Catawba Chief Hagler, who adopted the title of “King” to better communicate his status to European colonists, led the Catawba from about 1750 to his death in 1763. King Hagler was a diplomatic ally to the English colonists and was courted by the early Colonial officials in North and South Carolina for assistance during the Seven Years War. In exchange, King Hagler requested the colonists send ammunition, horses, and other goods to his nation, as well as build a fort for the protection of women and children in the coming war. The Catawba also actively protected the colonists from the Cherokee as relations became tense in the 1750s.
No known image of King Hagler exists from his lifetime. This imagined image is from the Trail of History statue of Hagler by noted local artist Chas Fagan. Credit: King Hagler, Chas Fagan. 2014. White resin cast of final-scale statue mold, 55 inches. Collection of the artist.
Toward the end of King Hagler’s leadership, a smallpox epidemic reduced the Nation’s population to less than 1,000 people. At the same time, King Hagler pursued diplomatic negotiations for a land agreement with England that would protect the Catawba from colonial expansion. He actively worked towards this goal until his death in 1763. After his death, the English deeded 144,000 thousand acres to the Catawba Nation in an agreement named after King Hagler.
King Hagler’s most lasting impact is seen in the state border between North and South Carolina, where it appears that South Carolina has jutted into North Carolina. In the Treaty of Pine Tree Hill, and later in the Treaty of Augusta which was finalized after his death, King Hagler insisted that the boundaries of the Catawba Nation lie within South Carolina. So even today, the border between the two states frames part of the land allocated to the Catawba.
It should be noted that the resolution of the land agreements in 1760 and 1763 did not end friction between colonists and the Catawba Nation. Where Indigenous People are concerned, it is a common theme in American history that the government would go back on their word. This instance is not an exception. The most important take-away however, is that, despite what they have faced over the centuries, the Catawba are survivors – they are going strong and keeping their traditions alive today.
This 1775 map outlines the borders of the Catawba Nation at that time, which included the 144,000 acres negotiated by King Hagler in the 1760s. Credit: An Accurate Map of North and South Carolina/Mouzon Map. Henry Mouzon. 1775. North Carolina Maps, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.
The Chas Fagan Retrospective prominently features King Hagler. Opening day of the Catawba pottery exhibit “The Language of Clay: Catawba Indian Pottery and Oral Tradition” is Saturday, July 31. Find visiting information and tickets at charlottemuseum.org.
“The Language of Clay: Catawba Indian Pottery and Oral Traditions” is a traveling exhibition, organized by the University of South Carolina Lancaster.
Until next time!
UNC Charlotte Graduate Student
Summer Intern – The Charlotte Museum of History
About The Charlotte Museum of History
The Charlotte Museum of History exists to save and share the Charlotte region’s history, helping create a better understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future. The museum is the steward of the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Rock House and homesite, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest home in Mecklenburg County. Visit charlottemuseum.org and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The museum is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
This post is based on an essay by Jim Williams for the Charlotte 240 project, a collection of essays written by Charlotteans that explore regional history and highlight the people, places, and spaces that tell our story. You can find the original article here.
Kratt, Mary. Charlotte North Carolina: A Brief History. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009.
“About the Nation” The Catawba Nation.
“Hagler,” Anne M. McCullough. 2017. South Carolina Encyclopedia, University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies.
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“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass