Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Kyle F. Zelner

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Heather Marie Stur

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Susannah J. Ural

Committee Member 3 School



Henry Knox, Secretary of War during the Articles of Confederation and Constitutional periods, was charged with the creation of the American Indian policy. He, and by extension the American government, viewed the Indian tribes as sovereign nations. With this in mind, historians should view early Indian policy in a framework that focuses on the young nation's fears of collapse and interference by European powers. The United States government attempted to remain united against European intrigue on the American Frontier through Indian treaties, military growth, and restrained westward expansion.

Some historians and ethnohistorians, including Reginald Horsman and Colin Calloway, portray American Indian policy during this period as merely an attempt by the United States to dispossess Indian tribes of their land. By relying heavily on the United States Territorial Papers and the American States Papers on Indian Affairs, but not the personal papers of many of the important figure, especially Henry Knox, previous historians provided a limited view of Indian Policy within the greater scheme of national statecraft of the United States.

The diplomatic and personal messages of Henry Knox, Arthur St. Clair, American diplomats, and the Indian Department, however, highlight that the United States and Knox developed a frontier policy that sought to stabilize the frontier, avoid international violence, and prevent new frontier settlements from leaving the new nation. This mixing of traditional Indian policy with foreign policy provides a wider and more accurate understanding of America's view of its global position at the end of the eighteenth century.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 12, 2027