Treaty of Dewitt's Corner between the Cherokee Nation and South Carolina, 1777
The Treaty of Dewitt’s Corner ended the Cherokee War of 1776-1777, which took place at the beginning of the American Revolution. In 1776, revolutionary South Carolina faced a threat similar to British South Carolina in 1759. But, in 1776, the English Crown threatened to mobilize the Cherokees against the new government. During the spring and summer of 1776, the Cherokees joined with northern tribes, the Shawnee, Delaware, and Mohawk, to raid frontier settlements in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia in an effort to push settlers from their lands. When the British attack failed on Sullivan’s Island, the Cherokee were left on their own and defeated. The response from Carolinians was immediate and brutal. Colonel Andrew Williamson led a large force of South Carolina militia and Continental Army troops on an expedition against the Indians, destroying most of their towns east of the mountains, and then joined with the North Carolina militia to do the same in that state and Georgia. Captured warriors were then sold into slavery.Defeated in skirmishes and their towns in ruins, the Cherokees sought peace. Several head men visited Charlestown to negotiate. In May 1777, Colonel Andrew Williamson led a South Carolina delegation to Dewitt’s Corner, near present day Due West, in Abbeville County, to settle peace terms. Georgia also sent delegates, and on May 20, 1777, all parties signed the Treaty of Dewitt’s Corner. The Treaty of Dewitt’s Corner differed from previous Cherokee treaties. South Carolina dictated its terms to an enemy defeated in combat. The victorious Whigs set a boundary line between South Carolina and the Cherokee nation on the crest of Oconee Mountain and mandated that American law had precedence over Cherokee law in dealings between the two nations. The Cherokee also lost nearly all of their land in South Carolina, most of present day Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, and Pickens Counties. South Carolina in return pledged to regulate trade and travel into the remaining Cherokee territory. At Dewitt’s Corner, South Carolinians required the apprehension of any British agents operating among the Cherokee and anyone who advocated breaking the treaty. For the remainder of the American Revolution, the Cherokee would not be a factor.
Treaty of Dewitt’s Corner, 1777. Constitutional and Organic Papers. Treaties with the Cherokees. S131005. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, S.C.
Standard 3-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the exploration and settlement of South Carolina and the United States.
Indicator 3-2.5 Summarize the impact that the European colonization of South Carolina had on Native Americans, including conflicts between settlers and Native Americans. (H, G)
Standard 3-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution and South Carolina’s role in the development of the new American nation.
Indicator 3-3.1 Analyze the causes of the American Revolution—including Britain’s passage of the Tea Act, the Intolerable Acts, the rebellion of the colonists, and the Declaration of Independence—and South Carolina’s role in these events. (H, P, E)
Standard 4-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the settlement of North America by Native Americans, Europeans, and African Americans and the interactions among these peoples.
Indicator 4-2.7 Explain how conflicts and cooperation among the Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans influenced colonial events including the French and Indian Wars, slave revolts, Native American wars, and trade. (H, G, P, E)
Standard 8-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the settlement of South Carolina and the United States by Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans.
Indicator 8-1.2 Categorize events according to the ways they improved or worsened relations between Native Americans and European settlers, including alliances and land agreements between the English and the Catawba, Cherokee, and Yemassee; deerskin trading; the Yemassee War; and the Cherokee War. (H, P, E)
Standard 8-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution—the beginnings of the new American nation and South Carolina’s part in the development of that nation.
Indicator 8-2.2 Compare the perspectives and roles of different South Carolinians during the American Revolution, including those of political leaders, soldiers, partisans, Patriots, Tories/Loyalists, women, African Americans, and Native Americans. (H, G, P, E)
Standard USHC-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the settlement of North America.
Indicator USHC-1.1 Summarize the distinct characteristics of each colonial region in the settlement and development the America, including religious, social, political, and economic differences. (H, E, P, G)