This week, we honor Italian Francis Vigo, an Italian who supported the American forces during the Revolutionary War.
Francis Vigo, born Giuseppe Maria Francesco Vigo in Piedmont, Italy, arrived in the United States in 1769 following his involvement with the Spanish Army. Living in New Orleans, Francis began to work in the fur trade and eventually settled in St. Louis. During the American Revolution, Francis became close friends with Col. George Rogers Clark, the highest-ranking officer fighting for the Americans in the northwest. George, nicknamed Washington of the West, approached his Italian friend to ask for supplies and funds. Francis gladly became a financier and supported the American militia against the British.
Perhaps one of his most important contributions to the American Revolution came on December 23, 1778, when British forces at Vincennes captured him. Lt. Gov. Henry Hamilton questioned Francis about his involvement with the Revolutionary War and held him for several weeks. After the town of Vincennes threatened Lt. Gov. Hamilton with blocking supplies to the British post, Francis was released on the condition that he would return directly to St. Louis to continue about his fur trapping business. He agreed, traveled to St. Louis and then went directly to the town of Kaskaskia to inform his friend George about the British hold on Vincennes. With this information in hand, Col. Clark and the U.S. militia were able to retake the town, which “ultimately opened up the entire Northwest Territory” (Indiana Public Media).