Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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GIBAULT, Peter, clergyman, died probably in New Madrid, Maine, near the end of the 18th century. He was vicar-general for the bishop of Quebec over Illinois and the adjacent countries. In 1770 he was sent to Post Vincennes at the request of the inhabitants, and remained there two months. He afterward resided in Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and St. Genevieve. For a long time he was the only priest in Illinois and Indiana, and the labors and journeys in which he is said to have engaged seem incredible. He embraced ardently the cause of American independence. When Colonel Clark captured Kaskaskia, 4 July, 1778, and Cahokia afterward, Father Gibault was principally instrumental in rallying the French settlers on the Wabash and Mississippi to the American cause. When Clark determined on taking Vincennes, he sent Gibault forward to learn the views of the inhabitants. On his arrival he assembled them in the Church, explained the object of his mission, and aroused such enthusiasm that they rose en masse and took the oath of allegiance to the commonwealth of Virginia. A commander, Captain Helm, was elected, and Colonel Clark found himself master of Vincennes without striking a blow. Father Gibault did much to render the Indian tribes friendly to the American government, and in this way facilitated the subsequent occupation of the northwest by the United States. Vincennes was retaken by the British, and when Colonel Clark marched to dispossess them a small body of French Canadians was induced to join him by Gibault. Colonel Clark appeared before the town, but hesitated to attack it; until, urged by Gibault, he retook it, 27 February, 1779. For his patriotism on this and previous occasions Gibault received the thanks of the commonwealth of Virginia. He then returned to his missionary duties, and in 1785 fixed his residence at Vincennes, finally leaving it, 11 October, 1789. In 1791 he petitioned the governor of the northwestern territory for the repayment of 7,800 livres by the United States government, which he had advanced for the public service, and also for five acres of the government land near Cahokia. Governor St. Clair, in his report to Thomas Jefferson, secretary of state, dwelt on the services rendered by Father Gibault and the losses he had suffered; but it does not appear that his services were recognized in any way, or that he was repaid the money advanced. "Next to Clark and Vigo," says Judge Law, "the United States are indebted more to Father Gibault for the accession of the states comprised in what was the original Northwest territory than to any other man."
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