Governer DeWitt Clinton Tells of Ancient Forts in New York

Governor DeWitt Clinton

Getting the original source for this speech will be difficult. I am henceforth relying on the secondary source of the book published by Willard Bean entitled Willard’s Cumorah Land pages 151-152. The speech was given before the New York Historical Society in 1808. Governor Clinton was an early American politician and naturalist who served as United States Senator and the sixth Governor of New York. As governor, he was largely responsible for the building of the Erie Canal.

Forts specified by DeWitt Clinton of locations of ancient forts. Cumorah added for reference.

“Previous to the occupancy of this region by the progenitors of the present race of Indians, it was inhabited by a race of men much more populous and much more advanced in civilization. Who they were, whence they came, and whither they went have been themes of speculation with learned antiquarians who have failed to arrive at any satisfactory conclusions. There are vast ancient fortifications at Onondaga, Manlius, Camillus, Scipio; several between Seneca and Cayuga lakes, three near Canandaigua, many along Ridge Road between Rochester and Buffalo, in fact scattered everywhere. All of which surpass the skill and engineering ability of our Indians. Their antiquity is unquestioned: trees which are the succession of many growths cover many of the ruins indicating that they were built many centuries ago.

“Practically all of our country was then inhabited by populous nations who had made great advances in civilization. These numerous works could never have been supplied with provisions without agriculture. Nor could they have been constructed without the use of iron or copper and without a perseverance, labor and design which demonstrate considerable progress in the arts of civilization.”

DeWitt Clinton – 1808