While Jefferson was dealing with England and France, the West that he had done so much to “open” with the Louisiana Purchase was erupting in violence. In 1794, the major tribes of the Old Northwest (the region from the Ohio River to the Great Lakes) were defeated by General “Mad Anthony” Wayne at the watershed Battle of Fallen Timbers (August 20). After almost a decade of relative peace on that frontier region, President Jefferson in. 1803 directed the territorial governor of Indiana, William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), to obtain “legal” title to as much Indian land as possible. Over the next three years, Harrison acquired 70 million acres by negotiating with whatever chiefs and tribal leaders were willing to sign deeds. The trouble was that for every Indian leader who claimed authority to sell land, another rose up to repudiate that authority and that sale.
The most prominent, brilliant, and charismatic of those who resisted the transfer of Indian lands to the whites was the Shawnee Tecumseh (ca. 1768-1813), who organized a united resistance against white invasion while cultivating an alliance with British interests. Westerners were fearful of Tecumseh and other British-backed Indians, and they were also angry. Not only did the Indians need a good whipping, but so did the British, who became the focus of concentrated hatred in the new American West, not only for inciting Indians to war, but for disrupting American shipping and commerce. What was bad for the coastal economy was disastrous for the West, which, during this critical phase of its development, was being prevented from shipping out its abundant exports. The West was spoiling for a war, and William Henry Harrison and Tecumseh would give it one.