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Western New York After the Revolutionary War


After the American Revolution, the lands of the Iroquois Six Nations were opened up to settlement. Many of the Iroquois had allied themselves with the British and the treaty with England recognized the Great Lakes as the northwestern boundary of the United States.

The states of New York and Massachusetts, who had competing claims for the area now known as Western New York, resolved their differences in 1786. Pioneers and land speculators soon followed.

Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, on April 1, 1788, agreed to pay the State of Massachusetts $1 million for its preemption claims to the lands of Western New York. However, it was not until after a rocky period of negotiations with the Seneca Indians (culminating in the Phelps and Gorham Treaty) that the Rochester and Monroe County area began to be settled in earnest by others.
Want to learn more?

Read the Rochester History article "Historic Aspects of the Phelps and Gorham Treaty of July 4-8, 1788" by Blake McKelvey. Included is the text of the Phelps and Gorham Treaty.

Rochester History, vol.1, no.1, January, 1939 [pdf]

Western New York in 1796