In a 6-3 vote, the Fort Wayne City Council approved a resolution tonight declaring July 16 General "Mad" Anthony Wayne Day, but not before councilmen presented their views on American history.
The resolution authored by Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, honors the city's namesake by marking the anniversary of the Battle of Stony Point, a crucial Revolutionary War battle in which Anthony Wayne participated. The date falls during the annual Three Rivers Festival.
"We can thank Anthony Wayne for the fact that we have the United States of America," Arp said.
Councilmen Glynn Hines, D-6th, Russ Jehl, R-2nd, and John Crawford, R-at large, opposed the resolution.
Hines could not support the resolution, he said, because of the history of treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. Anthony Wayne led U.S. troops in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794 against the Miami and Shawnee tribes during the Northwest Indian War.
"The Native Americans were native Americans and instead of peaceful negotiations, opportunities to purchase land, it ended up being war," Hines said. "The genocide of the Native Americans impacted those Americans who were here first."
Hines said the City Council should be considerate to descendants of Native American tribes who live in Fort Wayne today and might be offended by the idea of an Anthony Wayne Day.
When asked whether he anticipated any negative public reaction regarding his proposal, Arp said "there's always going to be people who are detractors."
"There's lots of people that don't care for America or American history," Arp said. "There are people that aren't patriotic and that's their right, obviously."
Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, warned "against the folly of viewing historical events through the lens of modern morality."
"Certainly for the overwhelming majority of human history, the right of conquest has been certainly an acceptable form of acquiring land," Ensley said. "With regards to the Native Americans, obviously Anthony Wayne ... was most very merciful and sought a less violent means than what the Native Americans had shown the Europeans before that."
Regardless of opinions about Anthony Wayne, the resolution presented was an opportunity to learn and discuss, Councilman Michael Barranda, R-at large, said. The resolution, Barranda said, does not recognize the general as a perfect person, but recognizes him as the city's founder and his place in Fort Wayne's history.
"Things that I learned tonight were both good and bad about General Mad Anthony Wayne," Barranda said. "I think that's what these things do, is start a discussion and allow us to talk about our history and learn from it."