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Wed, 03.04.1750

Jean Du Sable, explorer who founded Chicago

Jean Du Sable (bust)

On this date Chicago celebrates DuSable Day, the 1750 birth of Jean-Baptist-Point Du Sable. He was a Black pioneer, trader, and founder of the settlement that later became the city of Chicago.

Du Sable was from St. Marc, Sainte-Domingue [now Haiti]. His French father had moved there and married a Black woman. DuSable is believed to have been a freeborn. Around the 1770s, he went to the Great Lakes area of North America, settling on the shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River, with his Potawatomi wife, Kittihawa (Catherine).

The British arrested him in 1779 for the defiance of the crown, and took him to Fort Mackinac. There he managed a trading post called the Pinery on the St. Clair River in present-day Michigan, after which he returned to the site of Chicago.

By 1790, Du Sable's establishment had become an important link in the region's fur and grain trade. In 1800, he sold out and moved to Missouri, where he continued as a farmer and trader until his death. But his 20-year residence on the shores of Lake Michigan had established his title as Father of Chicago. Jean DuSable died Aug. 28th 1818 in St. Charles, Mo.

Reference:
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.
ISBN 0-85229-633-0

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