Introduction of Detroit
City in SE Michigan, on the Detroit River. Although acclaimed in the 20th century as synonymous with the industrial assembly line and the mass production of motor vehicles, Detroit has a long history involving struggles among the French, the British, the Indians, and the Americans for control of North America. Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac erected a French fort and trading post here in 1701, calling it Ville d’Etroit (City of the Strait), or Fort Pontchartrain Detroit. The British captured the fort in 1760 during the French and Indian War. In 1763, when the Indians rose against the British in Pontiac’s Rebellion, they unsuccessfully besieged the fort. Although Detroit lay in the region ceded to the United States in 1783 at the end of the American Revolution, the British did not actually turn it over until 1796, under the terms of John Jay’s Treaty.
From 1805 to 1847 Detroit was successively the territorial and the state capital. The town was nearly destroyed by fire in 1805 and rebuilt to a new design. The American command er William Hull surrendered Detroit to the British in 1812 during the War of 1812, but the next year General William Henry Harrison retook it. In the course of the 19th century, as both land and water transportation systems improved, Detroit grew to be a major shipping and industrial city. In the early 20th century it became the center of motor vehicle manufacturing, led by Henry Ford. The city was torn by race riots in 1943 and 1967, the latter causing some deaths, millions of dollars of property damage, and major tension among the city’s groups. Detroit’s economy has suffered severely in recent years as the automobile industry has been hard hit by the energy crisis and foreign competition. The late 1970s saw an attempt at economic revival symbolized by the modern Renaissance Center.