The new convention center, ballparks, and the many
entrepreneurial efforts of revitalization in Pittsburgh are all components that
streak a bleak economic sky with a multitude of silver linings.
Most fiscally astute people maintain that Pittsburgh is
in trouble, serious trouble. Clearly, Pittsburgh is struggling, with Allegheny
County ranking third in population loss in the last decade – 9.6%. Faced with
342,243 less people from the baby boom of the 1950's (1950 - 676,806 down to
334,563 in 2000) Pittsburgh’s seemingly impossible challenge is to keep its
infrastructure of roads, bridges, sewer, public water system, along with its
parks, schools, public buildings and a whole host of other services humming
along. The problem is that such services were planned to be supported by 700,000
citizens. With less then 334,000 taxpayers to carry the burdens of an aging
infrastructure, it is no wonder our elected officials felt compelled to announce
in November 2003 that they are seeking “distressed status” for the city
of Pittsburgh to avoid filing for bankruptcy.
As a native New Yorker, who married a Pittsburgh Lady and is raising eight
children in Allegheny County, I feel compelled, at the very least, to suggest a
direction for the town fathers:
Broadcast the life of Young George Washington.
Yes, the Father of Our Country, George Washington got
his historic start in Pittsburgh!
In October 1753 Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia
sent young George Washington to what was then Western Virginia to warn the
French to stay out of the Alleghenies. He kept a detailed diary and on November
24th, 250 years ago, Washington reached the Point and wrote:
As I got down before the Canoe, I spent some
Time in viewing the Rivers, and the Land in the Fork; which I think extremely
well situated for a Fort, as it has the absolute Command of both Rivers. The
Land at the Point is 20 or 25 Feet above the common Surface of the Water; and a
considerable Bottom of flat, well-timbered Land all around it, very convenient
for Building: The Rivers are each a Quarter of a Mile, or more, across, and run
here very near at right Angles: Aligany bearing N. E. and Monongahela S. E. The
former of these two is a very rapid and swift running Water; the other deep and
still, without any perceptible fall.
Washington continued his mission to reach the French
Commander Legardeur de Saint Pierre who was headquartered in Erie. The young
lieutenant arrived at Fort Presque Isle on December 11th requesting
of the French Commander "by what Authority he had made Prisoners of several
of our English Subjects," Pierre replied "that the Country belonged to
them; that no Englishman had a Right to trade upon those Waters; and that he had
Orders to make every Person Prisoner who attempted it on the Ohio, or the Waters
of it." The French Commander’s formal letter to the Governor of Virginia was
delivered by Washington in Williamsburg on January 16, 1754 and it was equally
The arduous expedition and detailed diary led to
Washington’s promotion to Colonel and an outfitting of men to re-claim The
Point for Virginia, King and Country. The French, wasting no time in
Washington’s five month absence built Fort Duquesne in less than four months.
It was on May 28th, 1754 at Jumonville Glen that Washington launched his almost
miraculous military career by intercepting a small French encampment detached
from Fort Duquesne to scout for British resistance. Washington, instead of
parlaying, fired the first shot, captured the detachments and this act was the
final spark that ignited the French and Indian War in America. George
Washington’s military career was born on this spring day in May.
Young George Washington’s courage and military ability
were to be tested several more times in the course of what became commonly known
as the French and Indian War. After his altercation at Jumonville Glen
Washington retreated east and hastily constructed Fort Necessity to prepare for
the imminent French retaliation from Fort Duquesne. The French arrived at Great
Meadows in late June and by July 3rd Washington had no other option
but to accept the terms of surrender permitting him and the garrison to
"retire into his own country." Shortage of supplies, ammunition, lack of men
and a poorly designed fort had led to the first defeat of Washington's career
despite a valiant defense.
In February 1755, a new British Campaign headed by Major
General Edward Braddock left Alexandria, Virginia for The Point. Young
George Washington was sought out by the British Commander and became the only
colonial officer admitted to the prestigious general staff. Their mission and
the British mind-set was best summed-up by Braddock:
"After taking Fort Duquesne," said the general, "I am to proceed to
Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac if the season will allow time, and
I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly detain me above three or four days;
and then I can see nothing that can obstruct my march to Niagara."
The expedition made slow progress, but at last drew near the fort, and crossed
the Monongahela where General Braddock and his 2400 British regulars were
surprised by a force of 900 French and Native Americans. Most of Braddock’s
troop’s panicked and over 1200 men were killed or seriously wounded. Of
Braddock's staff, only Colonel Washington was alive, relatively well, and
managed to lead the surviving troops to safety. Braddock, himself, was mortally
shot through the arm and into his chest. He died during the British retreat to
eastern Virginia. General Braddock was buried in the middle of the road near
Fort Necessity to avoid his body's detection by the Indians.
In the autumn of 1758 British Brigadier General John
Forbes was placed in command of the expedition against Fort Duquesne. The
Forbes Campaign numbered 1,200 highlanders, 350 royal Americans, and about 5,000
provincials, including about 1,000 Virginians under the command of Colonel
George Washington. The expedition took a new route through Western
Pennsylvania that was uneventful except for Forbes taking ill and Washington
almost being killed by friendly fire at Fort Ligonier. Passing the field where
the bones of Braddock's men lay unburied, the expedition finally reached Fort,
Duquesne on November 25th. The Fort had been blown up and abandoned by the
French on the previous day. Washington's men took possession of the Point and
the Virginia Colonel personally raised the British Flag over the Three Rivers
thus ending his military campaign began 5 years earlier. Forbes renamed The
Point Fort Pitt, in honor of William Pitt, who had planned the campaign.
After concluding treaties with the Native American Tribes on the Ohio, Forbes
and Washington returned to Philadelphia.
It was the campaigns against Fort Duquesne that honed
Washington’s military instincts, and taught him the methods of British and
French Tactical Warfare. These campaigns also established Washington’s
reputation as a war hero throughout the colonies and Great Britain.
By the reign of the King George III the war was all but
won but the cost in gold and wealth to the treasury crippled the British Empire.
In an attempt to recover the war losses the British levied taxes on the 13
colonies but quickly learned its colonial citizens, who were now battle harden
patriots, believed they earned the right to govern and tax their own holdings in
North America. Ultimately it was the French and Indian War campaign experiences,
physical forts, and bountiful British arms that enabled the colonists to
successfully oppose Britain’s taxes and wage a revolution against England from
1775 to 1783. It was also the French and Indian War campaigns against Fort
Duquesne that fashioned a hardened commander-in-chief aspirant who understood
how supply, equip and lead an army against British Regulars. The Continental
Congress' selection of George Washington on July 3, 1775 as Commander-in-Chief
was primarily due to Virginia connections, military experience and training that
all stemmed from his campaigns against Fort Duquesne.
***** It was The Point that launched Washington’s
destiny and the subsequent chain of events that won our Independence from Great
Britain. Consequently, Pittsburgh’s historians can make a creditable case that
Pittsburgh is the commencement of George Washington’s March to Independence.
Last Fall I made this case to Chuck Smith, Director of the Fort Pitt Museum and
Martin West, Director of Fort Ligonier at a small Chinese restaurant in
Ligonier. It was like preaching to the choir. What the choir didn’t know,
however, was that the auto-biographical account by Washington, in his own hand,
against the French at The Point was being auctioned off at Christies in
New York City later that month. With lightening speed they contacted Laura
Fisher of the War for Empire Consortium and upon her bidding we
constructed a simple paragraph on why Western Pennsylvania must acquire this
autobiography for their archives. Simply stated we concurred that:
“Washington’s 11 page
handwritten Autobiography, covering his campaigns against Fort Duquesne, is the
most important and significant single artifact in Western Pennsylvania History”.
Laura Fisher, with almost unheard of speed raised the
necessary capital through the War for Empire Consortium and with the help
of two equally driven manuscript dealers purchased Washington’s 11 page
handwritten auto-biography from the Malcolm Forbes’ Christies Auction.
Despite the local and national monumental importance of
this autobiography I have tossed and turned for months knowing the acquisition
required sizzle to gain both the local and national prominence it so richly
deserves. Like Pittsburgh’s quality of life, the beef is there to the nth
degree but virtually no one knows that Our Nation and Washington’s road to
Independence began at The Point. What we need, I proclaimed to all that
would listen these past months is an attraction so monumental that the sizzle
will enable Pittsburgh to broadcast young Washington’s exploits in such a manner
that it will capture “International Sound bite Spotlight”.
At first I envision monuments on the scale of St.
Louis’s Archway but as I analyzed our city budgets and congressional clout it
became clear we needed a venue simple but bold, affordable but irreplaceable and
most importantly one that mirrors the true character of Pittsburghers and their
Founding Father George Washington.
It came to me one night as I flicked through the
channels and viewed another ho hum epideictic celebrity blubbering over their
newly unveiled star in Hollywood between clips of another awards banquet. I
reasoned, why not take a page out of Hollywood's book of sound bite glamour spin
and create a “Walk of Fame” around The Point? Yes the walk could
use Stars, perhaps Comets, or even the Great Seal to mark the honorees.
Personally, I envision the Patriot's names marked by Old Glory on a Patriot Walk of Glory.
The point is (no pun intended) that we use sensational
sound bite publicity to immortalize The Point’s significance in shaping
our nation’s history. By establishing a Patriot Walk of Glory honoring
history’s true stars from young George Washington to Neil Armstrong,
Pittsburgh opens-up all kind of doors for meaningful publicity and visitors
eager to experience the Patriot Walk of Glory venue. To start off, the
Patriot Walk of Glory can begin with setting a plaque for Young George
Washington on the 250th anniversary of his visit on November 24th. On
a regular basis the walk can be filled with American Patriots from the 18th and
19th Centuries requesting appropriate relatives, historical societies, museums
etc … to accept the honors bestowed on these great men and women posthumously.
Once this “dead”, albeit extremely important,
section is completed, the public relations excitement begins with the addition
of living Patriots. History’s living heroes and heroines come not to Hollywood
Boulevard to unveil stars but to The Point to mark their accomplishments
along side George Washington marked by Old Glory. Due to the significance of the
honorees, it is essential that the Patriot Walk of Glory be designed and
hallowed in such a manner that living Patriots will feel compelled to come to
their “Old Glory” unveiling.
This Patriot Walk of Glory, by its very nature
will provide an interpretive trail mapping not just Pittsburgh but our nation's
history that will last the ages. Additionally, The Point would become a
venue to support a variety of public exhibits. The Point’s Patriot Walk of
Glory would shine a bright national spotlight on the accomplishments of
American Pioneers such as Madeline Albright or Rosa Parks. Perhaps the public
might surprise us (as they often do) and such honorees would gain more attention
than the Hollywood Star unveilings of entertainers like Madonna or George
Clooney. Wouldn't it be prudent to positively focus National Attention on Great
American Patriots two or three times a year at The Point where it all
began for young George Washington?
In addition to the Patriot Walk of Glory the city
or local benefactors should find the funds to re-construct Fort Duquesne (the
French did it in 4 months with a small contingent of men in 1754), which would
become an instant international attraction being French. Imagine the
controversy that would be started over a Fort Duquesne in the heart of Fort Pitt
filled with French soldiers awaiting the arrival of young George Washington and
British regulars. Physically it also makes sense as Fort Duquesne is much
smaller to re-construct than Fort Pitt, made of wood, and can fit easily on the
open ground already existing in the park unlike the massive Fort Pitt that once
expanded past the bridge’s maze of connecting arteries. Historically, Fort
Duquesne is more significant then Fort Pitt as it was the venue that defied
Britain’s rights to the headwaters of the Ohio while claiming the Northwest
Territory for France.
I say let Hollywood and Cleveland have their Movie Star
Walk and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Pittsburgh's Patriot Walk of Glory
around The Point surrounding a re-constructed Fort Duquesne will
appropriately honor men and women who forged our great history starting with the
Father of our Country. The Patriot Walk of Glory and re-constructed Fort
will provide George Washington’s 11 page auto-biography and Pittsburgh the
SIZZLE necessary to turn-on that International Spotlight and attract
international visitors. Once the focus shifts, people will be in awe of
Pittsburgh’s culture centers, magnificent ballparks, our Green Convention Center
and the quality of life second to none in the United States. Pittsburgh will
become a destination city not only for fellow Americans but for British and
French citizens who wish to inspect our “frontier” interpretation of the
GreatWar for Empire in North America.
It is time for a new vision for Andrew Carnegie’s Steel Town and it just so
happens that the settlement belonged to George Washington all along. It’s time
to commemorate The U.S. Road to Independence Beginning at The Point
which one can unmistakably witness by reading George’s handwritten
Fort Pitt - French and Indian War - A Klos Family Project
Fort Pitt was the key fortification in the struggle for
empire between Britain and France in Western Pennsylvania and the Northwest
Territory. Located alongside the source of the Ohio River the fort insured
control of the this important River, which is formed by the confluence of the
Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. Originally Fort Duquesne, General Forbes
secured the Point in 1758 for the British. He renamed Fort Duquesne,
Pittsborough in honor of the Prime Minister of England, William Pitt.
Built in 1759 to 1761 by the British on the ashes of Fort Duquesne, Fort Pitt
was the port from which the city of Pittsburgh emerged.
Virtualology is not affiliated with the authors of
these links nor responsible for each Link's content.
AKValley.com--Story of Fort Pitt ... after his return to Philadelphia, was succeeded by
General ... appointment of Stanwix
and of the death of Forbes ... from Fort Machault for an attack on Fort Pitt.
EDC: General Information ... Take I-79 North to I-279 North through the Fort Pitt
Tunnel and across the bridge
to the I-376/Monroeville Exit on the right, then follow I-376 to the Forbes ...
Big Mama ... General Forbes would give the name of Prime Minister
William Pitt to the site,
soon to be Fort Pitt, and later the village, town, then city of Pittsburgh. ...
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