Derby History Quiz

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William Hull

Clarence Douglass not only knew the answer, he supplied the picture above for others to make it easier to guess the answer to the current quiz! Other correct answers were received from Lee Williamson, Mary Lou Boroski, Randy Ritter, and Kim Shelton.

William Hull may not be as well known as his illustrious relative Isaac Hull, but his story is no less interesting or important in American history. William was born into a prominent Derby family in 1753. Though his father was a farmer and wished him to enter the clergy, he gave up religious studies to take up the law and was admitted to the bar in 1775. Shortly there after the Revolutionary War changed the direction of his life.

He served with distinction throughout the war and had the honor of escorting George Washington into New York following the formal signing of the peace treaty with England. Another Derbyite, David Humphreys had earlier received the sword of surrender from General Cornwallis in the Battle of Yorktown. After the war, William Hull did practice law in Massachusetts until Thomas Jefferson appointed him Governor of the Michigan Territory. In 1812, he was appointed brigadier-general to command the north-western army. 

During the War of 1812, he had the distinct misfortune to be in command in Detroit when the British and their Indian allies overwhelmed his forces causing him to surrender Detroit to prevent heavy loss of life. For his actions, he was court-martialed as a traitor and sentenced to death. The charge of treason was withdrawn, but he never-the-less became the scapegoat for the loss of Detroit and was sentenced to die though the court recommended clemency which President Madison granted. Years later, he was given full access to the complete records of all the events of the time and wrote a full rebuttal to the charges.  Many scholars and fellow military officials supported that position believing  that Detroit's surrender was warranted by the forces opposing it and that Hull's superiors offered him up as a scapegoat for their own actions. Hull later made a return visit to Derby to see his mother and was treated to a public dinner honoring his long service to the country.

If you care to do some further reading on this unfortunate moment in U.S. history, check the following link found by Randy Rtter:

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