Map of Detroit in 1796


Although Detroit was formally established by the French (Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac) in 1701 and the Fort was called Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit, the British took over in 1760 after their victory in the ‘French and Indian War.” The British renamed the fort as simply ‘Fort Detroit” and began confiscating weapons from the Frenchmen. The British had constant difficulty keeping colonists and Native Americans happy with their rule and attempted to keep them satisfied by ending tax collection, granting land, etc.

You can tell this is a British map before handing over to American control since there is a section of land dedicated to the British Governor as well as King’s Wharf on the Detroit River. This map represents the plan for Fort Lernoult, which was constructed by the British in 1778 due to its better vantage point on higher ground instead of the former Fort Detroit location right along the riverfront. This Fort Detroit once stood near where the corner of Fort St. and Shelby St. meet in present day Downtown Detroit.

Fort Detroit (Lernoult) didn’t change hands again until July 11, 1796 when the post was handed over to the Americans as part of the Jay Treaty. The Fort wasn’t officially renamed to Fort Detroit until 1805. It was recaptured by the British in the War of 1812

Historical Events Rundown:

  • 1701 – Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit established along riverfront
  • 1706 – Ottawa attack Fort Pontchartrain
  • 1760 – British gain control after French and Indian War, renamed Fort Detroit
  • 1763 – Siege of Fort Detroit by Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa
  • 1778 – Fort Lernoult constructed on higher ground than former Fort Detroit
  • 1796 – Fort Detroit and Fort Lernoult handed over to Americans as part of Jay Treaty
  • 1805 – Fort Lernoult renamed Fort Detroit due to former Fort Detroit existing as the town area
  • 1812 – British recapture Fort Detroit in War of 1812
  • 1813 – Battle of Lake Erie caused British retreat, renamed to Fort Shelby to honor of Isaac Shelby who helped regain control of fort
  • 1826 – Congress gives Fort Shelby to the City of Detroit
  • 1827 – Fort Shelby demolished
  • 1961 – Fort Shelby excavation


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