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Speaking appearance at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NY) -- NATIVE RESPONSE TO HISTORY | The Sullivan - Clinton Campaign: Then and Now. Historian Robert Spiegelman and G. Peter Jemison (Seneca), Director of Ganondagan, NYS Historic Site, re-examine the Sullivan- Clinton Campaign. (Click image for more...)

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SULLIVAN/CLINTON is an essential journey. It's not for the faint of heart, nor the stubborn of mind. It's a major event in our history that's been way off the radar screen for far too long. More road signs than any NY event, yet not in our school books. But just as America undergoes historic changes, the lessons of Sullivan/ Clinton are more relevant than ever. So, read on below. Browse our 14 great photo GALLERIES. Enjoy the A/V Images & VIDEO. Search through the eye-popping info in our TEXTS. Jump into our MAP. And enter your own COMMENTS! Come learn - at your own pace. Do your Research here. Then come back again for more, as we continually update this living website...


The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign was the largest expedition ever before mounted against native North Americans. It targeted the Iroquois Six Nations Confederacy: specifically, the Seneca, Cayuga and Onondaga nations. Indeed, the Fall of Iroquoia is forever entwined with the Birth of the American Republic.

The year was 1779. In the middle of the American Revolution, George Washington ordered two Generals, John Sullivan and James Clinton, and more than 6,200 men – roughly 25% of the entire rebel army – to clear-cut and burn these resisting or then neutral Iroquois nations from one of Earth’s most fertile regions. They should “not merely be overrun," Washington insisted, “but destroyed.” And England, for its part, couldn't and/or wouldn't send forces enough to defend its Indian allies' homelands against the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign.

After five days in April and four weeks in September, almost all of Iroquoia was reduced to shattered hearths and fields of fire. According to Sullivan’s Official Report, the army burned 40 towns and their surrounding fields; consuming at least 160,000 bushels of corn, “with a vast quantity of vegetables of every kind.” A study (1969) by Anthony Wallace concluded that the Campaign destroyed 500 dwellings and nearly 1 million bushels of corn. Drawing on extensive records, a history (1978) by Allan Eckert estimated at least 50 towns and nearly 1,200 houses were burned. All this before the worst winter in recorded memory.

While these figures vary, all show an earth-shaking defeat for America’s native peoples that cannot truly be expressed in numbers; one that still lingers today - often hidden in plain sight or deep in people's souls. Against this background, a hard-won foothold in NY and Rebirth of Iroquoia have been well underway...

So, keep scrolling! You'll quickly get the whole picture, from Then to Now!

Posted by sullivan at June 13, 2005 08:03 AM

I think the small bit of the site that I have seen so far is commendable & I was impressed by the graphics of Cornplanter's words - it brought the emotion to life. I am strongly supportive of getting history into perspective for meaningful discourse on how we came to be as we are now as people and nations. Having said that, I have to mention that I think the wording "Death of Iroquoia" is incorrect, and perhaps can be considered as opinion from one perspective - not appropriate for an introduction statement. It was a KO, but not a death knell.

Posted by: Sue Herne at July 2, 2004 01:34 PM

Hello Sue Herne,
I greatly appreciate your comment. Why do you think that "Death" of Iroquoia is inappropriate? I can see it as inaccurate if what's meant is something absolutely final. In that case I could see "Fall" of Iroquoia as more accurate, and I am, thanks to your thoughtful
comment, considering that change. That said, "Death of Iroquoia" has an accurate side, by which is meant the coming apart of the Iroquois Confederacy of Six Nations - its bonds, unity and way of life. To that extent, I'd say it's an accurate description and more of what I had in mind in first using the phrase. I'd love to hear more.
Best Regards,

Posted by: bob at July 3, 2004 08:15 AM

It is Sunday August 29, 2004 - 225 years to the day of the Battle of Newtown. I witnessed a re-anactment of that battle on this hot and sultry day. On the actual battlefield a few miles east of Elmira, NY. I was struck with a sense of awe as the American banner of blue Excelcior(flag of New York) was lofted high and proud, as the American Continentals inched its way valiantly up Newtown Hill. All while recieving withering volleys fire thrown down against them by the predominent forces of their own countrymen loyal to the crown of King George. Through the smoke and fury I came to the realization that the Sullivan/Clinton Campaign was a more grand design for our nation than I ever realized. The seeds of Sherman's March to the sea, years later were sewn in the lessons by this important march. The utter brutality in slashing the breadbasket of the Haudenosaunee(People of the Longhouse) reverberates still in the land claims of the Cayugas against the State of New York. Visit the the Northern Fingerlakes region and you can still feel the impact of the Sullivan/Clinton Campaign. Mr. Spiegelman's metaphorical assessment of the "Death of Iroquoia" is indeed entirely correct. The richness of this great upstate region will be forever entwined in the ferocious march of the Sullivan Clinton Campaign. Thank you Mr. Spiegelman for bringing a passion to this long overlooked subject.

Posted by: Brian Dewitt White at August 29, 2004 05:44 PM

Dear Mr. White,
I greatly appreciate your kind words of support and even more, the passion behind them. Sullivan/Clinton is all that you say and more. Interestingly, you mention Sherman. He just happened to be the foremost of the keynote speakers at Newtown during the Centennial commemoration of Sullivan/Clinton. I especially appreciate your noting the reverberations of Sullivan/Clinton in current land claims disputes. You have connected many of the dots that underlie my commitment to this ongoing project,
and I thank you for this.
Best regards,
Dr. Robert Spiegelman

Posted by: bob at September 16, 2004 09:36 AM

Great site, remembering this war that should never have been forgotten. However, Mexico is part of "North America" [as is, for that matter, Central America] -- hence NAFTA. It's not clear that the Sullivan/Clinton Campaign was larger or worse than campaigns against Native peoples in Mexico, Guatemala, etc., from initial takeover to the 20th century. Might be rephrased "North of the Rio Grande."

Posted by: Jim Loewen at September 25, 2004 09:05 AM

I am a Historian and Human Rights Educator and Activit. I was issued a proclamation from Gov. Pataki and the New York Senate on April 13, 1999. In Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Gradual Abolution of Slavery in New York State. I read a copy of the "Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sulllivan against the Six nations of Indians in 1779, with records of the Centennal Celebrations, prepared pursuant to Chapter 361 Laws of the State of New York 1885, by Frederick Cook, Secretary of State, Auburn, N.Y.KNapp Peck & Thomson Printers 1887". After reading the Journal it is my opinion that a law suit should be filed against the United States of America and the State of New York. Using the Journal and other documents as evidence in the law suit with the charge being Genocide which is a "Crime Agaisnt Humanity". Also on page 17 of the Journal is a reference to a number of people being killed one of them being a "Negro" that was serving as a Doctor to the Indians. The most amazing think to me about all of this is that the Constitution of the State of New York was not offically presented to the people of New York until 1821 to come into effect 1822. So based on that fact I ask by what authority did Gov. George Clinton and George Washington use to destroy the Free Sovereign Indian Nations.

Posted by: Noble I'm Manu-El:Bey at February 7, 2005 04:24 PM

In 1779, during the war, authorization and
financing came from the Continental Congress of the thirteen rebel colonies, of which NYS was especially keen having focused on New York's frontiers. The context is complex involving: first the political division of the formally neutral
Iroquois Confederacy into pro-English (Seneca, Oneida and Tuscarora) and pro-Yankee nations (Oneida, Tuscarora), second, a sequence or reciprocal raids against Yankee settlements and Indian settlements in NY and Pennsylvania,
and third, the financing (1778), authorizaton (1778, 1779) by Congress of a grand anti-Indian expedition of which Sullivan-Clinton Campaign was the result.

Posted by: bob at February 13, 2005 08:53 AM

Dear Bob Spiegelman:

My sister and I grew up in Upstate New York in
Spencerport, NY on the Erie Canal. I attended college at Syracuse Univ. and she went to Cornell.

A few years ago we went searching for the historic sites where Sullivan and Clinton followed the orders of George Washington and destroyed the homes and food of the Iroquois Indians.

We have been much puzzled by the fact that we heard so little about this major campaign when we were studying American History.

I am delighted to find your website devoted to this interesting and vital event in the Revolution. I was aware that the Rochester area
was sparsely settled in the 1700's, largely due to the fierce nature of the Iroquois nation and the league of 5 tribes, later to include the Tuscarora.

Some of our ancestors lived in the Herkimer area on the Mohawk River. They suffered terrible Indian attacks several times. Houses were burned.
People were killed. Some were captured and taken away with the Indians.

Thank you for researching this Sullivan/Clinton campaign and making the results available to all.

Ethel Stanton
Now in Florida

Posted by: Ethel Stanton at February 22, 2005 09:08 PM

It is this type of historical documentation that all Americans should be searching for. While we cannot truly sit in judgement of the past, we can surely learn from an unbiased review of what actually occurred.

It is my sincere hope that you will continue your work, and bring more of our real American history to light.

Posted by: Joe DeBottis at July 24, 2005 03:20 PM

In response to the injustice

The God and Creator of the Universe has brought to remembrance these words for the native people of America:

(Bible; Habakkuk 2:2-16.)

Then Adonai answered me; He said,
"Write down the vision clearly on tablets,
so that even a runner can read it.
For the vision is meant for its appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and it does not lie.
It may take a while, but wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.

"Look at the proud; he is inwardly not up right;
but the righteous will attain life through trusting faithfulness.
Truly, wine is treacherous;
the arrogant will not live at peace
but keeps expanding his desires like the grave;
like death, he can never be satisfied;
he keeps collecting all the nations for himself,
rallying to himself all the peoples.
Won't all these take up taunting him
and say about him, in mocking riddles,

'Woe to him who amasses other people's wealth!-
how long must it go on?-
and to him who adds to himself the weight
of goods taken in pledge!
Won't your own creditors suddenly stand,
won't those who make you tremble wake up?
You will become their spoil.
Because you plundered many nations,
all the rest of the peoples will plunder you;
because of the bloodshed and violence done
to the land, the city and all who live there.

"'Woe to him who seeks unjust gain for his household,
putting his nest on the heights,
in order to be safe from the reach of harm.
By scheming to destroy many peoples,
you have brought shame to your house
and forfeited your life.
For the very stones will cry out from the wall,
and a beam in the framework will answer them.

"' Woe to him who builds a city with blood
and founds a town on injustice,
so that people toil for what will be burned up,
and nations exhaust themselves to no purpose.
Isn't all this from Adonai-Tzva'ot?
For the earth will be as full
of the knowledge of Adonai's glory
as water covering the sea.

"'Woe to him who has his neighbor drink,
adds his own poison and makes him drunk,
in order to see him naked.
You are filled with shame, not glory.
You, drink too, and stager!
The cup of Adonai's right hand
will be turned against you;
your shame will exceed your glory.

Posted by: cynthia stafford at August 24, 2005 12:09 PM

I grew up in the Wyoming Vally, PA. Sites such as Fort Jenkins, Queen Ester's Rock and the stories of the massacre fascinated me ( and still do!) I have always felt the Battle of Wyoming, the Wyoming Massacre and Sullivan's march up the Susquehanna were either ignored or glossed over, possibly because of misunderstanding, but yet they were highly significant events in the American Revolution. Washington was forced to act as a result of these events, albeit a year later.
Good luck with this site.

Posted by: John at July 7, 2006 07:36 PM

I grew up in the hills of Canadice in Ontario County -- a beautiful land of forests and ravines! Many times I walked the trails and wondered about those who had lived there long ago. The march of Clinton and the displacement of the Native Americans WAS taught in my NY State History classes in public school. It always made me sad. This is a very interesting and thought-provoking web site. Thanks for the work done here to document it. A few comments: While I am saddened about how the Native Americans were treated (Yes, I know about the massacres of the frontier families, but didn't the Cherokee Nation take a neutral stand? Look what happened to them), I can hardly blame the Iroquois (of that time) for trying to fight for their lands in the only way they were accustomed to doing. And...I can't say that Europeans were any less cruel in their ways in other ages back in Europe. The truth is, there are two sides to every conflict and there is One Above who knows the Truth. All people will one day have to give account for his/her actions. The question I have is two-fold: What happened to the ancient people who lived in this land before being displaced by the Iroquois? Does this site acknowledge the brutal way the Iroquois fought the frontier settlers (not to mention other enemy tribes?) So far, it seems to have been glossed over. And what can we do now to atone for the past? Displace the anglo-descended families who have lived in NY for the last 200 years? I have no problems with Iroquois privately buying up lands in their former nation of NY. Maybe others would donate lands or money for it? Court battles are all well and good, but...well, the win takes many years--too long. If only the bitterness could be set aside... I wish the Haudenosaunee well.

Posted by: Becky at August 22, 2007 11:48 PM

Great contribution, Becky! What year did you learn about Sullivan/Clinton in school? Any thoughts about it's absence from today's NY curriculum?

Posted by: sullivan at October 27, 2007 11:12 AM

on july 26, 1688 over one thousand angry mohawk warriors from the wolf, bear, and turtle clan ahnilalated, scalped, tortured, raped, molested, humiliated, and completely DESTROYED a montreal settlement of 1000 industrious french men, women, and children. the native demons, savages and cannibals of the howling wilderness were armed with dutch and english civilized steel. why am i not surprised that the superstitious iroquois nation got an unforgiving dose of the jesuit's revenge channeled through the language of a violent george washington?

je me souvien

hiawatha wampum belt
backwoods of america

Posted by: count at August 15, 2008 04:12 PM

The count, who remembers, manages to forget that in May 22 1687, the year before, Denonville (the gov of New France), after a special mass, launched a force of 1500 French and enjoins 1500 Ottawa and Mohawk allies to try and annihilate the NY Senecas, to drive them out of the fur trade. Denonville burned fields and villages, including Ganandogan (today a NY heritage site) before returning July 26. That November the entire Iroquois League allies itself with the English. The attack on Montreal, exactly one year later, was a joint operation by English and Mohawk and other Iroquois against the industrious French. The count omits the French-Indian War context, the manipulation of and by Indians of the civilized Europeans, and makes George Washington of 1779, a sworn enemy of the French in the 1750's, the avenging angel of the French Jesuits. Mai ouis, dear count. Je me souvien aussi.

Posted by: sullivan at August 21, 2008 07:43 AM

So according to your leftist propaganda it's the noble savage vs the evil white American?

What a crock of simplistic revisionist history!

You demented Marxist left Obama idiot Democrats are on on a roll with your so called "historical" research... which is biased agenda driven multi-culti nonsense... it's romantic native American propaganda....and you're recieving Federal $$ to produce this noble savage BS!

Factual you're not.

You suck!

Posted by: Rob Comments at April 17, 2009 03:11 PM

She:kon "Rob Comments"

You need to get "on on a roll" and conduct some of your own historical research. The evidence is there, you only need to be open to it. And while you're at it, think of something better to say than, "you suck." Perhaps, something based on facts so that you yourself can be "factual." Robert Spiegelman has conducted research, excellent research at that. So until you can provide something of similar quality as that of Spiegelman, you don't have much to back up your statements. As things are right now: "Factual you are not."


Posted by: Wolf Clan at May 19, 2009 12:31 AM

Good luck with this site.

Posted by: Yemek Tarifleri at October 1, 2009 05:03 PM

You need to get "on on a roll" and conduct some ...

Posted by: Rüya Tabirleri at October 1, 2009 05:04 PM

I have been tracing the Revolutionary War adventures of my great-great-great-great grandfather, Sergeant Timothy Sexton, who fought with the 3rd New Jersey in the Continental Army. I just recently discovered that his company, under the command of Col Elias Dayton, was assigned to the Sullivan Campaign in 1779. I had never even heard of this campaign and I thank you so much for this informative site!

Posted by: Linda Sexton Nusbaum at November 5, 2009 11:32 AM
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