At the end of the French and Indian War, John Stuart, the superintendent of Indian affairs in South Carolina, negotiated this critical treaty at an Anglo-Indian conference held in Augusta, Georgia, in November 1763. The meeting was to inform the southeastern Indian tribes about the royal Proclamation Line of 1763 and to end permanently wars between the southern tribes and the English colonies. The dividing line was supposed to keep English colonists east of the Appalachian Mountains and reserve the land to the west for native peoples.
Stuart, along with governors from the southern colonies, met in Augusta with nearly one thousand native peoples from the Cherokee, Creek, Catawba, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Nations. The governors preferred to meet in Charleston, but the Creek Indians pressed for Augusta, which they considered their town as much as did the English. As a result of the treaty, South Carolina recognized the eastern boundary of the Cherokees. The agreement also established a 225-square-mile reservation for the Catawbas in present-day York County.
Over the next few years, various tribes aligned with South Carolina participated in defining the line as it passed through their lands. In 1766 the Cherokees hammered out the location of the dividing line in North Carolina and their leader, Ustenaka, laid down a string of beads across the proposed border. In 1768 Cherokee and South Carolina officials signed the Treaty of Hard Labor Creek, which demarcated a fifty-foot-wide line in South Carolina marked on nearby trees. The line in South Carolina ran from the Savannah River to White Oak Mountain on the North Carolina border. Most of present-day Anderson, Pickens, Greenville, and Oconee Counties lay to the west of the line and were part of Indian territory.
The Treaty of Augusta was one of many initiatives used by British authorities in their efforts to gain complete control over Indian affairs. The treaty failed, however, to keep white settlers from encroaching on Indian lands. With the onset of the Revolutionary War, British officials no longer mediated between the two sides, and conflict again broke out between the Cherokees and South Carolina by 1776.
Cashin, Edward J. The Story of Augusta. Augusta, Ga.: Richmond County Board of Education, 1980.
Hatley, M. Thomas. The Dividing Paths: Cherokees and South Carolinians through the Era of the Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Merrell, James H. The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.