Indiana History April 08, 2016
by Paul Wonning , Guest Contributor 11 Incredible Historic Treasures To Visit In Vincennes, Indiana
On December 11, 2016, Indiana will be 200 years old, as Congress voted to admit Indiana as the sixteenth state on December 11, 1816. Before there was a state, Indiana was a territory. Vincennes served as the capital of the Indiana Territory from the time Congress formed it on March 7, 1800. It was the capital of the Territory until 1813, when the Territorial assembly moved it to Corydon in anticipation of Statehood. Founded by the French in 1702 as a trading post, Vincennes is loaded with history. These eleven sites are fun to visit while learning the history of the state.
1. The Wabash River
With its source near the Indiana border northeast of Fort Recovery, Ohio, the Wabash crosses the entire state of Indiana and forms the southern third of its boundary with Illinois. The Wabash is "Indiana's River." Celebrated in song, tale and history, the Wabash served as an important trade route and food source for the Amerindian tribes that inhabited its banks and for the early French and American settlers as the moved into the lands.
2. Sugar Loaf Indian Mound
Before the French came to Vincennes, Amerindian tribes inhabited this resource rich region. Used by tribes of the Late Woodland Period, this Indiana State Historic site is an ideal spot to contemplate the fate of the original inhabitants and take in the incredible vista seen from its summit.
3. Old Cathedral Library & Museum
The French constructed the first log church on this site around 1732. The Catholic Church constructed the current building in 1826. Visitors may arrange for a tour of this beautiful building during times mass is not in session.
4. George Rogers Clark National Historical Park
The French ceded Vincennes to the British at the end of the French and Indian War, in 1763. During the Revolutionary War Colonel George Rogers Clark wrested Vincennes from the British in 1778. The British recaptured the city in December 1778. Learning of his loss, Clark staged a daring, frigid February campaign across the frozen southern Illinois countryside to recapture the prize. His efforts put the city in American hands, solidifying the United States claims to this vast territory during the peace negotiations that ended the war.
After Congress created the Indiana Territory, President John Adams appointed William Henry Harrison as the governor over the vast, 259,824 square mile expanse. The Congress made Vincennes the capital. William Henry Harrison arrived at Vincennes, after traveling down the Ohio River and up the Wabash, in 1801. He had this house built, at his own expense, in 1804. Known as the "White House of the West," it was the first brick building constructed in the Indiana Territory. Visitors may tour the home.
6. Indiana Territorial Capitol
A short distance from Grouseland the Indiana Territorial Assembly met in this modest building. It would serve as the Territorial capitol until 1813.
7. Eli Stout Print Shop
Elihu Stout established the first print shop in the Indiana Territory in this building 1804.
8. Tecumseh Statue
The great Shawnee Chief conducted an angry meeting with William Henry Harrison in 1810. Angered by the 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne, Tecumseh demanded that Harrison rescind the treaty. Only the intervention of cooler heads prevented Tecumseh from killing Harrison on the spot.
9. Fort Knox II
The fort has not been restored, however a series of bronze plaques take the visitor through the history of this important, early fort on the banks of the Wabash River.
10. Indiana Military Museum
This 6500 square foot contains thousands of military artifacts, weapons and uniforms. Outside the museum, visitors will find fighter planes, armored vehicles and even a World War II German bunker
11. Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy
Red Skelton's career spanned many decades. One of America's favorite humorists, his television show, one of the longest running shows on television, movies and stage performances brought the gift of laughter to millions.
Visitors will find many other historic sites and attractions to make a visit well worth while. Do you have any favorite historic places in Vincennes that we missed? Visit
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