treaty of Paris, 1783 (Document)
- Boundaries of the United States according to the 1783 Treaty of Paris, 1784 (Map)
- Excerpt from Benjamin Franklin's Memoir about Peace Negotiations, 1818-1819 (Document)
What leadership skills did military leaders like George Rogers Clark exhibit during the Revolutionary War that led to military and diplomatic successes?
- Letter from Patrick Henry to Virginia Delegates in Congress, November 14, 1778 (Document)
- Letter from George Rogers Clark to Patrick Henry, April 29, 1779 (Document)
- Letter from George Rogers Clark to George Mason, November 19, 1779 (Document)
- Part I: "Some Account of the Achievements of the Celebrated Virginian Hero, George Rogers Clark, in the Western Country," March 30, 1816 (Document)
- Part II: "Some Account of the Achievements of the Celebrated Virginian Hero, George Rogers Clark, in the Western Country," March 30, 1816 (Document)
How is the success of Americans in the West during the Revolution related to the acquisition of land?
- British and French Dominions of North America, 1763 (Map)
- United States of America, 1783 (Map)
- Louisiana Purchase, 1805 (Map)
- Settled Part of Wisconsin Territory, 1838 (Map)
|American Revolutionary War and Its Impact on the West Teaching Guide|
|Printable Image and Document Guide|
Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington about George Rogers Clark and the Illinois Expedition, June 17, 1779
Treaty of Paris, 1783
Boundaries of the United States according to the 1783 Treaty of Paris, 1784
Excerpt from Benjamin Franklin's Memoir about Peace Negotiations, 1818-1819
Letter from Patrick Henry to Virginia Delegates in Congress, November 14, 1778
Letter from George Rogers Clark to Patrick Henry, April 29, 1779
Letter from George Rogers Clark to George Mason, November 19, 1779
Part I: "Some Account of the Achievements of the Celebrated Virginian Hero, George Rogers Clark, in the Western Country," March 30, 1816
Part II: "Some Account of the Achievements of the Celebrated Virginian Hero, George Rogers Clark, in the Western Country," March 30, 1816
British and French Dominions of North America, 1763
United States of America, 1783
Louisiana Purchase, 1805
Settled Part of Wisconsin Territory, 1838
- George Rogers Clark: "I Glory in War" by William R. Nester
This 2012 biography tells the story of George Rogers Clark (1752–1818), who led four victorious campaigns in the Ohio Valley during the American Revolution. Author William R. Nester resurrects the story of Clark's triumphs and failures.
- George Rogers Clark and the War in the West by Lowell H. Harrison
This biography about George Rogers Clark focuses on how he was one of the few people who saw the importance of the West as part of the American Revolutionary War effort as a whole, and he persuaded Virginia's government to lend support to his efforts.
- "The Old Northwest Under British Control, 1763-1783" and "Indiana A Part of the Old Northwest, 1783-1800" by George W. Geib
These chapters are featured in the 1987 book, "Indiana: A Handbook for U. S. History Teachers," which encourages more effective state citizenship through the teaching of state history. Attention is given to geographical factors, politics, government, social and economic changes and cultural development.
- "General Clark — Hannibal of the West" by L.M. Grimes
This 1949 article from The Annals of Iowa focuses on the military feats of George Rogers Clark during the American Revolutionary War.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (8th Grade)
Listed below are the Iowa Core Social Studies content anchor standards that are best reflected in this source set. The content standards applied to this set are elementary-age level and encompass the key disciplines that make up social studies for eighth-grade students.
No. Standard Description SS.8.18. Explain how the physical and human characteristics of places and regions influence culture. SS.8.20. Explain how global interconnections influenced early American history. SS.8.21. Analyze connections among early American historical events and developments in broader historical contexts. SS.8.23. Explain multiple causes and effects of events and developments in early American history.