Fort Gibson was among 40 forts constructed between 1794 and 1812 in the United States. All were built during threats of war resulting from attacks on American shipping by Great Britain and France, two dominant powers of the 18th and 19th centuries. These forts were the first defense systems set up by the new United States Government. Many of the forts in New York Harbor were constructed in this period, including Castle Williams on Governor's Island, Castle Clinton in lower Manhattan, and the star-shaped Fort Wood, which now forms the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Together, the forts and batteries of the lower and upper harbor successfully deterred attacks on one of the nation's largest cities and most important ports. Most of these historic fortifications still exist; some, such as Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, are preserved by the National Park Service.