Fort Duquesne

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Fort Duquesne (originally called Fort Du Quesne, and pronounced /djuːˈkeɪn/, locally /duːˈkeɪn/) was a fort established by the French in 1754, at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in what is now downtown Pittsburgh in the state of Pennsylvania.

It was destroyed and replaced by Fort Pitt in 1758; over two centuries later, the site formerly occupied by Fort Duquesne is now Point State Park.

Contents

Background

Fort Duquesne, built at a point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers come together to form the Ohio River, was long seen as important for controlling the Ohio Country[1], both for settlement and for trade. Englishman William Trent had established a highly successful trading post at the forks as early as the 1740s, to do business with a number of nearby American Indian villages. Both the French and the British were keen to gain advantage in the area. As the area was within the drainage basin of the Mississippi River, the French claimed it as theirs. Many of the charters of the British colonies on the east coast of North Amica granted land indefinitely to the west, setting the scene for conflict.

In the early 1750s, the French commenced construction of a line of forts, starting with Fort Presque Isle on Lake Erie near present-day Erie, Pennsylvania, followed by Fort Le Boeuf, about 15 miles inland near present-day Waterford, and Fort Machault, on the Allegheny River in Venango County in present-day Franklin.

Lieutenant Governor of the Virginia Colony, Robert Dinwiddie, saw this as threatening to the extensive claims to land in the area by Virginians (including himself). In late autumn 1753, Dinwiddie dispatched a young envoy named George Washington to the area to deliver a letter to the French commander, asking them to leave, and to assess French strength and intentions. Washington reached Fort Le Boeuf in December and was politely rebuffed by the French.

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