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University of Pittsburgh Press

Council Fires On the Upper Ohio

Council Fires On the Upper Ohio

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Told from the viewpoint of the Indians, this account of Indian-white relations during the second half of the eighteenth century is an exciting addition to the historical literature of Pennsylvania.

From the beginning, when the white traders followed the first Shawnee hunters into Pennsylvania, until the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, the region's history was the history of the relationship between the Indians and the whites. For nearly half a century the Indian maintained a precarious hold upon Western Pennsylvania by playing one white faction off against the anther, first the French against the British, then the British against the Americans.

Author: Randolph Downes
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Published: 06/30/1969
Pages: 384
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 1.13lbs
Size: 8.51h x 5.51w x 0.92d
ISBN: 9780822952015

About the Author

Noted historian Dr. Randolph Chandler Downes taught at the University of Toledo for 25 years from 1946 to 1971. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1923, and then earned an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin.

He taught at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, from 1923 to 1927, when he took a position at The Ohio State University and began work on his Ph.D. Ohio State awarded him his doctorate in 1929 and he joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh. During his years at Pittsburgh, he served as a fellow of the Social Science Research Council and a research associate with the historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. He won promotion to associate professor in 1932. Downes left Pittsburgh in 1936 to take a position at Centenary Junior College in Hackettstown, New Jersey. A year later, he went to Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, where he taught until 1940.

During the early 1940s, Dr. Downes worked for the Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration in Akron and Cincinnati, and as a state research supervisor in Columbus. He lectured at Smith College from 1943 until 1946, when he joined the University of Toledo.

From 1947 until 1960, Downes served in a dual capacity as University of Toledo faculty member and director of the Historical Society of Northwest Ohio (now Maumee Valley Historical Society) and editor if its journal, the Northwest Ohio Quarterly. He continued as editor of the journal until shortly before his death.

During his career, Downes published more than 45 articles and 13 books. He specialized first in Native American and frontier Ohio history and later in Northwest Ohio and the Maumee Valley, before turning to the study of Warren G. Harding in the mid-1950s. His books include: Frontier Ohio (1934), Guidebook of Historic Sites in Western Pennsylvania (1938), Council Fires on the Upper Ohio: A Narrative of Indian Affairs in the Upper Ohio Valley until 1795 (1940), Ashland's Eternity Acres (1942), The Conquest, Beginning to 1812 (1948), Canal Days, 1812-1850 (1949), Lake Port, 1850-1875 (1950), the 3 volume History of Lake Shore Ohio (1952), Industrial Beginnings, 1875-1900 (1954), The Maumee Valley, U.S.A. (1955), The Evolution of Ohio County Boundaries (1970), and The Rise of Warren Gamaliel Harding, 1865-1920 (1970). In 1946 he published his "Preliminary Report on the Navajo" for the New York Association on American Indian Affairs, resulting in his employment as a consultant, revising a ten-year plan for the Navajo Indians for the Secretary of the Interior.

From the mid-1950s through 1970, Downes concentrated his research on the life of Warren G. Harding. Largely through his efforts, the Harding Papers, previously kept inaccessible by the Harding Memorial Association, were opened to researchers as part of the collection of the Ohio Historical Society. Downes was among the first scholars to study the Harding Papers. The Ohio State University Press published his 700 page book in 1970. Downes was angered by what he believed to be censorship, when several Harding family members were allowed to edit the work prior to publication. Dr. George Harding III, nephew to the former president, claimed the family had the right to edit based on the doctrine of literary rights, and Weldon A. Kefauver, editor of the OSU Press, agreed. Downes was further angered by what he perceived as deliberate efforts to delay publication. However, because he was anxious to see the book published and was discouraged by a lack of interest by other publishers, he agreed to the editing. The book received generally positive reviews, and was recognized as a complete and detailed account of Harding's career up until his presidential election. Downes was lauded for his scholarly and thorough methodology and for his largely unbiased interpretations, but some criticized the book's length and overly detailed narratives.
Downes retired from the University of Toledo in 1971. The Association of Ohio Historical Societies gave him its Award of Achievement for "his painstaking research of many aspects of Ohio History, the authorship of many books and other publications, and his diligent efforts as editor of the Northwest Ohio Quarterly". In the same year, the Ohio Academy of History honored him with its Distinguished Service Award for his "outstanding lifelong contributions to the field of history". The University of Toledo awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in 1974. He held lifetime honorary memberships in the Ohio Historical Society, Phi Alpha Theta history honorary, and the Maumee Valley Historical Society which named him Editor Emeritus of the Northwest Ohio Quarterly. He also belonged to Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Ohioana Library Association.

Randolph Downes died on July 14th, 1975.
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