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Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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the flags over detroit
We all know that the settlement at Detroit has fallen under the flags of France, Britain, and the United States at different times in its history, but I've recently become interested in breaking down those time periods into more distinct jurisdictions. Mostly relying on Silas Farmer's The History of Detroit and Michigan, I have laid out this geographic history since 1701 below.

Obviously, people occupied this region for thousands of years before Cadillac's settlement. A man-made earth mound dating back nine centuries is preserved on the grounds at Historic Fort Wayne near the River Rouge. For simplicity's sake (i.e. laziness) I'm sticking to the European settlement of "Detroit".

* * * * *

New France

By the authority invested in him by King Louis XIV, Cadillac landed on July 24, 1701 to establish Fort Pontchartrain on "the strait of Lake Erie", which the French called le détroit du Lac Érie. He invited Ottawa, Huron, and Potawatomi tribes to establish villages in the area, which slowly grew into a prosperous trading center.

Great Britain - Indian Reserve

During the French and Indian War, on November 29, 1760, the British took over the settlement at Detroit. Although the British obviously weren't friendly to the Native Americans, in 1763 the King officially forbade the eastern colonists to settle west of the Appalachian Mountains. The area south of the Canadian provice of Quebec was designated an "Indian reserve".

Image source: americanindiantah.com


I should admit right away that I'm cheating by using the modern flag of Quebec here. As far as I can tell no such thing existed at that time.

Anyway, on June 22, 1774 the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act, which extended the boundaries of the province southward, all the way down to the Ohio River.

The Act also restored French civil law among its inhabitants and gave religious liberties to Roman Catholics, which infuriated the Catholic-hating colonies, who had been hoping to expand westward into the Ohio River Valley themselves. The Quebec Act was one of the so-called "intolerable acts" that began the American Revolution.

The United States of America

The Revolutionary War ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Questions over the boundaries between Canada and the United States were resolved with Jay's Treaty in 1795. Any Indian claims to lands near Detroit ended with the Treaty of Greenville, enacted that same year.

Although Detroit was technically within United States territory after the Treaty of Paris, the U.S. flag did not fly over the fort at Detroit until Colonel Jean-François Hamtramck took command on July 11, 1796.

To make this in-between time more awkward, multiple colonies had laid claim to this territory. By October 1780, the U.S. government passed a law declaring that it would be Federal land, and to be used to benefit the new nation as a whole.

Northwest Territory

On July 13, 1787, Congress enacted an ordinance establishing a territorial government of the land northwest of the Ohio River. Its first capital was Marietta, Ohio, which had a central square named Campus Martius, from which the similar public space in Detroit derives its name.

The capital was moved to Chillicothe, Ohio in 1799. It was in the old courthouse in Chillicothe that the territorial government officially incorporated the settlement at Detroit as a town on January 18, 1802.

Indiana Territory

Image source: briancellar.com

In 1800, the Northwest Territory was divided in half, with the western portion becoming the Indiana Territory, but Detroit remained part of the Northwest Territory at the time.

On March 3, 1803, Ohio gained statehood, and the remaining fragment of the Northwest Territory in which Detroit was situated became part of the Indiana Territory.

Image source: Silas Farmer's The History of Detroit and Michigan

The territorial capital at the time was Vincennes, Indiana. Silas Farmer describes the territorial government as being "indifferent" to Detroit, and the people of the far east end of the territory petitioned the Federal government for the creation of a new jurisdiction in 1804.

Michigan Territory

Image source: briancellar.com

On January 11, 1805, congress passed a law--taking effect June 30, 1805--creating the Michigan Territory. Detroit was made its capital. However, it wasn't until September 13, 1806 that the territorial government incorporated the town of Detroit into a full-fledged city.

Great Britain

On August 16, 1812, the British flag was raised over the fort at Detroit, following the surrender of General Willam Hull during the War of 1812

The United States of America

Following losses in several naval battles on Lake Erie, the British pulled out of Detroit on September 29, 1813.

State of Michigan

A convention for a state constitution was held in Detroit from May through June of 1835. On January 26, 1837, Michigan became the 26th State in the Union. Detroit was its first capitol, but Lansing became the permanent seat of the state government in 1848.

The People's Republic of Obama

Days before the November 8, 2016 presidential election, Kenyan-born Muslim Barack Hussein Obama will proclaim himself Dictator for Life, distribute welfare checks to all Detroit residents, and send every registered firearm owner to the FEMA camps now being built in Independence Township.