The ancient star fort at Historic Fort Wayne Detroit should be rebuilt to pre 1776 standards and funded as a national landmark of unity for the URBAN-KNIGHTS, SUBURBAN-KNIGHTS and all who love their freedoms – symbolizing the preservation of a free people.
Do most people in the suburbs living around Detroit worry about their drinking water? Not likely. They just assume it will be there when they need it because they are too busy to be bothered with the details. You can bet if a hostile enemy captured Detroit and turned off their water millions in the suburbs would be faced with recapturing Detroit or dying of thirst. The control of water has always been the life sustaining strategic resource. Ancient legends have been written about the subject; Saint George fighting the Dragon to get control over the water is one of many such stories. The legend of Saint George and the dragon is common to many diverse cultures around the world. It wasn’t that long ago our common ancestors in America had to stand up to another George, King George III. Instead of serving the people, old George thought the people should serve him with a new slave-based militarized roman empire. Old George knew the only way to keep the empire funded was to control the people’s water. In those days there were no cars, rail or air transportation, the water had a strategic importance, it was the only efficient means of transportation and without it people would die. Cities and villages were all located nearby the transportation waterways. If they did not get their shipments of commodities, like salt, the people would not last the winter because salt was used for long term food preservation. “Until modern times it provided the principal way to preserve food … Salt was to the ancient Hebrews, and still is to modern Jews, the symbol of the eternal nature of God’s covenant with Israel … In Christianity, salt is associated not only with longevity and permanence but, by extension, with the truth and wisdom. The Catholic Church dispenses not only holy water but holy salt, Sal Sapientia, the Salt of Wisdom,” said Mark Kurlansky. Old George knew he had to control the water ways, and to do it, forts were built all over Middle America at narrow points along the rivers and lakes. One such place was Detroit that also had the Native-American name Yon-do-ti-ga, Springhill, or Springwells; named after all the natural spring water that flowed from the land. No one could get past the fort’s cannons that were located at the narrowest point of the river. “Detroit’s origins as a French out post make it older than many other cities of eastern North America, despite its inland location,” said Brain Dunningan in Frontier Metropolis. Detroit’s ancient star fort still stands, but after many modifications, it’s has lost its importance and we have lost our common identity born from our common struggle for freedom. The ancient star fort of Historic Fort Wayne Detroit should be rebuilt to pre 1776 standards and be funded as a national landmark of unity for the URBAN-KNIGHTS, SUBURBAN-KNIGHTS, and all who love freedom – symbolizing the preservation of a free people.
Detroit’s Historic Fort Wayne symbolizes the past, present and future struggle for the Great Lakes. Whoever owned Historical Fort Wayne controlled the gateway to the Great Lakes and western expansion. Many walked all over individual freedom in the name of their empire – French, British, American and Michigan Territorial Governors to name a few. In the book, The Sixty Years War for the Great Lakes, 1754-1814, the author points out the significance of the Great Lakes Wars which looks at all the past conflicts, French-Indian War, Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 as a whole between powers who wished to rule and control the Great Lakes. Some warring parties did not care about individual freedom, just their absolute control. The winner gets to control 6 quadrillion gallons of fresh water; one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water or more than 94,000 square miles of water larger than the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire combined. In the early days the Great Lakes region had many mining operations, Iron, copper, gold, and salt. Today, wealth in commodities’ shipped is estimated to be 162 million net tons of bulk cargo moved on the lakes. This was, in order of volume: iron ore, grain and potash; a fertilizing salt that helps feed the world. The Sixty Years War for the Great Lakes is over but the struggle for freedom and water continues. Approximately 4.2 million people rely on Detroit for their water and individual freedom is still at risk.
Historical Fort Wayne, the ancient star fort, is a symbol of the past struggles that carry the lessons learned about maintaining and keeping freedom over ruthless leadership that cares about nothing but its own power and who has proven more than capable of inhumane enslavement of people. These forts can still be found all over the world. Fort Ticonderoga in New York and Fort San Marcos in Saint Augustine Florida are two examples of ancient forts that are national landmark and have national funding, Historical Fort Wayne does not. Some of the forts were part of the slave trade while some were part of the fur trade but all were used to exercise power. On an old map of New France, which only covered the Great Lakes region, there were over twenty eight French forts in the early 1700s. This does not include British or American forts. “The Detroit of the Sixty Year’ War is entirely foreign to us today, having been swept away first by disaster, as the town burned in 1805, and then by relentless nineteen-century growth that removed any landmarks beyond the post-fire street plan and whatever archaeological fragments remain,” said Brain Leigh Dunnigan. While touring Historical Fort Wayne, I noticed many layers of time. The outer walls were redone during the civil war; the basic outer foot print matches the Revolutionary War forts, Trumbull and Griswold across the Detroit River at the Thames. The gunpowder magazine appeared to be ancient, and the 1796 head stone of Peter Audrain was at the fort too. Peter worked for several occupying powers, one of which was American General Anthony Wayne in 1796. The fort was named in Wayne’s honor after the victory of the battle of fallen timbers in 1794 in old Michigan Territory, now called Maumee Ohio. In the era of the Sixty Year War, Historical Fort Wayne was outside the city limits of Detroit. It was located in Springwells Township, and it probably was not part of the 1805 fire. Springwells started being annexed by Detroit starting in 1849, before merging with Detroit in1924, and then the township ceased to exist. Some suggest Historical Fort Wayne did not exist at its present location, however, looking at the oldest maps you will discover a nearby area marked ship yards that were near the present location of the fort. “The Great Lakes region is seldom included in scholarly analysis of the American Revolutionary War. The handful of existing studies focus almost exclusively on land operations, such as George Rogers Clark’s famous exploits within Illinois Country. Meanwhile, navy activity on the Great Lakes during the war is continually overlooked,’ said Stephen Al-Hakim. During the Sixty Year War you can bet there were a lot of troops nearby to guard the ships at or near Historical Fort Wayne.
There is no disputing Detroit was the center of all of the Wars between 1754 and 1814 and while the territory switched hands, so did freedom. “Sleep not longer, O Choctaws and Chickasaws, in false security and delusive hopes,” said Chief Tecumseh in 1811. In her book, Memories, Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad outlines her family tree being connected with Choctaws, Cherokee and Black Foot Indians. “Eugene Rixner was a Creole of Black, Indian, Chinese and White heritage … He was a Buffalo Soldier,” said Claudette. Depending on the decade, slaves that wanted to keep their freedom were either going north of the Detroit River to Canada or South to Detroit depending on the politics of slavery at the time. In 1709 New France outlawed slavery which was an early magnet to people that wanted land and freedom, but after the French and Indian war in 1760, folks were under British rule, and slavery was enforced. After the American Revolution, most of New France, called the Northwest Territory or Michigan, was free. “The North West ordinance forbids slavery after 1787 but land turned over by the British on July 11, 1796, meaning Detroit, had a selective interpretation of slavery,” said Gene Allen Smith Historian from Texas Christian University. American and the British offered freedom to those who would fight during the American Revolution. “Over 25,000 black troops served the Continental Army (5,000) and the British Army (20,000) on the promise of freedom and a better life ahead. ‘No regiment is to be seen in which there are not Negroes in abundance and among them are able bodied, strong and brave fellows,’ Brown 1867… I believe that, with the exception of the black church, no institution has had a more profound and progressive impact on black Americans than the military,” said Robert Morris. Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton Jr., USA (Ret.) in the same book pointed out, “Black Faces of War shows you some of these men and women, a tiny number compared to the hundreds of thousands that served proudly since America fought to be fee.” The National Archives released a special collection of documents from the 1790 census listing thousands of free black heads of families. The War Department also released a list of black servicemen that served during the Revolutionary war – reference 73-600311 and 73-600195 at the Library of Congress. After the revolution Canada was slowly ending slavery. “The old Northwest territory offered a refuse for slaves fleeing from Upper Canada … Canada started prohibiting slavery in 1793 but the provision did not apply to everyone. The institution was being slowly phased out. Michigan held out the prospects of immediate freedom to slaves in Canada,” said smith. Later, under Judge Augustus Woodward, selective enforcement started with the Dennison case which forced some freedom seeking slaves from the south into Canada during the days of the Underground Railroad.
Depending on who was ruling Detroit, French-Indian, British, Military, American or Michigan Governors, forts seem to come and go in the history books. At least during different times in history the fort’s name and location would change but one thing that is certain, the story is local and powerful, making the ancient star fort at Historic Fort Wayne – historic and a symbolic reminder. It is a story of a people trying to live through chaos and dysfunctional leadership. It is a story of all peoples. It is the story of the URBAN-KNIGHTS and the SUBURBAN-KNIGHTS of Detroit, when tested they will fight for their freedoms. “America! America! God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self control, Thy Liberty in law,” said Francis Campbell State President of Michigan Society Daughters of the American Revolution January 14th, 1930. There was a time when the people of Detroit celebrated events at Detroit’s forts. In 1896 Michigan’s Governor John T. Rich issued a proclamation to the people of the State of Michigan on June 24th, 1896. Saying for many years after the cessation of active hostilities between Great Britain and the United States in the Revolutionary War, the British refused to carry out the terms of the peace and surrender to the Americans the territory they had won, and it was not until the 11th of July, 1796, at Detroit, that the British flag finally ceased to float over any part of the country whose independence had been acknowledged thirteen years before. It is proposed to recognize the centennial of the evacuation of Detroit by the British, by a celebration at Detroit on the 11th day of next July. The British would go on to plot another siege of Detroit in the War of 1812. There were over thirty major battle sites in and around the great lakes. Two battles have names tied to the Detroit area, the battle at Fort Wayne in Indiana and the battle of Fort Dearborn in Chicago. According to history books, both were not local battles yet we have military facilities with the same names in the Detroit area. All the ruling powers dreamed of controlling the Great Lakes, and because they wanted western expansion, the War of 1812 was the end of freedom for many in the Michigan and the Northwest Territory. The ancestors of the URBAN-KNIGHTS and the SUBURBAN-KNIGHTS would go on to be trained to fight in the civil war with many battles in the south and in the state of Illinois.
Many historians and scholars will disagree with my view that Historic Fort Wayne should be a national landmark. They write history with an eye towards the future. Some use history to shape public opinion towards the future they want to create which appears to be dividing the URBAN-KNIGHTS from the SUBURBAN-KNIGHTS. “Several generations of historians held that the conquests of George Rogers Clark, (in 1778), saved Michigan and the Northwest for the United States. But a careful study of the peace negotiations has led the foremost authority on the subject and many other writers in recent years to deny that such was the case,” said Willis Frederick Dunbar. I have seen enough to see a repeated pattern that might cause a problem over a long period of time. I call it scholarly-drift, or creep. They religiously believe their original source material in the archives is without error and whoever has the best argument wins. I noticed that most of the public funds are spent on funding the arguments, but almost nothing is invested on validation through archeological efforts. Historic Fort Wayne is an easy test. Take a sample from the large stone in the gun powder magazine and see if hard science can yield a scientific date. Detroit Police divers have found many ancient cannons in the Detroit River that appear to be 16th or 17th century. On October 8th, 2011, the Detroit police diving unit discovered another old cannon. It was twenty feet off the Cobo Hall River Walk and it was covered with mussels.
As long as scholars get paid, they will continue to argue over Historical Fort Wayne. It is my view they get paid to disagree and argue over tiny details that drive the history books. I think government actions or inactions speak louder than expert opinion on historical archives. The City of Detroit gets almost no funding to support Historical Fort Wayne and if they had money from an outside source they still cannot do much because everything they want to do must be approved by the State of Michigan in Lansing and the Federal Department of Interior located in Nebraska. So, If Historical Fort Wayne is not what I believe it to be, then why is the state and federal governments guarding it? Even if we agree to disagree, Historical Fort Wayne is symbolic and should be funded as a national landmark for the URBAN-KNIGHTS and the SUBURBAN-KNIGHTS, and all who want to keep their freedoms will come to find out the rest of their story.
Angell, Jas. B. Rich, John. T. The Centennial Celebration of the Evacuation of Detroit by the British Report of the Proceedings, with addresses of Col. H. M. Duffield, Senator J. C. Burrows, and President Jas. B. Angell. Detroit, Michigan.1896. Print.
Al-Hakim, Stephen. “Little Navy on the Great Lakes” Revolutionary Detroit Portraits in Political and Cultural Change 1760-1805, Published by Detroit Historical Society, 2010. Print.
Clarkson, Sidney W. Historical Record of the Michigan Daughters of the American Revolution 1893-1930 Michigan Historical Record Printed by Adrian College Press. 1930. Print.
Conway, James. Jamroz, David F. Images of America Detroit’s Historic Fort Wayne Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC. 2007. Print.
Dunbar, Willis Frederick. Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State, William B. Eerdmans, Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1965. Print.
Dunnigan, Brian Leigh. Frontier Metropolis Picturing Early Detroit, 1701-1838, published with the assistance of the Wilkinson Foundation and the Ambassador Bridge Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan. 2001. Print.
Farmer, Silas. History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan A Chronological Cyclopedia of the Past and Present by the City Historiographer “native here and to the manner born”, Published by Silas Farmer & Company. Detroit, Michigan.1890. Print.
Hurwitz, Jerry. “Fort Griswold: The Revolution’s Alamo” Patriots of the American Rev. Vol.4-5,Pub. by Ertel Pub., (2011): 34-44. Print.
Kurlansky, Mark. Salt A World History Penguin Books, 2002. Print.
Lossing, Benson J. The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 Reprint, Firebird Press a division of Pelican Publishing, 1868. Print.
Morris, Robert V. Black Faces of War A Legacy of Honor From The American Revolution to Today, Zenith Press MBI Publishing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2011. Print.
Muhammad, Marie Claudette Memories Published by FCI, Printed in the United States of America. 2006. Print.
Newman, Debra L. List of Free Black Heads of Families in the First Census of the United States 1790 National Archives Records Service General Services Administration Library of Congress Catalog No.73-600195, Washington D.C, 1973. Print.
Newman, Debra L. List of Black Servicemen Compiled From the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records. National Archives Records Service General Services Administration Library of Congress Catalog No.73-600311, Wa. D.C., 1973. Print.
Poling, Jim Sr. Tecumseh Shoot Star, Crouching Panther, Dunbar Press Toronto, Ontario Canada, 2009. Print.
Skaggs, David Curtis. Nelson, Larry L. Dunnigan, Leigh Brian. The Sixty Years’ War for the Great Lakes, 1754-1814, Michigan State University Press, Lansing, Michigan, 2001. Print.
Smith, Gene. Quotes from his presentation at Detroit Historical Museum Event – After Tippecanoe the Old Northwest
in the War of 1812 on Nov. 8, 2011, Professor Smith of Texas Christian University presented “African Americans in the War of 1812”