Vincennes became the center of the struggle on the frontier between Great Britain and the United States. Fort Sackville, which sat where the Clark Memorial does today, was captured by American Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark in February 1779. The fort’s capture assured the claims of the United States on the Northwest Territory, land that eventually became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the eastern portion of Minnesota. The battle at Vincennes included about 170 men fighting on the American side, and about 75 on the British side. Despite these numbers, the Clark Memorial today stands as one of the largest monuments on a battlefield in the United States. The memorial also sits on the site of two other forts built both before and after Fort Sackville. French fur traders established a trading post in 1732 to take advantage of the lucrative beaver trade in the area. Almost 40 years after the American Revolution, a new fort was built on the site of the old French trading post and Fort Sackville, today it is known as Fort Knox III.
The memorial building contains seven murals and a statue of George Rogers Clark. It was completed in 1933 and dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. The basement of the memorial struggled with leaks for many years which caused the formation of stalagmites and stalactites, which were remedied by a 2008-2009 restoration project. It now stands as a silent reminder of the accomplishments of Clark and his frontiersmen. The building and the 26 acres around it became part of the National Park Service on July 23, 1966.
Submitted by Park Ranger, Jason Collins