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Clinton Township

December 11, 2012

Couple to honor Clinton, Macomb with portraits

By Nico Rubello
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Donald W. Green hangs a portrait of DeWitt Clinton on the donor wall at the main branch of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library on Romeo Plank Road. Green and his wife, Mira, donated portraits of Clinton and Alexander Macomb to each of the three Clinton-Macomb public libraries.

CLINTON TOWNSHIP —Sometimes, in casual conversation, Donald Green asks people who live in Clinton and Macomb townships whether they know how the townships got their names.

“I get a wide range of answers; sometimes just a shrug of the shoulders and, ‘I don’t know,’” said Green, a Clinton Township resident and local historian.

To help people recognize the two namesakes, Green and his wife, Mira, recently donated framed portraits of DeWitt Clinton and Alexander Macomb to the three Clinton-Macomb public libraries.

The Greens hung the portraits at the Main Library on Romeo Plank Road during a presentation on Dec. 4. The others will hang at the library’s North Branch on 24 Mile in Macomb Township, and the South Branch on Gratiot in Clinton Township.

“The reason we’re putting (the portraits) up is we want to pay homage and respect to the people whose name we’re using in the library, and in the townships,” Donald Green said. “These are famous Americans who did a lot for their fellow man, and they tend to be forgotten. We just felt it was due time to give them their respect.”

For instance, many locals don’t know of the triumph of 2,700 regular troops and volunteers, led by Alexander Macomb, against 10,500 British troops during the Battle of Plattsburgh-Lake Champlain in the War of 1812.

After the war, Macomb, a West Point graduate, served as the commander of the Army’s Fifth Military District while stationed in his native Detroit.

And many don’t realize that Clinton, a long-time New York politician, became key to the construction of the Erie Canal after losing a presidential bid to James Madison. His name is more widely used as a namesake than most U.S. presidents.

Both portraits are reproductions of the original paintings. Clinton’s original hangs in the halls of Congress, while Macomb’s resides at West Point.

For those who want to learn more about the men, the two images will hang in the libraries with biographical synopses of their lives. They are accompanied by a plaque denoting the life of their friend Lewis Cass, a territorial governor of Michigan. Green said it was Cass who named Clinton Township, Clinton River and Macomb County after his influential friends.

“All three men knew each other,” Green added. “Their lives intersected in many areas and all three contributed greatly to the area.”

Those visiting the Main Library can find the portraits of Clinton and Macomb hanging on the library’s first-floor wall recognizing donors, said Clinton-Macomb library communications specialist Jamie Morris.

“I think it’s nice to remind people that we had some really great people from our area and those people have done some really great things,” Morris added. “It’s just nice to put a face to a name.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Nico Rubello at nrubello@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1118.