If you are looking for the place where Indiana had its beginning, the Indian Chief Tecumseh walked, where the first governor of the Indiana Territory and ninth president of the United States lived, worked and walked, where troops mustered for the battle of Tippecanoe, where laws were passed which still effect Indiana residents today, and where the first free press in Indiana was born, then you should plan a visit to the Vincennes State Historic Sites.
Located throughout the city of Vincennes, the many components of the Vincennes State Historic Sites include the Indiana Territory Capitol, Print Shop of Elihu Stout, Birthplace of Maurice Thompson, Log Cabin Visitors Center, Old State Bank and Fort Knox II.
The city of Vincennes had its beginning in 1732 when the French wanted to build a trading post midway between Detroit, New Orleans and St. Louis. A band of Frenchmen, led by Francois Marie Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes, founded the city in 1732 by establishing a fort on the banks of the Wabash River.
The Ordinance of 1787 established a system by which a wilderness could be converted into a territory and then a state. This ordinance established the Northwest Territory in 1787. That territory remained until 1800 when Ohio had a large enough population to become a state. The remainder of the Old Northwest Territory, without Ohio, became the Indiana Territory and Vincennes was named the capital. The new Indiana Territory included the present states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota.
From 1800 to 1813 Vincennes was the capital of the Indiana Territory. William Henry Harrison was appointed by President John Adams as the first governor of the territory. Harrison later became the ninth president of the United States. In 1805, the territorys population reached 5,000 free men and the territory moved to the second stage of government. For the first time the people elected a nine-man house of representatives. The upper house was known as the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council consisted of five men who were appointed by the president and governor. From its very beginning, Indiana has had a bicameral Legislature.
The Legislature, called the General Assembly, met in various locations throughout Vincennes. In 1811, the General Assembly moved into the building which we have preserved today. The building was never called the Territory Capitol or Legislative Hall. It was simply called the Red House. Newspaper accounts of the day indicate the Legislature is in session in the Red House.
For more information about the Vincennes State Historic Sites or the special events call 812-882-7422 or 812-882-7472
For special events current dates, to schedule an outreach program, for more information about the Vincennes State Historic Sites, or to schedule a group tour write to: Curator, Vincennes State Historic Sites, PO Box 81, Vincennes, Indiana 47591 or call 812-882-7422 or 812-882-7472 or fax inquiries to 812-882-0928.
More information about Vincennes or related history
topics is available from these links:
George Rogers Clark NHP Home Page
Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous
William Henry Harrison: 9th President of the United States
William Henry Harrison
Knox County information
City of Vincennes, IN