Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.
Plans are afoot to erect a monument to Anthony Wayne on the original site of Fort Defiance adjacent to the Defiance Public Library or on a donated lot across the street. It seems that almost everyone is in agreement that this monument should be erected — a 6-foot testimony to the greatness of Mad Anthony. Defiance mayor Mike McCann assured locals that his team, along with people associated with the Andrew L. Tuttle Museum, will ensure that the plaque on the monument is historically correct, right down to its punctuation. Of course, the text of the plaque has not been made public.
I wonder if the plaque will mention that Wayne was a slave owner; that he used a scorched earth policy to starve local indigenous people; that he burned their villages; that he was known for, to quote the Philadelphia Aurora, “the uncommon slaughter of Native Americans.” Wayne took by force land that belonged to indigenous people. He did so through violence, cruelty, and horrific bloodshed. Further, at the Treaty of Greenville, Wayne promised indigenous locals that the land of “Indiana” and lands to the west of Ohio would be theirs forever. He lied. Will any of these historical facts be on the plaque?
Further, if people want to erect a monument to commemorate eighteenth-century Defiance history, why not erect a monument memorializing the great indigenous people groups that once walked the shores of the Maumee (Hotaawathiipi), Auglaize (Kathinakithiipi), Tiffin, and St. Joseph (Kociihsasiipi) rivers — something more significant than a memorial about a big apple tree or the name of a park. This project has been talked about on and off in recent years, but seems to be on hold.
Our local history is steeped in the blood of indigenous people. Wayne, under the authority of the U.S. government, was a usurper; a man who believed in manifest destiny. In his mind, indigenous people stood in the way of White Americans achieving their God-given destiny. If they would not willingly give up their houses and lands, he would use violence to take them. Is Anthony Wayne really the kind of man we want to memorialize in 2023?
I hope Mayor McCann and city leaders will refocus their attention on building a monument that memorializes the lives of Native Americans who once lived here, and not a man known for ethnic cleansing and the destruction of indigenous people.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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If they go ahead and do so, and the plaque leaves out all accurate history, a letter to CNN and other media networks should be sent. They would make it very uncomfortable for the political elite there.
I think a letter should be sent to CNN now.
This post would do.
A well-written and reasoned letter. But to Defiance leaders? Their minds are closed.
Any time I go to a “historic” site, I can’t help but to think about the blood that has been spilled, and the lies that have been told–or the truths that have been omitted.
Great letter, Bruce!
I’ll bet you got/are getting some pushback on that letter. I’m sure the only achievements of Wayne’s career mentioned on the monument will be his service in the Revolutionary War.
A friend of mine offers the theory that “Anyone who’s had a statue dedicated to them was SOME kind of a sonofabitch.’
Jennifer— Please introduce me to your friend!:)
I was asked to leave the site of a former plantation when, upon reading the plaque, I exclaimed, “You lying fucks!”
Hahaha. Wow MJ, you are a troublemaker.
I doubt I would do well on a plantation visit. I suspect it would devolve very, very quickly.
Sage–I took umbrage at the omission of the red/brown people who were chased off the land to build the plantation and the black people who (involuntarily) built and maintained it. If that’s not a whitewashed version of history, I don’t know what is.
I learned a lot about Mad Anthony, just looking him up on Wikipedia. Yes the plaque should be warts and all. Reminds me of the Conquistador song by Procol Harum, “I know you came with sword held high
You did not conquer, only die” Since Wayne was killed by an ambitious underling it is quite apt. He actually wanted an aristocracy rather than a democracy for the United States. (I guess he got a county named after him.) Sure build the statue, let the seagulls give him full honors.