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Bowes, John P. "The Gnadenhutten Effect: Moravian Converts and the Search for Safety in the Canadian Borderlands." Michigan Historical Review 34, no. 1 (2008): 101-17.


The topic of this source is about how the Gnadenhutten massacre impacted the relationships the Moravian Native Indians had with the British, Native Indians, and American colonists. The author, John P. Bowes, argued that the relationship between the Moravian Native Americans and and the other ethnic groups in America became tense and vengeful after the massacre. For this study, the author used journals kept by the Moravian leaders and treaties that were created after the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. To support his argument, the author stated that the Native Indians blamed the Gnadenhutten massacre attack on the Moravian missionaries, which is why Native Indian leaders refused to keep the converts from rejoining their tribes. Also after the massacre, the Moravian Indians tried to distanced themselves from American militia territories. Out of revenge, some of them even left their Moravian faith to join the battles against the Americans. The British did not like that the Moravians did not want to fight alongside them in the War of 1812 and wanted remain neutral even though the Americans had killed so many of them in the Gnadenhutten massacre. The British even had allowed the Moravian converts to settle in their Canadian territory after the massacre, but Moravians still refused to help them because of their religious beliefs. I believe Bowes was very successful at supporting his  argument since he gave a thorough timeline in his article of the events that led up to the increased tensions with all the groups in America. This source will help inform our research on the kinds of relationship the Moravians held in America after the Gnadenhutten massacre.

Griffin, Patrick. “Reconsidering the Ideological Origins of Indian Removal: The Case of the Big Bottom ‘Massacre.’” In The Center of a Great Empire: The Ohio Country in the Early American Republic edited Andrew R. L. Cayton and Stuart D. Hobbs, 11-35. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005.


Griffin discusses how the shifting perceptions of Native Americans between varying groups of settlers began to invalidate the possibility of peace between both groups for an ideal western society and led to vigilante violence. Griffin argues that most historical sources that discuss the development of anti-Native American attitudes expressed by settlers in the Northwest, specifically in Ohio, during the late 18th century fail to fully account the role of the state. The majority of the sources Griffin used are secondary, scholarly sources however some primary sources are included such as letters, newspaper articles, and historical records. Griffin begins to leverage these sources to discuss how idealized perceptions of settler society and treaties encroaching on Native land leading up to the Big Bottom massacre in 1971 led to the use of explicit violence by settlers. When the massacre occurred the difference between government negotiation policy and power over western land explicitly contrasted the reality of violence and squatters taking up land in the west. These realities ultimately led elite stakeholders in western territories to take on a more aggressive, racist stance towards Native Americans and placed pressure on the government to take military action. This source offers a general overview of the history of settler expansion in the end of the Revolution and following shortly after, this informs a comprehensive understanding of what events and ideological precedent could have possibly led up to the events of the Gnadenhutten massacre.

Harper, Rob. “Looking the Other Way: The Gnadenhutten Massacre and the Contextual Interpretation of Violence.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 64, no. 3, 2007, pp. 621–44. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/25096733.


Harper closely examined the political and historical circumstances that contribute to the making of the Gnadenhutten Massacre. He argued that motive-centered interpretations of the Gnadenhutten massacre are inadequate. Revisionist and postrevisionist historians in the late 20th century have focused on a variation of “Indian-hating” analysis to interpret the motive of American Continental Army. Harper argued that these analyses are unhelpful because only a minority of the American expedition members insisted on the massacre of Moravian Indians at Gnadenhutten. Instead, he explained that the political cultures of bullying and populism at that time caused the leader of the expedition, Williamson, and other expedition members to implicitly approve the massacre. Furthermore, later investigation ordered by Congress became abortive because several political leaders like Irvine did not have the popularity to conduct justice for the innocently murdered Indians. Overall, I think Harper provided a more convincing explanation for the Gnadenhutten massacre compared to other motive-based interpretation. This source is helpful as it provides direction and framework in analyzing political cultures and how political leaders made decision.


Harper, Rob. Unsettling the West: Violence and State Building in the Ohio Valley. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.


Harper described the complex alliances between American Indians with the British colonist and Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He further argued that state-sponsored warfare was the source of constant skirmishes in the Ohio Valley, the destruction of Indian towns and the massacre of their people. There were several unauthorized expeditions in which state-sponsored American militia went on to burn Indian towns and murdered their people. The Gnadenhutten massacre was a prime example in which internal division among American militia led to the massacre of innocent and peaceful Moravian Indians. Harper also argued that once both United States and Britain curb military expenditure, the warfare between Indians and colonists stopped. State support was instrumental in the constant warfare; however, warfare doesn’t happen without mutual hate or misunderstanding on both sides. What’s missing from this source is the narrative on the sentiments among Indians and the American Continental Army. Nonetheless, Harper clearly documented how the aftermath of the Gnadenhutten Massacre, including the cover-up attempt by American Continental Army, discourse among British-allied Indians and Britain.


Massacre of Ninety-six Christian Indians at Gnadenhutten, Ohio, Gnadenhutten Monument Society, 3-12.  March 8th, 1782. New Philadelphia Ohio: Printed at the Ohio Democrat Office, 1870.;view=1up;seq=9 


The author’s purpose is to give an overall account of the Gnadenhutten Massacre with specific focus on the 96 Christian Indians who were mercilessly killed in Ohio. The author’s argument while showing the specific details of the massacre, highlight the purpose of both the pious Christian Indians and murderous British troops. While the Christian Indians mainly wanted to get their hands on their forsaken land, to get enough supplies of corn to beat the famine conditions in their town, the British were seen as “blood thirsty troops” focusing on nothing but butchery and blood in the massacre. The sources used are Zeisberger’s journal, Holmes and Loskiel’s Histories and Doddridge’s notes. The author gives strong examples of showing both personalities of the massacre. For instance, when it was ordered for the troops to burn the Indians alive, the Christian Indians immediately resorted to religion and God in strengthening their faith and protecting them. We further get explicit depictions of the inhumane acts of the British who not only killed 96 of the Christian Indians, but also mercilessly disfigured a lot of them and burnt the houses of the victims. Furthemore, we continue to see the unity and strong purpose the Christian Indians had in wanting to get the corn to for the starving people back home despite the dangerous situations that prevailed. Such accounts effectively outline the entire massacre events and the argument the author held. For my research, I was able to get insight into both sides of the massacre, particularly the inhumane acts of the British troops. The strong belief in religion and piety of the Christian indians helps provide more information on the importance of religion.

McDonnell, Michael A. Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2015. 271-327,


The topic of this source is about the mistreatment of Native Indians during and after the Gnadenhutten massacre that led to the fight for Native American Independence. The author, Michael A. McDonnell, argued that the struggle for Native American Independence was fueled by the Revolutionary war attacks and treaty decisions that angered the Indians. For this study, the author uses scholarly journals and historical books about the 18th century Revolutionary War. In his argument, McDonnell claimed that the Indians’ first act of war for independence began when the Shawnee and Ohio Indians “refused to recognize the Treaty of Fort Stanwix that William Johnson arranged for the Iroquois to cede lands south of the Ohio river for European settlement.” The strive for American independence from the British furthered the threats to the Indian country through the Gnadenhutten massacre, as Americans wanted to take revenge on innocent Native Indians for siding with the British in battles. The Native Indians, again in their strive for independence, opposed an expedition of Pennsylvania militia deep into Indian country led by William Crawford. This attack emboldened the Natives to launch further attacks on illegal settlements west of the Appalachians. McDonnell also mentioned that the Native Indians were shocked of finding a that the Treaty of Paris of 1783 was made giving the Americans claims east of the Mississippi River with no consultation with the Indians, which showed how the Americans abused the rights of the Native Indians. I believe McDonnell was very successful at supporting his argument since he gave numerous detailed examples of the way the Indians fought for their rights. This source will help inform our research on the many instances in which the Native Indians were treated poorly by the Americans and how they fought to maintain their rightful independence.


Quaife, M. M. 1931. “The Ohio Campaigns of 1782.” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 17 (4): 515–29.


This article is a historical reconstruction of the Ohio Campaigns of 1782 by MM Quaife. In the sections relating to the Gnadenhutten Massacre, this source elaborates on the consequences of the massacre and the “butchery” that took place. The massacre broke down Anglo-American - Indian relations, where Crawford was shown to suffer in one of the sources used in this article (The White Savage). The massacre allegedly came at blows to the way Anglo-Americans could navigate a world mostly predominated by Native Americans. However, given the fraught relations and power dynamics today between these communities, it is evident that while colonists lamented the massacre, it is only because it was an obstacle for them, rather than because of humanity and sympathy.

Saler, Bethel, The Settlers Empire (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), 1-82. Course Reader.


Saler discusses how the formation of innovative republican states, particularly Wisconsin, shapes the nature of United States. She argues that the history of United States makes it a postcolonial republic as well as a settler empire, indicating that as much as it is a domestic and independent nation seeking for expansion, it is pre-coded with political and cultural identity descended from the European colonialism. Saler cites multiple treaties and ordinances as sources, and also refers to letters, newspaper, and biographies of a few important figures when outlining the history courses. In particular, Saler describes the back-and-forth decision-making process, especially the letters and travel experience of James Monroe and the post-war land settlement, that ultimately lead to a uniform national government that yet maintains some level of autonomy and individual liberties, like a marriage. At the same time, US’s deliberate and condescending claim of sovereignty over the native inhabitants and lands contradicts its earlier liberal rule and thus reveals the “settler empire” nature of US. Saler approaches the problem with an unusually neutral tone, which renders his argument objective and inspiring. This book provides useful insight into ongoing clashes between new Americans and native Americans in the context of British colonialism. It also supports our research with necessary background on the big picture of American Revolutionary War that contributes to our research topic on Gnadenhutten massacre.


Sayre, Robert Woods. "The Zero Degree of the Other: Indian Violence and ‘Adventure’ with Indians." In Modernity and Its Other: The Encounter with North American Indians in the Eighteenth Century, 101-30. Lincoln; London: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.


Sayre discusses how different forms of writing during the 18th century staged encounters of Native Americans violence with literary techniques similar to those in adventure novels. Furthermore, Sayre argues that representations of Native Americans utilizing these notions of “adventure narratives” functioned to reinforce perceptions of Native Americans as “other” during a period of growing tensions as colonists were striving to obtain land in the west. Sayre analyzes several different primary sources including journal entries, biographies, autobiographies, newspapers, novels, and early historical sources as well as relevant scholarly sources. Sayre demonstrates that written representations of Native American violence were prolific amongst military accounts, captivity narratives, early historical and descriptive writings, along with literary works popularized in the second half of the 18th century. Within these formats, varied protagonists and narrators offered multiple perspectives for understanding experiences with Native Americans violence that ranged from utilitarian to sensational. Sayre’s analysis of different written sources offers a general overview of common literary mechanisms and information included in these representation that served to objectify acts of violence by Native American and sensationalize them as “adventure.” This source offers insight into how the events of the Gnadenhutten massacre might have been written about and perceived, especially considering the unique role religion plays in describing the massacre and the analysis of early historical writings Griffin provides.


Shoemaker, Nancy, An Alliance between Men: Gender Metaphors in Eighteenth-Century American Indian Diplomacy East of the Mississippi, Ethnohistory 46, no. 2 (Spring 1999): 239-263.


Shoemaker examines how gender-associated words could be used in diplomacy settings to show either taunt, reverence, or equality. She argues that the Delawares were always referred to as “women” as they were pacifists who need protections, while the King of England was frequently referred to as “father” and the British as their “brothers” to indicate equality. She cites speeches, minutes of councils, and official documents of Indian Affair as evidence, along with many scholarly sources for supports. The metaphors were not limited to mere addresses, but complicated description that often tie closely with contexts, such as the Delawares being reprimanded as bawd who have slept with French. The gender metaphors also suggested the power dynamics between the Indians and the British, whose growth from a younger brothers to an older brother indicates their position from subordinate to dominance. The author did very well in supporting her arguments with historical records, and she offered an insightful perspective to look at diplomatic relationships. It is important for our Gnadenhutten research to learn that the Moravians, part of the Delawares, have always been peace advocates (even before the converts) among the belligerent Indians, and thus have received both derision of their timidity and encouragement to become braver. It also provides us with an approach to look into the political status of these Moravian victims.


Shweinitz, Edmund. 1871. “The Massacre at Gnadenhutten. 1782” The life and times of David Zeisberger, 486-513.;view=1up;seq=490


In this chapter, Schweinitz discusses the overall capture of the missionaries with a specific focus on the takeover of the missions in Tuscarawas. The authors recounts the start of the massacre but specifically from the Christian Indians perspective, through the pious and religious values they held and how strongly united they were by their leaders, most importantly Zeisberger. Sources like diaries, journals and autobiographies have been used which help outline the personal and emotional details effectively. The author gives specific examples of religious accounts being prominent in uniting and giving strength to the Christian Indians during the war. We are given insight into how leaders like Zeisberger conducted hymns and seminars in churches, to give converts and warriors faith in always believing in God. We are also shown the pious attributes of Indians in not wanting to shed blood and kill especially of the white teachers. Such pious attributes are balanced by a depiction of the harsh treatment of prisoners, converts and women by the British and the gory details of riots and protests. These two representations give us insight into the pious nature of Christians Indians and how they held strong and united by their religion and leaders in such dangerous circumstances. The source gives useful information in getting insight into the events of the massacre from the eyes of the Christian Indians and also informing me about the importance of religion to them.

Sterner, Eric. “Moravians in the Middle: The Gnadenhutten Massacre.” Journal of the American Revolution, February 6, 2018.


Sterner carefully examined the timeline of Moravian pacifists’ situation and their geographical location amid the opposing sides, namely the pro-war Indian tribes versus the Continental armies along with the militia. He proposed that the Gnadenhutten massacre is the culmination of several antagonistic forces along the Ohio frontier and not just the work of bloodthirsty murderers. While many historical accounts accused singly the depraved militia for slaughtering the neutral and thus innocent Moravians, Sterner argued that the Moravians were not completely innocent as their attempts to appease both sides gave both sides reasons for suspicion, and that they persisted in Gnadenhutten where they knew was dangerous. Additionally, their fellow Indians (western tribes) also pushed them into fire by deliberately provoking settler animosity towards them as pro-war Indians frequently cross their villages for raids. The Continental authorities may also be blamed for their poor communication with the militia. Overall, I think Sterner provided a comprehensive analysis of all the factors that led to this bloody outcome of 96 Moravians being killed. This source is helpful as it provides us with multiple perspectives and directions to analyze and rationalize Gnadenhutten Massacre. Furthermore, given the direct and indirect causes and the responses of different parties to this disaster, it is possible to examine the influence this massacre has to future diplomatic relationships among these parties.


The Murder of the Christian Indians in North America, in the Year 1782 :A Narrative of Facts. 1826. 2nd ed. Dublin :


This source documents the murder of the Moravian Indians in Gnadenhutten in a narrative fashion. Although these particular Indians were Christian, amid a lot of difficult missionary work in the Americas, they were still obliterated in the most cruel and deceptive fashion. The events of the massacre were documented through the two survivors who made it to Sandusky. What was striking was that the Indians seemed at peace even while their death was foreboding. There seems to be a general argument that what the colonists did was appalling and disgusting; what is interesting is that had the Hurons been involved, they would have been seen as hostile warriors and the Gnadenhutten massacre would’ve been viewed very differently.


Westmeier, Karl-Wilhelm. “Becoming All Things to All People: Early Moravian Missions to Native North Americans.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, vol. 21, no. 4, Oct. 1997, pp. 172–76. Crossref, doi:10.1177/239693939702100407.


Westmeier detailed the process of Moravian missionary outreach to Native Americans and how the Gnadenhutten Massacre marked an end to assimilation of Native American into Christian religion. He first argued that Native Americans were able to be converted to the Christian faith in the 18th century due to the heavy emphasis by Moravian missionary that resonated with Native American’s peace vision. This was against the backdrop of general sentiments that Native American that they “don’t wish to be transformed into white men”. The Gnadenhutten Massacre at the end of the Revolutionary War caused Native Americans to abandon the Christian faith. American militia murdered an entire Moravian village despite the residents had been friendly to the Revolution. Westmeier argued that Native American grew suspicious of the missionaries because they believed that the missionaries would first “tame” them and then “sell” them to be massacred when they were defenseless. This source provides an interesting aspect of the Christian faith among Native Americans that would guide our analysis.




“Century of Gnadenhutten: Information about the Old Moravian Settlement and its Massacre.” The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia), May 9, 1882.


“From the American Journal of Science and Arts for October. Gnadenhutten.” The Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette (Columbus, Ohio), Nov. 19, 1836.


“Gnadenhutten: A Painful Incident in Ohio History.” Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois), Apr. 8, 1872.


“Gnadenhutten: Massacre of the Moravian Indians as Hundred Years Ago.” Wheeling register (Wheeling, West Virginia), May 24, 1882.


“Gnadenhutten: Story of the Massacre of the Moravian Indians.” Butler citizen (Butler, Pennsylvania), June 7, 1882.


“History of the Massacre, and the Events Which Led to It.” Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois), May 25, 1882.


“Stranger than Fiction: The True Story of A Famous Indian Massacre.” Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) Aug. 21, 1886.  


“The Gnadenhutten Massacre.” The Weely Ohio State Journal (Columbus, Ohio), Nov. 22, 1843.


“Visit to Gnadenhutten-Fearful Massacre of the Moravian Indians-Interesting Legend of the Events of 1782.” Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio), Sept. 13, 1867.

Am-State Papers


Lowrie, Walter and Walter S. Franklin. “Indian Affairs: Volume II.” In American State Papers: Documents Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, 1-126. Washington D.C.: Gales and Seaton, 1834.



Smith, Paul. Letters of Delegates to Congress. 8 vols. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976.

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