Arthur St. Clair
|1st Governor of the Northwest Territory|
July 15, 1788 –November 22, 1802
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Charles Willing Byrd|
|7th President of the Confederation Congress|
February 2,1787 –November 4,1787
|Preceded by||Nathaniel Gorham|
|Succeeded by||Cyrus Griffin|
|Died||August 31,1818 81) (aged|
|Resting place||St. Clair Park,Greensburg|
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
Arthur St. Clair (March 23, 1737 [ O.S. 1736] – August 31, 1818) was a Scottish-American soldier and politician. Born in Thurso, Scotland, he served in the British Army during the French and Indian War before settling in Pennsylvania, where he held local office. During the American Revolutionary War, he rose to the rank of major general in the Continental Army, but lost his command after a controversial retreat from Fort Ticonderoga.
After the war, he served as President of the Continental Congress, which during his term passed the Northwest Ordinance. He was then made governor of the Northwest Territory in 1788, and then the portion that would become Ohio in 1800. In 1791, St. Clair commanded the American forces in what was the United States' worst-ever defeat by the Native Americans, which became known as St. Clair's defeat. Politically out-of-step with the Jefferson administration, he was replaced as governor in 1802.
St. Clair was born in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland. Little is known of his early life. Early biographers estimated his year of birth as 1734,but subsequent historians uncovered a birth date of March 23, 1736, which in the modern calendar system means that he was born in 1737. His parents, unknown to early biographers, were probably William Sinclair, a merchant, and Elizabeth Balfour. He reportedly attended the University of Edinburgh before being apprenticed to the renowned physician William Hunter.
In 1757, St. Clair purchased a commission in the British Army, Royal American Regiment, and came to America with Admiral Edward Boscawen's fleet for the French and Indian War. He served under General Jeffery Amherst at the capture of Louisburg, Nova Scotia, on July 26, 1758. On April 17, 1759, he received a lieutenant's commission and was assigned under the command of General James Wolfe, under whom he served at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham which resulted in the capture of Quebec City.
On April 16, 1762, he resigned his commission, and, in 1764, he settled in Ligonier Valley, Pennsylvania, where he purchased land and erected mills. He was the largest landowner in Western Pennsylvania.
In 1770, St. Clair became a justice of the court, of quarter sessions and of common pleas, a member of the proprietary council, a justice, recorder, and clerk of the orphans' court, and prothonotary of Bedford and Westmoreland counties.
In 1774, the colony of Virginia took claim of the area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and some residents of Western Pennsylvania took up arms to eject them. St. Clair issued an order for the arrest of the officer leading the Virginia troops. Lord Dunmore's War eventually settled the boundary dispute.
By the mid-1770s, St. Clair considered himself more of an American than a British subject. In January 1776, he accepted a commission in the Continental Army as a colonel of the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment. He first saw service in the later days of the Quebec invasion, where he saw action in the Battle of Trois-Rivières. He was appointed a brigadier general in August 1776, and was sent by Gen. George Washington to help organize the New Jersey militia. He took part in George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on the night of December 25–26, 1776, before the Battle of Trenton on the morning of December 26. Many biographers credit St. Clair with the strategy that led to Washington's capture of Princeton, New Jersey, on January 3, 1777.St. Clair was promoted to major general in February 1777.
In April 1777, St. Clair was sent to defend Fort Ticonderoga. His outnumbered garrison could not resist British General John Burgoyne's larger force in the Saratoga campaign. St. Clair was forced to retreat at the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga on July 5, 1777. He withdrew his forces and played no further part in the campaign. In 1778 he was court-martialed for the loss of Ticonderoga.The court exonerated him and he returned to duty, although he was no longer given any battlefield commands. He still saw action, however, as an aide-de-camp to General Washington, who retained a high opinion of him. St. Clair was at Yorktown when Lord Cornwallis surrendered his army. During his military service, St. Clair was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1780.
St. Clair was a member of the Pennsylvania Council of Censors in 1783 and was elected a delegate to the Confederation Congress, serving from November 2, 1785, until November 28, 1787. Chaos ruled the day in early 1787 with Shays's Rebellion in full force and the states refusing to settle land disputes or contribute to the now six-year-old federal government. On February 2, 1787, the delegates finally gathered into a quorum and elected St. Clair to a one-year term as President of the Continental Congress. Congress enacted its most important piece of legislation, the Northwest Ordinance, during St. Clair's tenure as president. Time was running out for the Confederation Congress, however; during St. Clair's presidency, the Philadelphia Convention was drafting a new United States Constitution, which would abolish the old Congress.
Under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which created the Northwest Territory, General St. Clair was appointed governor of what is now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, along with parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. He named Cincinnati, Ohio, after the Society of the Cincinnati,and it was there that he established his home.
As Governor, he formulated Maxwell's Code (named after its printer, William Maxwell), the first written laws of the territory. He also sought to end Native American claims to Ohio land and clear the way for white settlement. In 1789, he succeeded in getting certain Native Americans to sign the Treaty of Fort Harmar, but many native leaders had not been invited to participate in the negotiations, or had refused to do so. Rather than settling the Native Americans' claims, the treaty provoked them to further resistance in what is also sometimes known as the "Northwest Indian War" (or "Little Turtle's War"). Mutual hostilities led to a campaign by General Josiah Harmar, whose 1,500 militiamen were defeated by the Native Americans in October 1790.
In March 1791, St. Clair succeeded Harmar as commander of the United States Army and was commissioned as a major general. He personally led a punitive expedition involving two Regular Army regiments and some militia. In October 1791 as an advance post for his campaign, Fort Jefferson (Ohio) was built under the direction of General Arthur St. Clair. Located in present-day Darke County in far western Ohio, the fort was built of wood and intended primarily as a supply depot; accordingly, it was originally named Fort Deposit.
One month later, near modern-day Fort Recovery, his force advanced to the location of Native American settlements near the headwaters of the Wabash River, but on November 4 they were routed in battle by a tribal confederation led by Miami Chief Little Turtle and Shawnee chief Blue Jacket. They were aided by British collaborators Alexander McKee and Simon Girty. More than 600 soldiers and scores of women and children were killed in the battle, which has since borne the name "St. Clair's Defeat", also known as the "Battle of the Wabash", the "Columbia Massacre," or the "Battle of a Thousand Slain". It remains the greatest defeat of a US Army by Native Americans in history, with about 623 American soldiers killed in action and about 50 Native Americans killed. The wounded were many, including St. Clair and Capt. Robert Benham.
Although an investigation exonerated him, St. Clair resigned his army commission in March 1792 at the request of President Washington, but he continued to serve as Governor of the Northwest Territory.
A Federalist, St. Clair hoped to see two states made of the Ohio Territory in order to increase Federalist power in Congress. However, he was opposed by Ohio Democratic-Republicans for what were perceived as his partisanship, high-handedness, and arrogance in office. In 1802, St. Clair remarked the U.S. Congress had no power to interfere in the affairs of those in the Ohio Territory. He also stated the people of the territory "are no more bound by an act of Congress than we would be bound by an edict of the first consul of France." This led President Thomas Jefferson to remove him from office as territorial governor.He thus played no part in the organizing of the state of Ohio in 1803.
The first Ohio Constitution provided for a weak governor and a strong legislature, in part as a reaction to St. Clair's method of governance.
St. Clair met Phoebe Bayard, a member of one of the most prominent families in Boston, and they were married in 1760. Miss Bayard's mother's maiden name was Bowdoin and she was the sister of James Bowdoin, colonial governor of Massachusetts. His eldest daughter was Louisa St. Clair Robb, a mounted messenger and scout, and known as a beautiful huntress.
Like many of his Revolutionary era peers, St. Clair suffered from gout as noted in correspondence with John Adams.
In retirement St. Clair lived with his daughter, Louisa St. Clair Robb, and her family on the ridge between Ligonier and Greensburg.
Arthur St. Clair died in poverty in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on August 31, 1818, at the age of 81. His remains are buried under a Masonic monument in St. Clair Park in downtown Greensburg.St. Clair had been a petitioner for a Charter for Nova Caesarea Lodge #10 in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1791. This Lodge exists today, as Nova Caesarea Harmony #2. His wife Phoebe died shortly after and is buried beside him.
A portion of the Hermitage, St. Clair's home in Oak Grove, Pennsylvania (north of Ligonier), was later moved to Ligonier, Pennsylvania, where it is now preserved, along with St. Clair artifacts and memorabilia at the Fort Ligonier Museum.
An American Civil War steamer was named USS St. Clair.
Lydia Sigourney included a poem in his honor, General St. Clair . in her first poetry collection of 1815.
The site of Clair's inauguration as Governor of the Northwest Territory is now occupied by the National Start Westward Memorial of The United States , commemorating the settlement of the territory.
Places named in honor of Arthur St. Clair include:
Little Turtle was a Sagamore (chief) of the Miami people, who became one of the most famous Native American military leaders. Historian Wiley Sword calls him "perhaps the most capable Indian leader then in the Northwest Territory," although he later signed several treaties ceding land, which caused him to lose his leader status during the battles which became a prelude to the War of 1812. In the 1790s, Mihšihkinaahkwa led a confederation of native warriors to several major victories against U.S. forces in the Northwest Indian Wars, sometimes called "Little Turtle's War", particularly St. Clair's defeat in 1791, wherein the confederation defeated General Arthur St. Clair, who lost 900 men in the most decisive loss by the U.S. Army against Native American forces.
Youngstown is a borough in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, United States. Youngstown was incorporated on 2 April 1831. The population was 326 at the 2010 census. The borough has its own post office with zip code 15696, established on April 1, 1813.
Josiah Harmar was an officer in the United States Army during the American Revolutionary War and the Northwest Indian War. He was the senior officer in the Army for six years and seven months.
The Northwest Territory, also known as the Old Northwest and formally known as the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, was formed from unorganized western territory of the United States after the American Revolutionary War. Established in 1787 by the Congress of the Confederation through the Northwest Ordinance, it was the nation's first post-colonial organized incorporated territory.
The Northwest Indian War (1786–1795), also known by other names, was an armed conflict for control of the Northwest Territory fought between the United States and a united group of Native American nations known today as the Northwestern Confederacy. The United States Army considers it the first of the American Indian Wars.
William Darke was an American soldier who served with British forces before the Revolutionary War. He served with British regulars commanded by Major General Edward Braddock in his 1755 expedition to the French-controlled Ohio Valley, as part of the French and Indian War. The British forces were defeated and Braddock died.
Richard Butler was an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War who was later killed while he was fighting Native Americans in the United States in a battle that is known as St. Clair's Defeat.
The Legion of the United States was a reorganization and extension of the United States Army from 1792 to 1796 under the command of Major General Anthony Wayne. It represented a political shift in the new United States, which had recently adopted the United States Constitution. The new Congressional and Executive branches authorized a standing army composed of professional soldiers, rather than relying on state militias.
The Treaty of Fort Harmar (1789) was an agreement between the United States government and numerous Native American tribes with claims to the Northwest Territory.
Ebenezer Denny was a soldier during the American Revolutionary War whose journal is one of the most frequently quoted accounts of the surrender of the British at the siege of Yorktown. Denny later served as the first Mayor of Pittsburgh, from 1816 to 1817.
Fort Washington was a fortified stockade with blockhouses built by order of Gen. Josiah Harmar starting in summer 1789 in what is now downtown Cincinnati, Ohio near the Ohio River. The physical location of the fort was facing the mouth of the Licking River, above present day Fort Washington Way. The fort was named in honor of President George Washington. The Fort was the major staging place and conduit for settlers, troops and supplies during the settlement of the Northwest Territory.
David Ziegler was a German immigrant to the United States who served in the U.S. military and became the first mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Northwestern Confederacy, or Northwestern Indian Confederacy, was a loose confederacy of Native Americans in the Great Lakes region of the United States created after the American Revolutionary War. Formally, the confederacy referred to itself as the United Indian Nations, at their Confederate Council. It was known infrequently as the Miami Confederacy since many contemporaneous federal officials overestimated the influence and numerical strength of the Miami tribes based on the size of their principal city, Kekionga.
The First American Regiment was the first peacetime regular army infantry unit authorized by the Continental Congress after the American Revolutionary War. Organized in August 1784, it served primarily on the early American frontier beyond the Appalachian Mountains. In 1815, following the end of the War of 1812, it was consolidated with several other regiments to form the 3rd Infantry Regiment.
The Battle of Kenapacomaqua, also called the Battle of Old Town, was a raid in 1791 by United States forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkinson on the Miami (Wea) town of Kenapacomaqua on the Eel River, approximately six miles upstream from present-day Logansport, Indiana.
The Harmar campaign was an attempt by the United States Army to subdue confederated Native Americans nations in the Northwest Territory that were seen as hostile in Autumn 1790. The campaign was led by General Josiah Harmar and is considered a significant campaign of the Northwest Indian War. The campaign ended with a series of battles on 19–21 October 1790 near the Miami villages of Kekionga. These were all overwhelming victories for the Native Americans and are sometimes collectively referred to as Harmar's Defeat.
St. Clair's defeat, also known as the Battle of the Wabash, the Battle of Wabash River or the Battle of a Thousand Slain, was a battle fought on 4 November 1791 in the Northwest Territory of the United States. The U.S. Army faced the Western Confederacy of Native Americans, as part of the Northwest Indian War. It was "the most decisive defeat in the history of the American military" and its largest defeat ever by Native Americans.
Fort Jefferson was a fortification erected by soldiers of the United States Army in October 1791 during the Northwest Indian War. Built to support a military campaign, it saw several years of active fighting. Today, the fort site is a historic site.
Fort St. Clair was a fort built during the Northwest Indian War near the modern town of Eaton, Preble County, Ohio. The site of the fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
The Blackberry Campaign is the name given to a May 1791 expedition led by Charles Scott against Native Americans of the lower Wabash Valley, primarily Wea, Kickapoo, Miami, and Potawatomi. The intent of the campaign was to demonstrate the vulnerability of Native American villages in the Northwest Territory, to take captives who could be used for peace negotiations, and to keep the forces of the Western Confederacy off balance in preparation for a larger 1791 led by Arthur St. Clair. The name Blackberry Campaign was given because soldiers stopped to pick berries to supplement their food supplies.