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History Begets History: Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable
du Sable National Historic Landmark, (Referenc...
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Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable was born in San Domingo (Haiti) some time before 1750 and was of African and French descent. While little is known of his life before the late 1700s, he was the first resident of Chicago, Illinois. In 1779 British forces believed he was a supporter of the American colonists during the Revolutionary War and arrested him. For a few years he was a political prisoner at Fort Mackinac. When he came to North American—New Orleans, through the Mississippi River valley, Indiana, to Fort Dearborn (Chicago)—he eventually established the first permanent trading post that became Chicago. As the founder of Chicago, Du Sable’s legacy is immense. He is regarded as a pioneer, adventurer, entrepreneur, realtor, peacekeeper and protector of Native Americans. In 1961, a time when Africana culture in America was minimized or dismissed altogether by many national museums, arts centers, and archives, the DuSable museum was founded by Dr. Margaret Burroughs, noted artist, community activist, and Black cultural preservationist. The museum named in his honor, The DuSable Museum of African American History, is the “…First and oldest museum dedicated to the study and conservation of African Americans…” Often considered a model for similar institutions, The DuSable Museum of African American History collects and documents the history, culture, and heritage of people of African descent. In 1968 the state of Illinois formally acknowledged DuSable as the Founder of Chicago. Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable died in Missouri on August 28, 1818.

Dr. Katherine Bankole-Medina

Image from the cover of The Chicago Negro Business Men and Women, Where they Are Located, by L. W. Washington, Chicago: Flanders Printing Co., 1912.