Purpose and Significance
The park was authorized by the Act of July 23, 1966 (PL 89-517). This law (Appendix A) contains three provisions. The first authorized the Secretary of the Interior to accept from the State of Indiana, the donation of the Clark Memorial and surrounding grounds for a national park. This was accomplished within one year of the law's enactment. The second provision permits the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements with the owners of other historic properties in Vincennes which are associated with George Rogers Clark and the Northwest Territory. Such properties would become part of the park, and the Secretary could assist in their preservation, renewal and interpretation. The third provision requires the Secretary to administer, protect, develop and maintain the park in accordance with the provisions of the act of August 25, 1916, which established the National Park Service.
George Rogers Clark NHP was established to commemorate the accomplishments of George Rogers Clark and the expansion of the United States into the Northwest Territory; to commemorate this story and its significance to the American people; and to cooperate in the preservation, renewal and interpretation of the sites and structures in Vincennes associated with this story. The park also commemorates the actions of Father Pierre Gibault and Francis Vigo who sided with Clark against the British.
The park is located on the site of Fort Sackville which Clark captured from the British during the American Revolution on February 25, 1779. The victory extended American land claims in the Ohio Valley and contributed to the United States acquisition of the Northwest Territory in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. No structures dating from the Revolution exist in the park today.
The historical theme represented by George Rogers Clark NHP is the "Revolution, War in the Frontier," according to 1987 History and Prehistory in the National Park System and the National Historic Landmarks Program.