Indian Agent at Treaty Signing
Quarters of Major General John Tipton, Indian Agent
John Tipton campaigned for an Indian treaty for more than a year before the federal government accepted the idea. Hoosiers on all sides realized the only way a canal connecting the Maumee and Wabash rivers could happen was by a major land cession from the Miami and Pottawatomi Indians, giving up a tract large enough to finance the construction and provide a right-of-way.
Treaty Commissioners could be appointed only by the Sec. of War, but it was up to Congress to appropriate money enough to finance the treaty negotiations before the president would name commissioners. This was help up temporarily as John C. Calhoun, Pres. Monroe's Sec. of War, was being replaced by Pres. John Quincy Adams' new appointee, James Barbour. Meanwhile, every influential citizen in Indiana seemed to be in a letter-writing campaign, including Indian traders and state politicians, agitating for a quick decision for an Indian Treaty.
Finally, on May 20, 1826, Congress appropriated $15,000, and a few days later Sec. Barbour named the three treaty commissioners, Gov. James B. Ray of Indiana; Gov. Lewis Cass of Michigan Territory; and Gen. John Tipton, Agent of the Fort Wayne Indian Agency. All three were told the $15.000 was expected to cover all costs for the negotiations including $8 per day for each of them and what additional expenses attended treaty arrangements.
In his assignment in May, Sec. Barbour notified the commissioners, "The time and place for holding these Treaties, are left to your discretion. -- It is desirable, however, that the trust be executed and reported to the Department on or before the first of November next...." Since both governors put the preliminary preparations in the hands of Gen. Tipton, everyone felt assured arrangements would be made in record time.
A prerequisite of such treaties was an adequate supply of fresh water as there would be hundreds of Indians together with soldiers, Indian traders, drovers with their livestock and numerous citizens who felt they had a stake in the proceedings, all of them riding horseback to and from the Treaty Grounds. On July 31, 1826, Tipton wrote to Lewis Cass that he and Gov. Ray had met as soon as he received his appointment and had agreed on the site, a place called Paradise Springs located "about 12 miles above the mouth of the mississinaway river...." In 1826 there was no habitation at that site, but with the building of the Wabash-Erie Canal, the city of Wabash would be platted there in 1834 by Hugh Hanna and David Burr.
A veteran of the Battle of Tippecanoe, General Tipton was appointed to the Indiana Agency located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, by President Monroe.
John Quincy Adams appointed Major General Tipton Indian Commissioner to oversee treaties with the Indians located in his jurisdiction. He served in this capacity until 1831.
He was elected to the United States Senate in 1831 and distinguished himself by working for the good of the nation without reference to politics.
Images: Reenactors portray events that happened on the Treaty Grounds in 1826 (below); The placard that hangs on the cabin today (upper right); and a picture of Gen. John Tipton (lower right).