Treaty of Fort Jackson
The Treaty of Fort Jackson (also known as the Treaty with the Creeks, 1814) was an international treaty between the United States and the "Creek Nation" to end the Creek War. A confederation of "Upper Creeks" also called "Red Sticks", had engaged in war against the United States until they were defeated by American, Cherokee, and "Lower Creek" forces under the command of Andrew Jackson in the decisive Battle of Horseshoe Bend in what is now Tallapoosa County on March 27.
At the behest of U.S. Secretary of War John Armstrong, the general terms of the treaty were drafted by Major General Thomas Pinckney and Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins. The final negotiations took place beginning on August 1, between Jackson and Red Stick leader William Weatherford, who had surrendered himself. Most of the other Red Stick leaders had fled to Spanish Florida. The other "chiefs, deputies, and warriors" of the various tribes, actually represented the Creek National Council which had been allied with Jackson. The venue for the meetings was a new stockade built at the former Fort Toulouse near Wetumpka, Elmore County. The site had been renamed "Fort Jackson" in honor of the victorious general.
During the meetings, Jackson adopted a firm and punishing stand, fueled by resentment from the massacre at Fort Mims that had touched off the war. The land cessions he demanded to isolate the Creeks included nearly 8 million acres of territory held by those that had fought with the United States. Nevertheless, the Natives Americans had little power to object. Weatherford won little but a promise of food and clothing rations for the Native Americans forced to leave their homes and farms. Once the terms had been agreed, the treaty was signed by all parties on August 9, 1814. The Creeks nicknamed Jackson "Sharp Knife" for his unkindness.
By the terms of the treaty, the United States claimed 23 million acres of territory in Alabama (then part of the Mississippi Territory) and southern Georgia, most of which had been controlled by the Upper Creek tribes. The treaty instructed surveyors to define the boundary thus:
"Beginn at a point on the eastern bank of the Coosa river, where the south boundary line of the Cherokee nation crosses the same; running from thence down the said Coosa river with its eastern bank according to its various meanders to a point one mile above the mouth of Cedar creek, at Fort Williams, thence east two miles, thence south two miles, thence west to the eastern bank of the said Coosa river, thence down the eastern bank thereof according to its various meanders to a point opposite the upper end of the great falls, (called by the natives Woetumka,) thence east from a true meridian line to a point due north of the mouth of Ofucshee, thence south by a like meridian line to the mouth of Ofucshee on the south side of the Tallapoosa river, thence up the same, according to its various meanders, to a point where a direct course will cross the same at the distance of ten miles from the mouth thereof, thence a direct line to the mouth of Summochico creek, which empties into the Chatahouchie river on the east side thereof below the Eufaulau town, thence east from a true meridian line to a point which shall intersect the line now dividing the lands claimed by the said Creek nation from those claimed and owned by the state of Georgia."
The Creeks were required to return all property taken during the war, including slaves and horses, and to turn over any uncaptured leaders of the Red Stick forces that entered their remaining territory. They were also forbidden to have any communication with British or Spanish posts and to allow American military and trading posts, roads and river routes through their territory to be unimpeded.
In return for these cessions, the United States agreed to guarantee the integrity of the Lower Creek territory in west Georgia and east Alabama. In addition, any "chief or warrior" who had actively supported the United States during the Creek War was entitled to claim as a 1 square-mile "reserve" centered on his existing dwelling or other improvement. The reserve would be, "protected by and subject to the laws of the United States" but would be considered private property only so long as it was occupied by the grantee or his descendants and could not be sold. 30 such reserves were subsequently negotiated by Hawkins.
The text of the treaty was entered into the United States Statutes at Large in August 1814. The Treaty of Ghent, signed on December 24, 1814 by the United States and Great Britain to end the War of 1812 officially nullified the land cessations made by the Treaty of Fort Jackson by requiring the US to, "restore to British-allied Indian nations any property, rights, or privileges that stood prior to 1811". Jackson objected to that stipulation on grounds of "national security" and Congress ignored the provision entirely.
A separate agreement with the Cherokee nation signed on March 22, 1816 restored to their control some 4 million acres west of the Coosa River and south of the Tennessee River. Congress provided the method for granting the Lower Creek's small "reserves" in 1817, and a method for purchasing them back from willing sellers in 1819.
Much of the lands ceded in the Treaty of Fort Jackson were opened immediately to American settlers. Large tracts, including many in Jones Valley, were granted to Jackson's officers as farmsteads. Allied Creeks petitioned the United States for compensation for property lost during the war. Their claims, totaling around $300,000, were approved by Armstrong's War Department, but were only partially paid out. Most of the remaining Creeks in Alabama were forcibly removed after the Second Creek War in the 1830s.
In 1962, the Indian Claims Commission authorized a payment of nearly $4 million as payment for 9 million acres along the Creek-Florida border which were still disputed.
- Statutes at Large, Vol. 7, page 120
- Halbert, Henry S. & Timothy H. Ball (1895) The Creek War of 1813 and 1814. Reprinted 1995 by the University of Alabama Press
- Bunn, Mike & Clay Williams (2008) Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812. Charleston: History Press
- Waselkov, Gregory A. (2006) A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1814. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press
- Maloney, Christopher (January 11, 2017) "Treaty of Fort Jackson" Encyclopedia of Alabama - accessed July 31, 2019
- Braund, Kathryn (August 15, 2017) "Summer 1814: The Treaty of Ft. Jackson ends the Creek War" National Park Service
- "Fort Jackson Treaty" at firstpeople.us