Cornstalk was a prominent leader of the Shawnee Indians during the American Revolution. While little is known about his early years, he played a significant role in Dunmore’s War, waged between the Native Americans of present-day Kentucky and white immigrants wishing to settle the area. The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix had pushed back the boundary line between Indian and British land, but several leaders, including Cornstalk, had not been present during the negotiations and refused to move from their original territory. Cornstalk was a reluctant war leader, and he knew his men to be outnumbered, but the Shawnee warriors still wished to fight, a decision that resulted only in bloodshed without property gain.

With the advent of the American Revolutionary War, Cornstalk wished to keep his tribe neutral, but many Shawnees hoped to use the war to their advantage, reclaiming with British aid the land that had been lost. By 1776, the tribe had divided between followers of Cornstalk and militant bands led by rival leaders. One year later, Cornstalk made a diplomatic visit to Fort Randolph, but he was immediately taken hostage. When a member of the fort was killed by unknown Indians a few months later, the American soldiers retaliated by executing Cornstalk, his son, and two other Shawnees. The government, hearing of the murders, brought the men responsible to trial, but they were later acquitted. Cornstalk was originally buried at Fort Randolph; later, his grave was found and his remains moved first to the Mason County Courthouse grounds, and then to Point Pleasant.

Key events during the life of Cornstalk:

Treaty of Fort Stanwix.
Fought in Dunmore’s War.
  Signed the Treaty of Camp Charlotte, establishing the Ohio River as the Indian-British boundary line.
Captured during a visit to Fort Randolph.
  Executed along with his son and two other Indians.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Indians Join Britain against the Colonies  in  Indian History for Young Folks  by  Francis S. Drake
Cornstalk Leads the Warriors  in  Boy's Book of Indian Warriors  by  Edwin L. Sabin

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