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George Rogers Clark (November 19, 1752 – February 13, 1818) was a soldier from Virginia and the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the Kentucky (then part of Virginia) militia throughout much of the war. Clark is best known for his celebrated captures of Kaskaskia (1778) and Vincennes (1779) during the Illinois Campaign, which greatly weakened British influence in the Northwest Territory. Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Clark has often been hailed as the "Conqueror of the Old Northwest."
Clark's military achievements all came before his 30th birthday. Afterwards he led militia in the opening engagements of the Northwest Indian War, but was accused of being drunk on duty. Despite his demand for a formal investigation into the accusations, he was disgraced and forced to resign. He left Kentucky to live on the Indiana frontier. Never fully reimbursed by Virginia for his wartime expenditures, Clark spent the final decades of his life evading creditors, and living in increasing poverty and obscurity. He was involved in two failed conspiracies to open the Spanish-controlled Mississippi River to American traffic. After suffering a stroke and loss of his leg, Clark was aided in his final years by family members, including his younger brother William, one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Clark died of a stroke on February 13, 1818.
George Rogers Clark was born on November 19, 1752 in Charlottesville, Virginia, near the home of Thomas Jefferson. He was the second of ten children of John Clark and Ann Rogers Clark, who were Anglicans of English and Scots ancestry. Five of their six sons became officers during the American Revolutionary War. Their youngest son, William Clark, was too young to fight in the Revolution, but later became famous as a leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In about 1756, after the outbreak of the French and Indian War (part of the worldwide Seven Years' War), the family moved away from the frontier to Caroline County, Virginia, and lived on a 400-acre (1.6 km2) plantation that later grew to over 2,000 acres (8.1 km2)
Little is known of Clark's schooling. He lived with his grandfather so he could attend Donald Robertson's school with James Madison and John Taylor of Caroline and received a common education. He was also tutored at home, as was usual for Virginian planters' children of the period. Becoming a planter, he was taught to survey land by his grandfather.
At age nineteen, Clark left his home on his first surveying trip into western Virginia. In 1772, as a twenty-year-old surveyor, Clark made his first trip into Kentucky via the Ohio River at Pittsburgh. Thousands of settlers were entering the area as a result of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1768. In 1774, Clark was preparing to lead an expedition of ninety men down the Ohio River when war broke out with the American Indians. Although most of Kentucky was not inhabited by Indians, several tribes used the area for hunting. The tribes living in the Ohio country had not been party to the treaty signed with the Cherokee, which ceded the Kentucky hunting grounds to Britain for settlement. They attacked the European-American settlers to try to push them out of the area, conflicts that eventually culminated in Lord Dunmore's War. Clark served in the war as a captain in the Virginia militia.
Lord Dunmore's War
- The following men served along side, with and for; George Rogers Clark: Simon Girty, Simon Kenton, the Cunningham brothers, Thomas, and Edward, William Crawford and Daniel Morgan.
The Intolerable Acts and the First Declaration of Independence
- If you paid attention to your history class, you may have heard about the passing of the Intolerable Acts. It was this document that drove the early Virginia Frontiersmen to draft up the Original First Declaration of Independence.
- These brave backwoods Virginians having just returned from a successful campaign under Lord Dunmore, discovered the passage of the Intolerable Acts. This meant they could find themselves under orders to stop an uprising of their own countrymen. If they were to raise any objection, this could be seen as treason.
- Instead of keeping quiet, they took matters into their own hands and many of those that had settled amid the great danger west of the Alleghenies in open defiance of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Among their number were many who were already famous as intrepid frontiersmen and others who were soon to gain fame as officers in the Revolution: Simon Kenton, the notorious Simon Girty, Michael Cresap, William Crawford, George Rogers Clark, Adam Stephen and Daniel Morgan. These men were not easily intimidated. I have provided the First Declaration of Independence below:
- GENTLEMEN:-Having now concluded the campaign, by the assistance of Providence, with honor and advantage to the colony and ourselves, it only remains that we should give our country the strongest assurance that we are ready, at all times, to the utmost of our power, to maintain and defend her just rights and privileges. We have lived about three months in the woods without any intelligence from Boston, or from the delegates at Philadelphia. It is possible, from the groundless reports of designing men, that our countrymen may be jealous of the use such a body would make of arms in their hands at this critical juncture. That we are a respectable body is certain, when it is considered that we can live weeks without bread or salt; that we can sleep in the open air without any covering but that of the canopy of heaven; and that our men can march and shoot with any in the known world. Blessed with these talents, let us solemnly engage to one another, and our country in particular, that we will use them to no purpose but for the honor and advantage of America in general, and of Virginia in particular. It behooves us then, for the satisfaction of our country, that we should give them our real sentiments, by way of resolves, at this very alarming crisis.
- "Whereupon the meeting made choice of a committee to draw up and prepare resolves for their consideration, who immediately withdrew, and after some time spent therein, reported that they had agreed to and prepared the following resolves, which were read, maturely considered and, agreed to, nemine contradicente, by the meeting, and ordered to be published in the Virginia Gazette:"
- "Resolved, That we will bear the most faithful allegiance to His Majesty, King George the Third, whilst His Majesty delights to reign over a brave and free people; that we will, at the expense of life, and everything dear and valuable, exert ourselves in support of his crown, and the dignity of the British Empire. But as the love of liberty, and attachment to the real interests and just rights of America outweigh every other consideration, we resolve that we will exert every power within us for the defense of American liberty, and for the support of her just rights and privileges; not in any precipitate, riotous or tumultuous manner, but when regularly called forth by the unanimous voice of our countrymen."
- “Resolved, That we entertain the greatest respect for His Excellency, the Right Honorable Lord Dunmore, who commanded the expedition against the Shawnese; and who, we are confident, underwent the great fatigue of this singular campaign from no other motive than the true interest of this country.
- "Signed by order and in behalf of the whole corps, “BENJAMIN ASHBY, Clerk.
Note: General George Rogers Clark was a Revolutionary War Veteran and the founder of Louisville, Kentucky. He was an excellent frontiersman, a skilled Indian negotiator and a superb Military commander. Concerned with the safety of settlers exposed to attack from both the British and their Indian allies in the American Revolution, he led an expedition north of the Ohio River to capture British outposts. His Military exploits in Illionis, Kentucky and Ohio helped to secure those regions for the United States.
Tragically, after serving his country faithfully, George in his old age was left to a life of povery and obscurity. The State of Virginia gave him a sword as a token of thanks, to which he replied, "When Virginia needed a sword, I gave her one. She sends me now a toy. I want bread".
* Burial: Cave Hill Cemetery Louisville Jefferson County Kentucky, USA Plot: SECTION P Lot 245
Find a Grave Note
Beware: There are two profiles on Find A Grave for same man. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=143763651
- WikiTree profile Clark-8624 created through the import of CJB001.ged on Jul 18, 2012 by Christopher Becker. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Christopher and others.
- ↑ https://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/07/03/backwoods-virginians-and-the-first-declaration-of-independence/?relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=1470&relatedposts_position=0
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On 14 Nov 2014 at 04:25 GMT Doug Lockwood wrote:
George is 18 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 20 degrees from Charlotte Brontë, 16 degrees from Bob Keniston, 17 degrees from Ben Kingsley and 15 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.