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Copyright, 1912, 

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 191 2. 
Two volumes in one, March, 1925- 

REF 330.978 C73 1925 

Coman, Katharine, 

Economic beginnings of 
the far west, how we 

NorfoooB ^rcsa 

J. S. Cushing Co. — Berwick & Smith Co. 

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 













For three centuries possession of the Far West, the 
vast unknown that lay beyond the Mississippi River, 
was in dispute. The maritime nations of Europe who 
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries contended 
for control of the north Atlantic coast and the eastern 
half of the Mississippi Valley, were engaged at the 
same time in a less dramatic but no less fateful tug of 
war for the great rivers, the arid plains, and the wind- 
swept coasts of western America. France through her 
fur traders laid hold on the Mississippi and Missouri 
rivers and the net-work of lakes and sluggish streams 
that stretch from the Great Lakes to the Canadian 
Rockies. Soon after the Peace of Paris had given 
Canada to Great Britain, the indomitable Scotch traders 
of Montreal carried their enterprises across the Rockies 
to the Pacific. Long before this, Spanish conquistadores 
and Franciscan missionaries had found their way over 
the lofty plateaus of northern Mexico to the headwaters 
of the Rio Grande and along the western foot-hills of 
the Coast Range to the harbors of San Diego, Mon- 
terey, and San Francisco. Spanish ships had already 
explored the coast well into Arctic waters and, while 
missing the key to the Northwest, the Columbia River, 
they had established the title of the most Christian 
Prince to all of the Pacific slope south' of the Russian 
settlements. Unquestionably, Spain and Great Britain 
would have been engaged in an unequal controversy 


for possession of the richest portion of North America, 
but for the intervention of a new claimant. The young 
Republic that had wrested the eastern half of the Con- 
tinent from the British empire and purchased Louisiana 
from France, did not long hesitate to demand the 
Floridas, Texas, New Mexico, California, the watershed 
of the Columbia River, and Puget Sound as her right- 
ful inheritance. 

As to the political and diplomatic merits and de- 
merits of this struggle for possession, a mere economist 
will not attempt to decide. Our province is rather to 
suggest the underlying economic conditions that de- 
termined the outcome of war and treaty and race com- 
petition, and to reveal the bread and butter struggle 
that must ever result in the survival of the fittest, — 
the ablest to utilize the resources of a virgin territory. 
The controversies waged between the United States 
and Great Britain in Oregon and between the United 
States and Mexico in Texas and California were adju- 
dicated in advance of diplomatic award by thronging 
settlers whose political and economic vision no less 
than their superior industrial efficiency made them 
masters of the coveted country. The self-employed 
and self-supporting farmer took possession of the land 
in a sense not to be disputed. The great estates of 
the Spanish regime, cultivated by forced labor, and the 
trade monoply maintained by the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany stifled normal development ; but the American 
ideals of free land, free labor, and equal opportunity 
struck so deep root in this propitious soil that they 
could not be dislodged. 

A goodly number of the men who bore an influential 
part in this long and complex contest left diaries, 


letters, or journals recounting what they saw and did. 
I have endeavored to tell the story as they understood 
it without bias or elaboration. For the completion 
of this task grateful acknowledgments are due to 
the officials of the Bancroft Collection at the Univer- 
sity of California, of the Public Library at Los Angeles, 
the Oregon Historical Society at Portland, the L.D.S. 
Historian's Office at Salt Lake City, the Crerar, New- 
berry, and Public libraries of Chicago, and the Boston 
Public Library, who have rendered me patient and 
ungrudging service. I am also deeply indebted to my 
brother, Seymour Coman, and to my generous friend, 
Katharine Lee Bates, who read the proof and con- 
tributed many valuable hints as well as unfailing 
sympathy and encouragement. 

The Scarab, 

Wellesley, August 12, 1912. 






^The Explorers 3-27 

- Section I. The Route to the Orient .... 7 
Section II. The Seven Cities of Cibola .... 15 


The Colonizers . 

Section I. New Mexico 

Great Undertakings 

Misgovernnient . 

The Pike Expedition 

A Neglected Province 
Section II. Louisiana 

La Salle's Ill-fated Enterprise 

Louisiana under France and Spain 
Section III. Texas .... 

Possession contested by France and 

The Coming of the Americans . 
Section IV. California . 

Colonization Attempted 

Causes for Failure 

Success of the Missions 

Commercial Restrictions 

Secularization of the Missions 

The Cattle Kings 






The Northwest Coast 

Section I. Russian Explorers . 

. 193 




» Section II. SpaDish Explorers . . . . . 204 

i Section III. English Explorers 207 

Section IV. The Americans 211 


The Overland Search for the Western Sea . 222-288 

Section I. French Explorers 222 

Section II. English Explorers 225 

Section III. American Explorers 231 

John Ledyard 231 

Lewis and Clark 236 

Pike's Expedition to the Sources of the Mississippi . 283 


The Fur Trade 289-375 

Section I. Government Control vs. Laissez-faire . . 289 

Spanish Policy 289 

British Fur Traders . . . . . . .291 

The American Policy 298 

Section II. The Fur Traders of'.>t. Louis . . .300 

Missouri Fur Company 306 

Section III. Astoria 307 

Section IV. Fort Vancouver 332 

Section V. Rivalry of the American Companies . . 341 

The American Fur Company 348 

The Rocky Mountain Fur Company .... 355 
Section VI. Decline of the Fur Trade .... 366 



Louisiana 3-26 


Missouri Territory 27-74 

Missouri River Settlements 35 

Iowa 66 

Thomas H. Benton 69 


The Santa Fe Trade 
, New Mexico 






-The Colonization of Texas 




The Acquisition of Oregon 

Section I. The Traders .... 
Section IT. The Missionaries . 
Section III. Dr. McLoughlin as Colonizer 
Section IV. American Emigrants . 
Section V. Congressional Intervention . 



The Mormon Migration 

The Mormons in California 

. 203 


The Conquest of California . .. . . . 207-319 

Section I. Traders and Trappers ..... 207 

Section II. Rival Powers ...... 221 

Section III. The Advent of the Emigrants . . . 227 
Section IV. The Acquisition of New Mexico and Cali- 
fornia .... 241 

Section V. The Land Question ..... 24S 

Section VI. The Age of Gold ...... 255 

Section VII. Financial Depression and the Revival of 

Normal Industries ....... 284 

Agriculture 291 

Manufactures 307 

Section VIII. The Labor Supply 314 




The Curse of Slavery 323-331 


Slavery in the Territories 332-352 

Section I. Popular Sovereignty ..... 335 
Section II. The Wakarusa War 347 


The Victory of the North ..... 353-365 

The Railroad to the Pacific 353 

The Homestead Act 361 



The Buffalo Hunt on the Great Plains . . . Frontispiece. 
Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 


Newhouse's Beaver Trap 2 

Morgan, The American Beaver. 
Routes of the Spanish Explorers .... " 18 

The Buffalo Hunt " a pied " « 24 

Le Page du Pratz, Louisiane. 
Pueblo of Taos " 38 

Kaadt, photographer. 
Hopi Pueblo, Interior of Family Dwelling . . "40 

Ives, Colorado of the West. 
Pike's Mountain Journey 47 

Coues' edition of the Journals. 

Pike's Red River Expedition, 1806-07 54 

Sheep on the Open Range. Arizona . . . facing 62 

Dane Coolidge, photographer. 

Joutel's Return Journey 78 

French Louisiana in 1718 83 

LeGac, Sur la Louisiane. 
French Villages with their Common Fields .... 90 

From a recent map of St. Louis. 
Texas in 1804 97 

Von Humboldt, New Spain. 
Mission of San Jos6, Texas facing 102 

Yoakum, History of Texas. 
San Carlos Mission in 1792 "124 

Vancouver, Voyage of Discovery. 
Indian Balsa or Tule Raft "124 

Choris, Voyage Pittoresque. 



Ayala's Map of San Francisco Bay .... facing 126 

Eldridge, The March of Portold. 
Pedro Font's Map of California 129 

Coues, Trail of a Spanish Pioneer. 
Map of the Plough Lands of San Jose ..... 134 

By courtesy of the San Jose - Abstract Company. 
Hopi Pueblos in the Canon of the Colorado River . facing 146 

Ives, Colorado of the West. 

The Presidio of San Francisco in 1817 ... " 158 

Choris, Voyage Piltoresque. 
Arguello's Custom House, Monterey ... " 164 

Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey .... " 164 

Photographs by the Author. 
Mission of San Carlos in 1830 .... " 176 

Forbes, History of California. 
Mission of San Luis Rey in 1841 .... " 176 

Duflot de Mofras. 
Mission Vineyard, San Gabriel .... " 180 

Photograph by the Author. 
Ranch House, San Gabriel "180 

Photograph by Parker. 
Throwing the Lasso " 188 

Beechey, Voyage to the Pacific. 
Fort Ross in 1828 " 202 

Duhaut-Cilly, Voyage aulour du Monde. 
Spanish Exploration on the Pacific Coast .... 205 
The Falls of St. Anthony facing 226 

Carver, Travels. 
Carver's Map of Western North America .... 228 
Mandan Village and Bull-boats .... facing 249 

Maximilien, Prince of Wied, Atlas. 
Beaver cutting Brush — Upper Missouri . . " 258 

Maximilien, Prince of Wied, Atlas. 
Route of Lewis and Clark « 264 

Captain Clark's Map. 
Mouth of the Columbia River 272 

Lyman, Columbia River. 



Indian Canoes and Tepees on Columbia River . facing 276 

Huntington, photographer. 
Pike's Mississippi Expedition 284 

Coues' edition of the Journals. 

Routes of the Fur Traders facing 304 

Fort Astoria as it was in 1813 .... "312 

Frauchere, Narrative. 
The Snake River Desert "320 

Fremont, Second Expedition. 
The American Fur Company's Steamboat Yellowstone " 350 

Maximilien, Prince of Wied, Atlas. 
Uintah Post on the Timpanagos .... " 358 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 
Fort Bridger in 1849 " 372 

Stansbury. Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 
Fort Laramie in 1853 « 372 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 


The Ferry at Council Bluffs Frontispiece 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 
A Miner's Rocker in 1848 2 

Simpson, Three Weeks in the Gold Mines. 

French Louisiana in 1803 4 

Acadia facing 16 

Photographs by the Author. 
Flatboats on the Mississippi ..... " 22 

Maximilien, Prince of Wied, Atlas. 
Settlements in Upper Louisiana 37 

The Long Expedition. 
Difficulties of Navigation on the Missouri . . facing 62 

Maximilien, Prince of Wied, Atlas. 
St. Louis in 1855 « 62 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 
The Santa Fe Trail 79 

Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies. 
Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe facing 86 



Mexican Arrieros facing 86 

Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies. 
Beaver Dams on Salt River, Arizona ... "90 

Photographs by Dane Coolidge. 
Texas in 1840 — Map of Land Grants 97 

Stiff, Texas Emigrant. 

Fort Vancouver in 1846 facing 120 

Photograph furnished by G. W. Himes. 
Oregon Settlements in 1814 137 

Lee and Frost, Ten Years in Oregon. 

Independence Rock " 156 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 
Crossing of the Platte River "156 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 
Emigrant Roads in 1859 157 

Marcy, The Prairie Traveller. 
Kanesville, Iowa, as Winter Quarters . . . facing 170 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 
First View of Great Salt Lake .... facing 172 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 

Emigration Canon " 176 

The Wasatch Range "176 

Photographs by the Author. 
Salt Lake City in 1849 "178 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 
Salt Lake City in 1853 "178 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 
Gathering to Zion "182 

Stenhouse, Tell it All. 
The Handcart Brigade "182 

Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints. 

Stakes planted in Zion 188 

Wagon Routes across the Wasatch Range .... 190 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 

Adobe Houses at Spanish Fork and Provo, Utah . facing 202 

Photographs furnished by Jennie M. Cheever. 

Hudson's Bay Company's Trail to California .... 209 


Sutter's Fort and Sawmill in 1849 . 

Upham, Scenes from El Dorado. 
San Francisco Bay in 1811 

Duflot de Mofras. 
Southern Emigrant Routes to California 

Bartlett, Mexican Boundary Commission. 
Wagon Routes across the Sierras . 

Simpson, Explorations. 
Pass in the Sierra Nevada 

Fremont, Second Expedition. 
Routes to California, 1858 

Seyd, Resources of California. 
The Northern Mines 
The Southern Mines 
Gold Washing in New Mexico 

Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies. 
Quartz Mining .... 

Seyd, Resources of California. 
San Francisco in 1849 

Upham, Scenes from El Dorado. 
San Francisco in 1857 

Seyd, California and its Resources. 
Mining with Pan and Long Tom . 

Upham, Scenes from El Dorado. 
Hydraulic Mining .... 

Seyd, California and its Resources. 
Harvesting Wheat in the Sacramento Valley 

Photograph by Dane Coolidge. 
Cotton Plantation under the Slave Regime 

Photographs furnished by Charlotte R. Thome. 
The Kansas Settlements, 1855 .... 

Boynton and Mason, Kansas. 

f icing 210 

facing 226 

. 230 

. 233 

facing 246 

. 261 

. 265 

. 267 

facing 274 











Newhouse's Beaver Trap 




The men who undertook to carry the Spanish flag 
into the vast unknown that lay to the north of 
Mexico were handicapped by certain prejudices or 
mental obsessions. The store of precious metals 
discovered in the realms of Montezuma and of the 
Incas rendered every less evident form of wealth 
unattractive to them. The search for Cibola, for 
Quivira, for California, was abandoned when they 
became convinced that the fabled riches were not 
there. The lure of gold had blinded the eyes of the 
conquistadores to the far greater wealth to be de- 
rived from the fur-bearing animals, the schools of 
fish, the forests, the fertile soil, the latent mineral 
resources of these unexploited lands. Moreover, 
the Spaniards, while a maritime people, were not 
successful navigators. The Spanish ships that ex- 
plored Pacific waters (to say nothing here of the 
Atlantic) had for pilots, and sometimes for com- 
manders, Italians and Portuguese or even Greeks. 
Spanish adventurers preferred terra firma, and their 
most important discoveries were made by overland 
expeditions. Inured to the saddle, they made ex- 
traordinary marches across stretches of desert that 


would have appalled another people, but they rarely 
took to boats. To them a river was an obstacle, not 
a guide, and thus they missed the most feasible routes 
into the interior. 

A lasting handicap on Spanish colonization proj- 
ects was the short-sighted policy that reserved all 
New World revenues to Spain and her immediate 
representatives. The commercial legislation promul- 
gated by the Council of the Indies was based on the 
theory that colonies existed for the benefit of the 
mother county. Not only must all the bullion ex- 
ported be sent to Spain, but also certain agricultural 
products, such as coffee, sugar, dyestuffs, and pre- 
cious woods. All trade must be carried on in Spanish 
vessels and between the ports of Cadiz and Vera 
Cruz. No man not of Spanish blood might engage 
in trade, and any colonial caught in a commercial 
transaction with a foreigner was liable to confiscation 
of property and possibly death. That the colonies 
might furnish a market for domestic products, manu- 
factures and the cultivation of grapes and olives were 
proscribed. This was a far more oppressive system 
than the British Board of Trade imposed on the 
Atlantic coast colonies at the behest of English 
manufacturers. It was Spain's irreparable misfor- 
tune that there was no element of resistance in her 
colonial population ; her ruinous mercantile system 
persisted, by consequence, till both mother country 
and colonies were exhausted. The natives suffered 
in silence, knowing nothing of the rights of man, and 
the corrupt Spanish officials were ready to connive 
at illicit practices in return for a share in the profits. 


The government revenue dwindled year by year, 
until the expense of maintaining control of the de- 
pendencies was greater than the income derived. 
Spain's colonial empire was precisely the richest 
portion of the New World, but it was administered 
on a plan so suicidal that all the advantage of these 
vast possessions accrued to a few hundred indolent, 
selfish, and overbearing grandees. The processes of 
decay received a temporary check at the hands of 
Charles III and his far-sighted premier, Florida 
Blanco. Laissez-faire economics found a hearing at 
court, and the policy of the mercantilists was aban- 
doned. The monopoly by which a few merchants of 
Seville had absorbed all the profits of the trans- 
Atlantic trade was broken up, and ten open ports 
competed with Cadiz for this privilege. The regis- 
tered fleet sailed down the Guadalquivir for the last 
time in 1778, the year of the "free trade" edict. 
This law did not accord to the colonies absolute 
freedom of trade, but the number of their open ports 
was increased, the duties levied in legitimate com- 
merce were reduced, and freer play was given to 
colonial enterprise. 

No less destructive of colonial development was 
the practice of granting great estates to Spaniards 
and requiring forced labor of the natives. It was 
an undemocratic custom that promoted individual 
wealth, but sapped the springs of general prosperity. 
Spanish enterprise was restricted to agriculture, min- 
ing, and such primitive manufactures as could be 
carried on by peons. Industries that demanded zeal 
and intelligence languished wherever undertaken. 


Finally, the quality of the migration from Old and 
New Spain must be taken into account. It was 
peculiarly non-economic. There was a notable lack 
of the merchants and artisans who shaped the in- 
dustries of New England. In the Spanish social 
order, the soldier and the priest far outranked the 
breadwinner. The wisest of the viceroys and gov- 
ernors recognized the importance of establishing 
colonies of small farmers, men with families to pro- 
vide for and homes to defend ; but there were few 
such citizens in New Spain. The mother country 
sent to her American possessions soldiers, adminis- 
trators, friars, adventurers and grandees, but not 

Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies, Spain was the leading European power in 
North as in South America. Cortes and his succes- 
sors subjugated the Aztecs of Mexico with astonish- 
ing rapidity and imposed the Spanish language, 
religion, and a feudal aristocracy upon the realm of 
Montezuma. Within the present area of the United 
States, Spanish explorers had to do with the regions 
most difficult to penetrate. The Colorado Desert, 
the arid plateaus of New Mexico and Arizona, the 
llanos estacados of Texas, presented obstacles that 
would have seemed insuperable to men of Anglo- 
Saxon origin; but to adventurers from the Iberian 
peninsula, desert and mountain and sandy waste were 
familiar and unterrifying phenomena. The Spanish 
occupation was practically coincident with that por- 
tion of the United States which is most comparable 
to Spain in rainfall, vegetation, and climate. 


Section I 
The Route to the Orient 

To explorers sailing under the Spanish flag, 
Europe owed its earliest knowledge of the vast ocean 
that divides America from the Orient. Their achieve- 
ments tore apart the veil of mystery that enveloped 
the "South Sea" and revealed to the soberer enter- 
prise of Holland, France, and England a vast conti- 
nent. Belief in a sea-to-sea passage that should give 
Europe direct access to the Indies survived the theory 
that the New World was a mere archipelago. Gaspar 
Cortereal, the Portuguese navigator, professed to 
have sailed through such a strait somewhere above 
Labrador (1500), and his vaunted discovery found 
place on the earliest maps of the New World as 
Fretum Anium. Early in the seventeenth century, 
credence in this and like traditions was revived by 
the report that a Greek pilot, Juan de Fuca, sailing 
under commission from the viceroy of Mexico, had 
explored a channel on the north Pacific coast which 
opened into a wide sea dotted with islands wherein 
he cruised twenty days without reaching the bounds 
of it, and that he had finally found his way through 
to the Atlantic. This notable discovery rested on 
the unsupported testimony of an English merchant, 
Michael Lock, who published the story (1619) as he 
got it from the old pilot and who petitioned Queen 
Elizabeth to furnish him with an outfit with which 
to follow up the clew. No record of such an ex- 
pedition has been found in the Mexican archives ; 1 


but the narrative was accepted by Raleigh and 
Purchas, and the latitude of the supposed channel 
and de Fuca's description of it correspond with sur- 
prising accuracy to the strait that now bears his 
romantic name. Cortes, Mendoza, Philip II, and 
Charles III were each bent on the discovery of this 
great commercial opportunity ; but when Balboa 
proposed to cut a ship canal through the narrow 
isthmus he had crossed, the suggestion was scouted 
as impious by the most bigoted of Spanish kings. 2 

No sooner was Cortes secure in possession of 
Mexico than he began to prepare for the exploration 
of the west coast, being persuaded that the South Sea 
was part of the Indian Ocean and that the Spice 
Islands lay not far beyond the setting sun. He was 
sure that new lands equally rich in gold and silver 
and equally helpless against European weapons must 
await him there. The great conquistador devoted 
twenty years to this enterprise and sent out four 
expeditions at his own expense. In 1522, three 
years after his first landing at Vera Cruz, he set 
about building caravels at Zacatula, his newly estab- 
lished port on the Pacific coast ; but the machina- 
tions of his rival, Guzman, hindered the enterprise, 
and not till 1532 did the first ships get under way. 
Mutiny, adverse winds, and the hostility of the 
natives wrecked this and the second expedition, but 
the survivors of the latter brought back intelligence 
of an island opposite Colima where they had anchored 
in a beautiful harbor and found Indians fishing for 
pearls. This promising discovery Cortes deter- 
mined to prosecute in person, and in 1535 he marched 


north to Chiametla with a party of seven hundred 
soldiers, settlers, and priests. The colonists were 
shipped across to the pearl harbor (Santa Cruz) in the 
expectation of founding there a Spanish settlement ; 
but the land proved rocky and barren, and the people 
perished for lack of food. The great conqueror was 
not a colonizer, and the year following he was 
obliged to bring away the wretched survivors. 
Francisco de Ulloa, who commanded the fourth and 
last expedition (1539), followed the coast of the 
mainland to the head of the gulf, then west and 
south along the east shore of the peninsula to the 
Bay of Santa Cruz, rounded Cape San Lucas and 
sailed north again to Magdalena Bay and Cedros 
Island. The vast estuary revealed by this voyage 
he named the Sea of Cortes, and the mountain mass 
which he failed to circumnavigate, he called Cali- 
fornia, in the stubborn faith that it would yet prove 
as rich in precious metals as the fabulous island of 
Esplandian. 3 

In 1540, Cortes sailed away to Spain never to 
return to the New World. His project of exploring 
the west coast to find the Spice Islands or, better 
still, the sea-to-sea passage that should give Spain 
direct access to Asia, was espoused by the Viceroy 
Mendoza. This powerful statesman fitted out two 
ships and commissioned Cabrillo, a Portuguese 
navigator of repute, to take possession of all dis- 
covered lands in behalf of the king of Spain. The 
little fleet covered Ulloa's route to Cedros Island, 
but, pushing on to the north, rounded Cabo Bajo 
and sailed into a fine harbor, later known as San 


Diego. As Cabrillo followed up the coast, the 
mountains fell away, and he anchored in an island- 
girt channel opposite a fertile valley and a populous 
Indian village, which he called the Pueblo de los 
Canoas because the natives came out to the ship in 
rude wooden boats (Santa Barbara Canal). Be- 
yond the low promontory at the upper end of this 
roadstead (Point Conception), Cabrillo's ships were 
caught by the northwest winds that prevail along 
this coast throughout autumn and winter. Beating 
his way in the teeth of the tempest and forced 
again and again to take shelter under the lea of the 
shore, Cabrillo finally rounded a wooded point (Point 
Pinos) and anchored in a spacious bay which he called 
Bahia de los Pinos. As it was now midwinter and 
the incessant storms rendered further voyaging 
hazardous, the hardy Portuguese turned his weather- 
beaten prows south at last and sought a safe anchor- 
age in the "Canal." There on San Miguel Island 
the daring navigator died (1543). His task was be- 
queathed to his loyal pilot, Ferrelo, and he in the 
following spring, the winds proving favorable, re- 
turned to Bahia de los Pinos, passed Punta Ano 
Nuevo and Punta de los Reyes, missing the estuary 
that lay between, and so sailed up the coast to a 
precipitous headland which, in honor of the "good 
Viceroy," was named Mendocino. Here storms 
overtook the venturesome explorers, and provisions 
ran low ; but Ferrelo pressed on till he sighted Cape 
Blanco and then, very reluctantly, gave up the 

Mendoza's second project, no less far-seeing than 


the discovery of the Strait of Anian and much 
more practical, was the occupation of the group of 
islands that Magellan had encountered on the edge 
of the China Sea. If they could be brought under 
subjection, Spain would attain the long-coveted 
access to the trade of the Orient. In the same year 
that Cabrillo explored the northwest coast, Villa- 
lobos was despatched across the Pacific to make 
conquest of the Philippines (1542). He failed, but 
the task was not abandoned, a seven years' war 
broke the spirit of the natives, and by 1573 the 
Spanish government was established at Manila. 
Soon a considerable commerce was developed be- 
tween Macao, Manila, and the Pacific ports, which 
persisted throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries and was highly profitable to the merchants 
concerned. Every year the Manila galleon set out 
from Acapulco or Callao freighted with silver. This, 
the staple product of Mexico and Peru, was ex- 
changed for spices, porcelains, cottons, and other 
Oriental luxuries, suited to the pampered tastes of the 
Spanish grandees. West-bound vessels were carried 
by the prevailing winds and currents directly across 
through tropic seas, but the return voyage must be 
made far to the northward, in the path of the Jap- 
anese Current, until Cape Mendocino was sighted; 
thence the northeast trades could be relied on to 
waft the home-bound galleon to Acapulco. It was 
a long voyage, six months at best, and the storm- 
driven mariners were often forced to take shelter in 
some inlet along the coast where they might find 
wood and water. Wrecks were not infrequent, and 


the need for a well-provisioned port at some con- 
venient harbor became each year more apparent. 4 

This traffic, so rich and so defenceless, did not 
escape the notice of Spain's sworn foes, the English 
buccaneers. Drake and Hawkins and other Devon 
worthies had been wont to loot towns and capture 
treasure ships on the Spanish Main, but to challenge 
the dons' monopoly of the South Sea was a task of 
greater hazard. Drake, however, was nothing loath. 
In his little frigate, the Golden Hind, he rounded 
South America, threading the Straits of Magellan 
(1578-1579), and, making swiftly up the west coast, 
fell upon the unfortified settlements and heavily 
laden galleons of Peru and Mexico and easily 
stuffed his hold with booty. Not wishing to risk 
all by returning the way he came, this glorified pirate 
proceeded up the California coast, seeking that open 
passage to the Atlantic in whose existence every 
mariner of his day firmly believed. He passed Cape 
Mendocino andran north to the forty-third or the forty- 
eighth parallel ; but encountering head winds and bitter 
cold, he came to the conclusion that there was no 
thoroughfare from west to east, since the coast "was 
running continually northwest as if it went directly 
to meet with Asia." 5 Turning south, the Golden 
Hind anchored in "a, convenient and fit harbor" 
below the projecting headland now known as Point 
Reyes, and there her commander, fully assured that 
no Spaniard had ever set foot upon this shore, took 
formal possession in the name of his sovereign, 
Queen Elizabeth, and called the land New Albion. 
Following a confiscated Spanish map, Drake then 


steered across the Pacific, and so, by way of the 
Philippines and the Indies, returned to England 
(1580), having fairly won the knighthood that 
awaited him. The horror-struck Spaniards believed 
that the Golden Hind had come and gone through 
the Straits of Anian and that Britain had discovered 
a secret entrance to the South Sea. Their fear and 
wrath were intensified by the advent of other Eng- 
lish freebooters. In the very year of the Armada, 
Sir Thomas Cavendish ravaged the coast towns of 
Mexico and even succeeded in capturing the Manila 

To the masterful mind of Philip II, such adven- 
tures as those of Drake and Cavendish were intoler- 
able, and he undertook to forestall further encroach- 
ment on Spain's monopoly of the South Sea by 
strengthening his hold upon the west coast. The 
viceroy of New Spain was therefore instructed to 
take measures to colonize and fortify the harbors of 
California. Vizcaino, the man intrusted with this 
important enterprise, had already (1596) and at 
his own cost planted a colony, La Paz, on the bay 
where Cortes' company had perished, with intent 
to prosecute the pearl fisheries. It was shortly 
after destroyed by the Indians; but, nothing dis- 
mayed, Vizcaino undertook, at the king's behest, a 
survey of the outer coast, in the expectation of find- 
ing suitable sites for colonization. His chronicler, 
Fray Antonio de la Ascension, records that an agri- 
cultural community was proposed, together with gar- 
rison, mission, and trading post. The Indians were 
to be taught to till fields of wheat and corn, domes- 


tic animals were to be introduced, and vineyards and 
orchards planted. An experienced pilot, he followed 
the course taken by Cabrillo, noting and giving the 
present names to the harbor of San Diego, the Santa 
Barbara Canal, Point Conception, the Santa Lucia 
range, and the Carmel River. The wide bay be- 
tween two wooded points, Cabrillo's Bahia de los 
Pinos, Vizcaino thought might serve as refuge and 
supply station for the Manila fleet and named it, in 
honor of the then viceroy, Monterey. Here he 
landed his sea-worn crew and erected, under a great 
oak, a rude barricade and a wattled enclosure where 
mass was said and the ceremony of taking possession 
of the country performed. After laying in fresh 
provisions and such brackish water as the vicinity 
afforded, Vizcaino pursued his northward course. 
He anchored a few days under Punta de los Reyes 
in a bay indicated on later Spanish maps as Puerto 
de San Francisco (now Drake Bay), and then, fol- 
lowing up the coast, he rounded Cape Mendocino 
and Cape Blanco, but was unable to better Ferrelo's 
record. Near the forty-third parallel, he noticed a 
passage or river mouth (Coos Bay ?) which he hoped 
might be the entrance to the Strait of Anian, and he 
named the alluring fiord Martin de Aguilar, after the 
lieutenant who attempted to explore it. He was 
forced to abandon this clew, for his crew was stricken 
with scurvy — that curse of Spanish explorers — ter- 
rific gales drove his vessels out of their course, and he 
was obliged to return without having discovered the 
much-desired passage to the Atlantic. Vizcaino was 
deeply impressed with the necessity of founding a 


colony at San Diego, San Bernabe, or Monterey as a 
halfway station for the Manila fleet, and he urged 
this project on the viceroy and at Madrid. Philip 
III sanctioned the enterprise (1606) and designated 
Vizcaino for its execution. But the great navigator, 
now an old man, died before the arduous prepara- 
tions were complete, and, its master spirit gone, the 
statesmanlike plan was abandoned. 

Section II 
The Seven Cities of Cibola 

The third of Mendoza's great enterprises was 
directed to the interior of the continent in search of 
the seven cities of Cibola and their fabled wealth of 
gold and precious stones. Rumors of a populous 
country to the north had been brought to Mexico 
in strange fashion. A military troop engaged in 
kidnapping slaves on the Rio del Fuerte in Sonora 
came upon four gaunt and naked men who con- 
sorted with the natives, but spoke Spanish. They 
proved to be the survivors of Narvaez' ill-fated 
voyage along the west Florida coast. They had 
escaped the shipwreck and, following up the San 
Antonio River, had crossed the wilderness of plain, 
mountain, and desert that lay between the two 
gulfs, spending eight desperate years (1528-1536) in 
achieving the two thousand miles. Nunez Cabeza 
de Vaca, the leader of the haggard band, told how 
they had been befriended by nomad Indians who 
brought from cities in the north cotton cloth, tanned 
leather, turquoises, and emeralds. 


Mendoza surmised that the northern cities might 
prove as rich in loot as the Mexican pueblos, and he 
commissioned Marco de Nizza, a Franciscan friar, 
to explore the country and verify the report of its 
wealth. Fray Marco's only companion was a negro, 
Estevanico, who had been one of Cabeza de Vaca's 
party. They succeeded in reaching one of the com- 
munal villages, probably of the Zurii, but were not 
admitted by the jealous inhabitants. As the friar 
gazed upon the walled town from a distance, he 
thought it larger than the city of Mexico and doubted 
not it harbored as great treasure. On his return, 
Mendoza's emissary reported all that he had im- 
agined and the Indians had told him of the fortified 
cities of Cibola. His account was seized upon by 
the credulous treasure-seekers and exaggerated as it 
passed from mouth to mouth. Wondrous tales of 
the wealth of the Seven Cities, their gold and silver 
and turquoises, spread throughout all the Spanish- 
speaking lands and attracted a swarm of adventurers 
to the quest. In 1540, Coronado, then governor of 
Culiacan, with the .aid and approval of the viceroy 
fitted out an expedition, and three hundred Spanish 
cavaliers volunteered to accompany him. Fray 
Marco, who had been preaching the new crusade 
to enthusiastic congregations, joined the party as 
guide and spiritual counsellor. It was "the most 
brilliant company ever collected in the Indies to go 
in search of new lands," says Pedro de Castafieda, 
the chronicler of the enterprise, and it was equipped 
as befitted so worshipful a company. Eight hun- 
dred native allies and one thousand negroes and 


Indian servants followed the cavaliers, and droves 
of animals, extra horses and pack mules, oxen, cows, 
sheep, and swine by the thousand. Two ships under 
Alarcon were sent up the coast carrying relays of 
provisions and the heavier baggage. They reached 
the head of the gulf and anchored at the mouth of 
a great river which Alarcon called the Buena Guia 
(good guide), in the hope that it might guide him to 
the Seven Cities. Learning from the Indians, how- 
ever, that the land party was thirty days in ad- 
vance, he turned back to Acapulco with his cargo 
of supplies. 

Coronado, meantime, was driving his unwieldy 
caravan across leagues of desert. The party sent 
forward to reconnoiter the country returned after 
an exhausting march and reported that they had 
seen nothing but sand. Fray Marcos, however, 
assured the doubters that there was booty enough 
ahead "to fill every man's hands," and courage was 
restored. The difficulties of the march were en- 
hanced by the aristocratic pride of the grandees. 
"Mendoza would have liked very well," says Cas- 
tafieda, himself a foot-soldier, "to make every one 
of them captains of an army, but the whole number 
was so small, he could not do as he would have 
liked." 6 Jealousy and insubordination weakened 
the effectiveness of Coronado 's force from start to 
finish. It took some time for these titled gentle- 
men to learn how to adjust their packs and firmly 
cinch the load to the mule's back, and many valu- 
able things were abandoned on the road. "In the 
end necessity, which is all-powerful, made them 


skilful, so that one could see many gentlemen be- 
come carriers, and any one who despised this work 
was not considered a man." The first signs of hos- 
tility proved terrifying to the novices. " Some In- 
dians in a safe place," says Castaneda contemptu- 
ously, "yelled so that, although the men were ready 
for anything, some were so excited that they put on 
their saddles hindside before ; but these were the 
new fellows. When the veterans had mounted and 
ridden around the camp, the Indians fled." 7 On the 
edge of the desert they halted at Chichilticalli, 
which proved to be a ruined pueblo, " summed up in 
one tumble-down house without any roof." 8 Coro- 
nado " could not help feeling somewhat down- 
hearted," for he knew that his faith in the riches of 
the Seven Cities depended wholly on what the negro 
and the Indians had said. 

Arrived at the goal of his great enterprise, Coro- 
nado found Cibola "a little crowded village, looking 
as if it had been all crumpled up together." " There 
are ranch houses in New Spain that make better ap- 
pearance at a distance." 9 The disappointed treas- 
ure-seekers turned on their unlucky prophet. "Such 
were the curses that some hurled at Fraj^ Marcos 
that I pray God may protect him from them." The 
good father abandoned the expedition at this point 
"because he did not think it safe for him to stay in 
Cibola, seeing that his report had turned out to be 
entirely false, because the kingdom that he had 
told about had not been found, nor the populous 
cities, nor the precious wealth of gold, nor the 
precious stones which he had reported, nor the fine 


clothes, nor other things that had been proclaimed 
from the pulpits." 10 Cibola was in fact a communal 
pueblo, three or four stories high, just such as may 
be seen in Arizona or New Mexico to-day. Built of 
stone and adobe with solid exterior walls and narrow, 
tortuous entrance, the pueblo-dwelling was as diffi- 
cult of access and easy of defence as a fortress. At 
sight of the Spaniards and their horses, the Zuni took 
refuge within the walls, and Coronado's little force 
proceeded to storm the place. It was defended by 
two hundred warriors who hurled stones with con- 
siderable effect from embrasures cut for this purpose; 
but they were eventually overcome. Once within 
the gate, the Spaniards searched for treasure, but 
they found only a little unpalatable food. This was, 
however, thought Castaneda, "the thing they were 
most in need of." 

Meantime the bulk of the army, with the pack 
trains, was making its way slowly across the desert. 
No serious difficulties were encountered save that 
the Indian allies were incapacitated by the cold 
and had to be carried on horseback, and that the 
Spaniards suffered from severe headaches brought 
on by eating the prickly pear preserves offered by 
the natives. Our chronicler opined that by this 
beverage "the natives might have done much harm 
to the force if they had wished" ; u but fortunately 
for the fate of the expedition there was more whole- 
some food to be had. "The country is so fertile 
that they do not have to break up the ground the 
year round, but only have to sow the seed, which is 
presently covered by the fall of snow, and the ears 


come up under the snow." " In one year they gather 
enough for seven." 12 Forced requisition on the 
neighboring pueblos secured tortillas, salt, corn meal, 
and pinons (pine nuts), and "a large number of cocks 
with very big wattles" (the American turkey). The 
" Quires" had a little cotton cloth, too, and excellent 
blankets, well-tanned deerskins, and the hides of an 
animal new to the Spaniards. 13 They judged from 
the pictures drawn on the skins by the natives that 
this was a kind of cow (buffalo), but the "hair was 
woolly and snarled so that we could not tell what 
sort of skins they had." H A sufficient supply of 
food and clothing was thus available, for refusal to 
contribute to the necessities of the conquerors was 
punished by hanging the offender. The terrified 
people made little resistance. Rumors of the hor- 
rible strangers "who travelled on animals which ate 
people" spread throughout the region, and presents 
were sent in to placate the mysterious powers. At 
Cibola, Coronado heard of a great river, twenty 
clays' journey to the westward, and he sent Carde- 
nas to explore it. The party discovered the Col- 
orado of the West, which they called the Tizon or 
Firebrand River. The description Castaneda gives 
of the Grand Canon is quite as accurate, though 
perhaps less picturesque, as the descriptions of 
modern travellers. 15 

The approach of winter suggested the necessity of 
ampler quarters than Cibola afforded and a new 
base of supplies. Tiguex, a pueblo lying some dis- 
tance to the east on the Rio del Norte, was deter- 
mined on, and the whole army marched thither. 


"As it was necessary that the natives should give 
the Spaniards lodging places, the people in one 
village had to abandon it and go to others belong- 
ing to their friends, and they took with them noth- 
ing but themselves and the clothes they had on." 16 
Various outrages, including the burning of a village, 
finally nerved the long-suffering inhabitants to expel 
their unwelcome guests. The Spaniards laid siege 
to the pueblo and displayed such strength as induced 
the defenders to surrender on promise of amnesty. 
Unfortunately for Coronado's reputation among 
them, a captain who had not been informed of the 
peace pledges put two hundred of these prisoners to 
death. The natives, convinced that the intruders 
were not to be trusted, retreated again to their 
houses, determined to resist to the uttermost. The 
siege lasted fifty days and, although its result was a 
foregone conclusion, the loss of the Spaniards was 
severe. Many were killed by stones and arrows shot 
from the parapets, and all suffered from lack of 
food and shelter. Nearly all the Indians were killed. 
They were shot down by the soldiers or were drowned 
in the attempt to ford the river, or, having succeeded 
in escaping the doomed town, perished miserably of 
cold and hunger. Coronado was at great pains to 
reassure the people of the neighboring pueblos as to 
the pacific intentions of the Spaniards; but the 
" twelve villages of Tiguez were not repopulated at 
all during the time the army was there, in spite of 
every promise of security that could possibly be 
given to them, nor could any pueblos be persuaded 
to receive a Spaniard within their gates." 17 


It was difficult to believe that the famous Seven 
Cities were nothing more than these miserable 
pueblos, and Coronado determined to press farther 
into the interior. At Pecos there was found an 
Indian slave, a native of the country towards Florida, 
who told marvellous tales of the riches of his tribe. 
"He said that the lord of that country took his 
afternoon nap under a great tree on which were 
hung a great number of little gold bells, which put 
him to sleep as they swung in the air. He said also 
that every one had their ordinary dishes made of 
wrought plate, and that the jugs and bowls were of 
gold." 18 It was not difficult to persuade Coronado 
to undertake the pursuit of this new will-o'-the-wisp, 
the glib-tongued "Turk" offering to serve as guide. 

In May of 1541, when the river was clear of ice, 
the army crossed the Rio del Norte and marched 
eastward over a "spacious level country" to find 
the golden city of Quivira. The rich spring herbage 
of the "staked plains" (llanos estacados) filled the 
Spaniards with astonishment. "Who could believe 
that 1000 horses and 500 of our cows and more 
than 5000 rams and ewes and more than 1500 
friendly Indians and servants, in travelling over 
those plains, would leave no more trace where they 
had passed than if nothing had been there — noth- 
ing — so that it was necessary to make piles of 
bones and cow dung now and then, so that the 
rear-guard could follow the army." 19 "It was im- 
possible to find tracks in this country, because the 
grass straightened up again as soon as it was trodden 
down." Even the native Indian guides were obliged 


to mark their trail. "They kept their road in this 
way : In the morning they notice where the sun 
rises and observe the direction they are going to 
take, and then shoot an arrow in this direction. 
Before reaching this, they shoot another over it, and 
in this way they go all day toward the water where 
they are to end the day." 20 

There was no lack of food for the invading army. 
The plains were traversed by "an incredible number 
of cows," who fed on the luxuriant grasses and 
moved about in search of water and the salt that 
gathered on the surface of stagnant pools. "They 
came across so many animals that those who were 
on the advance guard killed a large number of bulls. 
As these fled they trampled one another in their 
haste until they came to a ravine. So many of the 
animals fell into this that they filled it up, and 
the rest went across on top of them." 21 From the 
Querechos, 22 the "Arabs" of the plains, the Span- 
iards learned how to prepare charqui (dried buffalo 
meat) to carry on their northward journey. These 
Indians told Coronado of a great river to the east- 
ward, lined with settlements and thronged with 
canoes. A scouting party was immediately sent out 
to find the most direct route, but they returned 
shortly, saying that "in the twenty leagues they 
had been over they had seen nothing but cows and 
the sky." The pursuit of this clew was therefore 

Arrived at an eastward-flowing river (the Brazos), 
Coronado determined to go no farther in this direc- 
tion. There was no trace of Turk's golden city, 


and the Querechos asserted that the real Quivira 
lay far to the north. It was therefore decided that 
the army should return to Tiguex, while Coronado 
with a picked escort of thirty cavaliers set out on 
the new trace. The perfidious Turk was taken 
along in chains. He later confessed that he knew 
nothing of the promised gold, but had been induced 
by the Tiguas to lead the Spaniards into the plains 
and lose them there — a treachery which cost him 
his life. 

A forty-eight days' march directly north brought 
Coronado to the long-sought "city," a wretched 
collection of huts, belonging to the Wichita Indians. 
The strangers were peaceably received, but "neither 
gold nor silver nor any trace of either was found 
among these people, although their lord wore a 
copper plate on his neck and prized it highly." 
Some time was spent in exploring this region, and 
scouts were sent as far north as the Kansas River, 
but without the hoped-for result. The country was 
found to be fertile and salubrious, reminding the 
wanderers of Spain. Plums, grapes, nuts, and mul- 
berries grew wild, as well as oats and flax; but the 
charming prospect had no promise for these in- 
fatuated treasure-seekers. Convinced at last that 
he had been duped, Coronado turned back to Tiguex. 
His Indian guides led him by a direct route along 
the Great Bend of the Arkansas over what later 
became the Santa Fe Trail. 

The winter in the desert had demoralized the 
army. The Tiguas were irreconcilable and would 
furnish no provisions, the soldiers were almost 

The Primitive Buffalo Hunt. 
Before the Indians secured guns and horses. 



naked and worn down with many privations, the 
few blankets that had been secured were the occa- 
sion of bloody strife, and the men were quarrelling 
with their officers over the apportionment of work 
and food. Malcontents began to mutter that theirs 
was a wild-goose chase, and that they would perish in 
this wilderness to no purpose. Soon after his return 
to Tiguex, Coronado was thrown from his horse and 
lay for some time at death's door. The murmurs 
grew louder, and the men began to petition their 
commander to lead them back to New Spain. 
When every captain had signed the petition and 
physician and friends urged retreat, Coronado was 
persuaded to abandon his search. He had a young 
wife and children and large estates at Culiacan, and 
he yearned to see home again. When his decision 
was announced, there was great rejoicing among the 
rank and file ; but certain resolute souls determined 
to continue the quest. They begged permission to 
remain with sixty picked men and a suitable equip- 
ment, vowing that they would find the golden city 
or perish in the attempt. Alas for the honor of 
Spain ! few soldiers would volunteer for this danger- 
ous service, and the retreat of the whole army was 
finally ordered (April, 1543). Two devoted friars 
were the onfy Spaniards that ventured to stay be- 
hind. Father Juan de Padilla insisted on returning 
to Quivira to found a mission there, and Father Luis 
remained with his converts at Pecos. 23 

The return journey was a disgraceful rout. Coro- 
nado had forfeited the respect of his men when he 
yielded to their importunity. No sooner had the 


army reached Culiacan than the soldiers began to 
desert. When he finally arrived at the City of 
Mexico, he had only a bodyguard of one hundred all 
told. "His reputation was gone from this time on." 

Castaneda found difficulty in reconciling himself 
to Coronado's inglorious retreat. "It was God's 
pleasure that these discoveries should remain for 
other peoples, and that we who had been there should 
content ourselves with saying that we were the 
first who discovered it and obtained any information 
concerning it." 24 But not even Castaneda, with his 
zealous faith in Quivira, had any conception of the 
real value of the Great Plains or of the mighty river 
to the east. "As for entering from the country of 
Florida and from the North Sea, it has already been 
observed that the many expeditions which have 
been undertaken from that side have been unfor- 
tunate and not very successful, because that part of 
the country is full of bogs and poisonous fruits, 
barren, and the very worst country that is warmed 
by the sun." 25 

Other Spanish explorers, penetrating this same 
region from the east and seeking no less eagerly than 
Coronado the rich country described by Cabeza de 
Vaca, had no better success. Fernando de Soto, 
governor of Cuba, set out from Havana in 1539 
and fought his way to the great river called by 
Pineda (1519) El Espiritu Santo. He crossed the 
mighty current at a point somewhat below the 
Arkansas (Chickasaw Bluffs), visited the hot springs 
and salt lakes of that valley, and ascended the Missis- 
sippi itself to within a short distance of the Missouri. 


Finding no trace of treasure cities, he returned to 
the Arkansas and there died (1542), a ruined man. 
His men, under the leadership of Moscoso, marched 
seven hundred miles west, up the Red River to the 
neighborhood of Pecos, where they found Indians 
who had pottery and cotton cloth and turquoises, 
and learned of Coronado's expedition from a slave 
who had escaped from his camp. Abandoning all 
hope of finding the treasure cities, they turned back. 
Once arrived at the Espiritu Santo, they built seven 
brigantines, launched them on the river, and made 
the two hundred and fifty leagues to its mouth 
without accident. Thus De Soto and his lieutenant 
Moscoso explored the lower Mississippi over a 
thousand miles, from the Missouri to the Gulf of 
Mexico, and they knew the Red and Arkansas 
rivers ; but these discoveries had no significance for 
them. A river was a barrier, not an open highway, 
and the Rio del Espiritu Santo was abandoned and 
forgotten. It figures on the Spanish maps of this 
period as an insignificant stream. 



The decadence of Spain and the disintegration of 
her colonial empire set in with the loss of the Armada. 
Men of energy and devotion abandoned the service 
of the state for that of the church, and the nation 
was bereft of political leadership. Demoralized by 
plunder, the colonial officials appropriated to their 
own uses the funds destined for defence and neg- 
lected their administrative duties. The government 
of New Spain, intent on immediate revenue only, 
leased the mines and the pearl fisheries to private 
individuals, and converted the production of quick- 
silver, tobacco, and salt into profitable public mo- 
nopolies. Large land grants were awarded to 
favored grandees, and with each estate went the 
right to command the labor of the native villages 
found upon it. The encomienda x served a triple 
purpose, — it enabled the proprietors to work the 
soil or the mines, brought the Indians under control 
of the political and ecclesiastical authorities, and 
furnished them with money with which to pay the 
head tax required of all adult males. The royal 
decrees minutely and humanely prescribed the limits 
of this labor requisition, but the practical effect of 
the system was to reduce the natives to a serfdom 
embittered by race antagonism and unmitigated by 
custom. Fray Antonio de Ascension denounced the 



encomienda as "the total ruin and destruction of all 
the Indians," citing Fray Bartolome de las Casas and 
the misery of the Cubans in support of his contention. 
The whole financial burden imposed by a costly 
colonial administration was borne ultimately by the 
conquered peoples. The conquerors, Spaniard, creole, 
and mestizo - alike, were privileged to occupy all 
places of emolument, to live without industry, and 
to exploit the despised natives. Even the negro 
slave looked down upon the copper-colored man and 
would have felt himself degraded by work in the 
fields or in the mines. The Indians, unaccustomed 
to strenuous labor, crushed under the intolerable 
burden, sank into the lethargy of despair. 

The heroic age was past, and the conquest of the 
regions to the north, revealed by the explorations of 
Coronado, Cabrillo, and Vizcaino, was attempted by 
men of far inferior calibre. The later adventurers 
lacked the enterprise, the courage, the perseverance 
of Cortes and Pizarro, while they abated nothing of 
their cruelty and their lust for gold. Bereft of the 
prospect of sudden wealth, the colonies languished, 
and but for the proselyting zeal of the monks and 
friars and their determination to plant the cross at 
the remotest reach of the king's dominions, Spain 
would have had no valid title to any portion of 
the present territory of the United States. When 
Alexander VI granted to Ferdinand and Isabella 
jurisdiction over all the lands that might be dis- 
covered west of the Azores, he stipulated that the 
Indians should be converted to the true church. 
For the fulfilment of this obligation, the Catholic 


kings were made personally responsible. It was a 
task sufficiently congenial to Philip II and his im- 
mediate successors. The royal treasury assumed the 
cost, and the three great religious orders undertook 
to send missionary priests to the New World. The 
Jesuits — Kino, Salvatierra, and Ugarte — founded 
the missions of Lower California. After the expul- 
sion of the Jesuits (1767) the Dominicans succeeded 
to this task, while the Franciscans carried the gospel 
into regions hitherto unknown — New Mexico, Texas, 
and Upper California. 

Section I 
New Mexico 

Great Undertakings. — Forty years after Coro- 
nado's bootless journey, an expedition to the Pueblo 
Indians was undertaken by a Franciscan missionary, 
Fray Augustin Ruiz (or Rodriguez). He and two 
of his brethren, accompanied by a small escort, fol- 
lowed the Rio Conchos to the Rio Bravo del Norte 
and so to the stone habitations of its upper valley. 
The natives seemed friendly, and their conversion to 
the true faith was eagerly undertaken ; but no sooner 
was the military guard withdrawn than Ruiz and his 
companions were murdered at the pueblo which they 
had made their headquarters, Puaray (probably iden- 
tical with Tiguex). In 1582 Fray Bernardino Bel- 
tran undertook to find the lost brethren or at least 
to verify their martyrdom. The expedition was 
fitted out and commanded by Don Antonio Espejo, 
a wealthy Mexican then sojourning at the Santa 


Barbara mines, who followed Ruiz' route to Puaray 
and thence made a tour of the pueblos along the 
Bravo and Pecos rivers. His entrada was far more 
successful than that of Coronado, though it was 
accomplished with but fourteen soldiers. This little 
band did not make so heavy requisition of corn and 
blankets, and their peaceful methods disarmed the 
suspicions of the Indians. Espejo visited seventy- 
four of the fortressed villages and estimated their 
population at 253, 000. 3 

Finding the country fertile and productive and 
rich in mines, Espejo was ambitious to add the 
region, which he called New Mexico, to the dominion 
of Philip II. He proposed to undertake the con- 
quest at his own cost, provided he was assured 
certain extensive privileges. The governorship of 
the new province, a title of nobility, the right to 
assign land grants and to make encomiendas of the 
native laborers, exemption from taxes, trade mo- 
nopoly, — these were the perquisites that should 
reward success. Whether the king thought his de- 
mands excessive or his ability insufficient does not 
appear, but he failed to give the commission. It 
was awarded ten years later (1598) to Don Juan de 
Ofiate, a rich mine owner of Zacatecas, who under- 
took to found a Spanish colony on the Rio Bravo 
del Norte. According to Gregg, who saw the con- 
tract in the archives at Santa Fe, " Ofiate bound 
himself to take into New Mexico two hundred sol- 
diers, and a sufficiency of provisions for the first 
year's support of the colony; with abundance of 
horses, black cattle, sheep, etc., as also merchandise, 


agricultural utensils, tools and materials for mechan- 
ics' purposes ; and all at his own cost, or rather at 
the ultimate expense of the colonists." 4 The king 
was to provide arms and ammunition for the enter- 
prise, to salary six priests, furnish the requisite church 
" accoutrements, " and contribute $20,000 in money. 
As compensation for his services, Ofiate stipulated 
for the hereditary title of marquis, the office of 
governor and captain-general to rest in his family 
for four generations, a grant of thirty square leagues 
of land wherever he might choose to locate it, with 
control of all the Indians resident thereon, permission 
to parcel out native laborers among his officers and 
relatives, the privilege of working mines exempt 
from the usual royalty, etc. ; privileges and powers 
which, with the exception of the encomienda, were 
not unlike those accorded to the English proprie- 
tors who undertook to plant colonies on the At- 
lantic Coast. 

By the offer of lands and liberties, 5 Ofiate suc- 
ceeded in enlisting one hundred and thirty soldier 
colonists with their families. These with eighty- 
three wagon-loads of supplies and seven thousand 
cattle made up an array hardly less impressive than 
that of Coronado. The train turned north from the 
Rio Conchos across the desert to El Paso del Norte, 
"the ford of the river of the north" discovered by 
Espejo, and, ascending the Rio Bravo beyond the 
hostile pueblos, came to a fertile valley encompassed 
by snow-clad mountains. There Ofiate built his 
town, San Juan de los Caballeros, so called because 
of the courtesy of the natives, some fifteen hundred 


of whom were induced to assist in the construction 
of a dam and irrigating ditches. The friars who 
accompanied the expedition set about the conver- 
sion of the Indians, and they succeeded in prevail- 
ing upon thirty-four pueblos to accept Christianity. 
With the same uncomprehending courtesy, the 
Tiguas accepted the suzerainty of Philip II, and the 
ceremonies of administering the rite of baptism and 
the oath of allegiance were performed with due 
solemnity at town after town. There was more 
difficulty with Acoma, the rock fortress described 
by Castaheda, 6 and with the Moqui pueblos on the 
western plateau. Emboldened by the supposed im- 
pregnability of their stronghold, the Acomas killed 
a party of soldiers sent to obtain supplies. Ofiate 
laid siege to the daring pueblo ; his men succeeded in 
securing foothold on the summit and, after three 
days of desperate fighting, gained possession of the 
place. A wholesale slaughter followed, and the 
remnant of the Acomas were forbidden to return to 
their ancestral pefiol. 

It soon became apparent that the several factors 
in Onate's company represented diverse and incom- 
patible interests. The Franciscans' sole aim was to 
convert the natives, and they regarded the military 
escort as merely a means to this end, while Onate's 
prime object was conquest of the country. Am- 
bitious to reach Quivira on the north and that 
mysterious sea to the west, on whose shores, accord- 
ing to the natives, were mines and populous cities, 
he proposed to use the soldiers and supplies in 
farther explorations. The soldiers, on the other 


hand, having been promised a chance to settle in 
the new province, wished to live at peace with the 
natives and to be left free to cultivate the land, 
and they held that the implements, cattle, and 
horses were intended to aid them in founding an 
agricultural colony. Among these conflicting pur- 
poses, those of the commander prevailed perforce, 
and he set out (1601) towards Quivira and the gold 
country, taking with him the pick of the soldiers 
and all the provisions collected by the pueblos dur- 
ing the six years preceding. As a consequence, the 
colonists were reduced to starvation long before the 
new planting came to harvest, and they had no 
choice between annihilation and retreat to San 
Bartoleme. Ofiate was in high dudgeon when, on 
returning to San Juan empty-handed, he found the 
place abandoned. He sent a force to bring back 
the deserters and, having recovered the major part 
of his men, undertook an equally fruitless and even 
more costly expedition to the South Sea. Although 
he succeeded in reaching the mouth of the Rio 
Colorado (1605), the fabled cities proved to be only 
wattled rancherias of the Mohave, Yuma, and Pima 
Indians. 7 The salt sea was there indeed, but having 
no ships, Ofiate could make no use of it. He was 
obliged to fight his desperate way back across the 
desert to San Juan. 

Meantime, the conversion of the natives, accord- 
ing to the friars' statistics, proceeded apace. By 
1617 they had built eleven churches and baptized 
14,000 Indians. In 1626 they boasted forty-three 
churches and 34,000 baptisms; in 1630, ninety 


churches and 86,000 baptisms. To each Christian 
pueblo was assigned a resident priest, and there was 
much rivalry as to the size and splendor of their 
several temples. Each missionary was salaried by 
the crown ($330), but he expected his dusky parish- 
ioners to cultivate a corn-field for his benefit and 
to furnish such service as he might require in 
the building and maintenance of his house and 
the church, while fees for baptism, marriage, and 
burials were rigorously exacted. The Franciscans 
were for the most part devout, well-meaning men, 
but they had little comprehension of the people 
among whom they dwelt. They neglected to learn 
the native tongues, nor did they teach the Indians 
Spanish, preferring to rely upon interpreters, even 
for confession. The natives learned nothing of 
Christianity beyond the external ceremonies which 
they were taught sedulously to perform. They were 
thoroughgoing materialists and supposed the new 
religion would bring them more rain, better harvests, 
and exemption from disease. When these hopes 
were disappointed, their faith slackened. As the 
Franciscans came to realize the enormous difficulty 
of their task, the conciliatory policy of the early 
missionaries gave way to intolerance and persecu- 
tion. Men were flogged for refusing baptism and 
enslaved, even put to death, for practising sorcery. 
From time immemorial these children of the desert 
had worshipped the sun, the god of life and death, 
and their fidelity to the requirements and exercises 
of their ancient religion withstood all the pressure 
brought to bear by the friars. Their Catholicism 


was merely a veneer under which the practices and 
superstitions of the faith of their fathers persisted 
with undimmed vigor. 

The Indians of New Mexico were, in reality, little 
affected by the Spanish conquest, and they were 
allowed to live on in their tribal pueblos and to cul- 
tivate their lands in peace, so long as they rendered 
the product and labor service required of them. 
They were quite the most industrious people of the 
province, tilling their fields to corn, beans, cala- 
bashes, and cotton, and manufacturing cloth and 
blankets and earthenware such as the indolent 
whites were glad to buy. For generations they had 
practised irrigation as a communal enterprise, direct- 
ing the flood waters of the rivers on to their fields 
through artificial ditches. The Spaniards intro- 
duced many desirable improvements on this simple 
system of husbandry. From them the natives 
learned to manage such domestic animals as horses 
and cattle, sheep and goats. They quickly sur- 
passed their instructors in the care of sheep, feeding 
great flocks upon the mountain pastures, and wool 
soon superseded cotton and skins as wearing apparel. 
Iron implements such as the hoe and axe, the laborers 
were trained to handle, and oxen yoked to a rude 
wooden plough rendered the tilling of the ground 
a less onerous task. Wheat and tobacco were in- 
troduced and many of the European vegetables; 
fruit trees, too, and grape-vines were brought to 
New Mexico, and the natives were taught how to 
plant and prune them. The Pueblo Indians were 
sufficiently advanced in the scale of civilization to 


take advantage of these gifts and to adopt many 
desirable additions to their means of subsistence. 8 


It might have been possible for the natives and 
the settlers to live at peace but for the scant supply 
of water. Only the valleys of the upper Bravo and 
the Pecos with their tributary streams, the Chama, 
the San Juan, and the Puerco, were susceptible of 
irrigation. The new-comers thought themselves en- 
titled to the best of everything, and, notwithstand- 
ing that the edicts of the king 9 set aside a square 
league of cultivated land to each pueblo, there was 
considerable encroachment upon these reservations. 
Moreover, the encomiendas imposed by the governor 
and other officials, and the tribute of corn and cloth 
required of each pueblo, while seeming reasonable 
and necessary to men accustomed to feudal condi- 
tions, struck these aborigines as an unwarranted in- 
fringement of their rights. Such exactions, coupled 
with the thousand individual wrongs committed by 
undisciplined soldiers, made up a sum total of op- 
pression that finally drove the natives to revolt. 
In 1680 there were twenty-four hundred people 
of Spanish origin settled along the Rio Bravo del 
Norte in the midst of a population of twenty-two 
thousand Christian Indians. The garrison of two 
hundred and fifty soldiers at Santa Fe* de San 
Francisco, the capital of the province, was the only 
armed force ; no other was thought necessary. 

Suddenly the seeming acquiescence of the natives 
was broken. The insurrection began at Taos, the 


northernmost pueblo, and swiftly spread from town 
to town. The Indians slaughtered the whites and 
destroyed the churches and every vestige of Chris- 
tian worship, in their determination to revenge a cen- 
tury of cruelty and oppression and to drive the in- 
vader from the land. The refugees crowded into 
Santa Fe, but the place was besieged. After five 
days' desperate contest, the Spaniards were forced 
to abandon this stronghold and to retreat down the 
river to El Paso del Norte. There they made a 
stand and built huts for a winter camp about the 
mission of San Lorenzo, while reinforcements and 
supplies were collected for the reconquest of New 
Mexico. Fifteen years of obstinate fighting were 
required to recover the lost ground. Even so, the 
submission of the Indians was only feigned, and 
they seized every opportunity to attack the weaker 
settlements, carry off the cattle, and murder the 
missionaries. The Moqui and Zuni pueblos of the 
plateau to the west, being too isolated and remote 
for serious attack, retained their independence. 

In 1693 Vargas undertook to restore the ruined 
settlements. A caravan of fifteen hundred people, 
three thousand horses and mules, and $42,000 worth 
of supplies was escorted up the river. Santa Fe 
was repopulated, seventy families were settled at 
Santa Cruz de la Canada (1695) and thirty at Albu- 
querque (1708\ There was little resistance, for the 
long years of war had decimated the Indian popu- 
lation. Most of the warriors fled to the mountains 
rather than submit again to Spanish domination, 
and their women and children were captured and 


enslaved. Intertribal dissensions and repeated fail- 
ure of crops completed the disaster. When Vargas 
resumed control of the province, only twenty of the 
pueblos remained inhabited. The abandoned lands 
were distributed among the settlers, and the dejected 
remnant of the native population was reduced to a 
sullen submission. 

The wild tribes of the mountains, the Apaches 
and the Utes, had long been the terror of the pueblo 
dwellers. They now directed their marauding ex- 
peditions against the Spanish settlements. Horses 
and fusils were the prime object of these depreda- 
tions, but the savages did not hesitate to murder 
men and kidnap women of the hated Spanish race. 
The slender garrison at Santa Fe was entirely inade- 
quate to the defence of villages and ranchos scattered 
from Taos to El Paso, and the settlers had to protect 
their families and flocks as best they could. In spite 
of these depredations, the white population continued 
to increase. The number of Spaniards, Creoles, and 
mestizos was estimated at four thousand in 1750; 
the census of 1800 enumerated eighteen thousand, 
not including El Paso. The Pueblo Indians, during 
the same fifty years, declined from twelve thou- 
sand to nine thousand. The invaders by superior 
strength and guile were fast superseding them. Dis- 
couragement, poverty, and the diseases consequent 
on contact with the white man's civilization, com- 
bined to undermine the communal organization, — 
a primitive body politic that had preserved these 
peoples through centuries of struggle against the ad- 
verse forces of nature and the craft of their savage foes. 


An intelligent and disinterested observer, Fray 
Juan Augustin de Morn, 10 forwarded to the viceroy 
(1792) an indignant protest against the practical en- 
slavement of the Indians by the alcaldes, the very 
officials to whom the king had intrusted their pro- 
tection. In spite of all legislation to the contrary, 
the natives were induced to run into debt and then 
mortgage or sell the lands on which they depended 
for subsistence. From each pueblo in his jurisdiction, 
the alcalde mayor was wont to require a weekly con- 
tribution of flesh, butter, frijoles, and tortillas. The 
labor about his house and the tilling of his fields 
were performed by these unhappy dependents, who 
were not infrequently obliged to go a day's journey 
to their work, carrying with them their implements 
of husbandry. Two hundred fanegas u of wheat 
and three hundred of corn were required from each 
pueblo every harvest, and the women were forced to 
grind, for the use of the alcalde's household, the grain 
that should have been stored in the pueblo granary 
against a dry year. Some of these officials, whose 
names are given by the relentless informant, were 
accustomed to collect a tithe of the fleeces sheared 
within their jurisdiction, and to distribute the wool 
among the native weavers, who were required to 
make it up into blankets. The wretched Indians 
were then obliged to carry the product to a place 
designated by their taskmaster and to render a strict 
account of the quantity brought in. The men were 
often required to serve as arrieros (mule-drivers) 
and to care for the horses and mules of the alcalde, 
and this even when their wives and children were 


actually suffering for lack of food. Most of the 
governors sent to New Mexico regarded their ap- 
pointment as an opportunity for speedy enrichment. 
They forced the soldiers maintained at the garrisons to 
labor on their private estates, and while sending the 
viceroy false reports of successful campaigns against 
the Apaches, withheld the pay of the troops, sold the 
powder and ammunition, and pocketed the pro- 
ceeds. They imposed encomiendas upon the pueblos 
for which they had no warrant, and monopolized the 
Indian trade ; they browbeat the friars and de- 
bauched the native women without shame. Far 
from laboring for the advancement of the province, 
the governors imposed heavy burdens upon the 
people and set an example of lawlessness which was 
readily followed by the lesser officials. Each alcalde 
mayor enjoyed the monopoly of trade within his own 
jurisdiction. Without fear of competition, he fixed 
the prices at which he bought and sold, and 
thus made money on every transaction. Not infre- 
quently he compelled the Indians to purchase horses 
and cattle for which they had no need, thus involv- 
ing them in debt, and then required them to work 
out their obligation with the very animals in which 
it originated. The natives were thus reduced to a 
state of peonage. 

No better code of laws for the government of a 
subject people was ever framed than that formu- 
lated by the kings of Spain for their Indian vassals. 
They fully understood that there was no other labor 
to be had for the development of the mines and 
plantations of New Spain, and that the aboriginal 


population must therefore be conserved. The officials 
were directed to deal justly and kindly with the 
natives, to guard their rights to land and water, to 
observe the limitations on forced labor, and to teach 
them the ways of civilization. But to legislate was 
easy ; to enforce the will of the home government 
upon the administrators of the law in a distant, well- 
nigh inaccessible province was enormously difficult. 
The governor and alcaldes, engaged in the thankless 
task of maintaining order on a dangerous frontier, 
inadequately provided with men and money, were 
often driven to measures of repression quite unjustifi- 
able in a civilized land. Ill-paid and liable to peremp- 
tory recall, they were prone to take advantage of 
every opportunity that offered to enrich themselves 
at the expense of their unresisting charges. Charles 
III abolished the encomiendas, but the enslavement 
of the Indians did not cease. 

According to de Morfi, the Spanish population of 
New Mexico was hardly less miserable than the 
natives. Living in haciendas (farm-houses) scattered 
through the country, they were unable to protect 
themselves or their crops against the marauding 
raids of the Apaches and much pilfering on the part 
of their white neighbors. They were more ignorant 
of religion than the natives, and more vicious. Too 
timid or too lazy to cultivate their fields, they were 
sunk in poverty, lacking the very necessities of life. 
They stored no grain against the dry years, after the 
excellent example of the Indians, because they never 
had any to spare. They were always in debt to the 
merchants of Chihuahua, of whom they bought 


extravagantly. These leeches mortgaged the grow- 
ing and even the unsown crops, sometimes as much 
as six years in advance. There was no coin in cir- 
culation except at El Paso. A money of account 
served for commercial transactions, in which the 
dollar had four different values — ■ eight, six, four, or 
two reals — according to the convenience of the mer- 
chant. The unsophisticated rancheros were tricked 
into buying in a dollar four times greater than that 
in which they sold. By means of this shrewd 
artifice, they were usually on the verge of bank- 
ruptcy, so that the building of a house, a journey, a 
funeral, was sufficient to plunge them into ruin. 
They were then likely to take refuge in an Indian 
pueblo, ousting some native from his field and tene- 
ment, while he, in turn, found an asylum among the 
wild tribes of the mountains. 

The remedy proposed by de Morfi for the retro- 
grade state of New Mexico was that the government 
should send artisans into the province to teach the 
people trades. Since the mesas were covered with 
cattle and sheep, clothing sufficient for the needs of 
the province might easily be produced if the Pueblo 
arts of weaving and tanning were practised by the 
Spaniards. The friar suggested that intelligent but 
not incorrigible convicts, who understood carpentry, 
tile-making, weaving, dyeing, hat-making, shoe-mak- 
ing, etc., should be sent to New Mexico to serve 
out their terms as instructors in their several trades. 
Raw material for the apprentice shops should be 
furnished by the government out of the tithes levied 
on the province. When New Mexico was self- 


sufficing and began to export manufactures as well 
as agricultural products, money would flow into the 
country, prosperity would return, and the inhabit- 
ants could free themselves from debt. 

Chihuahua was the only commercial outlet for 
New Mexico, there being as yet no communication 
with Louisiana or California. The Chihuahua mer- 
chants imported their European merchandise by 
way of Vera Cruz ; the Oriental and South Ameri- 
can stuffs entered by way of Acapulco. The long 
overland carriage from these, the only licensed 
ports, doubled the costs and raised prices to a point 
at which only the wealthy could afford commodities 
in common use in more fortunate lands. Every 
autumn a caravan 12 set out from Santa Fe for the 
south, by way of El Paso, driving a great herd of 
sheep and carrying tobacco (a provincial monopoly), 
skins, furs, salt, Navajo blankets, and copper vessels. 
The return caravan brought cotton and woollen cloth, 
arms and ammunition, confectionery, some European 
wines and liquors and goods for the Indian trade. 
A guard of dragoons was furnished by the govern- 
ment, for the Apaches were wont to descend from 
the mountains and carry off animals and freight. 

The Pike Expedition 

The first definite knowledge of New Mexico, Texas, 
and the northern provinces of New Spain was brought 
to the United States by Zebulon Montgomery Pike, 
the young officer whose expedition to the sources of 
the Mississippi had commended him to the authori- 
ties at Washington. In 1806 General Wilkinson, 


commander-in-chief of the United States army, com- 
missioned Lieutenant Pike to explore the sources 
of the Red River with a view to defining the water- 
shed that divided Louisiana from the United States. 
With a squad of twenty men — soldiers and guides — 
Pike set out from St. Louis on July 15 and, securing 
horses of the Osage Indians, rode across the open 
country to the Arkansas River and followed its lead 
to the mountains where it takes its rise. Midway 
of this journey, he was surprised to come upon the 
traces of a considerable detachment of cavalry. The 
Pawnees of a neighboring village, who had scarlet 
coats, mules, bridles, and blankets, evidently of Mexi- 
can origin, were able to throw some light on this 
mystery. An expedition under Lieutenant Mal- 
gares, which had been sent from Santa Fe to inter- 
cept Pike, with orders to turn him back or take his 
party prisoners, had passed that way en route for 
Taos. The Spanish party was well equipped, six 
hundred dragoons with three times as many horses, 
and mules and provisions for six months, made up 
a force such as Pike could not hope to withstand ; 
but he determined to follow the route taken by the 
Spaniards, hoping that it would lead him to Red 
River. From Pawnee Rock on the Great Bend of 
the Arkansas, he rode along the river until he reached 
the Rockies. The plains were covered with droves 
of buffalo, deer, elk, and wild horses, and food was 
abundant ; but the Americans prudently laid in a 
supply of jerked meat, for winter was approaching 
and the game animals were all moving south. His 
party was ill prepared for cold weather, being lightly 


clad and inadequately provisioned, but Pike had no 
intention of turning back till he had reached his 
goal. Arrived at Fontain qui Bouille (the St. 
Charles River of Pike's Journal and the site of 
Pueblo, Colo.), a breastwork was thrown up as a 
defence against Indians, and Lieutenant Pike, with 
three of the men, set out to ascend the "high point 
of the blue mountain," the summit we now call 
Pike's Peak. Deceived by the clearness of the at- 
mosphere, they thought this would be a day's excur- 
sion, and carried neither food nor blankets. When 
forty-eight hours' climb failed to bring them to the 
top, they reluctantly returned to camp. 

The months of December and January were spent 
in a desperate search for that will-o'-the-wisp, the 
source of the Red River. The thermometer ranged 
consistently between freezing and zero, the mountain 
passes were deep in snow, there was no game left but 
a few pheasants and rabbits, the guns burst with the 
cold, the horses were exhausted, and the men at the 
limit of human endurance; but Pike would not give 
up his quest. At the foot of the Grand Cafion of the 
Arkansas (Grape Creek) he determined to build a 
blockhouse and leave there, in charge of two of the 
men, the horses and all the luggage that could be dis- 
pensed with, while the strongest of the party undertook 
to cross the " White Mountains " (Sangre de Cristo 
Range) . It was a desperate venture. The snow was 
deep and the cold extreme ; nine of the men got their 
feet frozen ; the supply of food in their packs was 
soon exhausted, and game seemed to have abandoned 
the country. They had been four days without food 



Willium Eog. Co.. N.V. 

Pike's Mountain Journey. 
The source of the Red River was finally learned from the Spaniards. 

" To go to Sta Fe it is best to ascend the 3 r <l Fork [of the Arkansas] to the Moun- 
tain, thence along the foot of said Mountain to the Pass at Taos, as was the route 
of the Spanish Cavalry when returning." — Pike's Journal. 


when Pike managed to shoot a chance buffalo, and 
the party was saved from starvation; but he was 
obliged to leave three poor fellows on the trail with 
meat enough to keep them alive until help could be 
sent them. Arrived at the summit of the range, 
they came upon a brook that led west to a practicable 
pass and down into the sand-dunes of San Luis 
Valley, and Pike believed that he had come at last 
upon the long-sought boundary. He could not 
know that this was not the Red River, but Rio 
Grande del Norte, and that in crossing the Sangre 
de Cristo Range he was trespassing on Spanish 
territory. His instructions from General Wilkinson 
contained a warning that at the head of the river 
he might find himself "approximated to the settle- 
ments of New Mexico. There it will be necessary 
you should move with great circumspection, to keep 
clear of any hunting or reconnoitring parties from 
that province, and to prevent alarm or offence; 
because the affairs of Spain and the United States 
appear to be on the point of amicable adjustment, 
and moreover it is the desire of the President to 
cultivate the friendship and harmonious intercourse 
of all nations of the earth, particularly our new 
neighbors the Spaniards." 13 

Notwithstanding the dangers of the situation, it 
was necessary to make here a brief stay to recover 
the men, horses, and luggage left behind and to build 
rafts for the descent of the river. With this in view, 
a stockade was erected on the west bank of the Rio 
Grande, five miles above its junction with the Rio 
Conejos. The reason for choosing this site to the 


west of the Rio Grande, and on any hypothesis in 
Spanish territory, is nowhere given. Dr. Robinson, a 
civilian who had accompanied the expedition in the 
hope of reaching Santa Fe and there transacting 
some private business, took advantage of this delay 
to make his venturesome journey. A detachment 
was sent back to Grape Creek after the men and 
horses, while Pike remained at the stockade with 
four soldiers, two of whom were incapacitated by 
frozen feet. 

On February 16, while the Lieutenant was out 
hunting, he spied two horsemen, one an Indian, the 
other evidently a Spaniard. Challenged as to his 
errand, Pike indicated that he was preparing to 
descend the river to Natchitoches, and asked that 
the governor should send an interpreter to whom 
he might explain in full. Having examined the 
miniature fort and partaken of its frugal hospitality, 
the unwelcome visitors departed. Ten days later, 
Pike was astounded by the appearance of one hun- 
dred mounted cavalry under command of Captain 
Salteo. Governor Allencaster's emissary brought 
with him two French interpreters, and the serious 
nature of the situation was at once apparent. Pike 
then learned that the source of the Red River was 
eight days' journey to the southeast, and that his 
fort was built upon the Rio Grande del Norte. He 
immediately ordered his men to haul down the 
American flag, but this did not mollify Salteo, who 
insisted that Pike and his men should accompany 
him to Santa Fe. Arguments and protests were of 
no avail. A guard was left at the fort to await the 


rescue party, while Pike and the ragged remnant of 
his force were hurried south. 

Thus began that forced tour of the Mexican prov- 
inces which, according to some critics, was undertaken 
with treasonable intent. That the young lieutenant 
made good use of his eyes and ears during his sojourn 
on Spanish soil cannot be denied. He carefully 
studied the language, the customs, and the sentiments 
of the people, and when denied the liberty of tak- 
ing notes or making sketches, he scrawled brief memo- 
randa in his diary and concealed the bits of paper in 
the gun-barrels of his men. His Observations on 
New Spain, printed with the Journals, was derived 
in good measure from Humboldt's New Spain, but 
it contained many shrewd comments of his own upon 
the civilization of this jealously guarded land. The 
adobe towns of New Mexico, — Ojo Caliente, San 
Juan, etc., looked then, as now, mere "square en- 
closures of mud walls, the houses forming the walls." 
Within, the dwellings were ranged along cross streets, 
— low, one-story structures with narrow doors and 
small windows, unglazed for the most part, but 
occasionally filled with talc lights. At each village 
was a small stream, sufficient for watering the fields, 14 
and there were water-mills where the natives made 
very good flour. Irrigation was carried so far that 
the waters of the Rio Grande were absorbed by the 
canals, and the lower river ran dry in the rainless 
season. Santa Fe was a town of four thousand 
souls, largely soldiers, priests, and officials. "Its 
appearance from a distance struck my mind with 
the same effect as a fleet of the flat-bottomed boats 


which are seen in the spring and fall seasons, de- 
scending the Ohio River. There are two churches, 
the magnificence of whose steeples form a striking 
contrast to the miserable appearance of the houses." 15 
The sparse population of New Mexico was nineteen- 
twentieths Indian. The few Spaniards were the 
priests — very intelligent men and much revered — 
and the official class. 

Arrived at Santa Fe, Lieutenant Pike, much 
abashed by his rags and tatters but determined to 
put a bold face on the situation, was received by 
Governor Allencaster at the Palace. 

Allencaster: "You come to reconnoitre our coun- 
try, do you?" 

Pike: " I marched to reconnoitre our own." Pike 
resented the suggestion that he had been the original 
trespasser. "Pray, sir! do you not think it was a 
greater infringement of our territory to send 600 
miles in the Pawnees' than for me with our small 
party to come on the frontiers of yours with an 
intent to descend the Red river?" 16 

The illogical result of this colloquy was the for- 
warding of Pike and his fellow-conspirators to Chi- 
huahua, there to be examined by General Salcedo. 
Protests and explanations had no effect upon the 
courteous obstinacy of the Spaniard. A deep-seated 
suspicion of all Americans determined the policy of 
the Mexican officials — a policy that was inspired at 
Madrid — and a citizen of the United States crossed 
the boundary at his peril. 

At San Fernandez, near Albuquerque, Pike's escort 
came up with Malgares, who was waiting to take 


the prisoners to Chihuahua. Here to their joy was 
Robinson, hale and hearty. The intrepid doctor 
had not proceeded far on his quest before falling 
into the hands of the officials. He had consoled 
himself by curing several invalids, despaired of by 
Spanish physicians, and by making such observa- 
tions on the customs of the people as might be use- 
ful in the prosecution of a trading venture. Mal- 
gares informed the captives that his expedition had 
occupied ten months and had cost the king of Spain 
$10,000, and he was evidently much gratified that 
chance had thrown the quarry in his way, so that 
he need not return to Salcedo empty-handed. This 
chivalrous warrior was ardently loyal to the king and 
"deprecated a revolution or separation of Spanish 
America from the mother country." Small marvel, 
when he lived luxuriously at the expense of the 
government. The Americans thought his "mode 
of living superior to anything seen in our army. 
Eight mules were loaded with camp equipage, wines, 
confectionery," etc. The Mexicans, forced to serve 
in the army without pay or to labor as bond-ser- 
vants on the estates of the landowners, would, they 
believed, tell a different story. Pike visited a wealthy 
"planter" of El Paso, who owned twenty thousand 
sheep and one thousand cows. In Mexico proper, 
he found ranches where the number of cattle, sheep, 
and horses amounted to one hundred thousand. One 
such cattle king maintained a force of " 1500 troops 
to protect his vassals and property from the sav- 
ages," 17 who were fond of stampeding horses and 
driving them off for their own use. 


El Paso was the only flourishing place Pike saw. 
There a bridge was thrown across the Rio del Norte 
to accommodate the caravans and a well-built canal 
conducted water from the river on to the fertile 
bottoms. "There is a wall bordering the canal the 
whole way on both sides, to protect it from the 
animals; and when it arrives at the village, it is 
distributed in such a manner that each person has 
his fields watered in rotation. At this place were 
as finely cultivated fields of wheat and other small 
grain as I ever saw ; and numerous vineyards, from 
which were produced the finest wine ever drank in 
the country, which was celebrated through all the 
provinces, and was the only wine used on the table 
of the commanding general." 18 But the methods of 
cultivation were very primitive. "They are, how- 
ever, a century behind us in the art of cultivation ; 
for, notwithstanding their numerous herds of cattle 
and horses, I have seen them frequently breaking up 
whole fields with a hoe. Their oxen draw by the 
horns, after the French mode. Their carts are ex- 
tremely awkward and clumsily made. During the 
whole of the time we were in New Spain, I never saw 
a horse in a vehicle of any description, mules being 
made use of in carriages, as well as for the purposes 
of labor." 19 

Arrived at Chihuahua, the travel-worn suspects 
were received by General Salcedo with the words : 
"You have given us and yourself a great deal of 
trouble." "On my part entirely unsought, and on 
that of the Spanish government voluntary," 20 replied 
Pike. His papers and journals were examined and 



held for farther scrutiny, while he and Robinson 
were warned against indulging in conversation as to 
the policy of the Spanish government, the respective 

Pike's Red River Expedition, 1806-1807. 

merits of republics and monarchies, etc. The lieu- 
tenant laughed at these precautions, saying "there 
were disaffected persons sufficient to serve as guides, 
should an enemy ever come within the country." 21 


After due consideration, Salcedo concluded that the 
path of prudence was to deport the suspicious 
Americans, and that not through Santa Fe, but by 
way of Texas. Pike protested this decision, although 
nothing could better have served his purpose had he 
come to Mexico to spy out the land. Escorted by a 
cavalry detachment, his party rode southward round 
the Bolson de Mapini, and then northeast along the 
" Grand Road" to the Presidio Rio Grande and San 

A Neglected Province 

In 1812 New Mexico with other Spanish colonies 
was given an opportunity to send a delegate to the 
Cortes of the Revolution, and Don Pedro Pino, a 
wealthy gentleman of Santa Fe, undertook (at his 
own expense) to represent the needs and latent possi- 
bilities of his province at Madrid. According to his 
report, the population was at that time between forty 
and fifty thousand, fully half and by no means the 
least prosperous element being the Pueblo Indians. 
Every pueblo had land sufficient to maintain its 
people, and many of the ancient industries were still 
pursued. The Indians ground their grain into flour 
and manufactured pottery and copper utensils, leather, 
and saddles for their own use and for sale. "Many 
Indians know how to read and write, and all are 
able to speak Spanish readily and justly with a 
natural but persuasive eloquence. They are slow in 
coming to a decision, but carry through all labor 
with a common accord, and in their dealings are 
notably honorable and truthful. . . . Rarely do 


they suffer hunger, for their foresight causes them 
to accumulate for the future." 22 The Indian trade 
centered at Taos, where a midsummer fair was held. 
Thither the Apaches, Utes, and other mountain 
tribes brought deerskins, buffalo robes, furs, and 
slaves to barter for knives, muskets, horses, blankets, 
and gewgaws of European make. 

The only considerable Spanish towns were Santa 
Fe, with a population of five thousand, Albuquerque, 
and Santa Cruz de la Canada. The leading products 
were corn, wheat, and beans — crops yielding from 
fifty to one hundred fold — cattle and sheep, wool, 
cotton, and tobacco. New Mexico had the exclusive 
privilege of growing tobacco ; but the leaf must be 
sent to Old Mexico for manufacture, a regulation 
against which Pino protested as a senseless restric- 
tion on what should be one of the principal industries 
of the province. 

The manufactures carried on by the whites were 
at their lowest ebb, hardly sufficient to supply them 
with the necessities of life. A few hand-wrought bits 
and spurs were made for the rancheros. Some coarse 
woollen and cotton stuffs, serapes and ponchos, baize 
cloth, serges, and friezes, neckerchiefs, cotton stock- 
ings, and table linen were the only output of the 
loom. A master weaver sent in by the government 
had taught his craft to several apprentices in a re- 
markably short time, and they had woven some fine 
cotton goods — fine at least by comparison with 
what had been manufactured before ; but it was not 
easy to sell them, for there were foreign cloths to be 
had both cheaper and better, and a merchant buy- 


ing domestic stuffs ran the risk of not being able to 
dispose of them. The only hope for the establish- 
ment of home manufactures was in the example set 
by certain foreign artisans : "Some Anglo-American 
artisans are to be found established here ; and from 
them we may hope some improvement of the indus- 
tries of New Mexico, since it is to be supposed that 
the. hij os del pais [sons of the country] will get them- 
selves taught these trades in the . workshops of the 
foreigners, or at least will emulate them, seeing the 
excellent achievements of these men. Among these 
foreign artisans are tailors, carpenters, excellent gun- 
smiths, blacksmiths, hat makers, tinsmiths, shoe- 
makers, et cetera" 

In the commerce with Chihuahua, the balance of 
trade was hopelessly against New Mexico. The ex- 
ports for 1812 were $52,000, while the imports 
amounted to $112,000. The effect was to denude 
the province of coin. Until recently many of the 
inhabitants had never known the use of money. 
The country did not lack commodities for export, — 
peltries, wool, and salt meat ; but the overland 
freights to the distant ports of Vera Cruz and Aca- 
pulco were prohibitive. If these articles might be 
shipped from Guaimas on the Gulf of California, or 
San Bernard (Bahia de St. Luis) on the Gulf of 
Mexico, the saving of nine hundred leagues of land 
carriage would bring down the costs to a feasible 
figure. Even the trade with Chihuahua was con- 
ducted at ruinous disadvantage. A good horse sold 
for $11 and a mule for $30, while linen cost $4 and 
woollen cloth $20 per yard. 


The Mexican war for independence (1812-1822) 
found hardly an echo in this remote province. 
Royal Spanish officials were superseded by repub- 
lican Mexican officials, and gentlemen of Spanish 
birth, such as the proprietor of the copper mines at 
Santa Rita, were sent into exile (1829) ; but the 
common people, Creole, mestizo, and Indian alike, 
appreciated little change except in the more liberal 
commercial policy of the Mexican Cortes. All ports 
were now open to trade, and caravans began to come 
in from St. Louis, the American frontier town far 
across the deserts to the east. This meant the sub- 
stitution of American cottons and hardware for the 
high-priced European goods and the still farther 
neglect of manufactures. Gregg, the most intelligent 
of the St. Louis traders, gives in his Commerce of the 
Prairies a careful resume of the industries of New 

"The mechanical arts have scarcely risen above 
the condition they were found in among the abo- 
rigines. Gold and silversmiths are perhaps better 
skilled in their respective trades than any other 
class of artisans whatever, as the abundance of 
precious metals in former days, and the ruling 
passion of the people for ostentatious show, gave a 
very early stimulus to the exercise of this peculiar 
talent. Some mechanics of this class have produced 
such singular specimens of ingenious workmanship 
that, on examining them, we are almost unwilling to 
believe that rude art could accomplish so much. 
Even a bridle bit or pair of spurs it would no doubt 
puzzle the 'cutest' Yankee to fashion after a Mexi- 


can model — such as I have seen manufactured by 
the commonest blacksmiths of the country." 23 

The New Mexicans were celebrated for the manu- 
facture of blankets, coarse and fine, which they sold 
to the neighboring Indians, to the southern markets, 
and to the St. Louis traders, as well as a coarse wool- 
len cloth, checkered black and white, called gerga, the 
only stuff worn by the peasants. Their machinery 
was still of the most primitive type, a whirligig 
spindle, the huso 24 or malacate, which was set in a 
bowl and twirled by one hand while the thread was 
drawn out with the other, and a loom so clumsy 
that it could be handled only by men. A fustian 
coat, buckskin trousers, gayly colored serape, and 
wide sombrero of straw or leather was the universal 
costume of the men, while the women wore woollen 
of domestic weave. There was no flax nor hemp 
in the province, and the growth and manufacture of 
cotton was a lost art. 

"Wagons of Mexican manufacture are not to be 
found ; although a small number of American-built 
vehicles, of those introduced by the trading caravan, 
have grown into use among the people. Nothing is 
more calculated to attract the curiosity of strangers 
than the unwieldy carretas or carts of domestic con- 
struction, the massive wheels of which are generally 
hewed out of a large cottonwood. This, however, 
being rarely of sufficient size to form the actual 
diameter, which is about five feet, an additional seg- 
ment or felloe is pinned upon each edge, when the 
whole is fashioned into an irregular circle. A crude 
pine or cottonwood pole serves for the axle tree, 


upon which is tied a rough frame of the same material 
for a body. In the construction of these carretas 
the use of iron is, for the most part, wholly dispensed 
with ; in fact, nothing is more common than a cart, 
a plough, and even a mill, without a particle of iron 
or other metal about them. To this huge truck it is 
necessary to hitch at least three or four yokes of 
oxen; for even a team of six would find it difficult 
to draw the load of a single pair with an ordinary 
cart. The labor of the oxen is much increased by 
the Mexican mode of harnessing, which appears 
peculiarly odd to a Yankee. A rough pole serves 
for a yoke and, with the middle tied to the cart 
tongue, the extremities are placed across the heads 
of the oxen behind the horns, to which they are 
firmly lashed with a stout rawhide thong. Thus the 
head is maintained in a fixed position, and they pull, 
or rather push, by the force of the neck, which, of 
course, is kept continually strained upward. 

" Rough and uncouth as these carretas always are, 
they constitute, nevertheless, the pleasure carriages 
of the rancheros, whose families are conveyed in 
them to the towns, whether to market or to fiestas, 
or on other joyful occasions. It is truly amus- 
ing to see these rude vehicles bouncing along upon 
their irregularly rounded wheels, like a limping 
bullock, and making the hills and valleys around 
vocal with the echo of their creaking and frightful 
sounds." 25 

Agriculture was as primitive as manufacture and 
the output quite as costly in labor. Pattie, a Ken- 
tucky hunter, thus describes Mexican tillage as he 


saw it in 1829. "Their ploughs are a straight piece 
of timber, five feet long and eight inches thick, mor- 
tised for two other pieces of timber, one to be fitted 
to the beam, by which the oxen draw, and another to 
the handle, by which the man holds the plough. The 
point that divides the soil is of wood, and hewed 
sloping to such a point that a hollow piece of iron is 
fastened on it at the end. This is one inch thick, and 
three inches broad at top, and slopes also to a point. 
Their hoes, axes, and other tools are equally indif- 
ferent ; and they are precisely in such a predica- 
ment as might be expected of a people who have 
no sawmills, no labor-saving machinery, and do 
everything by dint of hard labor, and are withal 
very indolent and unenterprising." 26 

The scant water supply was carried to the fields of 
corn in the ditches originally built by the Pueblo 
Indians. "One acequia madre [mother ditch] suffices 
generally to convey water for the irrigation of an entire 
valley, or at least for all the fields of one town or 
settlement. This is made and kept in repair by the 
public, under the supervision of the alcaldes; laborers 
being allotted to work upon it as with us upon our 
county roads. The size of this principal ditch is of 
course proportioned to the quantity of land to be 
watered. It is conveyed over the highest part of 
the valley, which, on these mountain streams, is, 
for the most part, next to the hills. From this, each 
proprietor of a farm runs a minor ditch, in like 
manner, over the most elevated part of his field. 
Where there is not a superabundance of water, 
which is often the case on the smaller streams, each 


farmer has his day, or portion of a day, allotted to 
him for irrigation ; and at no other time is he per- 
mitted to extract water from the acequia madre. 
Then the cultivator, after letting the water into his 
minor ditch, dams this, first at one point and then 
at another, so as to overflow a section at a time, 
and, with his hoe, depressing eminences and filling 
sinks, he causes the water to spread regularly over 
the surface. Though the operation would seem 
tedious, an expert irrigator will water in one day his 
five- or six-acre field, if level, and everything well 
arranged ; yet on uneven ground he will hardly be 
able to get over half of that amount." 27 

The most profitable industry was sheep raising, 
for to sheep the dry climate and infrequent streams 
offered no difficulty, and pasture might be had the 
year round by shifting the herd from valley to moun- 
tain and back again with the change of season. 
" Nothing, perhaps, has been more systematically 
attended to in New Mexico than the raising of sheep. 
When the country was at the zenith of its prosperity, 
ranchos [ranges for cattle or sheep] were to be met 
with upon the borders of every stream, and in the 
vicinity of every mountain where water was to be 
had. Even upon the arid and desert plains, and 
many miles away from brook or pond, immense flocks 
were driven out to pasture, and only taken to water 
once in two or three days. On these occasions it is 
customary for the shepherds to load their burros with 
guages filled with water, and return again with their 
folds to the plains. The guage is a kind of gourd, 
of which there are some beautiful specimens with 

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fife 'GliHfc 4 '■ 


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two bulbs, the intervening neck serving to retain 
the cord by which it is carried. 

"These itinerant herds of sheep generally pass the 
night wherever the evening finds them, without cot 
or enclosure. Before nightfall the principal shepherd 
sallies forth in search of a suitable site for his hato, 
or temporary sheepfold ; and building a fire on the 
most convenient spot, the sheep generally draw near 
it on their own accord. Should they incline to 
scatter, the shepherd then seizes a torch and performs 
a circuit or two around the entire fold, by which 
manoeuvre, in their efforts to avoid him, the heads of 
the sheep are all turned inwards ; and in that con- 
dition they generally remain till morning, without 
once attempting to stray. It is unnecessary to add 
that the flock is well guarded during the night by 
watchful and sagacious dogs against prowling wolves 
or other animals of prey. The well-trained shep- 
herd's dog of this country is indeed a prodigy; two 
or three of them will follow a flock of sheep for a 
distance of several miles as orderly as a shepherd, 
and drive them back to the pen again at night, 
without any other guidance than their own extraor- 
dinary instincts. 

"In former times there were extensive proprietors 
who had their ranchos scattered over half the prov- 
ince, in some cases amounting to from three to five 
hundred thousand head of sheep. The custom 
has usually been to farm out the ewes to the ran- 
cheros [ranchmen; in this case tenants apparently], 
who make a return of twenty per cent upon the 
stock in merchantable carneros, — a term applied 


to sheep generally, and particularly to wethers fit 
for market. 

" Sheep may be reckoned the staple production of 
New Mexico, and the principal article of exportation. 
Between ten and twenty years ago, about 200,000 
head were annually driven to the southern markets ; 
indeed, it is asserted that, during the most flourish- 
ing times, as many as 500,000 were exported in one 
year. This trade has constituted a profitable busi- 
ness to some of the ricos [rich men] of the country. 
They would buy sheep of the poor rancheros at from 
fifty to seventy-five cents per head, and sell them at 
from one to two hundred per cent advance in the 
southern markets. A large quantity of wool is of 
course produced, but of an inferior quality. Incon- 
siderable amounts have been introduced into the 
United States via Missouri, which have sometimes 
been sold as low as fifteen cents per pound. It is 
bought, however, at the New Mexican ranchos at a 
very low rate — three or four cents per pound, or 
(as more generally sold) per fleece, which will average, 
perhaps, but little over a pound. Yet, from the 
superiority of the pasturage and climate, New Mexico 
might doubtless grow the finest wool in the world. 
In conformity with their characteristic tardiness in 
improvement, however, the natives have retained 
their original stocks, which are wretchedly degenerate. 
They formerly sheared their flocks chiefly for their 
health, and rarely preserved the fleece, as their 
domestic manufactures consumed but a compara- 
tively small quantity. 

"But the ganado menor, or small beasts of pasture 


(that is, sheep and goats in general), have of late 
been very much reduced in quantity ; having 
suffered to a deplorable extent from the frequent 
inroads of the aboriginal 'lords of the soil,' who, 
every now and then, whenever hunger or caprice 
prompts them, attack the ranchos, murder the 
shepherds, and drive the sheep away in flocks of 
thousands. Indeed, the Indians have been heard to 
observe that they would long before this have de- 
stroyed every sheep in the country, but that they 
prefer leaving a few behind for breeding purposes, 
in order that their Mexican shepherds may raise 
them new supplies !" 2S 

The republican administration did even less than 
the viceroy had done to protect the New Mexicans 
against their Indian foes. Apaches raided the 
ranchos for cattle, sheep, and mules, and the proprie- 
tors were driven to the towns for protection. Gregg 
thought the Apaches not so good warriors as the 
Comanches, and these in turn were less valorous than 
the Shawnees and Delawares, who had opposed the 
advance of the English in the Ohio valley, yet the 
Mexican troops were afraid to encounter them. In 
1837 the governor of Chihuahua offered a money 
reward for Apache scalps : $100 for a brave, $50 for 
a squaw, $25 for a pappoose. The only effect of the 
offer was to induce scalp-hunting expeditions against 
the most peaceful of the Indians, thus inciting them 
to revenge, and the edict was recalled in a few 
months. Given the backward state of agriculture 
and manufactures and the heavy taxes imposed on 
trade, it will be readily surmised that there could be 


no real prosperity, no rapid increase of population 
either by immigration or by natural growth. 

Gregg estimated the population of New Mexico in 
1840, including the Pueblo Indians but excluding the 
savage tribes, at seventy thousand souls: one thou- 
sand white Creoles, fifty-nine thousand mestizos, ten 
thousand Pueblos. The number of naturalized 
foreigners was inconsiderable, perhaps twenty, and 
there were less than forty alien residents. On the 
basis of Baron Humboldt's statement that the popu- 
lation of New Mexico in 1803 was forty thousand, 
Gregg calculated that the rate of increase for forty 
years had barely exceeded one per cent per annum. 
His estimate, however, was fifteen thousand in excess 
of the official count for 1840, which showed the popu- 
lation of New Mexico to be almost stationary. Three 
centuries of Spanish occupation had done little for 
the arid land of the Pueblos. 29 

Section II 

La Salle's Ill-fated Enterprise. — Meantime great 
changes had been taking place along the Espiritu 
Santo, the region that Castafieda had thought a waste 
of bogs. Both Cabeza de Vaca and Coronado had 
crossed the plains of Texas and reported the extraor- 
dinary fertility of the buffalo pastures; but six- 
teenth-century Spaniards thought no discoveries 
worth pursuing that did not lead to mines of gold and 
silver and the turquoise-encrusted gates of Quivira. 
In the first half of the seventeenth century, Francis- 


can friars made several attempts to reach the Tehas, 
the semi-agricultural Indians who dwelt near the 
Gulf Coast, yet the Spanish government made no 
move in this direction till its monopoly of the Floridas 
was threatened by a French explorer. 

Rumors of a mighty river, the Father of Waters, 
had reached France through the Jesuits who carried 
the cross to the aborigines beyond the Great Lakes. 
In 1639 Jean Nicollet, a French interpreter of Three 
Rivers, sailed into Green Bay, crossed from the Fox 
River to the Wisconsin, and learned from the Indians 
that this water flowed southward to the sea. Little 
by little, the learned fathers gathered information 
from their converts. In 1670 Father Dablon was 
able to state, "To the south flows the great river 
which they [the Sioux] call the Messi-sipi, which 
can have its mouth only in the Florida sea, more 
than four hundred leagues from here. ... It 
seems to encircle all our lakes, rising in the north 
and running to the south, till it empties in a sea 
which we take to be the Red Sea [Gulf of California] 
or that of Florida. . . . Some Indians assure us 
that this river is so beautiful that more than three 
hundred leagues from its mouth it is larger than 
that which flows by Quebec, as they make it more 
than a league wide. They say, moreover, that all 
this vast extent of country is nothing but prairies 
without trees or woods, which obliges the inhab- 
itants of those parts to use turf and sun-dried dung 
for fuel, till you come about twenty leagues from the 
sea. Here the forests begin to appear again. Some 
warriors of this country, who say they have de- 


scended that far, assure us that they saw men like 
the French who were splitting the trees with long 
knives, some of whom had their house on the water; 
thus they explained their meaning, speaking of sawed 
planks and ships." 30 

In 1673 Count Frontenac, governor of New 
France, commissioned Louis Joliet and Pere Mar 
quette to attempt the voyage down the Wisconsin 
to the Mississippi and thence to salt water. In two 
bark canoes, with only five boatmen, they made 
their way past the Missouri and the Ohio rivers 
to the Arkansas. There the Indians told them it 
was but ten days' sail to the sea and the Spanish 
settlements. Fearing to fall into the hands of the 
Spaniards, they turned back, being convinced that 
they had proved that the Mississippi flowed into the 
Gulf of Mexico, " since its course was directly south, 
not east toward Virginia nor west toward the South 
Sea." Frontenac reported to the home government 
that Joliet "had found admirable countries, and so 
easy a navigation by the beautiful river which he 
found, that from Lake Ontario and Fort Frontenac 
you can go in barks to the Gulf of Mexico, there 
being but one discharge to be made at the place 
where Lake Erie falls into Lake Ontario." 31 

The court of Louis XIV gave little attention to 
these momentous findings, and the record of the dar- 
ing achievement was neglected. The narrative of 
Pere Marquette was not made public till 1681, and 
then by a private publisher. Frontenac had hoped 
that the king would take in hand the further ex- 
ploration of the great river system now claimed by 


France; but the project was ultimately carried out 
by a private gentleman, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de 
La Salle, then in command at Fort Frontenac, who 
had received a royal grant of a monopoly of the 
trade in buffalo hides and a commission to explore 
the interior. He probably learned from Joliet, en 
route for Quebec, the details of that first voyage 
down the Mississippi, and he may even have seen the 
explorer's map. La Salle was doubtless familiar with 
the journals of Cabeza de Vaca and Castaneda, and 
it was he who first divined the identity of the Espiritu 
Santo with the Mississippi. The commercial possi- 
bilities of a navigable river that connected the Great 
Lakes with the Gulf impressed him as worth develop- 
ing, and he determined to prosecute the fur trade in 
that direction. He expected to ship buffalo skins 
and wool to France by an all-water route, but it 
was necessary first to establish intervening trading 
posts and to provide an adequate fleet. The diffi- 
culties and delays which La Salle encountered by 
reason of the jealous opposition of the Jesuits and 
of rival fur traders, the loss of his ship, the Griffin, 
and of his post, Fort Crevecceur on the Illinois, need 
not be rehearsed here. After desertions and disap- 
pointments sufficient to discourage a man of less 
iron resolve, his party set out (January, 1682) from 
the southern extremity of Lake Michigan, crossed 
the divide by way of the Chicago, Des Plaines, and 
Illinois rivers, and finally launched three canoes in 
the Mississippi. A run of sixty-two days down the 
muddy tide brought them to the Delta (April 9, 1682) 
and the Gulf. There La Salle erected a cross, 


together with the arms of France, and solemnly took 
possession of the mighty river in the name of Louis 
XIV. Three years previous, Father Hennepin, de- 
puted by La Salle to explore the Illinois and the 
upper "Mescha-sipi," had been captured by the Sioux 
on Lake Pepin and carried to the Falls of St. Anthony 
and beyond. The vast valley thus revealed was 
named Louisiana for the Grand Monarque, who took 
slight interest in the noble acquisition. 

Tonti, the only officer who did not abandon La 
Salle on this expedition, recorded in his journal an 
interesting estimate of the industrial possibilities of 
the lower country. There were bogs and cane-brakes 
along the banks, but back from the river was the 
"most beautiful country in the world." 32 In the rich 
bottom lands were corn-fields and smiling meadows, 
mulberry trees and grape-vines, and a great variety 
of fruits grew wild in the woodlands; magnificent 
pine forests offered an inexhaustible supply of naval 
stores, while lead deposits that would yield two 
parts of ore to one of refuse only waited the miner's 
pick. Beaver were rare, but buffalo, bear, wolves, 
and deer abounded. The trade in peltry alone could 
be made to yield 20,000 ecus per year. When the 
Indians were trained to tend silkworms, that indus- 
try also would furnish a valuable article of trade. 

In 1683 La Salle returned to France, seeking the 
means to plant a colony at the mouth of the Mis- 
sissippi. He succeeded in enlisting the patronage of 
Colbert, and Louis XIV was induced to finance the 
expedition as a demonstration against Spain's design 
in that quarter. 33 Four vessels were furnished ; one 


from the royal navy, Le Joly, commanded by Cap- 
tain Beaujeu, La Salle's ship L'Aimable, which was 
provided with eight guns, a store-ship St. Frangois, 
and a bark La Belle, made up the little fleet. A 
company of two hundred and eighty colonists was 
collected, — soldiers, priests, artisans, and women, 
these last from the purlieus of the cities. La Salle's 
brother, the Abbe Cavelier, and his nephews, Moran- 
get and Cavelier, were of the party. 

The enterprise was handicapped from the start by 
a divided command. The jealous foes of La Salle 
had prevailed with the king to give Beaujeu equal 
authority with the real leader of the expedition. 
Moreover, on the outward voyage, La Salle displayed 
the harsh and arbitrary temper which so often angered 
his followers and dashed their loyalty. The ceremony 
of baptizing the novices as they crossed the Tropic 
of Cancer was already dear to the hearts of old salts, 
both because of the merriment raised and for the 
sake of the penalties usually paid by the cabin 
passengers for exemption. This harmless pastime 
the commander forbade, thereby forfeiting the affec- 
tion of his men. The little fleet touched at Petit 
Goave in Haiti for food and water, and there many 
of the crew deserted, and the store-ship was captured 
by Spanish pirates ; but La Salle laid in new supplies, 
and the remaining vessels proceeded along the Gulf 
Coast, looking for the mouth of the Mississippi. In 
January, 1685, they actually skirted the Delta ; but 
the three mouths of the river giant were concealed 
by shoals and fog. Suspecting his mistake, La Salle 
would have turned back, but Beaujeu protested, and 


the leader was persuaded to run on down the coast 
as far as Matagorda Bay. Here nothing was to be 
seen but sand bars and dangerous surf. Finally 
(February 4, 1685) Moranget and Joutel were put 
ashore, with a small party, and ordered to march 
eastward until they should come upon the river, 
when they were to signal the following ships. Ar- 
rived at a wide and impassable inlet, Joutel lighted a 
signal fire, and La Salle came ashore in the bark 
La Belle with a trusty pilot to take soundings. 
Having discovered a safe passage, he sent back the 
pilot to L'Aimable, to bring her into the river. But 
the captain refused to be directed, declaring that he 
knew his business. La Salle, watching anxiously 
from the shore, saw his ship, heavily laden with 
supplies, run upon a shoal. The obstinate captain 
immediately lowered the sails, thus destroying all 
chance of getting her off. Nothing but treachery 
could explain such disastrous tactics, and Joutel, the 
indignant chronicler of these events, asserts that this 
was done "designedly and advisedly, which was one 
of the blackest and most detestable actions that 
man could be guilty of." u In spite of La Salle's 
desperate efforts, only a fraction of the provisions 
was recovered. Some mischief-maker, under cover of 
the night, scuttled the only lighter and stove in the 
ship's side. By morning her hold was filled with 
water. Only a little flesh, meal, and grain, and 
thirty casks of wine and brandy were saved. 

It was now of prime importance to establish 
friendly relations with the natives, but, unfortu- 
nately, the first encounter was hostile. Learning 


that the Indians had found some blankets in the 
wreckage and made way with them, a small party 
volunteered to pursue the thieves and bring back 
canoes as an offset. The business was badly 
managed. A show of force frightened the Indians, 
who ran away ; but, returning to the village by 
night and finding that the strangers had taken not 
only the blankets but two canoes, the wily natives 
tracked the party and, coming upon their camp 
when even the guard was asleep, sent a flight of 
arrows into their midst. Two of the Frenchmen 
were killed and two severely wounded. This spilling 
of blood was regarded as a bad omen, and Beaujeu, 
making much of the disaster, determined to return 
to France, taking with him the malcontents. He 
refused to leave behind any of the stores from his 
ship, even the ammunition that rightfully belonged 
to La Salle. Le Joly set sail on March 14, leaving a 
disheartened company on this unknown coast. 

La Salle resolutely set about making the best of 
the situation. He had a hut built and palisaded 
with the wreckage of the ship, where the women 
and provisions might be housed in safety. Leaving 
Joutel in command at this post. La Salle undertook 
an excursion into the interior (October, 1685). Left 
to his own devices, Joutel displayed much common 
sense in providing for the comfort of the one hundred 
men and women in his charge. He put up a second 
building for the accommodation of the men, and 
constructed an oven that they might have whole- 
some baked bread. Fish and flesh were abundant, 
and salt was discovered in the marshes of the neigh- 


borhood. Every man had to serve his turn on 
guard, and discipline was enforced by the ancient 
penalty of the wooden horse. Only Joutel and one 
trusted lieutenant had access to the ammunition, a 
precaution that frustrated at least one mutiny. The 
colonists would have been glad to settle here; but 
La Salle, who had gone up the river and found 
higher and less malarial ground, determined to build 
a fort to the eastward. There being no trees con- 
venient to this site, Joutel was ordered to make 
a raft of planks from the wreck of L'Aimable and 
haul it up the river. With great difficulty a little 
lumber was transported to the Riviere aux Bceufs, so 
called from the bison that came there for water, 35 
while La Belle carried the supplies and the women 
to the new encampment. Arrived at the spot, 
Joutel was amazed to find the post ' ' so ill begun and 
so little advanced." No shelter had yet been pro- 
vided except for the casks of brandy. Rain was fall- 
ing, and the seed, on whose harvest La Salle was 
counting for food, lay rotting in the ground. Several 
of the men were dead, many sick of fatigue and ex- 
posure, and all were exhausted by the task of hauling 
timber across several miles of prairie without carts or 
draft animals. La Salle's harsh temper contributed 
not a little to the general depression. "The uneasi- 
ness M. de la Salle was under to see nothing succeed 
as he had imagined, and which often made him insult 
the men when there was little reason for it," 36 had 
driven his people to the verge of mutiny. Within a 
few weeks thirty of the men died of overwork and 
discouragement, among them the head carpenter. 


La Salle was thus forced to be his own master builder, 
to go to the forest and select the trees to be felled, 
shape them, and fit them to their places. The fort 
was completed at last, and formally christened St. 
Louis, a name given also to the bay which it over- 

In April of 1686, La Salle set out in La Belle to 
explore the coast in search of the Mississippi, and 
again Joutel was left in command. The equipment 
of this expedition had well-nigh exhausted the sup- 
plies, and there were thirty-four persons to feed; 
but, thanks to his careful management, they fared 
well. The buffalo were made to furnish not only 
food but shelter, for the resourceful lieutenant 
thatched his cabins with their hides. Of these ani- 
mals, the main reliance of the Indians of the plains, 
there seemed to be an inexhaustible supply. " There 
are thousands of them, but instead of hair they have 
a very long curled sort of wool." 37 

Meantime, La Salle was meeting with his usual 
ill fortune. He had not gone far when a quite un- 
called-for injury to an Indian village was revenged 
by a night attack on the unguarded camp, and three 
Frenchmen were killed. Leaving Cavelier and a 
small party in charge of the bark and all dispensable 
supplies, La Salle departed for the interior with 
twenty picked men. After three months of aimless 
wandering, he returned to Fort St. Louis ragged and 
worn, "his fatal river" not yet discovered. He was 
met by disastrous news. A boat load of men, sent 
off from La Belle to fill the water barrels, had been 
lost through the captain's neglect to keep the lights 


burning. The depleted force was not strong enough 
to manage the ship, and she had drifted on a shoal. 
Monseigneur Cavelier and his remnant had found 
their way back to the fort with some of the more 
portable goods, but the greater part was irrecov- 

Apparently undaunted, La Salle set out almost 
immediately for a third excursion, taking with him 
another twenty men and as good an outfit as could 
be got together. This time he marched toward New 
Mexico, reconnoitring, it would seem, the limits of 
•the Spanish dominions. He returned in August with 
only eight men. Four had deserted, the others were 
lost or killed by savages or by the alligators that 
infested the rivers. "All the visible advantage of 
that journey consisted in five horses, laden with 
Indian wheat, beans, and some other grain, which was 
put into the store." 38 Notwithstanding this calam-. 
itous failure, "the even temper of our chief made 
all men easy, and he found, by his great vivacity 
of spirit, expedients which revived the lowest ebb 
of hope." 39 He now proposed "to undertake a jour- 
ney toward the Illinois, and to make it the main 
business, by the way, to find the Mississippi." 40 

La Salle's last expedition set out to northward in 
January, 1687. This time the faithful Joutel accom- 
panied him, together with Monseigneur Cavelier, 
the two nephews, Father Anastasius Douay, Sieur 
Duhaut and his servant, L'Archeveque, Tessier, the 
pilot, Hiens, a German buccaneer, Liotot, the surgeon, 
La Salle's devoted Iroquois guide, his footman, and 
four servants. Dried buffalo meat, which they 


called foucannier in imitation of the Indian word, 
some grain, and the best of the remaining ammuni- 
tion and camp utensils were packed on the horses, 
and the little cavalcade set out toward the north- 
east. La Salle's objective point was the villages of 
the Cenis, where he hoped to secure guides. He 
realized at last how important were the friendly 
offices of the Indians and was determined to ''use 
them kindly ... an infallible maxim, the practice 
of which might have been fortunate to him had he 
followed it sooner." 41 The route was rendered diffi- 
cult by several large rivers, alligator swamps, and 
heavy timber. Whenever possible, they followed 
the buffalo trails to avoid the necessity of cutting 
paths through the dense underbrush, and a canoe 
was constructed of long poles covered with buffalo 
hide to carry the men and goods across the rivers, 
the horses being made to swim. Notwithstanding 
La Salle's best devices, the march was wearisome 
and discouraging, and the men began to grumble. 
A quarrel broke out between Moranget (the younger) 
and Liotot over the disposition of some fresh buffalo 
meat. Liotot, Hiens, Duhaut, and L'Archeveque 
fell upon Moranget and his two companions, the 
Indian and the footman, and beat out their brains 
with axes. The murderers then determined to make 
way with La Salle, and free themselves, once for all, 
of his harsh rule. Uneasy that his nephew and the 
others did not come up, La Salle was returning to 
seek them, when Duhaut, who had secreted himself 
beside the trail, fired and shot him through the 
head. The leader fell without a groan. Hiens then 



stripped the body and threw it into the bushes, 
some Indians who witnessed the foul deed looking on 
silently, "with amazement and contempt of us." 42 
Joutel was for punishing the murderers, but the two 
priests prevailed upon him to attempt no revenge; 
and indeed this was the part of prudence, for they 
were in the minority. Joutel held his peace, but 
he was determined to part company with the con- 
spirators as soon as possible, and to push on to the 

Jotjtel's Return Journey. 

Mississippi and the Illinois country. This was diffi- 
cult, for Duhaut had assumed command of the party 
and controlled the supplies. 43 

As the wanderers approached the Cenis villages, 
they saw a man on horseback, dressed as a Spaniard 
in blue doublet, straight breeches and stockings, with 
a broad-brimmed, flat-crowned hat, and they feared 


lest they should fall into the hands of the enemies of 
France and be carried off to serve in the mines or 
quarries of Mexico. To their relief, the rider proved 
to be an Indian who had got his horse and trappings 
from some Spanish settlement. The Frenchmen 
were cordially received by the Cenis, an agricultural 
people, who lived in wooden huts and made rude 
pottery and cane baskets. Three of the four men 
who had deserted La Salle on his third excursion 
were encountered here. They were well content 
with savage life, having married Indian wives and 
learned to hunt with bow and arrow. The new 
arrivals were offered the same privileges. Duhaut 
and his accomplices were minded to remain here, 
having forfeited a welcome at Fort St. Louis or in 
France ; but Joutel had learned of a " great river, 
which was forty leagues off, towards the northeast, 
and that there were people like us who dwelt on the 
banks of it." 44 Thither he determined to go. 

Six of the party held by Joutel ; Father Anastasius, 
the two Caveliers, and three others who had not been 
concerned in the assassination of La Salle. They 
secured six horses and three Indian guides and, 
having induced Duhaut to spare them the essential 
supplies, pushed on to the north. The Cadodaquis 
proved very hospitable. Their chief was tricked 
out with a Spanish sword and wore a head-dress of 
hawks' bells whose tinklings gave him much pleasure. 
He invited the Frenchmen to a solemn ceremony, 
new to them, the smoking of the calumet, "a very 
long sort of tobacco pipe, adorned with several sorts 
of feathers," 45 and urged them to settle there and 


marry into the tribe. Joutel, to be rid of his in- 
sistence, promised to return with commodities for 
trade. On the 24th of July they came to an east- 
ward-flowing river and saw on the opposite bank a 
great cross with "a, house built after the French 
fashion." Two men clothed in civilized garments 
came out and fired a salute. This proved to be the 
Poste aux Arkansas, founded by Henri de Tonti, the 
devoted friend of La Salle, who had come thus far 
with his relief expedition. 

Joutel and the faithful remnant made their way 
by canoe up the Mississippi and the Illinois and so 
by the Great Lakes to Montreal and to France, 
carrying the news of the disastrous outcome of the 
great colonial enterprise. Tonti undertook to rescue 
the survivors at Fort St. Louis, but upon reaching 
St. Louis Bay he could find no trace of the colony. 
Returning by the Mississippi, he voyaged up the 
Arkansas as far as his boats would carry him and 
then marched across the country to the Indian 
village of Natchitoches on Red River. Ascending 
this stream to the Cadodaquis, he secured horses and 
again rode south to within three days' journey of 
the spot where his chief had been murdered. There 
his men refused to go farther, and he was forced to 
abandon the search. 

Such was the pitiful end of a great project. The 
causes of La Salle's failure are wisely summed up 
by his loyal lieutenant, Joutel. "Such was the un- 
fortunate end of M. de La Salle's life, at a time 
when he might entertain the greatest hopes, as the 
reward of his labors. He had a capacity and talent 


to make his enterprise successful ; his constancy and 
courage, and his extraordinary knowledge in arts 
and sciences, which rendered him fit for anything, 
together with an indefatigable body, which made 
him surmount all difficulties, would have procured a 
glorious issue to his undertakings, had not all those 
excellent qualities been counterbalanced by too 
haughty a behavior, which sometimes made him in- 
supportable, and by a rigidness towards those that 
were under his command, which at last drew on him 
implacable hatred and was the occasion of his 
death." 46 

Louisiana under France and Spain 

La Salle's dream of a settlement at the mouth of 
the Mississippi and a commerce that should connect 
the Great Lakes with the Gulf was shared by Iber- 
ville, the military genius who, having demonstrated 
his ability in combating the projects of Great Britain 
on the New England coast, in the Mohawk Valley, 
and on Hudson's Bay, was despatched to Louisiana 
to defeat the encroachments of Spain. He and his 
brother, Bienville, arrived on the Gulf Coast with a 
colonizing outfit just ten years after the death of 
La Salle and, landing to the east of the Delta, 
founded Fort Biloxi on a sandy beach backed by 
virgin forest- In 1701 the post was transferred to a 
point still nearer Pensacola, Mobile, where a deep 
bay and navigable rivers gave harborage for vessels ; 
but the settlement at Biloxi was maintained. The 
hardships of the initial years and the hot and humid 
climate proved disastrous to the pioneers. Twenty- 


five hundred colonists were sent over between 1699 
and 1712, but only four hundred were living in the 
latter year. The monopoly of the trade of Louisiana 
was then granted to Anthony Crozat, on condition 
of establishing a colony. 

During the five years of his monopoly, Crozat 
expended 425,000 livres on this venture and realized 
a revenue of but 300,000 livres. When he sur- 
rendered the concession in 1717, there were only seven 
hundred Frenchmen and four hundred cattle in Lou- 
isiana. In spite of these failures, the Regent was un- 
willing to abandon the claim to the Mississippi River 
and the vast valley which it drained ; the opportunity 
for colonial expansion was made over to the Company 
of the West, and Louisiana became the physical basis 
for the ambitious financial scheme to which John Law 
had converted the French court and people. The 
projectors secured the monopoly of trade, mines, and 
furs on condition that they import six thousand 
white colonists and three thousand negro slaves. 
Land was offered to voluntary emigrants, together 
with free transportation and sustenance until they 
should reach their final destination ; but it was not 
easy to induce men who could earn a living at home 
to take their chances in the wilderness, and the 
Company was obliged to impress colonists from the 
jails and almshouses and the vicious resorts of Paris. 
Eight hundred people were brought over in three 
ship-loads (1718) and distributed among the several 
posts, — Biloxi, Mobile, St. Louis Bay, Natchitoches, 
Fort Rosalie de Natchez, and the Yazoo. Bienville 
was made governor, and he cleared ground for a cen- 



EograTiog Co., N.Y. 

French Louisiana in 1718. 

tral settlement on the neck of land between the 
Mississippi and Lake Ponchartrain, which, in honor 
of the Regent, he named New Orleans (1721). 

Le Page du Pratz, a gentleman adventurer who 
came over on the first ship with servants and imple- 
ments, gives us a detailed account of the colony. His 
estate was at Natchez, where he found the soil very 
fertile and the climate salubrious ; but so long as his 
nearest and largest market was Biloxi, there was no 
profit in agriculture. New Orleans promised better 
things commercially because the river front was deep 
enough for sea-going vessels, whereas lighters were 


necessary at Biloxi ; but the ground plotted out for 
the town lay so low that it was inundated by the 
spring floods, and the river was at that season so 
filled with drifting timber that vessels were forced 
to put out into the Gulf for safety. Bienville had 
caused a mole three feet high and wide enough for 
a carriage road to be built along the water front 
for a distance of fifteen or sixteen leagues on both 
sides the river, and this served to protect not only 
the dwellings but the agricultural lands. 

After eight years spent at Natchez, Du Pratz re- 
moved to New Orleans and was induced to take charge 
of the royal plantations in that vicinity. The results 
of this experience are embodied in some very interest- 
ing notes on methods of cultivating the most suc- 
cessful crops — maize, rice, watermelons, tobacco, 
indigo, cotton. A really serious handicap on the last- 
named product was the difficulty of separating the 
seed from the fibre, but Du Pratz invented a mill 
which performed this operation much more quickly 
than it could be done by hand. A woman from 
Provence, Mme. Hubert, was experimenting with 
silkworms, and she had succeeded in raising worms on 
the leaves of the red and the white mulberry that 
spun a silk finer and stronger than that of Lyons. 
Du Pratz believed that young negroes could be 
taught to tend the cocoons and that a profitable silk 
industry might be established in this warm and 
equable climate. He anticipated, moreover, that a 
flourishing trade would develop with the West 
Indies and ultimately with Europe. Lumber, bricks 
and tile, maize, beans, peas, and rice were already 


being shipped to the Islands, and the return cargoes 
of sugar, coffee, rum, and slaves were eagerly bought 
by the well-to-do among the Louisianians. (Du 
Pratz paid £55 for a negro and his wife.) Furs, 
deerskins, buffalo hides, and tallow were coming 
down from the upper river; lumber, pitch, and tar 
were being sent in from the near-by forests; hemp 
and sugar could be grown in the Delta; and there 
was no reason why the colony should not build its 
own trading vessels. "If the English build ships in 
their colonies . . . why might not we do the same 
in Louisiana?" "France has found in her lands 
neither the gold nor silver of Mexico and Peru, nor 
the precious stones and rich stuffs of the East 
Indies, but she will find therein, when she pleases, 
mines of iron, lead, and copper. She is there possessed 
of a fertile soil, which only requires to be occupied 
in order to produce, not only all the fruits necessary 
and agreeable to life, but also all the subjects [ma- 
terials] on which human industry may exercise itself 
in order to supply our wants." 47 

There was no lack of energy on the part of the 
men who undertook to bring to light the latent re- 
sources of this rich possession. In 1718 an expe- 
dition was despatched to the Illinois Country to 
develop the lead deposits described by Tonti. Philip 
Renault and La Motte, a mineral expert, prospected 
the region from the Kaskaskia on the east of the 
Mississippi to the St. Francis River on the west so 
thoroughly that their numerous excavations are still 
visible. They opened the rich mine at the source 
of the St. Francis, still called La Motte, also Fourche 


a Renault on Big River and, with the aid of two 
hundred artificers and miners sent from France and 
five hundred slaves picked up at San Domingo, 
they raised and smelted a considerable quantity of 
first-grade metal. For twenty-five years pirogues 
loaded with lead were sent down to New Oi leans; 
then the project was abandoned for lack of sup- 
port, and Renault returned to France. In 1725 
Bourgmont explored the Missouri as far as the 
Kansas, and proved that a great trade in furs might 
be developed with the Osages and Paducahs. In 
1740 a party of traders from New Orleans followed 
the Arkansas to the mountains, established a trading 
post there (near Pueblo), and opened commercial 
relations with the Indians of Taos and the Spaniards 
of Santa Fe. These operations being reported to the 
Spanish authorities, the Frenchmen were seized and 
thrown into prison. The case was referred to 
Havana, and the superior court decided that, since 
the post was on the eastern slope of the mountains, 
it lay within the Province of Louisiana. The 
traders were promptly released and their goods 

Meantime the industrial experiments on the lower 
river were going badly. The idle and degenerate 
riffraff imported as colonists could not or would not 
work, not even food enough for sustenance would 
they grow, and famine and disease decimated the 
settlements. One hundred years before, England 
had proven the futility of attempting to build a 
commonwealth out of the "scum of the people"; 
but the Company of the West was bent on profits, 


and the places of the dead were rilled by more cheap 
labor, — beggars, criminals, and slaves. In the first 
six years of its administration, four thousand and 
forty-four French men and women were transported 
to Louisiana and fourteen hundred and forty-one 
Africans. The only successful farmers were some 
Alsatians forwarded by the canny Law to his own 
estates at Arkansas Post, but who later removed to 
the Bayou St. John (Cote des Allemands). The 
Canadians who came down from the St. Lawrence 
showed greater capacity for coping with the vicissi- 
tudes of frontier life and made excellent hunters ; 
but the "Mississippi Scheme" was doomed from the 
start. The Company's feudal requisitions, their 
trade monopoly, and the worthless paper currency 
sent from France were burdens too heavy for an 
infant colony. When the speculative bubble burst 
and there was no more revenue to be had, the 
fictitious prosperity collapsed. The discredited com- 
pany surrendered its charter (1731) and Louisiana 
reverted to the crown. 

Bienville was continued as governor until 1743, 
and under his wise and efficient management, the 
province began to prosper. The plantations about 
New Orleans bore abundant crops of cotton, rice, 
and tobacco ; salt was manufactured on Red River; 
naval stores came down the Mississippi in huge 
rafts. When Vaudreuil succeeded Bienville he found 
a population of thirty-two hundred whites and two 
thousand and thirty blacks — slaves from Cuba 
and San Domingo — and there seemed reason to 
believe that France might yet reap some profit from 


Louisiana. Hoping to extend the agricultural area, 
Vaudreuil offered tracts of the alluvial land on the 
river and adjacent bayous, free of charge, stipulating 
only that some portion be cleared and a house built 
within a year and a day, and that such proprietors 
as held land on the river should maintain a levee and 
a public road along its summit and erect the necessary 

When Louisiana and the Floridas were ceded to 
Spain (1762), the administration of the province was 
but little changed. Spanish officials took the place 
of the French, and the seat of authority and source 
of supplies was transferred to the City of Mexico. 
Land grants were given out by the Spanish gover- 
nors with a more lavish hand and with less regard 
to the development of the country. The terms of 
the grants were not rigidly enforced, and the public 
was obliged to make good the defects in roads and 
levees caused by the neglect of the local proprietors. 
Governor O'Reilly offered to each newly arrived 
family settling on the river a tract of land extending 
from six to twelve arpents along the water front and 
forty arpents deep, with indefinite rights to feed cattle 
in the cane-brakes and cut fuel in the cypress forests 
beyond. Grants were conditioned on the building 
of levees, roads, and bridges, and the clearing of at 
least three arpents deep along the water front. If 
these terms were not met within three years, the land 
reverted to the crown. Carondelet (1795) enjoined 
upon the syndics that they should make a survey of 
the levees twice a year and require the proprietors 
to repair the damages wrought by floods and craw- 


fish. If the individual planter was unequal to the 
work, an impressment of the negroes of the adjoin- 
ing plantations was authorized, the negroes working 
on Sunday, their one holiday, for four escalins 
(thirty-six cents) per day. This public-spirited ad- 
ministrator built the canal that connected New 
Orleans with Lake Ponchartrain and drained the 
streets of the city. He provided for the lighting of 
the streets and arranged a force of watchmen. The 
cultivation of sugar, which had been abandoned since 
1766, was revived by Etienne de Bore, a neighboring 
planter, who succeeded in granulating the molasses 
and producing a marketable grade. 

Emigration from France ceased with the change 
of flag, and none but officials came from Spain, so that 
the population of the province was fairly stationary. 
The settlements made in Upper Louisiana during 
the Spanish regime were due to French enterprise. 
Maxent, Laclede & Cie., merchants of New Orleans, 
had already secured from the French intendant the 
trade monopoly of the Missouri and of the upper 
Mississippi as far as the St. Peters, and Laclede 
selected as the best site for a trading post the bluff 
that overhangs the Mississippi just below the de- 
bouchure of the Missouri. Here a palisaded fort 
was erected, Auguste Chouteau, then a lad of thir- 
teen, overseeing its construction. Laclede named 
his post St. Louis and thought it destined to become 
"one of the finest cities in America." When the 
Spanish governor arrived (1770), he found a town of 
one hundred wooden and fifteen stone houses, but 
the men that gathered at the post were voyageurs, 



engagees, and coureurs de bois, who spent their days 
in trapping and trading and had no liking for the 
cultivation of the soil. To provide sustenance for 
this force, Laclede had recourse to the habitants of 
Vincennes, Cahokia, and Kaskaskia. Outraged by 
the cession of the Illinois Country to Great Britain 
(1763), several hundred of these loyal Frenchmen 
responded to Laclede's invitation and, to be free of 

French Villages with their Common Fields. 

the jurisdiction of "King George's men," crossed the 
Mississippi with their families and their cattle. 
They found good farming land on the bottoms at 
the mouth of the Missouri, and there in a series of 
agricultural villages — Portage des Sioux, St. Charles, 
St. Ferdinand or Florissant — soon reproduced the 
peace and plenty of the abandoned possessions. 

The French villages were little communes, for the 
inhabitants continued the customs they had known on 
the Wabash, — on the St. Lawrence, — in old France. 
Each householder had his bit of garden about his 
cabin on the one street of the village, his allotment 


in the plough field, his right to pasture cattle and hogs 
in the unfenced land and to gather wood in the forest 
back of the clearing. At Ste. Genevieve on the 
Mississippi, the bottom for five miles along the 
river was common field ; at Carondelet, the individual 
allotments, while narrow, were more than a mile and 
a half in length. 48 They were a simple, unprogressive 
people, caring far more for music and dancing and 
out-of-door pleasures than for industry and the 
making of money. The common fields remained 
undivided and were handed down from generation 
to generation, and while there was no wealth there 
was little poverty among them. Loyal to church 
and established authorities, with few schools and no 
manufactures, the French settlers pursued a placid 
and unenterprising existence under Spanish rule. 
Crime was rare among them, jails were unnecessary, 
and courts and lawyers had small employ. St. Louis 
was dubbed Pain Court by the corn-growing inhab- 
itants, but the traders retorted by nicknaming the 
agricultural villages Vide Poche and La Misere and 
Petite Cotes. At St. Andre, farther up the Missouri, 
some thirty families from Kentucky had established 
themselves and were farming the land in a fashion so 
superior to that of the habitants as to attract the com- 
mendation of the governor-general. On the upper 
Mississippi, opposite Prairie du Chien, an enterprising 
Frenchman, Julien Dubuque, had secured license 
(1788) to work the lead mines he had discovered in 
that district. 49 

Laclede's trading post soon became the entrepot 
for river traffic and in 1800 boasted nearly one 


thousand inhabitants, largely Canadians from Mon- 
treal and Michillimackinac. The confluence of the 
Missouri and the Illinois with the Mississippi gave 
the post increasing importance as the centre of the 
fur trade, and brought it into direct relation with 
New Orleans. Keel boats and barges laden with furs, 
buffalo robes, meat, and tallow were despatched to 
"the city," as the seaport was known in St. Louis par- 
lance, and though the voyage of one thousand miles 
down-stream was quickly made, it was not without 
its dangers. The risk of capture by river pirates 50 
was so great that in 1788 the governor ordered that 
no boat undertake the trip alone. Thereupon a 
fleet of ten keel boats was assembled by the mer- 
chants, the robbers' lair was attacked and destroyed, 
and the organized piracy came to an end. 51 A more 
persistent danger was the risk of shipwreck on the 
sand bars, shoals, and floating driftwood with which 
the Father of Floods was beset. Trees dislodged by 
the spring freshets floated down river and, becom- 
ing imbedded in the muddy bottom, lay in wait for 
the unwary navigator. Many a bateau and pirogue 
was capsized on a log or snag that rested just be- 
neath the water, or rose and fell with the pressure of 
the current. 

The forty years of Spanish occupation meant 
little for the development of Louisiana. Pursuing 
the traditional policy of Spanish colonial officials, 
the governor-general at New Orleans confined his 
attention to multiplying the perquisites of his post, 
and his example was followed by every man in 
authority. Bradbury, the English naturalist who 


made a voyage down the Mississippi to New Orleans 
in 1810, writes as follows of the hindrances imposed 
on industry: "The most depressing regulations were 
made to shackle the internal trade of the coun- 
try; no man could sell the smallest article, not 
even a row of pins, without a license, and those 
licenses were sold at the most extravagant rates. A 
stranger coming into the province, and offering goods 
at a fair price, was certain to be sent to prison and 
to have his goods confiscated. All favors from these 
governors, all grants of land, or even common priv- 
ileges, could only be obtained by bribery. . . . 
Under so detestable a system of government the 
energies of man must forever remain dormant, and 
the most fertile regions eternally unproductive to 
the world." 52 

The effect of the tolls and tariffs imposed on 
American goods seeking a market at New Orleans 
is a matter of general history. The throttling of 
their commerce at its natural and most feasible out- 
let drove the exasperated settlers along the Ohio, 
the Cumberland, and the Tennessee to the point of 
revolt. The Federal government was importuned 
to negotiate a treaty with Spain that should secure 
to American citizens free navigation of the Mis- 
sissippi and rights of deposit at New Orleans. After 
prolonged and vexatious parleyings, these privileges 
were conceded (1795), but only for a term of three 
years. They were withdrawn in 1798, and the 
pioneer farmers of Kentucky and Tennessee, again 
threatened with ruin, addressed urgent memorials 
to Congress. The danger was even greater than 


they knew, for in this same year Napoleon was 
pushing to a successful conclusion his negotiations 
for the restoration of Louisiana to France. The 
transfer of New Orleans from the corrupt but un- 
enterprising Spaniards to a ruler so ambitious and 
unscrupulous, was regarded with serious apprehen- 
sion by the United States government. When 
rumors of the treaty of San Ildefonso reached Jeffer- 
son, he characterized the change of ownership as 
"inauspicious" and " ominous to us." In January, 
1803, James Monroe was sent to France as minister 
plenipotentiary to assist Livingston in securing and 
enlarging our rights and interests "in the river 
Mississippi and in the territories eastward thereof." 
They were empowered to buy New Orleans and the 
Floridas for the sum of $2,000,000. After some 
haggling over terms, a convention was drawn up 
(April 30), and the Province of Louisiana was ceded 
to the United States in return for a cash payment of 
$15,000,000. The transfer of Lower Louisiana was 
formally made at New Orleans in December, but that 
of Upper Louisiana and the settlements in the neigh- 
borhood of St. Louis was delayed until March, 1804. 
The extent of this extraordinary acquisition was 
then unknown. To the north lay the dominion of 
Great Britain, as yet undefined. To the west, a 
range of mountains, uncharted and unexplored, was 
believed to delimit the French province. The bound- 
ary between Louisiana and Texas was held by Spain 
to be the Red River, but the Americans of the Mis- 
sissippi Valley were eager to extend their claim to 
the Sabine, to the Colorado, to the Rio Grande. 


Section III 


Possession contested by France and Spain. — When 
news of La Salle's expedition was brought to Mexico 
by the captors of the supply ship, St. Frangois, it be- 
came evident that some measures must be taken to 
hold the land of the Tejas, if Spanish control of the 
Gulf of Mexico was to be maintained. Two vessels 
were despatched, therefore, to search the coast for La 
Salle's colony (1686-1687). The wreckage of La 
Belle and UAimable was found in St. Louis Bay, 
but nothing more. The overland party had the 
good fortune (1689) to discover the ruins of the 
fort and captured two of La Salle's murderers. The 
rest of the ill-fated colonists had succumbed to priva- 
tion and disease. In 1690 the missionary occupa- 
tion of the country was attempted. Three Francis- 
cans with an escort of one hundred soldiers reached 
the Trinidad River and were received with delight 
by the natives. There the mission of San Francisco 
de los Tejas was built, a mere log church with 
barracks for the padres. Soon horses and cattle were 
sent in, and a beginning of tillage was made. The 
Tejas were a semi-agricultural people accustomed to 
the cultivation of corn, beans, melons, and tobacco, 
yet they declined to live in houses and, discouraged 
by the first failure of crops, began to steal the cattle 
and escape into the wilderness. Eight more missions 
had been projected, and that of Santa Maria was 
actually started among the Cenis ; but the perverse 


character of the savages disheartened the friars, and 
in 1694 the enterprise was abandoned. 

The grant of Louis XIV to Anthony Crozat convey- 
ing the monopoly of the trade of Louisiana indi- 
cated the Rio Grande as the natural boundary be- 
tween the French and Spanish dominions. Crozat 
hoped to discover mines in this region and to open 
up a profitable exchange of products between Mobile 
and the Spanish settlements, San Juan Bautista and 
Monclova. Louis Juchereau de St. Denis was sent 
on a trial trip in 1714. With five canoes laden with 
goods he went up the Mississippi and Red rivers 
and, having established a trading post at Natchi- 
toches, made his way overland as far as San Juan. 
He succeeded in establishing friendly relations with 
the commandante, and thus set on foot the contra- 
band trade with Mexico that persisted for a century 
to come. 

St. Denis' bold venture convinced the Spanish 
government of the necessity of taking possession of 
the land of the Tejas. The viceroy got together 
seven or eight families who were willing to risk their 
fortunes in this enterprise, together with some fifty 
soldiers and twelve friars, and put them in charge 
of Captain Domingo Ramon (1716). A train of 
pack mules and oxen with one thousand goats com- 
pleted the equipment. There were no difficulties en 
route. Pursuing an easterly course through luxuriant 
woods and pastures, they found abundant game, — 
buffalo, wild turkeys, and fish. The Tejas were in 
friendly mood and smoked the calumet with the 
Spanish officers, and they allowed the friars to rebuild 



the mission of St. Francisco de los Neches (Nacog- 
doches) and that of Purissima Conception for the 
Cenis villages. Seven missions in all were founded 

Texas in 1804. 

between the Trinidad and Red rivers, and one, San 
Antonio de Valero, on the San Antonio River. The 
adjacent presidio 53 of San Antonio de Bejar gave to 
this position a special importance. 

This brave beginning was brought to an untimely 
end by the outbreak of war between France and 
Spain (1719). A troop of French and Indians from 


Natchitoches swept into the country, destroying 
the missions east of the Trinidad and the colonists 
were forced to take refuge at San Antonio. 

Two years later, peace being declared, coloniza- 
tion was again undertaken. The sum of $250,000 
was appropriated to the purpose, and the Marques 
de San Miguel de Aguayo reentered the land of the 
Tejaswith five hundred soldiers, thirty families, and 
a great herd of horses, cattle, and sheep. Additional 
supplies were brought by ship to Espiritu Santo 
(St. Louis Bay), where a fort, Bahia, was erected. 
The missions beyond the Trinidad were reestablished, 
and a -presidio, Pilar near Adaes, built and garrisoned 
to overawe Natchitoches. The presidio at San An- 
tonio de Bejar was rebuilt in adobe, and a Spanish 
pueblo, San Fernando, was projected in the im- 
mediate vicinity. It was ordered (1722) that four 
hundred families should be brought over from the 
Canary Islands at the expense of the crown, while 
every ship clearing from Havana (1729) was to 
bring in twelve Cuban families. Land and full 
citizenship was promised, and the colonists were 
assured of maintenance for the initial year. In con- 
formity with trade regulations, the immigrants were 
carried, not to the neighboring harbor of Espiritu 
Santo, but to Vera Cruz, whence they were obliged 
to march overland by way of the City of Mexico to 
their destination . Thus some thirty families were with 
great effort transported to San Antonio to form the 
Villa de San Fernando. But the immigrants proved 
less industrious than the natives, for they refused 
to till the soil, preferring to live by hunting and fish- 


ing. A similar colony, San Augustin, with a presidio 
attached, was planted on the Trinidad in 1755 with 
fifty families ; but they, too, found it easier to live 
without work, and neither settlement prospered. 
The officials were made of no better stuff than the 
settlers and neglected their most evident duties ; the 
very governor used his authority to impress the labor 
of the mission Indians for his own benefit and to the 
impoverishment of the friars. 

The missionaries sent to the Tejas and the Cenis 
were zealous and disinterested men, and their methods 
were unusually wise. The native dialects were used 
in the instruction of the new converts, but the 
Indians residing at the mission were taught Spanish. 
The soil was cultivated in common under the super- 
vision of the friars, and a garden lot was assigned 
to every man who proved diligent and capable. 
The government of the mission community was 
vested in an alcalde elected by the people and ap- 
proved by the governor. The natives were taught 
agriculture, carpentering, bricklaying, blacksmith- 
ing, weaving, and other trades, in order that the 
needs of the mission might be supplied, and they 
were well fed and clothed with the double object of 
keeping them contented and attracting others from 
the savage state to this opportunity for Christian 
education. Adobe houses were built for their use and 
furnished with such domestic utensils as the people 
could be induced to employ. Water collected in small 
reservoirs was distributed over the fields by means 
of irrigating ditches, and corn, beans, pumpkins, 
and melons were grown in abundance. Sugar made 


from cane raised at the several missions proved 
especially gratifying to the sweet-toothed children 
of the land, and horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats 
multiplied beyond experience, requiring only the 
care of a mounted cowherd. 

The labor expected of the people was not thought 
onerous by the Spaniards. Husbandmen planted the 
fields, watered the crops, cleared away the weeds, 
and gathered in the grain. The carpenters and 
masons put up the adobe huts, the granaries, and the 
friars' dwellings. The women and children carded 
the cotton and spun it on malacates, the primitive 
Indian spindles, and the men who had learned the art 
wove this into cloth. The natives worked so slowly 
and carelessly, however, that it was necessary to have 
a Spanish overseer constantly on hand, and even so, 
four native laborers were not equal to one European. 
Each mission raised corn and beans sufficient for its 
own needs, 54 while the increase of cattle served for out- 
side traffic. The friars might have developed a con- 
siderable commerce had not the settlers protested 
against their selling in the same market. However, 
cattle were sold as opportunity offered, and the se- 
cured bills received in exchange were forwarded to 
the superior at the City of Mexico, who laid out the 
proceeds in supplies for the mission, — cloth, hats, 
tobacco, needles, knives, pots, metates, 55 hatchets, 
crowbars, saddles, and bridles. Chocolate for the 
special delectation of the friars, and drugs for the 
restoration of the sick, together with the ornaments 
and sacred images and other appurtenances of the 
church, were furnished at cost of the royal treasury. 


The Franciscan establishment in Texas never accu- 
mulated wealth, and the beautiful churches of San 
Antonio, San Jose, and Purissima Conception were 
built with funds subscribed by the faithful in New 
and Old Spain. The missions suffered very much 
from the raids of Comanches and Apaches and 
scarcely less from the depredations of the settlers 
and officials. The soldiers sent to guard the missions 
were usually their worst foes, slaughtering the 
cattle and debauching the neophytes without -Con- 
science, while the Indians lost their tribal virtues 
and became drunken, vicious, and syphilitic. In the 
hundred years of missionary effort the total number 
baptized was less than ten thousand, and there were 
never more than two thousand reducidos 56 resident at 
any time in the dozen odd establishments. There 
were two thousand mission Indians in 1732, four 
hundred and fifty in 1785, and no more in 1793. 
The secularization of the missions was decreed in 
1794, the royal support was withdrawn, secular 
clergy were placed in charge of the churches, and the 
cultivated lands distributed among the converts. 
When Pike passed through San Antonio (1806), he 
visited the three missions in its immediate neighbor- 
hood and noted that while their prosperity was a 
thing of the past, the church buildings "for solidity, 
accommodation, and even majesty were surpassed 
by few that I saw in New Spain." He asked the 
resident priest at San Antonio de Valero what had 
become of the natives. "He replied that it ap- 
peared to him that they could not exist under the 
shadow of the whites, as the nations who formed 


those missions had been nurtured, taken all the 
care of that it was possible, and put on the same 
footing as the Spaniards ; yet, notwithstanding, they 
had dwindled away until the other two missions had 
become entirely depopulated, and the one where 
he resided had not then more than sufficient to 
perform his household labor." 

When Louisiana was ceded to Spain, Natchitoches 
ceased to be a menace ; but the withdrawal of the 
northern garrisons (Pilar, Augustin, San Luis, 1777) 
worked harm to colonists and missions alike. The 
Comanches of the plains, waging war against their 
hereditary foes, the Lipan Apaches, were incited by 
the latter to turn their arms against the Spaniards. 
The settlements were attacked, priests and civilians 
killed, and cattle driven off, in spite of the punitive 
expeditions organized by the commandante at San 
Antonio. The pusillanimity of the troops only 
served to incite farther raids, and the settlers in 
despair abandoned all cultivation. The village of 
San Fernando was in a wretched state. There were 
only one hundred and forty houses in the town, 
more than half of them mere wooden shacks. The 
descendants of the Canary Island immigrants, both 
civilians and officials, were lazy and vicious. They 
would do no work, but impressed the labor of the 
mission Indians and stole the mission cattle for 
slaughter and for sale. De Morfi, who visited 
Texas in 1778, says of San Fernando: "This villa cost 
the king more than 80,000 pesos and to-day, if sold, 
would not bring in 80 pesos." 57 According to de 
Morn's estimate, the total white population of Texas 


did not amount to three thousand souls (2600). 
The settlements at Nacogdoches and Bahia num- 
bered three hundred each, that at San Antonio, one 
thousand. At the beginning of the nineteenth cen- 
tury the civilized population of this vast territory 
— Spanish and French Creoles, mission Indians, and 
half-breeds 58 — was but seven thousand, or one to 
each square league. The town at San Antonio 
reckoned two thousand people, Bahia (Goliad), four- 
teen hundred, Nacogdoches, five hundred. The re- 
maining three thousand were gathered about the 
smaller missions and presidios, while a few great 
landowners dwelt in feudal isolation on their ranchos, 
or cattle ranges. 

The rancheros were a reckless, improvident race 
whose wealth consisted in cattle and horses. They 
spent the better part of their lives in the saddle, 
and their devotion to the buffalo hunt was a ruinous 
passion. Governor Cordero (1806) undertook to 
restrict the sport to certain seasons and required 
each man of family to plant a stated acreage to 
corn, but this legislation had little effect. It was 
far easier to trade horses and cattle for what was 
needed, since these were to be had for the taking. 
Pike describes the process of corralling wild horses. 
"The method pursued by the Spanish in taking 
them is as follows : they take a few fleet horses and 
proceed into the country where the wild horses are 
numerous. They then build a large strong enclosure, 
with a door which enters a smaller enclosure ; from 
the entrance of the large pen they project wings out 
into the prairie a great distance, and then set up 


bushes, etc., to induce the horses, when pursued, to 
enter into these wings. After these preparations 
are made, they keep a lookout for a small drove, 
for, if they unfortunately should start too large a 
one, they either burst open the pen or fill it up with 
dead bodies, and the others run over them and 
escape ; in which case the party are obliged to leave 
the place, as the stench arising from the putrid 
carcasses would be insupportable ; and, in addition 
to this, the pen would not receive others. Should 
they, however, succeed in driving in a few, say two 
or three hundred, they select the handsomest and 
youngest, noose them, take them into the small 
enclosure, and then turn out the remainder; after 
which, by starving, preventing them taking any 
repose, and continually keeping them in motion, 
they make them gentle by degrees, and finally break 
them to submit to the saddle and bridle. For this 
business I presume there is no nation in the world 
superior to the Spaniards of Texas." 59 

The prairies teemed with horses and cattle, the 
progeny of the early importations, which fattened on 
the succulent pasture, untended and unclaimed. 
Great numbers were driven off by the nomad Indians 
and bartered to the tribes of the far north, and thou- 
sands were captured, broken, and driven to Natchi- 
toches for sale. An edict of 1778 reserved unbranded 
cattle to the crown, and imposed a tax of four reals 
for each animal killed ; but this measure, which should 
have produced a revenue of $25,000, brought but 
$7000 into the provincial treasury, and nothing 
reached the king. In fact, this province, that had 


cost the royal exchequer $6,000,000 all told, was on 
the verge of ruin. The Spanish residents were ready 
to abandon their property because the widely scat- 
tered and feebly manned presidios afforded no protec- 
tion against their savage foes. 

Even while the French were in possession of 
Louisiana, the Texans had carried on a brisk contra- 
band trade with Natchez, New Orleans, and Mobile. 
Horses and cattle were driven along the "contra- 
band trace" to Natchitoches, where they brought 
good prices and where merchandise was cheaper than 
the goods packed overland from the City of Mexico 
and Vera Cruz. All classes in the frontier communi- 
ties — settlers, soldiers, friars, and officials — were 
smugglers. Even the governor had his share in the 
illicit profits, although he occasionally arrested French 
factors residing in Texas and sent them to the capital 
in evidence of his zeal for the public service. When 
Natchitoches became a Spanish town, this trade was 
no longer illicit, and trains of pack mules laden with 
West Indian and European goods followed the San 
Antonio road. Natchitoches was also headquarters 
for the Indian trade, whence agents were sent to the 
native villages with firearms, gunpowder, hatchets, 
knives, and liquor to exchange for furs and buffalo 
hides. The weapons and liquors quickly found their 
way to the nomad tribes in the interior, rendering 
them yet more dangerous, but there was no attempt 
to restrict the sale. Indeed, the Spanish governor 
of Louisiana favored the distribution of ardiente and 
inferior ammunition to the savages of the frontier, 
as a means to their speedy extinction. 


The Coming of the Americans 

After the peace of Paris extended the British 
dominions in America to the Mississippi River, the 
English began to cross the Appalachians in shoals, 
and their neighborhood became a menace to the 
Spanish possessions far more serious than the 
French. These colonizers came on their own initia- 
tive and in opposition to the royal decree that 
would have held the territory west of the Appala- 
chians as a game preserve. They brought wives and 
children and were bent upon making homes in the 
wilderness of Ken-ta-kee. Flourishing settlements 
sprang into existence, and keel boats bearing the 
surplus produce of the pioneer farms began to find 
their way down the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the 
Tennessee to the Mississippi River and New Orleans. 
When this avenue of commerce was finally opened, 
the "men of the western rivers" were not slow to 
avail themselves of the golden opportunity. Philip 
II had decreed (1560) that no foreigner might enter 
a Spanish colony without first obtaining the royal 
license, and neglect of this precaution was punished 
by confiscation of goods and expulsion from the 
country. No passport held was good for longer than 
two years except those of the merchants, which per- 
mitted three years' residence. But as the mineral 
wealth of the Mexican provinces and the profits to 
be made in trade became known, many Americans 
crossed the Texas border in defiance of the law, 
hoping to escape detection, or in any case to obtain 
concessions 'from some venal official. 


In 1800 a gentleman of Irish birth and a protege 
of General Wilkinson, Philip Nolan of Natchez, who 
had been engaged in the Texan trade since 1785, 
undertook to capture horses on his own account. 
He entered the country with a party of twenty men, 
fourteen Americans — backwoodsmen from Virginia 
and Tennessee — five Mexicans, and one negro. 
Nolan had an out-of-date passport from the governor 
of Louisiana, but his men were unprovided. Having 
reached the Brazos River, they built a log camp and 
a corral and had succeeded in imprisoning three hun- 
dred animals when they were attacked by a party of 
Spanish troopers. Nolan was killed in the first fusil- 
lade, and the others surrendered on the understanding 
that they would be allowed to return to Natchitoches. 
They were carried as far as Nacogdoches, but were 
thence haled to San Antonio, San Luis Potosi, and 
Chihuahua to be examined by Salcedo, captain-gen- 
eral of the Interior Provinces. He referred the mat- 
ter to Madrid, and the unfortunate men were held 
five years in prison awaiting the king's decree. When 
at last it was announced, the sentence proved un- 
expectedly severe. Every fifth man was to be 
hanged. As there were only nine survivors, one life 
was thought to be sufficient to meet the royal order, 
but the other men were condemned to ten years of 
hard labor. 60 Our first-hand authority for this ad- 
venture is Ellis P. Bean, who, a Kentucky lad of 
seventeen, was coming down the Mississippi to 
Natchez with a scowload of flour and whiskey when 
he met Nolan and was induced to try his young 
fortune in Texas. On recovering his liberty, Bean 


joined the revolutionary forces in the determination 
to strike a blow against that king at whose behest he 
had suffered so much. 

Mexico was ripe for revolt. Three centuries of 
corruption and oppression had created a class an- 
tagonism that boded ill for the landowners and the 
bureaucracy. Pike was impressed with the contrast 
of riches and poverty and the general discontent 
prevailing in the northern provinces. The officers 
and grandees lived in much state, but "the mass of 
the people were naked and starved wretches," while 
the inferior clergy and the subordinate officials, usu- 
ally Creoles by birth, had no chance of advancement. 
"This had soured their minds to such a degree that I 
am confident in asserting that they will lead the van 
whenever the standard of independence is raised in 
the country." Pike was fully convinced that a rev- 
olution was not far distant, and that intervention 
on the part of his government would become inevi- 
table. As Pike's party and its escort neared the Red 
River, they met a "number of runaway negroes" 
and some French and Irish emigrants from New Or- 
leans. There were smugglers, too, engaged in carry- 
ing on illicit commerce with the Spaniards, "who on 
their side were equally eager." The trade in horses, 
though mutually advantageous, was once more con- 
traband ; but it was carried on, none the less, and 
at very great profit. All the conditions were those 
of an ill-regulated frontier. "The American emi- 
grants are introducing some little spirit of agri- 
culture near Nacogdoches and the Trinity ; but the 
oppressions and suspicions they labor under prevent 


their proceeding with that spirit which is neces- 
sary to give success to the establishment of a new 
country." 61 

The troubled state of Mexico had not escaped at- 
tention in the United States. The settlers in Ken- 
tucky and Tennessee had their old-time grudge 
against the exclusive commercial policy of Spain, 
while Natchez, Natchitoches, and New Orleans har- 
bored many Mexican malcontents. Even at Wash- 
ington there were plots to add Texas, possibly 
Mexico, to the possessions of the United States. 
All this seething discontent and desire for vengeance 
centered in the projects of Aaron Burr, ex-vice-presi- 
dent of the United States, a man of potent person- 
ality and vast ambitions, who gathered about him a 
group of hot-headed adventurers, even more talkative 
and restless than himself. Burr had purchased a 
grant of 400,000 acres on the Red River from Baron 
de Bastrop, 62 purposing to found an agricultural 
colony on the Louisiana frontier and await events. 
At Blennerhasset Island on the upper Ohio, he was 
collecting provisions, agricultural implements, and 
boats for the descent of the Mississippi, and there a 
score of backwoodsmen joined him for what was, 
on the face of it, nothing more than a promising 
colonial venture. However, rumors of the enterprise 
reached New Spain in exaggerated form: Colonel 
Burr was reported to have collected two thousand 
men and to be contemplating an attack on New Or- 
leans. From that base, aided by the French Creoles, 
who had their own reasons for hating Spanish rule, 
he was supposed to project the invasion of New Spain 


and the overturn of the viceroyalty. Protests were 
addressed to the United States officials, and Burr's 
flatboats were stopped at Natchez, his men were 
scattered, and he himself brought to trial on charge 
of treason (1806-1807) by his political adversary, 
President Jefferson. 

Meantime, stirring events were taking place on the 
Texas frontier. The long controversy between Spain 
and the American government over the navigation 
of the Mississippi was no sooner terminated by the 
cession of Louisiana, than the question of the Mexi- 
can boundary began to agitate the pioneers. The 
Red River, held by the Spanish government to be 
both the natural and the historic boundary, did not 
satisfy the ardent advocates of American expansion. 
They hungered for the fat lands of Texas, and urged 
that the purchase rights based on the French occupa- 
tion ran to the Sabine or even to the Rio Grande. 
While the President and Congress were endeavoring 
to negotiate the cession of the Floridas, trans-Alle- 
ghany politicians were discussing ways and means 
of securing Texas. General Wilkinson, commander- 
in-chief of the United States army, General Adair of 
Kentucky, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, Daniel 
Clarke, and the Mexican Association of New Or- 
leans were in sympathy with the project urged by 
hot-heads' that an expedition be organized in the 
western states for the invasion of Texas. The prece- 
dent furnished by Miranda's expedition against 
Venezuela went far to assure them that a filibustering 
enterprise, if successful, would not be discountenanced 
by the Administration. Moreover, in the event of 


war with Spain, which then seemed imminent, the 
movement would be unquestionably patriotic. 

The irritation of the Mexican authorities at every- 
thing suggestive of trespass on the part of their 
northern neighbors was extreme. The rough hand- 
ling to which Pike's party had been subjected is 
accounted for by the excitement aroused by Burr's 
enterprise. Cordero had received information of 
Dunbar's Red River expedition as early as July, 
1806, and had forwarded the disquieting news to 
Salcedo. Under such circumstances the arrest and 
deportation of Pike's party seemed quite justified. 
Believing that the United States government was 
ready to countenance invasion, the Mexican govern- 
ment prepared for defence. The viceroy, Iturri- 
garay, sent fifteen hundred soldiers to Texas, the 
fortifications of San Antonio and Nacogdoches were 
strengthened, and in April, 1806, General Herrera 
was sent to Arroyo Hondo (Bayou Funda, seven 
miles south of Natchitoches) to forestall aggression. 
When the news reached Washington, Wilkinson was 
ordered to the front to drive the Spaniards back to 
the Sabine. This was the opportunity hoped for by 
the conspirators. The West was aflame with zeal to 
have it out with the "dons," to drive Herrera's force 
beyond the Sabine, — beyond the Rio Grande, — to 
the City of Mexico, to expel the Spanish bureau- 
cracy from the American Continent, to set free an op- 
pressed people, to establish a republican government 
in the land of Montezuma. The Creoles of Louisiana 
sent a volunteer force, five hundred strong, to join 
Wilkinson at Natchitoches; Burr's flatboats were 


preparing on the Muskingum; Jackson was building 
boats on the Cumberland for the same enterprise. 
But the commander-in-chief moved with great cir- 
cumspection. He lingered at St. Louis for three 
months after receiving his orders, and did not 
arrive at Natchitoches until September 22. Then 
he entered into negotiations with Governor 
Cordero (then in residence at Nacogdoches) rela- 
tive to the withdrawal of the Spanish troops. 
The governor protested that he had no authority 
to consider so base a desertion of His Majesty's 
claims. Then Herrera cut the Gordian knot by 
suddenly, and apparently of his own responsi- 
bility, retreating beyond the Sabine (September 
29-30). His troops, less than seven hundred in 
number, short of food and badly munitioned, were 
at the point of mutiny. Moreover, he had married 
an English wife and travelled much in the United 
States, and he was not eager to try conclusions with 
an enemy so sure to be reenforced by popular sup- 
port. His retreat was later approved both by Cor- 
dero and Salcedo, on the ground that armed conflict 
would have " jeopardized" the disputed territory. 
Instead of following up his advantage, Wilkinson 
delayed a full month at Natchitoches, and did not 
appear on the Sabine until October 29. Then he 
paused upon the left bank and entered into nego- 
tiations with Herrera across the river. The result 
was the inglorious Neutral Ground Convention by 
which the district between the Sabine and the Arroyo 
Honda was to be evacuated by both parties, the two 
armies retreating to their respective fortifications 


at Natchitoches and Nacogdoches. The details of 
these extraordinary negotiations have never been 
divulged. Burling served as go-between, and he 
kept his master's secrets. The indignant West- 
erners believed that their commander had been 
bribed by the Spanish government, and certainly 
Salcedo was well pleased with the result. He wrote 
to Viceroy Iturrigaray, " This treaty insures the 
integrity of the Spanish dominions along the whole 
of the great extension of frontier." 

Then followed that extraordinary series of charges 
and countercharges, Wilkinson accusing Burr of 
treason against the United States, and Burr and his 
friends accusing the general of being subsidized by 
Spain, which culminated in Burr's trial at Richmond 
and his final acquittal. Chief Justice Marshall ruled 
that, while Burr had not been convicted of treason, 
he might suitably be indicted for high misdemeanor 
under the Act of 1794, which so designated the 
offence of any person who should, within the juris- 
diction of the United States, begin or set on foot a 
military expedition against the territory of any 
foreign power with whom the United States govern- 
ment was at peace. Wilkinson took great credit to 
himself for having frustrated "a deep, dark, and 
wicked" conspiracy, "that would have shaken the 
government to its foundations," and his high-handed 
methods were fully indorsed by Jefferson. Only 
recently has the damaging fact come to light that 
Burling carried to Iturrigaray (January, 1807) a 
letter from Wilkinson, demanding that the Spanish 
government reward the commander-in-chief of the 


army of the United States for services rendered in 
the frustration of Burr's expedition against Mexico, 
to the amount of $111,000. When Burling returned 
to New Orleans with the information that the claim 
would be referred to Madrid, Wilkinson forwarded to 
Washington the ostensible result of this secret mission, 
a report on the defences of the City of Mexico, 
with the request that the expenses of his ambassador, 
$1500, be met from the United States treasury ! 

During the Napoleonic Wars, Spain could do little 
for her colonies, and they were abandoned to the 
misgovernment and peculation of greedy officials. 
Crushed under the triple burden of a shackled com- 
merce, grinding taxation, and military service, the 
Creole population rebelled at last (1812) and, aided 
by the natives, succeeded in throwing off the hated 
dominion. The insurrection led by Hidalgo was 
suppressed, but it was the signal for revolts in other 
parts of Mexico and a ten years' war. The viceroy 
had no troops to spare for the defence of Texas, and 
this rich frontier province lay at the mercy of free- 
booters and filibusters. The Neutral Ground became 
an asylum for criminals, both American and Mexican. 
Refugees from justice and desperadoes gathered in 
this lawless land and earned an exciting though pre- 
carious livelihood by preying upon the commerce 
between Texas and New Orleans. Traders along the 
San Antonio road, unprovided with military escort, 
were forced to pay tribute to these highwaymen. 
Moreover, Hidalgo's revolt excited among the hot 
bloods of the American frontier new hopes for the 
acquisition of Texas. In 1813 Lieutenant Magee, 



commander at Natchitoches, resigned his commission 
in the United States army and led a company of 
five hundred bandits, recruited in the Neutral 
Ground, across the Sabine. He succeeded in getting 
possession of San Antonio and declared for the 
Mexican republic, but the invaders were soon after 
ambushed and cut to pieces. Only ninety-three 
returned to Natchitoches, and Texas was well-nigh 
depopulated by the royalist revenge. 

This unlucky expedition had no countenance in the 
United States, and President Madison issued a 
proclamation (1815) forbidding such enterprises as 
unlawful and seditious. By the treaty of 1819, our 
claim to Texas was formally surrendered in return 
for the cession of the Floridas, and the boundary be- 
tween the United States and the Spanish possessions 
was fixed along the Sabine, the Red, and the Arkansas 
rivers to the forty-second parallel, and thence directly 
west to the Pacific Coast. The hope of annexing 
Texas to the United States was apparently thwarted. 

Thenceforward Texas was a no-man's land, un- 
defended by the Spanish government and abandoned 
to the anarchic elements of a frontier population. In 
1816 a Mexican insurgent, Herrera, took possession 
of Galveston Island and set up a freebooters' repub- 
lic ; but a court of admiralty, with the right to issue 
letters of marque and to adjudicate prizes, was the 
principal organ of the nascent state. The sounds 
and bayous of the Gulf Coast furnished an ideal 
refuge for smugglers and pirates, and some thousand 
men, outlaws from the West Indies, Louisiana, and 
the Neutral Ground, gathered under Herrera's flag. 


Twelve vessels were engaged in privateering in the 
Gulf, and they captured several Spanish merchant- 
men and conveyed the spoils to Galveston Bay. 
Slave ships bound for the West Indies were also 
taken, and the helpless human cargo driven to New 
Orleans for sale. In a few years Herrera was suc- 
ceeded by Lafitte, a French Creole driven (1814) from 
Barataria, whose audacity and success won him the 
title of Pirate of the Gulf. His subalterns owed 
respect to no flag and dared to attack even American 
vessels. The Spanish government had protested 
against interference from the United States, lest that 
dreaded power gain a foothold in Texas; but the 
depredations of the pirate commonwealth grew in- 
tolerable. In 1821 a United States war vessel was 
despatched to Galveston Bay, and Lafitte's colony 
was suppressed. 

Spain had been unable to colonize Texas, but any 
attempt at settlement on the part of alien peoples 
was instantly resented. Lallemand, a distinguished 
French refugee, undertook (1818) to found a colony 
on the Trinity River twelve miles above the bay. 
The colonists were recruited from Napoleon's 
shattered army, and they made small success as 
farmers. The settlement was too weak to be a 
source of danger ; none the less, a Spanish force was 
despatched to drive them from the land. In 1819 
an expedition from Natchez, led by James Long, 
who had married a niece of Wilkinson, penetrated to 
Nacogdoches and induced the Americans settled 
thereabouts to declare Texas a free and independent 
republic. Their success was shortlived (1819-1821). 


Spanish troops from San Antonio scattered Long's 
force and drove the Americans across the Sabine. 
Even men such as Barr and Davenport, who had 
lived in Texas twenty years and had sworn allegiance 
to the king of Spain, were obliged to leave the coun- 
try. Nacogdoches and the ranch houses along the 
San Antonio road were destroyed, cattle were 
slaughtered, and fields laid waste. The whole region 
east of the Colorado River relapsed to wilderness. 
Bands of Apaches and Comanches, seeking horses, 
terrorized the isolated settlements, and Lafitte's 
slave gangs passed unchallenged to New Orleans. 
By 1830 the white population of Texas had 
dwindled to thirty-five hundred, and this dispirited 
remnant was gathered about the only remaining 
presidios of San Antonio and Bahia de Espiritu Santo. 
Meantime the Revolution had been accomplished. 
Iturbide, the Spanish commander employed against 
the insurgents in the South, becoming convinced that 
his task was hopeless, proclaimed the independence 
of Mexico, and all classes, even the revolutionary 
leaders, flocked to his standard in support of the plan 
of Iguala. When it became evident that no Spanish 
prince would accept the proffered crown, Iturbide 
was declared emperor. But the republican elements 
were strong enough to prevent this consummation of 
the long struggle for self-government. Santa Anna 
succeeded in overturning the empire and a federal 
republic was inaugurated (1824). For Texas this 
was a bloodless revolution, accepted without enthu- 
siasm or protest. The sparsely populated frontier 
province was united with Coahuila as a federal state. 


Section IV 


Colonization attempted. — The reign of Charles III 
(1759-1788) was signalized by a fresh colonizing 
impulse. His wise and disinterested minister, Don 
Jose Galvez, was sent to Mexico (1765-1771) as 
visitador general to correct the abuses of adminis- 
tration, mitigate the oppression of the Indians, and 
extend Spain's dominions in North America. In 
spite of strenuous opposition, he succeeded in ousting 
the corrupt incumbents and in placing honest men 
at the head of the government of New Spain. In 
the course of his five years' sojourn, this energetic 
and single-minded man set on foot a series of far- 
reaching reforms. The enterprise that most con- 
cerns this history was one that had the especial 
indorsement of the king, the founding of settlements 
on the northwest coast that should forestall foreign 
intervention and hold the country for the Spanish 

During the first half of the eighteenth century 
Great Britain was a menace, for her licensed pri- 
vateers and even a ship of the line scoured the 
Pacific in pursuit of prizes. Woodes Rogers, George 
Shelvocke, Admiral George Anson, and other British 
sea-dogs whose exploits were less picturesquely 
chronicled, captured Spanish merchantmen, ravaged 
coast towns, and rilled the breasts of Spanish com- 
mandantes with terror and dismay. Because of these 
depredations, every Manila galleon must needs be 


attended by an armed frigate, a system of defence 
whose cost eventually ruined the Philippine trade. 
But none of the privateers attempted exploration or 
made any pretence of reenforcing Drake's assertions 
of British suzerainty. They were content to conduct 
their prizes into Puerta Segura and there rifle them 
of their silver and such Oriental stuffs as might be 
worth carrying away. Much better founded was the 
apprehension of danger from the north. Exploring 
expeditions, sent out by Peter the Great and his im- 
mediate successors, had given Russia a foothold on 
the Pacific. In 1728 Vitus Behring discovered the 
strait that divides Asia from America ; later explora- 
tion revealed the haunts of the sea-otter, and by 1760 
Russian fur traders had begun operations in the Aleu- 
tian Islands. If Spain's control of the Pacific was 
to be maintained, it behooved her to fortify California. 
Galvez proposed three frontier posts on the three 
known harbors, San Diego, the Santa Barbara Canal, 
and Monterey, and summoned the Franciscans to 
his aid. This order had just succeeded to the Jesuit 
missions in Lower California, and the new venture 
was organized on the plan that had proved so success- 
ful at Loreto and La Paz, that of a monastic com- 
munity in which the natives were the neophytes. 63 
Since the conversion of the Indians and the defence 
of the coast were the dominant issues, and the indus- 
trial development of the country was but a secon- 
dary consideration, the mission and the presidio were 
the important concerns, and the pueblo was but little 
considered. Few contemporary Spaniards besides 
Galvez realized that the perpetuation of Spanish 


control in Upper California depended on planting 
there a Spanish population. Costanzo's Journal 
(1769) states that the visitador general "felt the 
necessity of peopling the explored part of California 
with useful folk, capable of cultivating its lands 
and profiting by the rich products which it offers in 
minerals, grain or other fruits, and likewise capable 
of taking Arms in defence of their Houses whenever 
the occasion should arrive." 64 But colonists of this 
description were not to be had. The Spaniards who 
came to the New World were soldiers, missionaries, 
and adventurers : the peasants staid at home. It 
is not surprising, therefore, that the pioneer colonists 
of California were four officers, sixty-five soldiers, 
and seventeen Franciscans, with a suitable comple- 
ment of servants, mule-drivers, and converted In- 
dians. The visitador general succeeded in enlisting 
for the direction of this sacred expedition a group of 
singularly efficient and devoted men — Portola, the 
wise and honest governor, Costanzo, the resourceful 
engineer, and Pedro Prat, the faithful surgeon ; but 
no man counted for so much in counsel or in action 
as Father Junipero Serra, the padre presidents of 
the missions of the two Californias. Ten years' ex- 
perience among the Pamis had convinced him that 
if the Indians were to be civilized, they should be 
taught the white man's industry as well as his reli- 
gion, and he hoped to reclaim the degraded tribes of 
the north coasts and make of them self-supporting 
farmers. His work for the missions of Alta California 
evinced strong common sense as well as ardent sym- 
pathy for the people to whom his life was consecrated. 


Galvez presided in person over the preparations 
at La Paz. Two barks, the San Antonio and the 
San Carlos, loaded with provisions, seeds, plants, 
and agricultural implements, besides bells and other 
church furnishings, were despatched up the outer 
coast. Because the sea voyage was always at- 
tended with serious risk, it was determined to 
send the cattle and mules, together with the major 
part of the people, overland from Santa Maria, the 
northernmost mission. At this rendezvous were 
collected the live stock and the generous toll of 
grain, dried fruits, wine, and olive oil contributed to 
this new enterprise by the several missions of Cali- 
fornia Baja. Two months were consumed in the 
toilsome traverse of the mountains, and when 
Father Junipero and Governor Portola arrived at 
San Diego Bay (June 28, 1769), they found the 
ships already at anchor. The San Carlos had spent 
one hundred and ten days on the voyage and the 
San Antonio fifty-nine. Both crews had suffered 
terribly from scurvy — of which dread disease two- 
thirds later died — whereas the land party had not 
lost a man. No sooner were the forces reunited than 
the cross was raised, a mass was said, and the spiritual 
conquest of California had begun. The presidio was 
built upon a bluff overlooking the native rancheria 
and the bay, but the mission was soon removed from 
this arid spot to a fertile valley three miles back 
from the coast, where there was level land that 
might be irrigated from the river. The Indians were 
a brutish lot and could be enticed to baptism only 
by the promise of material reward. They had a 


redundance of food (fish and acorns), but were eager 
for clothing and trinkets, and they hung about the 
camp and the wattled huts of the mission, pilfering 
everything they could lay hands on. 

San Diego, however, was only the initial point in 
the scheme of conquest. Within two weeks of his 
arrival, Portola set out with such soldiers as could 
be spared, two priests, Padres Crespi and Gomez, 
Lieutenant Pedro Fages, and Costanzo, to seek Viz- 
caino's harbor of Monterey. 65 A long mule train, 
loaded with supplies, was driven over the rough 
trail prepared by a force of neophytes, armed with 
axes and spades. Following up the coast, between 
the foothills and the sea, they came into a wide 
valley stretching far inland. Its fertile plains were 
shaded by great oaks, and numerous springs, rising 
to the surface, kept the herbage green. Father 
Crespi thought this pleasant prospect "one of the 
marvels of this world," and opined that "ten or 
twenty laboring peons," 66 if set to work here, could 
provide sufficient grain for all the settlements. Here 
they proposed to found a mission dedicated to San 
Gabriel. Turning west, they passed up the Por- 
ciuncula River, where were "extensive swamps of 
bitumen, " into another promising valley, Santa 
Catalina (later San Fernando) , and over a precipitous 
pass (Las Casitas) into the smiling verdure along the 
Santa Clara River. This brought them to the 
shores of the Santa Barbara Canal, and here they 
found a tribe of some ten thousand souls who lived 
in comfortable wicker huts, planted grain, built 
wooden boats, made a rude pottery, and gave evi- 


dence of a higher state of civilization than any yet 
encountered. Noticing the advantages the place 
afforded for a future mission, Portola pressed on 
across the Santa Lucia Range and into the narrow 
valley of the Salinas River. The country grew 
"more fertile and more pleasing in proportion as 
they penetrated more to the north," 67 there was 
plenty of game, and the weather was perfect. The 
only serious danger that attended the march, accord- 
ing to Costanz6, was the proneness of the great 
caballada (troop of horses) to stampede at the 
slightest alarm. In the first week of October, they 
reached a wooded point (Point of Pines) in latitude 
36° 40'. Here should be Vizcaino's landing, but 
since the wide, open bay seemed to afford no anchor- 
age, Portola failed to recognize the harbor and went 
on to the sand dunes above Point San Pedro. There 
a hunting party, ascending the hills (October 31), 
descried Point Reyes and the Farallones, the well- 
known landmarks of the Puerto de San Francisco. 
To the north and east of the intervening range lay a 
broad lagoon communicating, apparently, with the 
sea. A reconnoitring party sent out to fathom 
this mystery returned after four days and reported 
that it was in truth an arm of the sea surrounded by 
swamps and level glades, where were populous 
Indian villages shaded by great oak trees. This was 
an important discovery, but Portola did not pursue 
it. There were only fourteen sacks of flour remain- 
ing, and the party was subsisting on geese and ducks. 
The men were sick and discouraged and clamorous 
for retreat. After looking in vain for the supply 


ship that was to put in at Monterey, Portola decided 
to return to San Diego. 

In the year following, a second expedition, freshly 
provisioned, was sent to found the northern post on 
the roadstead now discerned to be Vizcaino's harbor. 
The presidio was placed on the " magnificent ampi- 
theatre" 68 above the bay ; but the San Carlos Mission 
was soon transferred (1771) to the Carmel River, 
south of the Point of Pines, where a heavy growth 
of grass indicated the "feracity of the land," and 
the sea teemed with fish. In the four following 
years, four more missions were founded at the most 
promising sites on the route between San Diego and 
Monterey — San Juan Capistrano, San Gabriel, San 
Luis Obispo, and San Antonio de Padua. The 
proselyting zeal of Father Junipero quite outran his 
resources in the way of funds, supplies, and military 
guard, and he determined (1773) to make the long 
and difficult journey to the City of Mexico to inter- 
cede for more adequate support in his patriotic task 
of securing California for the Church and for Spain. 

The new viceroy, Bucareli, was an administrator 
of unusual energy and foresight. It required little 
persuasion to convince him of the importance of 
supplying the north coasts with loyal and zealous 
friars who should bring the Indians under subjection. 
He immediately set about refitting San Bias, the 
indispensable base of supplies, and under instruc- 
tions from the king despatched a vessel loaded with 
provisions to the starving missionaries. This effi- 
cient statesman arranged for an annual supply ship, 
forwarded mules and cattle to each mission, at the 

The Mission of San Carlos on the Carmel River, 1792. 

Indian Balsa or Tdle Raft on San Francisco Bay. 
Such rafts were used by the Ancient Egyptians. 


charge of the Royal Exchequer, and ordered that 
goods be furnished at no more than 150 per cent 
advance on Mexican prices. The salaries of the 
padres ($400 each) were to be paid from the Pious 
Fund, the endowment of the Jesuit missions, and six 
servants were provided for each settlement at public 
cost. 69 At Father Junipero's express request, two 
blacksmiths and two carpenters were engaged to 
teach the natives their respective trades. The men 
were under contract for one year, but were offered 
inducements to remain as settlers. Bucareli further 
ordered that four presidios with adequate garrisons 
be maintained in Alta California, one at the Santa 
Barbara Canal and one at the Puerto de San Fran- 
cisco, in addition to the two already in existence. 

Serra was bent on building a mission in honor of 
the founder of his order, on the port that had long 
borne the name of San Francisco. To this end a 
land party had been sent out from Monterey (1772) 
to explore the lagoon and discover the shortest route 
to Point Reyes and the best location in its vicinity. 
Lieutenant Fages and Father Crespi followed the 
east shore of the bay until they found their progress 
blocked by an estuary which they called Estrecho 
Carquines, into which flowed an "unfordable" river 
(the San Joaquin), dividing them from their goal. 
Having no boats, they found the water an insupera- 
ble obstacle and returned disheartened to Monterey. 
The project of a mission at this northernmost harbor 
was discussed in the conference between Bucareli 
and Father Junipero, and another effort was deter- 
mined on. The viceroy ordered a more extensive 


survey to be prosecuted both by land and sea. 
Rivera y Moncada, who was intrusted with the 
former expedition, did not get beyond Point Lobos ; 
but the San Carlos, deputed to examine the Puerto 
de San Francisco and ascertain its relation to the 
interior basin, sailed without difficulty between the 
two headlands and entered (August 5, 1775) the won- 
derful harbor, hitherto hidden from the explorers 
of the coast by the prevailing fogs. The San Carlos 
lay forty days at anchor under Angel Island while 
surveys were being made and a map of the three 
arms or bays (now denominated San Pablo, San 
Francisco, and Suisun) was prepared. Her com- 
mander, Ayala, thought he had discovered the best 
harbor in Spain's dominions, "not one port but 
many ports with a single entrance." 70 There were 
several rancherias along the reedy shores, and the 
natives came out in their frail tule rafts (balsas), 
bringing tribute of fish to the august strangers. 
Here Bucareli determined to plant not only a mission 
and a presidio, but a colony. 

A young soldier, Juan Bautista de Anza, com- 
mandante of the presidio of Tubac in Sonora, had 
asked to be allowed to explore a route across the un- 
known stretch of desert and mountain to Monterey. 
This he offered to do at his own expense, but the 
advantage of overland communication with the 
northern post was so evident that the viceroy not 
only gave the desired permission, but fitted out the 
expedition (1774). Anza was accompanied by Father 
Garces, who had crossed the Devil's Highway and 
the Colorado Desert three years before, but even so 

First Survey and Map of the Bay of San Francisco, by 

Lieutenant Ayala. 

From the original drawing attached to the Log of the San Carlos, in 

the India Office at Seville. This map had been lost sight of until 1908, 

when it was discovered by an agent of the Commercial Club of San 



they found it a difficult task. Harassed by drifting 
sands, alkali water, scant pasturage, and the exhaus- 
tion of their animals, they would have perished but 
for the hospitality of the Yuma Indians and the 
devotion of a neophyte, escaped from San Gabriel, 
who served as guide. The trail ascended Coyote 
Cafion and, crossing the divide which Anza called 
San Carlos Pass, followed the San Jacinto River to 
the Santa Ana and so on to San Gabriel Mission. 71 
From that point Portola's route was followed to 

In 1775 the successful emissary was commissioned 
by Bucareli to collect a party of settlers and conduct 
them to the site of the proposed colony. The task 
was accomplished with an efficiency and despatch 
unusual in the officials of New Spain. Recruits were 
attracted by the bait of two years' pay, five years' 
supplies, and land of their own. The money stipend 
($120) was to be paid from the date of enlistment, 
and the prospective settlers were fitted out with 
clothing. Only four civilian families were secured, 
but the twenty-nine married soldiers who were to 
make up the garrison of the new presidio brought up 
the quota of men, women, and children to two hun- 
dred and seven. The transportation of the supplies 
required one hundred and sixty-five pack mules, 
and three hundred and forty horses were provided 
for the people. These, with the herds of (320) cattle 
destined for food by the way and to stock the settle- 
ment, made an unwieldy caravan. Pedro Font ac- 
companied the expedition as chaplain. The com- 
pany set out in October, 1775, reached the Colorado 


(via San Xavier del Bee and Tucson) without diffi- 
culty and, since it was the season of low water, 
succeeded in fording the river. But the crossing 
of the Colorado Desert meant terrible suffering. 
It was now midwinter ; rain, hail, and snow 
fell in dismal alternation; the north wind blew 
incessantly, and the nights were bitter cold. The 
misery of the women and children was pitiful ; even 
the men fell ill, and many of the cattle perished with 
exposure and exhaustion. 

Anza acted the triple part of guide, commander, 
and physician ; his courage and patience were unfail- 
ing, while his previous experience enabled him to 
guard against the most serious dangers, the failure of 
water and pasture. The train was divided into three 
companies, and the leader of each was instructed to 
keep a day's march apart from the others so that the 
scant aguajes (water holes) might not be exhausted. 
Where there were no springs to be found, wells were 
dug in the sand, and camping places were selected 
with a view to shelter as well as to grass and water. 
When possible, wood was collected and fires built for 
the comfort of the sick and feeble. Eight children 
were born en route, and at each birth the march was 
delayed till the mother should be able to ride on. 
Even so, one woman died ; but it was on the whole a 
robust set of people that Anza brought into Coyote 
Canon, where water was again abundant. At sight 
of the snow-covered summits of the San Jacinto 
Range, the women wept for dread of what was to 
come ; but Anza assured them that the cold would 
abate as they approached the sea, and the descent 




into the valley of the San Jacinto, with its wealth of 
woods and pastures, cheered their hearts. 

As they neared San Gabriel, a detachment was 
sent forward to warn the padres of the approach of 
the weary caravan. The men returned in a few days 
with seventeen fresh horses from the mission herd 
and the news of the massacre at San Diego. 72 Anza 
determined to leave his charge under the protection 
of the padres and join Rivera y Moncada, comman- 
dante of the California presidios, in a punitive expedi- 
tion against the southern Indians. During the six 
weeks thus occupied (January 4 to Febuary 15, 1776), 
the San Francisco recruits had time to recuperate 
their strength in the hospitable quarters of the mis- 
sion. On February 21 the march was again taken 
up. The cavalcade was now on the well-worn mis- 
sion road (the Camino Real) , and there were no more 
hardships. The Santa Barbara Indians brought them 
fish, and the padres at San Luis Obispo killed a fat 
deer for their delectation. At San Carlos the long- 
expected immigrants were received with open arms. 
Anza was delighted with the signs of prosperity at 
Carmel and with the promise of greater things. Soil 
and climate seemed adapted to the raising of cattle, 
grain, and vegetables. Salmon ran up the river and 
"sardines" were cast upon the beach. A boat and 
seine were all that was necessary to afford abundant 
food, but no one had thought fit to provide them. 

An important part of Anza's commission was the 
exploration of the shores of San Francisco Bay and 
the determination of the best, site for the presidio 
and the settlement. With Lieutenant Jose Moraga 


and Father Pedro Font, a sufficient escort, and pro- 
visions for twenty days, he set out on March 23. The 
result was a more thoroughgoing examination of the 
peninsula than had yet been made. A high bluff 
(Fort Point), overlooking the narrowest part of the 
entrance, was selected as the best site for the presidio, 
and the irrigable land about Dolores Lagoon was 
noted as the spot best suited to a mission. Follow- 
ing the east shore of the bay, Anza came to that 
unfordable river which had turned back his prede- 
cessors. There the intrepid captain stopped. To 
north and south, before his baffled gaze, stretched 
the vast interior plain that divides the Sierras from 
the Coast Range, verdant and alluring; but to the 
desert-bred warrior the San Joaquin was an impas- 
sable barrier. Returning to Monterey, Anza gave 
over his charge to his trusty lieutenant, Moraga, and 
bade farewell to his little company. As he mounted 
his horse in the plaza and waved adieu to the people 
who had suffered good and evil fortune so patiently 
under his leadership, they crowded about him, es- 
pecially the women, weeping and lamenting, more 
for his departure than for their own fate. In pas- 
sionate Spanish fashion they poured out solicitude, 
prayers, praises, and regret, while the brave captain, 
protesting that he did not merit such devotion, 
assured them of the affection he had felt for them since 
the day of their enlistment, and praised their fidelity, 
saying that he had never had occasion to fear deser- 
tion on the part of the men who had given them- 
selves and their families to this great enterprise. In 
his report to the viceroy, Anza called attention to 


their loyalty. "If I may be permitted, I will render 
testimony to the devotion of these people who in time 
will be very useful to the monarchy in whose service 
they have voluntarily abandoned their parents, their 
country, and all that they hold dear." 73 

It would have been better for this critical venture 
if Anza had been continued in command; but he 
promptly returned to his post at Tubac, and Rivera 
y Moncada became responsible for the future of the 
colony. This officer was absurdly jealous of Anza 
and in disgrace with the padres, and he set his face 
against the project of a settlement on San Francisco 
Bay. Forced by fear of a reprimand from the vice- 
roy, he gave most grudging aid to the building of the 
presidio, not, however, at the point indicated by 
Anza, but somewhat to the eastward on a semicircu- 
lar bay where wood and water were more accessible. 
He refused, however, to have anything to do with 
Serra's mission. It was erected, notwithstanding, 
and dedicated on November 7. Unfortunately the 
site proved unsuited to colonization. The barren 
hills and sand dunes of the peninsula, swept by trade 
winds and overhung with fogs, offered little promise 
for the farmer, and Anza's settlers were fain to find 
shelter within the adobe walls of the fort, where they 
spent a year in demoralizing idleness. 

Bucareli died in 1779, but Filipe de Neve, whom 
he had appointed governor of the two Californias 
(1775) as "a man endowed with wisdom and love for 
the service," undertook with zeal and intelligence to 
carry out the viceroy's purpose of colonizing the north 
coast with Spaniards. In 1777 de Neve removed 


from Loreto to Monterey, thus indicating that Alta 
California was regarded as the more important prov- 
ince. On his journey north he visited the several 
missions and came to the conclusion that, although 
wheat and corn were being successfully grown at 
San Gabriel and San Antonio, the mission fields 
could probably do no more than provide for the in- 
creasing number of neophytes. If the presidios were 
ever to be provisioned from the country, California 
must have agricultural colonies. The Franciscans 
had selected the most favored locations, but the 
valleys of the Porciuncula and the Guadalupe were 
yet available, and colonists for a northern settlement 
were already at San Francisco. Anza's volunteers 
who were still idling about the presidio were glad to 
transfer their families to the more promising interior, 
and nine soldiers of the garrison who knew something 
about farming threw in their lot with the new ven- 
ture. In November, 1777, a company of sixty-six 
men, women, and children, under Moraga's lead, 
took up their abode at San Jose de Guadalupe across 
the river from Santa Clara Mission. Each man was 
assigned a house lot about a central plaza, and 
irrigable land sufficient for the planting of a fanega 
of corn, also live stock and implements for its culti- 
vation. He was assured support for the initial years, 
i.e. a stipend of ten dollars a month and rations. 
The river was dammed at public expense and a canal 
built to irrigate the land suited for ploughing. 

De Neve carefully watched this initial experiment 
and apparently thought it successful, for, in 1781, 
he issued his famous reglamento fixing the conditions 

c*-a- ~rt/o a-^ iZuv+v 2 e "2uw ■1x4 dc-ma.^ 
St 'uso /be* mx. el krfy Crnifyelg.,' 
c>e S r \^an Co Con axxcolo a. 2d. o$en 
^c2 Soli. < zw' Tr yj-ee7i?Z(yaX07iaJus'£)u£- 
ne; el Ha 23„ Ve- Mxil te.Jj'S/ S" 

con.o y 

tAsh>- 0^1^ tkiv«A*<l3e^ii*&^»o*^ 

Map of Plough Lands assigned to the nine Settlers of San Jose. 

Each man received two suertes, two hundred varas square, and one solar, thirty 
varas square, in the pueblo. T , 

" A manifest of the plow lands divided among the pobladorcs of Puerto San Josef 
with the representation of those which belong to each one [map tornj lor the in- 
formation of Seiior Governor Fages. 

"The repartition of the foregoing lands was made by me, the lieutenant and 
commander of the presidio of San Francisco in conformity with the order of his 
excellency, the Governor, and with all due attention to his desires the 23rd day of 
April 1781 San Francisco, June 1st of the same year. Joseph Moraga. All tne 
residue in this survev is bv far [map torn] therefore there remain realenga (royal or 
public lands). Up to this point is the measure of a third part of the road to the mis- 

Axxollo del collote=Arroya of the Cayote. Acequeia madre = mother ditch. Ric 
de la saca de agua = river from which the water was taken. 



for all subsequent colonies. The object stated was 
u to make this vast country . . . useful to the State, 
by erecting pueblos of genie de razon (people of reason 
in distinction from the savages) who, being united, 
may encourage agriculture, planting, the breeding of 
cattle and successively the other branches of indus- 
try ; so that some years hence their produce may be 
sufficient to provide garrisons of the presidios with 
provisions and horses, thereby obviating the distance 
of transportation and the risks and losses which the 
royal government suffers thereby." u It was hoped 
that "the progressive augmentation" of the popula- 
tion of the first pueblos would "provide for the estab- 
lishment of other towns and furnish recruits for the 
presidio companies." The terms were similar to 
those that had been offered to the San Jose settlers. 
Each poblador (citizen) was to receive an allowance 
of $116 for the first two years and $60 for each of the 
next three, — not in money, but in supplies at cost. A 
soldier's pay was $220 per year ; but since this was 
largely met in goods at 150 per cent advance on 
Mexican prices, the position of the colonist was not 
inferior. To each family was to be allotted, on con- 
dition of repayment, ample stock — viz., two mares, 
two cows, one calf, two sheep, two goats, one yoke of 
oxen, one pack mule, and a variety of tools — one 
ploughshare or point, one hoe, one axe, etc. Each 
man was furnished with two horses, a musket and a 
leather shield, and he must hold himself equipped 
to answer the governor's call for the defence of the 
country. The community was provided with breed- 
ing animals and with a forge and anvil and "the 


necessary tools for carpenter and cast work." Four 
square leagues of land were assigned to each pueblo 
and surveyed into village, tillage, and pasture lands. 
The house lots, seventy-five varas square, 75 were to 
be located about the plaza, and a series of plough fields, 
each two hundred varas square, was surveyed in the 
area deemed most fitted for cultivation, Every 
poblador was entitled to a house lot and two suertes 
of irrigable and two of non-irrigable land, the total 
grant amounting to about twenty-eight acres. Title 
was assured at the end of five years, provided the 
settler had in the meantime built his own house and 
lived in it, planted fruit trees on his land, ten to a 
suerte, doubled his original endowment of cattle and 
tools, and performed his due proportion of the public 

Irrigation was a race heritage of the Spaniards. 
The Moors had taught them how to make good an 
insufficient rainfall by conducting streams on to the 
fields, and much of the central and southern portion 
of the Spanish Peninsula had been rendered produc- 
tive by artificial canals. These were usually under- 
taken by the towns for the benefit of their inhab- 
itants, and the common ownership of the source of 
supply — spring, well, or river — was the ancient 
Spanish usage. De Neve was therefore proposing 
nothing new when he made the building of dams 
and canals a collective obligation, and intrusted the 
town authorities with their maintenance and with the 
equable distribution of water. Other common in- 
terests were met in this same cooperative fashion. A 
common field (proprio) was set aside for the public 


sowing. Every poblador must perform his share of 
the common tillage, putting in one almud or twelfth 
of afanega of corn, and the crop went to meet munici- 
pal expenses. The pasturing of cattle was not only 
an individual right, but a common obligation. 76 Two 
pobladores were delegated to the care of the large 
cattle, mares, asses, and cows ; but each proprietor 
must see to the marking and branding of his own 
stock, and the record of the branding irons was to be 
kept by the town authorities. 77 The advances made 
to the settlers in money, horses, cattle, seed, etc., 
must be refunded within five years of the first oc- 
cupation out of the produce of their lands and the 
increase of their stock. The grain and cattle brought 
to the presidio by each poblador were to be credited 
to his account at the "just" prices established by 
the governor. 78 

The pueblo on the Porciuncula, Nuestra Serlora 
de los Angeles, was founded in 1781. With consid- 
erable difficulty twelve families were recruited in 
Sonora, Sinaloa, and Guadalajara, and brought 
across the desert to San Gabriel. They were a dubi- 
ous group. Of the men, but two were full-blooded 
Spaniards, one was a mestizo, four were negroes or 
mulattoes, and five were Indians, while the women 
were Indians and mulattoes. Not one of the forty 
immigrants could sign his own name. The govern- 
ment stipend was probably necessary, yet it seems 
to have had an enervating effect. The men readily 
accepted the loan of cattle and money, but they were 
slow to meet the obligations involved. When the 
land grants were confirmed in 1786, five of the twelve 


settlers were rejected because of indolence. The San 
Jose colonists proved no better farmers. Proud of 
their Spanish name and lineage, they regarded labor 
as degrading, and managed to hire neophytes from the 
missions for such work as might not be avoided. Both 
pueblos soon degenerated into lawlessness and vice 
and became harbors of refuge for broken-down soldiers 
and renegade sailors, who married Indian women and 
spent their useless lives in gambling and drunken- 
ness. The alcaldes were often in league with the 
lawbreakers, and the town population, far from being 
the strength of the new province, became the most 
perplexing problem of the government. By 1790 
the number of householders in San Jose had doubled, 
the increase being derived from the neighboring pre- 
sidios; but they were still living in miserable shacks 
with palisaded walls and sod roofs, and their crops 
and cattle had multiplied but slowly. Los Angeles, 
in the same year, boasted twenty-eight families, and 
their wheat harvest was greater than that of any 
California mission save San Gabriel. The houses 
were built of adobe, and the town was enclosed 
within an adobe wall. 

The third and last of the pueblos was founded by 
Governor Borica (1797) near the mission of Santa 
Cruz. He besought the viceroy, Branciforte, for 
whom the new settlement was named, to send prac- 
tical farmers, carpenters, masons, tile-makers, tan- 
ners, shoemakers, shipwrights, and sailors ; but 
though land and cattle, supplies and money stipend 
were offered, the result was very disappointing. 
Only nine families were collected. The men were of 


Spanish blood, to be sure, but they were vagrants 
and petty criminals, not farmers and artisans, and 
the denizens of Branciforte soon attained a reputa- 
tion for mischief-making rather than for hard work. 
Borica was the last of the statesmanlike gov- 
ernors. He set himself to correct the vicious ten- 
dency of the pueblos by prohibiting the importation 
of brandy and mescal (a liquor distilled from the 
century plant) and by deposing the corrupt alcaldes. 
Neglect of tillage was punished by fines and, in case 
the delinquent proved incorrigible, by forfeiture of 
land. For the benefit of the oncoming generation, 
Governor Borica ordered that secular schools should 
be opened in San Jose and in Los Angeles, and that 
parents be compelled to send their children, paying 
a cent a day for each child. 79 The growing boys of 
San Diego were apprenticed to a trade, and night 
schools were maintained for the soldiers, one dollar 
being withheld from each man's pay on this account. 
The governor invaded even the sacred precincts of 
the missions, and directed that the Indians be 
taught Spanish, in accordance with the royal order. 
He sent six masons, two carpenters, and three black- 
smiths, at government expense, to teach the Spanish 
children and the natives certain useful trades. The 
wages offered the weaver were $30 a month, and the 
governor directed that if he neglected his duties he 
was to be chained at night. These master workmen 
were under a five-year contract, and it was hoped 
they would remain as settlers, but they all returned 
to Mexico within five years. The boys and girls of 
the garrison families got little benefit from this in- 


struction, but the neophytes acquired some useful 
arts. Borica gave assiduous attention to the indus- 
trial possibilities of the country. A flour mill was 
put up at Branciforte and a soap factory at Mon- 
terey, while the increase in the number of sheep, as 
a foundation for woollen manufactures, he made a 
matter of keen concern. His efforts were ill requited, 
for all industries languished. In 1800 the combined 
population of the three towns did not exceed five 
hundred and fifty : one hundred and seventy in San 
Jose, three hundred and fifteen in Los Angeles, and 
sixty-six in Branciforte. Of the one hundred families 
represented, thirty had been imported from New 
Spain, and seventy were those of retired soldiers. 
Field labor was for the most part performed by 
gentiles (wild Indians), who were paid in grain 
and blankets which the colonists could ill spare. 
Nine thousand bushels of wheat were grown each 
year, and the herds of the pobladores had multi- 
plied to 16,500 cattle and horses and one thousand 
sheep. 80 In this same year, while at the three royal 
ranchos — San Diego, San Francisco, and Monterey — 
there were but 18,000 head, the eighteen missions 
possessed 153,000 cattle, horses, and mules, and 
88,000 sheep. 

Worn out by six years of arduous service, Borica 
retired in 1800, with the recommendation that the 
administration of the two Californias be divided. 
The enormous distances to be traversed and the 
vexatious delays involved in transmitting orders, 
the diverse industrial and monastic interests, ren- 
dered this measure necessary. The suggestion was 


adopted, and the first governor of California, Baja, 
was appointed in 1805. The southern capital was 
placed at Loreto, and the boundary was fixed at 
San Miguel. 

All the statesmanlike Spaniards who had to do 
with California urged colonization as essential to the 
defence of the coast and the permanent prosperity 
of the province. Witness Costanzo : "The first 
thing to be thought of, in my opinion, is to people 
the country. Presidios to support the missions are 
well enough for a time, but there seems to be no end 
of them. Some missions have been for a hundred 
years in charge of friars and presidial guards. The 
remedy is to introduce genie de razon among the 
natives from the beginning. Californians under- 
stand this, and clamor for industrious citizens. Each 
ship should carry a number of families with a proper 
outfit. The king supplies his soldiers with tools; 
why not the farmer and mechanic as well ? They 
should be settled near the missions and mingle with 
the natives. Thus the missions will become towns 
in twenty-five or thirty years." 81 De Neve was 
animated by a lofty public spirit, and his scheme 
of colonization will bear favorable comparison with 
that of William Penn or Oglethorpe. That he 
failed to bring to California a thrifty and industrious 
farming population was due mainly to the fact that 
there were few such immigrants to be found in New 
Spain, and the mother country was too remote to 
furnish colonists. The available Spaniards were, for 
the most part, discouraged soldiers, unaccustomed to 
industry, and broken-down adventurers, while the 


mestizos and mulattoes enlisted had inherited the 
vices rather than the virtues of their progenitors. 
The burden of obligation to the government was 
not a light one ($500 for each family imported would 
be a fair estimate), and the standard of achievement 
set was too much to expect of men who were bring- 
ing an arid soil under cultivation. The climate, 
moreover, was delightful but enervating, and the 
very ease with which food and shelter might be had, 
acted as a deterrent to labor. Finally, the successors 
of de Neve and Borica gave slight attention to indus- 
trial interests, while the padres, far from forwarding 
the growth of the pueblos, regarded them with in- 
creasing disfavor, disputed their right to pasturage, 
forbade intermarriage with the neophytes, and even 
withheld the religious services demanded of the only 
clergy in the country, until due compensation was 

The colonization of California was undertaken by 
men of marked ability and devotion. No English 
colony had more far-sighted and disinterested ser- 
vice than was rendered by Galvez, Bucareli, de Neve, 
Borica, Portola, Costanzo, and Anza; but the 
prime essential in colonial development, settlers of 
resolution and resource, was lacking, and thus all 
the heavy expenditure in money and in human 
energy came to little. Vancouver, the British ad- 
miral who visited Monterey in 1792, expressed his 
astonishment at the petty results of Spanish enter- 
prise in California. "Why such an extent of terri- 
tory should have been thus subjugated, and after all 
the expence and labour that has been bestowed 


upon its colonization turned to no account whatever 
is a mystery in the science of state policy not easily 
to be explained." 82 

Causes for Failure 

All projects for the colonization of Texas and 
New Mexico had failed for like reasons. The 
families transported at so great cost to the valley 
of the Rio Grande and the land of the Tejas had 
neglected the cultivation of the soil and fallen into 
idleness and vice with fatal facility. Nowhere, in 
fact, did the viceroys succeed in planting self-support- 
ing settlements. The failure of Spain to develop 
her American possessions shows in marked contrast 
to the rapid growth of the English colonies on the 
Atlantic seaboard. The contrast is in part to be 
accounted for by physical differences. The Spanish 
colonies were more remote from the mother country 
and less adapted to the method of cultivation fa- 
miliar to Europeans, and the initial stages of settle- 
ment were more difficult. The population of Spain 
was stationary, while that of seventeenth-century 
England was rapidly increasing. So eager were 
Englishmen for the new industrial opening that 
farmers and artisans were shipped to the Atlantic 
coast by planters' associations at the company's cost, 
whereas the royal treasury was heavily taxed to 
support the Spanish colonies. 

Nevertheless, the attitude of the Spanish govern- 
ment toward its New World plantations was the 
prime cause of failure. Until the last quarter of the 
eighteenth century, the mercantile policy was main- 


tained with consistent thoroughness, and the several 
colonies were administered for the benefit of the 
mother country and in the interest of the merchants 
of Seville. Moreover, the grandees who were in- 
trusted with colonial office were not chosen with a 
view to disinterested and effective service, and, with 
few exceptions, they regarded such appointment as 
opportunity for the exploitation of their subjects and 
the building up of their own fortunes. The same 
attitude characterized to a marked degree the priests 
and soldiers sent out to the colonies. Every man of 
Spanish blood thought himself above the necessity 
of work and expected to subsist off the forced labor of 
the natives. The encomienda was intended to prevent 
the enslavement of the Indians, but it led to peonage, 
a form of slavery which gave the proprietor all its 
profits with none of its responsibilities. The people 
imported from the Canary Islands, from Cuba, and 
from Sonora could not plead race pride as ground for 
exemption from labor, but they, too, belonged to the 
non-productive classes," being for the most part con- 
victs, prostitutes, and abandoned children. Lord 
Bacon had early protested against the sending of 
such colonists to Virginia. "It is a shameful and 
unblessed thing to take the scum of the people, and 
wicked and condemned men, to be the people with 
whom you plant ; and not only so, but it spoileth 
the plantation ; for they will ever live like rogues, 
and not fall to work, but be lazy and do mischief, 
and spend victuals, and be quickly weary, and then 
certify over to their country to the discredit of the 
plantation. The people wherewith you plant ought 


to be gardeners, ploughmen, laborers, smiths, car- 
penters, joiners, fishermen, fowlers, with some few 
apothecaries, surgeons, cooks, and bakers." 83 

Success of the Missions 

The only flourishing enterprises in California were 
the missions, and here the aspiration of Pope Alex- 
ander for the conversion of the aborigines was being 
realized. The proselyting zeal of the Franciscans led 
them to undertake the most hazardous journeys in 
search of farther fields of conquest, and they hesi- 
tated at no labor and no self-denial. Their desire 
to found new missions, baptize new tribes, and 
thereby add to the glory and extend the power of 
their Order and of the Church amounted to a passion 
and transformed these friars into fearless explorers. 
In 1776 Father Escallante of Santa Fe, with a brother 
Franciscan and a small party of soldiers, undertook 
to find a direct route across the mountains to Mon- 
terey. He ascended the Rio Grande to the rivers 
that flow westward to form the Colorado, and thence 
followed an Indian guide to the land of the Tim- 
panagos (Utah Lake). Finding that an impassable 
desert lay between this oasis and his goal, Escallante 
turned south to the Sevier River. Not until pro- 
visions were exhausted and his little party became 
mutinous did the resolute padre consent to return 
to Santa Fe. The natives conducted them to one 
of the few practicable crossings of the vast canon 
of the Colorado, a ford still called in memory of 
this exploit, El Vado de los Padres. Father Fran- 
cisco Garces, who accompanied Anza on his first 


and second expeditions to California, was not content 
with this strenuous service. Parting from the expedi- 
tion at Yuma (1776), alone and on foot, he journeyed 
up the desolate mesas of the Colorado, visiting tribe 
after tribe, baptizing their children, and subsisting on 
their bounty, until he came to the Moqui pueblo of 
Oraibe. He had hoped to recover these apostates 
to the faith ; but the Moquis were suspicious of all 
Spaniards, and after a brief experience of their in- 
hospitality, Garces returned to the Yumas. It was 
his ambition to found a mission at the junction of the 
Gila and Colorado rivers, and the project was ap- 
proved by the authorities, for the civilization of the 
tribe that controlled the route from Sonora to Alta 
California was a matter of political importance. 
The outfit furnished, however, was not that of a mis- 
sion or presidio, but that of a pueblo: twenty fam- 
ilies and twelve laborers with four hundred animals 
— cattle, sheep, and horses — four priests and a cor- 
poral's guard of soldiers (all that could be spared 
from the garrisons of Altar, Tucson, and San Gabriel), 
commanded by Rivera y Moncada. Two settle- 
ments were planted on the west bank of the Colo- 
rado, La Purissima Conception and San Pedro y San 
Pablo de Bucufier, but the outlook was ominous. 
The Yumas had been led to expect gifts of blankets, 
beads, and tobacco, as compensation for their recep- 
tion of the white men. They were outraged when 
they found that no largess was intended, that the 
cattle were trampling down their scant harvests and 
eating the mesquite beans on which they relied for 
food. In the night of July 17, 1781, a concerted 


attack was made on the two pueblos, and the Span- 
iards were killed to a man. Father Garces, the fear- 
less friend of the Indian, perished, as well as Rivera y 
Moncada, who had small faith in the wisdom of 
attempting to civilize the aborigines. The authori- 
ties determined to found no more pueblos that could 
not be adequately protected. 84 

The direct route between New Mexico and Cali- 
fornia remained a dream throughout the Spanish 
occupation. Humboldt noted in 1803 that no trav- 
eller had yet penetrated from Taos to Monterey, 
and that, because of the inertness of the Spanish au- 
thorities, the trade route that would foster commerce 
and strengthen both provinces remained to be dis- 

The submissive Coast Indians of California offered 
a far more promising mission field than the fierce 
tribes of the interior, and the Franciscans gave their 
best men to the task of converting them to the faith. 
The progress from San Diego to San Francisco had 
been like a crusade. With the achievement of 
success and the attainment of material comfort, mis- 
sionary ardor languished. The later padres were 
more zealous for the enrichment of existing founda- 
tions, the embellishment of existing churches, than 
for seeking out new and difficult fields of conquest. 

In 1784 Junipero Serra died, worn out by thirty- 
five years of strenuous mission labor — fifteen years 
among the Indians of Upper California. Many 
times he had journeyed by land or by sea the entire 
length of his apostolate, visiting the several stations, 
ministering to the needs of priests and soldiers, neo- 


phytes and gentiles, showing equal concern for little 
children and powerful caciques. He had founded 
nine missions along the Camino Real — San Diego, 
San Juan Capistrano, San Gabriel, San Buenaven- 
tura, San Luis Obispo, San Antonio, San Carlos, 
Santa Clara, and San Francisco de Dolores — and 
the number of Indian converts had risen to five 
thousand. Substantial buildings, churches, dwellings, 
and storehouses had been raised at the older mis- 
sions ; large areas had been planted to wheat, corn, 
barley, and beans, and the yield of cereals was 15,800 
bushels per year. The two hundred cattle supplied 
by the government had multiplied with extraordi- 
nary rapidity on the native grasses. There were in 
1784 more than five thousand mules and cattle, as 
many sheep, and four thousand two hundred and 
ninety-four goats. *The olive trees planted at San 
Diego bore abundantly; grapes, pomegranates, and 
citrus fruits throve in the orchards of San Gabriel 
and San Juan Capistrano, while in the rich black 
soil of Santa Clara cereals and garden vegetables 
flourished, so that the material prosperity of the 
establishments seemed assured. La Perouse, the 
French explorer, who visited Monterey in 1785, found 
the friars of Carmel living in great comfort off 
the produce of their fields. "The crops of maize, 
barley, corn, and peas cannot be equalled but by 
those of Chili," 85 while the yield of wheat was not 
infrequently one hundred fold. 

The labor of the mission farms was performed by 
the Indians under the immediate supervision of the 
friars. The neophytes were taught to plough and 


sow and harvest the grain, to tend the cattle and 
drive the rude wooden-wheeled ox carts. The more 
intelligent men were trained as carpenters and 
masons and smiths. They shaped the adobe bricks 
and pressed and baked the tile and raised the churches 
that are still the glory of California. Indians were 
even found with artistic taste sufficient to execute 
the frescoes and paintings and the crosses of silver 
and iron with which the interiors were enriched. 
The women were taught the domestic arts ; bak- 
ing, spinning, weaving, and the fashioning of gar- 
ments. The implements were of the rudest and the 
results meagre, but the whole Christian population 
was clothed and fed by its own industry. The 
padres had no ambition to do more. Corn was 
parched in bark baskets over open fires and ground 
between metates, after the primitive Indian fashion. 
The French explorer gave the establishment of 
Carmel a hand-mill with which four women could 
accomplish as much as one hundred with the metate. 
When von Langsdorff visited Carmel twenty years 
later, this mill had disappeared and no new one had 
been supplied. The fathers wanted no labor-saving 
machinery, because they had more labor than they 
could use, and the neophytes must be kept busy 
lest they get into mischief. To meet the extraordi- 
nary supply of flour required by the occasional 
vessels that put into Monterey, the women were 
obliged to work night and day. 

Good Catholic though he was, La Perouse thought 
the regime imposed by the friars unnecessarily 
severe. The neophytes were allowed no free time. 


Their day was portioned out to labor and prayer, 
as in a monastic establishment. Any deviation from 
a discipline that must have been extremely irksome 
to this primitive people was promptly and severely 
punished. The Frenchmen saw Indians who had 
been cruelly beaten, lying in the public stocks or 
loaded down with chains, and they heard the lashes 
administered to the women and shuddered at their 
cries for mercy. To the -padres such punishments 
seemed a suitable penance and essential to the salva- 
tion of the soul that had lapsed from grace ; but La 
Perouse thought the lot of the neophyte differed 
little from that of the slaves on a West Indian sugar 
plantation. They were compelled to perform all the 
labor of the mission establishment and received in 
return a daily dole of broth and bread and a scant 
allowance of clothing. No Indian was allowed to 
leave the premises without permission, and if he 
did not return at the stipulated time, a posse of 
soldiers was put on his trail. When caught, the un- 
fortunate man or woman was beaten with fifty 
stripes. Regarding the situation through the light 
of the teachings of Rousseau, La Perouse exclaims: 
"But would it be impossible for an ardent zeal and 
an extreme patience to make known to a small num- 
ber of families the advantages of a society based on 
human rights ; to establish among them the right 
of property so attractive to all men ; and by this 
new order of things, to induce each one to cultivate 
his field with emulation, or else to devote himself to 
work of some other kind?" 86 

De Neve believed that the Indians should be 


given the normal human inducements to labor and 
urged that lands be assigned them. He held that 
the Indians would make more rapid progress if they 
were less constrained, and he undertook to pro- 
vide each Indian village with a tribune who should 
represent them before the civil authority whenever 
they were maltreated by the soldiers or unduly 
oppressed by the friars. Both de Neve and Borica 
(1795) remonstrated with Lasuen, the second presi- 
dent of the missions, against the "enslavement " of the 
Indians, and refused to furnish soldiers to recover 
the runaways. There were two hundred and eighty 
desertions and two hundred and three deaths — fully 
half the neophyte population — at San Francisco de 
Dolores in that single year, and the situation had 
become intolerable. Borica instanced as causes of 
this unprecedented mortality insufficient food, the 
filth in which the people lived, the restraints im- 
posed on men accustomed to the largest freedom, 
the custom of confining the women and girls in 
crowded and ill- ventilated monjas or female quar- 
ters. Lasuen promised that a more humane re- 
gime should be introduced — shorter hours and 
better food, with a more generous allowance of 
recreation — and the number of lashes that might 
be inflicted for a single offence was reduced to 
twenty-five. Dolores was probably an extreme 
case, but there were serious complaints from the 
other missions. 87 

The isolated position of the friars and their 
absolute power over the neophytes, coupled with 
relentless zeal for the conversion of the gentiles, 


bred abuses that were little in keeping with the 
saintly devotion of Father Junipero. Vancouver, 
the English explorer, who visited the missions of San 
Francisco de Dolores, Santa Clara, Carmel, and 
Santa Barbara during his three years on the coast 
(1792-1794), was permitted to see little of these 
abuses; but to his Protestant mind the padres 
seemed engaged in a hopeless task. The Indians 
had profited little from the teaching given them; 
they were still living in frail wicker huts, filthy 
and squalid beyond description, and gave few signs 
of real progress. At Santa Clara, the fathers were 
then building adobe cottages, with garden ground 
attached, for the more promising neophytes, in the 
hope of inciting them to cleanliness and industry. 
But even here, at the most progressive of the mis- 
sion farms, the tillage was of the rudest. "By the 
help of a very mean and ill-contrived plough drawn 
by oxen, the earth is once slightly turned over, and 
smoothed down by a harrow; in the month of 
November or December, the wheat is sown in drills 
or broadcast on the even surface, and scratched in 
with the harrow; this is the whole of their system 
of husbandry, which uniformly produces them in 
July or August an abundant harvest." The grain 
was threshed out on an open-air floor by the tread 
of oxen. Vancouver noted the herds of cattle and 
horses on the hills about the Bay and marvelled at 
their fecundity and the slight cost of rearing them. 
The Indians made excellent herders, and the fifteen 
head of cattle brought to Santa Clara in 1778 had mul- 
tiplied a hundred fold in the fifteen years' interval. 88 


When von Langsdorff 89 visited Santa Clara in 
1806, he found the Indian apprentices weaving a 
coarse woollen cloth sufficient for their own clothing. 
Besides the shops for blacksmiths and carpenters, 
there were soap-works and salt-works and vats for 
the refining of tallow, and a considerable traffic was 
carried on with San Bias in wool, hides, salt, tallow, 
soap, and butter. Von Langsdorff had seen the Kodiak 
thralls of the Russian-American Fur Company, and 
he marvelled at the excellence of the food furnished 
the neophytes ; but he was no less astonished when 
he came upon a reclaimed runaway who had been 
bastinadoed and who hobbled about with an iron 
weight fastened to his foot. Kotzebue, the com- 
mander of the Russian exploring expedition fitted 
out by Count Krusenstern, visited Dolores mission 
ten years later and found the Indians housed in 
adobe huts, but still wretched and dirty. Both 
sexes were obliged to labor to the limit of their 
strength. The men did all the work of the fields, 
and the harvest was delivered to the missionaries 
and stored in magazines, the laborers receiving only 
so much as was necessary for their subsistence. 
Out of the thousand neophytes, three hundred died 
every year, and only vigorous missionary raids on 
the interior tribes kept up the quota of laborers. 
Ten different tribes were represented at this mission, 
speaking as many different languages, and all were 
but imperfectly acquainted with Spanish. They 
could therefore understand little more of the religious 
teaching than the forms. "The missionaries assured 
us that it was difficult to instruct them, on account 


of their stupidity; but I believe that these gentle- 
men do not give themselves much trouble about 
it." "California is a great expense to the Spanish 
government, which derives no other advantage from 
it than that every year a couple of hundred heathens 
are converted to Christianity, who, however, die very 
soon in their new faith, as they cannot accustom 
themselves to the different mode of life." The un- 
sympathetic Russian thought the fault lay in that 
the padres "do not take pains to make men of them 
before they make them Christians." 90 

Junlpero Serra had hoped to make men of the 
savages to whom he preached the gospel, and in- 
tended that the neophytes should be assigned land 
of their own as soon as they were qualified to use it 
to advantage ; but the later Franciscans postponed 
the emancipation of their charges from time to 
time, and it was not easy to convince them that 
these childlike people needed any other incentive to 
labor than the arbitrary command of their superiors. 
Meantime the natives, gentile and convert alike, 
protested that they were robbed of the land that 
had been theirs from time immemorial. It was 
quite true that the Franciscans had no valid title 
to anything more than the usufruct of the vast 
tracts which were tilled and pastured under their 
direction, neither had they any claim to the labor of 
the Indians — the law expressly forbade the granting 
of encomiendas to ecclesiastics — but they had for- 
gotten the terms of their tenure. Galvez and Bucareli 
had planned that the natives of California should 
be led to form self-supporting communities like 


those of New Mexico. Fages, de Neve, Borica, and 
other conscientious officials had protested that justice 
and the law required that every neophyte should be 
emancipated and placed on land of his own after 
serving a ten-year term. But the friars were the 
strongest party in the new province, and their policy 
prevailed. The neophytes were kept in a state of 
tutelage that offered few paths of advance. 

Such population statistics as are available seem 
to show that, although subject to occasional varia- 
tions, the neophyte population was practically 
stationary here as in Texas and New Mexico. There 
were twenty thousand neophytes in Vancouver's 
day, and Governor Sola's census for 1818 reported 
the same figure. According to Beechey, there were 
no more in 1825. The mission Indians were, in 
fact, rapidly dying off, but the labor force was as 
rapidly recruited from the wild tribes of the interior. 
Proselyting bands, soldiers and Indians, were sent 
up the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers to bring 
in new converts. Since the leaders were rewarded 
in proportion to the number obtained, their methods 
were often unscrupulous. Foreign visitors heard 
shocking tales of these kidnapping expeditions. 

The Franciscan regime was no more favorable to 
colonization, and the Spanish population increased 
but slowly. Von Humboldt's estimate for 1803 was 
thirteen hundred whites and mestizos, and he at- 
tributed the tardy development of the country to 
the rigid military requirements and the opposition 
of the friars. "The population of New California 
would have augmented still more rapidly if the 


laws by which the Spanish presidios had been 
governed for ages were not directly opposite to the 
true interests of both mother country and colonies. 
By these laws the soldiers stationed at Monterey 
[for example] are not permitted to live out of their 
barracks and to settle as colonists. The monks are 
generally averse to the settlement of colonists of the 
white cast, because being people who reason {gente 
de razon) they do not submit so easily to a blind 
obedience as the Indians." 91 La Perouse thought 
Alta California as promising a country as Virginia, 
notwithstanding its remoteness from Europe. In 
his opinion, its progress was retarded by celibacy 
and despotism. Good government and freedom of 
commerce would, in his opinion, "speedily procure it 
some settlers." 92 

Commercial Restrictions 

Until 1800 there was no trade between California 
and the outside world except that carried on by the 
transport which brought the annual consignment of 
goods ordered for the missions and presidios, and 
these were sold through the appointed agents at 
exorbitant prices. No commerce was permitted 
with other vessels, even though they bore the Spanish 
flag. Exception was made in favor of the Manila 
galleon, which occasionally put into Monterey for 
supplies; but only under stress of weather and 
necessity for repairs or shortage of wood, water, or 
food, was a foreign vessel admitted, and even so, aid 
must be refused if, after investigation, the necessity 
was not evident. Aliens were never permitted on 


shore except by express order. The transports 
carried back to San Bias some salt and salted meat 
and a few otter skins, the surplus products of the 
missions. Borica urged that the government send 
goods direct to the pueblos, taking grain in exchange, 
and the project was authorized by the crown ; but 
through the duplicity or inertia of the officials, it failed 
of execution. The effect of these restrictions on indus- 
trial development was well-nigh disastrous. Miss- 
ing the stimulus of a good market for their produce, 
the pobladores cultivated no more land than would 
supply their own immediate needs, while the heavy 
cost of European goods forced them to get on with- 
out the implements and machinery that would have 
enabled them to manufacture on their own account. 
A mission establishment could store its produce and 
await the arrival of a trading vessel, but the isolated 
farmer could not avail himself of such a chance. 
The needs of the presidios were met by ranchos del 
rey at San Diego and at Monterey. 

La Perouse and Vancouver were cordially received 
at Dolores because they were engaged in scientific 
explorations and were therefore indorsed from 
Madrid. Both were liberally supplied with pro- 
visions from the mission stores, the only payment 
permitted being some tools, utensils, seeds, etc., 
which the padres gratefully received and utilized 
in the improvement of their gardens. Vancouver 
thought the Bay of San Francisco "as fine a port 
as the world affords ; failing only in the convenience 
of obtaining wood and water." 93 He noticed that 
the Spanish commanders were content to take on a 


very inferior quality of the latter necessity, and he 
attributed the prevalence of scurvy on their ships to 
carelessness in this regard. The British navigator 
was astonished to find no trading vessels in this 
" spacious port." There was literally no craft to be 
seen except an old rowboat and the frail rush canoes 
of the Indians. Yet there was every incentive for 
an extensive trade in tallow, hides, and cattle, in 
timber and otter skins. Von Langsdorff was as 
much impressed as Vancouver had been with the 
neglect of water transportation. Here were three 
missions, Santa Clara, San Jose and Dolores, gathered 
about the Bay, and yet the frequent communication 
between them and the presidio was carried on by a 
circuitous land route. It seemed to him "incredible 
that, in not one of them ... is there a vessel or 
boat of any kind." 94 The Spaniards preferred to 
go three times the distance on horseback and to 
transport their produce in ponderous, slow-moving 
ox carts. At land travel, on the other hand, they 
were experts. "From St. Francisco any one may 
travel with the greatest safety even to Chili : there 
are stations all the way kept by soldiers." 95 When 
Krusenstern came in through the narrow strait to 
San Francisco Bay in April, 1806, he was hailed 
from Fort Point 96 through a speaking trumpet and, 
since by this time the old rowboat had disappeared, 
he could not get into communication with the com- 
mandante, Don Jose Arguello, until he sent one of 
the launches off to fetch him. De Resanoff desired 
to procure a cargo of provisions for the posts of the 
Russian-American Fur Company, offering cloth, 

7 < ■' 

.y. J 

If ' 



leather, shoes, and iron implements — sheep-shears, 
whip-saws, etc. — in exchange. The monks were 
eager to sell their surplus products for these much- 
needed articles ; but neither the commandante nor 
the governor nor yet the viceroy had authority to 
allow the trade. After much demur, de Resanoff 
was permitted to purchase $24,000 worth of wheat, 
flour, salt meat, salt, tallow, and soap from the 
monks, the governor consenting to serve as go- 
between and becoming personally liable for the tran- 
saction. The proposition that a regular trade be 
established between the Russian settlements and 
California was referred to Madrid, where it was con- 
signed to oblivion. 

Under the Spanish regime, American vessels rarely 
visited Californian ports because of the well-known 
risk of confiscation. Boston fur traders, bound for 
the northwest coast, occasionally put in for supplies ; 
but they did not meet with an encouraging reception. 
The Otter (Captain Ebenezer Dorr) stopped at 
Monterey (1796) to leave some stowaways from 
Botany Bay, the first English settlers. The Eliza 
was ordered out of San Francisco Bay (1798) after 
securing a meagre allowance of provisions. The 
Betsey (Captain Winship) put into San Diego for 
wood and water (1800) ; but the Alexandria and the 
Lelia Byrd, smugglers attempting to purchase otter 
skins at this port in 1803, were roughly handled. 
Cleveland, supercargo on the Lelia Byrd, had circum- 
navigated South America, touching at Valparaiso 
where he narrowly escaped seizure and at San Bias 
where, by the special grace of the viceroy, he secured 


permission to sell $10,000 worth of goods. Having 
purchased a quantity of sea-otter skins (1600) and 
learning that more might be had at San Diego, the 
venturesome Yankee made for that port. The com- 
mandante had several hundred skins, confiscated from 
the Alexandria, and private individuals were eager 
to dispose of more. In the attempt to get hold of 
these, Cleveland came into conflict with the authori- 
ties and therefore deemed it best to leave the harbor. 
As the Lelia Byrd sailed out of the narrow entrance, 
she was fired upon from the fortification at Point 
Loma, but passed out uninjured. Her return fire 
scattered the garrison and reduced the Spanish bat- 
tery to silence. The Lelia Byrd returned to San 
Diego in 1804, and other Yankee vessels followed in 
her wake. Captain Shaler estimated their annual 
purchases of furs at $25,000. 

At the close of the War of 1812, Yankee traders 
began to frequent the California coast, and their 
goods — hardware, ammunition, cloth, and blankets — 
were readily taken by both friars and officials. The 
contrabandistas ran great risks of being captured by 
Mexican privateers or by the California comman- 
dantes, and more than one cargo was confiscated and 
the ship's officers thrown into prison (e.g. Captain G. 
W. Ayres of the Mercury, 1814 ; Captain Smith of 
the Albatross, 1816). But the officials grew lax as 
the needs of the community increased, and after 
1818 foreign traders had no difficulty at any of the 
California ports. Governor Sola established a tariff 
of duties on exports and imports which he levied on 
his single authority. 


The struggle for independence had no champions 
in California. The white population, being almost 
wholly made up of the mission fathers and the pre- 
sidio garrisons, declared for the king, and only un- 
certain rumors of the far-away conflict reached their 
ears; but a very apparent and bitterly lamented 
effect of the ten years' war was the failure of supplies. 
The San Bias transport was captured by the insur- 
gents (1811), the hard-pressed viceroy could send no 
reinforcements, and the wages of officers and soldiers 
fell far in arrears. Food and clothing were fur- 
nished on credit by the mission fathers, the Spanish 
officials thereby incurring a heavy obligation which 
was never repaid. Governor Sola had been loud in 
his protestations of loyalty to Spain and expressed 
unmitigated contempt for the revolutionists ; but he 
could not defend his position. The presidios were 
quite untenable ; a few undisciplined soldiers cower- 
ing behind crumbling walls, a dozen rusty howitzers 
and some antique muskets liable to explode when 
fired, made up the defences of five harbors and two 
hundred leagues of scantily peopled coast. When in 
March, 1822, a war vessel sailed into Monterey 
flying the Mexican colors, Sola was fain to pull 
down the Spanish flag and run up the tricolor without 
striking one blow for his sovereign. 

Luis Arguello, Sola's successor, the first republican 
governor, was a hijo del pais and a man of great force 
and originality. In 1805, while hardly more than 
a boy, he undertook an expedition into the interior, 
hoping to find a route to Santa Fe. His horseback 
party rode up the Sacramento until they faced the 


lofty profile of the Sierras, and then, the snow-clad 
summits seeming an insurmountable barrier, they 
turned back. When this venturesome man suc- 
ceeded his father as commandante at San Francisco 

(1806-1822), he wished to rebuild the ruinous pre- 
sidio. With the aid of a carpenter deserted from a 
British vessel, he built a launch, trained a crew, and 
succeeded in towing over a raft of timber from San 
Rafael. This daring deed was sharply criticised by 
Governor Sola, who charged Arguello with insub- 
ordination and possible treason. No man could 
want a boat on the Bay of Francisco except for the 
purpose of smuggling or of carrying on illicit trade with 
the Russian settlements ! The launch was seized 
and taken to Monterey, where it proved so convenient 
that it was never returned. No sooner was he gov- 
ernor of California (1823-1825) than Arguello negoti- 
ated an agreement with the Russian-American Fur 
Company by which they were to turn over half the 
otter skins taken for the privilege of fishing in the 
Bay. The same untrammelled official opened a 
trade with Bodega, which, though illicit, had great 
advantages for both parties. Such a man was not 
likely to feel bound by trade regulations enacted by 
the turbulent government at the City of Mexico. 97 
Foreign commerce was a necessity for California, and 
he welcomed the first opportunity to supply his 
people with the manufactures they so much needed. 
In 1823 the Rover of Boston, Captain Cooper, came 
to Monterey with a cargo of cottons and other New 
England goods, and Governor Arguello, in defiance 
of the law but with the full approval of the Cali- 


fornians, gave him license to trade. The profits on 
this transaction were so evident that Arguello under- 
took a venture on government account. He pur- 
chased the ship, loaded her with otter skins, and 
sent her to Canton under Cooper's command. She 
brought back a cargo of silks, cottons, etc., valued 
at $12,000. The way was open for a commerce with 
China that would have rivalled the old Manila trade ; 
but Arguello was soon supplanted, and none of his 
successors cared to follow up the opportunity. Ar- 
guello, however, opened a customhouse at Mon- 
terey, and his example in admitting Yankee goods 
was imitated by his successors. 

For years to come, California was provided with 
manufactures by Boston skippers who, having 
learned how to placate the officials, carried on a 
highly remunerative trade, exchanging groceries, 
cottons, cutlery, and liquors for otter and beaver 
skins. These last, carried to China, were sold to 
advantage, and a cargo of teas and silks was taken 
on for the Boston market. It was a round-the- 
world commerce that netted ten and twenty per cent 
on the capital invested, but the supply of furs 
was soon exhausted. In 1822 W. A. Gale, repre- 
senting Bryant & Sturgis, a Boston firm, opened a 
mercantile house in Monterey. He began the col- 
lection and exportation of hides, a commodity much 
in demand among the shoe manufacturers of New 
England, and of which California had superabun- 
dance. In this same year John Beggs & Co., mer- 
chants of Lima, succeeded in negotiating a three- 
year contract with Arguello under which their vessels 


were to take all hides and tallow offered by the mis- 
sions, paying in money or goods at stipulated prices. 
Their agent, W. E. P. Hartnell, made his head- 
quarters at Monterey. An attempt to pack beef 
for a distant market was made in 1824. Learning 
that California cattle were killed for tallow and hides 
alone and the carcasses wasted, Hartnell opened 
a packing house. Twenty salters and coopers, Irish 
and Scotch, manufactured on the spot the salt and 
barrels needed, and several cargoes of excellent pickled 
beef were forwarded to Lima ; 98 but the Peruvian 
government, having no funds, was unable to fulfil 
its part of the contract, and the venture failed. 
Hartnell resided in Monterey as the representative 
of Beggs & Co. and for many years maintained 
an enterprising mercantile establishment, selling sup- 
plies to the padres and shipping to Lima the tallow 
taken in exchange." Soon the southern missions de- 
manded a share in this commerce, desiring to find a 
market for their surplus stock, and new concessions 
had to be made. In 1829 ships chartered by Gale 
and Hartnell were accorded license to touch at San 
Diego, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco 
for cargoes. Within a few years the five ports were 
thrown open to all comers, and the trade in hides and 
tallow was well under way. 

From 1825-1834, the height of its prosperity, 
the lion's share of the hide trade was in the hands 
of a few Boston merchants. Dana's full and accu- 
rate description of the traffic is so well known 
that no quotations need be given here. During his 
two years on the coast (1835-1836) there were five 

Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey. 

Arguello's Custom House, Monterey. 


American "droghers" 100 engaged in exchanging 
goods for hides; three carried Mexican or Peruvian 
colors, though their owners were Scotch and Italian, 
and three hailed from Oahu. The handicaps on the 
trade were already becoming apparent. A captain 
had to spend two or three years soliciting at the 
ranchos all the way from San Diego to San Francisco. 
The weight of the hides had dwindled to half, because 
the rancheros killed the animals too young. They 
never took the trouble to cure the skins, so every 
shipload must be carried to San Diego to be salted 
and dried. California hides, moreover, were more 
difficult to tan than those from Buenos Ayres and 
brought less in the Boston market. When Sir 
George Simpson, governor of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, visited the Coast in 1841 there were six- 
teen vessels, mostly Americans, engaged in this 
"drogher" trade; but the annual output of hides 
had fallen from 100,000 (1838) to 30,000, —not enough 
to fill the holds of two first-class ships. The effect 
of the consequent competition for cargo was to raise 
the price of hides and the costs of the voyage. 

The first British whaler put into San Francisco 
Bay for provisions in 1820, the Americans followed 
in 1823, and this harbor was for some years a favorite 
stopping-place on the homeward voyage. The pre- 
sidio bay lay directly in the sweep of the tides and 
was not a safe anchorage. Merchant ships preferred 
Yerba Buena, a roadstead that offered shelter from 
the west winds and neighborhood to the missions of 
Santa Clara and San Jose ; but the whalers made for 
Sausalito, because the water there was particularly 


good, and William A. Richardson, the ex-mate of a 
British whaling vessel, had a ranch near by from which 
they could obtain supplies. In spite of the abundant 
resources of the region, the whalers soon found they 
could provision at less cost in the Sandwich Islands. 
The Mexican government imposed vexatious restric- 
tions and heavy tonnage fees, while a ship could enter 
the port of Oahu duty free. 

Captain Beechey, of the British ship Blossom, 
visited San Francisco Bay in 1826 in the course of 
his explorations of the North Pacific, and was as- 
tonished to find "in a harbor sufficiently extensive to 
contain all the British navy" no vessel except seven 
American whalers come in for supplies. His ship 
was challenged from Fort Point by "a soldier who 
protruded a speaking trumpet through one of the 
embrasures and hailed us in a stentorian voice"; 
but since there was no boat belonging to the garrison, 
the commandante came out to inspect the papers by 
Beechey's courteous aid. The Blossom was allowed 
to anchor off "a small bay named Yerba Buena," but 
the nearest trading establishment was at Monterey. 
Provisions were obtainable from the near-by missions, 
— flour, beef, vegetables, and salt ; but the negotiations 
must be carried on through the governor, who pock- 
eted the profits. The only buildings visible were 
the dilapidated adobes of the presidio and Dolores 
Mission. There were no cultivated fields about the 
Bay, and the garrison was still dependent on the farms 
of Santa Clara and San Jose for supplies. Beechey 
thought it a great pity that "so fine a country, 
abounding in all that is essential to man, should be 


allowed to remain in such a state of neglect." "With 
the exception of the missions and pueblos, the coun- 
try is almost uninhabited ; yet the productive nature 
of the soil, . . . and the immense plains of meadow 
land, . . . show with how little trouble it might be 
brought into high cultivation by any farmers who 
could be induced to settle there." lul On the road 
between San Francisco and Monterey there were but 
three ranch houses and these of the poorest descrip- 

"The trade of Upper California at present consists 
in the exportation of hides, tallow, manteca [butter], 
horses to the Sandwich Islands, grain for the Russian 
establishments at Sitka and Kodiak, and in the dis- 
posal of provisions to whale-ships and other vessels 
which touch upon the coast, — perhaps a few furs 
and dollars are sent to China. The importations 
are dry goods, furniture, wearing-apparel, agricul- 
tural implements, deal boards, and salt ; and silks 
and fireworks from China for the decoration of the 
churches and celebration of the saints' days." 102 The 
prices of all imported goods were high, because the 
supply was always short of the demand and the costs 
of transportation great. To the risks and delays 
of the voyage round the Horn must be added, not only 
the import duties (forty-two per cent) , but the ton- 
nage charges ($1.50 per ton) and the expense of land- 
ing the cargo. Under the vexatious navigation act 
devised by the Mexican Assembly, every foreign 
vessel must put into Monterey, present the required 
papers, and pay duty on all goods destined for sale. 
Under no circumstances might a trader put into an 


earlier port and break stowage. He must discharge 
the whole cargo at Monterey and reload for his run 
along the coast. Since at no place in California could 
a full cargo be disposed of, the trader must go from 
port to port, paying the heavy tonnage fees at each 
new entry. The commerce could be prosecuted only 
by evasion, and it soon became customary for a ship 
from the Sandwich Islands or Boston to anchor off- 
shore under the lea of a convenient island, while her 
cargo was being conveyed in lighters to the near-by 

It seemed to the Englishman passing strange that 
the Californians did not make for themselves the arti- 
cles for which the raw material was at hand. "They 
were actually living upon the sea-coast and amongst 
forests of pine, and yet were suffering themselves to 
buy salt and deal boards at exorbitant prices." 103 
"They were purchasing sea-otter skins at twenty 
dollars apiece, whilst the animals were swimming 
about unmolested in their own harbours ; and this 
from the Russians, who are intruders upon their 
coast, and are depriving them of a lucrative trade; 
and again, they were paying two hundred dollars for 
carts of inferior workmanship, which, with the excep- 
tion of the wheels, might have been equally well 
manufactured in their own country." 104 California 
combined all the essentials of prosperity in climate, 
soil, forests, plains overrun with cattle, excellent 
ports, and navigable rivers. "Possessing all these 
advantages, an industrious population alone seems 
requisite to withdraw it from the obscurity in which 
it has so long slept under the indolence of the people 


and the jealous policy of the Spanish government. 
Indeed, it struck us as lamentable to see such an extent 
of habitable country lying almost desolate and use- 
less to mankind, whilst other nations are groaning 
under the burthen of their population." 105 

Beechey expressed his conviction that the Mexican 
government must institute an economic reform, or 
some other power would take control of this promising 
province. It was ' ' of too much importance to be per- 
mitted to remain long in its present neglected state." 
There was general discontent with the Mexican ad- 
ministration. The governor's salary was eleven years 
in arrears, and the soldiers' allowances had long been 
withheld. By way of meeting immediate necessities, 
a cargo of cigars had been shipped to Monterey on 
which the men might draw against their back pay ! 
Under the Spanish regime, soldiers were enlisted for 
ten years, at the end of which term they might retire 
to one of the pueblos and be assigned a portion of 
land for the support of their families. This privi- 
lege was now withheld. Retiring soldiers were 
allowed to pasture stock on the public lands, but 
could acquire no permanent title, — a restriction that 
effectually prevented their becoming farmers. 

The Mexican government was far from apprecia- 
ting the value of this northernmost province and, 
proposing to utilize it as a penal colony, sent ship- 
loads of convicts to Monterey and Santa Barbara to 
serve out their terms at public labor. These were 
sometimes artisans condemned for slight offences 
and in such case became useful colonists ; but the 
greater part added a difficult element to the scant 


white population. A formal protest drawn up by 
the law-abiding citizens and indorsed by the terri- 
torial deputation (1829) had its effect. No more 
shiploads of criminals were sent from Mexico ; but 
the soldiers furnished to the garrisons were little 
better, being for the most part vagabonds and ne'er- 
do-weels, recruited from the slums of the cities. In 
these same years a considerable number of found- 
lings and destitute children was despatched to the 
northern posts in the expectation that the boys would 
be bound out to service and the girls married to sol- 
diers and ex-convicts. Indeed, more than one gov- 
ernor urged that marriageable maidens be furnished 
to mate with such dubious characters, as the padres 
refused to allow their Indian charges to wed. 

No one of the mushroom presidents who rose and 
fell at the City of Mexico regarded California as a 
possession that was worth the cost of protection. 
Fully absorbed in maintaining their precarious hold 
on the reins of government, they could sacrifice 
neither men nor money to the defence of this remote 
territory. In 1829 the military forces of the two 
Californias numbered four hundred and seventy 
men, and this feeble, undisciplined, and badly armed 
garrison was divided among half a dozen presidios. 
The forts had not been repaired nor the ordnance 
replenished since Borica's day. In case of foreign 
invasion, the people would have no recourse but to 
retreat to the interior, carrying their portable pos- 
sessions and driving their cattle and flocks before 
them. The weakness of the garrison rendered a 
political revolution a matter of astonishing ease. 


The frequent changes of government at the Mexican 
capital, the discontent of the ill-paid garrisons in 
California, the rivalry of north and south fomented 
by the ambitious politicians of Los Angeles and 
Monterey, furnished frequent occasion for insurrec- 
tion, and an enterprising leader with a score of fol- 
lowers had no difficulty in putting to flight three 
times the number of regular troops. These battles 
were marvellous displays of bluster and musketry 
with a minimum of fatalities. All concerned had a 
wholesome distaste for bullet wounds, and were ac- 
customed to capitulate with a facility and cheer that 
proved them philosophers rather than heroes. Cali- 
fornia should have bred a Cervantes to record these 
burlesque encounters. One dominant motive is dis- 
cernible throughout the complex history, — dislike of 
the unsympathetic Mexican officials and desire to se- 
cure the privilege of self-government. 

The Centralist revolution at the City of Mexico 
(1834) was keenly resented in the northern states. 
A demand for home rule had been gaining ground, 
and the attempt to bring the provincials under more 
effective control and to impose direct taxes was met 
by armed resistance in all the northern provinces. 
In California the insurrection was led by Alvarado, 
a hijo del pais, and one of the ablest men in the coun- 
try. His political ideal was George Washington, and 
he seems to have aspired to imitate the American 
revolt against arbitrary government. The parallel 
was not maintained. Once in possession at Monterey 
(1837), Alvarado effected a compromise with the 
Mexican government, arid affairs were managed 


much as before. He and his relatives, the Vallejos, 
arrogated to themselves all the perquisites of power, 
but the people had the satisfaction of being plundered 
by men born in California. 

Secularization of the Missions 

The secularization of missions of more than ten 
years standing was ordered by the Spanish Cortes 
in 1813. Although this was a project of the Revolu- 
tionists, the edict was confirmed by Ferdinand VII in 
1820. The order was received with submission by 
the padres of Alta California, and they declared them- 
selves ready to withdraw as soon as secular priests 
were provided to take charge of the neophytes. This 
being as yet impracticable, the Franciscans were 
permitted to remain. In 1825 the secularization of 
the missions was undertaken by the Mexican gov- 
ernment. Aside from the large financial considera- 
tions involved, it was believed that the Indians would 
be sooner civilized if they were freed from their quasi 
bondage and given a property interest in the land 
they tilled. 

The padres were even more disaffected toward the 
Mexican government than the laymen of California. 
The decree of 1829, exiling Spaniards from all Mexi- 
can states, had removed the ablest of the Franciscans. 
The salaries furnished by the royal government were 
withdrawn, the Pious Fund 106 which had been de- 
voted to the conversion of the Indians was turned 
into the republican treasury, while a tithe of the 
mission revenue was required in support of the civil 
government. The limitless cattle ranges were 


abridged to an allotment of fifteen square miles to each 
mission, and, most grievous innovation of all, Gov- 
ernor Echeandia proposed a gradual emancipation of 
the neophytes. 107 The padres opposed the plan, since 
it deprived them of their best laborers, and no Cali- 
fornian had much confidence in the ability of the 
mission Indians to take care of themselves. They 
had been so long under tutelage, the " nurslings" of 
friars, to use von Langsdorff's phrase, that they had 
lost the capacity for self-direction. The few men 
already set free from mission bondage had made 
unhappy use of their liberty. They would not work, 
but idled away their days like boys out of school. 
They drank and gambled and ran into debt, forfeit- 
ing their clothing and implements and even their 
land to sharpers who led them into temptation. 
The freed men became so obnoxious that the mis- 
sionaries were requested to take them back, and the 
most incorrigible were condemned to hard labor on 
the wharf at Monterey. Sola thought this experi- 
ment in the civilization of the Indians a costly fail- 
ure. The neophytes were "lazy, indolent, and dis- 
regardful of all authority, costing for half a century 
millions of pesos without having made in that time 
any recompense to the body politic. 108 

In 1833 the Federal Congress ordered that the 
missions of the two Californias be secularized. Cu- 
rates were to supersede the padres, their salaries being 
paid out of the Pious Fund, and the mission chapel 
was to become the parish church. A convenient 
residence for the priest was provided, and the 
remaining buildings were to be utilized as schools, 


workshops, court-house, etc. The land and cattle 
were to be distributed among the neophytes. This 
could hardly be regarded as confiscation, for the 
Franciscans had no titles to the mission lands, and 
the capital invested had been drawn from the Pious 
Fund and from the royal treasury. If labor con- 
stitutes the best claim to possession, the mission 
Indians were fairly entitled to the property. 

The administration of this decree fell into the hands 
of Governor Figueroa, an able and patriotic man, 
who, having Aztec blood in his veins, was inclined 
to do justly by the natives. He had had some ex- 
perience of emancipation, having established three 
Indian pueblos (San Dieguito, Las Flores, and San Juan 
Capistrano) in connection with the three southern- 
most missions. The object of Figueroa's regulations 
of 1834 was to render the emancipated neophytes 
self-supporting citizens. The mission lands were to 
be apportioned to the resident Indians, each adult 
man receiving a plough field from one hundred to four 
hundred varas square, according to the size of his 
family, a building lot in the pueblo, the right to pas- 
ture cattle in the commons, and his due quota of cattle, 
implements, and seed. One-half of the cattle and 
other movables belonging to each mission was to be 
divided among its neophytes; the remaining half 
was left "at the disposal of the supreme Federal 
government." These, together with the unoccupied 
land, gardens, orchards, and so forth were to be 
worked by the Indians under direction of a major- 
domo appointed by the governor, and the revenue 
was to be applied to the payment of the obligations 


of the mission, the salary of the curate and major- 
domo, the expenses of public worship, the mainte- 
nance of police and schools. A commissioner was 
sent to each mission to take a detailed inventory of 
the property and a census of the population, to dis- 
tribute among the neophytes their portion of the 
lands, cattle, etc., and to instruct them as to their 
rights and duties. Meantime the friars were for- 
bidden to sell any produce or to kill more cattle 
than were needed for immediate subsistence. 

The wealth of the missions had reached its climax 
in 1833. The live stock exceeded the possibility of 
numerical count, but was estimated by competent 
men at 424,000 cattle, 62,500 horses and mules, 
and 321,500 sheep, including a few hogs and goats. 
The annual grain crop was 122,500 fanegas, or double 
that amount in bushels. The wheat crops alone 
amounted to 120,000 bushels. The money income of 
the missions was believed to be great, but the padres 
endeavored to conceal the facts. Reckoning that 
one-fourth the herd was killed each year and that 
the value of hide and tallow would average $5 to $6 
per animal, the sales from the missions herds alone 
must have brought in between $500,000 and $600,000 
in the year 1833. The padres, moreover, had an 
assured labor force in their thirty thousand neo- 
phytes. At San Gabriel, the richest establishment 
in the two Californias, there were three thousand 
neophytes, 105,000 cattle, 40,000 sheep, 20,000 
horses, and the annual grain crop exceeded 40,000 
bushels. Two grist-mills and extensive workshops 
were kept busy. The vineyards, olives, and orange 


orchards more than supplied the needs of the fathers, 
while a ship was despatched to San Bias every year 
laden with olive oil, jute, and linen, and another to 
Lima with a cargo of soap and tallow. To the harbor 
of San Pedro and the "droghers," the Indians carted 
each year 35,000 hides. In the storehouse belonging 
to San Gabriel were $40,000 worth of European goods. 
At the beautiful mission of San Luis Rey there were 
100,000 sheep and 50,000 cattle and horses, and the 
thirty-five hundred Indians were employed in well- 
developed industries, — blacksmith shops, tanneries, 
soap-works, distilleries, salt-works, woollen, cotton, 
and jute factories. Such an industrial centre may 
fitly be compared with a monastic establishment of 
mediaeval Europe or with Hampton Institute. It 
might have been as productive for its beneficiaries 
but for two handicaps — the backward character of 
the Coast Indians and the despotic nature of the 
Franciscan discipline which thwarted individual de- 
velopment and rendered the neophyte incapable of 

The result of the law of 1834 was far from consist- 
ent with Figueroa's admirable plan. Notwithstand- 
ing the prohibition, a wholesale slaughter of cattle 
was begun for the purpose of converting the 
chief wealth of the missions into cash. One hundred 
thousand head were killed in a single year (1834), 
and the proceeds from the sale of hides and tallow 
was reckoned at $1,000,000. The wastes of this hor- 
rible matanza were enormous, and the influence of 
the defiance of law reacted to the injury of the 
padres. Moreover, the neophytes were quite unequal 

. -* Ass 


San Carlos Mission on Carmel River, 1830. 

Mission of San Luis Rey, the Most Beautiful in California, 1841. 


to the responsibilities thrust so suddenly upon them. 
Freedom from restraint gave opportunity for idleness 
and vice. Portilla, the commissioner of San Luis 
Rey, reported that his people refused to work in the 
common fields, neglected even their own crops, and 
wandered away to the mountains with their horses 
and mules, after having killed the cattle assigned to 
them. The improvidence of the Indians soon made 
it necessary to forbid them to sell or mortgage land 
or cattle and to place them under the tutelage of 
major-domos. In 1836, Governor Chico ordered 
that every Indian found absent from his pueblo 
without a license should be arrested and sentenced 
to labor on the public works. 

The determination of the Franciscans to save some- 
thing from the wreck of their vast possessions and 
the incompetence of the Indians were in a large meas- 
ure responsible for the ruin of the mission industries ; 
but the ultimate failure of the scheme of seculariza- 
tion was due to the unscrupulous greed of the com- 
missioners. Figueroa himself was free from blame, 
but few of his agents neglected the opportunity to 
enrich themselves out of this tempting spoil. By 
the sale of hides, tallow, wool and other products, by 
sequestering cattle, horses, and tools, by contract- 
ing debts in the name of the mission, a shrewd 
administrator might accumulate a fortune at the 
expense of his trust. No one of the twenty-one mis- 
sions escaped this systematic looting. "A few years 
sufficed to strip the establishments of everything of 
value and leave the Indians, who were in contempla- 
tion of law the beneficiaries of secularization, a shiv- 


ering crowd of naked and, so to speak, homeless wan- 
derers." 109 

Governor Alvarado undertook to stay the impend- 
ing ruin and to conserve to California the accumula- 
tions of seventy years' missionary labor. In 1839 
he issued regulations for the control of the adminis- 
trators. An annual financial report was required, 
stating the revenues and obligations of each mission. 
No sales were to be made or debts contracted or paid 
without express authorization from the governor; 
no cattle were to be slaughtered except what were 
necessary for the support of the Indians. The 
horses and mules were not to be traded off for woollen 
goods, but the neophytes were to be induced to labor 
by moderate penalties, — notably in the manufacture 
of cloth, lest this important industry perish. A cen- 
sus of the emancipated Indians was required, both 
those occupied on land of their own and those em- 
ployed by the administrator, and no white settlers or 
gentiles were to be admitted to the mission pueblos 
while the natives remained. Finally, the newer and 
less developed missions of the north, San Rafael, 
Sonoma, Carmel, Santa Cruz, Soledad, and San Juan 
Bautista, were brought under the immediate control 
of the government. In the following year, Alvarado 
deposed the administrators with their high salaries 
and indefinite powers, and appointed a visitador 
general to whom the immediate superintendent or 
major-domo should be responsible. He selected for 
this difficult task W. E. P. Hartnell, the English 
merchant of Monterey. Hartnell had been seven- 
teen years in California, was a naturalized citizen, 


and had travelled up and down the coast many times. 
He took a more disinterested view of the situation 
than did most Californians, and his report was a mel- 
ancholy recital of the cruelty and corruption of the 
administrators. The Indians had been deprived of 
their lands, their cattle were stolen, and they them- 
selves scattered and held in a bondage far more oner- 
ous than the tutelage exercised by the padres. Gangs 
of the wretched creatures were hired out to private 
persons, and the major-domo did not hesitate to pun- 
ish the refractory with one hundred lashes. One of 
the worst offenders was Alvarado's own uncle, Ma- 
riano Guadalupe Vallejo, who had managed to possess 
himself of the mission properties of San Rafael and 
Sonoma and, taking advantage of his powers as com- 
mander-in-chief of the army, ruled the country north 
of the bay like a feudal baron. The mission Indians 
whom he had taken over with the land and cattle 
were miserable thralls. Too dispirited to marry and 
bear children, they were rapidly perishing of want 
and disease. Vallejo, moreover, had won an unen- 
viable notoriety by barbarous raids against the gen- 
tiles of the Sacramento Valley who were skilful horse 
thieves, and these punitive expeditions often brought 
back captive Indians. When Hartnell undertook to 
visit San Rafael, he was arrested by this lord of the 
border and held prisoner till he promised to forbear 
investigation. Pio Pico at San Luis Rey was no less 
defiant. The baffled visitador general resigned his 
office (1840), and Alvarado's reform project failed. 

The testimony of foreigners is unanimous in 
condemnation of the ruin wrought. Sir Edward 


Belcher, who visited San Francisco Bay in 1837, had 
great difficulty in securing supplies, since the missions 
of San Jose and Santa Clara had been "plundered 
by all parties" and were reduced to destitution. He 
states that the administrators had taken about two- 
thirds of the revenue for themselves and turned over 
but one-third to the government. The Indians, both 
Christian and gentile, were carrying off the horses 
and such other property as they thought desirable, 
to the mountains. De Mofras, attache of the French 
embassy at Madrid and later at the City, of Mexico, 
made a tour of the missions in 1841. He grievously 
lamented the ruin wrought by secularization. In 
the seven years of political control, the Indian popu- 
lation had been decimated, the cattle had been re- 
duced to 28,220, the horses to 3800, the sheep to 
31,600, and the yield of grain to 4000 fanegas. At 
San Diego, the Indian rancheria was extinct, and the 
rancho del rey had passed into private possession. 
The mission was crumbling to decay; the great olive 
orchard and vineyard, and a fine cotton plantation 
were untended for lack of laborers. The workshops 
and tanneries of San Luis Rey were empty. The 
famous fruit orchards of San Juan Capistrano had 
been appropriated by Senors Yorba and Nieto. At 
San Gabriel there were but five hundred Indians 
left, and the ranchos of San Bernardino, Chino, and 
Santa Anita had fallen into private hands. The 
Indian pueblo at San Fernando had been broken up 
by the brutality of the administrator, Valle; but 
Santa Barbara, which was the seat of the bishop, 
had not suffered so severely. The buildings of San 

Vineyard planted by the Padres of San Gabriel. 

Adobe Ranch House at San Gabriel. 


Luis Obispo were in ruins, and all the able-bodied 
neophytes were fled to the mountains ; yet the aged 
padre clung to the spot, refusing to take refuge in 
Santa Barbara, since he preferred to die at his post 
among the remnant of his people. Three years 
before, Father Sarria had perished of misery and 
famine at Nuestra Sonora de la Soledad, whereupon 
Governor Alvarado had driven off the remaining 
cattle and taken all the ironwork and even the tiles 
from the roof to build his own house. The land he had 
given to one of his friends in exchange for a ranch 
near Monterey. A popular saying, "the governor's 
cows calve three times a year, " was a covert allusion 
to the source of Alvarado's wealth. Other public 
estates had been used to bolster up the governor's 
power. The rancho del reij belonging to the presidio of 
Monterey he gave to his brother-in-law, Jose Estrada. 
The property of San Juan Bautista had been made 
over to Jose Castro as the price of his support. 
General Vallejo had been allowed to devastate the 
missions of San Rafael and San Francisco Solano in 
order to fit out his ranch and the pueblo of Sonoma. 
Another Vallejo, while serving as administrator of 
Santa Clara, had grown wealthy in cattle and land. 
Sir George Simpson, the governor of Hudson's 
Bay Company, condemned no less severely than 
de Mofras the wasteful destruction of the missions 
and the wreck of their industries. "In the missions, 
there were large flocks of sheep ; but now there are 
scarcely any left, the Hudson's Bay Company having, 
last spring, experienced great difficulty in collecting 
about four thousand for its northern settlements. In 


the missions, the wool used to be manufactured into 
coarse cloth ; and it is, in fact, because the Califor- 
nians are too lazy to weave or spin, — too lazy, I sus- 
pect, even to clip and wash the raw material, — that 
the sheep have been literally destroyed to make more 
room for the horned cattle. In the missions, soap 
and leather used to be made ; but in such vulgar pro- 
cesses the Californians advance no farther than na- 
ture herself has advanced before them, excepting to 
put each animal's tallow in one place, and its hide in 
another. In the missions, the dairy formed a prin- 
cipal object of attention ; but now, neither butter 
nor cheese, nor any preparation of milk whatever, is 
to be found in the province. In the missions, there 
were annually produced about 80,000 bushels of 
wheat and maize, the former, and perhaps part of 
the latter also, being converted into flour ; but the 
present possessors of the soil do so little in the way of 
tilling the ground, that, when lying at Monterey, we 
sold to the government some barrels of flour at the 
famine rate of twenty-eight dollars, or nearly six 
pounds sterling, a sack, a price n0 which could not be 
considered as merely local, for the stuff was intended 
to victual the same schooner which, on our first ar- 
rival, we had seen at anchor in Whalers' Harbour. 
In the missions, beef was occasionally cured for ex- 
portation ; but so miserably is the case now reversed, 
that, though meat enough to supply the fleets of 
England is annually either consumed by fire or left 
to the carrion birds, yet the authorities purchased 
from us, along with the flour just mentioned, some 
salted salmon as indispensable sea-stores for the one 


paltry vessel which constituted the entire line of 
battle of the California navy. In the missions, a 
great deal of wine was grown, good enough to be sent 
for sale to Mexico ; but, with the exception of what 
we got at the mission of Santa Barbara, the native 
wine that we tasted was such trash as nothing but 
politeness could have induced us to swallow." lu 

The destruction of the missions was consummated 
by Pio Pico, governor during the last two years of 
the Mexican administration. The ruined estates of 
the Franciscans were sold at public auction or leased to 
the highest bidder with small consideration for the rem- 
nant of the friars and neophytes. 112 The state real- 
ized only sixty-seven thousand pesos from the sale of 
the best lands in California, and the purchasers, 
newly arrived Americans for the most part, although 
the names Pico, Arguello, etc., figure in the list, had 
every reason to be satisfied with their bargain. 113 

The Cattle Kings 

Already, in 1783, the governor of California had 
been empowered to grant lands to private persons. 
Such grants might be three leagues in extent, but must 
not overlap the lands appropriated by mission, pueblo, 
or rancheria. To secure title, the proprietor must 
prove that he had built a house of stone and collected 
two thousand cattle on his holding. Several such 
estates were acquired, notably in the neighborhood 
of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles ; but no more than 
twenty grants were ratified during the Spanish re- 
gime. The Mexican administration was more liberal, 
yet there were but fifty private ranchos in Upper 


California in 1830. The secularization of the mis- 
sions attracted a crowd of adventurers who managed 
by one device or another to get possession of some 
portion of the spoil, and by 1840 there were six hun- 
dred of these rancheros. The forced sales authorized 
by Governor Pico added twenty-five large proprietors 
to this number. 

Governor Simpson attributed the lack of enterprise 
among the Calif ornians to the ease of acquiring wealth 
and absence of "the necessity for relying upon the 
steady and laborious use of the axe and the plough." 
The rancheros had the proverbial indolence of a pas- 
toral people ; with "horses to ride and beef to eat, with 
hides and tallow to exchange for such other supplies 
as they want," there was no incentive to labor. The 
Californians, moreover, came of a non-industrial 
stock. Spanish America with its sierras of silver 
was the asylum and paradise of idlers, and descend- 
ants of the men who looted the treasures of Mexico 
and Peru had succeeded to the spoil of the missions. 
The settlers sent in by the government to till the soil 
were little better, being, in the main, "superannuated 
troopers and retired office-holders." The pueblos 
were places of refuge for invalided soldiers and run- 
away sailors, "sinks of profligacy and riot," avoided 
by the better sort of Spaniards, who preferred the 
neighborhood of the presidios, notably Santa Bar- 
bara. "What a splendid country, whether we con- 
sider its internal resources or its commercial capabili- 
ties, to be thrown away upon its present possessors 
— on men who do not avail themselves of their nat- 
ural advantages to a much higher degree than the 


savages whom they have displaced, and who are 
likely to become less and less energetic from genera- 
tion to generation and from year to year." 

The rancheros, who succeeded to the lands and prop- 
erty of the padres, lived on their estates in ease and 
abundance. Their cattle throve on the nutritious 
alfileria m and wild oats, and needed no shelter nor 
winter feed. Unless the pastures failed with a dry 
season, the herd doubled every year, over and 
above the annual slaughter. Horses ran wild and 
multiplied so rapidly that they were occasionally 
driven across the hills into the San Joaquin Valley. 
The breed, according to de Mofras, had not degen- 
erated and was well adapted to cattle-tending. They 
were as tall as the English race horse and had the 
speed and endurance of the Arabian. Good riding 
horses were accustomed to gallop from twelve to fif- 
teen hours a day without food or rest, but they had 
no acquired gaits. Their owners were content to 
lasso them and break them to the saddle, turning 
them loose again when they were no longer needed. 
California horses were highly esteemed in New and 
Old Mexico, and on the frontiers of the United States ; 
but the rancheros did not take the trouble to export 
them, leaving this profitable trade to the Indians 
and horse thieves of the Tulares. The redwood 
forests of the coast offered another promising export, 
but to fell the trees and deliver the timber at the 
sea-board exceeded the energy of the Californians. 
Gold had been discovered near San Fernando, 115 
and it was prophesied that the mineral wealth of 
California would yet surpass the dreams of six- 


teenth-century fables ; but the mountains remained 

The staple export of California was still hides and 
tallow. 116 Hides served as the common currency of 
the country, and debts were paid in cattle. The 
ranchero got from $5 to $6 out of each animal killed; 
$2 for the hide and $3 to $4 for the tallow. Since one- 
fourth of the herd was killed each year, a man's in- 
come could be accurately reckoned from the number 
of cattle on his range. The consignment was some- 
times paid for in silver, but more usually in goods, — 
calicoes, teas, wines, etc. Although his annual rev- 
enue amounted to several thousand dollars and the 
expenses of the business were almost nil, the ran- 
diero was usually in debt to one or more of the hide 
factors. He bought so freely of the high-priced for- 
eign commodities that he was not infrequently two or 
three years behind in his accounts. W. H. Davis, 
an experienced merchant of Yerba Buena, estimated 
the "drogher" trade for the twenty years of its con- 
tinuance (1828-1848) at 1,068,000 hides exported and 
62,500,000 pounds of tallow. The best years were 
those immediately following the secularization of the 
missions, when cattle were being slaughtered by 
the hundreds of thousands. The rancheros never 
equalled the padres in the number or quality of the 
hides furnished. 

The merchants and the ship-owners who reaped 
large profits from the California trade were Americans 
and Englishmen and even Italians, but never Span- 
iards. For trade and manufactures the Calif ornians 
had no gift, but all travellers agree that their skill in 


riding, in lassoing and branding cattle, in bull and 
bear baiting, in music and dancing, was marvellous. 
Theirs was the pastoral age. They lived a free out- 
of-door life, with plenty of food, few books, and little 
learning, and were content to procure their clothing 
and other supplies from the Yankee ships that carried 
away the hides and tallow. No attempt was made 
to provide by domestic industries the cloth and 
leather goods that cost so dear, and even the salt used 
by these luxurious gentlemen was brought from Bos- 
ton. The wheat crop was rapidly diminishing, be- 
cause slight attention was given to tillage. The 
ground was merely scratched with a wooden plough, 
and the grain was sowed broadcast and covered by 
dragging a brush harrow over the field. The reapers 
still used the picturesque but ineffectual sickle, and 
when threshing time arrived, the straw was thrown 
into a shallow pit and the grain trodden out by a band 
of wild horses driven round and round by mounted 
vaqueros. The yield had fallen to thirty-five and 
forty bushels per acre. Some coarse flour was 
ground by a domestic grist-mill hardly less primi- 
tive than the Indian metate. It consisted of two flat 
stones, of which the nether one was stationary and 
the upper was turned by a revolving lever propelled 
by a donkey or long-suffering mule. 117 

Not the least of the economic crimes of the Calif or- 
nians was the wasteful destruction of the Indian 
population. There were in 1833 thirty thousand 
mission Indians, docile and teachable, sufficiently 
reconciled to the white occupation and admirably 
adapted to field labor and the care of cattle. Secu- 


larization deprived them of their lands and left them 
dependent on the rancheros. If Figueroa's policy had 
been carried into execution and the natives had been 
given farms of their own and encouraged to sell their 
surplus products as an incentive to tillage, a peasant 
population might have been developed and some of 
the old-time arts and manufactures maintained. The 
Indians who were so fortunate as to become domestic 
servants in the houses of well-to-do Spaniards were 
often contented and even happy. Those who suc- 
ceeded in getting and holding land have handed down 
to their descendants considerable property and the 
traditions of industry and Christian morality. But 
the major part were huddled together in wretched 
villages where they died of neglect and starvation. 
There were perhaps thirty thousand gentile In- 
dians in the interior, of a mental and physical calibre 
superior to the natives of the coast; but they dis- 
trusted and hated the whites and, far from rendering 
any service, preyed upon the outlying ranchos, steal- 
ing their horses and, not infrequently, kidnapping 
women. Commander Wilkes, who visited San Fran- 
cisco Bay in 1841, observed that the mission Indians 
had relapsed into barbarism. Half of them had been 
killed off by the smallpox epidemic of 1838, and many 
of the remainder, disheartened by the struggle to 
maintain themselves in the midst of the white man's 
civilization, had joined the wild tribes of the interior 
and were leading their raids upon the ranchos. Sir 
George Simpson compared the reckless cruelty of the 
rancheros with the traditional Indian policy of the 
Hudson's Bay Company, much to the advantage of 


the latter. By a wise combination of firmness and 
justice, the Canadians had conserved the native 
races and utilized their skill as hunters. The Rus- 
sians on Bodega Bay had been equally successful, for 
the Indians fled from the thraldom of the missions and 
the cruel mercies of the Vallejos to find food and fair 
wages at Fort Ross. 

Seventy-five years of Spanish occupation had 
failed to develop the latent resources of California. 
The hijos del pais were content to subsist off the spon- 
taneous products of their fertile soil and genial cli- 
mate, taking no pains to improve upon nature, even 
allowing the orchards and vineyards and wheat fields 
cultivated by the padres to dwindle and perish from 



Section I 

Russian Explorers 

Far into the eighteenth century, the viceroys of 
New Spain maintained their monopoly of the South 
Sea, the depredations of certain English pirates to 
the contrary notwithstanding ; but the region north 
of the trade route between Mexico and the Philip- 
pines was beyond their ken. The first voyage of 
discovery into the north Pacific was undertaken at 
the behest of that far-sighted autocrat, Peter the 
Great. Speculations of European geographers con- 
cerning lands to the east of Japan had come to 
his ears, and he proposed that the Russians, who 
had recently come into possession of Kamchatka, 
should be first in the field. From his death-bed 
(1725) he issued a decree ordering that Vitus 
Behring, a Dane in his employ, should cross Siberia 
to the shores of the unknown sea, build there 
two ships and go in search of the fabled passage 
to the Atlantic and the still more fabulous mid- 
Pacific continent which the Portuguese maps named 
Gamaland Otter hunters of the Kamchatka coast 
had seen driftwood floating in from unknown forests, 
the bloated bodies of whales struck by harpoons of 
unknown workmanship, and wooden canoes whose 
o 193 


makers did not belong to Asia ; but the fog banks 
of that stormy sea and the hurricanes that drove 
down from the north had discouraged pursuit of 
these suggestive clews. Behring's first expedition 
consumed three years in crossing the seven thou- 
sand miles between St. Petersburg and Petro- 
paulovski. The route ran by way of Irkutsk — the 
fur mart frequented by the traders of eastern Asia 
and merchants from Pekin— and Yakutsk — -a frontier 
post on the Lena — to Okhotsk, Russia's only port on 
Pacific waters. Here boats were improvised to con- 
vey men and equipment to the rugged peninsula 
that divides the Sea of Okhotsk from the ocean. 
At Avacha Bay two sloops were built, spikes, ropes, 
and canvas having been brought from Russia for 
the purpose, and on July 9, 1728, the enterprise was 
launched. Sailing northward, Behring touched at 
an island lying about sixty-four degrees north latitude 
which he named St. Lawrence and, pressing on to 
the Arctic Circle, discovered that the coast bore 
continually to the northwest. He was forced to 
conclude that there was no new continent in that 
direction and no passage through to the Atlantic 
that would be practicable for merchantmen. Another 
voyage to the southeast was undertaken, but proved 
fruitless because of storms and adverse winds. 

The following spring, Behring returned to St. Peters- 
burg for new supplies, and early in 1733 he set out for 
Kamchatka equipped for a second expedition. This 
time the simple sea captain was accompanied by scien- 
tists who had conceived learned theories about the 
sea-to-sea passage and possessed maps of the continent 


they intended to discover, and instructions from St. 
Petersburg ordained that nothing was to be under- 
taken without their approval. So handicapped, the 
journey across Siberia occupied seven years, and the 
two new ships, St. Peter and St. Paul, did not set 
sail from Petropaulovski till June, 1741. The scien- 
tists decreed that Gamaland lay to the southeast, 
and Behring, who had small faith in the new con- 
tinent, steered southeast to the forty-sixth parallel, 
then, one theory being exploded, north to the Alaskan 
coast. There, at the sixtieth parallel, they came face 
to face with a lofty mountain range and named one 
glittering cone, soaring white above the huge mass 
of rock and snow, St. Elias. The scientists were 
eager to explore; but provisions were running low, 
the crew was stricken with scurvy, and the com- 
mander himself was under the depressing influence 
of that dread disease. Pausing only to fill the 
water casks, Behring ordered immediate return 
to Kamchatka. As they coasted along the labyrinth 
of islets and rock reefs now known as the Aleutian 
Islands, in hourly danger of shipwreck, the bravest 
were panic-smitten, and when at last the St. Peter 
was driven under the lea of a cliff-girt island and 
into a quiet harbor, the crew were for going ashore. 
They had lost all reckoning and could not know 
that Avacha Bay was but two hundred miles to the 
west, and here, in spite of Behring's protests, it was 
determined to winter. The chance for life on this 
wind-swept refuge was better than he had hoped. 
There was fresh water in abundance, and the rocks 
swarmed with animals unknown to contemporary 


naturalists, — sea-cows, sea-lions, sea-otter, and seal. 
The first furnished nourishing food, and the skins of 
the smaller beasts enabled the men to protect 
themselves against the Arctic cold. There on the 
barren islet since called by his name, died Behring, 
the bravest and most unlucky of explorers, together 
with half his crew. The remnant of the castaways 
survived the winter, built a crazy boat out of the 
wreckage of the St. Peter, and found their way back 
to Kamchatka in the following spring. Chirikoff, 
commander of the St. Paul, had reached Petro- 
paulovski in the autumn preceding. He had zig- 
zagged over much the same course as Behring, 
having touched the coast of the mainland at the fifty- 
seventh parallel, and discovered Mt. Edgecombe and 
Norfolk Sound. Thus after long years of hardship 
and a reckless expenditure of money and human life, 
the ukase of the great Czar resulted in the addition 
of a vast subarctic waste to the Russian Empire. 

Behring's men, returning to Petropaulovski in 
August, 1742, brought with them furs of the sea- 
otter, which they had used for coats and bedding, 
and found for them a ready market at $200 a pelt. 
The "sea-beaver" had been taken on the shores of 
Japan and Kamchatka, but it did not breed there; 
the catch was rapidly decreasing, and the fur was a 
luxury to the wealthy classes. Now that its winter 
haunts and breeding grounds were discovered, and 
the ease with which the animal might be caught in 
the kelp beds off the Aleutian Islands, the otter 
herds of the north Pacific became no less important 
to Russia than were the gold mines of Mexico and 


Peru to Spain. The crown renounced its monopoly 
of the fur trade, and the opportunity was thrown 
open to all Russia's subjects, with the single reser- 
vation that one-tenth the skins taken must be sur- 
rendered to the customs officers. Thenceforth the 
fur trade was the shortest road to fortune for the ad- 
venturers of that wild and lawless frontier. Russian 
officers and sailors, Siberian exiles, Cossacks, Tar- 
tars, Kamchatkans, ventured their all in the otter 
hunt. Expenses and profits were divided among the 
crew, share and share alike, though some merchant 
usually furnished the supplies and goods for the 
Indian trade, stipulating for half the returns in pay- 
ment. Ships were built in mad haste at Okhotsk, — 
the " sawed vessels," wrought of green timber brought 
down from the mountains, bound together with 
reindeer thongs, and caulked with clay and tallow. 
The cost of boat and outfit might be $30,000 ; but 
since the season's catch would sell for from $50,000 
to $100,000, the venture was one in which men were 
willing to risk life and limb, and they made slight 
inquiry into the hazards. Scurvy, starvation, ship- 
wreck, massacre, awaited half the adventurers, yet 
among the rude and reckless population of eastern 
Asia, there were always men to fill the places of the 
lost. Within five years after the discovery, there 
were seventy-seven of these profit-sharing companies 
engaged in catching sea-otter on the storm-beaten 
reefs of the Aleutian Islands. Thereafter the gov- 
ernment had no need to finance exploring expeditions 
to the Pacific, for the frail craft of the fur traders 
penetrated every sound and inlet. 


The hunt was carried on with utter disregard of 
everything but immediate profit. Driven in by 
wind and tide, the helpless animals were clubbed to 
death in shallow water or, if found in the open sea, 
the herd was surrounded by a cordon of boats, and 
the otter were speared as they came to the surface 
to breathe. The aid of the Aleuts was enlisted by 
the lure of iron bars or cheap trinkets of civilization, 
and since they went to the hunt by hundreds and 
thousands under the oversight of a handful of white 
men, their good faith was secured by hostages — 
women and children left in care of the ship's guard. 
The trust was often abused, for the whites were 
lawless and brutal men with small fear of retribution 
from God or the Czar. If the hunt was unsuccessful, 
or if a Russian met with death, the hostages were 
not infrequently murdered. Resistance on the part 
of the men was sternly dealt with, and whole villages 
were not infrequently visited with fire and sword. 
At last the desperate Aleuts made a concerted 
effort to destroy the invader. In the summer of 
1761, three crews touching on the island of Una- 
laska were massacred or harried to death among 
the rocks and caves of the mountainous interior. 
The Russian government sent a punitive expedition 
which reduced the natives to subjection, and for the 
first time an effort was made to regulate the traffic. 
No ship might sail to the islands without a license, 
and the Indians must be treated with justice. But 
such regulations were useless since they could not 
be enforced. The labor of the natives continued to 
be mercilessly exploited, and they were forced to 


undergo hardships and to run risks that meant rapid 
extermination. In 1792, for example, the hunting 
parties were overtaken by storm, and out of seven 
hundred bidarkas 1 and fourteen hundred Aleuts, only 
thirty bidarkas and sixty men returned. Von Langs- 
dorfT, the physician of Krusenstern's ship, described 
conditions as he saw them in 1804, as worse than 
slavery. "In the countries that I have seen, where 
negro slaves are employed in the labour, great care 
is taken to feed them well, and keep them in health, 
since they must be purchased at a high price ; but 
the case is otherwise here. The poor, vanquished, and 
enslaved Aleutians are ill-fed, ill-clothed, and per- 
petually thrown into situations where their lives are 
in danger ; they are deprived of all their property, 
and are commonly governed by Promiischleniks, who 
are for the most part criminals from Siberia : under 
all these circumstances the depopulation must ad- 
vance rapidly. Scarcely any of the native Aleutians 
are to be seen, excepting superannuated old men, with 
women and children : the men capable of working 
are sent continually on hunting parties for sea-otters, 
and are thus separated from their families for months 
together." 2 On the farm at Kodiak, the wretched 
natives were obliged to draw the plough in lieu of oxen. 
Even less mercy was shown to the furred prey. 
Indiscriminate slaughter of male and female, young 
and old, depleted one fishing ground after another 
so that new and remoter regions must be found. 
The headquarters were always moving farther east 
and south, from Behring Island to Unalaska, from 
Unalaska to Kodiak, and from Kodiak to Sitka; 


but the devastation went on unchecked, while the 
Chinese market was flooded with furs, and prices 
fell to a ruinous level. Finally, in the last decade of 
the eighteenth century, two masterful spirits, Sheli- 
koff and Baranof , undertook to combine the chief rivals 
into one great company and so to regulate the catch. 
With the aid of Chamberlain de Resanoff, a nobleman 
with influence at court, a charter was secured for 
the Russian- American Company (1799), giving the 
incorporators monopoly of the trade in the Pacific 
above fifty-five degrees north latitude, the limit of 
Russian exploration. The year following, a trading 
post was built on Norfolk Sound — called Sitka from 
the native tribe — and Baranof was appointed gov- 
ernor with powers over his motley force extending 
to life and death. A supply ship, the Neva, was 
despatched round the Horn in 1804 under the com- 
mand of Krusenstern, with Count de Resanoff on 
board in the capacity of plenipotentiary. The post 
had been destroyed in 1802, and the reenforcement 
arrived just in time to avert a second massacre of 
the garrison. The Kolosh Indians of the Alaskan 
coast were a finer race, physically and mentally, 
than the Aleuts and not so easily reduced to the 
white man's service. They hated the enslaved 
islanders hardly less than they feared the Russians, 
and they determined to rid their land of both. 
Fortunately for Baranof's scheme, their well-devised 
ambush was betrayed and their palisaded fort de- 
stroyed by the guns of the Neva. A Russian forti- 
fication was immediately built on the ruins of the 
village and christened New Archangel. 


Finding supplies short at Sitka and the agricul- 
tural resources of the region dubious, de Resanoff 
determined to have resort to the Spanish missions 
made known to Baranof by the Boston fur traders, 
O'Cain and Winship. He sailed to San Francisco 
Bay and succeeded in purchasing from San Jose a 
quantity of provisions, but his attempt to negotiate a 
regular exchange of products was thwarted by the ex- 
clusive commercial policy of Spain. Von Langsdorff 
thought that the profits from such a trade could 
never be great, since the manufactured goods re- 
quired in California must be brought from Europe, 
and he therefore proposed that a Russian settlement 
be established at some point on this coast, where 
soil and climate were suited to the raising of cattle 
and where sea-otters might be taken sufficient to 
meet all the expenses involved and pay a handsome 
profit beside. 3 Six years later, Baranof carried out 
the California project by the establishment of a 
trading post at Bodega Bay, a deep cove to the 
north of Point Reyes. There a palisaded fort was 
built (1813), timber being cut from the heavy forests 
of the surrounding hills. Russian soldiers, Finnish 
artisans, and Kodiak hunters were imported for the 
service of the post, and a considerable number of 
domesticated Indians were induced by the prospect 
of money wages and fair treatment to work the land 
in the vicinity. 

The harvest of furs in this unexploited region was 
a rich one. Von Langsdorff had noted that seal was 
abundant and that "the valuable sea-otter was 
swimming in numbers about the bay, nearly un- 


heeded." 4 The Russians were able to spear from 
seven to eight hundred otters per week in the creeks 
and inlets of San Francisco Bay, while at the hunt- 
ing station on the Farallones, eighty thousand skins 
were secured in one season. Foreigners were pro- 
hibited by Spanish law from taking sea-otter within 
thirty leagues of the coast, but this obstacle was 
overcome by a friendly arrangement with the com- 
mandante. For a time the shiploads of grain, 
jerked beef, and tallow sent to the northern posts 
were purchased from the missions, payment being 
made in silver or in European goods ; but before 
many years had passed, a farm and stock ranch 
were installed on the San Sebastian River (where 
Santa Rosa now lies) which furnished food in abun- 
dance for all the Russian settlements. In 1820 a 
larger post, known to the Spaniards as Fort Ross, 
was built about twenty miles up the coast. A 
strong palisade, eighteen feet high, enclosed the sol- 
diers' quarters, two octangular block houses frowned 
upon intruders, and four brass howitzers stood 
guard at the gate. Fort Ross was far more formi- 
dable than any Spanish presidio and was regarded by 
the Californians as a real menace. The device of 
establishing two missions to the north of San Fran- 
cisco Bay was adopted. San Rafael was founded 
on San Pablo Bay (1817) and San Francisco Solano 
in the fertile Sonoma Valley (1823). 

For the next twenty years, the operations of the 
Russian-American Fur Company extended from 
Santa Barbara and the Farallones to Unalaska and 
the Commander Islands, a wild and stormy stretch 



"■ 1 

1 ! 'J 



of coast, four thousand miles in extent. Thirty 
fortified posts guarded its property, and twelve 
vessels were engaged in transporting furs and sup- 
plies. Russians were excluded from Chinese ports, 
so the furs collected at the various stations were 
conveyed to Okhotsk, whence they were carried over- 
land by dog sledge and camel train to Irkutsk, 
where the Chinese merchants loaded the precious 
bales on camel trains for Pekin. The tea and silks 
and muslins for which the furs were exchanged were 
loaded on pack animals and sent to Nishni-Novgorod, 
Moscow, and St. Petersburg, (gitka^) the centre of 
this trade, was the principal port on the northwest 
coast. Eight hundred white families were estab- 
lished there, and the dark-skinned servitors num- 
bered thousands. Its beautiful church was furnished 
with gifts from the stockholders and others of the 
Russian nobility. In its shipyard, sea-going vessels 
were built, while its bell-foundry cast chimes for 
the missions of California and Mexico. The settle- 
ment a^Bode^b was hardly less imposing. Lieu- 
tenant Slacum of the United States navy visited 
the post in 1839 and found it well maintained. 
Four hundred men were in the employ of the com- 
pany, — sixty Russians, eighty Kodiaks, and two hun- 
dred and sixty native Indians. There were fifteen 
hundred head of cattle, eight hundred horses, five 
hundred sheep, and three hundred hogs on the 
ranch in charge of Indian herdsmen, and the yield 
of the wheat fields tended by these unprotesting 
laborers was seventy-two hundred bushels. Two 
ships came annually from Sitka for the grain, tallow, 


and dried beef without which the northern settle- 
ments could not have been fed; but the harvest of 
furs was exhausted. The otter herds of California 
had been exploited in the same reckless fashion that 
had reduced the northern fisheries. The catch had 
fallen off to one hundred skins per year, and, since 
the fur was inferior to that taken in Arctic waters 
and not worth carrying to China, the skins were 
sent to the City of Mexico and sold for from $60 to 
$70 each. There was no longer any profit in the 
otter hunt. Land otter were to be had, and beaver 
and deer, but this involved trapping expeditions into 
the interior, and the pelts would bring no more 
than $2, $3, and $4 apiece. By 1840 the Russian- 
American Fur Company was ready to withdraw 
from California, and offered its property for sale to 
the highest bidder. 

Section II 
Spanish Explorers 

It was Bucareli, the able viceroy of Charles III, 
who renewed the endeavor to discover the Straits 
of Anian and so to forestall Russian aggression on 
the northwest coast. In 1773 he despatched an 
exploring expedition under Perez with instructions 
not to turn back till the sixtieth parallel had been 
attained. The prevailing northwest winds, so favor- 
able to the Siberian trade, rendered approach from 
the south difficult. Baffled by head winds, Perez 
turned back at 54° 40' ; but not before he had dis- 
covered a sheltered C-shaped bay which he called 



Oabu Iklendoci 

Punta de los Rey< 

W >.,.. Gag. Co.. N.V. 

Spanish Exploration along the Coast of California. 


San Lorenzo (Nootka Sound) where the natives were 
eager to trade excellent otter skins for the veriest 
trifles. The following year two vessels under Bruno 
de Haceta and Bodega y Quadra were despatched 
in the hope of larger results. Haceta rounded Cape 
Mendocino and, landing, took possession in the 
name of his Catholic Majesty; but he failed to 
find de Fuca's strait. On the return voyage, he 
approached the coast in latitude 46° 10', and anchored 
in a roadstead where a strong offshore current ren- 
dered his ship unmanageable. "These currents and 
eddies of the water caused me to believe that the 
place is the mouth of some great river, or of some 
passage to another sea. Had I not been certain of 
the latitude of this bay, I might easil} r have believed 
it to be the passage discovered by Juan de Fuca, in 
1592, which is placed on the charts between the 
47th and the 48th degrees." 5 Haceta's crew was 
prostrated with scurvy, so that he had not force 
enough to lower and lift the anchor or to man a 
long-boat, and he was obliged to forego farther in- 
vestigation ; but his description of the muddy tide, 
the bar, and the two headlands corresponds so 
exactly to the geography of the region that there 
can be no reasonable doubt that he had hit upon the 
mouth of the Columbia. On Spanish maps of the 
day, the entrance is indicated as Haceta's Inlet, and 
the hypothetical river is called San Roc. 

Meantime Bodega y Quadra in the companion 
vessel had reached Mt. Edgecombe (1775) and the 
land-locked harbor already known to the Russians 
as Sitka. In a subsequent voyage (1779) this same 


intrepid mariner reached the sixty-first degree, sighted 
Mt. St. Elias, and learned from the Indians of the 
Russian trading posts, but encountered no foe. 
Unhappily for Spanish prestige, Bucareli's successors 
failed to follow up these clews. The northern coasts 
were bleak and stormy, and seal fishing, though re- 
munerative, had small attraction for men of southern 
blood. In the endeavor to conceal these discoveries 
lest they profit her enemies, the government of 
Spain unwittingly consigned the really remarkable 
achievements of her explorers to oblivion. 6 

Section III 

English Explorers 

Far different was the response accorded to the 
achievements of British explorers. In the year fol- 
lowing Haceta's voyage, the Royal Geographical 
Society sent Captain James Cook, already famous for 
his exploration of the South Sea, to rediscover 
Drake's Bay in the hope of substantiating Britain's 
shadowy claim to New Albion, and thence to push 
north until he came upon the open route to the 
Atlantic that Drake had sought in vain. 7 Sailing 
from London in midsummer of 1776, his two stout 
ships, the Resolution and the Discovery, forged across 
the Atlantic and round the Horn and over the 
Pacific and so hit upon the group of tropic islands 
named by Cook for Lord Sandwich. 

Recruiting their supplies of food and water at this 
siren's haven of wave-tossed mariners, they sailed 
eastward to California. At 40° 33', the latitude of 


Drake's landfall, they descried the line of cliffs 
called by the Spaniards Cabo Mendocino ; but the 
ships were driven out to sea by a hurricane of hail 
and snow. Land was sighted again eight degrees 
farther north (Cape Flattery), but again they were 
driven off by perverse winds. The exasperated ex- 
plorer recorded his conviction that no such opening 
as Juan de Fuca's strait had ever existed. Pressing 
on to the north, Cook was soon rewarded by a dis- 
covery not in his instructions, but destined to be 
far more profitable to English merchants than the 
much-sought sea-to-sea channel could have been. 
Becalmed off a mountain-girt coast, the vessels 
came to anchor in Perez' C-shaped harbor (named 
by Cook King George's Sound), and there a com- 
mercial El Dorado was disclosed. Hundreds of 
shapely wooden canoes came out to visit the ships, 
whose painted occupants were eager to barter their 
otter skin clothing for the merest trifles (a six- 
penny knife would buy a skin worth $100), and a 
stock of furs was laid in that later sold in China 
for $10,000. Here the Resolution and the Discovery 
were repaired and supplies of wood and water taken 
on. Toward the end of April, 1777, the expedition 
was again moving north. Skirting the chain of 
islands that guarded the secret he hoped to pene- 
trate, Cook gazed astonished upon snow-capped 
mountains that loomed higher and higher as they 
approached the Arctic Circle. The Fairweather 
Range and Mt. St. Elias seemed to bar the way to 
the eastward, but still the dauntless explorer pushed 
on. The estuary called by geographers Cook's 


Inlet gave promise of penetrating the continent, but 
it proved to be an impasse, and Turnagain Arm 
marks the abandonment of this clew. The stanch 
British ships threaded the Aleutian Islands, rounded 
Cape Prince of Wales, sighted East Cape, and so 
north to Icy Cape where Cook finally abandoned his 
quest. It was hazardous to battle farther against 
deadly cold in pursuit of a geographers' dream. 
The exploration of the Arctic Ocean having been 
abandoned, Cook returned to the " Paradise of the 
Pacific" in January, 1779, and there the great ex- 
plorer met his death at the hands of the natives. 
The chivalrous Englishman gave the name of 
Behring to the strait discovered by the Russian ex- 
plorer fifty years before. 

Cook's geographical discoveries along our north- 
west coast were of minor importance since he failed 
to find De Fuca's strait or Haceta's river, but his 
report of the wealth of furs to be had from the 
Indians set on foot a movement that was destined 
to have vast consequences. The nearest and most 
profitable market was the Orient, but here the 
East India Company held an undisputed monopoly 
which Englishmen might evade only by sailing under 
a foreign flag. The first ship sent out from London 
(Captain James Hanna, 1780) carried Portuguese 
colors, and her success was such as to encourage 
farther ventures. In 1785, the King George's Sound 
Company was chartered for the Nootka trade and 
sent out two vessels under Captains Portland and 
Dixon, who explored the islands to the north and 
secured a load of furs but, being denied access to 


Chinese ports, reaped no great profit. The East 
India Company sent out a ship in 1781 and again 
in 1788, under Captain Robert Meares. On his 
second voyage, Captain Meares sailed into the 
strait between Vancouver Island and the Olympic 
Range and gave the long-sought channel the name 
of its traditional discoverer. Hoping to find Haceta's 
river, Meares neared the coast again at latitude 
46° 10', but he was discouraged from entering the 
promising inlet by a line of huge breakers that 
stretched from headland to headland. He con- 
cluded that San Roc was a myth, 8 and contented 
himself with naming the promontory Cape Disap- 
pointment and the baffling roadstead of tempestuous 
water, Deception Bay. 

Jealous of these new interlopers, the Spanish 
viceroy sent out a vessel (1788) under orders to 
collect a cargo of furs and carry them to Canton ; 
but this official enterprise was not a success, for the 
sale of peltry did not cover the costs of the ex- 
pedition. The next year Martinez and de Haro were 
commissioned to explore the northern coasts and to 
determine on sites suited for Spanish colonies. 
They found the Russians strongly intrenched on the 
northern islands, and a protest against these en- 
croachments was addressed to St. Petersburg, but 
with no effect. When they arrived at Perez's land- 
locked harbor, the Spanish envoys found even more 
formidable competitors in control. Two vessels fly- 
ing the Portuguese flag, but financed by British 
capital, and two American sloops, the Columbia and 
the Lady Washington, lay at anchor in the sheltered 


bay, and two English ships, sent out from Macao 
by Meares and equipped with materials to build a 
trading post at Nootka Sound, were soon added to 
the array of foreign traders. Meares' enterprise was 
overt trespass, and Martinez arrested the British 
officers and confiscated their cargoes, pending a 
final settlement of the questions at issue. An inter- 
national embroglio was averted by the Nootka 
Convention (1790), wherein the right of English- 
men and Spaniards to navigate the Pacific, fish in 
Arctic waters, and trade with the Coast Indians 
was fully recognized ; but neither power was to 
found colonies north of Spain's northernmost settle- 
ment nor to claim sovereign rights. Vancouver met 
Bodega y Quadra, the Spanish commissioner, at 
Nootka Sound in the summer of 1792, but they 
failed to reach an agreement as to the property 
rights in question. All difficulties were finally ad- 
judicated in the treaty of 1794. 

At this time there were eight American vessels 9 
engaged in the fur trade on the northwest coast, 
but since they appeared to have no settlement in view, 
there was no interference. The right of citizens 
of the United States to trade in these waters was 
recognized in the treaty negotiated with Spain in 
1795, and Nootka became a neutral port. 

Section IV 

The Americans 

Ledyard's Journal of Cook's Last Voyage was 

printed at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1783. 10 It found 

eager readers. The War of the Revolution at an 


end and independence achieved, American merchants 
were under no obligation to respect the East India 
Company's monopoly and might avail themselves 
of the profitable trade between China and the north- 
west coast. A group of Boston merchants, Charles 
Bulfinch at their head, formed a partnership, with a 
capital of $50,000, and sent out two vessels round the 
Horn to this far-away wilderness. The Columbia, a 
full-rigged two-decker of two hundred and twelve tons, 
was commanded by Captain John Kendrick, a retired 
naval officer. The Lady Washington, a sloop of ninety 
tons, had a much younger man, Robert Gray, for 
captain. The commanders had no experience of 
Pacific waters, but Woodruff, first mate of the 
Columbia, had been to Alaska with Cook. 

The ships sailed from Boston the first of October, 
1787, in abundant time to make the Straits of Magellan 
during the Antarctic summer - ; but Kendrick timidly 
delayed at Cape Verde until the stormy season set 
in, and the vessels had a rough experience rounding 
the Horn. In the Pacific, new dangers awaited them. 
The jealousy of the Spanish government was evi- 
denced in the orders given to the commandante at 
San Francisco to stop the American vessels, should 
they enter the harbor, and to arrest the officers and 
crew. Kendrick did put into Juan Fernandez for 
repairs and fresh provisions. The governor of the 
islands was afterward severely reprimanded by the 
viceroy of Chili for rendering aid to the invader 
of the South Seas. Meantime Gray pushed ahead 
toward the goal of their enterprise. He first sighted 
the coast of North America at Cape Mendocino, 


August 2, 1788. Twelve days' run up the cliff- 
girt shore brought him to Tillamook Bay, where 
the scurvy-infected crew was given a few days' 
respite, and fresh food was laid in. A treacherous* 
onslaught from the Indians gave to this inlet the 
ominous name of Murderers' Bay. The sloop 
reached Nootka Sound on September 17, 1788, 
well-nigh a year after her departure from Boston, 
only to find that British traders had got in ahead. 
Two English ships under Captain Meares and 
Douglas were anchored in the harbor and already 
well loaded with furs, while a third vessel, the North- 
west America, 11 was rising from the stocks. The 
Yankees were received with much courtesy by the 
Englishmen, and there was great show of hospitality ; 
but they were regarded as interlopers, none the less, 
and Captain Meares resorted to all the tricks of the 
trade in the endeavor to dishearten his unwelcome 
rival. Skins were scarce, he said, and their quality 
much overrated ; the Indians moreover were un- 
friendly and treacherous. Gray assisted in the 
launching of the Northwest America and furnished 
some much needed supplies for the China voyage ; 
but he indicated quite clearly his determination of 
sticking to his task. Toward the end of October, 
the British vessels sailed for Hongkong, and the 
Americans were left to their own devices. The 
Columbia had arrived at last, battered by hurricanes 
and ravaged by scurvy, and the two vessels spent the 
winter of 1788-1789, cruising from one Indian village 
to another in the purchase of furs. The Americans 
became thoroughly familiar with the islands from the 


Strait of Juan de Fuca to Dixon Entrance and the 
Portland Canal. The natives knew nothing of the 
market values of Europe and Asia, and astonishing 
bargains could be driven ; e.g. two hundred otter skins, 
worth $8000, were bought for a rusty iron chisel. 
Having accumulated a large stock of furs, the 
captains sailed for China (July 30, 1789), there to 
exchange this cargo for tea, a commodity even more 
salable in New England. Kendrick returned to 
Nootka Sound in the Lady Washington, while the 
Columbia began the homeward voyage across the 
Indian Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope. 
On August 11, 1790, she dropped down Boston 
Harbor, and was received with great rejoicing. 
Governor Hancock gave a public reception to the 
commander of the first American vessel to circum- 
navigate the globe. 

The voyage of fifty thousand miles, though a 
glorious achievement, was financially unprofitable, 
and several of the partners withdrew their capital ; 
but Bulfinch was not discouraged. Under Gray's 
command the gains would not be eaten up in 
needless delays, and if he could succeed in getting 
to Hongkong before the English, he could forestall 
a glut of the market. The Columbia was again 
fitted out, and within six weeks of her arrival in 
Boston set sail for the northwest coast. Only 
eight months were consumed in the outward voy- 
age, and Gray arrived at Nootka (June 5, 1791), 
bent on prosecuting a vigorous campaign. Having 
experienced some rough treatment at the hands of 
Meares, the Nootkans had grown suspicious, and 


they now gathered courage to attack the white 
man's floating house. A strong body of warriors 
boarded the Lady Washington and got possession 
of the powder magazine, and but for Kendrick's 
quickness and resolution, ship and crew would 
have been blown to atoms. It was deemed wise 
therefore to build a log fort for the protection of 
men and furs. At Clayoquot (called Hancock Point 
by Gray) a little to the south of Nootka, barracks 
were erected, and a stout palisade, furnished with 
loopholes and surmounted by two cannon, frowned 
defiance upon all comers. They built this same 
winter (1791-1792) a sloop, the Adventure, out of 
timber cut from the best spruce forests in the world. 
Gray and Kendrick were destined to be not mere 
fur traders but discoverers as well. Cruising the 
channels back of Nootka, Kendrick found his way 
into the archipelago, later named Puget Sound, and 
sailed through de Fuca's strait back to Nootka 
again, proving the traders' headquarters to be placed 
on an island. What we know as Vancouver Island 
was called Washington Island by the fur traders, in 
honor of the brave little vessel in which Kendrick 
made this cruise. Gray, meantime, was sailing south 
along the coast in search of new tribes less sophisti- 
cated in the price of furs. Near the forty-sixth paral- 
lel he sighted Cape Disappointment and directly 
after encountered a current so strong as to carry his 
vessel out to sea. For nine days he battled with 
wind and tide, and not till May 11 did he discover 
the channel through the breakers. Once over the 
bar, there opened up before his delighted eyes a 


large river of fresh water flowing swiftly between 
forested shores. 12 He sailed up the channel some 
thirty miles, trading with the natives who followed 
in canoes, and then, convinced that this was the 
long-sought river, named it, after the first ship that 
had ploughed its current, the Columbia. Being a 
loyal son of Massachusetts, Gray renamed the north 
headland Cape Hancock and the south, Adams 
Point. On May 20, the Columbia recrossed the 
bar and returned to Nootka for the summer's trade. 
There Gray showed to the Spanish commander 
a sketch of the bay and the river channel 
above. In October he sailed for Canton, where his 
season's catch was sold to good advantage. In 
July of 1793, Gray and his good ship were once 
more in Boston Harbor, but no ovation was given 
him. Few men understood the significance of his 
discovery, and the government was in no position 
to follow up the claim thus established. The dis- 
coverer of the River of the West died, poor and 
unknown, some time between 1806 and 1809, years 
in which the value of his achievement should have 
been recognized. 

In this same year, a British squadron was sent 
to the northwest coast to enforce the terms of the 
Nootka Convention. Captain George Vancouver, 
the commander, who had some knowledge of the 
Pacific since he served as midshipman on Cook's 
third voyage, was instructed to "acquire information 
as to the nature of any water passage which might 
serve as a channel of communication between that 
side of America and the territories on the Atlantic 


side occupied by British subjects," e.g. "the sup- 
posed strait of Juan de Fuca." Arriving off Cape 
Disappointment (April 27, 1792) Vancouver noted 
the current of " river-colored water"; but having 
Meares' experience in mind and convinced that no 
battleship should venture into that stretch of boil- 
ing breakers, he concluded that the discoloration 
was caused by some small streams falling into the 
bay, and so withdrew. "Not considering this open- 
ing worthy of more attention, I continued our pur- 
suit to the N. W. being desirous to embrace the 
advantages of the now prevailing breeze and pleasant 
weather, so favorable to our examination of the 
coast." 13 Next day the British commander hailed 
the Columbia, and learned from Captain Gray that 
he had been "off the mouth of a river in the latitude 
of 46° 10', where the outlet, or reflux, was so strong 
as to prevent his entering for nine days." 14 "This," 
concludes Vancouver, "was, probably, the opening 
passed by us on the forenoon of the 27th ; and was, 
apparently, inaccessible not from the current, but 
from the breakers that extended across it." The 
Discovery and the Chatham pursued their northward 
course, while Gray turned south to have another 
try at that difficult passage. His persistence was 
rewarded as we have seen. 

Vancouver devoted the summer of 1792 to the 
exploration of the network of sounds and passages 
already disclosed by the operations of the fur traders. 
He was bent on proving that the northwest passage 
was a myth, and this he did with English thorough- 
ness. His officers traced the coast in all its involu- 


tions with such detail and exactness that their 
charts may still be used. They saw and named Mt. 
Baker, as it soared, a white cone without visible 
base, far above the wooded shores of the Gulf of 
Georgia, and they exhausted the roll of the ship's 
officers in the designation of the various geographical 
features noted. At Point Possession, Vancouver 
landed his crews and with due ceremony claimed 
the country from New Albion to the Strait of Juan 
de Fuca for Great Britain (June 4, 1792). Not till 
he reached Nootka Sound did he learn that the 
Columbia had crossed that tumultuous line of breakers 
at 46° 10' and sailed up a great river, and not till 
mid-October did he undertake to verify Gray's chart 
of the discovery. On October 21, Vancouver was 
again off Cape Disappointment and again the omi- 
nous line of breakers deterred him from risking an en- 
trance with the Discovery. The smaller ship Chatham 
actually rounded the bar and managed an anchorage 
in the inner harbor ; but Vancouver sailed away to 
the safe port of San Francisco, leaving Lieutenant 
Broughton to complete the survey. The commander 
justified his withdrawal with characteristic caution. 
"My former opinion of this port being inaccessible 
to vessels of our burthen was now fully confirmed, 
with this exception, that in very fine weather, with 
moderate winds, and a smooth sea, vessels not ex- 
ceeding four hundred tons might, so far as we were 
enabled to judge, gain admittance." 15 When the 
Chatham rejoined the Discovery in San Francisco 
Bay a month later, Vancouver reluctantly accepted 
the fact that Broughton had proven the despised 


river navigable for at least one hundred miles above 
its debouchement. The persistent lieutenant had 
made his way up the river in a launch, only turning 
back when his week's supply of provisions was ex- 
hausted. He saw and named Mts. Hood, St. Helen, 
and Rainier, and reached the wooded knoll called 
Point Vancouver. Here the Indians indicated in 
sign language that farther up the river was a fall of 
water that would prevent the boats from passing. 
Even Broughton thought the river unpromising, 
and so, estimating its possibilities as a sea to sea 
channel, it doubtless was. He contented himself 
with taking possession of the adjacent territory in 
the name of His Britannic Majesty, "having every 
reason to believe that the subjects of no other 
civilized nation or state had ever entered this river 
before." 1 It was Broughton's theory that Gray had 
not penetrated to fresh water ; but he considerately 
named the outer harbor Gray's Bay, and accepted 
the name given the river by the Yankee skipper. 

When Broughton returned to the Chatham, he found 
an American schooner rid ng at anchor within the 
capes, the Jenny from Bristol, Rhode Island, and he 
gratefully followed her lead to the open sea. The 
adventurous little craft was the first of a long series 
of Yankee vessels whose safe entry and exit over 
the dreaded bar was to belie Vancouver's extraordi- 
nary caution. For twenty years thereafter New 
England merchants enjoyed the lion's share of the 
fur trade between the northwest coast and China. 
Nootka Sound and the Columbia River were visited 
by some forty American vessels annually, and so 


preeminent was Massachusetts in this commerce 
that all white men came to be known among the 
Indians as "Bostons." 

From 1796 to 1814, the maritime energies of 
England, Spain, and France being absorbed in the 
Napoleonic wars, Yankee whalers and fur traders en- 
joyed the lion's share of Pacific commerce. Vessels 
were fitted out in New York or Boston or New Bed- 
ford with goods suited for the Indian market. Setting 
out in August or September, they rounded the Horn 
during the Antarctic summer and, stopping at the 
Sandwich Islands for fresh supplies of food and 
water, arrived off the Columbia in the following 
spring. The summer was spent in collecting furs. 
If the coasting trip was successful, the vessel put 
off before the autumn rains set in, stopped again at 
the Sandwich Islands to make good any deficiencies 
in her cargo by a supply of sandalwood, and so on 
across the Pacific to China. The valuable com- 
modities secured from the Coast Indians and the 
Hawaiians for scraps of old iron and tawdry finery 
were disposed of in the Canton market for many 
times their purchase price. Bales of tea and silks and 
muslins were there taken aboard, and the sea- worn 
ship set out for home with a cargo that might net one 
thousand per cent on the original costs. The com- 
merce had its heavy risks. Many a brave ship was 
wrecked in Magellan Straits or on some coral reef 
in the South Seas. The Coast Indians coveted the 
white man's goods and had little fear of reprisals. 
More than one vessel was looted and her crew mas- 
sacred as she lay at anchor surrounded by native 


canoes. The fate of the ship Boston (1803) of 
whose crew only two men survived, has been graphi- 
cally told by her armorer, John R. Jewitt. 17 Not- 
withstanding such disasters, Yankee skippers pur- 
sued the trade with zeal and success, rejoicing in its 
wild hazards ; but the business was soon demoralized 
by unscrupulous competition. Rival traders vied 
with one another in offering whiskey and firearms, 
and the savages grew bold and quarrelsome. The 
price of the furs advanced on the fishing grounds 
and declined in China till the margin of profit dis- 
appeared. Two brothers, Captain Nathan and 
Jonathan Winship, contracted with the Russian- 
American Fur Company (1804) to take sea-otter on 
the coast north of the Spanish settlements. Fifty 
bidarkas and one hundred Aleuts were furnished 
them and the furs were to be turned over at Sitka at 
half the Canton price. These same enterprising 
Yankees projected a base of operations on the 
Columbia. Their post at Oak Point and the planta- 
tion immediately about was carried away by a 
summer flood, but the notion was entirely practical. 
The northwest coast was a no-man's land where 
might made right and where the first comer was 
free to exploit Indian tribes and fur-bearing animals 
at will. Spain, Russia, Great Britain, and the 
United States had established defensible claims to 
the fur country, but no power cared to go to war in 
behalf of so remote a possession. 



Section I 

French Explorers 

The fur traders of Montreal were no less 
zealous than the Jesuit missionaries for the ex- 
ploration of the region drained by the St. Law- 
rence and the conciliation of the aborigines. While 
the Jesuits were establishing mission stations at 
Sault Ste. Marie, Michillimackinac and St. Xaviers, 
the traders were driving a brisk traffic with the 
friendly Hurons and Algonquins who brought canoes 
full of furs down the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence 
every spring. But they were not long satisfied 
merely to purchase the peltry brought to Montreal. 
It was evident that there were more numerous tribes 
and richer beaver grounds in the unknown regions 
beyond the Great Lakes, whence the trading Indians 
got their furs. Indeed, the Algonquins had learned 
from the Sioux of a " forked river" to the west, in a 
country barren of trees, which led the way to limit- 
less hunting grounds, and their tales of this remoter 
source of wealth lured to new adventure. Two 
young men of Three Rivers, Pierre Radisson and Jean 
Groseiller, determined (1659) to return with the Al- 
gonquins to their winter quarters and learn for them- 


selves what lay beyond. From Michillimackinac, 
already the fur mart of the Great Lakes, the adven- 
turous young townsmen paddled up Jean Nicollet's 
river, the Fox, and down the "Ouisconsing" till they 
came to the east branch of the great "forked river," 
and then, passing through the land of the Iowas to 
the west fork, they made their way up the Missouri 
to the Mandan villages. They had found the land 
where no trees grew and whence mountains could be 
descried toward the setting sun; but their guides 
would venture no farther west, and, supplies being 
exhausted, the gallant explorers turned their faces 
eastward and found their way back across the plains 
to the head of Lake Superior. Thence they readily 
returned by way of the lakes and the Ottawa to Mon- 
treal. This great adventure was barren of result, 
because in his endeavor to develop the vast territory 
he had discovered, Radisson quarrelled with the 
French governor, gave umbrage to the all-powerful 
Jesuits, and excited the hostility of rival traders who 
reaped the fruit of his labors. His Journal, sup- 
pressed by the authorities, was lost in the archives 
of Paris and never brought to light until it was printed 
by the Prince Society of Boston in 1885. It is prob- 
able, however, that his account of the Mississippi 
and Missouri rivers and the region beyond the Great 
Lakes had much to do with the undertakings of Mar- 
quette, Joliet, and La Salle. 

The farther the French explorers penetrated the 
unknown, the farther the mystery opened out before 
them. Rumors of a river beyond the mountains, 
that flowed to a sea whose waters were bitter to the 


taste, were gathered from the Mandans and brought 
back to Montreal, where they excited much interest- 
There was good reason to suppose that an overland 
route across America might be known to the Indians. 
In 1731, two years before Behring set out on his great 
adventure, Sieur Varennes de la Verenderye under- 
took to find a route from the Great Lakes to the 
Western Sea. His expedition was fitted out by the 
fur merchants of Montreal, and Algonquin canoes 
conducted the party to the head of Lake Superior, 
where the Crees guided them to the Lake of the 
Woods and Lake Winnipeg. There Verenderye 
built a fort for the winter's sojourn, and endeavored 
to establish friendly relations with the neighboring 
tribes. The Assiniboins were finally induced to 
guide the party to the Mandans who knew a people 
who had seen the westward flowing rivers. Up the 
Souris River and across the buffalo plains that divide 
the Assiniboin from the Missouri was a weary march 
and one that taxed the endurance of the Frenchmen 
to the utmost. Arrived at last on the Missouri, it 
proved that the Mandans could tell little more of the 
Western Sea than the Algonquins and the Hurons 
knew ; but the chief was induced to receive a French 
flag and the country was claimed as an appanage of 
the French crown (December 3, 1738). Then the 
man who had carried the French colors to the heart of 
the Continent was summoned to Montreal to make 
good his failure to recoup in furs the expenses of the 
expedition, and his sons were left to carry on the quest. 
Following the lead of the Little Missouri, they 
reached the Big Horn Mountains and were able to 


journey thence, in company with a war party of Crows, 
to the foothills of the Rockies (January 1, 1743). 
There the continental divide loomed before them, a 
seemingly impassable barrier, the Crows abandoned 
the war-path, and the explorers had no choice but to 
return. Though they failed to find a practicable 
route to the Pacific, the Verenderyes had discovered 
the beaver dams of the Saskatchewan Valley, and 
their apparently bootless wanderings opened up the 
commercial empire from which a wealth of beaver 
and other peltry was collected and shipped to Mon- 
treal. The fur trade was the one profitable industry 
of the new world dominion that France ceded to 
Great Britain in the treaty of 1763. 

Section II 

English Explorers 

The first Englishman to attempt the exploration 
of the Far West was a certain Jonathan Carver, cap- 
tain of a company of provincial troops in the French 
and Indians wars. The importance of exploring 
Britain's new territory was impressed on the mind of 
this young soldier, and he undertook (1766-1768), ap- 
parently on his own responsibility, a tour of investi- 
gation by way of Niagara, the Great Lakes and 
the Fox and Wisconsin river portages to the Missis- 
sippi, up the Mississippi to the Falls of St. Anthony, 
and on to the St. Francis, the farthest point reached 
by Father Hennepin. He made this voyage in an 
open canoe with but two servants, a French Cana- 
dian and a Mohawk Indian. It was a picturesque 



and significant enterprise. His dugout canoe, with 
the calumet of peace fixed in the bow and the Union 
Jack floating at the stern, traversed waters hitherto 
unknown to Englishmen and hardly yet penetrated 
by the French fur traders. Returning to the falls, he 
ascended the St. Pierre (the Minnesota) two hundred 
miles to the village of the " Naudoweses of the Plains " 
— a tribe affiliated with the Assiniboins — where 
he spent seven months learning their language and 
collecting information as to what lay beyond. With 
coals drawn from the embers of the camp fire, the In- 
dians made maps on sheets of birch bark. They said 
that the St. Pierre took its rise in a plateau bordered 
on the west by the " Shining Mountains." From 
its source, the distance was not great to the "Mes- 
sorie," while from the head of the Missouri one might 
cross the mountains to the River of the West, the 
"Oregan," which ran down to the salt sea. It was 
an alluring prospect but one not to be ventured with 
so slight an outfit. Carver returned to England and 
succeeded in interesting several London capitalists in 
his daring scheme. He contemplated no less an enter- 
prise than the crossing of the Continent, somewhere 
between the forty-third and forty-sixth parallels, and 
the building of a trading post on Pacific waters. It was 
conceived that a commercial route giving direct access 
by sea to China and the East Indies would be even- 
tually profitable. Meanwhile it was most fitting 
that Englishmen should follow up Drake's discover- 
ies on the west coast by such actual occupation as 
should guarantee British possession of the intervening 
territory. From such a post, moreover, the search 


for the northwest passage might be prosecuted with 
better hope of success than through Hudson's Bay. 
Government sanction for the expedition was secured 
by one Richard Whitworth, M.P., of Staffordshire, a 
gentleman of influence and public spirit. The party 
— Whitworth, Carver, and Colonel Rogers of Michil- 
limackinac, with fifty or sixty men — was to have set 
out in 1774; but, unfortunately for British interests 
on the Pacific, the rupture with the colonies and 
the seven years' War of Independence delayed the 
enterprise and ultimately gave control of the upper 
Mississippi to the United States. 

Carver was bitterly disappointed; but he found 
some consolation in writing an account of his travels 
and describing the marvellous resources of the region 
he had broached, in the hope that some more fortu- 
nate adventurer might realize his dream of an English 
commonwealth on the Pacific coast. From his In- 
dian informants, Carver inferred that the four great 
rivers of the Continent, the Missisippi, the St. Law- 
rence, the Bourbon (Red River of the North), and 
the Oregan, all rose in this central plateau — indeed 
within thirty miles of each other, though the head 
waters of the Oregan might be " rather farther west." 1 
The commercial significance of so vast a transporta- 
tion system he deemed of prime importance to the 
future development of the region. The mineral 
wealth of the subsidiary territory was no less aus- 
picious. At the head of Lake Superior was "abun- 
dance of virgin copper" which an English company 
had been successfully working when the outbreak 
of hostilities interrupted all business ventures. The 



ore was to be shipped direct to Quebec, and thence 
abroad. 2 The Winnebagoes told Carver of the mule £uf. Co„ M.I. 

Carver's Map of Western North America, 1778. 

caravans by which the Spaniards conveyed silver 
from their mines on the Rio Colorado to their settle- 
ments farther south. These Indians, who had ap- 
parently been driven north by the Spaniards, said 
that in Mexico the trappings of the horses and their 
very shoes were of silver. The Pacific Coast In- 
dians, who had also been expatriated by the Spanish 
conquest, "have gold so plenty among them that 
they make their most common utensils of it." 3 Car- 


ver believed that the Shining Mountains "may be 
found to contain more riches in their bowels than 
those of Hindoostan and Malabar." The immediate 
wealth of the Mississippi region, represented in the 
fur trade, seemed very great. At Prairie du Chien, 
an Indian village of some three hundred families, an 
annual fair or mart was held in the month of May, to 
which came traders from the St. Lawrence and from 
the lower Mississippi. The place was neutral ground 
by Indian usage, and the chiefs of the neighboring 
tribes were wont to discuss whether to dispose of the 
season's hunt here or to take the packs on to Michil- 
limackinac or to New Orleans. 

Alexander Mackenzie, a partner in the North West 
Company and factor at Fort Chippewyan on Lake 
Athabasca, next took up the quest for the Western 
Sea. The duties of his remote post were not so exact- 
ing but that he had leisure to dream of the future pos- 
sibilities of the region that lay beyond. From the 
west came the Peace River, whose sources no man 
knew, while to the north ran the Great Slave, flowing 
none knew whither. Either might lead to the Pacific 
and prove to be the route to a new fur country. 
Moreover, the British government had offered a 
prize of £4000 to the discoverer of the Northwest 
Passage. This, at least, Mackenzie determined to 
win. In the summer of 1789 (June 2 to July 14) his 
canoe, manned by Indians of the post, voyaged down 
river and lake to the Arctic Sea. The partners at 
Montreal received the announcement of this exploit 
with no enthusiasm, since they saw small chance of 
profit in the discovery, but they consented that the 


daring young factor should try his luck on Peace 
River. After the trading season closed in the spring 
of 1793, Mackenzie's party set out in two well-stocked 
canoes. As they approached the mountains, naviga- 
tion grew difficult, and the river was beset with 
cascades and canons whose precipitous walls shut out 
the day. The men grew frightened and mutinous, but 
Mackenzie forced them on by threats and promises, 
himself setting the example of hardihood, and at last 
succeeded in attaining the summit of the continental 
divide. On the western slope they came upon a river 
(the Frazer) flowing directly south, and this they 
followed in the belief that it would guide them to the 
Pacific. Fortunately some Indians were encountered 
who warned them against the dangers of this turbulent 
stream and assured them that a march of eleven days 
directly west would bring them to salt water. On 
July 22, 1793, the exhausted party reached an arm of 
the Pacific near Cape Menzies, where the leader in- 
scribed his name and the date and the words "from 
Canada by land" on a great rock on which the men 
had taken refuge from the hostile natives. Mackenzie 
returned immediately to his duties at Fort Chippe- 
wyan, and not till nine years later did the English 
government offer the tribute of knighthood to the 
man who had twice crossed the Continent and deter- 
mined the boundaries of British America. 


Section III 

American Explorers 

John Ledyard. — It was doubtless Carver's en- 
terprise that Jefferson had in mind when he wrote to 
George Rogers Clark in 1783, "I find they have sub- 
scribed a very large sum of money in England for 
exploring the country from the Mississippi to Cali- 
fornia, they pretend it is only to promote knolege. 
I am afraid they have thoughts of colonizing into 
that quarter, some of us have been talking here in a 
feeble way of making the attempt to search that coun- 
try, but I doubt whether we have enough of that 
kind of spirit to raise the money. How would you 
like to lead such a party ? tho I am afraid our pros- 
pect is not worth asking the question." 4 That the 
hope of extending American influence to the Pacific 
had taken firm hold on the potential mind of Jeffer- 
son became evident during his sojourn in Paris 
(1786-1787) where he discussed a similar project 
with a visionary Connecticut Yankee, John Ledyard. 
Ledyard was born with the wanderlust in his 
blood. Despaired of by his family because he would 
not study law, disapproved by the faculty of Dart- 
mouth College because he preferred live facts to 
books, at twenty-five years of age he took his life in 
his own hands and got a berth as common sailor on 
a schooner bound for England. Reaching London 
just as Cook was enlisting men for his third voyage 
round the world, the Yankee boy had the good luck 
to secure appointment as corporal of marines. What 


he saw of Nootka Sound and the Russian trading 
post on Unalaska implanted a firm determination to 
secure some share in the fur trade for his own com- 
patriots. "If it was necessary that a European 
should discover the existence of the continent, in the 
name of Amor Patriae let a native explore its re- 
sources and boundaries. It is my wish to be the 
man." Returning to the United States, Ledyard 
wrote an account of Cook's last voyage, by way of 
attracting attention to the rich possibilities of the 
northwest coast, and he actually succeeded in in- 
ducing so canny a business man as Robert Morris of 
Philadelphia to propose the fitting out of a trading 
vessel ; but the merchants of Boston and New York 
distrusted the dreamer. 

Concluding that America was not ripe for such 
an enterprise as he had conceived, Ledyard turned 
to France for financial backing and, arriving in 
Paris in 1784, he found there two American sympa- 
thizers, Paul Jones and Thomas Jefferson. The 
former was ready to take part in a trading ven- 
ture, provided the French government would fur- 
nish aid. This, however, was not forthcoming. 
The latter saw a chance to realize a daring dream. 
Jefferson tells the story of his relations with Ledyard 
in his life of Captain Lewis (printed as introduc- 
tion to Biddle's Lewis and Clark): "I proposed to 
him to go by land to Kamschatka, cross in some of 
the Russian vessels to Nootka Sound, fall down into 
the latitude of the Missouri, and penetrate in and 
through that to the United States." This was a 
simple programme on paper, but practically impos- 


sible, since Ledyard had no capital, the permit that 
Jefferson had hoped to secure through the French 
embassy was refused, the Russian hunters did not then 
go so far south as Nootka Sound, and the latitude 
of the upper Missouri was quite unknown. How- 
aver, neither of these devoted optimists was wont 
to be daunted by cold facts. Ledyard went to Stock- 
holm and, unable to secure a sledge, tramped the 
whole distance to St. Petersburg (via Lapland, Fin- 
land, and Tornea), twelve hundred miles around the 
Gulf of Bothnia. There a passport was grudgingly 
vouchsafed (June 1, 1787) and Ledyard joined an 
emissary of the Empress Catherine — Dr. William 
Brown — for the journey to Barnaul midway of his six- 
thousand-mile journey. Thence the indomitable 
Yankee travelled with the Cossack mail carriers 
across Siberia to Irkutsk and thence to Yakutsk. 
Here he encountered an old acquaintance of Cook's 
company, one Billings, sent by the Russian govern- 
ment to chart the islands of the North Pacific. The 
realization of his hopes seemed at hand, and Ledyard 
was readily induced by the rival explorer to accom- 
pany him back to Irkutsk. There Cossack police, 
sent express by the empress, arrested the American 
and carried him post haste five thousand miles back 
across Siberia and Russia and deposited him in Po- 
land, west of the frontier. The importunities of the 
Russian fur traders, determined to maintain their 
monopoly of the Aleutian Islands, had raised an im- 
passable barrier between Ledyard and his goal. It 
was a crushing blow. Broken in health and utterly 
disheartened, the dreamer, bereft of his hope, re- 


turned to London. "I give up," said he to his 
English friends. "I give up," 5 he wrote to Jef- 
ferson. His reputation for courage and resource 
was such as to secure for him the leadership of 
the expedition that was being sent out by the Afri- 
can Association to discover the source of the Nile ; 
but his life was spent. He died (1788) at Cairo on 
the way out. 

Undiscouraged by this tragic failure, Jefferson ven- 
tured a new project. In 1792, he induced the Ameri- 
can Philosophical Society, of which he was then 
vice-president, to undertake the financing of an ex- 
pedition that " should ascend the Missouri River, 
cross the Stony Mountains, and descend down the 
nearest river to the Pacific," for the purpose of finding 
a feasible trade route. Andre Michaux, the botanist 
and explorer, was selected to head the enterprise ; 
but unluckily the French consul, Genet, had need of 
Michaux, and he was despatched to Louisville to 
confer with George Rogers Clark as to the prospect 
for detaching the aggrieved Kentuckians from their 
allegiance to the United States. Thus Jefferson's 
second scheme came to nought. Meantime another 
member of Washington's Cabinet, Attorney General 
Knox, was moving in the same direction. He in- 
structed General Harmar, then in command on the 
Ohio, to send a party up the Missouri to its source. 
Captain John Armstrong was selected for this haz- 
ardous duty. Alone, in a dug-out canoe, he set 
out to paddle up the alluring river (1790). He had 
proceeded some distance when he encountered fur 
traders descending, who told him that the Indians 


were on the war-path and that no white man would 
be allowed to pass. Rightly deeming that discre- 
tion was the better part of valor, Armstrong returned 
to St. Louis. 

The authorities of this frontier post of the Spanish 
dominions had been by no means negligent of the 
great possibilities of the mysterious river that poured 
its muddy tide into the Mississippi within their juris- 
diction. Zenon Trudeau, the ambitious governor of 
Spanish Illinois, had organized the "Commercial 
Company of the River Missouri" for the purpose of 
developing the fur trade, and he hoped to find a route 
to the South Sea. Three expeditions were sent up 
the Missouri. The first (1794) was led by J. B. 
Trudeau, the schoolmaster of St. Louis, but he was 
attacked and robbed by the Sioux and got no farther 
than the Pawnee villages. The second effort under 
Lecuyer was no more successful; but the third 
under James Mackay, a Scotchman from Montreal 
who had become a Spanish subject, had better for- 
tune. Mackay founded three trading posts between 
the Platte and the Niobrara, and John Evans, a 
Welshman of the party, succeeded in reaching the 
Mandan villages. The result in furs was so slight, 
however, that the Commercial Company decided to 
abandon the enterprise, and the expedition was re- 
called. Evans died soon after, crazed by drink and 
exposure, but Mackay was adequately rewarded by 
the far-seeing Carondelet, who assigned him a land 
grant of 55,000 arpents on the north bank of the 
Missouri and the position of commandante at St. 
Andre. 6 


Lewis and Clark. — As president, Jefferson had 
unforeseen opportunity to promote the exploration he 
had so long had at heart. The acquisition of Louisi- 
ana gave the United States control of the Missouri 
River and direct access to the Shining Mountains, 
beyond which lay the Oregan of Carver's hopes. 
On January 18, 1803, three months before the signing 
of the purchase treat}^ Jefferson sent a confidential 
message to Congress recommending the appropria- 
tion of $2500 to meet the expenses of an expedition 
up the Missouri to its source and beyond to the West- 
ern Ocean. The object assigned for this extraordi- 
nary government enterprise was the extension of " the 
external commerce of the United States" and the 
promotion of our trade with the Indian tribes, who 
were then furnishing "great supplies of furs and pel- 
try to the trade of another nation, carried on in a high 
latitude through an infinite number of portages and 
lakes shut up by ice through a long season." 7 The 
president did not conceal his hope that the furs 
hitherto monopolized by the British traders might 
be diverted to St. Louis. Down-stream transporta- 
tion by rivers open for navigation the year round of- 
fered advantages which must ultimately prevail. 

Meriwether Lewis, Jefferson's private secretary, 
was appointed to command the expedition. This 
remarkable man was then barely thirty years of age. 
Born in Albermarle County, Virginia, under the 
shadow of the Blue Ridge, he had inherited the best 
traits of a race of patriots and pioneers. His father 
and uncle had served in the Revolutionary War, 
the latter on the Cherokee frontier. From boy- 


hood he had been accustomed to the life of 
the hunter and woodsman, and he had seen mili- 
tary service in the Northwest Territory, having 
fought under Mad Anthony Wayne. That his im- 
agination was captivated by the possibilities of the 
vast realm beyond the Mississippi is evidenced in the 
fact that he had applied for this adventurous post 
when it was offered to Michaux. Lewis lacked the 
technical training in botany and astronomy required 
for such scientific observations as were proposed, 
and with a view to making good this lack, he went to 
Philadelphia, where the savants of the Philosophical 
Society gave him all the assistance in their power. 
While in this city, he superintended the manufacture 
of the arms for his party in the arsenal at Lancaster. 
With Captain Lewis in this arduous enterprise was 
associated his friend and companion in arms, William 
Clark of Louisville, Kentucky, a younger brother of 
George Rogers Clark and an experienced backwoods- 
man. Besides distinguishing himself at the battle of 
Fallen Timbers, Clark had shown marked ability in 
conducting large trains of pack horses through a diffi- 
cult country, and had given evidence of tact and good 
judgment in the negotiations carried on with the 
Spanish posts beyond the Mississippi. 

The news of the ratification of the treaty of pur- 
chase, signed May 2, 1803, reached the United States 
early in July. On the fifth of that month, Captain 
Lewis left Washington for Pittsburgh. There he 
learned to his delight that William Clark had con- 
sented to serve as his aid and would join the party at 
Louisville. He proceeded down the Ohio, stopping 


at the various garrisons to find his men. Fourteen 
soldiers were enlisted and two French boatmen. 
Clark brought with him nine Kentuckians and his 
body servant York, a faithful friend who proved 
useful in more ways than one. 8 Thirty picked men 
were secured, Kentuckians for the most part, men of 
courage, resource, and endurance. All were carefully 
tested as to physical fitness, and some hundred 
volunteers were rejected as unequal to the strain 
likely to be imposed. All were young men and single. 
One, George Shannon, was a mere boy of seventeen 
when he met Captain Lewis, caught the fever of 
adventure, and ran away from home to join the 
party. He proved by no means the least depend- 
able man of the force. The pecuniary inducements 
held out by the recruiting officers were army pay and 
the soldier's portion of public lands with which a 
needy government was wont to meet its obligations. 

The party arrived at Cahokia in the autumn of 
1803, too late to ascend the Missouri before ice 
formed. It was therefore determined to go into 
winter quarters on a little stream emptying into the 
Mississippi opposite the Missouri, the Dubois or 
Wood River. Here in United States territory, as 
Jefferson shrewdly opined, the soldiers' pay and 
winter rations might be charged to the War Depart- 
ment. A far more important consideration, and one 
that must have appealed to the commanders, was 
separation from the dissipating influences of the trad- 
ing post across the river. 

The delay was necessitated not only by the late- 
ness of the season, but by the fact that the purchase 


had not been ratified in Upper Louisiana, and the 
Spanish officials were still in authority; but it 
proved a most fortunate postponement. The winter 
was spent in drilling the men and inculcating a 
corps oVesprit that proved an all-important factor 
in their ultimate success. This body of " robust, 
healthy, hardy young men" accustomed to the free- 
dom — not to say license — of the frontier, were 
led with a tact and firmness that evoked their 
steadfast loyalty. Plenty of muscular exercise was 
provided by the emergencies of camp life. Men like 
Gass, who had some skill as carpenters, sawed planks 
and raised the cabins ; John Shields, the blacksmith 
of the party, manufactured the nails and rough tools ; 
other men were sent out to hunt ; others still made 
sugar from the maple trees, pioneer fashion. Tar- 
get practice made an important part of every day's 
programme, and guard duty was rigidly maintained. 
The little company was divided into three squads of 
eight men each, and each squad was under the com- 
mand of a sergeant elected by the group. Ordway, 
Floyd, and Pryor were the men thus honored. Cap- 
tain Lewis insisted that as ready obedience be ren- 
dered to the sergeant in command as to himself or to 
Captain Clark. The camp regulations were at first 
galling to these backwoodsmen. No one was to 
absent himself from camp without express permission, 
and no whiskey was to be served from the contractor's 
store except the legal ration of a half gill per man 
each day. The winter's discipline brought the little 
force to the highest point of efficiency. Each man 
was like tempered steel, a tool wrought for its task. 


The equipment was provided no less carefully than 
the men, and the meagre appropriation of $2500 was 
expended with the strictest economy. Lewis esti- 
mated that there would be required for "mathematical 
instruments, $217 ; arms and accoutrements ex- 
traordinary, $81 ; camp equipage, $255 ; medecin 
& packing, $55; means of transportation, $430; 
Indian presents, $696 ; provisions extraordinary, 
$224; materials for making up the various articles 
into portable packs, $55 ; for the pay of hunters 
guides & Interpreters, $300 ; in silver coin to defray 
the expences of the party from Nashville to the last 
white settlement on the Missisourie, $100." 9 

There remained barely $87 for the contingencies 
that might arise in the course of a journey of four 
thousand miles by an unknown route to a destination 
far beyond the limits of the United States authority. 
Never was so momentous an enterprise so thriftily 
furnished ! Strict attention was given to the pre- 
vention of waste, and provisions were of the simplest 
description. "Parchmeal," cornmeal, hulled corn, 
flour, biscuit, pork, coffee, beans, peas, and lard were 
laid in at St. Louis. These, with seven barrels of salt 
and the sugar made at Wood River camp, did not ad- 
mit of much luxury. 10 

The ceremony of the formal transfer of Upper 
Louisiana to the United States (March 10, 1804), 
Lewis attended as the official representative of the 
American government. It was a strangely symbolic 
occasion. The change of allegiance from Spain to 
France had not yet taken place, and so the mingled 
Spanish and French population of Laclede's vil-, 


lage watched the Spanish flag lowered to give 
place to the French, and that in turn to give way to 
the Stars and Stripes. Contending emotions of cha- 
grin and hope must have swayed the aliens present. 
The traders probably approved the change, but the 
habitants who had left their farms in the Illinois Coun- 
try to escape English rule could not see the American 
flag floating over St. Louis without dismay. 

At St. Louis boats were secured for the transpor- 
tation of the party to the Mandan villages, the farthest 
known point on the Missouri. A keel boat carrying 
a large square sail and twenty-two oars, and two pi- 
rogues, one of six and one of seventy oars, were deemed 
sufficient. The keel boat was fifty-five feet long 
and drew three feet of water. A ten-foot deck at the 
bow served as a hold for the luggage, while the stern 
boasted a cabin and forecastle. A swivel gun was 
mounted amidships. For propelling power the main 
reliance was the wind, which served admirably in 
smooth stretches of water; but when the current was 
narrow and tortuous the navigators had recourse to 
the cordelle, a taut rope attached to the mast with 
which the boat was towed up-stream by a line of men 
walking along the bank. When the cordelle was im- 
practicable, they were obliged to pole or row, forcing 
the craft over shallows and rapids by means of these 
more laborious devices. Seven bales and one box 
contained the supplies, clothing, implements, am- 
munition and medicine, while there were fourteen 
bales and one box of articles to be used in traffic with 
the Indians. The goods were carefully distributed 
among the several packages so that the loss of any 


one would be less felt. The powder, a necessity of 
life in the wilderness, was packed in leaden canisters 
of such size that there was just enough powder in 
each package to fire the bullets that could be made of 
the lead. The canisters were tightly sealed so as to 
be water-proof. Sixteen more men, soldiers and 
voyageurs, were engaged at St. Louis to accompany 
the party as far as the Mandans, bringing the total 
force up to forty-five. Two horses were provided to 
be led along the bank as an assistance in bringing in 

On Monday, May 14, 1804, the little flotilla set 
out on the long voyage up the Missouri. Captain 
Clark was in command, Lewis being detained in 
St. Louis, and he proceeded but a short way up the 
river, meaning to test the balance of his lading. 
Three times the keel boat ran upon sunken drift- 
wood, and it became clear that the luggage must be 
shifted to the stern, so that the boat might sur- 
mount these obstacles. At St. Charles, Captain 
Lewis overtook the party, bringing with him some 
interested visitors, several officers of the United 
States army, A. Chouteau, C. Gratiot, and "many 
other respectable inhabitants of St. Louis." The 
people of St. Charles were no less desirous of doing 
honor to the explorers. Clark describes them as 
"pore, polite and harmonious"; but poverty did not 
prevent their giving a ball, which proved somewhat 
too exhilarating to the men. In spite of the notice 
posted on May 16: "The commanding officer is fully 
assured that every man of his Detachment will have 
a true respect for their own dignity, and not make it 


necessary for him to leave St. Charles for a more 
retired situation," Captain Clark was " compelled to 
punish for misconduct" next day. A court-martial 
was organized to hear and determine the evidence 
adduced against Warner, Hall, and Collins "for 
being absent last night without leave, behaving 
in an unbecoming manner at the ball last night, 
and speaking in language tending to bring into dis- 
respect the orders of the commanding officer." The 
sentence, fifty lashes for Collins and twenty-five for 
the other two, must have seemed severe to these 
young blades from Kentucky; but the lesson was 
not heeded. On June 20 the two last were again 
court-martialled, Collins "charged with getting drunk 
this morning out of whiskey put under his charge 
as a sentinel and for suffering Hall to draw whiskey 
out of the said barrel intended for the party." This 
time Collins received a hundred lashes and Hall 
fifty. A few days later Willard was tried for lying 
down and going to sleep at his post. He pleaded 
"guilty of lying down but not guilty of going to 
sleep." He was, however, found guilty on both 
counts and sentenced to one hundred lashes, twenty- 
five to be administered in the evening of four succes- 
sive days. Two more cases of discipline occurred 
early in the voyage. For some mutinous words 
uttered in a bad humor, John Newman was sen- 
tenced to receive seventy-five lashes and to be dis- 
banded. An even more serious defection was that 
of Moses B. Reed, who deserted (August 4) in com- 
pany with two of the voyageurs. Being recovered, 
he was sentenced to "run the gauntlet four times 


through the party, and that each man with nine 
switches should punish him, and for him not to be 
considered in future as one of the party." This was 
the last case of discipline. The company had been 
thoroughly sifted, and thereafter every man served 
with the steadfast devotion that befitted their high 
mission. The Journals contain frequent allusions 
to the loyalty and courage of the men. The general 
health of the party and the absence of serious illness 
was due in large measure to the thorough training 
they had undergone. But one man was lost during 
the exposure and unexpected vicissitudes of fourteen 
months in the wilderness. 11 

In accordance with Jefferson's instructions, Lewis 
made such observations of the fauna and flora, the 
soil and mineral wealth, as might be managed from 
the vicinity of the river. Missouri looked to him a 
land of promise. The bottoms were well wooded with 
walnut, hickory, ash, oak, and cottonwood. Thickets 
of wild plum, crab-apple, grape-vine, and honey- 
suckle adorned the banks, and there were great 
plantations of mulberry trees. Back from the river 
lay fertile prairies covered with native grass, grow- 
ing like timothy but flowered like a hop vine. The 
French hunters reported lead deposits on the lower 
Missouri, but Lewis was unable to verify their state- 
ments. On the upper river, pit-coal was in frequent 
evidence, horizontal strata from one to five feet in 
depth of "carbonated wood" showing in the river 
bluffs. At some points, pumice-stone and a kind of 
lava indicated that these surface deposits had been 
on fire. On the voyage through the plains there 


was no lack of subsistence. It was the "constant 
practice" to send the hunters off into the wooded 
bottoms where game abounded. Deer and wild 
turkeys were always to be had on the lower Missouri, 
plenty of elk were found near the Kansas, while in 
the Dakotas vast herds of buffalo appeared. Meat 
that was not needed for immediate consumption was 
"jerked" against a day of scarcity. Buffalo humps, 
elk steaks, venison, beaver tails, wild pigeons, 
turkeys, geese, and fish in great variety afforded a 
luxurious menu, so that the salt pork remained un- 
touched among the stores. Yet one man came near 
starving to death in this land of plenty, for the want 
of ammunition. George Shannon, who was sent 
to look for missing horses (August 22), had pushed 
on ahead of the party, thinking to overtake them. 
He w T as discovered on September 11, well-nigh 
famished. "He had been 12 days without • any 
thing to eate but Grapes & one Rabit, which he 
Killed by shooting a piece of hard Stick in place of 
a ball." 12 Another kind of game, even more abun- 
dant but less appreciated, was a winged creature 
recorded by Captain Clark as "musquiters" or 
"musquetors" or "misquetors" indiscriminately; but 
they were always "verry bad" or "verry trouble- 
some" and rendered the night camps along the 
Missouri veritable torture. 

At this season of high water, the river offered no 
serious difficulties even to large boats, but the man 
at the bow had always to keep a sharp lookout. A 
muddy current, five hundred yards wide, swirling 
and eddying among the islands and sand bars, and 


beset with sunken timber, afforded many a chance for 
shipwreck. A sudden squall from the prairie often 
rendered the sails unmanageable and threatened the 
capsizing of a boat and heavy loss of supplies, if not 
of life. The shifting channel baffled all experience, 
for the bottom rose and fell as the treacherous flood 
carried the sand from place to place. One night 
when the boats were beached on a sand bar in the 
middle of the river, the watch suddenly called out 
that the ground was sinking. The bar was being 
undermined so rapidly that the men barely got the 
boats off before their camping ground disappeared. 
The bluffs frequently caved under force of the cur- 
rent, and tons of gravel, sand, and silt sank beneath 
the tide. It was therefore unsafe to steer the boat 
too near the shore or to anchor for the night under a 

Notwithstanding these difficulties, the Missouri 
was already the fur traders' highway. The mighty 
river with its great tributaries, the Osage, the Kansas, 
the Platte, the Niobrara, etc., penetrated to the very 
heart of the beaver country. Our travellers fre- 
quently came upon fortified trading posts, some of 
them abandoned long since and some apparently in 
use the year previous. Trappers and voyageurs were 
floating down the tortuous channel in batteaux and 
dugout canoes, heavily laden with peltry, furs, and 
buffalo hides, the fruit of their season's traffic among 
the Otoes, the Pawnees, the Kansas, or the Sioux. 
One such party had been twelve months in the 
Omaha country. Their catch was worth $900, but 
they were "out of provisions and out of powder" 


and heartily glad of the hospitality proffered by 
the captains. Pierre Durion, a Frenchman who 
had lived twenty years among the Sioux, was en- 
countered coming down the river to St. Louis, and 
he was easily persuaded to return with the exploring 

On the lower Missouri there was serious danger 
of a brush with the Kansas, — "dissolute, lawless 
banditti," as Lewis terms them. Fortunately for the 
expedition, the " Kaws " were off on a buffalo hunt 
at this season. In general the Indian tribes were 
quite friendly to the whites because they brought 
goods in exchange for their furs, but they were fre- 
quently at war among themselves. The nomad 
tribes, the " Kites" of the western mountains who 
had acquired horses from the Spaniards, and the 
Sioux of the northern plains who had secured guns 
from the British, were the scourge of the agricultural 
villages of the Osages, Otoes, Cheyennes, Aricaras, 
and Mandans. An important part of Lewis' mission 
was to establish peaceful relations between the 
Indian tribes and the newly established government. 
He therefore was at great pains to convene repre- 
sentative assemblies of the Indians and to impress 
upon their chiefs the power and friendly inten- 
tions of the United States and the importance of 
arbitrating their intertribal differences. 

On October 21, the explorers reached Heart 
River, the Mandans' land (Bismarck, N.D.). Here 
on the bluffs overhanging the east bank were the 
ruins of nine villages surrounded by earthworks, but 
abandoned since the smallpox epidemic of 1782. 


The surviving Mandans had their dwellings and 
corn-fields a few miles farther up the river, and here 
(47° 21' 27") the captains determined to establish 
their winter quarters. The weather had turned 
very cold, snow was falling, and the men were begin- 
ning to suffer from rheumatism. A council was held 
with the Mandans, peace was negotiated between 
that nation and the Ricaras, and a friendly under- 
standing was established so that a regular supply of 
food might be obtained. Captain Clark, who had 
been looking up and down the river for a suitable 
camping ground, reported a good position about 
three miles below the villages, where there was 
plenty of timber and a spring of good water. There 
on a point of low ground (Elm Point, heavily timbered 
to-day), sheltered by bluffs from the dreaded north- 
east storms, the cabins were built of heavy cotton- 
wood, elm, and ash, stone for the chimneys being 
brought in the pirogues. The men were divided 
into squads, some to fell timber, others to burn 
charcoal and shell corn, others still to hunt the deer 
and buffalo and lay in a good stock of meat. The 
northern winter was approaching fast, there was a 
hard frost every night, and the geese were flying 
south. By the middle of November, ice began to 
float down the river. Then the keel boat was un- 
packed, and its contents deposited in the store- 
house. The huts were completed by the twentieth of 
the month, and not a whit too soon. By the end of 
November, there was a foot of snow on the ground, 
and the river was frozen over so that it could be 
crossed without risk. 


Fort Mandan was sixteen hundred miles from 
the mouth of the Missouri, and the expedition, being 
well on its way, could afford some relaxation. A 
Dakota winter, moreover, was a foe before which 
the Indians retreated to their lodges, and its severity 
was quite beyond the experience of these Ken- 
tuckians. By the middle of December the thermom- 
eter fell to forty-five degrees below zero, and several 
men were suffering from frozen hands and feet, snow- 
blindness, and pleurisy. The fort was snug enough 
and capable of prolonged defence against savage 
foes. Larocque, a North West Company trader who 
visited the Mandans that winter, thus describes it: 
It was "constructed in a triangular form, ranges of 
houses making two sides, and a range of amazing 
long pickets, the front. The whole is made so 
strong as to be almost cannon ball proof. The two 
ranges of houses do not join one another, but are 
joined by a piece of fortification made in the form 
of a demicircle that can defend two sides of the 
Fort, on the top of which they keep sentry all 
night; ... A sentinel is likewise kept all day 
walking in the Fort." 13 To guard against annoy- 
ance from the Mandans, the gates were locked at 
sunset, and no Indian was allowed to remain in the 
fort over night except by express permission. 

The storehouse was well stocked with venison and 
buffalo, and the Indians brought plenty of corn 
which they had cached for winter use in pits near 
their lodges. One by one the chiefs visited the fort, 
each attended by a squaw laden with corn or fresh 
meat. The women would sometimes present for 


the white man's delectation the favorite Mandan 
dish, — "a kittle of boiled Cimnins [pumpkins], 
beens, corn and choke cherries with the stones, 
which was palitable." u Such donations were scru- 
pulously rewarded in trinkets or tobacco. The par 
of exchange was very unequal, if cost of production 
be the measure of value. For example, a fillet of 
deerskin two inches in width was regarded by these 
people, who knew nothing of the tanner's art, as 
equivalent to a fine horse. Even so, the supply of 
Indian goods might have been exhausted, but for 
the labors of John Shields, the blacksmith, whose 
forge was regarded as " great medicine." To him 
were brought tomahawks and kettles to be mended, 
and he wrought battle-axes and knives after a pattern 
of his own that gave great satisfaction to the Mandan 
braves who coveted the white man's weapons. 

" Had these Whites come amongst us," said the 
chiefs, "with charitable views they would have 
loaded their ' Great Boat ' with necessaries. It is 
true they have ammunition, but they prefer throwing 
it away idly than sparing a shot of it to a poor 
Mandan." The Indians admired the air-gun, as it 
could discharge forty shots out of one load, but they 
dreaded the magic of the owners. "Had I these 
white warriors in the upper plains," said the Gros 
Ventres chief, " my young men on horseback would 
soon do for them, as they would do for so many 
'wolves,' for," continued he, "there are only two 
sensible men among them, the worker of iron and 
the mender of guns." 15 

At the Mandan villages were found several 


French Canadians, voyageurs and trappers, who had 
taken native wives and settled down at this remote 
trading place. Their knowledge of Indian languages 
and customs, together with the friendly status 
accorded them, rendered them indispensable as 
guides and interpreters, although they often proved 
tricky and unreliable. Lewis at first engaged Jes- 
saume, a crafty fellow, who had lived fifteen years 
in the region ; but he was later dismissed as un- 
trustworthy. Chaboneau, who had lived among 
the Minnetarees and had married a Shoshone woman, 
was finally secured. Personally, he was not a great 
acquisition; but it was thought that his squaw, 
Sacajawea, might render valuable service when the 
expedition should reach the land of her people, the 
Snake Indians of the Rocky Mountains. From the 
Indians and trappers, the captains obtained much 
information concerning the country as far as the 
Rocky Mountains. Beyond the great divide no 
man of them had ventured. 

Not only Mandan chiefs and French voyageurs, 
but British fur traders, were hospitably entertained 
at the captains' chimney corner. Fort Mandan was 
not more than one hundred and fifty miles from 
the North West Company's post on the Assini- 
boin, and during the winter three or four trading 
parties arrived, bringing tobacco, beads, guns, and 
blankets, to be exchanged for furs and horses. 
McCracken of the North West Company was on his 
return trip to the Assiniboin factory (November 1), 
and to him Captain Lewis intrusted the passport 
given him by the British Minister at Washington 


as an indication of the peaceful character of the 
expedition. On December 16, Mr. Hugh Haney 
brought back a return message, a polite note from 
Mr. Charles Chaboillez, one of the partners, offer- 
ing to render any assistance in his power. 16 Since 
the Americans were not come to trade, there was 
no occasion for rivalry, and the most friendly rela- 
tions were maintained. Mackenzie (Charles) writes 
as follows of this winter at Mandan: "Mr. La- 
rocque and I having nothing very particular claiming 
attention, we lived contentedly and became inti- 
mate with the gentlemen of the American expedi- 
tion, who on all occasions seemed happy to see us, 
and always treated us with civility and kindness. 
It is true, Captain Lewis could not make himself 
agreeable to us. He could speak fluently and 
learnedly on all subjects, but his inveterate dispo- 
sition against the British stained, at least in our 
eyes, all his eloquence. Captain Clark was equally 
well informed, but his conversation was always 
pleasant, for he seemed to dislike giving offence un- 
necessarily." 17 The facts seem to be that Lewis, 
charged with the diplomatic responsibilities of the 
enterprise and hearing that Larocque had attempted 
to distribute British flags and medals among the 
Indians, told him firmly that this would not be per- 
mitted on United States territory. Larocque having 
denied any such intention, he was permitted to use 
one of Lewis' interpreters in the prosecution of his 
business, on the express understanding that he would 
not discuss any subject but that of his traffic and 
would sell no liquor to the Indians. This same 


Larocque was eager to accompany the party on their 
journey up the Missouri, but Lewis thought it best 
to decline his proposal. 

Other indications of national rivalry contributed 
to justify Lewis' caution. The interpreter, Cha- 
boneau, visited the lodges of the Minnetarees, some 
ninety miles to the north of Mandan, and brought 
back word that "the Clerk of the Hudson Bay 
Co. with the Me ne tar res has been Speaking Some 
new expresss" 8 unfavourable towards us, and that it 
is Said the NW Co : intends building a fort at the 
Mene-tar-res." 18 When Fort Mandan was visited 
by the Minnetaree chiefs (January 15) they were 
received with special attention, and their friendship 
was secured. The hostile influence of the traders 
was particularly evident in the case of the Yankton 
Sioux, who had been armed against the Chippeways 
by Mr. Cameron, an independent trader, from his 
factory on the St. Peters. They had declared their 
intention of destroying Lewis' party as "bad medi- 
cines," but they dared nothing more than the theft 
of some horses taken down river by a hunting party. 
The explorers were destined to experience a farther 
instance of the deleterious effect of the fur trade on 
the Indians in the hostility of the Assiniboins, the 
hereditary foes of the Mandans and Minnetarees. 
Their neighborhood to the British factories meant 
that they were well supplied with liquor and fire- 
arms, which they doled out to the more distant tribes 
at their pleasure. Lewis refused to furnish the 
Mandans with firearms, advising them to keep the 
peace and await the time when American traders 


would bring them supplies of every kind. Here, 
as on other barbarous frontiers, refugees from justice 
found asylum and added their defiance of law and 
order to the Indians' instinctive distrust of the 

By the middle of February the winter had mod- 
erated, and the party began to make preparations for 
the voyage up the Missouri. Spring came none too 
soon, for the stock of meat laid in during November 
and December was exhausted, and it was difficult to 
procure more. The hunters went sixty miles in 
pursuit of game, but the deer and elk and buffalo 
they brought back were so lean as to be poor nourish- 
ment. On February 18 the men were reduced for 
the first time to a vegetable diet, — the corn and 
dried squashes brought in by the squaws. The 
pirogues were soon chopped and pried out of the 
ice, and dragged to the shore with a windlass and 
elkskin ropes. The barge proved unwieldy for these 
devices, and it was decided, moreover, that she was 
too large for the upper Missouri. Canoes enough to 
take her place were built by a gang of men sent out to 
a cottonwood grove under direction of Sergeant 
Gass. By the first of March the river began to 
break up, and swans, ducks and wild geese were seen 
flying toward the northeast. The boats and pi- 
rogues were ready on the twenty-first. On the 
twenty-ninth the river, which had been rising for 
several days, broke through the ice, and the water 
came down in floods. The men were set to getting 
out the stores and Indian goods that they might dry 
in the sun, and the supplies were packed in eight 


duplicate divisions "so as to preserve a portion of 
each in case of accident." 

From Fort Mandan, Lewis sent to President Jeffer- 
son a letter reporting the journey up to date, together 
with a map of the region still to be traversed, based 
on ''testimony of a number of Indians who have 
visited that country, and who have been separately 
and carefully examined on that subject, and we 
therefore think it entitled to some degree of confi- 
dence." 19 On the same day that the expedition set 
out up the Missouri, the barge started back to St. 
Louis, with seven soldiers, two Frenchmen, and Mr. 
Gravelines as pilot. Lewis' letter, together with the 
journals kept by himself and Captain Clark, were 
communicated to Congress (February, 1805), and 
furnished the first authentic information to reach 
Washington concerning the party. Plans for the 
future were more or less hypothetical, but the cap- 
tains anticipated little difficulty in reaching the 
Great Falls of the Missouri. There the pirogues 
were to be abandoned, and the voyage pursued in 
skin canoes to the head of navigable water. Beyond 
this "any calculation with respect to our daily prog- 
ress can be little more than mere conjecture." It 
was hoped that the journey overland from the sources 
of the Missouri to the Columbia might be greatly 
facilitated by horses to be purchased of the Indians 
for the transportation of luggage. 

On the seventh of April, 1805, the little flotilla, 
two pirogues and six dugout canoes, set out on its 
great adventure. Lewis wrote to Jefferson, "At 
this moment, every individual of the party are in 


good health, and excellent sperits ; zealously at- 
tached to the enterprise, and anxious to proceed ; 
not a whisper of discontent or murmur is to be 
heard among them; but all in unison, act with the 
most perfect harmoney. with such men I have 
every thing to hope, and but little to fear." 20 All 
superfluities were dispensed with. Firearms and 
ammunition, carpenter's and blacksmith's tools, the 
iron frame of a boat which Lewis had brought from 
Harper's Ferry and expected to put together for the 
voyage beyond the falls, and such of the provisions 
as had been saved — some parched meal, portable 
soup, pork, and flour — made up the luggage. 

Navigation of the upper Missouri proved to be 
comparatively easy. The water was shallow and 
muddy, and sand bars were frequent ; but the 
caving banks and treacherous driftwood that beset 
the lower river had well-nigh disappeared. Sails 
could be used for long stretches, and the cordelle 
was readily worked from the low banks. The only 
serious difficulties were the occasional strong head 
winds and the sudden squalls that threatened an 
unwary steersman with capsize. The ever present 
mosquitoes besieged the night camps, and dust 
storms arising in the waterless plains blinded the 
eyes ; but, with these exceptions, the voyage was a 
pleasure excursion. Traces of Indians were seen, 
abandoned lodges and empty whiskey casks, indi- 
cating the recent presence of Assiniboins. The 
captains were on their guard, but by great good 
fortune they had no encounter with this " vicious, 
illy disposed nation." 


The Little Missouri was passed on April 12, and 
here two Frenchmen, who had accompanied the 
party up the river, stopped, thinking the prospect 
for beaver excellent. They were the first white 
men to trap in this region. A few miles above they 
passed a stream (Indian River) which they called 
Chaboneau's Creek because this man had once 
camped there. It marked the limit of his knowl- 
edge of the Missouri. Lapage, one of the voyageurs, 
had penetrated a little farther ; but beyond Mussel 
Shell Creek, the great waterway was unexplored. 
On April 26, the beautiful river, known to the 
French as the Rochejaune, was reached. The 
Indians had assured them that this tributary took 
its rise in the mountains, near the source of the 
Platte and Missouri rivers. Lewis suggests in his 
journal that the plateau on the right bank of the 
Missouri, two miles above the mouth of the Yellow- 
stone, would be a good point for a government 
trading post. Building stone was at hand and fresh, 
sweet water, and the two rivers gave access to rich 
fur country. "The beaver of this part of the Mis- 
souri are larger, fatter, more abundant and better 
clad with fur than those of any other part of the 
country that I have yet seen ; I have remarked also 
that their fur is much darker." 21 The first con- 
siderable river flowing in from the north or left 
bank was called the Milk, because of "the peculiar 
whiteness of its water, which precisely resembles 
tea with a considerable mixture of milk." 22 Ex- 
ploration proved that this great river drained a 
beautiful valley, with wide, fertile bottom lands of 


rich loam. It was surmised that the source might 
be near the Saskatchewan and that the Milk might 
afford communication with British waters. On 
May 9, they passed "a most extraordinary river," 
which they decided to call the Bigdry ; " It is as wide 
as the Missouri is at this place or half a mile wide 
and not containing a single drop of runing water; 
some small standing pools being all the water that 
could be perceived," 23 although there were indica- 
tions that in the rainy season the river bed was 
filled with a mad torrent. Here, too, the ravages of 
the beaver were evident. "In [one] place particu- 
larly they had cut all the timber down for three 
acres in front and on nearly one back from the river 
and had removed a considerable proportion of it, 
the timber grew very thick and some of it was as 
large as a man's body." 24 

As the explorers entered the foot-hills, the tem- 
perature fell, and ice appeared along the river's 
edge ; pines and cedar trees began to supplant the 
cottonwood, and the air was astonishingly dry and 
pure. As the stream grew more rapid, " riffles and 
rocky points" rendered navigation difficult. The 
current was too strong for oars and too deep for the 
pole, and the canoes had to be dragged along by 
the cordelle. The men were frequently obliged to 
jump into the water to stave the boats off the 
rocks, and the strain on their endurance was great. 
"The men are compelled to be in the water even to 
their arm-pits, and the water is yet very could, and 
so frequent are those pointfs] that they are one 
fourth of their time in the water, added to this the 


banks and bluffs along which they are obliged to 
pass are so slippery and the mud so tenacious that 
they are unable to wear their mockersons, and in 
that situation draging the heavy burthen of a canoe 
and walking acasionally for several hundred yards 
over the sharp fragments of rocks which tumble 
from the clifts and garnish the borders of the river." 25 

On May 25, Captain Lewis ascended some hills 
near Windsor Creek, Elk Rapids, and descried the 
snowy peaks of the "Rock Mountains." The 
sources of the Missouri must be near at hand as well 
as that pass over the great divide which would lead 
to westward-flowing rivers, and Lewis was keenly 
aware that the difficulties of his journey had begun. 
On June 3, they came upon a river flowing in from 
the north, as large as the Missouri and so similar in 
general character that the captains were at a loss 
to determine which was the real Missouri. "To 
mistake the stream at this period of the season, 
two months of the traveling season having now 
elapsed, and to ascend such stream to the rocky 
Mountain or perhaps much further before we could 
inform ourselves whether it did approach the Co- 
lumbia or not, and then be obliged to return and 
take the other stream would not only loose us the 
whole of this season but would probably so dis- 
hearten the party that it might defeat the expedi- 
tion altogether." 26 

The men, notably the voyageurs, held that the 
northern fork, a shallow, muddy stream, was the 
course to follow; but the captains were inclined 
to think that the south branch, being clearer and 


more rapid, came more directly from the moun- 
tains. Reconnoitering parties were therefore sent 
out up the two rivers and into the hills in the 
hope of getting some definite clew. The first day's 
effort bringing no decisive result, the two cap- 
tains set out, Lewis up the north fork and Clark 
along the south, two days' journey. The result 
confirmed them in their first opinion. Lewis fol- 
lowed his river fifty-nine miles and, observing that 
the mountain range was trending to the northwest, 
concluded that the stream must drain the vast 
intervening valley and could lead to no divide. He 
named it Maria's River for a cousin back in Vir- 
ginia. Clark, on the other hand, after working his 
way with great difficulty forty-five miles up a narrow 
valley with precipitous sides, was fully convinced 
that the south branch had its source in the snow- 
clad mountains to the southwest. Meantime the 
men, relying on the views of Cruzatte, the most ex- 
perienced of the boatmen, held to their contrary 
opinion. There was one sure criterion. The Man- 
dans had been positive that on the Missouri, a little 
to the south of the setting sun, there was a great 
waterfall not to be confused with any rapids. Lewis 
therefore determined to push up the south fork until 
he should reach the falls or encounter the moun- 
tain barrier so dreaded by the men. He set out 
on June 11, taking with him four men. Captain 
Clark, meantime, employed the others in dressing 
elkskins for the light canoes and in caching the 
pirogue and all the luggage that could be spared, 
together with some provisions, tools, and powder, 


co await the return journey. After three days' 
march, Captain Lewis' heart was gladdened by the 
roar of a distant waterfall, and from a point of high 
land he saw "the spray arrise above the plain like a 
collumn of smoke which would frequently dispear 
again in an instant caused I presume by the wind 
which blew pretty hard from the S.W." 27 Seven 
miles' rough walking brought him to the Great Falls 
of the Missouri. Shields was despatched down the 
river to direct Captain Clark to bring the party to 
this point, while Lewis, seating himself on a rock 
under the centre of the falls, surrendered himself to 
enjoyment of "this truly magnificent and sublimely 
grand object which has from the commencement of 
time been concealed from the view of civilized 
man." 28 The mighty rush of water was more to 
him than a natural wonder; it was the vindication of 
his foresight, the assurance that he was on the right 
trail to the mountain pass that should lead him to 
the Columbia. 

The eighteen-mile portage round the Great Falls 
occupied a fortnight and seriously taxed the en- 
durance of the men. A rude wagon was constructed 
for transporting the canoes and heavier luggage, 
sawed sections of cottonwood trees serving for 
wheels. Never was a more awkward cart trundled 
over a rougher road by human muscle. The im- 
provised vehicle broke down again and again, and 
finally the load had to be transferred to the men's 
shoulders. Lewis spent the two weeks in making 
a full and exact description of Giant Spring, the 
Falls, and the ten miles of cataract above and below. 


His word picture, together with Captain Clark's 
map, make up an account of the region that is still 
standard, notwithstanding the changes wrought by 
the Great Northern Railroad, the smelters, and the 
town of fifteen thousand inhabitants that render 
Great Falls a centre of prosperous industry. 

Elk and buffalo were still abundant, and the 
hunters were engaged in bringing in game, jerking the 
meat for the mountain journey and tanning the skins 
for the covering of the iron boat frame. This was 
now set up and the hides carefully fitted on. Elk- 
skins were preferred because stronger and more 
durable than buffalo, and less liable to shrink. 
Having no tar to calk the seams, they used a com- 
position of charcoal, beeswax, and buffalo tallow ; 
but this unfortunately cracked off when the boat 
was placed in the water, and "the Experiment" that 
had cost so much time and labor was regretfully 
abandoned. The beeswax and tallow composition 
held to the untanned buffalo hides, and the captains 
were forced to the conclusion that these would have 
served the purpose better; but it was too late to 
make the change. The buffalo were fast retreating 
to the plains, the season was advancing, and the 
party must be over the divide before winter set in. 
Resort was had to the cottonwood, and two addi- 
tional dugouts were manufactured. The men, mean- 
time, had repaired their clothing and made new 
moccasins with double soles, calculated to resist the 
spines of the prickly pear. 

It had been the original intention to send back a 
canoe from the Falls with journals, etc., to inform 


the President of the safety of the party ; but that was 
now thought unwise. "Not having seen the Snake 
Indians or knowing in fact whether to calculate on 
their friendship or hostility we have conceived our 
party sufficiently small and therefore have concluded 
not to dispatch a canoe with a part of our men to St. 
Louis as we had intended early in the spring." 29 The 
decision was a wise one, but the failure of the expected 
report occasioned Jefferson much anxiety. 

On July 15 the canoes were launched in the up- 
per Missouri, and the mountain journey was begun. 
The river wound through a narrow valley, well 
wooded and radiant with bloom. Sunflowers, wild 
cucumbers, and lambs-quarter covered the banks, 
while the levels were beset by the prickly pear, "one of 
the greatest beauties as well as the greatest incon- 
veniences of the plains." Navigation grew laborious 
as the velocity of the current increased, and the 
men walked, to lighten the canoes. Parallel to the 
river ran an Indian road, evidently much used, and 
this it was hoped would guide them to the encamp- 
ments of the Snake or Shoshone Indians. From 
these people Lewis expected to get horses and infor- 
mation as to the most practicable route ; hence it 
was of the utmost importance neither to miss them 
nor to encounter their hostility. Horse tracks in the 
road, willow huts recently abandoned, and signal 
fires lighted to warn stragglers of the neighborhood 
of their inveterate foes, the Minnetarees, indicated 
that the Shoshones were not only near, but were on 
their guard. To prove that his people were white 
men and friends, Lewis directed that pieces of cloth, 


linen, and paper be left along the trail. Captain 
Clark followed the road with three of the men, 
while the canoes were poled and towed through the 
picturesque canon, then first seen by white men and 
appropriately named the Gates of the Rocky Moun- 
tains. Arrived at White Earth Creek, Sacajawea 
recognized the clay banks where her people were 
accustomed to come for the paint with which they 
tattooed the bodies of their braves, and she said that 
the Three Forks of the Missouri was at no great 
distance. This was the point of rendezvous where 
the canoes were to await the walking party. Lewis 
camped for several days at a spot where Sacajawea 
said she had been captured five years before, and 
explored the three rivers, which they named after the 
leading statesmen of that day, Jefferson, Madison, and 
Gallatin ; but although three Indian trails converged 
here, they failed to find the Shoshones. 

On the thirtieth of July, Lewis took the road, leav- 
ing Clark, who was well-nigh exhausted, to bring on 
the canoe party. Travelling was laborious and slow 
by both canoe and trail. Beaver were extraordinarily 
abundant, damming the streams and diverting the 
water in a way that was sometimes inconvenient. 
The river was so tortuous that they had to travel 
twelve miles to make four, and they were in con- 
stant danger of capsize. Horses had become a ne- 
cessity. Pushing on up the Jefferson, they passed 
streams which they named Philosophy, Wisdom, 
and Philanthropy, after the " cardinal virtues of 
that justly selibrated character" (names long since 
degraded to Willow Creek, Big Hole River, and 

Lswia and Clark's Route from St. Louis to the Mouth of the Columb.a River 


Stinking Water). Lewis, determined to find the 
Indians at any cost, pressed on by forced marches 
to the Two Forks of the Jefferson (Beaverhead 
River). After a careful reconnoissance, he decided 
to take the south branch (Trail Creek), and fol- 
lowed it to its source in Lemhi Pass. Crossing the 
divide, they found a stream flowing to the west, "a 
creek of the Columbia" (Lemhi Creek or Lewis 
River). Here the jubilant pioneers camped for the 
night (August 12) and, building a fire of dry willow 
brush, cooked their last piece of pork. They were three 
thousand miles from the mouth of the Missouri and out 
of provisions, but happy with the prospect of success. 

The next morning "very early," Lewis and his 
companions followed the Indian road down the 
valley of the Lemhi, hoping to come upon an Indian 
camp. They were soon rewarded by the sight of 
two women, a man, and some dogs, but the people 
ran away in terror. To disarm their suspicions and 
to get speech of them required all the diplomacy of 
which Lewis was master. Some women were finally 
persuaded, by presents of beads and vermilion 
paint, to lead the white men to their camp. Cameah- 
wait, their chief, was induced to smoke the pipe of 
peace, and a United States flag was presented to 
him as an emblem of alliance. The hungry travellers 
were then feasted on cakes made of dried berries, the 
only food in the lodge, and the important business 
of securing horses and guides was undertaken. 

Cameahwait feared that the strangers might be in 
league with his dreaded foes, the Minnetarees ; but 
Lewis assured him that they were an advance guard 


of a large party of white men who had crossed the 
mountains to find the road by which to bring the Sho- 
shones arms and merchandise in trade, that the 
rest of the party were now waiting on the Jefferson 
River, and that he could prove the truth of this 
statement by accompanying them back to the 
Forks. To this proposal the chief assented, and set 
out next day accompanied by eight warriors. The 
success of the negotiations now depended on the 
prompt arrival of the main party. Lewis reached 
the Forks on the sixteenth to find no trace of Clark. 
Cameahwait's suspicions were allayed with diffi- 
culty, while Drewyer was despatched down the river 
to hasten the coming of the canoes. Captain Clark's 
party came in sight next day, and the fears of 
the Shoshones were set at rest, once for all, by the 
appearance of Sacajawea. In true fairy tale fashion, 
Cameahwait recognized her as his long-lost sister, 
and she was welcomed to the tribe with every token 
of joy and affection. Henceforth the Shoshones 
were ready to serve the white men to the extent of 
their ability. 

The chief wealth of the Shoshones was in their 
horses. Cameahwait's tribe possessed some seven 
hundred, as well as a few mules which were prized 
even more highly. Both horses and mules were 
secured by trade with the Spaniards, from whose 
settlements they were ten days distant via the 
Yellowstone route. 30 Cameahwait complained bit- 
terly that the Spaniards would sell no guns, and 
that they were defenceless against the Minnetarees, 
who were supplied by the British factors and there- 


fore invincible. The Shoshones were no less war- 
like by nature. "If we had guns, instead of hiding 
ourselves in the mountains and living like bears 
on roots and berries, we would then go down and 
live in the buffalo country in spite of our enemies, 
whom we never fear when we meet them on equal 

Lemhi Pass is comparatively easy of access, but 
it leads to some of the most difficult territory in the 
Rocky Mountains. Cameahwait drew on the ground 
a map of the mountain chains and rivers that lay 
between his country and that of the Chopunnish 
(Nez Perces), and said they had told him that the 
streams he knew flowed into a river that "ran a 
great way toward the seting sun and finally lost 
itself in a great lake of water which was illy taisted, 
and where the white men lived." 31 The Indians 
reported the mountain streams so dangerous for 
canoes and so difficult of navigation that it was 
evident the luggage must be transferred to pack 
horses. Thirty- two animals were purchased at a 
cost of one hundred dollars in trinkets, and pack 
saddles were put together out of oar handles and 
rawhide. An old man who knew more of the region 
than any other Shoshone was engaged as guide, and 
on August 30 the expedition set out in quest of the 
Pacific. The two weeks' sojourn had given the men 
time to recruit their strength and to repair their moc- 
casins and deerskin clothing. Little food had been 
accumulated, for deer and mountain goats, the only 
game in the mountains, were scarce and shy. The 
Indians had nothing to eat but salmon, berries, and 


roots, dried for winter use, and were about to migrate 
to the buffalo ranges on the upper Missouri. There 
was plenty of trout and mullet in the creeks, but 
to supply so large a party with so small a fish re- 
quired more time than the approach of winter allowed, 
and they were forced to depend on the pork, flour, 
and parched corn brought out from St. Louis. The 
Indians having assured them that the route directly 
west, along the Salmon and Snake rivers, was too 
rough to be practicable for horses, the party fol- 
lowed the guide, "over the worst road that ever 
was travelled," back across the divide directly north 
by the Nez Perces Pass to a branch of the Bitter 
Root River which they called Clark's in honor of 
the second in command. On September 3 the first 
snow fell, a plain warning that delay was dangerous. 
Yet they were obliged to halt two days at Traveller's 
Rest Creek (Lou Lou Fork) in order to rest, mend 
their moccasins and collect food, their scant store of 
provisions being almost exhausted. The utmost ef- 
forts of the four hunters could not feed the company, 
however, and they were forced to have recourse to 
the colts, three of which had followed the horses. 

Lolo Pass led them from the Bitter Root Valley 
to the Kooskooskee, the south fork of the Clearwater 
River. They were now on the Columbia watershed, 
but travel was increasingly difficult. The mountains 
overhung the river, and the road, often covered with 
snow, was only "a narrow, rockey path generally on 
the side of [a] steep precipice, from which in many 
places if e[i]ther man or horse were precipitated they 
would inevitably be dashed in pieces." Horses and 


men were suffering for lack of food. The record for 
September 18 reads: "We took a small quantity 
of portable soup, and retired to rest much fatiegued. 
several of the men are unwell of the disentary." 32 
Captain Clark pushed ahead in the quest of game 
and arrived on September 20 at an encampment of 
Nez Perces. The Shoshone guide could not speak 
their language, but by signs he made them under- 
stand the friendly intentions of the white men and 
their famished state. The Indians offered what 
food they had, some jerked buffalo meat, dried 
salmon, berries, and roots, "all of which we eate 
hartily." 33 Clark succeeded in buying some of this 
food to send back to Lewis and his men, who had 
exhausted their provisions and were reduced to 
crow's flesh. The unaccustomed luxury of sufficient 
food made them all ill. Even the captains were 
thrown out of commission for a few hours ; but they 
cheerfully dosed one another and the men with 
Rush's pills, and were soon fit for travel. Twisted 
Hair, the Chopunnish chief, drew a map of the river 
on a white elkskin with a charred coal. Accord- 
ing to this, they were still two days' journey from 
the point where the Kooskooskee emptied into the 
Snake River and seven days' from the great river 
that flowed from the northwest ; thence it was five 
days by boat to the falls where the whites came to 
trade. The junction of the Kooskooskee and Snake 
rivers was reached on the twenty-seventh, and there 
all the able-bodied men set to work building the 
canoes that were to transport them to the sea. 
The horses were branded and left in charge of 


Twisted Hair, while the saddles and part of the 
ammunition were cached for the return journey. 

The Columbia itself was not reached till October 
16. The down-stream voyage in the canoes was 
luxurious after the four months of strenuous moun- 
tain travel, and relaxation came none too soon, for 
nearly all the men were ill. The only serious diffi- 
culty still to be encountered was scarcity of food 
and fuel. Dogs, purchased of the Flathead Indians, 
made more wholesome eating than dried fish and 
roots, but the lack of fire-wood often occasioned real 
suffering. Fortunately the salmon season was at 
hand, and the Indians from far and near had come 
to lay in their winter food. Their lodges and fish- 
flakes were frequently seen along the shore, and 
plenty of fresh salmon was to be had for a song. In 
spite of rapids and sand bars, the canoes made from 
thirty to forty miles a day. On October 19 they 
came in view of a snow-clad peak to the west which 
they rightly surmised to be the mountain named 
St. Helens by Vancouver. On the twenty-third they 
portaged round "the Great Falls," called Timm by 
the Indians in imitation of the rushing torrent. 

Below the Great Falls, a new type of Indians, the 
Escheloots, were in possession. They dwelt in 
houses built of split timber, wove baskets of cedar 
roots, and wore well-made garments of skin. Their 
trade with the Skilloots of the lower river had sup- 
plied them with British muskets and kettles and the 
cast-off clothing of British sailors. One brave cut a 
ridiculous figure in a pea-jacket and a round hat 
beneath which he wore his hair in a queue. The 


dangerous passage of the Dalles was made in the 
canoes, to the astonishment of the natives, to whom 
the expertness and daring of Cruzatte were a marvel. 
On the first of November they portaged round the 
Great Shoot or Cascades and launched their boats 
in tide-water at last. The banks of the lower 
Columbia and the slopes of the mountains were 
well wooded with pine, spruce, white oak, cotton- 
wood, and alder, and there was no longer any scar- 
city of fuel. Game and wild fowl were abundant. 
Canvasback duck and red char were the delicacies 
with which these way-worn travellers were regaled 
on their voyage down the river. Indian villages 
were frequent, and the trading canoes of the Skilloots 
were passing to and from the Great Shoot. The 
mountain tribes had been timid, but hospitable and 
honest. The Skilloots proved to be altogether too 
familiar with white men, and their overtures were 
even annoying. "We soon found them to be very 
assuming and disagreeable companions." They stole 
whatever they could lay their hands on, even the 
pipe which they were smoking in token of amity. 
Association with the traders had demoralized the 
Coast Indians, and it was necessary to impress them 
with the necessity of keeping their distance. 

The Cascade Range once passed, the dry air of 
the mountains gave way to fog and rain. On the 
seventh of November, the spirits of the party were 
greatly cheered by the sound of distant breakers, 
the tumultuous uproar made by the tide as it meets 
the outflowing current, — the terrible bore at the 
mouth of the Columbia. The much-desired Pacific 



gave them a most inhospitable welcome. The canoes, 
not built for rough water, were tossed about like 
corks in the waves, and the little flotilla was obliged 

The Mouth of the Columbia River. 

to put ashore at the first feasible landing. A narrow 
beach with overhanging bluffs barely gave them 
room to draw themselves and their luggage free 
from the surf, and a south wind drove the driftwood 
over the water-logged canoes. After spending the 
night in safeguarding their belongings, the men were 
glad to move. A second camp, ten miles farther on, 
proved somewhat safer, though no less uncomfortable. 
A high west wind, continuous rain, and heavy surf 
held them storm-bound here from November 16 
to 25. Meantime, the two leaders were exploring 
both banks of the river for a point of high ground, 
accessible to wood, fresh water, and game, and suit- 
able for a winter camp. Not till the eighth of 
December was the location decided upon, but the 
excellence of the site justified the delay. On a little 
river flowing into Meriwether's Bay (later Young's) 


about three hundred feet back from the Columbia 
and thirty feet above the level of the high tides, in 
a grove of lofty pines, they determined to erect their 
fort. Here were built seven cabins and a store- 
house, and a strong palisade surrounding all. A 
secondary camp was established on the near-by coast, 
where a detachment of men was employed in the man- 
ufacture of salt. They moved from the leaky tents 
into the huts on the twenty-fourth, and Christmas 
Day was celebrated by a very light-hearted company. 
Fort Clatsop seemed to be as well built and as 
well provided with the necessities of life as Fort 
Mandan ; but the contrast between a camp in the 
dry cold of North Dakota and one at sea level, 
under the sway of the Japanese Current, soon be- 
came evident. The journals record rain, rain, rain, 
day after day. In the five months spent at the 
mouth of the Columbia, there were but twelve days 
free from rain. The effect upon the health of the 
party soon became apparent. Working and sleep- 
ing in soaked leather clothing, a week at a time, 
the men sickened and grew discouraged. The salt 
makers gave out first, but they succeeded in putting 
by twelve gallons of salt for the return journey before 
the works were abandoned. The Clatsop Indians 
of the coast were a demoralized set. Smallpox had 
ravaged their villages in 1775 and 1800, and fa- 
miliarity with the whites had broken down their 
native virtues. They were amazingly shrewd at a 
bargain, and were ready to sell anything, from 
wappatoo to women, to the highest bidder. In 
spite of their friendly bearing, the commander, 


assured that their fidelity was not to be depended 
on, ordered the men to be always on their guard 
against treachery. The Indians were never allowed 
within the fort in large numbers, and they were 
regularly excluded at night. The men were kept 
busy indoors dressing elkskins and fashioning the 
clothing that was to serve for the return journey, 
and Gass records that they made three hundred and 
thirty-eight pairs of "mockasons," for their own 
use and to trade with the Indians. The captains 
employed the long winter months in making care- 
ful studies of the race traits and customs of the 
Indians, and in compiling minute descriptions of 
the fauna and flora of the region; but to the 
men, the depressing weather and comparative in- 
activity were more trying than the hardships of 
that forced march across the mountains. They 
suffered much from rheumatism and general debility, 
and, though they were systematically dosed with 
Rush's and Scott's pills, saltpetre, sage tea, and 
laudanum, they did not readily recover tone. So 
many had not been ill at one time since leaving 
Woods River. Toward the end of February, the 
hunters reported that elk were retreating to the 
mountains some nine or ten miles to the eastward, 
a distance to which it was practically impossible to 
follow them through the dense forest and bring the 
meat back to camp. This was most unwelcome 
news, "for poor and inferior as the flesh of this ani- 
mal is, it is our principal dependence for subsistence." 
The flagging strength of the men required better 
food than the dried salmon and wappatoo roots, 


which was all the Indians had to sell. The record for 
February 26 reads: "We have three days' provi- 
sions only in store, and that of the most inferior 
dryed elk, a little tainted. A comfortable prospect 
for good living!" On March 5 there was no more 
elk meat, fresh or dried, and but two days' supply 
of other food. The captains began to discuss the 
advisability of breaking camp and moving slowly 
up the river, procuring subsistence by the way. 

Just this emergency had not been foreseen. Jeffer- 
son had provided Lewis with letters of credit that 
might be drawn against the president of the United 
States in any part of the world ; but they were of no 
avail to entice elk from the mountains and could not 
be converted into food and clothing and goods for the 
Indian barter until the arrival of the trading vessels, 
and these did not usually put into the Columbia 
before April. The government should have sent a 
supply ship to meet the expedition at the mouth of 
the Columbia, but such a measure might have 
entailed international complications. By the end 
of March the situation had become intolerable, and 
they only awaited suitable weather to set out for 
the mountains. Lewis' journal states (March 20), 
"We have accomplished every object which induced 
our remaining at this place except that of meeting 
with the traders who visit the entrance of this river. 
... It would have been very fortunate for us 
had some of those traders arrived previous to our 
departure from hence, as we should then have had 
it in our power to obtain an addition to our stock 
of merchandize which would have made our home- 


ward bound journey much more comfortable." u 
Their stock in trade was indeed lamentably reduced. 
All the small articles, says Lewis, "might have been 
tied up in two handkerchiefs." There were, beside, 
half a dozen blue and scarlet robes, Captain Clark's 
artillery coat and hat, five robes made of the United 
States flag, and some ribbons. Little enough to pay 
their way back to St. Louis ! 

With great difficulty they secured two of the 
Indian canoes, which, with the three pirogues, 
served to accommodate the party. The price paid 
for one of these beautiful boats, equal in value to a 
wife in Clatsop estimation, was Captain Lewis' 
uniform laced coat and half a carotte of tobacco. 
"I think," says the despoiled owner, "the IP States 
are indebted to me another Uniform coat, for that of 
which I have disposed on this occasion was but little 
woarn." 35 A rostrum of the party was posted at the 
fort with a brief statement of the objects and achieve- 
ments of the expedition and a sketch of the connection 
between the upper branches of the Missouri and the 
Columbia rivers and of the route by which they pro- 
posed to return. Several copies of the statement were 
left with the Indians, in the expectation that one might 
fall into the hands of some trader and so find its way 
back to the United States. Two at least of the French 
voyageurs elected to remain with the Clatsops. Philip 
Degre and Louis Rivet took to themselves Indian 
wives and built cabins on French Prairie, an open 
meadow on the Willamette River. 

If Lewis' party had been .able to hold out a fort- 
night longer, they would have been relieved. Jewitt's 

Indian Tepees on the Columbia River. 

Indian Canoes on the Columbia River. 


Narrative records that the Lydia of Boston, the 
ship by which he was rescued, put into the Colum- 
bia in April, 1806. "When about ten miles up the 
river at a small Indian village, we learned from the 
inhabitants that Captains Lewis and Clark from 
the United States of America had been there about 
a fortnight before, on their journey overland, and 
had left several medals which they showed us." Cap- 
tain Hill carried away one of the written statements ; 
but since he was bound for Canton, his news did 
not reach the United States until January, 1807. 
Oddly enough, on the very day (March 14, Old Style) 
that the captains broke camp, de ResanofFs ship, 
the Neva, attempted to run into the Columbia, but 
was prevented by the sudden shifting of the wind 
from northwest to southeast. Von Langsdorff entered 
Gray's Bay in a bidarka and saw the smoke of the 
Indian villages, but had no communication with the 

All arrangements being complete and the weather 
partially clearing, the canoes started up the Colum- 
bia on March 25. The Multnomah (Willamette), 
unnoticed hitherto, was explored by Captain Clark 
for a few miles to the falls and a map of this river 
secured from an aged Indian. From the point where 
the city of Portland now stands, Clark descried four 
snow-covered peaks — Jefferson, Hood, St. Helens, 
and Adams. Mt. Rainier he does not seem to have 
distinguished from St. Helens, with which it lies 
almost in line. "At this place I think the width 
of the river may be stated at 500 yards and suffi- 
ciently deep for a Man of war or ship of any 


burthen." ** In spite of the pilfering propensities 
of the Falls Indians, the luggage was safely portaged 
round the Cascades, but one of the pirogues was 
lost. At the Dalles, the current proved too strong 
for navigation. The boats were therefore exchanged 
for horses enough to carry the luggage, and the journey 
pursued by land. The dry, pure air of the plains 
proved very invigorating, and the invalids rapidly 
recovered. The party was most hospitably received 
by the Wallah-wallahs, and here additional horses 
and a dozen dogs were purchased for crossing the 
mountains. Captain Clark was able to defray the 
expenses of the journey by his medical services to 
the natives. Broken arms and sore eyes and skin 
diseases were the ailments treated by this empirical 

On Chopunnish (Touchet) River they came upon 
Twisted Hair and found, to their relief, that the 
horses left with him were in good condition. Sixty- 
five animals, the pack-saddles, and the ammunition 
were recovered without difficulty from this honorable 
chief, and a stock of dogs and Indian bread was ac- 
cumulated. The party had come to consider dogs' 
flesh very good eating, more nutritious than elk or 
salmon. In the mountains the situation was far more 
difficult. The Indians themselves had exhausted 
their winter supply of provisions, and could offer 
little more than dried roots, a diet that made the men 
ill. Recourse was again had to horse-flesh, and the 
colts proved not bad provender, yet the march up the 
Kooskooskee was seriously hampered by lack of food. 
The hunters went so far afield as to be in frequent 


danger of being lost, yet brought in nothing but 
pheasants and a sand-hill crane. All hope of laying 
in dried meat for the journey across the mountains 
had to be abandoned, and the stock in trade was 
divided among the men, that each might purchase 
roots at his own discretion. 

The snow lay deep, but the Indian guides kept the 
road so skilfully that wherever the ground appeared, 
the track was clearly discerned. The caches were 
found in good condition, and the supplies of powder, 
salt, and medicine fortunately reenforced. At Travel- 
ler's Rest Creek, beyond the Bitter Root Range, the 
party divided. Captain Lewis, with nine men, under- 
took to cross the divide by the usual Indian trail 
over Lolo Pass to Medicine River and the Great 
Falls, for the purpose of exploring Maria's River and 
ascertaining whether it might not afford a practicable 
trade route to the Saskatchewan. The remaining 
men and Chaboneau's family went with Captain 
Clark by way of the Big Hole or Gibbons Pass to the 
Wisdom River, and thence down the Jefferson and up 
the Gallatin to the Yellowstone and the Missouri. 
A better plan to render the return trip serviceable to 
fuller knowledge of the region could hardly have been 
devised. The two parties were to reunite at the 
mouth of the Yellowstone. 

Once on the buffalo ranges east of the mountains, 
all danger of starvation was at an end. Clark under- 
took to shorten his road by striking directly across 
from Clark's (Salmon River) to the head of Wisdom 
River, the practicability of the route being indicated 
by buffalo paths and Indian trails. The other party, 


meantime, had no difficulty in reaching the Great 
Falls, whence Lewis set out to explore the Maria's. 
Gass and Ordway, with six men, he sent to White 
Bear Island to build canoes, with instructions to start 
down the Missouri in case he himself did not return 
by the first of September. Lewis, with Drewyer and 
the two Fields, set out on horseback directly north. 
They had got to Battle River, within one hundred and 
fifty miles of the British trading post (as far as where 
the town of Cut Bank now stands) when they fell in 
with the dreaded Minnetarees of Fort de Prairie, and 
were forced to turn back. These treacherous mis- 
creants attempted to steal the guns and horses, and 
in the scuffle that ensued, in spite of Lewis' endeavor 
to avoid bloodshed, two of the Indians were killed. 
To avoid meeting the larger band, as well as to warn 
Ordway's party of the neighborhood of hostile In- 
dians, the four men mounted their horses and rode at 
a desperate pace to the mouth of Maria's River, one 
hundred and twenty-five miles to the southeast. 
There they arrived in safety on July 28, a full week 
before they were expected ; but the canoes were for- 
tunately ready, and the whole force embarked im- 
mediately and thus avoided farther difficulty. They 
overtook Clark's contingent on August 12 at the 
junction of the Missouri with the Yellowstone, and 
here two hunters — Dickson and Hancock of the Illi- 
nois country — joined the party, intending to accom- 
pany them as far as the Mandans. 

The voyage to St. Louis was uneventful. The 
canoes made from eighty-five to one hundred miles a 
day, and the mosquitoes were the only serious foes 



encountered. At the Mandan villages they pur- 
chased a supply of corn and dried squash with beaver 
skins taken on the Yellowstone for this purpose. 
There they left Chaboneau and the faithful Sacajawea 
and picked up a deputation of Indian chiefs — Minne- 
tarees and Mandans — who were to visit Washington. 
Several trading parties were pushing up the river, 
eager to profit from the new fur regions revealed by the 
explorers. John Colter, one of Lewis' men, obtained 
permission to return with them as guide to the Yel- 
lowstone country. Early in September, the party 
reached the first white settlements and noticed that 
there had been a marked increase during their two 
years' absence. The sight of cows grazing on the 
bank caused the men to raise a shout of joy. At La 
Charette, they fired a salute and, landing, were re- 
ceived with all courtesy by the inhabitants. " Every 
person, both French and americans seem to express 
great pleasure at our return, and acknowledged them- 
selves much astonished in seeing us return, they 
informed us that we were supposed to have been lost 
long since, and were entirely given out by every per- 
son " 37 except the president. The night of the 
twenty-first was spent at St. Charles ; the twenty- 
second, with a cantonment of United States troops 
on Coldwater Creek. On the morning of the twenty- 
third, the expedition "decended to the Mississippi 
and down that river to St. Louis at which place we 
arrived about 12 o'Clock. we suffered the party to 
fire off their pieces as a Salute to the Town, we were 
met by all the village and received a harty welcome 
from it's inhabitants, &c." 38 The two captains im- 


mediately ordered civilized garments, that they might 
be equipped for polite society. On the twenty-fifth 
they paid some formal calls and attended a dinner 
and a ball given in their honor. The final record 
for September 26 states, "We commenced wright- 
ing" ; apparently the journals were now elaborated 
from the rough notes taken en route. 

Lewis' first concern was to secure adequate com- 
pensation for the men who had so faithfully followed 
his lead. They were rewarded by a generous grant 
of bounty lands in addition to their arrears of pay; 
but the journals state that most of the men disposed 
of their claims within ten days. They preferred hunt- 
ing to farm life. Clark was appointed superintend- 
ent of Indian affairs, a most suitable position and 
one which he ably filled for many years. In one 
capacity or another he administered justice in Loui- 
siana Territory until 1824. His wide knowledge of 
the Indian tribes, their languages and customs, and 
his reputation for decision and courage, gave him 
great influence everywhere on the frontier. His word 
was law with the Indians, from the Mississippi to the 
Pacific, while his fearless integrity made him the 
terror of evil-doers, both red and white. Lewis' later 
career was not so fortunate. He was immediately 
appointed governor of Louisiana Territory, a post for 
which his experience at Washington as well as his 
knowledge of the Missouri country rendered him 
eminently fit. Summoned to Washington in 1809, 
he was journeying thither on horseback along the 
Natchez Trace, when he met with a violent death at 
Grinder's Stand, a rough frontier inn in the Chickasaw 


country. Jefferson accepted the statement of 
Grinder's wife that her distinguished guest shot him- 
self in the night, and he cited a tendency to fits of 
depression as adequate explanation of the act. But 
nothing short of mental aberration could account for 
suicide on the part of a man who was returning home 
to an aged mother and many friends, and who had 
every reason to expect an appreciative reception both 
from his friend and patron Jefferson and from the 
government officials; who had, moreover, still to per- 
form a highly important task — the editing of those 
journals that were to give to the world the full results 
of the most successful expedition yet achieved by an 
American explorer. Quite another story was currently 
believed by the settlers along the Natchez trail. 
Grinder's reputation for rascality was such that they 
made no* doubt he had killed Lewis for the money he 

Pike ; Expedition to the Sources of the Mississippi 

No less significant for the future of the fur trade was 
the expedition to the head waters of the Mississippi 
carried through by Lieutenant Z. M. Pike under the 
auspices of the War Department, — August 9, 1805, 
to April 30, 1806. The voyage up the Father of 
Waters was by no means so difficult as the ascent of 
the Missouri. A keel boat was used to Prairie du 
Chien and there exchanged for a flat-bottomed ba- 
teau 39 which transported the party to the Falls of St. 
Anthony, and thence a light barge, more practicable 
for the portages, was used as far as Little Falls. 
Here the bulk of the party was left in winter camp. 



while Pike and two men pushed on with canoes and 
sledges over the seven hundred miles between this 
point and Cass Lake. He found the North West Com- 
pany in full possession of the beaver grounds of Minne- 
sota. They had trading posts at Sauk Rapids, Sandy 
Lake, and Leach Lake, whence they transported the 
furs by easy carries to Lake Superior and Montreal. 

V V^C/"xA*j N.W.Co's. House 

) Otter Tail l-CrSt\l C J 

Y ^} ' \ S 

<Jj ScSF 

C Lieu.Pik?sV_ 
) Block House 


Prairie La CToise^ 


^A&s, M 

Prairie des Cbieu 

X V 

sc^P . 


r^^"^ \? 


o/St. Louis 

r'lUUEU £•(. Co.. K. 

Pike's Mississippi Expedition, 1805-6. 

Their Indian trade extended as far south as Prairie 
du Chien, while their bateaux descended the Mis- 
sissippi to St. Louis and New Orleans. On the river 
St. Peters, Murdoch Cameron was prosecuting an 
independent business. 


It was an important part of Pike's mission to assert 
the authority of the United States in this border 
country and to enforce the regulations in respect to 
the fur trade. The law of 1786 required that every 
trader should obtain a license from the territorial au- 
thorities, and imposed heavy penalties for the sale of 
liquor to the Indians. Jay's treaty (1794) permitted 
British subjects to trade within American territory 
so long as they conformed to the law, but their in- 
fluence over the Indians was thought to be danger- 
ous. It was to keep these British agents in check 
and to convince the aborigines of the good-will and 
resources of the United States that Congress had in- 
dorsed the policy of maintaining government trading 
posts at strategic points along the Canadian frontier 
— such as Fort Wayne, Detroit, and Chicago — where 
goods were sold at cost and furs received at fair and 
even liberal prices. Pike recommended that such 
factories be established at the mouth of the Ouis- 
consing, at the Falls of St. Anthony, on the St. Peters, 
and on the St. Louis River at the head of Lake Su- 
perior, in the belief that the trade via the Mississippi, 
the Red River of the North, and the Great Lakes 
might thus be brought under control. The represen- 
tative of the United States government made it his 
business to see that the laws were enforced. Finding 
that Murdoch Cameron "had taken liquor and sold 
it to the Indians on the river St. Peters, and that 
his partner below had been equally imprudent, I 
pledged myself to prosecute them according to law ; 
for they have been the occasion of great confusion 
and of much injury to the other traders." 40 When 


La Jeunesse was detected in the same underhand 
practice, this energetic disciplinarian sent him the 
restrictions in writing and demanded his license. 
The accused could show only a tax certificate indicat- 
ing that he had paid the required fee on the goods 
sold in Indiana territory. 

With the representatives of the North West Com- 
pany, our young lieutenant was no less firm. This 
ambitious association had pushed its commerce from 
Athabasca to the head of Lake Superior and across 
the St. Louis River portage to the rich beaver coun- 
try about the sources of the Mississippi. While 
maintaining the most cordial relations with the fac- 
tors, Pike insisted that they should respect the au- 
thority of the United States and abstain from dis- 
tributing British medals among the Indians and 
disseminating among them ideas hostile to the 
rightful government. At Sandy Lake, the famished 
explorers were received by Mr. Grant (agent for Mr. 
Dickson of Sauk Rapids) in his very comfortable 
quarters and treated to a sumptuous repast of bread, 
tea, and fresh venison ; but the British flag was 
floating over the fort, and Pike could not forbear a 
protest. "I felt indignant, and cannot say what my 
feelings would have excited me to do, had he not in- 
formed me that it belonged to the Indians. This 
was not much more agreeable to me." 41 At Leech 
Lake, Hugh McGillis, of the North West Company, 
was no less hospitable. The wayworn traveller "had 
a good dish of coffee, biscuit, butter, and cheese for 
supper," and was entertained for the fortnight (Feb- 
ruary 1-12) of his stay; but no considerations of 


courtesy could deter Pike from asserting the sover- 
eign rights of his government. "Mr. McGillis asked 
if I had any objections to his hoisting their [British] 
flag in compliment to ours. I made none, as I had 
not yet explained to him my ideas." 42 A few days 
later (February 10), however, the record reads: 
" Hoisted the American flag in the fort. The Eng- 
lish yacht [jack] still flying at the top of the flagstaff, 
I directed the Indians and my riflemen to shoot at it. 
They soon broke the iron pin to which it was fas- 
tened, and brought it to the ground." 43 Against 
this exhibition of frontier diplomacy, McGillis had 
nothing to say. During his sojourn at Leech Lake, 
Lieutenant Pike drew up a careful statement in writ- 
ing of the limitations under which a foreign trader 
might operate within the boundaries of the United 
States, and McGillis accepted the justice of his rul- 
ings. Pike stipulated that British traders coming 
into United States territory were amenable to the 
jurisdiction of our government. They must obtain 
licenses of our agents, pay duties at the frontier on 
goods imported from Europe (this would have 
amounted to $13,000 in 1806), abstain from giving or 
selling liquor to Indians, from distributing British 
flags and medals to the natives, and from flying the 
British flag over forts. These measures were cal- 
culated to put the Americans on a par with the British 
traders and to check the southward extension of the 
North West Company's operations. 44 On the down- 
stream voyage, the expedition frequently encountered 
traders from St. Louis coming up the river in barges, 
bateaux and dugout canoes, eager to avail them- 


selves of the new opportunities opened up by the 

Pike's expedition had no lasting influence how- 
ever. Congress and the men of the East were pre- 
occupied in the contest with Great Britain that 
culminated in the War of 1812. The fur trade of the 
Mississippi continued to be exploited by the North 
West Company, which maintained posts at Mackinac, 
Fend du Lac, and Prairie du Chien. The Union 
Jack floated at the latter post until 1815. 


Section I 

Government Control vs. Laissez-faire 

Spanish Policy. — During the Spanish occupation 
of Louisiana Territory the fur trade was prosecuted, 
although under heavy handicaps, along the Missouri, 
Osage, and Kansas rivers. The firm of Maxent, 
Laclede & Cie., chartered by the French intendant 
in 1762, continued to carry on business from St. 
Louis throughout the Spanish regime. Other lesser 
houses were granted licenses to trade in restricted 
areas, on terms varying with the state of the market. 1 
Permits were put up at auction and knocked down to 
the highest bidder. The small trader, who had 
usually offered more than the normal yield of his dis- 
trict, was forced to make good his obligations to the 
governor and to the merchants of New Orleans by 
extortionate dealings with the Indians from whom the 
furs were purchased. Goods were sold them at ex- 
orbitant prices, liquor and firearms were offered as 
the most enticing bait, and the unbusinesslike red- 
man was tricked into the trader's debt by the credit 
system. Supplies for the winter's hunt were fur- 
nished with the stipulation that the advance be 
repaid in skins the following spring. The unsophis- 
ticated Indians regarded these advances as tribute 
u 289 


given for permission to pass through their territories 
unharmed. They brought the trader such furs as 
they could spare, to induce him to return with another 
cargo of goods, but they did not understand the ne- 
cessity of balancing accounts. Any attempt to force 
a fulfilment of obligations was met by reprisals. 
Having the advantage of superior numbers, the 
braves attacked the trading posts, plundering and 
maltreating the unlucky occupants. They had little 
fear of destroying the trade that brought them the 
much coveted fire-water and blankets; for one 
trader ruined, a new man was sure to appear, with 
wares even more alluring. The Missouri tribes were 
wont to say : ' ' The white men are like dogs, the more 
you beat them and plunder them, the more goods 
they will bring you, and the cheaper they will sell 
them." 2 Occasionally, when their outrages passed all 
bounds, when some man of importance was killed or 
some frontier settlement attacked, the governor 
would sally forth on a punitive expedition; but the 
slow-moving Spanish force was no match for the 
cunning of the natives. The only effect was to 
deepen their contempt for the white man's authority. 
The war, notwithstanding, was reported to Madrid 
with due solemnity, and the expenses charged to the 
king's treasury at several times the actual cost. 
Under a government so demoralized by " graft," 
no business could flourish. Manuel Lisa, who had 
enjoyed the monopoly of trade on the Osage River 
under ■ the Spanish administration, wrote General 
Clark (1817) of his satisfaction in the change of mas- 
ters : " I have suffered enough in person and property, 


under a different government, to know how to ap- 
preciate the one under which I now live." 3 

The Spanish governors could not even protect their 
licensees against foreign interlopers. British traders 
from Montreal despatched their bateaux down the 
Mississippi and up the St. Peters and Desmoines 
rivers, quite undisturbed by the cumbrous galleys 
sent to intercept them ; and rich cargoes of furs, col- 
lected at their trading mart, Prairie du Chien, passed 
up the Wisconsin and Illinois portages every spring. 

British Fur Traders 

The policy of the British government had always 
been to foster this pioneer industry without regard 
to public revenue. The Hudson's Bay Company, 
through its century-old monopoly of trade on all 
waters emptying into its ice-guarded sea, had waxed 
stronger than the colonial government and enjoyed 
sovereign powers within its vast territory. Exempt 
from the fear of competition, its policy had been to 
send no more furs to European markets than the con- 
dition of trade might warrant and to husband the 
resources of Prince Rupert's Land for future gen- 
erations of merchant adventurers. Factories were 
built at convenient points where navigable rivers 
emptied into the bay, and the Indians were taught 
to bring their season's catch to these depots, to which 
the goods for trade were brought direct from London. 
By this system the heavy costs of river transportation 
were met by the redmen, and the whites were spared 
the labor and the risks of voyages into the interior. 
Under the guns of the forts, moreover, the factor had 


the Indians completely in control. Intoxicating 
liquors and firearms were withheld, and the demoral- 
ization of the natives prevented. Since the fur-laden 
canoes could make their way down to the factory only 
in the months when the rivers were free from ice, the 
beaver meadows and deer parks were left undisturbed 
during the breeding season, a circumstance that 
meant much for the conservation of the industry. 
The dams and the young were free from molestation 
till the winter's hunt, so that the propagation of each 
season made good the season's kill, and the skins 
were taken only when the fur was in prime condition. 
The Hudson's Bay Company had authority to expel 
from its territory all unlicensed traders and persons 
who were deemed prejudicial to peace. Its control 
of the market enabled it to carry out a policy of fixed 
prices and standard goods ; its employees — factors, 
clerks, and engages — were well paid and well fed. 
They were assured of continuous service and of pro- 
vision against sickness and old age. The British 
government stipulated that an employee who had 
faithfully fulfilled his contracted term must be reen- 
gaged or returned to his home. He might not be 
abandoned in the wilderness. The result was to at- 
tach to the Company's service a body of devoted men 
who had no other ambition than to deserve well of 
the great business organization to which they be- 

Toward the end of the eighteenth century the 
placid monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company was 
rudely broken. The treaty of Paris opened the rich 
possibilities of the St. Lawrence River and the Great 


Lakes to the Scotch merchants of Montreal. These 
upstarts sent their trading parties along the routes 
discovered by the French and reaped a rich harvest. 
Restrained by no licenses, regulations, or traditions, 
they intercepted the Indians on their way to the 
Hudson's Bay Company factories, offered them 
higher prices or more attractive goods — liquor and 
firearms if need be — and succeeded in wheedling 
away the stock of furs intended for the great 
company. To secure their season's complement of 
pelts, the agents of the Hudson's Bay Company 
were obliged to adopt the methods of their com- 
petitors. Coureurs de bois were despatched up the 
Albany and Nelson rivers and the lakes to which they 
lead, where they came into conflict with the unli- 
censed traders from Montreal. Bloody encounters 
followed. The rivals did not hesitate to rob and 
even murder one another in the prosecution of their 
business interests, and there was no authority strong 
enough to prevent. The fur trade rapidly degener- 
ated into a lawless ruffianism in which the most un- 
scrupulous carried off the spoils, in which the Indians 
were demoralized by the white man's worst vices, 
and all profits were swallowed up in the costs of 
armed defence. 

At this melancholy juncture (1781) an epidemic of 
smallpox decimated the tribes, carrying off whole 
villages and putting a sudden stop to both hunt and 
trade. • The merchants of Montreal, on the verge of 
ruin, determined to pool their interests. A combina- 
tion was achieved in the years 1783-1805 which, under 
the name of the North West Company of Merchants 


of Canada, organized the western fur trade anew 
and on a scale that overshadowed the great company 
of the north. The partners of the North West Com- 
pany were for the most part Highland Scotch, men of 
strenuous strain and far more forceful and enterpris- 
ing than the officials of the Hudson's Bay Company. 
The business was organized on a profit-sharing basis 
that enlisted the best efforts of every man on the 
force, from chief factor to newly apprenticed clerk. 
The capital (£40,000 in 1788 and £125,000 in 1798) 
was furnished by the partners resident at Montreal. 
The personal contribution made by the wintering 
partners, whose headquarters were at the several 
posts, was regarded as a fair equivalent, so that to each 
one of the twenty to forty partners was accorded an 
equal share in the profits. Men entering the business 
must first serve a seven years' apprenticeship with a 
fixed salary; but they were sure of promotion more or 
less rapid in proportion to their skill and devotion, as 
evidenced in returns. The North West Company 
employed two thousand voyageurs at £40 per year and 
an equal number of free trappers and coureurs de 
bois, who were paid according to the number of skins 
brought in. The wages were high, but exorbitant 
charges for supplies brought most of the money back 
into the Company's coffers. Whiskey, for example, 
which cost $2 per gallon, was sold for $8 a quart, while 
the "Northwest currency" used throughout the fur 
country was reckoned at double the value of legal 

The Northwesters pursued the policy of carrying 
the trade to the Indian villages, but the trading par- 


ties were provided with recruiting stations in a series 
of fortified posts along the lakes and rivers from Fort 
William at the southern end of the Grand Portage be- 
tween Superior and Winnipeg to the Rocky Moun- 
tain House on the upper Saskatchewan. Alexander 
Mackenzie even projected a transcontinental trade. 
With the prestige of his overland expedition fresh 
upon him, he went to London to promote the estab- 
lishment of a Fishery and Fur Company that should 
exploit the fur trade of Nootka Sound and the Co- 
lumbia River and the whaling grounds of the Arctic 
Sea. Trading goods and supplies were to be sent 
from Montreal, while the skins and oil were to be 
shipped to the East India Company's factories in the 
Orient. 4 It was a daring proposition, quite beyond 
the conception of contemporary Londoners ; more- 
over, the Hudson's Bay Company had sufficient 
influence at Westminster to defeat the project. 
• For a generation to come the Northwest Company 
swayed the destinies of the stretch of wilderness be- 
tween the Great Lakes and the Pacific coast. In the 
relentless pursuit of wealth, they explored the rivers, 
traversed the plains, and planted new posts, and thus 
established trade relations with the remotest tribes. 
Fort Assiniboin, Fort Athabasca, the Rocky Moun- 
tain House, Fort Kootenai on the upper Columbia, 
Spokane House at the junction of the Spokane River 
with the Cceur d' Alene, marked the westward reach 
of the Scotch trader. 

These operations brought the Northwesters into 
conflict with the Hudson's Bay Company on the 
north and within the jurisdiction of the United States 


government on the south. The boundary of the 
British dominions was fixed at the forty-ninth paral- 
lel by the treaty of 1794, and it became necessary to 
ascertain the precise limits of their hunting grounds. 
In 1798 David Thompson, a self-taught surveyor and 
geographer, was sent to determine the relative loca- 
tion of the North West Company's posts. Thomp- 
son had served his apprenticeship with the Hudson's 
Bay Company; but when ordered by his superiors 
to forego discovery and devote his time to the pur- 
suit of furs, he transferred to the North West Com- 
pany where exploration was encouraged. He had 
already mapped the Saskatchewan and Assiniboin 
rivers and found his way up the Souris to the 
Mandan villages when intrusted with this larger 
commission. He now followed the Red River of 
the North to the headwaters of the Mississippi, and 
ascertained that Fort Pembina on Red River and the 
trading establishments on Sandy and Leech lakes 
lay south of the proposed boundary and well within 
American territory. However, since the privileges of 
British traders were expressly conceded in the treaty, 
the posts were not removed. In 1805 Thompson 
again visited the Mandan villages on the upper Mis- 
souri and bespoke the friendly offices of that then 
important tribe. 

The faults of the Northwesters — and faults they 
had in plenty — arose from excess of zeal. The factors, 
being partners and profit sharers, worked under the 
keenest incentive. Wherever they had to meet com- 
petition, they resorted to underhand methods. They 
had no scruple about rum selling, and the prices for 


goods and furs were determined by the necessities of 
the situation. The Journals of Alexander Henry, 
the experienced factor of Fort Pembina, bear witness 
to the rapid deterioration of the natives under this 
reckless regime. The Assiniboins had no buffalo to 
hunt and were readily reduced to complete depend- 
ence upon the beaver trade. The annual journey to 
the factory being no longer required, they were able to 
trap through the summer, — the season when the fur 
was inferior. Thus the market was glutted with low- 
grade skins, while the animals were butchered, young 
and old, until the richest hunting grounds were ex- 

The Hudson's Bay Company was forced to use 
similar methods or quit the field. Its traders were 
sent up the rivers to compete with the Northwesters, 
and posts were planted in the interior. The sale of 
liquor was permitted in the contested districts, and 
the Indians were cajoled or threatened by the rival 
traders until they lost their original respect for the 
British name. In defence of its prior claims to the 
Saskatchewan traffic, the North West Company did 
not scruple to use force, and posts were burned and 
traders murdered in that no-man's land under the 
shadow of the Rockies. The long warfare culmi- 
nated in the struggle for possession of the Red River of 
the North. The Hudson's Bay Company undertook 
to found an agricultural colony in this fertile valley, 
the beaver being extinct, with a view to developing 
the latent resources of the territory. To this end a 
considerable grant of land (one hundred and sixteen 
thousand acres) south of Winnipeg was allowed by 


Parliament to Lord Selkirk, a Scotch philanthropist 
who proposed emigration as a solution for the dis- 
tressed peasants of the Highlands. A colony was 
sent out in 1812 with supplies and agricultural im- 
plements, and a promising beginning was made. 
But, unfortunately, the lands lay in the path of the 
North West Company. Its partisans attacked the 
settlement and scattered the colonists, burning and 
killing as if there were no law but their own interest. 
The home government was forced to interfere at last, 
and the only feasible solution, the consolidation of the 
two companies, was reached in 1821. The new Hud- 
son's Bay Company was stronger than ever before, 
having undisputed monopoly of the fur trade 
throughout British America. 

The American Policy 

As early as 1796 Congress passed an act for the 
regulation of the Indian trade, restricting licenses to 
persons of good character and requiring heavy bonds 
for the observance of the law against the sale of liquor; 
but the law was never thoroughly enforced because 
the fur country was remote from official centres and 
evidence of infractions was difficult to obtain. Sub- 
sequent legislation considerably abated the rigor of 
the law. Fees and penalties were reduced, while the 
bond and the certificate of good character were al- 
together remitted. It was hoped that the mainte- 
nance of government factories at the several Indian 
posts where standard goods should be offered at 
reasonable prices and a fair rate paid for furs, would 
keep the private traders within bounds. One after 


another, government stores were opened, as new and 
remoter regions were reached by the fur trade, — at 
Arkansas Post and Natchitoches and on the Sulphur 
Fork of Red River, Belle Fontaine at the mouth of 
the Missouri, Fort Osage, Marais des Cygnes, and 
Desmoines in the interior. The government offi- 
cial, however, found great difficulty in competing 
with the independent traders, whether British or 
American. He was handicapped by the requirement 
that supplies must be bought and goods sold in the 
home market, where goods were higher in price and 
inferior in quality to those of foreign manufacture 
and where the supply of furs was in excess of the de- 
mand and prices correspondingly low. Advances on 
credit were not permitted because the practice was 
thought to be pernicious, but without these advances 
the Indian could not start on the season's hunt. The 
government factor, moreover, was usually stationed 
at a post distant from the beaver meadows, and the 
hunters were expected to bring their catch to him. 
This they were not likely to do while the North- 
westers and coureurs de bois, Scotch, French, and 
American, followed the tribe to the hunting grounds 
and offered them blankets, whiskey, and firearms on 
credit for the season's take. The plan adopted by 
the United States government was admirable, but its 
non-enforcement left private traders pretty much to 
their own devices. 


Section II 
The Fur Traders of St. Louis 

Louisiana Territory was rich in furs. The moun- 
tain rivers, not only those traversed by Lewis and 
Clark, but the sources of the Platte and the Arkansas 
and the numerous streams that spring from that 
core of the continent, the Wind River range, abounded 
in beaver meadows. The aborigines placed little 
value on the pelts and were glad to trade such as 
they had for whiskey, firearms and gewgaws; but 
they could rarely be induced to engage in systematic 
trapping expeditions. A Northwester familiar with 
the Assiniboins complained that the Indians of the 
Missouri would not take the trouble to hunt for 
beaver. "They often remarked to me that they 
would think it a pleasure to supply us with beavers if 
they could be secured the same as buffaloes by a 
chase on horseback, but they considered the opera- 
tion of searching for them in the bowels of the earth, 
to satisfy the avarice of the Whites, not only trouble- 
some, but very degrading. 'White people,' said 
they, 'do not know how to live, they leave their 
houses in small parties, they risk their lives on the 
great waters, among strange nations, who will take 
them for enemies. What is the use of beaver ? Do 
they make gun powder of them ? Do they preserve 
them from sickness? Do they serve them beyond 
the grave?'" 5 In default of native hunters, the 
fur traders were obliged to employ white trappers. 

The Great Plains from the Missouri to the Rio 


Grande made one immense buffalo range. The herds 
migrated with the season from north to south, 
seeking out the water courses which furnished them 
food and drink and the salt licks of the open prairie. 
With them moved the bands of Indian hunters, who 
depended upon the buffalo for existence. Gregg, 
the Santa Fe trader, describes the havoc wrought 
among the herds. "This animal furnishes almost 
the exclusive food of the prairie Indians, as well as 
covering for their wigwams and most of their cloth- 
ing; also their bedding, ropes, bags for their meat, 
&c. ; sinews for bow-strings, for sewing moccasins, 
leggins, and the like." "The continual and wanton 
slaughter of them by travellers and hunters, and the 
still greater havoc made among them by the 
Indians, not only for meat, but often for the skins 
and tongues alone (for which they find a ready mar- 
ket among their traders), are fast reducing their 
numbers, and must ultimately effect their total 
annihilation." 6 

Throughout the first half of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, the fur trade was the dominant industry of 
the Far West. The annual value of its operations 
at St. Louis rose from $200,000 to $300,000, and the 
returns netted the trader from fifteen to fifty per 
cent. Great fortunes were amassed in this business, 
until the animals upon which it thrived and the 
Indians who had served its ends vanished together 
from the vast regions exploited by its agents. 

By its advantages of location, St. Louis was 
destined to be the primary market for the American 
fur trade. Lying at the confluence of the rivers 


along whose reach lay the beaver haunts and 
the buffalo plains, all water transportation centered 
there. Thence, too, the Mississippi conveyed the 
precious packs to the fur merchants at New Orleans 
and by sea to the profitable markets of the east, or by 
way of the Wisconsin and Fox rivers to Green Bay, 
or via the Illinois and Chicago rivers to Lake Michi- 
gan, Detroit, Buffalo, and Montreal. Spring and 
fall, the wharves " under the hill" were thronged 
with craft bound to or from the Missouri: the keel 
boat of the licensed trader, laden with Indian goods 
for the out voyage; the Mackinaw or flat-bottom 
scow, weighted to the water's edge with packs of 
beaver and buffalo ] skins ; the dugout canoe of the 
free trapper, who had paddled in from some name- 
less mountain or prairie stream with his season's 
catch of furs, robes, tallow, and buffalo meat. 

During the great days of this industry the number 
of white men employed by the St. Louis traders grew 
from five hundred to one thousand. They were 
French or Spanish Creoles, young habitants bent on 
adventure, Canadian voyageurs who had drifted down 
from the north, or American frontiersmen, — restless 
spirits like Daniel Boone whom the restraints of civili- 
zation had driven into the new wilderness beyond 
the Mississippi. Working as engages, at a stipulated 
wage and keep, or as free trappers, relying on a 
competitive market to recompense them for the 
season's outlay, they spent their hard-earned money 
in drink and carousal, 7 and rarely realized more than 
a bare subsistence from a life of extraordinary hard- 
ship. Frenchmen, whether from Canada or Loui- 


siana, made up three-fourths of the engages on the 
Missouri. Gay and volatile, readily assimilating 
with the Indians, illiterate, unenterprising, content 
with the scantiest fare, they were the "cheerful 
slaves of the fur trade." 8 The Americans, on the 
other hand, hailing from Kentucky or the Illinois 
country or even from far Virginia, were blood-kin 
to the Long Knives. Resourceful, intelligent, cour- 
ageous, and self-reliant, scorning subservience and 
prone to desert under discipline, they were always 
dependable for self-determined service and usually 
preferred the position of free trapper to that of a 
hireling. From this class the ranks of the traders 
were recruited. A shrewd employer was governed 
by these race traits in the assignment of labor. 
The Canadians were the boatmen and the dressers of 
skins and performed the menial duties of the camp 
or post. At trapping or fighting or seeking out new 
fields of enterprise, they were less to be relied on. 
If Astor judged rightly that in river service one 
Canadian was worth three Americans, it was no less 
true that in the wilderness one American was worth 
three Canadians. 

No sooner were the fur traders of St. Louis assured, 
by the observations of Lewis and Clark, of the rich 
resources of the - upper Missouri than they made 
preparations to reap the golden harvest. The first 
considerable expedition was fitted out by Manuel 
Lisa, a man of Spanish antecedents, whose experience 
on the Osage had given him intimate knowledge of 
the Indian character and customs. In the spring of 
1807 he left St. Louis in a keel boat laden with goods. 


His first assistant was the same George Drouillard 
whom Lewis had found so valuable as hunter and 
interpreter. At the mouth of the Platte, they met 
a white man descending alone in a canoe. He 
proved to be none other than the intrepid John 
Colter, returning from a rather disastrous experience 
on the Yellowstone. Lisa induced him to join the 
party and venture his life a third time in the wilder- 
ness. A vivid account of Lisa's outfit is given in 
Brackenridge's Journal. Brackenridge was a young 
lawyer from Pittsburgh who had begged the privilege 
of accompanying Lisa's party in order to see for 
himself the possibilities of the Louisiana Purchase. 
He describes with enthusiasm the keel boat, the 
voyageurs, and the equipment. "Our barge was the 
best that ever ascended this river, and manned with 
twenty stout oars-men. Mr. Lisa, who had been a 
sea-captain, took much pains in rigging his boat 
with a good mast, and main and topsail ; these being 
great helps in the navigation of this river. Our 
equipage is chiefly composed of young men, though 
several have already made a voyage to the upper 
Missouri, [a feat] of which they are exceedingly 
proud, and on that account claim a kind of pre- 
cedence over the rest of the crew. We are in all, 
twenty-five men, and completely prepared for de- 
fence. There is, besides, a swivel on the bow of the 
boat, which, in case of attack, would make a formi- 
dable appearance ; we have also two brass blunder- 
busses in the cabin, one over my birth, and the 
other over that of Mr. Lisa. These precautions 
were absolutely necessary from the hostility of the 


Sioux bands, who, of late had committed several 
murders and robberies on the whites, and manifested 
such a disposition that it was believed impossible 
for us to pass through their country. The greater 
part of the merchandise, which consisted of stroud- 
ing, blankets, lead, tobacco, knifes, guns, beads, &c, 
was concealed in a false cabin, ingeniously contrived 
for the purpose; in this way presenting as little as 
possible to tempt the savages. But we hoped that 
as this was not the season for the wandering tribes 
to come on the river, the autumn being the usual 
time, we might pass by unnoticed." 9 Parties of 
traders were met coming down the river with the 
winter's catch of beaver and buffalo skins. They 
floated with the current on rafts made of "two canoes 
lashed together, and a platform raised upon them" 10 
or in bull-boats such as the Indians used, a frame 
of willow boughs covered with buffalo skins, stretched 
tight and dried in the sun. They reported a pros- 
perous season and the Indians peaceably disposed. 
Lisa was none the less wary, and his precautions 
were not taken in vain. He was soon apprised that 
the Sioux had learned that a number of traders were 
ascending the Missouri and in consequence remained 
on the river instead of going into the plains as 
usual and were determined to let no boats pass. 
The operations of the initial year were highly satis- 
factory, however, and Lisa returned to St. Louis in 
the following spring with a rich cargo of furs. 

For many years thereafter, this daring pioneer of 
the fur trade made annual trips up the Missouri, 
carrying goods for the Indians and supplies for the 


trappers, wintering at one of his various posts, and 
returning in the spring with his fur-laden boats. 
His was the best known figure in the Missouri Terri- 
tory, and to Indian and voyageur alike he was Uncle 
Lisa or, more familiarly, Uncle Manuel. With the 
facility of the Latin for bridging race barriers, he had 
married into the Omaha tribe and his policy was to 
treat the Indian as a human being. He thus ex- 
plained his own success in fur trade: " First, I put 
into my operations great activity; I go a great 
distance, while some are considering whether they will 
start today or tomorrow. I impose upon myself great 
privations ; ten months in a year I am buried in the 
forest, at a vast distance from my own house. I ap- 
pear as the benefactor, and not as the pillager, of the 
Indians. I carried among them the seed of the large 
pompion, from which I have seen in their possession 
the fruit weighing one hundred and sixty pounds. 
Also the large bean, the potato, the turnip ; and 
these vegetables now make a comfortable part 
of their subsistence, and this year [1817] I have 
promised to carry the plough. Besides, my black- 
smiths work incessantly for them, charging nothing. 
I lend them traps, only demanding preference in 
their trade. My establishments are the refuge of 
the weak and of the old men no longer able to follow 
their lodges ; and by these means I have acquired 
the confidence and friendship of these nations, and 
the consequent choice of their trade." " 

The Missouri Fur Company, the first American 
firm to enter this field, had for incorporators Manuel 
Lisa, the Chouteaus — Pierre Sr. and Auguste Jr. — 


William Clark, Benjamin Wilkinson, and Andrew 
Henry ; but the inspiring genius was Manuel Lisa. 
Its capital amounted to $40,000, and its operations 
were conducted on a scale hitherto unknown. In 
1809, this company sent out a brigade of one hundred 
and fifty men, with abundant supplies. Trading 
stations were established among the Aricaras, Man- 
dans, Minnetarees, and Crows, and a fortified post 
was built at the Three Forks of the Missouri in 
defiance of the hostile Blackfeet (1810). The 
trappers found plenty of beaver, but they worked 
at the risk of their lives. In three different on- 
slaughts, twenty men were killed, among them 
George Drouillard. Before the summer was over, 
the main party returned to St. Louis, leaving Henry 
with a small guard at the post. He was driven by 
the Blackfeet across the divide to the north tribu- 
tary of Snake River (called thereafter Henry's 
Fork). There he built a log fort and secured forty 
packs of beaver, but his little force well-nigh perished 
of cold and hunger. In the following spring, Henry 
made his way back to the Aricara Villages where he 
met Lisa and reported his misfortunes. It was then 
determined to abandon all the posts above the 
Mandan Villages and a new Fort Lisa was built at 
Council Bluffs. 

Section III 


The Missouri Fur Company was made up of St. 

Louis men. Their jealousy of outside influence was 

evidenced in their refusal to sell stock to the New 


York merchant, John Jacob Astor, who had bought 
out the Mackinaw Company and acquired complete 
ascendency in the Lake trade. This financial genius 
had discerned in the fur trade of Louisiana Territory 
a commercial opening of extraordinary promise, 
and he projected a scheme of operations that should 
eclipse the achievements of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany. He made overtures to the North West Com- 
pany as well as to the St. Louis house, but failing 
to secure cooperation, he entered the field as a 
remorseless competitor. The American Fur Com- 
pany was chartered in 1808 as a holding corporation 
through which were to be managed Astor's several 
undertakings in this line. The depot of supplies for 
the Indian trade and the central accounting house 
were in New York ; but the principal trading estab- 
lishments were to be at Mackinaw, the old-time 
market of the Lake tribes, and St. Louis, the point 
of departure for the Missouri River traffic. Astor 
projected nothing less than a transcontinental and 
trans-Pacific trade route. Posts were to be located 
at strategic points along the trail blazed by Lewis 
and Clark, and a seaport at the mouth of the Colum- 
bia. Supplies and goods suited to the Indian trade 
were to be shipped from New York round the Horn 
and deposited at Astoria. An agreement was nego- 
tiated with Baranoff whereby Astor's ships were to 
carry supplies to the Russian posts, receiving in 
exchange the furs which American vessels could 
convey direct to Chinese ports. The shiploads of 
furs were there to be traded for tea and spices, silks 
and nankeens, goods that would bring a high profit 


in the New York market at the end of the return 

For the prosecution of this brilliant enterprise, 
a subsidiary company was formed, the Pacific 
Fur Company. The capital of $400,000 was fur- 
nished by Mr. Astor, who assumed all financial 
risks. The personal risks were to be borne by the 
ten active members of the firm. These were for the 
most part experienced traders, drawn from the ranks 
of the North West Company and attached to the new 
association by the hope of profits, but Scotchmen 
and British subjects. 12 Astor's object in choosing 
so many Northwesters as partners was to secure 
men who knew the Rocky Mountains at first hand 
and who, being Canadians, would give less umbrage 
to Great Britain. Among his acquaintance in Mon- 
treal he easily found traders who were disaffected 
in the North West Company's service and ready to 
risk something in a new venture. They undertook 
to go out to the Columbia and prosecute the busi- 
ness to the best of their ability for half profits. Two 
expeditions were made ready, a vessel to carry men 
and supplies by sea and an overland party to ascer- 
tain the best sites for trading posts. In September, 
1810, the Tonquin, Captain Jonathan Thorn, sailed 
from New York with thirty-three passengers, — four 
partners (Alexander McKay, Duncan McDougall, 
and David and Robert Stuart), five clerks, five 
mechanics, and fourteen Canadian voyageurs. Cap- 
tain Thorn proved to be a martinet who succeeded 
in reducing the whole ship's company to the verge 
of mutiny by his petty tyrannies. A full hunting 


and trapping equipment, merchandise for the Indian 
trade, the frame of a coasting schooner, blacksmiths' 
and carpenters' tools, made up the bulk of the cargo. 
We owe to two of the clerks, Gabriel Franchere and 
Alexander Ross, our knowledge of the course of this 
six months' voyage. The Tonquin stopped at the 
Sandwich Islands for fresh supplies and a comple- 
ment of Hawaiian sailors, who should prove useful 
in the coast cruises. 

Arrived at the mouth of the Columbia, they 
were at a loss to find the channel. "The entrance 
of the river, which we plainly distinguished with 
the naked eye, appeared but a confused and agitated 
sea; the waves, impelled by a wind from the 
offing, broke upon the bar, and left no perceptible 
passage." 13 Captain Thorn sent a rowboat to 
seek out the entrance, but it was swamped in the 
tumult of waters. This disaster did not deter him 
from despatching another and another. Not till 
eight men were lost did the Tonquin finally hit upon 
the right channel and come to anchor within the 
bar (May 25, 1811). A month was spent in fixing 
upon a site for the fort and in discharging the tools 
and a portion of the supplies. Then (June 1) the 
impatient captain set out upon his trip up the coast 
in pursuit of furs. Alexander McKay, who had 
accompanied Mackenzie on his voyage to the Arctic 
Sea and was the ablest man in the party, went with 
him as supercargo. A week's voyage brought the 
Tonquin to Nootka Sound in advance of the English 
traders, and the Indians swarmed about the ship, 
offering their wares. In spite of the instructions of 


Mr. Astor, the suggestions of his interpreter, and 
the earnest warnings of McKay, Thorn took none 
of the usual precautions to prevent an uncontrol- 
lable number of natives coming on board. So little 
comprehension had he of the nature of the tribe 
with whom he had to deal that he got into a con- 
troversy with the chief and struck him a blow 
in the face. Next morning the ship was sur- 
rounded by canoes filled with warriors, who thronged 
on board, offered bales of furs, and would take 
nothing but knives in exchange. Alarmed at last, 
Thorn ordered the crew to set sail ; but all too late. 
With a hideous warwhoop, the Indians fell upon 
the captain and McKay and struck them down. 
The unarmed crew could make no defence, and all 
were killed but five men who fled to the cabin and. 
seizing firearms, succeeded in clearing the deck. 
But even so, their case was hopeless. They were too 
few to manage the vessel, and escape by the long 
boat would mean certain death either by capsize 
in the open sea or at the hands of the natives 
should they attempt to land. All that day the 
survivors remained below decks, and the Indians 
could only surmise their intentions, but on the 
morrow, when, tempted by the chance for plunder, 
the chief again boarded the Tonquin, an explosion 
of the powder magazine blew the ship to atoms and 
hurled captors and captives dead and dying into 
the waves. 

To the party left at the mouth of the Columbia, 
the loss of the Tonquin was an irremediable disaster. 
The major part of their stock in trade had gone 


with her to the bottom, together with their best men 
and the most of the ammunition, and another supply 
ship could not reach the coast until the following 
spring. McDougall, the partner left in charge, was 
a man of "but ordinary capacity, with an irritable, 
peevish temper; the most unfit man in the world 
to head an expedition or command men." 14 The 
choice of a site for Fort Astoria had been hurriedly 
made, and it proved to be unfortunate. No ade- 
quate survey of the possibilities was undertaken, for 
Captain Thorn was in a hurry to land the outfit 
and be off for the northern trade. The ground was 
preempted by mammoth firs too large to be manage- 
able for building purposes and difficult to remove, 
and their shade made the place gloomy and un- 
wholesome. Two months' hard labor was spent 
in clearing an acre of land and putting up a tem- 
porary shelter. McDougall would have done well 
to shift to the site of the fort built by Lewis and 
Clark on Young's Bay. Its ruins were plain to be 
seen, "piles of rough, unhewn logs, overgrown with 
parasite creepers." 15 August and September were 
spent in building a weather-proof house, against the 
rainy season. It was sufficiently commodious, and 
contained a sitting-room, a dining-room, several 
sleeping rooms, and an apartment for the mechanics. 
The blacksmith's shop was close by. Meantime, 
provisions were running short. There were no 
sportsmen in the party, and the native hunters had 
retreated to the mountains. Thus the Astorians 
were reduced to smoked salmon and such elk and 
venison as one old Indian could bring in. The fish 


diet proved unwholesome for all but the Hawaiians, 
and before the summer was over, half the force 
was on the sick list. No physician had been pro- 
vided and few medicines, and the men complained 
bitterly of neglect. Ten of the more enterprising 
attempted desertion, but they were captured and 
brought back by the Indians, a misadventure that 
doubtless saved them from a worse fate. The frame- 
work of a coasting schooner, the Dolly, was put 
together, but she proved too small to risk the channel 
and so useless. Alexander Ross, a seasoned North- 
wester, grumbled over the trading stock as quite 
unsuitable. "Instead of guns, we got old metal 
pots and gridirons; instead of beads and trinkets, we 
got white cotton ; and instead of blankets, molasses. 
In short, all the useless trash and unsalable trumpery 
which had been accumulating in his [Astor's] shops 
and stores for half a century past, were swept 
together to fill his Columbia ships. That these 
cargoes were insured need not be told; sink or 
swim, his profits were sure." 16 

It soon became evident that the North West 
Company did not intend to leave the Americans un- 
disputed possession of the outlet of the river that af- 
forded their best means of transportation to the west 
coast. Alexander Ross shall tell the story. "On 
the 15th of July, we were rather surprised at the un- 
expected arrival of a North West proprietor [partner] 
at Astoria, and still more so at the free and cordial 
reception given to an opponent. Mr. [David] Thomp- 
son, northwest-like, came dashing down the Colum- 
bia in a light canoe, manned with eight Iroquois 


and an interpreter, chiefly men from the vicinity of 
Montreal. McDougal received him like a brother ; 
nothing was too good for Mr. Thompson ; he had 
access everywhere ; saw and examined everything ; 
and whatever he asked for he got, as if he had been 
one of ourselves." 17 This reception seemed no 
more than was due to so distinguished a representa- 
tive of the rival house, especially as Thompson 
announced that his was an exploring not a trading 
expedition. 18 The others thought him "but little 
better than a spy in the camp." 19 Franchere be- 
lieved that the brilliant Northwester had intended to 
take possession of the country in behalf of Great 
Britain and that he was ill pleased to find the 
Astorians installed at the mouth of the Columbia. 
Mr. Thompson said that he had crossed the Conti- 
nent during the preceding season, but that the 
desertion of a portion of his men had compelled him 
to winter at the base of the Rocky Mountains, at 
the head waters of the Columbia. In the spring he 
had built a canoe, the materials for which he had 
brought with him across the mountains, and had 
come down the river to this establishment. He 
added that the wintering partners had resolved "to 
abandon all their trading posts west of the moun- 
tains, not to enter into competition with us, provided 
our company would engage not to encroach upon 
their commerce on the east side : and to support 
what he said, produced a letter to that effect, ad- 
dressed by the wintering partners to the chief of 
their house in Canada, the Hon. William M'Gil- 
livray." 20 


The unsuspecting McDougal set about exploit- 
ing the interior, his especial province. A trading 
party, fitted out as well as the scanty supplies would 
admit, was sent up Clark's River (the east branch 
or main stream of the Columbia), and a trading 
post was built at the junction of the Okanagan. 
Here Ross spent the winter and succeeded in collect- 
ing fifteen hundred and fifty beaver skins from the 
Indians. He estimated that his stock of furs, 
worth £2250 in the Canton market, cost in mer- 
chandise only £35! David Stuart, who pushed far- 
ther north up the Okanagan, was no less successful. 
The Flathead country was well stocked with buf- 
falo ; the Kootenais had plenty of beaver, deer, and 
mountain sheep, and they knew so little of the value 
of fur that twenty beaver skins worth £25 could 
be bought for a gun worth twenty-seven shillings. 
These tribes were peaceful, honest, clean, and chaste, 
uncontaminated as yet by the white man. Astor's 
representative agreed with McMillan, the factor at 
the Spokane House, that no liquor should be sold 
to the natives, lest they be degraded to the condi- 
tion of the Chenooks of the lower Columbia. 21 

The overland expedition, meantime, had been in 
desperate straits. The party embarked from Mon- 
treal on July 6, 1810, a full month before the Tonquin 
had sailed from New York, and it was hoped that 
the two companies would arrive at the mouth of the 
Columbia at about the same time. Wilson Price 
Hunt, who was intrusted with the command of this 
venture, was from New Jersey, an excellent mer- 
chant and devoted to Astor's interests, but unfa- 


miliar with the ways of the wilderness. The partners 
who were associated with him were experienced men 
and naturally jealous of his authority and critical 
of his decisions. Donald Mackenzie, an old North- 
wester, was "bold, robust, and peculiarly qualified 
to lead Canadian voyageurs through thick and 
thin." 22 Ramsay Crooks was a young Scotchman, 
who had been four years (1807-1811) on the Missouri 
prosecuting the fur trade from Council Bluffs. He 
was then a member of the Missouri Fur Company, 
but now cast in his lot with the Astorians. McLellan 
was an American whose life had been spent on the 
frontier. He was one of Wayne's runners and won 
distinction even among those valorous scouts for 
courage and resource. According to Ross, McLel- 
lan was "one of the first shots in America," "hardy, 
enterprizing and brave as a lion." 23 He had been 
associated with Crooks in the Missouri River trade 
and joined the expedition at Nadowa. Joseph 
Miller, who joined the party at St. Louis, was also 
familiar with the frontier and with the Indians. 
Having engaged at Montreal a sufficient number of 
voyageurs to manage their boat, Hunt and Mackenzie 
made their way by the Ottawa River to Mackinaw, 
the chief Astor post, and thence by Green Bay, the 
Fox and Wisconsin rivers to the Mississippi and 
St. Louis. Here the majority of the boatmen and 
hunters were collected. Mackenzie had urged that 
Canadians whom he knew and trusted be brought 
from Montreal, but to Hunt this seemed a needless 
expense. Moreover, he discounted the gay and 
volatile Frenchmen. He picked up a few voyageurs 


at Mackinaw, to the infinite disgust of the North- 
westers, who observed that the Canadians were 
expert canoemen, while the Mackinas were expert 
bottle men. 

At St. Louis the difficulty of recruiting the force 
was even greater. The men who lounged about 
the wharves of this river port were "a medley 
of French Creoles, old and worn-out Canadians, 
Spanish renegades, with a mixture of Indians and 
Indian half-breeds, enervated by indolence, debauch- 
ery, and a warm climate." 24 True, some Americans 
presented themselves, attracted by the prospect of 
adventure in a new and untried field. Several 
Yankees, "sleek and tall as pines of the forest," 25 
engaged as hunters and trappers, but they would 
not put up with the meagre fare accorded the Cana- 
dians, and Hunt refused to make any improvement. 
So these lordly backwoodsmen abandoned the ex- 
pedition at Nadowa, their advance pay in their 
pockets. One Kentuckian who stayed by the en- 
terprise, John Day, proved a tower of strength. In 
the autumn of 1810 the party went into camp at the 
mouth of the Nadowa River, four hundred and fifty 
miles up the Missouri, where the penny-wise-and- 
pound-foolish Hunt, having wasted the summer re- 
cruiting his party, ordained they should spend the 
winter to save the cost of a sojourn at St. Louis. 
The best men deserted, Hunt was obliged to return 
to St. Louis for substitutes, and the expedition did 
not finally embark until March 12, 1811. 

The preparations for the Astor expedition had 
been watched with jealousy and suspicion by the 


Missouri Fur Company, and it is probable that 
Hunt's difficulty in securing fit men had been aug- 
mented by the wiles of the opposition. No sooner 
had he set off than Lisa attempted, by a device not 
infrequent in the annals of the trade, to deprive 
him of his boatmen. A marshal was sent to St. 
Charles to arrest Pierre Dorion on the charge of an 
unpaid debt, but the man took to the woods and 
rejoined Hunt higher up the river. Balked of his 
prey, Lisa hurried his preparations for the spring trip 
to the Mandans, meaning to overtake and if possible 
forestall the Astorians. Hunt had three weeks'start, 
and was two hundred and forty miles up the river 
when his rival left St. Louis. He suspected that 
the wily Spaniard meant to defeat his enterprise by 
some despicable intrigue, and his fears were reen- 
forced by a tale Crooks and McLellan had to tell 
of the way in which they had been betrayed into 
the hands of the Sioux. Consequently the cautious 
New Jerseyan made all possible speed. Lisa, mean- 
while, was driving his patient voyageurs to desperate 
exertions. Brackenridge tells the story of this ex- 
citing chase. He overheard the poor fellows com- 
plaining : "It is impossible for us to persevere any 
longer in this unceasing toil, this over-strained exer- 
tion, which wears us down. We are not permitted 
a moment's repose ; scarcely is time allowed us to 
eat, or to smoke our pipes. We can stand it no 
longer, human nature cannot bear it ; our bourgeois 
has no pity on us." 26 In such moments of depres- 
sion, Lisa's courage flashed out like fire. He would 
seize the helm, pass round the grog, raise a song 


loved of the men, or make an encouraging speech, 
promising them rich reward at the end of this mad 
chase. In spite of head winds and almost continuous 
rain, he covered eleven hundred miles in two months, 
an average of eighteen miles a day, a feat unparalleled 
in keel-boat days on the Missouri. 

Just beyond the Niobrara, the Astorians were 
overtaken, and none too soon, for the country was 
infested by bands of hostiles, who were only deterred 
from attack by this exceptional show of force. 
Hunt's suspicions were not allayed, however, and he 
and Lisa were on the point of fighting a duel over 
poor Dorion when Bradbury and Brackenridge inter- 
vened and patched up a peace. There is no evi- 
dence that the chief of the Missouri Company had 
any evil designs against the Astor party. The 
Columbia lay so far beyond his territory, actual or 
prospective, that he had no desire to compete. 

Arriving at the Aricara villages, Hunt determined 
to strike directly west across the plains of the Little 
Missouri, hoping to find a route better furnished 
with game than that traversed by Lewis and Clark, 
and free from the murderous Blackfeet. For this 
enterprise, horses were indispensable, and here Lisa 
proved helpful and generous. He negotiated the pur- 
chases from the treacherous Aricaras, and brought 
animals of his own from the Mandans, taking 
Hunt's boats and superfluous luggage in exchange. 
A month was spent in effecting these purchases, but 
by the middle of July all was ready, and the party 
set out by the Grand River. They were sixty-four 
persons all told, Dorion's squaw and her two chil- 


dren being the only dependents. Seventy-six horses 
were loaded with the goods deemed necessary for 
the undertaking, and since the riding horses were 
not sufficient to accommodate all, the men had to 
take turns in walking. 

The route chosen skirted the northern slopes of the 
Black Hills and the Bighorn Mountains, a maze of 
river and fell, through which Edward Rose, a rene- 
gade white man who had attached himself to the 
Crow Indians, served as guide. Leaving the Crow 
country and pushing up Wind River, the party rode 
along an Indian trail across the continental divide, 
and rounding the Three Tetons — a lofty landmark 
well known to Henry's men — they arrived at last 
(October 12) at his ill-starred fort on the north fork 
of the Snake River and there camped on westward- 
flowing water. 27 Here the road-worn party clamored 
to be allowed to build boats and embark upon the 
river, and Hunt, knowing nothing of the character of 
the stream he had to deal with, foolishly complied. 
The horses were turned loose, and goods and men 
were packed into fifteen " crazy and frail" canoes. 
It proved an almost fatal mistake. For eight days 
they glided down with the current, congratulating 
themselves that their hardships were at an end, but 
on the ninth they were swept into a whirlpool, Cal- 
dron Linn, 28 where Crooks' boat capsized, and one of 
the voyageurs was lost. Then and not until then 
did Hunt bethink him to explore his "Mad river." 
The parties despatched down-stream returned after 
a few days to report that navigation was impossible. 
The river flowed between precipitous basalt walls 


over a bed so rocky and beset with rapids that no 
boat could live, even in the hands of the most expert 
boatman. A party sent back to Fort Henry to 
recover the horses returned without them. The 
situation seemed desperate and was in reality more 
ominous than they knew. Before them lay the 
Snake River Desert, one thousand miles of rock, 
ledge, and sage-brush, where game was scarce and 
water could be gotten from the river with difficulty. 
Winter was upon them, and there was no time to 
be lost. They cached all but the most necessary 
luggage and divided the men into four companies 
under the leadership of the four partners, thinking 
that by distributing their force they should be more 
likely to find whatever supplies the desert afforded. 
Hunt and Crooks took the left or south bank; 
McLellan took the right. "They counted on arriv- 
ing very quickly at the Columbia ; but they fol- 
lowed this Mad river for twenty days, finding noth- 
ing at all to eat, and suffering horribly from thirst. 
The rocks between which the river flows being so 
steep and abrupt as to prevent their descending to 
quench their thirst (so that even their dogs died of 
it), they suffered the torments of Tantalus, with 
this difference, that he had the water which he 
could not reach above his head, while our travellers 
had it beneath their feet. ... To appease the 
cravings of hunger, they ate beaver skins roasted in 
the evening at the camp fire. They even were at 
last constrained to eat their moccasins." 29 Hunt 
and Crooks were so fortunate as to find a wretched 
Indian camp. The Shoshones fled at the sight of 


white faces, but left their horses behind them, and 
the starving Astorians shot them for food, leaving 
some trinkets in payment. Soon after Mackenzie 
and McLellan appeared on the opposite bank and 
made Hunt understand that their people were in 
desperate straits. Hunt had a canoe constructed 
of horse hide and managed to send them a little 
meat ; but the attempt to bring the parties over 
was defeated by the capsizing of the fragile craft. 
Several of the Canadian boatmen, despairing of ever 
reaching civilization, abandoned the enterprise and 
found refuge with the Indians. 

In this wilderness Mackenzie's party came upon a 
young American, Archibald Pelton of Connecticut, 
who had been crazed by its terrors. In his lucid in- 
tervals he told his story. He had come out with 
Henry, had escaped from the massacre at Three 
Forks, and had been wandering about for three years 
with no human company but that of the Snake In- 
dians. The destitute wanderers gave him what help 
they could afford, and he was glad to join their forlorn 
hope. The north bank party, under Mackenzie, 
forged ahead, crossed the Blue Mountains by the 
Indian trail and, descending to the Walla Walla, 
reached at last a great river that they rightly deemed 
could be no other than the Columbia. Here they 
purchased boats of the natives and, making their way 
past the Dalles and the Cascades, finally arrived 
at Astoria on the tenth of January, 1812. Hunt and 
his people, handicapped by Dorion's wife and two 
boys, did not get through till February 15. In late 
April, as David Stuart's brigade was coming down 


the river from the Okanagan post, they were hailed 
near the mouth of the Umatilla by a shout in 
English, — "Come on shore." They steered to- 
ward the sound and saw two white men "standing 
like two specters." They proved to be Ramsay 
Crooks and John Day, but " so changed and ema- 
ciated were they, that our people for some time could 
scarcely recognize them to be white men." 30 

Once reunited at the mouth of the Columbia, the 
Astorians had little to congratulate themselves upon. 
Food was still scarce, and there would have been 
suffering but for the supply of fresh salmon brought 
in by the natives. The Chinooks on the lower river 
were well accustomed to trade, but the Falls Indians 
and the "robber barons" at the Dalles were sus- 
picious and hostile. An expedition sent up the river 
to recover the goods cached on the Snake and to carry 
despatches to New York was attacked at the long 
narrows, "that noted resort of plunderers, where few 
can pass without paying a heavy tax," 31 and forced 
to turn back. The arrival of the supply ship Beaver 
(May 12, 1812) cheered the hearts of the adventurers, 
for she brought not only a valuable cargo, but a con- 
siderable reenforcement of men : John Clarke, a new 
partner, half a dozen clerks (among whom was Ross 
Cox, an inexperienced New Yorker), Canadian and 
American engages, and the usual complement of 
Sandwich Islanders. 

Hunt organized the season's campaign with zeal and 
discretion. David Stuart returned to his Okanagan 
post, John Clarke undertook to establish a trading 
house on the Spokane in competition with the North 


West Company's factory, Mackenzie was sent back to 
Snake River where he built a fort at its junction with 
the Boise, while Robert Stuart started overland with 
despatches for Mr. Astor. With him went three 
Canadians and McLellan and Crooks, who had had 
enough of the wilderness and wished to return to St. 
Louis. Hunt, himself, set out on the Beaver to trade 
up the Alaskan coast (August 14, 1812), leaving 
McDougal in charge at Astoria. All these enter- 
prises except the last were reasonably successful. 
Young Stuart led his party across the Blue Mountains 
to the Snake River, where he fell in with Joseph Miller 
and took him and his trapper in tow. Turning south- 
east from Caldron Linn, they came to Bear River, 
but instead of striking east where they might have 
found the South Pass and the Sweetwater, they appar- 
ently lost sense of direction and turned north till 
they were on Snake River again and then east through 
the Tetons, a hazardous and difficult journey, and 
finally came out upon the north fork of the Platte 
(October 30) intoa"bleak and boundless plain, "which, 
"destitute both of animals and firewood, appeared 
like an ocean of despair." 32 From this point, they 
might easily have reached St. Louis before snowfall ; 
but they were entirely at sea as to their whereabouts 
and thought best to go into winter quarters in a shel- 
tered valley where a herd of buffalo promised suffi- 
cient food. In the following spring they made their 
way down to the Missouri and reached St. Louis in 
April of 1813, after ten months of wandering. 

Stuart's despatches gave Mr. Astor his first news 
of the safe arrival of the overland party and of the 


various trading ventures. He was highly pleased. 
"That will do," said he; "I have hit the nail on the 
head." 33 There was still, however, grave reason for 
anxiety as to the ultimate fate of Astoria. War with 
Great Britain had been declared on June 19, 1812, 
and the Atlantic ports were blockaded by the British 
navy. Moreover, English men-of-war were follow- 
ing our whaling ships into the Pacific and might get 
as far as Astoria. Influential as was Astor in Wash- 
ington, the prospect of getting the government to 
send aid to the trading post seemed more than dubi- 
ous. News of the war reached the Astorians from 
Montreal, but not till December, 1812, when two 
partners of the North West Company, J. G. McTavish 
and Joseph LaRoque, arrived at the Spokane House 
and communicated to the Americans there this start- 
ling intelligence. Mackenzie had come over from the 
Boise to consult with Clarke as to the advisability of 
abandoning his station, and the war news clinched 
his decision that the position was untenable. He 
hastened back to collect his men and furs, and reached 
Astoria on January 15, 1813, having voyaged down 
the Columbia with the jubilant Northwesters, bring- 
ing with him the seven voyageurs who had abandoned 
Hunt on Snake River. He readily convinced Mc- 
Dougal that the part of wisdom consisted in aban- 
doning a desperate undertaking and dissolving the 
partnership. The two canny Scots foresaw the prob- 
ability that they could make comfortable terms with 
the North West Company. The defection of Crooks, 
McLellan, and Miller, and the absence of Hunt left 
the Montreal men in control. Franchere clearly 


indicates the prevailing state of mind. " When we 
learned this news, all of us at Astoria who were 
British subjects and Canadians, wished ourselves in 
Canada ; but we could not entertain even the thought 
of transporting ourselves thither, at least immedi- 
ately; we were separated from our country by an im- 
mense space, and the difficulties of the journey at this 
season were insuperable ; besides, Mr. Astor's inter- 
ests had to be consulted first. We held, therefore, 
a sort of council of war, to which the clerks of the fac- 
tory were invited pro forma, as they had no voice in 
the deliberations. Having maturely weighed our 
situation; after having seriously considered that 
being almost to a man British subjects, we were 
trading, notwithstanding, under the American flag; 
and foreseeing the improbability or rather, to cut the 
matter short, the impossibility that Mr. Astor could 
send us farther supplies or reinforcements while the 
war lasted, as most of the ports of the United States 
would inevitably be blockaded by the British, — we 
concluded to abandon the establishment in the ensu- 
ing spring, or, at latest, in the beginning of the sum- 
mer. We did not communicate these resolutions to 
the men, lest they should in consequence abandon 
their labor ; but we discontinued, from that moment, 
our trade with the natives, except for provisions ; as 
well because we had no longer a large stock of goods 
on hand, as for the reason that we had already more 
furs than we could carry away overland." 34 

In April, McTavish and LaRocque arrived at As- 
toria with the announcement that they had come to 
await the arrival of their supply ship, the Isaac Todd, 


bearing letters of marque and accompanied by a frig- 
ate of the line under orders to seize the American fac- 
tory. When Stuart and Clarke came down the river, 
a formal council was held, and the vote stood three 
to two for dissolving the partnership. Stuart and 
Clarke, the Americans, vigorously opposed this pusil- 
lanimous surrender of the results of two years' strenu- 
ous labor ; but McDougal claimed Mr. Astor's proxy 
and cast the deciding vote. A manifesto was drawn 
up July 1, 1813, stating the reasons for terminating 
their contract with Mr. Astor. In the first place, 
supplies had run short, the Beaver, due November, 
1812, had not returned from her trading trip, and the 
war would prevent another supply ship being sent 
round the Horn. Secondly, the trade at the interior 
posts had fallen short of expectations. Finally, the 
Pacific Fur Company could never expect to compete 
with the Northwesters, already intrenched in several 
well-equipped posts on the upper Columbia. 

When Mr. Hunt finally returned to Astoria (August 
20, 1813), more than a year after his departure in the 
Beaver, the fatal decision had been taken, and he 
could do nothing but comply. His own misadven- 
tures marked the culmination of the run of bad luck 
to which Astor's enterprise seemed fated. Trade 
with the Russians had proved remunerative but in- 
tolerably slow. The Beaver was injured in a gale off 
St. Paul, and the captain would not consent to brave 
the bore of the Columbia until his ship had been re- 
paired. He sailed for the Sandwich Islands and 
thence to Canton, where, learning of the war, he 
remained in port till peace was declared, thus sacrific- 


ing the profits of the voyage. Hunt, meantime, was 
waiting at Lahaina for a ship in which to return to 
the Columbia. His first news of hostilities was 
brought by the Albatross (June 20, 1813) just a year 
after war had been declared. He promptly took 
passage on this vessel and reached Astoria (August 
21) only to learn that the Northwesters had succeeded, 
by threats and promises, in inducing the Scotchmen 
to betray his interests. Finding protests useless, he 
returned to the Islands with the Albatross, hoping to 
secure a disengaged vessel in which to recover the 
Pacific Fur Company's property. There he learned 
that a supply ship, the Lark, had been sent out by 
Mr. Astor with instructions to remove men and goods 
to the Russian settlements until the outcome of the 
war should be apparent ; but she unfortunately had 
gone to wreck on a coral reef with only the crew saved. 
Chartering another ship, the Pedler, the indefatigable 
Hunt again reached Astoria (February 28, 1814) 
only to find the British flag floating over the fort and 
the North West Company in possession. McDougal 
had accepted a proposition from Montreal for the 
purchase of the establishment for $80,500, a sum far 
below its actual value. The goods were reckoned at 
ten per cent of cost, plus transportation charges. 
Beaver skins were estimated at $2 and land otter at 
fifty cents apiece. 35 Hunt was " confounded" when 
he heard these terms and " censured in strong terms 
the precipitate (not to say dishonest) manner in 
which the sale had been effected." 36 His protests 
came too late, however, and he could do nothing but 
return to the United States with his loyal remnant. 37 


Franchere, Canadian though he was, thought such 
a financial sacrifice quite uncalled for. "From the 
account given in this chapter the reader will see with 
what facility the establishment of the Pacific Fur 
Company could have escaped capture by the British 
force. It was only necessary to get rid of the land 
party of the North West Company, — who were 
completely in our power, — then remove our effects 
up the river upon some small stream, and await the 
result. The sloop-of-War arrived, it is true ; but as, 
in the case I suppose, she would have found nothing, 
she would have left, after setting fire to our deserted 
houses. None of their boats would have dared follow 
us, even if the Indians had betrayed to them our lurk- 
ing-place. Those at the head of affairs had their own 
fortunes to seek, and thought it more for their inter- 
est, doubtless, to act as they did, but that will not 
clear them in the eyes of the world, and the charge of 
treason to Mr. Astor's interests will always be at- 
tached to their characters." 38 

McDougal accepted a partnership in the North 
West Company. McLennan, Ross, and Cox entered 
that service as clerks on advantageous terms, but 
Mackenzie, Stuart, Clarke, and the indignant Fran- 
chere returned with the spring brigade to Montreal. 
The free trappers, Americans for the most part, re- 
treated to the Willamette Valley to hunt and fish and 
live at ease. They had become so wonted to the life 
of the wilderness that they were willing to settle 
there with their Indian wives. They refused to take 
service with the Canadian Company, but trapped on 
their own account. 


That Astor's project was statesmanlike and entirely 
practicable, the later successes of the British company 
abundantly proved. There was no parsimony in the 
expenditure of money, and a sum of $400,000 was 
lavished on an enterprise that produced no financial 
returns. Neither was there economy of human en- 
ergy. Three years of strenuous effort and sixty-five 
lives went into the establishing of this trading post on 
the Pacific. 39 In reviewing the mistakes that con- 
tributed to the failure of the undertaking, we recognize 
first of all that Astor's agents were not equal to the 
responsibilities imposed upon them. McKay was 
the only man of first-rate ability among them, and 
he was lost at the outset. No one of them, Captain 
Thorn, McDougal, Hunt, Mackenzie (not to mention 
the partners who deserted) had the resolute mastery 
of circumstance that compels success. Astor has 
been severely blamed for intrusting his enterprise 
so largely to Canadians and Northwesters. Had he 
foreseen war, he might have realized that their loyalty 
to Great Britain and to Montreal would prevail to the 
jeopardy of his business. Born a German peasant, 
and arriving in this country at the close of the Revo- 
lutionary War, he could hardly be expected to under- 
stand the qualities of the American. Moreover, the 
exaggerated jealousy of the Missouri Fur Company 
had deprived him of cooperation from St. Louis. He 
naturally turned to the fur traders of Montreal with 
whom he was already familiar. It was also to be ex- 
pected of a New York merchant that he should regard 
the sea route as the most feasible means of commu- 
nication with the Columbia. The existence of an 


overland traverse practicable for pack animals and 
much shorter than that traversed by Lewis and Clark 
was demonstrated by Robert Stuart's party, in spite 
of their unhappy wanderings. If they had marched 
directly east from Bear River to the Sweetwater and 
followed its lead, they would have covered the route 
that later became the Oregon trail, and might have 
accomplished the whole distance from Astoria to St. 
Louis in six months. The voyage round the Horn 
required nine months under favorable conditions, 
and the chances of loss were far greater. Farther, 
no business could be maintained against such disas- 
ters as the loss of the Tonquin and the Lark and the 
profitless voyagings of the Beaver. Astor possessed 
a great fortune and was the most daring entrepreneur 
of that day, but even he found the odds too heavy. 
The ultimate cause of failure arose from the inability 
of the United States government to give aid to this 
remotest venture of American commerce. Astor 
besought President Madison to send a war vessel to 
his distressed colony, but in vain. Public opinion 
would not have justified so costly an expedition, even 
if the ship could have been spared. Jefferson might 
have taken the risks, but few other men in America 
appreciated the far-reaching significance of Astor's 

The treaty of Ghent provided for the mutual res- 
toration of all forts and private property seized during 
the war. Astoria was not, however, mentioned or 
thought of until Astor called the matter to the 
attention of President Madison. Then (1818) J. P. 
Prevost was despatched to the Columbia to take 


possession. The United States flag was run up over 
the fort, but the property had been purchased by the 
North West Company and could not be recovered. 
The flag-raising ceremony having been successfully 
performed, the American emissary sailed away, and 
the British traders were left in undisturbed possession. 
The rights of the United States in the Oregon country 
were safeguarded, however, by the treaty of Joint 
Occupation concluded with Great Britain in this 
same year, according to which "any country claimed 
by either party on the North West Coast of America" 
together with all harbors, bays, rivers, etc., was to be 
"free and open" to the subjects of both powers for 
the term of ten years. 

Section IV 

Fort Vancouver 

The career of the North West Company on the 
Columbia was not a brilliant one. According to 
Alexander Henry, who spent the winter of 1813-1814 
at Fort George, the Northwesters were in quite as awk- 
ward a predicament as the Astorians had been. He 
found the atmosphere of the post demoralizing and the 
warm, damp climate depressing, while the trees that 
overshadowed the building, "very large, heavy and 
mostly unserviceable," made the place unwholesome. 
"Most of the men brought overland by the P. F. Co. 
are undisciplined, impertinent, ill-behaved vaga- 
bonds, devoid of that sense of subordination which 
our business requires." 40 The natives did not please 
him better. "Beavers are numerous, but the native?. 


who are also numerous, will not hunt them." They 
persisted in digging wappatoo, and "could not be 
persuaded of the benefit they would reap from work- 
ing beaver." Indeed, the inconsiderate aborigines 
of the Willamette Valley showed a disposition to re- 
sent the intrusion of the hunters. "They said they 
did not wish white people to come up this river ; that 
our guns had driven away the deer or made them so 
wild that they could no longer be killed with bows 
and arrows." After the departure of the Racoon, the 
British sloop of war, Henry felt considerable trepi- 
dation as to their chances of survival. "Left at the 
mercy of chance among hostile natives, with no goods 
to trade and scant provisions," an Indian uprising in 
behalf of the "Bostons" or the arrival of an Ameri- 
can man-of-war would have quickly turned the tables 
and restored Oregon to the United States. The be- 
lated supply ship, the Isaac Todd, arrived toward the 
end of April, and trading parties were sent to the 
upper posts with plentiful stocks of English goods ; 
but the business did not prosper. McDougal, who 
had been rewarded for his compliance with McTav- 
ish's plans by the office of chief factor of the Colum- 
bian district, was incapable of effective organization, 
and his timid counsels stood in the way of active 
prosecution of the trade. The freedom permitted 
in liquor-selling and credit advances demoralized the 
engages, while the Indians were fast dying out under 
the influence of the white man's vices. 

The North West Company had three hundred en- 
gages west of the Rockies — a reckless, nondescript lot, 
Iroquois hunters, Hawaiian sailors, and renegade 


whites. They came into frequent conflict with the 
natives, whose notions of tribal property in land, tim- 
ber, rivers, game, and fish the parvenus were not in- 
clined to respect. The Dalles Indians were strong 
enough to extort tribute, but the Chenooks and 
Clatsops submitted meekly to the invasion, while the 
Chehallis on the Cowlitz and the Umpquas to the 
south were rendered hostile by wanton massacres. 
The only new post built was Fort Walla Walla (1818), 
which Donald Mackenzie deemed essential to the secu- 
rity of his trappers on Snake River. Alexander Ross, 
another Astorian, maintained his post on the Okana- 
gan and carried his trading expeditions as far as the 
Yakima Valley, the resort of the Nez Perces. 

With the merging of the interests of the North West 
and Hudson's Bay companies (1821), a new regime 
was established on the Columbia. John McLough- 
lin, a Canadian of Scotch and French parentage and 
formerly a partner in the North West Company, was 
appointed chief factor of the Columbia district in 
1824, and under his strong and wise administration, 
an epoch of peace and prosperity was inaugurated. 
The principal factory was removed from Astoria, 
now called Fort George, to Bellevue Point, a whole- 
some elevation ninety miles up the river and nearly 
opposite the debouchement of the Willamette. The 
new post, Fort Vancouver, was equally accessible 
from the sea and a far less troublesome landing-place. 
Situated at the junction of three rivers, it com- 
manded the canoe trade to north, south, east, and 
west. Fort George was thereafter maintained merely 
as a lookout station to furnish pilots to vessels coming 


up the river and to forward the intelligence of arri- 
vals by sea to the chief factor. The Klackatucks 
who inhabited the north shore of the river from the 
Cowlitz to the Cascades were the best of the native 
hunters and brought in quantities of game and peltry. 
The soil was well suited to agriculture, and a neigh- 
boring stream furnished water-power for a sawmill. 
Here three thousand acres of fertile land were gradu- 
ally brought under cultivation, and a sufficient quan- 
tity of grain was grown to supply the Columbia River 
force after 1828, and the interior posts after 1840. 
The hogs and goats brought from the Hawaiian Is- 
lands by the Tonquin had multiplied rapidly, and 
the four head of Spanish cattle imported on the Isaac 
Todd were carefully nourished. The chief factor 
allowed no cattle to be killed except one bull calf each 
year for rennet, and the only meat furnished to the 
force at Vancouver was elk and venison. This thrifty 
policy was rewarded by the accumulation of a fine 
herd. In 1828, there were 200 cattle, 50 horses, and 
300 swine in the woods and pastures about the Fort, 
but not till 1838 was the embargo on slaughter re- 
moved. Three hundred people were employed on the 
farm and in the various industries of the establish- 
ment. Their dwellings, the barns, cowsheds, grist- 
mill, threshing-mill, and workshops, the dairy and the 
salmon house, gave to the Fort the appearance of an 
agricultural village. The post itself was an imposing 
affair, — a stockaded enclosure, 250 by 150 yards 
square, surrounded the governor's house, the clerks' 
quarters, and the storehouses where the stock of furs, 
the supplies, and the goods for the season's trade 


were kept under lock and key. Flowers and vine-clad 
arbors, a flourishing vegetable garden and a promising 
orchard gave the post an air of comfort and refine- 
ment that made it seem a very paradise to the weary 
traveller from the mountains or from across the sea. 

The arrival of the supply ship from London was a 
great event, since it brought not only the all-impor- 
tant stock in trade, but news of the great world and, 
not infrequently, distinguished visitors from afar. 
The annual "brigade" from the interior came down 
the river in the month of June, a brave show of well- 
manned canoes, heavily laden with beaver packs and 
wilderness-worn hunters dressed in their gaudiest 
deerskins and eager for the sight of wives and chil- 
dren. The transcontinental "Express" made its 
annual journey up the Columbia to Fort Colville 
and over the "height of land" (Saskatchewan Pass) 
to the Saskatchewan, Lake Winnipeg, and York Fac- 
tory, leaving Vancouver in March and returning the 
following autumn, with the regularity of an ocean 
liner. The mails for Canada and the United States 
were carried by this route as well as supplies for the 
interior posts. 

Dr. McLoughlin's energetic personality was felt 
not only at Fort Vancouver, but throughout the vast 
fur region west of the Rockies. He reenforced the 
trading posts of Walla Walla and Okanagan, built a 
new and important depot, Fort Colville (1825), on the 
upper Columbia to supersede Spokane House as 
connecting link with New Caledonia, and planted 
pioneer establishments on the Flathead and Umpqua 
rivers and on Hood's Canal. Fort Boise and Fort 


Hall (1835) marked the easternmost reach of this 
commercial empire, but trading parties were de- 
spatched southward into the desert wastes of the 
Great Basin (1826) and along the Pacific Coast as far 
as the Sacramento Valley (1829). In 1835, the Co- 
lumbia district could boast six trading posts on the 
sea (none, however, south of the forty-ninth parallel) 
and sixteen in the interior, while six armed vessels 
and one small steamer managed the coastwise trade. 
The season's accumulation of furs, whether gathered 
in the coast trade or collected in the interior, was 
brought to Fort Vancouver and stored to await the 
advent of the ship from London. The cargo of 
furs sent out annually brought from $500,000 to 
$1,000,000 in the London market. A year's supply 
of goods was always stored at the central depot to 
guard against the possible loss of this vessel. In 
accordance with an agreement effected with the Rus- 
sian-American Fur Company in 1839, New Arch- 
angel was supplied with wheat flour (at $15 to $20 
per barrel) and other provisions, in exchange for the 
seal, fox, and otter skins taken about the " Frozen 
Ocean." Pickled salmon and sawed lumber (at $60 
to $100 per M.) were shipped to the Sandwich Islands 
in exchange for sugar and salt, and this trade was 
worth $60,000 a year. 

The best traditions of the Hudson's Bay Company 
were observed at Fort Vancouver. Prices were fixed 
and reasonable, the quality of wares and supplies was 
as good as the English market afforded, strict justice 
was enforced for Indian and white man alike. No 
liquor was sold to the natives, and only a sparing 


measure was dealt out to the Company's servants, 
the treat being reserved for festive occasions, as 
Christmas and the return of the brigade. Such was 
the chief factor's reputation for fair dealing that he 
was known among the tribes far and near as the 
"Great White Chief," and the " White-headed 
Eagle." His influence with the redmen seemed un- 
bounded. There were no Indian wars so long as Dr. 
McLoughlin was in command of Fort Vancouver, 
for his refusal to trade with a troublesome tribe was 
sufficient to bring the mutineers to terms. A school 
was maintained at the Fort for the benefit of the half- 
breed children of the officers and servants of the Com- 
pany, and of the many orphan children of Indians 
who had been in the Company's employ. They 
were taught English (sometimes French), writing, 
arithmetic, and geography; and were subsequently 
either apprenticed to traders in Canada or kept in 
the Company's service. The expenses of a resident 
physician and a hospital were also met by the Com- 

The resources of the vast region covered by the 
Columbia district were developed with zeal and effi- 
ciency, but with a concern for the preservation of the 
men and animals involved that was characteristic 
of the Hudson's Bay Company. The trappers were 
sent out under trained leaders and amply supplied 
with food and pack-animals. A trapping party is 
thus described by John Dunn, one of the clerks at 
Fort Vancouver. "The party generally consists of 
about fifty or sixty men — most of them the Com- 
pany's servants, — others, free hunters. The ser- 


vants have a stated salary, while the freemen receive 
so much per skin. Previous to leaving the Fort for 
their arduous adventure, they are allowed a small 
quantity of rum per man ; and they generally enjoy 
a grand holiday and feast the night previous to 
starting. Each man has a certain number of horses, 
sufficient to carry his equipment. The free trappers 
generally provide their own animals. Both the Com- 
pany's servants and the freemen frequently take 
their wives and families with them ; the women are 
very useful on the expedition, in preparing meals and 
other necessaries for their husbands during their 
absence from the camp. In summer and winter, 
whether they have a sort of travelling camp or a 
fixed residence, they select the localities that most 
abound in fur-bearing animals. 

"Though a party may be obliged, from a variety 
of circumstances, to winter in the plains, or in the 
recesses of the mountains, on the borders of lakes or 
rivers, some numbers of it return to the fort at the 
fall, with the produce of the season's hunt, and report 
progress ; and return to the camp with a reinforce- 
ment of necessary supplies. Thus the Company are 
enabled to acquire a minute knowledge of the country 
and the natives ; and extend their power and au- 
thority over both." 41 

One of the most notable of the Hudson's Bay 
Company servants was Peter Skeene Ogden, son of a 
Tory judge of Newark, New Jersey, who, bereft of 
home and property by the American Revolution, took 
refuge in Canada. Young Ogden entered the fur 
business as a clerk in the North West Company, 


but transferred to the Hudson's Bay Company with 
the consolidation and was soon after appointed 
chief trader to the Snake River country. His first 
party (1824) was made up of two gentlemen, two in- 
terpreters, seventy-one men and lads, eighty guns, 
three hundred and sixty-four beaver traps, three hun- 
dred and seventy- two horses, and was ' ' the most for- 
midable party that had ever set out for the Snakes." 42 
Since the average catch per trap in this rich district 
was twenty-six beavers, the return anticipated from 
the hunt was fourteen thousand one hundred skins. 
For five successive winters, Ogden searched the new 
and difficult district between the Three Tetons and 
the Cascades, trapping every discoverable stream and 
returning each spring to the Nez Perces post with 
his take of peltry. The money return from these 
unexploited beaver meadows was gratifying, but a 
more permanent result was the contribution to geo- 
graphic knowledge. Ogden followed the John Day 
River to the Blue Mountains and the Deschutes to 
its source in the Sierras. Harney and Malheur 
lakes in the wastes of eastern Oregon were familiar 
ground to this tireless hunter. Farther south, in the 
edge of the great desert, he came upon his " un- 
known river" later denominated the Humboldt, 
but which the fur traders more appropriately called 
the Ogden. Making his way across the Sierras, 
Ogden discovered the Klamath and Shasta rivers and 
confirmed for these as for snow-capped Mt. Shasta 
their wonted Indian names. The information he was 
able to give concerning this trackless waste of river 
and desert and mountain was used by the London 


map maker, Arrowsmith, as the basis for the maps 
prepared for the use of the Hudson's Bay Company. 
Thus did the fur trader, bent only on profit, supple- 
ment, even anticipate, the work of the explorer. 

Section V 

Rivalry of the American Companies 

The war of 1812 had a demoralizing effect upon 
the fur trade of St. Louis. The foreign market 
being cut off, the price of furs fell to a ruinous point. 
At the same time, war duties raised the prices of 
foreign goods and their domestic substitutes far 
beyond the rate which British traders had to pay. 
Thus the profits of the business were wiped out 
while at the same time its risks greatly increased. 
Open hostilities were confined to the operations on 
the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and on the Great 
Lakes, but the animosities engendered bred trouble 
on the Upper Mississippi and the Missouri. Under 
the tutelage of the agents of the North West Com- 
pany, the Sacs and Foxes of Illinois, the Iowas to the 
west of the Mississippi, the Sioux, the Mandans and 
the Aricaras along the Missouri, even those Bedouins 
of the Plains, the Crows and the Arapahoes, had 
learned to despise the Americans. The collapse of 
Astor's enterprise on the Columbia and the with- 
drawal of the Missouri Fur Company to the region 
below Council Bluffs confirmed the impression that 
the government at Washington was too remote or 
too feeble to protect its traders. American parties 
were attacked and robbed and the stolen furs 


forwarded to British posts. The fact that the 
marauding Indians were armed with British muskets 
lent color to the assertion, current at St. Louis, that 
trade rivalry had much to do with the hostility of the 
Indians. Fortunately for the river settlements, the 
diplomacy of "Uncle Manuel" and General Clark 
averted disastrous conflict, but, notwithstanding the 
treaties of peace negotiated with the leading chiefs 
(1815), traffic on the upper Missouri was unsafe. The 
several tribes still held that traders on the river 
owed them tribute and they ambushed such parties 
as seemed too weak to offer resistance. Their depre- 
dations grew so annoying that Congress was in- 
duced (1819) to send an expedition to overawe the 
insubordinate aborigines. Colonel Henry Atkinson 
with a regiment of United States troops was directed 
to proceed up the Missouri to the mouth of the 
Yellowstone and there erect a fort adequate to the 
protection of trade, while a party of scientists in 
charge of Major Stephen H. Long was to explore 
the region between the Missouri and the Rockies. 
The attempt was made to send the troops up the 
river in steamboats, although no experiment in 
steam navigation had yet been made on the Missouri. 
The undertaking was thwarted by the clumsy char- 
acter of the boats provided, and the troops got no 
farther than Council Bluffs, where they were obliged 
to winter and where one hundred men died of 
scurvy. A march of three times the distance might 
have been made with half the loss in life and one- 
tenth the money expenditure. The project of going 
on to the Yellowstone was abandoned perforce, 


and the only persons benefited by the expedition 
were the contractors, who pocketed handsome 
profits. In the year following, Long's party went up 
the Platte River to the foothills of the Rockies, 
verified Pike's discoveries in that region, and return- 
ing by way of the Canadian River, proved that this 
misleading stream was not the Red River but a 
branch of the Arkansas. 

The Aricara campaign was a military fiasco, 
which could have no other effect on the Indians 
than to render them even more contemptuous of the 
authority of the United States government. It is 
not surprising, therefore, that the trading party 
organized by William Ashley in the spring of 1823 
was attacked and cut to pieces by the Aricaras and 
that another party of trappers and voyageurs operat- 
ing for the Missouri Fur Company was destroyed 
by the Blackfeet on the Yellowstone. Colonel 
Leavenworth, in command of the military detach- 
ment at Council Bluffs, determined to forestall 
farther outrage by striking a stunning blow at the 
Aricara fortress. William Ff. Ashley and Joshua 
Pilcher, the able successors of Lisa at the head of 
the Missouri Fur Company's affairs, brought one 
hundred and twenty of their best men to his assist- 
ance, and four hundred Sioux warriors sided with 
the Americans. Such a force should have reduced 
the Aricaras to submission and guaranteed the se- 
curity of the river road for years to come. Unfor- 
tunately Colonel Leavenworth was not accustomed 
to Indian diplomacy, and he made the mistake of 
suspending hostilities to consider offers of peace. 


The treaty he negotiated was not worth the paper 
it was written on, and the perfidious Aricaras escaped 
punishment. Thereafter, in spite of the treaties 
negotiated by the second Yellowstone expedition 
(1825), the tribes of the upper Missouri regarded the 
traders as legitimate prey, frequenting the posts when 
they had furs to sell and robbing the trapping parties 
whenever they were strong enough to be sure of 

The fur trade of the Far West, nevertheless, offered 
golden opportunities to whomsoever had courage 
and resources sufficient to overcome its inevitable 
hazards. In the years 1820 to 1830, the Missouri 
Fur Company 43 made determined efforts to get 
control of the upper Missouri. A new post, Fort 
Benton, was built at the mouth of the Big Horn, 
and a force of three hundred men was sent to this 
region, where the annual catch amounted to from 
$25,000 to $30,000. But the Company was finally 
ruined by the persistent hostility of the Blackfeet. 
These banditti of the plains ranged the high country 
from Judith Basin to the Three Forks, and they 
were determined not to surrender to the whites their 
rich beaver meadows. They fought the interlopers 
with British muskets and traded their booty of 
beaver skins at the North West Company's posts. 
Congress had been induced (1816) to take advantage 
of the silence of the peace of Ghent on this vexed 
subject by prohibiting foreigners from trading with 
the Indians within the boundaries of the United 
States. This exclusive legislation was largely due 
to the influence of John Jacob Astor, who was thus 


able to turn the tables on the North West Company, 
to purchase the posts that were located south of 
the forty-ninth parallel at bargain prices, and so to 
secure control of the rich Minnesota territory. 
Fort Pembina was abandoned and the operations of 
the Canadian traders on the Red River of the North 
ceased. In 1821 the British government excluded 
American traders from the Canadian field, and interna- 
tional competition was transferred to the Columbia. 
Even more bitter than the jealousy of foreign 
rivals was the opposition to government interven- 
tion, whether in the form of fees, bonds and penal- 
ties, or of official competition. The attack on the 
government trading houses was led by Thomas H. 
Benton, the newly elected senator from Missouri 
and the faithful ally of the St. Louis traders. Astor's 
influence also was actively hostile. The charges of 
inefficiency and corruption brought against the 
government factors were substantiated by such 
witnesses as Ramsay Crooks, Astor's right-hand 
man, and the agent for Indian Affairs on the Mis- 
souri, Benjamin O'Fallon, who owed his appoint- 
ment to Astor's influence with the War Depart- 
ment. It was urged that the goods furnished the 
Indians were inferior to those' offered by private 
traders, that the prices charged were exorbitant, 
that for these reasons the Indians had ceased to 
trade at the government factories, and finally, that 
the impression made on the savage mind by the 
official factors was far from contributing to the in- 
fluence of the United States government on the 
frontier. The superintendent of Indian Trade, 


Thomas L. McKinney, protested that the competi- 
tion of private traders, not the disinclination of the 
Indians, thwarted the effort of his factors to further 
the humane purposes of the government and that 
the latter could not compete against the credit 
advances permitted the private trader and his 
clandestine sale of whiskey. The license fee, he 
argued, should be raised to $200 and the bond to 
$10,000 in order to eliminate the small trader who 
peddled whiskey and firearms and otherwise de- 
moralized the trade. The superintendent made out 
a good case, but the importunities of the fur traders 
prevailed. The government factories were abolished 
(March, 1822) and the trade was thrown open to all 
American citizens who could secure a license, no 
endorsements being required. The system of fees 
and penalties was not revived, and the bond, fixed 
in proportion to capital invested, was never to ex- 
ceed $5000. The result was a regime of cut-throat 
competition. The less scrupulous traders practised 
unblushing frauds upon the Indians and upon each 
other. The savages were incited to ignore the 
credit obligation and turn over the proceeds of the 
winter's hunt to the party first on the ground in 
the spring, a pernicious practice that was mutually 
destructive. The fur trade was given over to un- 
bridled license. 

Twenty years later (1842), Fremont described 
the conditions then prevailing at Fort Laramie. 
"The articles of trade consist, on the one side, 
almost entirely of buffalo robes ; and, on the other, 
of blankets, calicoes, guns, powder, and lead, with 


such cheap ornaments as glass beads, looking- 
glasses, rings, vermilion for painting, tobacco, and 
principally, and in spite of the prohibition, of 
spirits, brought into the country in the form of 
alcohol, and diluted with water before sold. While 
mentioning this fact, it is but justice to the Ameri- 
can Fur Company to state that, throughout the 
country, I have always found them strenuously 
opposed to the introduction of spirituous liquors. 
But, in the present state of things, when the coun- 
try is supplied with alcohol, when a keg of it will 
purchase from an Indian everything he possesses — 
his furs, his lodge, his horses, and even his wife and 
children, — ■ and when any vagabond who has money 
enough to purchase a mule can go into a village and 
trade against them successfully, without withdraw- 
ing entirely from the trade, it is impossible for them 
to discontinue its use. In their opposition to this 
practice, the company is sustained, not only by 
their obligation to the laws of the country and the 
welfare of the Indians, but clearly, also, on grounds 
of policy ; for, with heavy and expensive outfits, 
they contend at manifestly great disadvantage 
against the numerous independent and unlicensed 
traders, who enter the country from various avenues, 
from the United States and from Mexico, having 
no other stock in trade than some kegs of liquor, 
which they sell at the modest price of thirty-six 
dollars per gallon. The difference between the 
regular trader and the coureur de hois (as the French 
call the itinerant or peddling traders) with respect 
to the sale of spirits, is here, as it always has been, 


fixed and permanent, and growing out of the nature 
of their trade. The regular trader looks ahead, 
and has an interest in the preservation of the Indians, 
and in the regular pursuit of their business, and the 
preservation of their arms, horses, and everything 
necessary to their future and permanent success in 
hunting. The coureur de bois has no permanent 
interest, and gets what he can, and for what he 
can, from every Indian he meets, even at the risk of 
disabling him from doing anything more at hunting." 44 

The American Fur Company 

Disinterested observers most conversant with the 
situation had repeatedly recommended that the 
Missouri River trade should be made over for a 
term of years to an exclusive corporation adequately 
financed, which, under suitable regulation, should be 
trusted to develop the region in the conservative 
fashion practised by the Hudson's Bay Company ; 
but this proposal was regarded as antagonistic to 
the genius of American institutions and therefore 
unpatriotic. The only business organization equal 
to such an enterprise was the American Fur Com- 
pany, and jealousy of the New York financier was 
so great that no congressman could be induced to 
propose so unprecedented a monopoly. Astor, how- 
ever, had by no means abandoned his purpose of 
invading the Missouri territory, and in 1822 he 
established a branch of the American Fur Company 
at St. Louis. The opposition of his western com- 
petitors he overcame by joining forces with the 
most important of the old houses, e.g. Bernard 


Pratte & Co., the Chouteaus, the Columbia Fur 
Company, — so that the ablest men in St. Louis were 
enlisted in the service of the new enterprise. Besides 
the old-time Astorians, Ramsay Crooks, Robert 
Stuart, Russell Farnham, several agents of the 
Canadian companies, Kenneth Mackenzie, Etienne 
Provost, Vanderburg, were enlisted. The fusion of 
the North West with the Hudson's Bay Company 
had thrown some nine hundred clerks, traders, and 
trappers out of employment, and these, Scotchmen 
for the most part, were glad to try their luck with 
the great American company. Fully conversant 
with the Missouri country and on excellent terms 
with the Assiniboins and the Blackfeet, they were 
able to secure the trade of the northern rivers for 
their new patron. The Western Department of the 
American Fur Company (the term Northern De- 
partment was henceforth applied to the business 
centring at Mackinaw) soon developed a trade 
that quite overshadowed its operations along the 
Great Lakes, and so far preempted the fur trade 
of the Missouri region that it was commonly known 
as ".the Company," while all outside traders were 
designated collectively "the Opposition." A post, 
Fort Union, was built at the mouth of the Yellow- 
stone to intercept the trade with the Assiniboins, 
which, since it commanded both routes to the 
beaver grounds, became the depository of the 
season's catch. Fort Piegan (later Fort Mackenzie 
and finally Fort Benton) was placed at the mouth 
of Maria's River to control the Blackfeet country, 
while Fort Cass, at the junction of the Big Horn, 
secured the adherence of the Crows, 


The limitless resources of the parent company ren- 
dered possible experiments and losses which would 
have ruined any or all of the St. Louis houses. In 1830 
a startling innovation was determined on. The keel 
boat was to be supplanted by steamers for the trans- 
portation of goods and furs. Steamboats had been 
used on the lower river since 1819, but no vessel of 
such proportions had ventured above the Kansas 
since the costly experiment of the government in the 
Aricara campaign. Pierre Chouteau contended, how- 
ever, that the upper river could be successfully navi- 
gated by stern-wheelers, such as the Long party had 
used with entire success, and that the saving in time 
and in operating force would be great. Under his 
auspices, the Yelloivstone made her virgin voyage in 
the spring of 1831, achieving the round trip from St. 
Louis to Fort Tecumseh, at the mouth of the Kansas, 
in three months, two months up-stream and one 
down. In the following year, the little craft ascended 
the river as far as Fort Union. The saving in time 
and labor was sufficient to justify the adoption of 
steam, but the impression produced upon the In- 
dians was perhaps the most significant gain. They 
said that "the British might turn out their dogs 
and burn their sledges, as they would no longer be 
useful while the Fire Boat walked on the waters." 45 
They began bringing their furs to the Americans by 
preference, and thenceforth the loss of trade from 
Hudson's Bay Company competition was no longer 

By these means the American Fur Company had 
succeeded in monopolizing the trade on the upper 


Missouri, the Yellowstone, and their tributaries, — 
the apparently inexhaustible beaver meadows re- 
vealed by the Lewis and Clark expedition. Rivals 
were induced to combine forces, were bought off, or 
were driven from the field by craft or violence, as 
the situation might suggest. The methods used 
to crush out competitors were quite comparable to 
the practices of certain industrial combinations of 
to-day. The natives were incited to waylay, rob, 
and even murder trading parties who dared invade 
the territory covered by the operations of "the 
Company," prices of furs were advanced and prices 
of goods lowered when the presence of a rival 
threatened to seduce the Indians, agents being 
given carte blanche to depart from the established 
schedules in such business emergencies. Whiskey, 
though forbidden by law, was freely sold to the 
Indians in the contested districts, and when the diffi- 
culty in getting the contraband stuff up the river 
past the government inspector at Fort Leavenworth 
proved too serious, a distillery was set up at Fort 
Union, and fire-water, "as fine a liquor as need be 
drunk," was made from the corn grown by the 
natives. Mackenzie, Crooks, and Chouteau justified 
this practice on the ground that so long as their ir- 
responsible rivals smuggled liquor into the territory 
and enticed the Indians away from their posts, 
they must offer whiskey in trade or abandon the 
field. 46 

The methods of the American Fur Company 
were no more reprehensible than those employed by 
its competitors, but, because of its greater resources, 


the warfare waged by its agents was far more cruel 
and effective. For this reason the sympathy of the 
public was always with the independent trader. 
Under Astor's shrewd management, the business was 
highly systematized and placed on a basis that in- 
sured the principal against loss. The stock in trade, 
whether imported or purchased in the home market, 
was collected at New York and forwarded thence in 
the early spring via New Orleans and the Mississippi. 
From St. Louis the goods were despatched to the 
interior posts by keel boat or steamer as the case 
might be. The furs collected during the winter 
hunt were returned over the same routes to New 
York, the primary market, where they were as- 
sorted, made up into bales, and shipped to Europe 
and China. The resident agent at Kansas Post, 
Fort Union, Fort Benton, or Fort Cass was charged 
for his season's supplies at fixed prices that covered 
the initial cost plus duties and transportation and 
still allowed a considerable margin of profit, while 
the price paid for furs was determined each season 
by the conditions of the foreign market. Whether 
the year's operations left the local trader with a sur- 
plus or a deficit depended on the terms he was able 
to make with the Indians and trappers on whom he 
relied to bring in the furs. The credit system still 
held. In the autumn, after the corn was gathered 
in, the native hunters came to the post for the sup- 
plies without which they could not live through the 
winter, much less trap beaver. Taking advantage 
of their necessity, the trader furnished blankets, 
kettles, firearms, flints, powder and lead, beaver 


and muskrat traps, needles, thread, and gewgaws 
at double the price charged to him. When the 
braves returned in the spring with the proceeds of 
the season's hunt, the situation was reversed, the 
trader was in straits, and the Indians paid as little 
as they dared of the accumulated debt. The cus- 
tomary rate of account was $2 a pound for beaver, 
$3 for a land otter skin, from $1 to $1.50 for a 
buffalo hide, one buckskin, two doeskins, four 
muskrat or raccoon skins for $1 ; 47 but often no 
more than one-half, one-third, or one-fourth the debt 
would be made good. Moreover, the prices the 
goods could command had dwindled to half those 
prevailing in the autumn, so that the trader was 
hard put to it to clear himself and rarely reaped 
any considerable profit. These spring settlements 
were accompanied by acrid altercations which not 
infrequently resulted in bloodshed, and many a 
trader lost his life in the service of the far-away 
commercial potentate popularly known as "Grand- 

The engages and free trappers employed by " the 
Company" endured far more hardships and took 
greater risks, but their remuneration was hardly 
more secure. A free trapper on the Missouri con- 
tracted to furnish one man and one-half the supplies 
for the season's hunt. Mackenzie furnished on 
behalf of the Company two men and half the sup- 
plies, was entitled to half the catch, and expected 
to purchase the remainder, — beaver skins at from $3 
to $4 per pound, " castorum " at $3 per pound. An 
account between Mackenzie and a free trapper, 



John Gardner, cited by Chittenden, 48 gives the 
balance due for thirteen years' service, after supplies 
had been deducted from credits against beaver and 
otter skins brought in, as $930, — not a munificent 
reward for half a lifetime of strenuous labor. Ugly 
stories were current to the effect that even this 
pittance was sometimes withheld and that em- 
ployees who ventured to St. Louis to present their 
claims had been murdered en route. The white 
trapper was hardly better off than the Indian, for he 
paid the same inflated prices for advances (e.g. one 
blanket $12, one axe $6, one kettle $5, the shoeing 
of a horse $3, etc.), and he, like the Indian, spent 
one-third his returns in liquor and feasting. The sys- 
tem was a demoralizing one to all concerned. The 
Indians were induced to abandon the occupations 
that had made them self-supporting, in order that 
they might devote their energies to the hunt. In 
fact, the advantage of the trader increased as his 
tribe became dependent upon the post for a liveli- 
hood. The white men employed earned a bare 
subsistence, while in the lonely life of the post or 
the inevitable brutalities of the hunt they degen- 
erated to a status hardly to be distinguished from 
that of the savage. 

Astor's contribution to the success of the Ameri- 
can Fur Company was that of entrepreneur. The 
first financial genius of the age, he determined the 
markets in which to buy supplies and sell furs, and 
his world-wide commercial operations gave him every 
advantage. Supplies were sent out with unfailing 
regularity, and the disasters of one department were 


offset by the successes of another. In trade competi- 
tion this plenitude of resources rendered victory sure, 
for the great Company could ruin a rival by the 
manipulation of prices. The influence Astor exercised 
at Washington was used unhesitatingly to promote 
favorable and defeat adverse legislation, as well as 
to protect his agents against the too zealous espionage 
of government officials. For example, the right of 
Astor's Mackinaw boats to descend the Mississippi 
was challenged by St. Louis traders on the ground 
that they were manned by Canadians. One boat 
was captured and the bourgeois arrested. Astor's 
influence secured the vindication of the right of the 
American Fur Company's agents to navigate the 
Mississippi rivers, and the appointment of an Indian 
agent (Benjamin 0' Fallon) less amenable to the 
St. Louis houses. The same astute genius did 
much to placate public criticism by politic favors to 
scientists and men in position; e.g. Bradbury and 
Nuttall were carried up the Missouri by Hunt's 
party; Catlin, the painter, ascended the river in the 
Company's steamboat in 1832; and a similar service 
was rendered to Maximilien, Prince of Wied, in 1833. 

The Rocky Mountain Fur Company 

In 1821 a new company was organized by the 
St. Louis traders, Americans and pioneers all of 
them. General W. H. Ashley, the prime mover, 
was a Virginian who had come to Missouri in 1802 
and borne a prominent part in the development of 
the territory. His second, Andrew Henry, was the 
fearless trapper who had crossed the continental 


divide and built a post on westward-flowing water 
in advance of Hunt's party. Returning from that 
disastrous experience, he had accumulated some 
property in the lead mines, but was now ready to 
join this new venture in the fur trade. With these 
veterans were associated on a profit-sharing basis a 
number of younger men, Jedidiah S. Smith (a New 
Yorker), William L. and Milton G. Sublette, Solo- 
mon P. Andrew (a Kentuckian), David E. Jackson, 
James Bridger (a Virginian), Thomas Fitzpatrick and 
Robert Campbell (Irishmen), — frontiersmen whose 
courage and resourcefulness no less than their unscru- 
pulous daring recalled the best days of the North 
West Company. The first expeditions up the Mis- 
souri were unfortunate. Henry's party was robbed 
by the Assiniboins, and he pushed on to Great Falls 
only to be driven back by the Blackfeet (1822). 
The following year, Ashley's boats were attacked 
by the Aricaras and forced to retreat down the 
river. After the Leavenworth campaign, a more 
aggressive enterprise was projected, no less than 
the founding of a fort for protection of the trappers- 
Henry proceeded up the Yellowstone with a large 
party and built a post at its junction with the Big 
Horn; but a band of hostiles killed several of the 
trappers and carried off the horses. 

In this same year, a more successful expedition 
under Henry, Bridger, and Etienne Provost fol- 
lowed the North Platte River to the South Pass 
and beyond to Green River. This, the easiest of all 
the passes across the Rockies, had been used for 
ages by the buffalo and the Indians, but was now 


for the first time utilized by the traders. It led to 
beaver-bearing streams hardly less profitable than 
those of the upper Missouri, and the party returned 
with a fine take of furs. The operations of the 
Rocky Mountain Fur Company were immediately 
transferred to this uncontested field. In 1824 Ash- 
ley went out in person to explore the new terri- 
tory, followed the South Platte into the labyrinth 
of mountain ranges that make up western Colorado, 
and forced his way through to the Green River. 
In an attempt to follow down this dangerous stream 
his boat was wrecked, but the indomitable leader 
made his way on foot to Sevier Lake (called Ashley 
Lake by the traders) and, later, north to Great Salt 
Lake. The Hudson's Bay Company's trappers had 
come as far south as Bear Lake that year, and Peter 
Skeene Ogden, their patron, had cached his first 
season's take in a lovely mountain valley, long 
famous as Ogden's Hole. Ashley appropriated the furs 
as treasure trove and thereby recouped his desperate 
fortunes. 49 

For ten years, thereafter, the Rocky Mountain 
Fur Company justified its name, being in full con- 
trol of the bleak desert between the Snake River 
and the Colorado. The Digger Indians could not 
be depended on to bring in furs, and Ashley was 
forced to rely on free trappers. Every stream and 
mountain park that harbored beaver was diligently 
searched out by the intrepid men who summered 
and wintered in this inhospitable region. Supplies 
were brought out by the spring brigade, up the 
North Platte and over the South Pass to the desig- 


nated rendezvous. Ashley did not attempt to build 
trading posts, but brought his whole force together 
at an appointed time and place, where the trappers 
exchanged their season's catch of furs for pork, 
flour, sugar and tea, clothing, ammunition and 
whiskey. Irving's description of the rendezvous at 
Green River is too well known to require quoting 
here. 50 The return trip was made by pack train or, 
when the rivers served, by boat. From South Pass 
the preferred route was by way of the Big Horn, 
Yellowstone, and Missouri rivers, — streams always 
navigable for the bull boats which the traders had 
adopted. The first wheeled vehicles to cross the 
plains north of the Santa Fe Trail were sent to 
Ashley's rendezvous on Lake Utah in 1826 or 1827. 
Ashley's success in this unexploited country was im- 
mediate and highly satisfactory. The return from 
the hunt of 1824 was one hundred packs of beaver, 
that of 1826, one hundred and twenty-three, that of 
1827, one hundred and thirty. In the latter year 
he made over the business to Smith, Sublette, and 
Jackson and settled at St. Louis, where he realized 
a very comfortable income by supplying goods to 
the traders in the field, receiving their furs in pay- 

The new firm did not prosper financially, for the 
heyday of the fur trade was past. Their great 
achievements were geographical, the unwitting result 
of the search for fresh hunting-grounds. An obscure 
hunter, taking a daring wager, followed the circuitous 
course of the Bear River and launched his canoe 
on the treacherous waters of Salt Lake. Etienne 

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Provost rediscovered Utah Lake, coming in by way of 
the Provo River, to the north of Escallante's trail. 
In 1824 Jedidiah Smith, turning north from South 
Pass, followed up the Green River to the Snake and 
came upon the Hudson's Bay Company's post, 
Fort Boise. In the summer of 1826 he set out from 
Salt Lake with a party of fifteen men to explore the 
country to the southwest. He ascended the Sevier 
valley to the mountainous land of the Pah Utes and 
thence followed the Virgin River to the Colorado, 
where he found Indians cultivating corn, beans, 
melons, and even cotton. Here he purchased fresh 
horses out of a herd stolen from the Spaniards and 
undertook to cross the desert that lay west of the 
Colorado. A runaway neophyte served as guide 
and brought the party after three weeks' desperate 
march to San Gabriel and San Diego. The alarm 
of the commandante at this undreamed of invasion 
had nearly thwarted Smith's hopes. He and his 
men were detained for a time and his journal was 
confiscated and despatched to the City of Mexico. 51 
Forbidden to visit the Spanish settlements along 
the coast, the Americans turned directly north and 
crossed Tehatchepi Pass into the San Joaquin 
valley, where they found plenty of beaver. Here 
they trapped during the winter of 1826-1827, and 
in the spring the fearless leader set out with two 
men, seven horses, and two pack-mules loaded with 
hay and food, to seek fresh supplies at the rendez- 
vous. He made his way over the Sierras by the 
Merced River and Sonora Pass. (Smith called the 
Sierra Range Mt. Joseph.) The snow lay in heavy 


drifts from four to eight feet deep and men and 
animals suffered severely, but the feat was accom- 
plished in eight days. The march across the Great 
American Desert, a region "arid and without game 
or vegetation," was made in twenty days. From 
the rocky ridges that cross this waste of sand and 
sage-brush, rivulets of good water flowed, but only 
to be immediately sucked down by the thirsty earth. 
It was impossible to carry much luggage and the 
party was sometimes without water for two days' 
march. No help could be had from the Digger 
Indians, the most wretched of human beings, whose 
food was snakes and lizards taken with the hands 
and whose only shelter was the wickiup of sage- 
brush. When the daring party arrived at Salt 
Lake, but one horse and one mule remained alive, 
and the men were so exhausted that they could 
hardly stagger under the meagre remnant of their 
equipment. Stopping at Salt Lake only long enough 
to secure a new outfit, Smith again set out for Cali- 
fornia to recover his trappers and their accumulation 
of furs. While crossing the Virgin River the party 
was attacked by Indians, and ten of the men and all 
the supplies were lost ; but this dauntless pathfinder 
made his way across the desert to San Gabriel Mis- 
sion and, leaving there two wounded men, proceeded 
by ship to Monterey. He was again arrested as a 
dangerous character, and again American sea-cap- 
tains were found to stand sponsor for his good in- 
tentions. He was released (November, 1827), on 
condition that he should withdraw from California 
within two months. 


Smith was a man of his word ; but instead of 
attempting to cross the Sierras, an impossible 
feat in midwinter, he went north to the first tribu- 
tary of the Sacramento (thereafter called American 
Fork) and trapped along that valley until the 
floods had subsided. Then in April, 1828, the 
party followed an Indian trail up the Shasta River, 
over Siskyou Pass, and down Rogue River to the 
Umpqua. There, during Smith's absence, the party 
got into trouble with the Indians, the camp was 
attacked, the men killed, the horses stolen, and the 
luggage carried away. Smith and the two men with 
him found their way down the Willamette to Fort 
Vancouver. Dr. McLoughlin received the survivors 
with characteristic generosity, gave them quarters 
at the Fort, and despatched his stepson McKay with 
an adequate force to punish the Umpquas and re- 
cover the stolen property. With characteristic jus- 
tice, he paid the American trader the current price 
for the furs, traps, and horses, deducting only the 
actual cost of the punitive expedition. With business 
shrewdness equally characteristic, the chief factor 
stipulated that one of Smith's men should remain to 
serve as guide to the beaver grounds of the Sacra- 
mento valley. In the autumn of 1828, McLeod was 
sent south to prosecute the trade in this promising 

Smith remained at Fort Vancouver throughout 
the winter of 1828-1829 and accompanied the spring 
brigade to Spokane House and Flat Head Post; 
there, turning south, he followed the Indian trail to 
Henry's Fork of Snake River. By lucky chance, 


the rendezvous for that year was appointed at 
Pierre's Hole, and there the wanderers found Sub- 
lette and Jackson and the Rocky Mountain men in 
full force. Smith insisted that henceforth the hunt 
should be carried on east of the divide so that they 
should not trench upon the territory claimed by the 
Hudson's Bay Company. The operations of 1829- 
1830 were restricted to the Big Horn, Yellowstone, 
and upper Missouri valleys and were highly success- 
ful in spite of severe weather, hostile Blackfeet, and 
the jealous machinations of the American Fur Com- 
pany. In the spring of 1830, Sublette went to St. 
Louis for supplies and returned in the following 
spring up the North Platte and over South Pass 
to the rendezvous on Green River with cattle and 
milch cows and a train of ten wagons. In the 
autumn of 1832, the partners came back to St. Louis 
with one hundred and ninety packs of beaver, worth 
$95,000, and realized a profit that enabled them to 
retire from the business. William Sublette followed 
Ashley's example and opened a wholesale supply 
business, while Jackson and Smith went into the 
Santa Fe trade, an enterprise that promised to 
realize better returns with less labor and risk to life 
and limb. 

Younger men succeeded to the direction of the 
Rocky Mountain Fur Company. Milton G. Sub- 
lette, Thomas Fitzpatrick, and James Bridger led the 
brigades to the annual rendezvous, and their free 
trappers explored every beaver-bearing stream be- 
tween Green River and the Missouri, overlapping 
the region claimed by the American Fur Company, 



and the Missouri River posts retaliated by sending 
their men to the Big Horn. The fame of Ashley's 
winnings attracted adventurers from the eastern 
states, who entered the arena hopefully, with little 
conception of its hazard. At the rendezvous held at 
Pierre's Hole in 1832, Fitzpatrick encountered Van- 
derburg and Drips — Astor's agents — Nathaniel J. 
Wyeth, who had brought out a band of raw recruits 
from New England, and Captain Bonneville, also 
a novice in the trade, whose elaborate equipment was 
highly amusing to the experienced men. 52 

The movements of mere adventurers could be ig- 

Bonneville's Map of the Rocky Mountains, 1837. 

nored, and Wyeth and Bonneville were not molested; 
but the two great companies locked horns in a life 
and death combat. Vanderburg attempted to fol- 


low Fitzpatrick and find out his hunting-grounds, 
and the latter led him astray into the Blackfeet coun- 
try where he and his party fell into an ambush and 
were destroyed. Fitzpatrick, in turn, was robbed by 
the Crows at the instigation of the American Fur 
Company's men, and his furs were restored to him 
only on payment of the price paid the Indians. The 
natives were demoralized by the unscrupulous meth- 
ods of the whites, and the engages were taught 
reckless knavery. The rival agents spied upon each 
other's business operations with all the zeal of a mod- 
ern " trust," and a man transferring from one service 
to another ran the risk of persecution, even murder. 
In spite of its brilliant achievements and the supe- 
rior calibre of the men in its service, the Rocky Moun- 
tain Fur Company was the loser in this cut-throat 
competition. Ashley had been the organizing genius 
of the business, and there was no one to take his place. 
The courage, resourcefulness and ingenuity of Smith, 
Fitzpatrick, Bridger, and other brave men could make 
little headway against the limitless financial resources 
of Astor's company. Losses which meant ruin to 
them were a negligible quantity in the balance-sheet 
of a great corporation whose deficits in one field were 
sure to be offset by gains in another. 

Chittenden estimates that during the twelve years 
of its career the Rocky Mountain Fur Company 
shipped to St. Louis one thousand packs of beaver 
worth $500 a pack. 53 The losses in goods and furs 
and horses injured or stolen he estimates at $100,000, 
the human loss at one hundred lives. The bulk of the 
profits accrued to General Ashley and W. L. Sublette, 


even after they had withdrawn from the partnership, 
for they manipulated the prices of goods and furs 
so as to skim the cream off the returns. None of 
the other partners made money, and most of them, 
as well as the major part of the free trappers and 
engages, were eventually wrecked in health and 

The great and permanent achievements of the 
Rocky Mountain men were quite independent of 
financial success or failure. They opened up a new 
fur country at the head waters of the Snake, the 
Green, and the Big Horn rivers,— streams that, rising 
in the Wind River Mountains, the core of the conti- 
nent, diverge to east, south, and west, and empty into 
the Pacific, the Gulf of California, and the Gulf of 
Mexico. They first explored that vast tract of moun- 
tain and desert, the Cordilleran area; they discov- 
ered the Great Salt, the Utah and Sevier lakes; they 
traced the Snake, the Green, and the Colorado rivers 
from mountain source to the sea; they demonstrated 
the practicability of the South Pass, Walker's Pass, 
and other routes over the Rockies and the Sierras. 
When the United States government undertook to 
explore the Far West, the topographical engineers 
were fain to enlist the services of " mountain men" 
like Kit Carson and James Bridger. Finally, the 
Rocky Mountain Fur Company cleared the way for 
settlers by the long and relentless warfare they car- 
ried on with the nomad Indian tribes, the Blackfeet, 
Aricaras, Crows, Comanches, and Pah Utes, between 
whom and the traders there was never a truce. Not 
the United States army nor the treaties so carefully 


negotiated by the Indian Department, but the trap- 
pers' rifles, taught the redman respect for the white 
man's capacity for self-defense. 

Section VI 
Decline of the Fur Trade 

By 1840, all profit had vanished for the indepen- 
dent trader. The beaver dams were practically 
exhausted, and even the less important furs, as otter, 
mink, fox, and lynx, were hard to get. The buffalo 
herds, which had seemed limitless, were fast diminish- 
ing, yet they kept the fur trade alive for twenty years 
after the beaver were trapped out. The original 
range of the bison was from the Alleghanies to the 
Rocky Mountains, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf ; 
but they had disappeared from the eastern side of the 
Mississippi by the end of the eighteenth century and 
were rarely found east of the Missouri after the first 
decade of the nineteenth. For fifty years thereafter, 
they ranged the Great Plains. They varied their 
feeding grounds with the season, pushing far to the 
north in the summer when the bunch grass was rich- 
est, retreating before the snows across the rolling 
prairies of the Platte and the Kansas, to winter on 
the "staked plains" of Texas. To the Indian the 
buffalo was the staff of life ; to the white man he fur- 
nished important articles of commerce. The hide, 
the tongue, the tallow were in great demand, and the 
fur traders exercised their utmost ingenuity to supply 
the market. The annual yield for the decade from 
1840 to 1850 was estimated at ninety thousand robes ; 


that from 1850 to 1860, at one hundred thousand. 
Not more than one-third the buffalo killed were rep- 
resented in the trade, for there was enormous waste. 
The hides of the bulls were never used, and those of 
the cows were fit for dressing during the winter 
months only. 

When Fremont crossed the Plains (1842), the buf- 
falo range was confined to "the eastern base of the 
Rocky Mountains, sometimes extending at their 
southern extremity to a considerable distance into 
the plains between the Platte and Arkansas rivers, 
and along the eastern frontier of New Mexico as far 
south as Texas." Fitzpatrick told him that some 
twenty years before there were immense numbers of 
buffalo in the Green and Bear river valleys, but the 
hunters had driven them from this retreat to the up- 
per reaches of Snake River. Fremont describes the 
"great highways, continuous for hundreds of miles, 
always several inches, and sometimes several feet in 
depth, which the buffalo have made in crossing from 
one river to another, or in traversing the mountain 
ranges." 54 Stansbury adds: "When the emigration 
first commenced, travelling trains were frequently 
detained for hours by immense herds crossing their 
track, and in such numbers that it was impossible 
to drive through them." 55 As white men increased, 
slaughter augmented with reckless glee. Burton, who 
followed the mail route in 1859, estimated that the 
annual destruction amounted to two or three hundred 
thousand. By that time the buffalo was rarely seen 
on the trail, and the hunters followed the herds 
into the wild country; but buffalo steaks, always 


regarded as more nutritious and wholesome than beef, 
were furnished at the wayside inns. 

The annual take of the American Fur Company in 
1832, according to Maximilien, Prince of Wied, was 
twenty-five thousand beaver skins worth $8 apiece, 
from forty to fifty thousand buffalo hides worth $4 
each, from twenty to thirty thousand deerskins worth 
$1 each, from one to two thousand lynx, two thousand 
mink, two to three thousand fox, of which only the sil- 
ver fox was valuable (twenty to thirty skins at $60 
each), and as many muskrats as they chose to accept, 
from one thousand to one hundred thousand. The 
total value of the furs received amounted in the 
early thirties to $500,000 a year. It was evident to 
any one acquainted with the situation that this yield 
could not long be maintained. In 1834, John Jacob 
Astor, then in London looking into the European 
markets, became convinced that the profitable days 
of the fur trade were past. The beaver meadows were 
nearing exhaustion, and the market for the fur was 
declining. "It appears that they make hats of silk 
in place of beaver." He returned ready to sell his 
interest in the American Fur Company, and it was 
taken over by Ramsay Crooks, who had for some 
time been in charge of the New York department 
and was now backed by Pratte, Chouteau & Co., of 
St. Louis. The new firm bought out Fitzpatrick, 
Sublette, and Bridger this same year and the Union 
Fur Company in 1845. 

Thenceforth the American Fur Company was in 
full control of the Rocky Mountain trade, but the 
industry was declining, as Astor had foreseen, and the 


ablest men of the frontier were turning to other 
pursuits. Even in the Hudson's Bay Company's ter- 
ritory beyond the divide, the receipts from the trap- 
ping expeditions were dwindling. According to N. J. 
Wyeth, the revenue from sales of peltry taken in the 
western district of the Hudson's Bay Company, the 
region between the forty-second and the forty-ninth 
parallel, the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific, did not 
amount to more than $138,000 a year, — not a large 
gross return considering the heavy expenditures (e.g. 
$20,000 on goods shipped from London, the vessels re- 
quired to transport goods and furs, the services of three 
hundred and fifty employees, and two years' interest 
on the capital). The annual net profit of the Hudson 
Bay Company, did not, he believed, exceed $10,000. 
"My impression is, notwithstanding the great dispar- 
ity of the money value of the objects exchanged in this 
trade, that it has been less profitable than any other 
in which as much danger of life and property is in- 
curred." This experienced and disinterested ob- 
server anticipated a steady decline in revenue from 
this source. "The furs produced in this country 
have heretofore been of considerable value, and 
doubtless will furnish a means, to a small extent, for 
supplying the wants of a new country ; but that busi- 
ness has been carried to its full limit ; it may for a 
few years be kept up to its present point of produc- 
tion, but must soon decrease, especially if the coun- 
try is thrown open to emigrants, most of whom will 
become dealers to a greater or less degree in it, and 
many will turn to the more exciting and immediate 
profits of the hunter, rather than to the slow labors 



of the farmer." 56 After visiting the posts in 1841 
Governor Simpson wrote: "I am concerned to say 
the returns are gradually diminishing from year to 
year; this arises from no want of attention to the 
management of the district, but from the exhausted 
state of the country, which has been closely wrought 
for many years without any intermission." 57 

The trappers and traders were dying out quite as 
rapidly as the beaver. Exposure, drink, and the 
hostility of the Indians were destroying them one by 
one. Their wages were spent in the carouses that 
disgraced the rendezvous and the trading posts. 
Few had accumulated property enough to return 
to the civilized world. Alexander Ross, who had 
long experience with the Hudson's Bay Company 
and knew the American traders, estimates the com- 
parative chances of success as follows: "In the fur 
trade of the north many have attained to a compe- 
tency, not a few to independence, and many have 
realized fortunes after a servitude of years; but in 
the slippery and ruinous traffic of the south many 
fortunes have been lost, and an awful sacrifice made 
of human life; so that of all the adventurers en- 
gaged, for half a century past, in the fur trade of that 
licentious quarter, few, very few indeed, ever left it 
with even a bare competency." 58 

The best of the "mountain men" settled down in 
some fertile valley or mountain meadow, built a cabin 
for the Indian wife and half-breed children, and man- 
aged to provide food, clothing, and whiskey by trap- 
ping during the winter and farming during the 
summer months. Farnham describes such a man, one 


Joseph Meek, whom he met on Bear River. "He 
came to the mountains many years ago — and has 
so long associated with Indians, that his manners 
much resemble theirs. The same wild, unsettled, 
watchful expression of the eyes ; the same unnatural 
gesticulation in conversation, the same unwillingness 
to use words when a sign, a contortion of the face 
or body, or movement of the hand will manifest 
thought ; in standing, walking, riding — in all but 
complexion he was an Indian. . . . Meek was evi- 
dently very poor. He had scarcely clothing enough 
to cover his body. And while talking with us the 
frosty winds which sucked up the valley, made him 
shiver like an aspen leaf. He reverted to his desti- 
tute situation, and complained of the injustice of his 
former employers ; the little remuneration he had 
received for the toils and dangers he had endured on 
their account, &c; a complaint which I had heard 
from every trapper whom I had met on my jour- 
ney." 59 

In his Forty Years of a Fur Trader, Charles Larpen- 
teur has given a graphic account of the vicissitudes 
of the life for a man distinctly above the average men- 
tally and morally. A Frenchman of good birth, he 
went from Baltimore to Missouri to seek his fortune, 
and entered the service of Sublette & Co. in 1832, 
at a yearly salary of $296 and supplies. His descrip- 
tion of the sufferings of horses and men on the long 
marches to the rendezvous bears internal evidence of 
authenticity. When his patron sold out to Fitz- 
patrick, Larpenteur found a berth with the American 
Fur Company and served under Kenneth Mackenzie, 


"the king of the Missouri," for the next fifteen years. 
He was assistant clerk at Fort Union at a salary of 
$350 a year, with food and living quarters and one 
suit of broadcloth furnished. Larpenteur was not 
only intelligent but temperate, and he won the con- 
fidence of his superiors mainly by his ability to keep 
sober during the wild carousals which left every other 
man, white and red, engage, trapper, clerk, and factor, 
dead drunk for days at a time. Strong drink was, 
according to this Frenchman, the curse of the trade. 
Equally destructive from a business point of view was 
the competitive warfare waged by the upstart com- 
panies that endeavored to invade the territory long 
monopolized by the "big house." Fox, Livingstone 
& Co., of New York, set up a post, Fort Mortimer, 
on the Yellowstone in 1846, and for four years 
maintained a precarious existence through enticing 
the American Fur Company's trappers to desert by 
promises of higher wages, and secured first innings 
in the Indian trade by lavish dispensing of liquor. 
No sooner had this firm sold out than a new "op- 
position" arose, Harvey, Pruneau & Co., former 
clerks of the Great Company, and the business de- 
generated from bad to worse. 

At forty years of age, Larpenteur, grown pig- 
headed and captious, quarrelled with his superiors 
and determined to quit the fur trade and take his 
Assiniboin wife and half-breed children to the Flat- 
head mission of which Father de Smet had told him. 
In company with another trade-weary Frenchman 
(1847), he set out up the Missouri, meaning to cross 
the mountains by the Lewis and Clark Pass. The 

Fort Bridger, 1849. 

Fort Laramie, 1853. 


little caravan of two wagons, two carts, and eight 
pack horses succeeded in reaching Sun River with 
no serious mishap, but there a brush with the Black- 
feet and the approach of winter turned them back. 
The two families made a second attempt the following 
year, mounted this time on horseback, and got as far 
as Great Falls ; but they were a second time forced 
back by hardships too severe for even Indian women 
to endure, and Larpenteur returned to the service of 
the American Fur Company. Two years' experience 
convinced him that "there was nothing more to be 
made in the Indian trade," 60 and he bought a claim 
on the Little Sioux River, meaning to " open a small 
farm." The place lay in the path of the Mormon 
migration, and realizing that "settlers were coming 
in fast," the old trader thought he saw a chance to 
make money more rapidly than by growing corn. 
He built a store and a blacksmith shop for the use of 
emigrants and ran a ferry across the river, borrowing 
heavily to finance these improvements. He might 
have succeeded had not the crisis of 1857 ruined his 

The resources of civilization having failed him, 
Larpenteur again turned to the wilderness and joined 
a party that proposed to hunt buffalo in the Assini- 
boin country. To avoid the hostile Sioux, the eight 
wagons and eleven men travelled far north by way of 
St. Paul and the Red River of the North, which they 
crossed on the bridge at Pembina, and so up the 
Souris River to the Missouri. The hunt was success- 
ful, and they were returning well satisfied, with two 
thousand robes, when the news that the outbreak of 


the Civil War had shut off the foreign market and 
halved the price of furs balked their expectations of 
profit. Turning again to his old employers, Larpen- 
teur found the Great Company disintegrating. As 
a sympathizer with the Confederacy, Chouteau was 
refused a license to trade with the Indians and was 
obliged to sell his interests to a Chicago firm (Hul- 
bard, Hawley & Co.; A. B. Smith, manager) which, 
under the title of the North West Company, carried 
on the languishing trade. All the old loyalty lost, 
Larpenteur worked first for this house and then for 
" the Opposition," and again on his own account, 
and finally died a pauper. 

More fortunate were some of the traders who, by 
the aid of engages and Indians, converted their posts 
into productive farms and raised supplies for the fast- 
coming emigrants. Colonel A. P. Chouteau had a 
large farm in the Osage country (1831), "where he 
raises every article of necessary food and in greater 
abundance than is necessary for himself, his very 
numerous family and followers." 61 Lupton's trading 
post at Fort Lancaster on the South Platte is described 
by Fremont. "His post was beginning to assume the 
appearance of a comfortable farm ; stock, hogs, and 
cattle were ranging about on the prairie ; there were 
different kinds of poultry ; and there was the wreck 
of a promising garden, in which a considerable variety 
of vegetables had been in a flourishing condition, but 
it had been almost entirely ruined by the recent high 
waters." 62 The most important of these attempts of 
the fur traders to adjust themselves to the new order 
was Fort Bridger, the palisaded post built by James 


Bridger on the Black Fork of Green River. This 
famous frontiersman knew at first hand the vast 
Cordilleran wilderness from the Missouri River to the 
Rio Grande and from the Gila to the Columbia. 
"With a buffalo-skin and a piece of charcoal, he will 
map out any portion of this immense region, and 
delineate mountains, streams, and the circular valleys 
called 'holes/ with wonderful accuracy." 63 Their 
intimate knowledge of the Far West gave the "moun- 
tain men" an advantage in the selection of settlement 
sites, and when the pioneer farmers arrived on the 
ground they usually found some old trapper or trader 
squatting on the most fertile and best watered land. 



Part I 

Chapter I 

1 Humboldt, New Spain, II, 248. 

s Venegas, writing in 1758, is quite in doubt as to whether the straits 
of Anian are not "altogether imaginary" and concludes: "We must 
wait for the solution till the same spirit of discovery that brought us 
first acquainted with the Indies and with America, reveals to us with 
equal certainty, whether it is sea or land, or a mixture of both, that in- 
tervenes between these two mighty continents." Venegas, History of 
California, I, Preface A 4. 

3 Edward Everett Hale first pointed out the relation between Montal- 
vos' romance, the Deeds of Esplandian, and Cortes' discovery. In Atlantic 
Monthly, XIII, 265 ; cf. Bancroft, California, I, 66 ; Venegas, California, 
I, 131-132. 

4 Lyman (History of Oregon, I, Chap. V) gives several Indian traditions 
of such wrecks that antedate Gray's discovery of the Columbia, e.g. A 
ship was driven ashore at Nehalem River, the crew saved their lives, but 
were later killed by the natives. The ship's cargo of beeswax drifted in 
and was scattered on the sands. Some of the cakes which were pre- 
served showed the mark I. H. S., which indicated that they were in- 
tended for a mission church. From another vessel wrecked off the south 
shore, two men escaped and were hospitably received by the Clatsops. 
One of them, called Konapee by the Indians, fashioned iron knives from 
the wreckage and possessed bright pieces of silver like Chinese cash. 
One ship came close inshore and landed a boat bringing a box which was 
buried on the cliff. 

Franchere, Narrative, 248, describes a man of Spanish antecedents 
whom the Astorians found on the Columbia. 

"We found here an old blind man, who gave us a cordial reception. 
Our guide said that he was a white man, and that his name was Soto. We 
learned from the mouth of the old man himself that he was the son of a 
Spaniard who had been wrecked at the mouth of the river ; that a part of 
the crew on this occasion got safe ashore, but were all massacred by the 
Clatsops, with the exception of four, who were spared and who married 
native women ; that these four Spaniards, of whom his father was one, 
disgusted with the savage life, attempted to reach a settlement of their 
own nation toward the south, but had never been heard of since ; and that 
when his father, with his companions, left the country, he himself was 
yet quite young." 


380 NOTES 

6 Drake, The World Encompassed, 118. 
6 Winship, Journey of Coronado, 11. 
'Winship, Coronado, 22. 

8 The Spanish word pueblo means town. In American parlance it has 
come to signify those peculiar "joint tenements" built by theZufii, Moqui, 
and Tigua Indians. 

9 Winship, Coronado, 23. 

10 Winship, Coronado, 26. 

11 Winship, Coronado, 30. This may have been the pitaya cocida, a 
preserve still made by the Mexicans from the fruit of the suharo (giant 
cactus) , or the tulapai, a fermented drink which the Apaches distil from 
the same luscious fruit. 

12 Winship, Coronado, 99. 

13 The buffalo was first described by Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and was 
numerous to the east of the mountains. Cf . Journey, 94. 

14 Winship, Coronado, 38. The Pueblo Indians had no sheep before the 
Spanish conquest. According to Bandelier, their blankets were probably 
made of strips of rabbit skin woven into a heavy fabric. — Bandelier, 
Final Report. 

15 "This country was elevated and full of low twisted pines, very cold, 
and lying open towards the north, so that, this being the warm season, 
no one could live there on account of the cold. They spent three days 
on this bank looking for a passage down to the river, which looked from 
above as if the water was six feet across, although the Indians said it was 
half a league wide. It was impossible to descend, for after these three 
days Captain Melgosa and one Juan Galeras and another companion, 
who were the three lightest and most agile men, made an attempt to go 
down at the least difficult place, and went down until those who were 
above were unable to keep sight of them. They returned about four 
o'clock in the afternoon, not having succeeded in reaching the bottom on 
account of the great difficulties which they found, because what seemed 
to be easy from above was not so, but instead very hard and difficult. 
They said that they had been down about a third of the way and that the 
river seemed very large from the place which they reached, and that 
from what they saw they thought the Indians had given the width cor- 
rectly. Those who stayed above had estimated that some huge rocks on 
the sides of the cliffs seemed to be about as tall as a man, but those who 
went down swore that when they reached these rocks they were bigger 
than the great tower of Seville. They did not go farther up the river, 
because they could not get water." — Winship, Coronado, 35-36. 

16 Winship, Coronado, 41. 

17 Castaneda estimated that there were sixty-six villages "in the coun- 
try of the terraced houses," twenty thousand fighting men, and some hun- 
dred thousand people. Of the pueblos seen by Coronado' s party, Acoma 

NOTES 381 

alone remains standing. Full account, given in Winship, Coronado, 
Part III, Chap. VII ; Bandelier, Final Report, Part I, 34. 

18 Winship, Coronado, 43. 

19 Winship, Coronado, 139-140. 

20 Winship, Coronado, 75-76. 

21 Winship, Coronado, 66. 

22 These (oiks live in tents made of the tanned skins of the cowa. They 
travel around near the cows, killing them for food. — Winship, Coronado, 
65. Bandelier identifies these nomads of the plains with the Apaches. 

23 Rumors of the martyrdom of these missionaries of the faith filled the 
Franciscans with zeal to undertake the conversion of the northern 

24 Winship, Coronado, 115. 
26 Winship, Coronado, 146. 

Chapter II 

1 The encomienda was an institution allied to the feudal practice of 
commendation. The viceroy and governors were empowered to assign 
the native villages or rancherias to the nearest landowners. The en- 
comendero was under obligation to instruct, sustain, and protect his Indian 
vassals, to defend the province against attack, and render other military 
service at the summons of the governor. He was entitled to'a certain 
amount of personal service from the people on his estate, but he might 
not legally extort tribute, sell or give away his dependents or take them 
out of the province, nor might they be forfeited in payment for debt. 
They might not be forced to work in mines or manufactures, and the 
viceroy was commanded to punish severely any maltreatment. In case 
of abuse an Indian had the right of appeal to the Royal Audencia. — Leyes 
de las Indias, Libro Sexto. 

2 The creole was of pure Spanish blood but born in the colony. The 
mestizo was of mixed blood. 

3 The Spanish explorers greatly exaggerated the population of the 
■pueblos. Bandelier thinks it cannot have exceeded 25,000 at the time of 
the conquest. — Final Report, I, 121. 

4 Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, I, 260. 

5 To every settler and his descendants was accorded by the king's 
command the status of hidalgo or nobleman. — Pedro Pino, Noticias, 3. 

6 "The village was very strong, because it was up on a rock out of 
reach, having steep sides in every direction, and so high that it was a very 
good musket that could throw a ball as high. There was a broad stair- 
way for about 200 steps, then a stretch of about 100 narrower steps, and 
at the top they had to go up about three times as high as a man by meana 

382 NOTES 

of holes in the rock, in which they put the points of their feet, holding on 
at the same time by their hands. There was a wall of large and small 
stones at the top, which they could roll down without showing themselves, 
so that no army could possibly be strong enough to capture the village. 
On the top they had room to sow and store a large amount of corn, and 
cisterns to collect snow and water." — Winship, Coronado, 39. 

7 The term applied to an Indian village. 

8 Gregg, writing in 1839, says that the Pueblo Indians were then "con- 
sidered the best horticulturists in the country, furnishing most of the 
fruits and a large portion of the vegetable supplies that are to be found in 
the markets. They were until very lately the only people in New Mexico 
who cultivated the grape. They also maintain at the present time con- 
siderable herds of cattle, horses, etc. They are, in short, a remarkably 
sober and industrious race, conspicuous for morality and honesty, and 
very little given to quarrelling or dissipation, except when they have had 
much familiar intercourse with the Hispano-Mexican population." — 
Commerce of the Prairies, II, 55. Cf. President's Message, 1854, 429. 

9 The decrees of Charles V (1523, 1533, 1551) dictated that each Indian 
village should be granted as much cultivated land as might be necessary for 
its sustenance, and that the mountain forests and pastures should be used 
in common by Indians and Spaniards. The extent of the -pueblo lands 
was later defined (1682) as four square leagues for each community, but 
these grants were not formally assigned till the eighteenth century. This 
arable land was to remain a tribal possession, and no individual was at 
liberty to sell or alienate to outsiders except by express permission of the 
Protectores de los India's. 

10 Desordines que se advier en el Nuevo Mexico. De Morfi seems to 
have been a man of affairs. He accompanied Croix to Texas in 1778 and 
wrote the Diario, also Memorias para la Historia de Texas. 

11 Afanega, the common measure for grain, is equivalent to two bushels. 

12 The organization of the caravan is thus described by a contem- 
porary : "Forty leagues from Santa Fe in the parish called Joya de 
Sevilleta, all those participating come together in the last days of No- 
vember, with freight, firearms, ammunition, arrows, shields, horses, etc. 
Everything is passed in review, and when the number of men (five hun- 
dred) for the trip is made up, they indicate those who are to take turns 
on the journey, in the vanguard, rear and centre ; those who are to take 
care of the horses and mules ; those who have to serve as sentinels (the 
number regularly exceeds one hundred) ; the night guards who must keep 
ears to the ground on dark nights to make sure whether they hear steps 
and avoid the surprises they are accustomed to suffer. As to the provi- 
sions which are necessary, they exceed six hundred fanegas of wheat flour 
made up into toasted bread which they call biscochos, more than one hun- 
dred steers converted into tassago (pemican), one hundred and fifty fanegas 
of pinole (parched corn), a corresponding quantity of frijoles, garbanzos, 
some mutton ; also the barrels to carry the water in the deserts, like that 
called Jornado del Muerto (Journey of Death), where one must ride more 

NOTES 383 

than thirty leagues without finding any water. All these preparations 
have been insufficient in some years to enable them to escape from the 
cunning of the gentiles (Apaches)." — Pino, Noticias, 71-72. 

" Coues, Pike, II, 563. 

" Coues, Pike, II. 606. 

16 Coues, Pike, II, 607. 

16 Coues, Pike, II, 608, 611. 

" Coues, Pike, II, 685. 

18 Coues, Pike, II, 740. 

' 19 Coues, Pike, II, 740-741. 

20 Coues, Pike, II, 656. 

21 Coues, Pike, II, 675. 

Pedro Pino, Noticias historicas y esladtsticas de la antiqua provincia del 
Nuevo Mexico. 

23 Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, I, 333. 

24 That this was an Indian contrivance is proved by the discovery of the 
uso in the extinct villages of the Gila River valley. 

25 Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, I, 338. 

26 Pattie, Personal Narrative, 145. 

27 Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, I, 289. 

28 Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, I, 322-324. 

29 The first census taken in New Mexico, that of 1827, reported a popu- 
lation of 43,433, and the following category of occupations : agricultural 
laborers, 6588; day laborers, 2475; artisans, 1237; merchants, 93; 
schoolmasters, 17 ; scholars, 18. 

The wealth of the province was estimated in its cattle as follows : 
cattle, 5000, valued at $40,000 ; sheep and goats, 240,000, valued at $120,- 
000 ; horses, 550, value $5500 ; mules 2150, value $53,750 ; mares, 300, 
value $2400. 

In 1840 the population was reckoned at 55,403. — Pino, Revised 

30 Shea, Discovery and Exploration, 26, 28. 

31 Joliet's journal was lost by shipwreck as he descended the St. Law- 

32 Cox, La Salle, I, 26. 

33 The king's commission empowered La Salle to explore "the western 
part of New France," " through which it was probable a road may be 
found to penetrate to Mexico." The ultimate aim of the expedition 
may have been the silver mines of New Biscay (Nueva Vizcaya). 

384 NOTES 

34 Cox, La Salle, II, 47. 

35 The stream and bay are still known as Lavaca, from the Spanish 

36 Cox, La Salle, II, 66. 

37 Cox, La Salle, II, 69. 
58 Cox, La Salle, II, 94. 

39 Cox, La Salle, II, 95. 

40 Cox, La Salle, II, 95. 
» Cox, La Salle, II, 101. 
« Cox, La Salle, II, 128. 

43 Duhaut and Liotot were later shot by Hiens, with whom they had 
quarrelled over the distribution of the scanty stock of food. 

44 Cox, La Salle, II, 151. 
« Cox, La Salle, II 185. 

« Cox, La Salle, II, 127-128. 

47 Du Pratz, Louisiana, London Edition, 198-200. 

48 These common fields were donated to every colony by both French 
and Spanish governments, the grants were confirmed by the United 
States Congress, and this primitive system of land tenure has been per- 
petuated to the present day. Edward Flagg, who visited several of these 
villages in 1838, noted that "A single enclosure was erected and kept in 
repair at the expense of the villages, and the lot of every individual was 
separated from his neighbor's by a double furrow." — Flagg, Far West, 
Pt. I, 96. Cf. Bradbury, Travels, 259-261. 

49 Pike found him still at work there in 1805, when his annual output 
was from twenty to forty thousand pounds. The ore was easily smelted, 
and yielded seventy-five per cent metallic lead. After Dubuque's death, 
in 1810, the works were abandoned. 

60 Culbert and Magilhay, who were established near Cottonwood Creek. 

61 L'annee des Batteaux. 

62 Bradbury, Travels in the Interior of America, 269-270. 

63 The term presidio is applied to any fortified post. Its garrison 
served as a guard to the missions. 

64 For first hand account of the mission of La Conception, San Antonio, 
see the report of 1762 quoted in Garrison's Texas, 56-60. 

65 The metate, the stone mortar in universal use among the aborigines 
of the southwest. 

66 Reducidos, the term used to designate the converted or subjugated 

NOTES 385 

57 Altamira estimated in 1744 that the colonization of Texas had cost 
3,000,000 pesos up to that date, and that the annual charge must con- 
tinue at 63,000 pesos. 

68 The number of savages was estimated at fourteen thousand. 

» Coues, Pike, II, 783. 

60 Pike found one of Nolan's men (Solomon Colly) imprisoned at Santa 
Fe and another (David Ferro) at Chihuahua, and he vainly interceded 
with Salcedo on their behalf. 

61 Coues, Pike, II, 785. 

62 Bastrop was a French emigre who had been sent to Texas by the 
Spanish government on a secret mission. He had been recompensed by a 
land grant of thirty square miles between the Mississippi and Red rivers. 

63 The term was applied to all baptized Indians dependent on the 

64 Costanzo, Historical Journal, Out West, 14 : 488. 

65 Costanzo, the scientist of the party, carried Venega's Noticias de las 
Californias and a manual of navigation by the experienced pilot, Cabrera 

66 Crespi, Journal. 

67 Costanzo, Journal, Out West, 15 : 39. 

68 Costanzo, Journal, Out West, 15 : 45. 

69 The revenue from the salt works at San Bias was devoted to this 

7 « Palou, Noticias, IV, 103. 

71 Bancroft assumes that Anza entered the San Gabriel Valley by San 
Gorgonio Pass, following the present route of the Southern Pacific Rail- 
way, but recent researches favor the pass west of the San Jacinto Moun- 
tains. The trail was rough and steep, but there was abundant water. 
— Z. S. Eldridge, in Journal of American History, 1908. 

72 In 1774, roused by the rumor that they were all to be forcibly bap- 
tized, the Indians had attacked the mission buildings and murdered 
Father Jaime and some of the garrison. All the force Alta California 
could muster was required to suppress the revolt. 

73 Anza, Journal. 

74 Reglamento de Neve, Section V, in Rockwell's Spanish and Mexican 
Law, I, 445. Cf. Recopilacion de Leyes, Lib. IV, Tit. V, Ley VI. Philip 

78 The vara (33s inches) was the universal unit of survey. 

76 "The new colonists shall enjoy, for the purpose of maintaining their 
cattle, the common privilege of the water and the pasturage, firewood 
and timber, of the common forest and pasture lands [ejidos], to be desig- 
nated according to law to each new pueblo . . . and it not being pos- 

386 NOTES 

sible that each one can dedicate himself to the taking care of the small 
stock consigned to them — as by so doing they would be unable to attend 
to agriculture and the public works — for the present, the small cattle, 
and the sheep and goats of the community, must feed together, and the 
shepherd must be paid by such community." — Rockwell, Spanish and 
Mexican'Law, I, 448. 

77 "No colonist is to possess more than fifty head of the same kind of 
cattle, so that the utility produced by cattle be distributed amongst the 
whole of them, and that the true riches of the pueblo be not monopolized 
by a few inhabitants." 

78 The schedule of prices fixed by Governor Fages (1782-1791) was as 
just as de Neve could have desired ; viz. horses, $9 each ; mule, $14-20 ; 
ox or cow, $5 ; heifer or steer, $4 ; sheep, $1-2 ; an arroba (25 lb.) of 
wool, $2 ; ox-hide, 37§^ ; fanega of wheat, $2 ; fanega of peas, $3. — Hit- 
tell, History of California, I, 534. 

79 The teachers at San Francisco and Monterey rendered voluntary 

80 Hogs and goats did not flourish under the new conditions. 

81 Costanzo, Informe, 1794. 

82 "Vancouver, Voyage of Discovery, II, 501. 

83 Bacon, Essay on Plantation, 1625. 

84 Garces left a full account of his journey up the Colorado, and it has 
been carefully edited by Elliott Coues, On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer. 
Escallante's briefer journal has never found a publisher. 

85 In 1785 the French government ordained an exploration of the 
northwest coast of America with a view to "opening a communication 
with some part of Hudson's Bay" and ascertaining whether France might 
profitably establish a trading post to the north of the Spanish dominions. 
Comte de la Perouse reconnoitered the coast from the Fairweather Moun- 
tains to Monterey, where he spent sixteen days. The expedition was 
wrecked off the New Hebrides on the homeward voyage, and all hands 
perished. Perouse's journals, which were forwarded to Paris from Pe- 
tropaulovski, are all that remain to us of his gallant adventure. 

86 De la Perouse, Voyage autour du Monde, II, 288-289. 

87 Between the years 1769 and 1797, 21,853 Indians had been bap- 
tized, and of these 10,437 had died at the missions. 

88 In 1806 the herds of the San Francisco neighborhood had become so 
numerous that the governor ordered 20,000 killed, lest the pastures should 
be exhausted. 

89 Von Langsdorff was the journalist of the expedition of de Resanoff , 
who visited the Pacific coast (1803-1806) in the interest of the Russian- 
American Fur Company. 

90 Kotzebue, Voyage of Discovery, I, 283. 

NOTES 387 

91 Humboldt, New Spain, II, 239. 

92 Sola (1818) reckoned the Spanish population of Upper California at 
three thousand. In 1841 (according to de Mofras), there were four 
thousand four hundred and fifty Indians and seven thousand whites. 

93 Vancouver, II, 27. 

94 Von Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels, II, 187. 
96 Von Langsdorff, II, 207. 

96 The fortress built by Borica on the bluff selected by Anza. 

97 All ports of California were thrown open to Mexican vessels in 1822, 
and customs duties imposed averaging 25 per cent. The four presidial 
ports were "open" to foreign vessels in 1829, and this favor was some- 
times extended to San Pedro. Later Monterey and San Diego were the 
only open ports, and the duties were raised to 42.5 per cent. 

98 Tallow was in requisition for lighting the mines of Peru. 

99 The tariff of prices fixed by the governor : Hides, $1 each ; wheat, 
$3 per fanega; tallow, $2 per arroba; soap, $16 per cental; pickled beef, 
$4 per cental. 

ioo Drogher was the West India term applied to these slow and clumsy 
coasting vessels. 

101 Beechey, II, Voyage to the Pacific, 60. 

102 Beechey, II, 68. 
W3 Beechey, II, 68. 
i° 4 Beechey, II, 69. 

los Beechey, II, 66-67. 

106 The Pious Fund was estimated at this time to amount to $500,000 
with an annual revenue of $50,000. It was finally confiscated by Santa 
Anna in 1842, when the value was estimated at $2,000,000. 

W7 Echeandia is known in the annals of the Franciscans as the " scourge 
of the missions." He proposed a plan of secularization which was 
adopted by the Territorial Deputation (1830), but never carried into exe- 
cution. The several missions were to be converted into pueblos and the 
land distributed to the neophytes (one solar and one suerte to each), 
and they were to be supplied, acording to the reglamento, with live stock 
and tools. The padres might remain as curates, but it was hoped they 
would go to the Tulares to found new missions among the gentiles. The 
church and its furnishings and the residence of the missionary were re- 
served, but all other buildings were to be devoted to the uses of the 
pueblos for schools, hospitals, and so forth. Mills, orchards, vineyards, 
and gardens were to be administered by the ayuntamientos (councils) for 
the public benefit. Echeandia was superseded, before this scheme was 
put into operation, by Victoria, a reactionary goyernor ; but seculariza- 
tion was soon given the sanction of the Mexican government. 

388 NOTES 

108 Quoted by Richman, California under Spain and Mexico. 

>»Hittell, II, 205-207. 

110 1841 was a year of drought. 

111 Simpson, Journey round the World, I, 294-295. 

112 According to William C. Jones, the disposition of the remnant of the 
mission property was as follows : — 

San Diego, sold to Santiago Arguello, June 18, 1846. 

San Luis Rey, sold to Antonio Cot and Andres Pico, May 13, 1846. 

San Juan Capristrano, sold to John Foster and James McKinley, 
December, 1845. 

San Gabriel, sold to Julian Workman and Hugo Reid, June, 1846. 

San Fernando, rented to Andres Pico for nine years, but sold to Juan 
Celis, 1846. 

San Buenaventura, sold to Josef Armaz. 

Santa Barbara, rented to Nicholas Den for nine years. 

Santa Inez, rented to Joaquin Carrelo. 

La Purissima, sold to John Temple, December, 1846. 

San Luis Obispo, made over to pueblo. 

San Miguel, sold to Captain Cooke, an Englishman, for $300. (Ac- 
cording to Jules Remy.) 

San Antonio and Santa Cruz, vacant. 

Soledad, sold to Sobranes, January, 1846. 

Carmel, San Juan Bautista, and Dolores made over to pueblos. 

Santa Clara, San Jose, and San Francisco Solano ; missions in charge of 
priest, but property made over to the Vallejos. 

113 See Richman, California under Spain and New Mexico, for a full 
account of the ultimate destination of the mission property. 

114 Alfileria, a species of herb robert brought to California in the fleece 
of sheep imported from Spain. It still grows luxuriantly on mountain 
slopes and is popularly known as " filaree." 

115 De Mofras found a Frenchman, M. Barie, working a placer there. 
He was taking out one ounce of pure gold per day. 

116 In 1841 these items amounted to $265,000 out of a total of $280,000 
(de Mofras), although the export of hides had dwindled to 30,000 per 

117 The contrivance is described by Wilkes and is still used in Lower 

Part II 
Chapter I 

1 The bidarka was a canoe constructed of whale bones and covered with 
walrus skin. Only a man-hole was left for the bodies of the two hunters, 
and they were tied in with oilskins so that the boat would not leak if 

NOTES 389 

2 Von Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels,' II, 228-229. 

3 De Resanoff projected an agricultural colony on the Columbia River, 
but his ship was driven off the entrance by adverse winds. His untimely 
death prevented the execution of this and other purposes he had in hand. 

4 Von Langsdorff, II, 180. 
6 Greenhow, 432-433. 

6 The charts and log-books of Bodega Quadra proved of great use to 
Captain James Cook and also to Von Humboldt. 

7 Cook also hoped to reach the eighty-ninth degree north latitude and 
so to win the prize offered for the identification of the North Pole ! 

8 "We can now with safety assert that no such river as that of St. Roc 
exists, as laid down in the Spanish charts." (Lyman, Oregon, I, 271.) 

9 The Columbia, the Washington, the Hancock, the Jefferson, and the 
Hope from Boston : the Eleanora, the Fair American, the Margaret 
from New York. 

10 The publication of Cook's own Journal was delayed until 1784. 

11 This little schooner of thirty tons was the first ship built on the west 

12 "They discovered a harbor in latitude 46° 53' and longitude 122° 
51'. This is Gray's Harbor. Here they were attacked by the natives, 
and the savages had a considerable slaughter among them. They next 
entered the Columbia River, and went up it about thirty miles and 
doubted not that it was navigable upwards of a hundred. Besides sea- 
otter skins, they purchased a great number of land furs of very consider- 
able value." — Haswell, Logbook, printed as appendix to Bancroft, North- 
west Coast. 

13 Vancouver, I, 210. 

14 Vancouver, I, 215. 

15 Vancouver, I, 420. 

16 Vancouver, II, 66. 

17 Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings of John R. Jewitt. 

Chapter II 

1 Carver, Travels, 102. 

2 "The cheapness and ease with which any quantity of it may be pro- 
cured, will make up for the length of way that is necessary to transport it 
before it reaches the sea-coast, and enable the proprietors to send it to 
foreign markets on as good terms as it can be exported from other coun- 
tries." — Carver, Travels, 139-140. 

390 NOTES 

3 Carver, Travels, 76. 

4 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, VII, 193. 

6 Quoted by Laut, Vikings of the Pacific, 359. 

6 Mackay's map of the Missouri was evidently familiar to Lewis and 
Clark, and his instructions to John Evans for the tour of exploration bear 
a marked similarity both in spirit and in detail to the instructions Jeffer- 
son sent to Meriwether Lewis. Cf. Teggart, Notes Supplementary to 
any Edition of Lewis and Clark. 

7 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, VII, 208. 

8 In a letter to Lewis (from Louisville, July 24, 1803) Clark writes : "Sev- 
eral young men (gentlemen's sons) have applyed to accompany us. As 
they are not accustomed to labour and as that is a verry essential part of 
the services required of the party, I am cautious in giving them any en- 
couragement." — Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, VII, 263. 

9 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, VII, 210. 

10 The menu was thus set forth by Captain's orders : "The day after 
to-morrow lyed corn and grece will be issued to the party, the next day 
Poark and flour, and the day following indian meal and poark ; and in 
conformity to that rotiene, provisions will continue to be issued to the 
party untill further orders. ... No poark is to be issued when we have 
fresh meat on hand." — Thwaites, Lewis and Claik, I, 33. 

11 Sergeant C. Floyd died of a sudden chill contracted after un- 
usually violent exercise (August 16, 1804). 

12 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, I, 145. 

13 Masson, Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest, I, 307-308. 

14 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, I, 240. 

15 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, I, 330. 

16 Harmon, of the North West Company, records the arrival at the 
Mandan villages of Lewis and Clark and the reception of their letter of 
October 31. Also that M. Chaboillez writes him that "they behave 
honorably toward his people, who are there to trade with the natives." 

17 Masson, Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest, I, 336. 

18 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, I, 248. (This post was projected at 
Turtle Mt. on the forty-ninth parallel, and hence on the boundary line.) 

19 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, VII, 320. 

2 ° Thwaites, Lewis-and Clark, VII, 320, 321. 
21 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, I, 322. 
» Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, II, 14. 

23 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, II, 14. 

24 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, II, 17. 
85 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, II, 100. 

NOTES 391 

" Thwaitea, Lewis and Clark , II, 113. 
17 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, II, 147. 

28 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, II, 149-150. 

29 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, II, 209. 

30 There were no wild horses in this region. The few which seemed 
masterless bore marks of having been trained to the saddle, some of them 
showing the brand of the Spanish ranchman from whom they were bought 
or stolen. Spanish bits, bridles, and saddles were not uncommon among 
the Shoshones, though saddles and stirrups were reserved for the use of 
women and old men. A halter of twisted hair and a small leather pad 
secured by a leather girth were sufficient equipment for a warrior. 

31 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, II, 3S0. 

311 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, III, 73, 74. 

33 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, III, 78. 

34 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, IV, 192-193. An Indian, Hunter John, 
who remembered seeing the Lewis and Clark party, lived near Port 
Angeles until 1912. 

ss Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, IV, 176-177. 

36 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, IV, 238. 

37 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, V, 390. 

38 Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, V, 394. 

39 Clark's description of a Schenectady boat, i.e. bateau : Length, 
thirty feet, width eight feet, pointed bow and stern, flat bottom, rowed by 
six oars only. "Being wide and flat they are not Subject to the dangers 
of roleing Sands." — Thwaites, Lewis and Clark, V, 390. 

4 ° Coues, Pike, I, 202. 

41 Coues, Pike, I, 133. 

42 Coues, Pike, I, 156. 

43 Coues, Pike, I, 156. 

44 Coues, Pike, I, 247-254. 

Chapter III 

1 E.g. Auguste Chouteau of St. Louis was granted exclusive right to 
trade with the Osages, and built a post on the Missouri in 1796 which he 
called Carondelet. 

2 Biddle, Lewis and Clark, III, 290. 

3 Chittenden, III, Appendix B, 902. 

4 He argued that this flourishing commerce should not be "left to the 
adventurers of the United States, acting without regularity or capital or 
the desire of conciliating future confidence, and looking only to the in- 
terest of the moment." See also Archibald Campbell, " A Voyage round 
the World" (1806-1812), London Quarterly Review, October, 1816. 

392 NOTES 

6 Masson, I, 331. 

6 Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, II, 264. Cf. Burton's City of the 
Saints, 52. 

7 Washington Irving (Captain Bonneville I, 31) estimated that three- 
fifths of the men pursuing this dangerous trade met with unnatural death. 

8 Irving's phrase. 

9 Brackenridge, Journal, 31-32. 
10 Brackenridge, 66. 

« Chittenden, III, Appendix B, 901. 

12 The Scotch partners were McKay, Mackenzie, McDougal, David 
and Robert Stuart, and Ramsay Crooks. The Americans were Hunt, 
MiJler, McLellan, and Clark. 

13 Franchere, Narrative, 230. 

14 Ross, First Settlers in Oregon, 89. 
18 Franchere, Narrative, 259. 

16 Ross, First Settlers in Oregon, 161. 

17 Ross, 101. Cf. Franchere, 253. 

18 In 1807, Thompson crossed the mountains by Saskatchewan Pass 
and ascended the Columbia River to its source. In 1810, he attempted 
to descend this river to the sea, but the project, which if successful might 
have given Great Britain title to the whole course of the River of the 
West, was delayed till the following year when the Astorians had gained 
possession. The two or three years subsequent Thompson devoted to 
the production of that Map of the North West Territory of the Province 
of Canada which has furnished the basis of all later cartography in this 
region. In 1813, David Thompson was the official surveyor of the 
British government for the determination of the boundary line between 
the United States and Canada. J. J. Bigsby of the International Boun- 
dary Commission wrote of Thompson, " No living person possesses a 
tithe of his information respecting the Hudson's bay countries, which 
from 1793 to 1820 he was constantly traversing." Lieutenant Pike re- 
fers to the exploration of the source of the Mississippi, undertaken by 
the North West Company, " They have had a gentleman by the name of 
Thompson making a geographical survey of the northwest part of the 
continent ; who for three years with an astonishing spirit of enterprise 
and perseverance, passed over all that extensive and unknown country." 
Coues, Pike, I, 279. 

19 "Mr. Thompson kept a regular journal, and travelled, I thought, 
more like a geographer than a fur-trader. He was provided with a sex- 
tant, chronometer, and barometer, and during a week's sojourn which he 
made at our place, had an opportunity to make several astronomical ob- 
servations." — Franchere, 254. 

NOTES 393 

20 That these assurances were not to be relied upon is clear from the 
fact later discovered, that on his return journey, Thompson placed a 
British flag at the junction of Lewis' or Snake River with the Columbia, 
together with a legend forbidding the subjects of other powers to trade 
north of that point. The legend read: "Know hereby that this coun- 
try is claimed by Great Britain as part of its Territories, & that the 
N. W. Company of Merchants from Canada, finding the Factory for this 
People inconvenient for them, do intend to erect a Factory in this Place 
for the Commerce of the Country around. — D. Thompson." — Ross, 138. 

21 The Spokanes traded the goods purchased from the traders for 
horses from the Nez Perces. 

22 Ross, 174. 
"Ross. 181. 
« Ross, 178. 
" Ross, 179. 

86 Brackenridge, 72. 

27 At Henry's Fort and lower down the river two parties of trappers 
were left : one under A. Carson, the other under J. Miller. The latter 
had announced his intention of abandoning the expedition. 

28 Caldron Linn has been identified with the rapids at Milburn, Idaho. 
» Franchere, 269-270. 

30 Ross,. 188, 189. 

* Ross, 187. 

32 Ross, 227. 

M Ross, 228. 

3 < Franchere, 280-281. 

35 Cf. Astor's letter to J. Q. Adams, quoted by Lyman, History of Oregon, 
II, 298. 

36 Ross Cox, Adventures on the Columbia, I, 276. 

37 Astor's enterprise seemed pursued by misfortune. The Pedler was 
wrecked off the coast of California, and the men made their way. with 
great difficulty through Mexico to the United States. Hunt recovered 
his fortunes and became a prosperous merchant at St. Louis. Russell 
Farnham and Alfred Seton attained distinction, the one as traveller and 
writer, the other as a New York financier. 

38 Franchere, 303. 

39 Ross, 279, states the loss of life as follows: On the bar of the Co- 
lumbia, eight ; on the overland expedition, five ; on the Tonquin, twenty- 
seven ; on the Lark, eight ; in the Snake country, nine ; at Astoria, three ; 
at the final departure, one. 

40 Coues, Greater Northwest, II, 889. 

394 NOTES 

41 Dunn, Oregon, 108-109. 

42 Citation by A. C. Laut from the Ms. journals of Alexander Ross. 

43 Manuel Lisa died in 1820, and no successor was found to equal him 
in daring or resource. The affairs of the Missouri Fur Company were not 
wound up until 1830. 

44 Fremont, First Expedition, 39-40. 

45 Chittenden, I, 341, quoted from the Missouri Republican. 

46 Wyeth learned of Mackenzie's distillery when he visited Fort Union 
(1833). He reported to General Clark at St. Louis, who promptly re- 
ported to Washington. It was proposed to withdraw the license of the 
offending company, and but for Benton's good offices the operations of 
the American Fur Company might have been brought to a halt. As it 
was, Mackenzie, the offending agent, was obliged to withdraw from its 

47 Buffalo hides, scraped and softened and ready for use, were sold on 
the Plains at from $1 to $1.50 each ; at from $5 to $10 in the States. When 
elaborately decorated with paint and porcupine quills, a robe brought 

48 Chittenden, Fur Trade, Vol. Ill, 944. 

49 Some accounts indicate that Ashley found his British competitor 
out of supplies and was therefore able to purchase his furs for a song ; 
others, that he enticed his men away by the lure of whiskey and then 
made advantageous terms with the helpless leader. In either case Ogden 
could not complain, for his own stern maxim was "Necessity knows no 
law." Ogden was trapped a second time at this same spot by Fitz- 
patrick five years later and relieved of all his furs. — Ross Cox, II, 243 ; 
Elliott, Peter Skeene Ogden, 20. Cf. Chittenden, I, 277, 293. Wyeth ; 
History of Oregon, I, 74. 

60 Adventures of Captain Bonneville, Ch. V. Cf. Appendix D, Chitten- 

61 So Bancroft, but the effort to find it made by the Academy of Pacific 
Coast History was fruitless. Portions of the later journals are in the 
possession of Smith's descendants and may soon be published. 

62 Captain Bonneville was an officer in the United States army who 
secured permission from the War Department to explore the Far West 
and report on the Indian tribes, economic resources, etc. The expedition 
was financed by Alfred Seton of the Astorian party and other New York 
merchants who hoped for a rich return in furs. During his three years 
in the west (1832-1835) Bonneville explored Salt Lake and the Wind River 
Mountains more thoroughly than had yet been undertaken. He fol- 
lowed the Snake and Salmon Rivers to the Columbia and made two 
bootless attempts to establish a trading station in Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany territory. Joseph Walker, who was sent on a trapping expedition 
to California (1833), crossed the desert to Humboldt Sink and thence by 

NOTES 395 

Sonora Pass and the Merced River made his way to the Pacific. The 
furs taken in Bonneville's various expeditions were not sufficient to pay 
the wages of his men and he presented no report to the War Department. 
He made no discoveries, since the country he traversed was well known 
to the fur traders ; but his map of the Rocky Mountains, while not so 
accurate as that already published by Gallatin, is of great interest and 
far better known. Bonneville's chief claim to fame is the delightful 
and sympathetic account of his wanderings transcribed for the press by 
Washington Irving. 

53 A pack was made up of sixty pelts and weighed approximately one 
hundred pounds. The fur sold for $5 a pound in St. Louis and $7 to $8 in 
New York. 

54 Fremont, Second Expedition, 144-145. 

55 Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake, 35. 

66 N. J. AVyeth, Report on the Fur Trade, 1839. 

67 American Historical Review, 14 : 73. 

ss Ross, First Settlers in Oregon, 177-178. 

69 Farnham, Travels in the Great Western Prairies, 69. 

60 Larpenteur, Journal, II, 289. 

61 Forsythe, Letter to Lewis Cass, Chittenden ; III, 933-934. 

62 Fremont, Second Expedition, 111. 

63 Gunnison, Valley of the Great Salt Lake, 151. 




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Diary — during the California Expedition of 1769-70 ; also, 
Official Account of the Expedition. 

Publications of the Academy of Pacific Coast History, 
Vol. I, Nos. 2 and 3. 

Original text and translation. 

Richman, I. B. 

California under Spain and Mexico. 
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1911 
Robinson, Alfred. 

Life in California, 1829-46. 
Putnams, N.Y., 1846. San Francisco, 1891. 
Rockwell, John A. 

Spanish and Mexican Law. 

Voorhees. Albany, N.Y., 1851. 

p. 445. Reglamento of de Neve. 

p. 455. Law of 1833 for secularization of missions. 

p. 456. Provisions imposed by Figueroa. 

Serra, Fray Junipero. 

Diaiy of, March 28-June 30, 1769. 
Translated in Out West, Vol. XVI, 293, 399, 513, 635; 
Vol. XVII, 69. 
Shaler, Captain of the Lelia Byrd. 

Journal of a Voyage between China and the Northwestern 
Coast of America. 

American Register, III, 137-175, 1809. 


Simpson, Sir George. 
Journey Round the World, 1841-42. 2 vols. 
London, 1847. 
Torres Campos, D. Rafael. 
Espafia en California y en el Noroeste de America. 
Ateneo de Madrid, 1892. 
Vancouver, George. 
Voyage of Discovery. 
London, 1801. First edition, London, 1798. 

Vol. Ill, 8-400. California. 

Wilkes, Charles. 

Exploring Expedition, 1833-42, in 5 vols. 
Philadelphia, 1845. 

Vol. V, Ch. V. California. 



Bancroft, H. H. 
The Northwest Coast, Vols. XXVII, XXVIII. 

Bancroft & Co. San Francisco, 1891. 
History of the Hudson's Bay Company. 

Sampson, Low, Marston & Co. London, 1900. 
Bryce, George. 

Lord Selkirk's Colonists. 

Sampson, Low, Marston & Co. — London, 1910 (?) 
Cook, Captain James. 
Three Voyages to the Pacific Ocean. 
Boston, 1797. 

A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, 1776-80. 4 vols. 

London, 1784. 
Coues, Elliott. 

The Greater Northwest. Manuscript Journals of Alexandei 
Henry and David Thompson, 1799-1814. 3 vols. 
Francis P. Harper, 1897. 


Coxe, Wm. 

Discoveries of the Russians between Asia and America. 
London, 1787. 

Discoveries since 1745 and commerce with China, Pt. Ill, Ch. III. 

Douglas, Sir James. 
Journal, 1840-41. 

Ms. in Bancroft Collection. 

Interesting information on H. B. C. operations in Oregon and Cali- 

Dunn, John. 

Oregon and the History of the British North American Fur 

Philadelphia, 184,6. 
Franchere, Gabriel. 

Narrative of the Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America, 

Translated by J. V. Huntingdon. Redfield, New York, 1854. 
Early Western Travels, Vol. VI. 
Greenhow, Robert. 

History of Oregon and California. 
Boston, 1845. 

See appendices for Michael Lock's account of the voyage of Juan de 
Fuca, Haceta's report on San Roque River, 430-433 ; Gray's Logbook, 

HaswelVs Log Book. 

Printed as appendix to Bancroft's North-west Coast, 1-729. 
Henry, Alexander (the younger), and Thompson, David. 

Manuscript Journals, edited by Elliott Coues as "The Greater 

Francis P. Harper, 1897. 

Vol. Ill, Pt. III. The Columbia, Nov. and Dec, 1813. 

Jewitt, John R. 

Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings of the only sur- 
vivors of the crew of the Ship Boston (1803). 

Ithaca, NY., 1849. 
Kotzebue, Otto von. 

Voyage of Discovery. 3 vols. 
London, 1821. 


Langsdorf, G. von. 

Voyages and Travels, 1803-07. 
Philadelphia, 1817. 
Laut, Agnes C. 

The Conquest of the Great Northwest. 2 vols. 

"Being the story of the Adventurers of England known as The 
Hudson's Bay Company. Xew pages in the history of the Cana- 
dian Northwest and Western States." The Outing Publishing 
Company, New York, 1908. 

Vikings of the Pacific. 

The Macmillan Co., 1905. 
Lewis, Meriwether. 

Report on Louisiana, 1808. 

Interesting though unfinished account of the fur trade under Spanish 
auspices. Reprinted in Biddle's Journal of Lewis and Clark. 

Ledyard, John. 

Journal of Cook's Last Voyage. 
Hartford, 1783. 

The original journal was confiscated on the return of the expedition 
as precaution against misrepresentation, and was never recovered. 
Ledyard wrote a short account of the voyage two years after. 

Lyman, H. S. 

History of Oregon in 4 vols. 

Edited by H. W. Scott, Chas. B. Billinger and Frederick G. 

North Pacific Pub. Society. New York, 1903. 
Manning, W. R. 

The Nootka Sound Controversy. University of Chicago 

Printed by Government, Washington, 1905. 

Historical Review of the Russian American Fur Company. 
St. Petersburg, 1861. 

Translation by Ivan Petrof. 
Vancouver, George. 

Voyage of Discovery. Vol. III. 
London, 1801. 



Biddle, Nicolas. 
Lewis and Clark Expedition. 
Philadelphia, 1814. 
Carver, Jonathan. 

Travels in North America. 
London, 1777. 
Elliott, T. C. 

David Thompson, Pathfinder. 
Walla Walla, 1912. 
Gass, Patrick. 

A Journal of the Voyages and Travels of a Corps of Dis- 

Matthew Carey. Philadelphia, 1810. 
Harmon, Daniel Williams. 

Voyages of a Partner in the Northwest Company, 1800-05. 
A. S. Barnes. New York. Trail Makers Series. 
Hennepin's New Discovery. 

Edited by R. G. Thwaites in k 2 vols. 
A. C. McClurg & Co., 1903. 
Laut, Agnes C. 

Pathfinders of the West, 

The Macmillan Co. New York, 1904. 
Ledyard, John. 

Travels and Adventures. 

London, Second Edition, 1834. 

Biography with full quotations from Ledyard's letters and Journal. 

Lewis and Clark. 

Journals, edited by R. G. Thwaites, 1904. 
Arthur H. Clark, Cleveland, in 7 vols. 

Comprises all the original journals of Lewis, Clark, Pryor, Ordway, 
Floyd, together with many reproductions of maps, sketches, etc., and 
much valuable editorial matter. 

— Journals, edited by Elliott Coues. 3 vols. 
Francis P. Harper. 

An ably edited reprint of the Biddle Edition. 


and Clark. 

A. S. Barnes. New York. 2 vols. Trail Makers Series. 
A reprint of the Biddle Edition. 

Lewis, Meriwether. 

Report addressed to President Jefferson from the Mandan 
Villages, March, 1805. 

American State Papers — Indian Affairs, I, 706-707. 
Mackenzie, Alexander. 

Voyages from Montreal through the continent of North 
America to the frozen and Pacific oceans in 1789 and 1793. 

London, 1802. New Amsterdam Book Co., N. Y., 1902. 
Also Trail Makers Series. 
Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest. 2 vols. 
Quebec, 1889. 
Nicollet, J. N. 

Report on Exploration of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. 
Washington, 1843. 
Parkman, Francis. 
Discoveries of the Great West. 

Little, Brown, & Co. Boston, 1880. 
Radisson, Pierre. 

Voyages, 1652-1684. Edited by G. D. Scull. 
Prince Society, Boston, 1805. 
Schoolcraft, H. R. 

Narrative of an Expedition through the Upper Mississippi 
Valley to Itasca Lake, 1820. New York, 1854. 
Sparks, Jared. 

Life of John Ledyard, in Spark's Library of American Biography. 
Cambridge, 1829. 
Teggart, F. J. 
Notes Supplementary to any Edition of Lewis and Clarke. 

Am. Hist. Ass. An. Rept., 1908, I, 183-195. 
Careful examination of the operation of the Spanish Compania de 
descubridorcs del Misuri. Relation of achievements of Mackay and Evans 
to the later explorations of Lewis and Clark. 

Thompson, David. 
,\ In preparation by the Champlain Society of Canada. 


Thwaites, R. G. 
Lewis and Clark, Journals. 

Cleveland, 1904. 
William Clark ; Soldier, Explorer, Statesman. 

Missouri Historical Society Collections, Vol. II, No. 7. 
Father Marquette. 

D. Appleton & Co., 1902. 
Rocky Mountain Exploration. 

D. Appleton & Co., 1904. 
Tyrrell, J. B. 
David Thompson. 

Canadian Institute Proceedings. Toronto, 188S. 

David Thompson, a Great Geographer. In Geographical 

Journals, 1911, 37, 49. 

The Royal Geographical Society. 
Wheeler, Olin D. 
Trail of Lewis and Clark. 2 vols. 

G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1904. 
Whiting, Henry. 
Life of Z. M. Pike. Spark's Lib. of Am. Biog., Vol. V, 219-317. 

Little, Brown, & Co. Boston, 1848. 


American State Papers. 
Indian Affairs. 

Vols. I and II under titles "Indian trade," "Factories," "Agents" — 
for government factories and opposition of private traders, 1796-1822. 
Vol. II, 54-66, Schoolcraft's report on fur trade on Missouri, 1815-1830. 
Public Lands, Vol. Ill — see index for salt mines, lead mines, etc. 

Beckicorth, James P. 

Life and Adventures of, as dictated to S. D. Bonner. 
New York, 1856. 

First hand account of adventures of a trapper who became a guide and 
a pioneer settler. Reedited by C. S. Leland. New York, 1892. 

Bilson, B. 

The Hunters of Kentucky. 
New York, 1847. 

A poor reproduction of Pattie's Narrative, but more widely read than 
the original. 


Brackenridge, H. M. 

Journal of a Voyage up the River Missouri, 1811. 
Early Western Travels, Vol. VI. 
Bradbury, John. 

Travels into the Interior of America. 
Early Western Travels, Vol. V. 
Chittenden, H. M. 

History of the Early Western Fur Trade. 3 vols, and map, 
Francis P. Harper, New York, 1902. 
Coman, Katherine. 

The Government Factory : an Attempt to regulate Competi- 
tion in the Fur Trade. 

American Economic Association. Pubs., 1911. 
Cox, Ross. 
Adventures on the Columbia River. 

London, 1831. 
Vol. I, Chs. IV, X. Oregon. 

Crooks, Ramsay. 

Letters. Printed in the Wisconsin Historical Publications 
with letters of other fur traders in chronological order. 
Elliott, T. C. 

David Thompson, Pathfinder, and the Columbia River. 
Kettle Falls, Wash., 1911. 

Peter Skene Ogden. 

Portland, Oregon, 1910. 

A memoir based on original documents of Ms. journals furnished by 
the family, the Hudson's Bay Company's records, etc. 

Farnham, T. J. 

Travels in the Great Western Prairies, the Anahuac and Rocky 
Mountains and in Oregon Territory, 1839. 
Early Western Travels, Vol. XXVIII. 
Forsyth, Thomas. 

Report to Lewis Cass, Sec. of War, on the State of the Fur 
Trade in 1831. 

Ms. Letter in the Manuscript Dept. State Historical Society, Wis- 
consin, reprinted in Chittenden, Vol. Ill, 926-946. 

Frnnchere, Gabriel. 

Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast, 1811-1814. 
Huntington's Translation, New York, 1854. 
Early Western Travels, Vol. VI. 


Fremont, J. C. 

Journal of the Second Expedition. 
Washington, 1 «s 4 ."> . 
Irving, Washington. 

Adventures of Captain Bonneville. 
Philadelphia, 1837. 


G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1867. Philadelphia, 1836-37. 

A new edition of this admirable account, with historical and geograph 
ical notes, is now needed. 

— — Scenes in the Rocky Mountains. 

Philadelphia, 1837. 
Larpenteur, Charles. 

Forty years of a Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri, 1833-72. 
Edited by Elliott Coues. 

Francis P. Harper. 
Laid, Agnes C. 

Story of the Trapper. 
D. Applet on & Co. 
Maximilien. Prince of Wied. 

Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-34. 

English edition, 1843. 
Early Western Travels, Vols. XXII, XXIII, XXIV, and atlas 
Morgan, Leiois H. 
The American Beaver. 
Philadelphia, 1868. 
Peters, De Witt C. 

Life and Adventures of Kit Carson. New York, 1859, 
Ross, Alexander. 

Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon. 
Early Western Travels, Vol. VII. 
Scharf, J. T. , 

History of St. Louis. 
Philadelphia, 1883. 
Schoolcraft, H. B. 

Report on Fur Trade on the Missouri, 1815-30. 
Senate Doc. No. 90, 22d Cong. First Series. 
Smith, Jedidiah S. 

Letter of Oct. 11, 1827, describing traverse of Mohave Desert. 
Nouvelles Annales des Voyages, Tome XXXVII. 


Switzler, Wm. F. 
Kit Carson. 

Missouri Historical Society Collections, Vol. II, No. 1, 35-45. 
Thompson, David. 

Pub. by the Champlain Society of Canada. (In preparation.) 
Willson, Beckles. 
The Great Company (H. B. C). 
Dodd, Mead & Co., 1900. 
Youngman, Anna. 
Fortune of John Jacob Astor, The Fur Trade* 
Journal of Pol. Econ., XVI, 345-368, 

Ferry at Council Bluffs. 
Emigrant wagons being carried across the Missouri from Kanesville to 
winter quarters. The women are unpacking their chests and decid- 
ing which of their possessions to leave behind. Goods for the 
journey across the Plains were packed in bags. 








Louisiana ' 3-26 


Missouri Territory 27-74 

Missouri River Settlements 35 

Iowa . 66 

Thomas H. Benton 69 


The Santa Fe Trade 75-93 

New Mexico 88 

The Colonization of Texas 




The Acquisition of Oregon 

Section I. The Traders .... 
Section II. The Missionaries . 
Section TIT. Dr. McLoughlin as Colonizer 
Section IV. American Immigrants . 
Section V. Congressional Intervention . 

. 113 
. 133 
. 148 
. 151 
. 161 




The Mormon Migration 167-206 

The Mormons in California 203 


The Conquest of California 207-319 

Section I. Traders and Trappers 207 

Section II. Rival Powers 221 

Section III. The Advent of the Emigrants . . . 227 
Section IV. The Acquisition of New Mexico and Cali- 
fornia 211 

Section V. The Land Question 218 

Section VI. The Age of Gold 255 

Section VII. Financial Depression and the Revival of 

Normal Industries ....... 284 

Agriculture . 291 

Manufactures 807 

Section VIII. The Labor Supply 311 


The Curse of Slavery 323-331 


Slavery in the Territories 332-352 

Section I. Popular Sovereignty 335 

Section II. The Wakarusa War 347 


The Victory of the North 353-365 

The Railroad to the Pacific 353 

The Homestead Act . . 361 



The Ferry at Council Bluffs Frontispiece 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool, 


A Miner's Rocker in 1818 2 

Simpson, Three Weeks in the Gold Mines. 

French Louisiana in 1803 4 

Acadia facing 16 

Photographs by the Author. 
Flatboats on the Mississippi ..... "22 

Maximilien, Prince of Wied, Atlas. 
Settlements in Upper Louisiana 37 

The Long Expedition. 
Difficulties of Xavigation on the Missouri . . facing 62 

Maximilien, Prince of Wied, Atlas. 
St. Louis in 1855 "62 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 
The Santa Fe Trail 79 

Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies. 
Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe facing 86 

Mexican Arrieros " 86 

Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies. 
Beaver Dams on Salt River, Arizona ... "90 

Photographs by Dane Coolidge. 
Texas in 1840 — Map of Land Grants .... „ 97 

Stiff, Texas Emigrant. 
Fort Vancouver in 1846 facing 120 

Photograph furnished by G. W. Himes. 
Oregon Settlements in 1814 137 

Lee and Frost, Ten Years in Oregon. 
Independence Rock . " 156 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 



Crossing of the Platte River ..... facing 156 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 
Emigrant Roads in 1859 . . . 157 

Marcy, The Prairie Traveller. 
Kanesville, Iowa, as Winter Quarters . . . facing 170 
First View of Great Salt Lake .... facing 172 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 

Emigration Canon ....... " 176 

The Wasatch Range "176 

Photographs by the Author. 
Salt Lake City in 1849 "178 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 
Salt Lake City in 1853 "178 

Linforth, Route from Liverpool. 
Gathering to Zion " 182 

Stenhouse, Tell it All. 
The Handcart Brigade "182 

Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints. 

Stakes planted in Zion 188 

Wagon Routes across the Wasatch Range .... 190 

Stansbury, Expedition to Great Salt Lake. 
Adobe Houses at Spanish Fork and Provo, Utah . facing 202 

Photographs furnished by Jennie M. Cheever. 
Hudson's Bay Company's Trail to California .... 209 
Sutter's Fort and Sawmill in 1849 .... facing 216 

Upham, Scenes from El Dorado. 
San Francisco Bay in 1841 ..... " 226 

Duflot de Mofras. 
Southern Emigrant Routes to California .... 280 

Bartlett, Mexican Boundary Commission. 
Wagon Routes across the Sierras 233 

Simpson, Explorations. 
Pass in the Sierra Nevada facing 246 

Fremont, Second Expedition. 
Routes to California, 1858 . . .... 261 

Seyd, Resources of California. 
The Northern Mines 265 


The Southern Mines 

Gold Washing in New Mexico .... 

Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies. 
Quartz Mining 

Seyd, Resources of California. 
San Francisco in 1849 

Upham, Scenes from El Dorado. 
San Francisco in 1857 

Seyd, California an<l its Resources. 
Mining with Pan and Long Tom .... 

Upham, Scenes from El Dorado. 
Hydraulic Mining 

Seyd, California and its Resources. 
Harvesting Wheat in the Sacramento Valley 

Photograph by Dane Coolidge: 
Cotton Plantation under the Slave Regime . 

Photographs furnished by Charlotte R. Thome. 
The Kansas Settlements, 1855 .... 

Boynton and Mason, Kansas. 













A, Miner's Rocker in 1848 




The acquisition of Louisiana Territory got rid 
of some long-standing difficulties and opened to 
American enterprise vast possibilities of extension. 
Both banks of the Mississippi were now controlled 
by the United States, and the free navigation of 
that great waterway was assured for all time. Not 
only the Father of Waters, but his western tribu- 
taries, the Missouri, the Platte, the Arkansas and 
Red rivers, were brought within reach of our restless 
frontiersmen, and they made haste to avail them- 
selves of this outlet for their energy. In the Account 
of Louisiana, compiled at the suggestion of President 
Jefferson in 1803 and widely distributed throughout 
the country, there was gathered for the information 
of the curious all that was then known of the popu- 
lation and resources of the new acquisition. Ac- 
cording to the Spanish census of 1799, there were in 
the settlements along the Mississippi and Red rivers 
forty-two thousand three hundred and seventy-five 
souls, of whom two-thirds were whites and one-third 
slaves or freedmen. New Orleans was a town of ten 
thousand inhabitants, where four-fifths of the whites 
were French Creoles and the remainder English and 
Americans. The people of Baton Rouge, Iberville, 



and Point Coupee were the Acadians banished from 
Nova Scotia by the British government. The villages 
on Red River — Avoyelles, Rapide, Natchitoches — 
were settled by descendants of the original French. 
So, too, was the Post aux Arkansas and Ouichita on 

£ 5 

Marais dee Liards ySt J.OU1S 
Corondulet<{ J 

•b /New Bourbon\ /\j 
,- ^n^/Cape GirardeauC /-^ 

Y \ /i V^ e " Madrid 


Ar hansa 


French Louisiana in 1804. 

Black River. In Spanish Illinois or Upper Louisi- 
ana, along the great river that furnished the only 
practicable highway, were a dozen nourishing set- 
tlements — Petite Prairie, Ste. Genevieve, New 
Madrid, Cape Girardeau, Carondelet, St. Louis, St. 
Charles, St. Andre — where were gathered a total 


of six thousand people, of whom not more than one- 
sixth were blacks. St. Louis was still a mere trading 
post with nine hundred and twenty-five inhabitants, 
of whom one-third were slaves. St. Charles and Ste. 
Genevieve, being farming communities, had a larger 
proportion of whites. Here the habitants driven from 
Illinois by the American occupation were maintain- 
ing existence by means of an indolent agriculture 
varied by hunting and fishing. At St. Andre, Mc- 
Kay's bailiwick, some thirty families from Kentucky 
were cultivating the soil in a fashion that put their 
French neighbors to shame. Years before the an- 
nexation, pioneers from Kentucky and Tennessee 
had begun moving across the river, until, in 1803, 
" at least two-fifths if not a greater proportion of 
all settlers on the Spanish side of the Mississippi, in 
the Illinois country, are . . . supposed to be Ameri- 
cans." x 

The products of the rich lands along the lower 
Mississippi were sugar, 2 molasses, cotton, and indigo ; 
those of Upper Louisiana, peltry, lumber, lead, horses, 
and cattle. The annual value of the cotton exported 
was estimated at $1,344,000, that of sugar at $302,400, 
molasses at $32,000, peltry at $200,000, lumber at 
$80,000. "The peltry procured in the Illinois is the 
best sent to the Atlantic market ; and the quantity 
is very considerable. Lead is to be had with ease, 
and in such quantities as to supply all Europe, if the 
population were sufficient to work the numerous 
mines to be found within two or three feet from the 
surface in various parts of the country." 3 For a 
considerable distance back from the river, the land 


was extraordinarily productive and was covered with 
valuable timber. "It may be said with truth that, 
for fertility of soil, no part of the world exceeds the 
borders of the Mississippi ; the land yields an abun- 
dance of all the necessaries of life, and almost spon- 
taneously ; very little labor being required in the 
cultivation of the earth. That part of Upper Louisi- 
ana, which borders on North Mexico, is one immense 
prairie ; it produces nothing but grass ; it is filled 
with buffalo, deer, and other kinds of game ; the land 
is represented as too rich for the growth of forest 
trees." 4 

Jefferson's Account was corroborated by a letter 
written under date of August 15, 1803, by Dr. John 
Sibley and printed at Raleigh, North Carolina, 
soon after. Dr. Sibley was a Carolinian who had 
settled at Natchez in 1802 and obtained permission 
of the Spanish authorities to travel in Louisiana. 
"Travelling up the Mississippi some months ago, I 
took pains to ascertain the number of sugar planta- 
tions, and the average quantity of sugar made an- 
nually in each. I found 14 below New Orleans, and 
64 above, in all 78; and they average annually about 
75,000 pounds' weight of sugar, besides a proportion- 
able quantity of rum and molasses." The alluvial 
lands for sixty miles above New Orleans and for sixty 
miles below that town, together with Terre Boeuf, 
the bayou St. John, the bayou La Faussee, and 
Tuckepa, were equally well adapted to the growing of 
cane, and might, he estimated, afford place for one 
thousand plantations. "The lands from the edge of 
the river back, gradually fall till they become too low 


to cultivate ; it never can admit of but one row of 
settlements. These plantations are interchange- 
ably planted in sugar cane, rice, corn and cotton. 
Nothing can exceed the luxuriancy of their crops." 
The coast lands were equally fertile. "The popula- 
tion of this district is 965 families ; they have large 
stocks of very large-sized cattle, make considerable 
sugar and cotton for exportation." To the north 
between the coast and the Red River lay Appalusa, 
"a high, rich and beautiful country, skirted with 
clumps of flourishing trees, and interspersed with fine 
rich prairies, 5 which produce corn and cotton in great 
perfection. But the immense flocks of cattle 6 with 
which they are covered, are almost incredible ; ten 
thousand head may be seen in one view." The upper 
country was no less promising. "The lands of Red 
River alone are capable of producing more tobacco 
than is now made in all the United States, and at less 
than one fourth part of the labour ; and in all Loui- 
siana, I think more than tep times as much cotton 
might be made as in the United States. The extreme 
fertility of this country, the vast quantities of flour, 
beef, pork, tobacco, sugar,, etc., which it would yield, 
with the productions of its mines, independent of the 
disposal of vast quantities of vacant lands under no 
claims, render the acquisition of it to the United 
States of importance almost exceeding calculation." 7 
Hardly had the Account of Louisiana left the press 
when a survey of the less known portions of the 
new territory was inaugurated by a congressional 
appropriation for the exploration of the Red and 
Arkansas rivers. The definition of the boundary 


between Louisiana and the Spanish dominions and the 
investigation of the resources of the arid plains that 
lay beyond the settlements, where were said to be 
herds of cattle and horses, salines without number and 
mines of silver and gold, seemed to warrant such an 
enterprise. In the same message in which he an- 
nounced Lewis and Clark's achievements to Congress 
(February 19, 1806), Jefferson communicated the 
results of this less brilliant but no less significant ex- 
ploration. Dr. John Sibley had been commissioned 
to ascend the Red River, while William Dunbar and 
George Hunter w r ere sent up its principal tributary, 
the Washita. 8 

In an open boat, accompanied by a French half- 
breed, Francis Grappe, Dr. Sibley pushed up the Red 
River to Natchitoches, the old French settlement, 
and seventy miles beyond to near the present site of 
Shreveport. All along the right or north bank he 
found American settlers, developing cotton farms. 
There were two French towns on the south bank of 
the river, Izavial, with two hundred and ninety-six 
families, and Rapide, with one hundred. The land 
was very rich and bore heavy crops of corn and cot- 
ton. "It is perfectly level, resembling a river bed, 
the soil twenty feet deep, and like a bed of manure." 
"It is impossible to conceive of more beautiful fields 
and plantations, or more luxuriant crops of corn, cot- 
ton and tobacco." Sibley described the country below 
Natchitoches as the richest he had ever seen. "The 
low grounds of Red River are generally five or six 
miles wide, and no soil can be richer, and nearly 
all alike; considerable part of which is overflowed 


annually in the month of April ; but it continues 
up but a short time, and always falls in time to 
plant corn and tobacco, and rises no more till the 
same time the next year. There are fields that 
from the best account I can obtain, have been 
planted successively for near one hundred years in 
corn or tobacco, and never known to fail in produc- 
ing plentiful crops, nor is the soil apparently in the 
least exhausted. It is particularly favorable for 
tobacco, which grows remarkably luxuriant, and has 
a very fine flavor. The soil has a saline impregna- 
tion, which imparts something of it to the tobacco. 
The well and river water is somewhat brackish. I 
am convinced that one hand here can make as much 
tobacco in a season as four or five on the best lands 
in Virginia or North Carolina. It is made without 
any hills being raised, and grows so thick (from the 
strength and warmth of the soil) that they usually 
cut it three times. When prepared for market, it 
is stemmed and made into twists of five pounds 
each. From eighty to one hundred bushels of corn 
can be made to the acre. Cotton produces equally 
well. The gardens on the natural soil (for they 
cannot be made richer with manure) are not less 
astonishing or extraordinary. I have particularly 
observed the very great height to which the artichoke 
grows; they are usually ten feet and very fre- 
quently twelve and fifteen feet high." 9 

At Baker's Landing, a mingled population of 
French, Irish, and Americans were cultivating the 
prairie to corn and cotton, while their hogs and 
cattle found abundant food in the oak forest. 


Wheat would thrive in the fertile soil, but it was 
not grown because there were no mills for grinding 
flour. Large plantations were also in evidence where 
corn, cotton, and tobacco were raised for sale, and 
at Lac Moir were salt-works where two crippled 
old men with a dozen pots and kettles made six 
bushels of salt per day, enough to supply the whole 
region. Saline springs were abundant, and a Cap- 
tain Burnett had brought negro slaves up the river, 
meaning to exploit this industry. 

Dr. Sibley turned back far short of the source of 
Red River, but from a Frenchman, Brevel, who had 
been bred among the Pamis, he learned that the 
upper river was not navigable. The Indians them- 
selves had no boats, partly because there was no 
timber available and partly because the treachercus 
current, fairly disappearing in the dry season and 
rising to a torrent with the spring and autumn floods, 
made even canoes an uncertain means of transporta- 
tion. They relied rather on horses, with which they 
were well furnished, and on which they hunted the 
wild bison of the plains. Brevel had accompanied 
his Indian friends as far west as the Spanish settle- 
ments in the Rio Grande Valley. He estimated the 
distance from the Pima villages to be some three hun- 
dred miles. Sibley thought that the most valuable 
land on Red River began about sixty miles above the 
upper settlements (seventy miles above Rapide) and 
extended four hundred miles beyond. "About 
eighty or ninety years ago, a number of Frenchmen 
settled on this part of Red River ; they built a mer- 
chant mill, with burr stones (which they brought 


from France) and cultivated wheat in the prairies 
with much success, and made excellent flour for sev- 
eral years, till, by the repeated incursions of the Oza, 
they were compelled to abandon their settlements." 
The Spaniards, too, had attempted to develop this 
region, sending some priests and soldiers with several 
families, but the post was destroyed by these same 
Indians. Natchitoches, according to Sibley, was 
a "small, irregular, and meanly built village" with 
not more than half a dozen good houses. It had been 
a considerable settlement, but the better people 
had moved to farms, leaving some forty families, 
mostly French, in possession of the decaying public 
buildings. "From this place the great western road 
takes off toward Mexico, and it will ever be an im- 
portant place, being the key to an immense rich 

Dunbar reported that the French settlements along 
the Washita had well-nigh disappeared, the people 
having fled after the Natchez massacre. At the 
mouth of Black River he found an old Frenchman 
in charge of a ferry for the transportation of 
the occasional travellers who followed the trail 
between Natchez and Natchitoches. At the army 
post farther up the river was a small settlement — 
some five hundred souls — eking out a miserable sub- 
sistence by hunting deer and bear for peltry. There 
was a rich alluvial soil, but they raised only a little 
corn and were content to buy everything else of the 
traders who, taking advantage of their ignorance, 
charged them high prices for imported goods while 
giving them little for the hides and bear's grease 


they offered in exchange. Considerable estates had 
been granted by the Spanish government to certain 
French refugees — royalists — , but the validity of 
these titles was questioned. Dunbar and Hunter 
followed the windings of the Washita to the Hot 
Springs. The healing qualities of these waters were 
already known, and the place was a resort for 
health-seekers. From this their farthest point, they 
saw the mountains that divide the Washita from 
the streams that flow into the Arkansas. At the 
head waters of the Arkansas, so the hunters told 
them, silver ore was to be found, and the river 
was navigable almost to its source. An old Dutch- 
man showed them a pin that had been wrought from 
silver found by a trapper in the mountains that 
divide the eastward-flowing rivers from the Rio 
Grande del Norte of the Spaniards. French fur 
traders told Dunbar that the Platte or Shallow 
River took its rise in these same mountains near 
the source of the Arkansas and Red rivers. They 
described with enthusiasm the beauty of the coun- 
try that lay to the west of the Mississippi — gentle 
rolling prairie, timberless except for the trees that 
grew along the river bottoms, but clothed with ver- 
dure, buffalo grass, and myriad flowers. The climate 
was dry and wholesome, the rains temperate, — never 
so violent as to destroy crops, — and the arid regions 
near the mountains were refreshed with nightly 
dews. Numberless herds of bison ranged these 
prairies, moving hither and thither in search of 
water and pasture. No good hunter need go long 
without food. 


Dr. Sibley gives a careful account of the Indian 
tribes in the Red River region ; peoples most of 
whom have long since disappeared. Intertribal 
war, conflicts with the French, and the small- pox 
might account, in his opinion, for the rapid ex- 
tinction of the natives. The Comanches were then, 
as for long after, the scourge of the plains. Sibley 
thought them inclined to be friendly to the French 
and Americans, but gives abundant evidence of 
their hostility to the Spaniards. They made a 
pastime of stealing not only horses, but children. 
There were many white slaves in the lodges of the 
Comanches, some of whom were captured so young 
that they knew nothing of their origin. 

A supplementary expedition of more formidable 
proportions was despatched up Red River in the 
year 1806. Two army officers, Captains Sparks and 
Humphreys, seventeen privates, and a black servant, 
together with Thomas Freeman, a surveyor, and 
Dr. Peter Custis, a naturalist, made up the party. 
They embarked on May 3, in two flat-bottomed 
barges and a pirogue, and reached the westernmost 
white settlement, forty-five miles above Natchi- 
toches, without incident. Here they were overtaken 
by an Indian runner sent by Dr. Sibley, now Indian 
agent at Natchitoches, with the news that Spanish 
dragoons were marching from Nacogdoches to inter- 
cept the Americans. The Caddoes, near whose 
village the Spanish force was encamped, also gave 
warning ; but Sparks' instructions had been to ex- 
plore the river to its source unless stopped by a 
force superior to his own, and he pushed on. A few 


days brought him face to face with a body of three 
hundred mounted troopers. Freeman's attempt to 
explain that their object in ascending the river was 
purely scientific proved vain, and it became clear that 
they could not proceed without a battle. Deeming 
discretion the better part of valor, the party retreated 
down the river, after having attained a point about 
six hundred and thirty-five miles above its mouth. 
Freeman thought the country along the upper river 
"would become as desirable as any portion of the 
earth," if the stream were cleared of driftwood and 
the swamps and bayous drained. The Caddo Ind- 
ians were raising corn, — fifty and sixty bushels to 
the acre, — and they said that farther west lay "level, 
rich and almost continued prairies, where range 
immense herds of buffalo, upon which the Indians 
almost entirely subsist, moving their camps as these 
animals migrate with the season from north to 
south and back again." 10 

The United States government had every reason 
to congratulate itself and the country on the addi- 
tion of Louisiana Territory to the national domain. 
The customs revenue at the port of New Orleans, 
for example, amounted to $1,000,000 a year — seven 
per cent interest on the purchase price — while the 
potential wealth represented in the new industrial 
resources was beyond computation. Citizens of the 
Western states, who were beginning to feel the need 
of elbow room, hurried to Louisiana to take advan- 
tage of the promising openings, commercial and 
agricultural. ' The Americans found New Orleans a 
delightfully picturesque town, and quite unlike any- 


thing in the United States. The roomy one-story 
houses, finished in stucco — white, yellow, and pink — 
surrounded by fig and orange orchards, seemed most 
attractive. The earth was wholly alluvial without 
grit or stones, the streets were none of them paved, 
and after a hard rain they became sloughs of black, 
loamy, greasy mud and quite impassable. A single 
line of logs served, at one and the same time, as 
sewer and footway. The levee, which furnished 
the only handsome street, was shaded with willow 
and orange trees and furnished a public promenade. 
The usual vehicles were the high wooden-wheeled 
carts in which the peasants brought their vege- 
tables to market, and these squeaked through the 
streets with an intolerable racket ; but this had been 
encouraged by the Spanish intendant because it 
served to warn the customs collector of the advent 
of dutiable goods. 

With quite different emotions was the cession 
regarded by the Creole population of Louisiana. 
Notably at New Orleans, where the officers and civil 
officials of the Spanish regime were gathered, there 
was a strong anti-American feeling, and the belief 
was general that the province would shortly be 
retroceded to Spain. The task imposed on Gov- 
ernor Claiborne was indeed a difficult one. He had 
to deal with a people of whom not a tithe were 
American in origin or in sentiment. The great 
proportion were irreconcilably foreign in blood, 
language, religion, and customs. 11 The common law 
and trial by jury were suspicious innovations ; the 
few American officials, always overbearing and often 


incompetent, were highly unpopular; the restric- 
tions on the importation of slaves, promulgated 
with the territorial organization, were regarded as 
disastrous by the planters; while the proud and 
ambitious Creoles of New Orleans resented the 
territorial status and demanded that they be 
admitted to the " enjoyment of all the rights, ad- 
vantages, and immunities of citizens of the United 
States" . . . "as soon as possible, " in accordance with 
the terms of the cession. The founding of a bank 
of Louisiana, authorized to issue paper money in 
lieu of the silver hitherto imported from Vera Cruz, 
roused the distrust of the merchants, while the ap- 
pointment of a register of lands with a view to test- 
ing the validity of grants made by the Spanish 
intendants subsequent to the treaty, spread alarm 
through the rural communities. The investigation 
of titles was a godsend to the lawyers, who flocked 
into the territory from all quarters, but to the litiga- 
tion-hating Louisianians it promised endless dis- 
turbance. The supplanted Spanish officials were 
loath to leave the province, and did not hesitate 
to use their influence against the new order, while 
certain Americans long resident in New Orleans were 
distinctly pro-Spanish in sympathy. The Territory 
of Orleans was but a narrow strip of American 
domain driven like a wedge into the Spanish do- 
minions, dividing the Floridas from Texas. New 
Orleans lay open to attack from the Gulf, while 
the bays and islands along the coast offered con- 
venient shelter to an enemy. The governors of 
the adjacent Spanish territories were openly hostile, 

The Teche. 

A Creole Cottage. 


troops were gathering at Nacogdoches and supplies 
were being landed at Mobile, while there was reason 
to believe that the Indians between the Arkansas 
and Red rivers were being corrupted by the agents 
of the viceroy himself. 

Under these conditions, it is no marvel that Gov- 
ernor Claiborne, harassed on every side, lent a credu- 
lous ear to General Wilkinson's assertion that Aaron 
Burr was proposing to take advantage of the general 
disaffection, make a descent on New Orleans and, 
on the basis of that conquest, build up an empire 
of the south to which the restless communities 
between the Mississippi and the Ohio would even- 
tually be annexed. It is now clear that Burr's 
nebulous plots were directed against New Spain and 
that few if any of the denizens of New Orleans were 
in his confidence ; but the charge of treason had 
sufficient basis to be credited at Washington, and it 
served to increase the distrust of the Creole popula- 
tion and to postpone until 1812 the creation of the 
state of Louisiana. 

During the last ten years of the Spanish regime, 
traffic in slaves was permitted in Spanish bottoms, 
and three slave traders, all French, came into the 
port of New Orleans, bringing four hundred and 
sixty-three negroes. The coming of the Americans, 
with the prospect of more extensive exploitation of , 
the agricultural possibilities of Louisiana, greatly 
increased the demand for slaves. Hence the new 
regulation imposing a fine of $300 on each slave 
imported and setting free the illicit chattels was 
vigorously protested, and Congress was induced to 


modify the embargo by limiting the restriction to 
vessels clearing from foreign ports. Thereafter 
traders stopped at Charleston and then proceeded 
undisturbed to Mobile and New Orleans. Thirty- 
nine thousand Africans were so brought in between 
1803 and 1808. At the same time, the numerous 
islands and bayous of the coast offered safe harbor- 
age for smugglers, and thousands of slaves were 
driven overland through Texas. The Cuban exiles 
(5797) who came to* New Orleans in 1809, brought 
with them 1991 slaves, and these were admitted de- 
spite the law, on the plea that they were refugees. 
The gathering of hundreds of these semi-barbarians 
on remote plantations with only a handful of white 
men in control, was felt to be a menace to public 
safety, and the slave revolt of 1811 was so formi- 
dable as to necessitate the calling out of Federal 
troops. The " Police of Slaves," ordained by Ca- 
rondelet, was reenacted as a black code, with intent 
to keep this dangerous element of the population in 
due subordination. Concourses of negroes were 
forbidden under heavy penalty, and no slave was 
allowed off his master's plantation without a written 
permit. Slaves were forbidden to ride horseback 
or to carry arms, and no liquor was to be sold to 
them. On the other hand the supply of food and 
clothing was fixed by law, and the degree of punish- 
ment was limited to thirty lashes in any one day. 

To the people of Louisiana, the all-important 
factor, more influential than soil or climate or rain- 
fall in determining their industrial fate, was the 
Mississippi River. The mighty stream had created 


the land on which they dwelt, washing down every 
year from the uplands and prairies drained by 
its fifty-four tributaries hundreds of thousands of 
tons of silt which, deposited along its channel or 
spread out in wide alluvions by the spring floods, 
had formed in the course of ages the vast delta 
between the Ozarks and the Appalachians. From 
Cape Girardeau, a jutting promontory of the ancient 
gulf shore, the river ran through swamps and bayous 
of its own making, twisting and writhing from 
bank to bank, shifting its current with every flood 
and playing havoc with the puny devices of man. 
Navigation was rendered difficult by the transient 
sandbars that were carried hither and yon with the 
caprices of the current, and by the ever present 
driftwood, whether lodged against some obstacle or 
floating with the stream and alternately lifted and 
submerged in its uneasy balance, the " planters" 
and " sawyers" of river parlance. Whirlpools and 
eddies and cross currents play sport with modern 
steamers, guided by experienced pilots who follow 
charts and buoys. In frontier days, many a heavily 
laden flatboat or keel was wrecked against snag or 
shoal as it floated down stream, while the upstream 
voyage, laboriously performed by aid of oar and 
pole and cordelle, seemed an endless task. 

To the settler on the bottom-lands, the Mississippi 
was no less a whimsical tyrant. For the greater part 
of its course below Madrid, the bed of the river was 
elevated many feet above the surrounding plain by 
the continual deposit of silt on the bottom and sides 
of the channel, so that it flowed through a self-made 


viaduct. On either side, this was flanked by swamps 
and stagnant lagoons bordered by canebrakes which 
gave way in turn to forests of cypress trees hung with 
dark gray streamers of Spanish moss. No animal life 
throve except alligators, moccasin snakes, and the pes- 
tilential mosquito. An occasional bear came down in 
search of food, and Indian hunters might follow after. 
In May, the month of high water, the whole region 
was inundated and appeared a shoreless sea. As the 
waters ate into the causeway here and there, the 
barrier was undermined, the banks caved in, and 
hundreds and thousands of acres of the richest farm 
land were swept away down the river. From the 
time of the French settlement, the necessity of 
dyking the stream had been the paramount concern 
of every landowner. Each planter raised an em- 
bankment sufficient to guard his fields against flood 
and strove to make connection with the plantations 
above and below him. Thus these slave-built levees 
were gradually extended on both sides the river, 
forming what was called the "Coast." Here lay 
the sugar and cotton plantations which constituted 
the wealth of Louisiana ; e.g. that of M. Poydras of 
Point Coupee, employing five hundred slaves and 
worth $2,000,000, and that of Wade Hampton, with 
an annual crop of five hundred hogsheads of sugar 
and one thousand bales of cotton and worth $150,000. 
The income of the ordinary planter was from $20,000 
to $40,000 a year, and land sold for $75 an acre, an 
extraordinary price for the frontier. When Timothy 
Flint went down the Mississippi in 1822, the levees 
began at Baton Rouge, one hundred and fifty miles 


above New Orleans and, from that point to sixty 
miles below the city, the plantations lay in a con- 
tinuous stretch of cultivated land on both sides of 
the river. "The breadth of the cultivated lands is 
generally two miles ; a perfectly uniform strip, 
conforming to the shape of the river, and every- 
where bounding the deep forests of the Mississippi 
swamp with a regular line. In the whole distance 
to New Orleans, plantation touches plantation. I 
have seen in no part of the United States such a 
rich and highly cultivated tract of the same extent. 
It far exceeds that on the banks of the Delaware. 
Noble houses, massive sugar-houses, neat summer- 
houses, and numerous negro villages succeed each 
other in such a way that the whole distance has the 
appearance of one continued village." 12 

New Orleans, the port of this great alluvial valley, 
had, to Flint's mind, an unexcelled commercial oppor- 
tunity, superior to that of New York. The winter pop- 
ulation was already from forty to fifty thousand, three 
times that of 1803. The sole deterrent to the pros- 
perity of New Orleans was its unwholesome climate. 
The hot and pestilential summers drove out of the 
city all who had the means to get away. Six thou- 
sand persons were carried off by the yellow fever 
epidemic of 1819, most of them newcomers from the 
North and from Europe. The surrounding district 
was hardly more healthful. "Betwixt the fears of 
inundation, the efforts of the enslaved Africans to 
emancipate themselves, and the fatality of the 
climate, the opulent planters of Louisiana" were 
ill at ease. 13 New Orleans was still a foreign-looking 


city with stucco houses, frescoed white and yellow, 
and the French were "the same gay, dancing, 
spectacle-loving race that they are everywhere else." 
The Americans came only to make money which 
they meant to spend elsewhere, hence they did not 
live in the showy, extravagant style of the Creoles, 
and stayed as short a time as might be in a climate 
that was far more disastrous to them than to the 
natives. Race antagonism was still serious and 
resulted in frequent broils. The mixture of races 
was strikingly displayed in the vegetable market. 
"In a pleasant March forenoon, you see, perhaps, 
half the city there. The crowd covers half a mile 
in extent. The negroes, mulattoes, French, Spanish, 
Germans are all crying their articles in their several 
tongues." 14 The picturesque foreignness of the mar- 
ket was repeated on the river which was "crowded 
with the boats of French and Spanish pedlars, not 
much larger than perogues, but fitted up with a 
cabin, covered deck, and sails." 15 There, too, were 
the flatboats of the Kentuckians, loaded with flour, 
bacon, and whiskey, and manned by brawny fron- 
tiersmen, — boats battered and men gaunt with the 
vicissitudes of the three months' voyage. The first 
cargoes might be expected early in January when, 
arriving in advance of the glut, they could sell their 
flour at $12.50 a barrel. 

The business of the place centred on the river 
front. Already in 1820 there were sometimes fifty 
steamboats lying in the harbor at one time, and from 
twelve to fifteen hundred flatboats moored along 
the wharves. The freight capacity of one of these 


latter frequently reached sixty tons. Communica- 
tion with the interior by steamboat was "easy, pleas- 
ant, and rapid." More than one hundred steamers 
were navigating the Mississippi and its principal 
tributaries. They were large side-wheelers for the 
most part, with excellent passenger accommodations 
and ample freight capacity. The coast trade with 
Mobile and Florida was carried on by three hundred 
schooners. Already more cotton was shipped from 
this port than from any other in America, and immense 
piles of cotton bales lay along the levee, waiting for 
an ocean steamer to carry them to New York, New 
England, or Europe. Sugar was a great and in- 
creasing crop, and Flint believed that enough might 
be grown in Louisiana to meet the consumption of 
the United States. There were very productive plan- 
tations on the Bayou Teche, along the Gulf Coast, 
and on the adjacent islands. Each sluggish stream 
and bayou formed its own embankment of rich, 
black soil, and the plantations were crowded into 
the fertile strip running from one to three miles 
back from the water. The growth reminded Flint 
of the rank cornfields of Missouri. The soil and 
climate of Louisiana were admirably suited to the 
development of the stalk, but it contained less 
saccharine matter than that grown in Cuba, and the 
seed cane must be planted every year, at considerable 
cost in time and labor. The most serious obstacle, 
however, was the scarcity of capital. A heavy in- 
vestment was required for the sugar-houses (as 
large and imposing as New England factories), and 
for the purchase and maintenance of the force of 


slaves. Rice and indigo had been cultivated formerly 
of a quality superior to the Georgia yield ; corn, sweet 
potatoes, melons, figs, and oranges, and all northern 
fruits, except apples, flourished; but the planters 
found more money profit in sugar and cotton, es- 
pecially the former, so they were neglecting all 
other crops and " calculated to supply themselves 
with provisions almost entirely from the upper 
country." 16 Natchez was the up-country cotton 
market. At the shipping season a thousand boats 
of all descriptions, from the Pittsburgh-built steam- 
boat to the log raft, lay at this landing, the town 
was full of boatmen, and the streets were almost 
barricaded with cotton bales. 

Negroes were everywhere. Slave labor was deemed 
essential to the cultivation of cotton and sugar in a 
climate that was enervating to the whites. Without 
it, men believed, the land would relapse to wilderness. 
Flint, New England clergyman though he was, found 
himself agreeing with this point of view. "The 
slaves appeared to me to be as well fed and clothed 
as the labouring poor at the North." They were far 
better off physically than in the upper country, for 
their strength and contentment was the chief factor 
in prosperity, and it was the planter's interest that 
they should be kept in good bodily condition. 
Adequate food and shelter were provided for these 
valuable animals, as well as hospitals for the sick 
and regular medical attendance. The freed blacks 
led a wretched existence, Flint thought. They had 
few opportunities of earning an honest living and 
readily took to thieving and vice. Unlike the 


plantation negroes, they had "the wretched privilege 
of getting drunk." 17 The poor whites of the upper 
river set them a demoralizing example, as did also 
the mongrel population, French and Spanish mixed 
with Indian blood, who were "vagabonds almost 
to a man." "Scarcely any of them have any regular 
occupation, unless it be that of herding cattle ; but 
they raise a little maize, and fish a little, and hunt a 
little, and smoke and lounge a great deal." 18 

Timothy Flint, going up to Natchitoches in 1820, 
found flourishing plantations all the way. The climate 
was not warm enough for sugar-cane, but the cotton 
plant grew as high as a man's head and yielded two 
bales to the acre. Wheat grew eighty bushels to 
the acre, and the selling price was $3.50 per bushel. 
Alexandria was the market for the parish of Rapide 
and the upper river since the rapids prevented 
steamers going farther except in high water, when they 
ventured to Natchitoches. Above that point the 
Great Raft proved an insuperable barrier for all craft 
larger than the pirogues, which went on to the 
United States garrison at Kiamesha. From Natchi- 
toches a lively trade was conducted with San An- 
tonio, Monclava, and the City of Mexico. Mules 
laden with silver were driven over the Camino Real, 
and horses bred by the Texas rancheros were sold 
to the merchants, who sent them to the farmers of 
Missouri and Kentucky. This frontier town was, 
moreover, a harbor of refuge for criminals, both 
Spanish and American. 

Louisiana was not all cane, corn, and cotton. 
Two- thirds of the state was swamp and pine barren . 


To the west and north the land was high and the 
soil thin and sandy. Here great droves of cattle 
and hogs fattened on the mast and native grasses, 
settlements were few and far apart, and " there 
being little call for labor, the inhabitants labor 
little, and are content with indolence, health and 
poverty." 19 



The watershed of the Arkansas River was not 
regarded as a hopeful opportunity for the pioneer. 
For an unknown distance back from the Mississippi, 
the land was low and flat, and the rivers flowed 
sluggishly through vast swamps or widened out into 
lakes and bayous, infested by alligators and mos- 
quitoes and overhung by malarial vapors, poisonous 
to persons not habituated to the climate. Here 
grew nothing that could be made to serve man's 
needs except the funereal cypress, and no industry 
might be developed except that of the wood-cutters 
who shipped scow-loads of lumber and fuel to New 
Orleans. The Arkansas River was navigable for 
keel-boats for two hundred miles, and the Washita, 
Black, White and St. Francis served the purposes of 
commerce, except where the drifted timber had col- 
lected in great rafts that effectively blocked passage. 
Occasional elevations or prairies {e.g. Grand Prairie, 
one hundred miles in length) furnished the only 
opportunity for settlement, and these were quickly 
found and utilized. When Nuttall descended the 
Mississippi in 1819, he found the French villages 
dwindling. Big and Little Prairie had been de- 
stroyed by the earthquake of 1811 l and by subse- 
quent inundations, and the region was still subject 
to an occasional shock by no means reassuring to 


the soul of the pioneer. The habitants were "here, 
as elsewhere, in miserable circumstances," 2 and 
raised "no wheat, and scarcely enough of maize for 
their support." They still dressed in the half- 
Indian costume of the voyageur, — "blanket capeaus, 
buckskin pantaloons, and moccasins," with no head 
covering but a handkerchief, for men and women 
alike. For the isolated squatter, the hunt was 
still an important supplement to farming, and these 
"hunting farmers" brought their beaver skins to 
Nuttall's bateau "anxious to barter them for 
whiskey, though scarcely possessed either of bread 
or vegetables." New Madrid was an insignificant 
hamlet, 3 made up of some twenty log houses and 
two or three stores miserably supplied with goods 
that sold at exorbitant prices. Arkansas Post, built 
on a bluff beyond the reach of inundations, was still 
a considerable town, boasting from thirty to forty 
houses and three mercantile establishments. The 
proprietors brought groceries and textiles from New 
Orleans and hardware from Pittsburgh, and they were 
accustomed to carry their stock in trade up the Ar- 
kansas as far as Fort Smith. 4 The farmers in the 
neighborhood of the Post were largely French and 
were growing good crops of corn and cotton. The 
rich alluvial soil produced from one thousand to 
fifteen hundred pounds of cotton to the acre and, since 
this sold at $5 to $6 per hundredweight in the seed, 
the crop was a paying one. Of slaves there were 
few in this primitive community, but white labor was 
to be had at from $12 to $15 per month with board. 
Settlement was retarded by uncertainty as to land 


titles, occasioned by the Spanish grants that had 
not yet been confirmed or annulled by the United 
States government. The Winters of Natchez claimed 
a tract of one million acres in the immediate vicinity 
of the Post, two Spanish commandantes had re- 
ceived grants of indefinite extent on White River, 
while Baron Bastrop's fifty thousand acres on the 
Washita were claimed by his heirs. 5 

On the prairies back from the river were some 
French-speaking squatters, half-breeds or metifs, 
said to be descended from the ten men whom Tonti 
had left at the Post in 1686. They had degenerated 
to the savage state and were "entirely hunters, 
Indians in habit, and paid no attention to the cul- 
tivation of the soil." The American settlers farther 
up the stream were for the most part from Kentucky 
and Tennessee. They were growing corn and cotton 
with success, but hesitated to make any permanent 
improvements because of their uncertain tenure. 
Cotton-gins, sawmills, and grist-mills were projected, 
but little had as yet been accomplished. At Little 
Rock, the entrance to the hill country, a Georgian 
named Hogan had laid out a town and proposed to 
utilize the water-power. At the mouth of the Cad- 
ron another town was projected, and the one occu- 
pant of a town lot cherished great hopes of the 
future ; but to Nuttall's unbiased judgment there 
seemed no reason for any accession of population or 
business. The last white settlement on the Arkansas 
was at Pecannerie (so named for the pecan trees 
that grew in the surrounding forests). Here some 
sixty families had found fertile lands and a whole- 


some climate, but the men were renegades and 
fugitives from justice, an ignorant and lawless lot. 
They were too far from the market to sell cotton 
at a paying price ($3 per hundredweight in seed) 
and their agriculture was confined to corn and 
potatoes for their own food. 

Nuttall thought the agricultural possibilities of 
Arkansas unequalled if once the swamps were 
drained and the rivers cleared of obstructions. 
Cotton, corn, rice, indigo, tobacco, and hemp bore 
abundantly, while subtropic fruits, peaches, plums 
and grapes flourished in the open, and well-laden 
orchards were seen even about the Indian villages. 
Cattle were allowed to run at large, since they re- 
quired no shelter and were driven in only for an 
occasional counting and salting. They subsisted 
through the mild winters on the natural fodder fur- 
nished by the canebrakes and shave rush (equisetum 
hiemale). No attention was paid to breed, not even 
of horses. These, too, ran wild and, though they 
deteriorated in size, grew stocky and vigorous after 
the hardy Spanish type. They brought from $50 
to $100 apiece in the local market. South of Fort 
Smith in the valley of the "Pottoe" (Poteau) River 
was a wonderful pasture-land. "The whole country 
was a prairie, full of luxuriant grass," 6 and this 
natural pasturage extended "even to the summits 
of the hills, offering an almost inexhaustible range 
to cattle." 7 Here were feeding throngs of wild 
horses, herds of deer, and even an occasional buffalo. 

On the lower river, government surveyors were 
already at work, plotting the lands of first and 


second grade, and these were soon to be sold at 
auction at the minimum rate of $2 per acre. Specu- 
lators were also on the ground with land scrip 
representing the preemption rights of veterans of 
the recent war, which they had bought at from $3 
to $10 per acre, assuming the payment to the land 
office and expecting to recoup themselves out of 
sales to prospective emigrants. All of the land was 
fertile, but much of it lay so low as to be unfit for 
human habitation, and the advertisements printed 
in the eastern papers were usually misleading. 
Martin Chuzzlewit's "Eden" is a fair example of 
the frauds perpetrated on the ignorant investor. 
Wherever there was sufficient altitude to provide 
drainage, however, the climate was salubrious, and 
the settlements flourished. A town in this region 
with a fortunate location was like Jonah's gourd, 
the growth of a night. 

White River, in its upper reaches, flowed through 
flinty hills, and although the narrow bottoms were 
fertile and capable of producing excellent crops of 
corn, wheat, and cotton, the river was not navigable 
except for canoes and there was no inducement to 
raise crops that could not be got to market. Here 
conditions were primitive indeed. Schoolcraft, the 
geologist, who visited the region in 1819, describes 
the people. "The only inhabitants on the upper 
parts of White River, so far as inhabitants have 
penetrated, are hunters, who live in camps and 
log-cabins, and support themselves by hunting the 
bear, deer, buffalo, elk, beaver, raccoon, and other 
animals who are found in great plenty in that region. 


They also raise some corn for bread, and for 
feeding their horses, on preparing for long journeys 
into the woods, or other extraordinary occasions. 
They seldom, however, cultivate more than an acre 
or two, subsisting chiefly on animal food and wild 
honey, and pay no attention to the cultivation 
of garden vegetables, if I except some cabbages, 
noticed at a few habitations. When the season of 
hunting arrives, the ordinary labors of a man about 
the house and cornfield devolve upon the women, 
whose condition in such a state of society may readily 
be imagined. They in fact pursue a similar course 
of life with the savages ; having embraced their love 
of ease, and their contempt for agricultural pursuits, 
with their sagacity in the chase, their mode of dress- 
ing in skins, their manners, and their hospitality to 

"The furs and peltries which are collected during 
repeated excursions in the woods, are taken down the 
river at certain seasons in canoes, and disposed of to 
traders who visit the lower parts of this river for that 
purpose. Here they receive in exchange for their furs 
woolen cloths, rifles, knives and hatchets, salt, pow- 
der, lead, iron for horse shoes, blankets, iron pots, 
shoes, and other articles of primary importance in 
their way of life. Those living near the cultivated 
parts of Lawrence County, in Arkansas Territory, 
also bring down in exchange for such articles, buffaloe 
beef, pork, bears' meat, bees' wax, and honey ; which 
are again sold by the traders along the banks of the 
Mississippi, or at New Orleans. Very little cash is 
paid, and that in hard money only, no bank bills of 


any kind being taken in that quarter. I happened 
to be present, on my return from the head waters of 
White River, at one of these exchanges, where a fur- 
ther opportunity was offered of observing the man- 
ners and character of these savage Europeans. Bears' 
meat was sold at $10 per cwt.; buffaloe beef at $4 ; 
cows' beef at $3 ; pork, in the hog, at $3.50 ; venison 
hams at 25 cents each ; wild turkies the same ; wild 
honey at $1 per gallon ; beaver fur $2 per lb. ; bears' 
skins $1.50 each; otter's skins $2 a piece; raccoon 
25 cents each ; deers' skins 25 cents per lb. These 
prices were considered high by the purchaser, but 
they were only nominally so, for he paid them off in 
articles at the most exorbitant rates. Common 
three-point or Mackinaw blankets were sold at $8 
each ; butcher knives at $2 ; rifle locks at $8 ; com- 
mon coarse blue cloth at $6 per yard; coffee at 75 
cents per lb. ; salt at $5 per bushel ; lead at 25 cents 
per lb. ; gunpowder at $2 per lb. ; axes at $6 each ; 
horse shoe nails at $3 per set, &c. The trade of this 
river is consequently attended with profits which 
amply repay for the risks and fatigues incident to a 
voyage in that quarter. Vast quantities of furs and 
skins are annually brought down this river, with 
some bees' wax, honey, beef, bacon, &c." 8 

The United States government had chosen the 
upper Arkansas valley for an Indian reservation, and 
was removing hither the tribes whose lands were 
coveted by the whites. The Quapaws had sold sixty 
thousand square miles in the lower valley for $4000 
down and an annuity of $1000. The bargain had 
proved a good one for the government, for these same 


lands were now being sold at $10 an acre. The Chero- 
kees, transplanted from Georgia, were cultivating the 
soil and building houses that compared well with those 
of the white settlers, although the government had 
not yet established their titles. The Osages, freshly 
removed from their villages north of the Arkansas, 
were less promising. Long intercourse with the trader 
had brought to nought their native industries, and 
had taught them nothing better. Drunken and prof- 
ligate, and cherishing a sense of grievance, the young 
braves revenged themselves on the trappers who fell 
into their power, stealing their horses and stripping and 
torturing the defenceless men. Bad blood was brew- 
ing between the Indians and the squatters who were 
forced to vacate and make way for these mischievous 
wards of Uncle Sam. It was already becoming ap- 
parent that the Indians could not subsist without the 
buffalo herds, which had furnished them with food, 
clothing, and shelter from time immemorial. As the 
white man advanced up the water-courses, the herds 
retreated before his deadly firearms. Experienced 
hunters estimated that this withdrawal was proceed- 
ing at the rate of ten miles a year. The annual 
slaughter was estimated at two hundred thousand, of 
which total not more than five thousand were killed 
by the whites. The diminished herds took refuge 
in the "parks" at the head waters of the Arkansas 
and Platte and crossed the many passes of the Rocky 
and Wasatch ranges to the bunch grass " benches" 
on their western slopes. 

Arkansas was the veritable frontier. Some fifteen 
hundred hunters and trappers, unaccustomed to re- 


straint, degenerate in habits and morals, supported 
a miserable existence in the back country, while the 
town population was largely composed of renegades 
and fugitives from justice who sought escape from 
civil authority. The territory of Arkansas was or- 
ganized in 1821, and a governor was sent out from 
Washington who inaugurated his administration at 
Arkansas Post with considerable pomp ; but the laws 
against gambling, etc. , enacted by the infant legislature, 
were broken by the officials themselves with small 
regard for decency, and the "rough and untamed" 
people pursued their licentious practices unchecked. 

The Missouri River Settlements 

The valley of the Missouri was better drained than 
that of the Arkansas, and the climate was more brac- 
ing, while soil and rainfall were no less auspicious. 
When Lewis and Clark went up the river in 1804, they 
noted the fields of corn and wheat belonging to the 
habitants of Portage des Sioux showing fair in the 
rich bottom lands of the north bank. The village of 
St. Charles, or Petite Cote, as the people preferred to 
call it, contained about one hundred houses, "the 
most of them small and indifferent," and four hun- 
dred people, chiefly Canadian French with an occa- 
sional dash of Indian blood. "A great majority of 
the inhabitants are miserably pour illiterate and 
when at home excessively lazy, tho' they are polite 
hospitable and by no means deficient in point of 
natural genious. ... A small garden of vegetables 
is the usual extent of their cultivation, and this is 
commonly imposed on the old-men and boys; the 


men in the vigor of life consider the cultivation of the 
earth a degrading occupation, and in order to gain the 
necessary subsistence for themselves and families, 
either undertake hunting voyages on their own account, 
or engage themselves as hirelings" 9 to men with suffi- 
cient capital to fit out more ambitious expeditions. 
On Femme Osage (Boone's Lick), where many people 
came down to the river's bank to watch the passing 
of the explorers, there were thirty or forty American 
families. The first settler was Daniel Boone, the pio- 
neer of the trans-Alleghany migration, who, having 
lost his lands in Kentucky by some lawyer's trick, had 
moved on to this new frontier and secured a Spanish 
grant (1798). 

When the Astorians ascended the river six years 
later, the ultima thule of civilization was sixty miles 
above St. Charles on Boone's Lick. Boone had just 
returned from the spring hunt with sixty beaver 
skins, and he overlooked the launching of Hunt's 
bateaux with a professional eye. Bradbury's de- 
scription is graphic. "The old man was still erect in 
form, strong in limb and unflinching in spirit ; and as 
he stood on the river-bank, watching the departure 
of an expedition destined to traverse the wilderness 
to the very shores of the Pacific, very probably felt 
a throb of his old pioneer spirit, impelling him to 
shoulder his rifle and join the adventurous band." 10 
Brackenridge, who was of Lisa's party, noted with 
surprise that there were "tolerable plantations" in 
the bottom lands as far as Point Labadie. "These 
usually consist of a few acres cleared, on the borders 
of the river, with a small log hut or cabin, and stables 



Settlements in Upper Louisiana, 1820. 

for horses, etc. They raise a little Indian corn, 
pumpions, potatoes, and a few vegetables. But 
they have abundance of hogs and horned cattle." u 
On Le Mine River were valuable salt-works under the 
management of Braxton Cooper of Culpepper, Vir- 
ginia. "The settlement is but one year old, but is 
already considerable, and increasing rapidly ; it con- 


sists of seventy-five families, the greater part living 
on the bank of the river, in the space of four or five 
miles. They are generally persons in good circum- 
stances, most of them have slaves. Mr. Cooper in- 
formed me that the upland, back, is the most beauti- 
ful he ever beheld. He thinks that from the mouth 
of the Missouri to this place, the country for at least 
forty miles from the river, may bear the character of 
rich woodland ; the prairies forming but trifling pro- 
portions." 12 

The Journal of the Long expedition (1821) gives 
evidence of considerable accessions to the popula- 
tion of Missouri in the eleven years interval. The 
pioneers were mostly emigrants from Tennessee, 
well-to-do farmers, who took up land in the river 
bottoms and worked them by slave labor. The 
settlements were prosperous, although somewhat 
retarded by the uncertainty of land titles and the 
preemption of the most desirable locations by 
speculators. Cote Sans Dessein, opposite the mouth 
of the Osage, boasted thirty families and as many 
small log cabins, but though the soil was extraor- 
dinarily fertile, improvements were discouraged by 
the fact that the tract was claimed by Chouteau 
on the basis of a Spanish grant. Just above 
the Osage on the south bank of the Missouri, 
the land had been "located" for a town, and lots 
were being sold in St. Louis at prices varying from 
$50 to $180 each. Above Little Manito Rocks 
(Boone County), were several mushroom towns with 
no more than half-a-dozen houses apiece, — Nashville, 
Rectorsville, Smithton, etc., each named after the fond 


projector who cherished great hopes of the future. 
"Almost every settler, who has established himself 
on the Missouri, is confidently expecting that his 
farm is, in a few years, to become the seat of wealth 
and business, and the mart for an extensive dis- 
trict." 13 Franklin, a two-year-old village across the 
river from Booneville, was confident of becoming a 
metropolis. Here uncleared land was selling at 
from $2 to $10 and $15 an acre, corn brought 
twenty-five cents a bushel, wheat $1, and bacon 
twelve and a half cents a pound, while labor cost 
seventy-five cents a day. The fecundity of the soil was 
unparalleled, and tillage proved comparatively inex- 
pensive. A slave could cultivate twenty acres of corn 
and produce sixty bushels per acre in a season, whereas 
in Kentucky the same amount of labor was expended 
on fifteen acres with a smaller acreage return, so that 
the profits of farming were reckoned to be one-third 
less than in Missouri. Chariton, a village of fifty 
houses and five hundred people, was the last white 
settlement, and the inhabitants lined the bank to see 
the Western- Engineer, the first steamboat that had 
ever ascended the Missouri. Beyond, the only sign 
of white occupation was an occasional trapper's lodge, 
where some worn-out mountain man had under- 
taken to till the soil and had painfully "made his first 
crop." One such man was planning to take his 
family up the Platte River. 

The pioneers of the westward migration in Mis- 
souri, as in Arkansas, were mere "squatters," — worn- 
out trappers fain to eke out existence for themselves 
and their half-breed families by desultory farming, 


luckless traders so long accustomed to intercourse 
with the Indians that the ways of civilization were 
irksome to them, refugees and renegades who sought 
exemption from restraint in the region Flint called 
"the land beyond the Sabbath." Such a man did 
not buy land, but put up a temporary shelter in a 
location where wood, water, and pasturage were abun- 
dant and where the hunting was still good. Since 
his only wealth was in horses, cattle, and swine, he lost 
nothing by change of habitat. "When the canes are 
fed down and destroyed, and the acorns become 
scarce, the small corn-field and the rude cabin are 
abandoned, and the squatter goes in search of a place 
where all the original wealth of the forest is yet un- 
diminished. Here he again builds his hut, removes 
the trees from a few acres of land, which supplies 
its annual crop of corn, while the neighboring woods, 
for an extent of several miles, are used both as pas- 
ture and hunting grounds." 14 James, the chronicler 
of the Long expedition, quotes Boone as saying that 
it was high time to move when a man could no longer 
fell a tree for firewood within a few yards of his 
cabin door. 

The bulk of the pioneers came of Southern stock, 
often from Virginia or the Carolinas direct, but more 
frequently from Tennessee, Kentucky or the Gulf 
states, or from the lower counties of the common- 
wealths beyond the Ohio where the infusion of South- 
ern blood was strong ; and everywhere the Scotch- 
Irish element led the van. Vigorous, self-assertive, 
resourceful, the Appalachian mountaineers revelled 
in the vicissitudes and perils of the wilderness, and 


were more at home in a prairie schooner than in a 
comfortable but stationary dwelling. The westward 
movement was impelled not so much by necessity as 
by the love of adventure and the belief that some- 
where beyond civilization lay the opportunity for 
speedy wealth. The direction of migration was de- 
termined by successive crazes, — e.g. for Boone's Lick, 
for Salt River (Iowa), for the Mauvaises Terres on the 
Illinois, for Colonel Austin's colony on the Brazos. 

After the peace of Ghent had guaranteed the tran- 
quillity of the frontier, came the permanent settlers 
bringing wives and children from "back east," to- 
gether with agricultural implements, domestic uten- 
sils, and slaves. They came in flatboats down the 
Ohio or the Cumberland or the Tennessee to the great 
river that swept them on to Missouri, Arkansas, and 
Louisiana. Schoolcraft, on his voyage from Cairo to 
St. Louis, passed a score or more of "boats of all de- 
nominations, laden with merchandize, and emigrant 
passengers, chiefly destined for Boon's Lick on the 
Missouri," 15 then reputed to be one of the richest 
bodies of land west of the Alleghanies. These 
emigrants were largely from the Northern states, — 
Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, western New York 
and Pennsylvania, with a few Kentucky families of 
the better type, and their principal settlement, 
Franklin, was a center of light and learning, as well 
as of commerce. 

On the Whitewater, back of Cape Girardeau, was 
a colony of German Lutherans, most of whom had 
come first to Pennsylvania or North Carolina and 
later moved on to Missouri in search of better land. 


Flint describes them as honest and industrious, 
with a passion for stone houses and barns, good 
orchards and permanent improvements. Their 
horses and cattle were of a superior breed and their 
fields well cultivated. Their women were quiet, 
patient and hard-working, and devoted themselves 
to the housewifely arts of the Old World with pa- 
thetic persistence. They formed a marked contrast 
to their French neighbors, "who were crowded into 
villages with mud hovels, fond of conversation and 
coffee," but rarely putting forth industrial energy 
sufficient to raise them above indigence. The Ger- 
mans were a large, stout, ruddy race, whereas the 
Frenchmen were "spare, thin, sallow and tanned, 
with their flesh adhering to their bones, and ap- 
parently dried to the consistency of parchment." 16 
The German and the French settlers were alike at 
least in this — they clung to their native language 
and the forms of their inherited worship with stub- 
born persistence. 

Timothy Flint resided at St. Charles for the 
years 1816-1818 and he describes the inrush of 
people. "The immigration from the western and 
southern states to this country poured in a flood, 
the power and strength of which could only be 
adequately conceived by persons on the spot. We 
have numbered a hundred persons passing through 
the village of St. Charles in one day. The number 
was said to have equalled that for many days to- 
gether. From the Mamelles I have looked over the 
subjacent plain quite to the ferry, where the immi- 
grants crossed the upper Mississippi. I have seen 


in this extent nine wagons harnessed with from four 
to six horses. We may allow a hundred cattle, 
besides hogs, horses, and sheep, to each wagon ; 
and from three or four to twenty slaves. The whole 
appearance of the train, the cattle with their hundred 
bells ; the negroes with delight in their countenances, 
for their labors are suspended and their imaginations 
excited ; the wagons, often carrying two or three 
tons, so loaded that the mistress and children are 
strolling carelessly along, in a gait which enables 
them to keep up with the slow travelling carriage; 
— the whole group occupies three quarters of a mile. 
The slaves generally seem fond of their masters, and 
quite as much delighted and interested in the immi- 
gration, as the master. It is to me a very pleasing 
and patriarchal scene. . . . Just about nightfall, 
they come to a spring or a branch, where there is 
water and wood. The pack of dogs sets up a cheer- 
ful barking. The cattle lie down and ruminate. 
The team is unharnessed. The huge waggons are 
covered, so that the roof completely excludes the 
rain. The cooking utensils are brought out. The 
blacks prepare a supper, which the toils of the day 
render delicious ; and they talk over the adventures 
of the past day, and the prospects of the next. 
Meantime, they are going where there is nothing 
but buffaloes and deer to limit their range, even to 
the western sea." 17 

Prosperity was to be had on easy terms. "A 
Missouri planter, with a moderate force and a good 
plantation, can be as independent as it is fit that we 
should be. . . . One of my immediate neighbors, on 


the prairie below St. Charles, had a hired white 
man, a negro, and two sons large enough to begin 
to help him. He had an hundred acres enclosed. 
He raised, the year that I came away, two thousand 
four hundred bushels of corn, eight hundred bushels 
of wheat, and other articles in proportion, and the 
number of cattle and hogs that he might raise was 
indefinite ; for the pasturage and hay were as suffi- 
cient for a thousand cattle as for twenty. . . . Any 
person, able and disposed to labour, is forever freed 
from the apprehension of poverty. ... A vigorous 
and active young man needs but two years of per- 
sonal labour to have a farm ready for the support of 
a small family. . . . The soil is free from stones, 
loose and mellow, and needs no manure, and it is 
very abundant in the productions natural to it, the 
principal of which are corn, fruits, and wheat. The 
calculation is commonly made, that two days in a 
week contribute as much to support here, as the 
whole week at the North." 18 Missouri was free 
from the " fever and ague" that infested the heavily 
timbered lands in Illinois and along the Mississippi, 
and the immigrants passed by these fertile regions 
and pressed on to the wholesomer country beyond. 

The enthusiasm of the colonist was whetted and 
directed by the zeal of the speculator. Of the 
methods by which these latter gentry succeeded in 
getting possession of the best locations we are told 
by one James Flint, a Scotchman, who came down 
the Ohio to St. Louis in an open boat in 1819, and 
saw many things by the way. The public lands in 
Missouri "are exposed by auction, in quarter sec- 


tions of 160 acres each. A considerable part of 
them sold at from three to six dollars per acre. 
Lots, not sold at auction, may be subsequently 
bought at the land-office for two dollars per acre, 
on paying half a dollar in ready money and the 
remainder within five years. Land dealers are very 
vigilant in securing for themselves great quantities 
of the best land. It is not uncommon for recon- 
noitering parties of them to lodge in the woods for a 
whole week. By such means much of the best land, 
mill-seats and other local advantages, are withdrawn 
from the market at the first public sales. . . . The 
most advantageous purchases are considered to be 
those on the edges of prairies, with a part of the 
open land, and a part of the woods." 19 

The farmers of Missouri, as in other pioneer com- 
munities, were heavily indebted to the older and 
wealthier states east of the Alleghanies for the 
capital with which to purchase and improve their 
lands. The crisis of 1819 and the consequent cur- 
tailment of credit was an unprecedented calamity. 
The local banks, which had been doing business on 
the wildcat plan, failed one and all, and their notes 
were valueless. There was no specie in the country, 
and the most thriving towns were suddenly reduced 
to barter. The newly organized state legislature 
resorted to a desperate expedient. An issue of 
$2, 000, 000 in certificates of indebtedness ' was 
authorized, and this state currency was declared 
receivable for taxes and all obligations to the treasury 
including royalties from the salt works. The cer- 
tificates were none the less in contravention of the 


Constitution of the United States and were declared 
invalid by the courts. Settlers who had taken up 
government land on the credit system were in dire 
straits, for no matter how productive their farms, 
they could get no money with which to pay the 
installments as they fell due. Congress came to 
their relief by extending the time of payment and 
by cancelling such portion of the obligation as might 
be deducted on account of lands surrendered. In 
marked exception to the general bankruptcy, showed 
the German settlements; these sturdy immigrants 
had refused to touch the bank money and insisted 
on receiving all payments in specie. 

The environment of the pioneer farmer is de- 
scribed by Edward Flagg, a Cincinnati journalist of 
New England antecedents who visited Illinois and 
Missouri in 1836. "There are few objects to be 
met with in the backwoods of the West more unique 
and picturesque than the dwelling of the emigrant. 
After selecting an elevated spot as a site for build- 
ing, a cabin or log house — which is somewhat of an 
improvement upon the first — is erected in the 
following manner. A sufficient number of straight 
trees, of a size convenient for removing, are felled, 
slightly hewn upon the opposite sides, and the ex- 
tremities notched or mortised with the axe. They 
are then piled upon each other so that the extremities 
lock together ; and a single or double edifice is con- 
structed, agreeable to the taste or ability of the 
builder. Ordinarily the cabin consists of two quad- 
rangular apartments, separated by a broad area 
between, connected by a common floor, and covered 


by a common roof, presenting a parallelogram triple 
the length of its width. The better of these apart- 
ments is usually appropriated to the entertainment 
of the casual guest, and is furnished with several 
beds and some articles of rude furniture to corre- 
spond. The open area constitutes the ordinary 
sitting and eating apartment of the family in fine 
weather ; and, from its coolness, affords a delightful 
retreat. The intervals between the logs are stuffed 
with fragments of wood or stone, and plastered with 
mud or mortar, and the chimney is constructed 
much in the same manner. The roof is covered with 
thin clapboards of oak or ash, and, in lieu of nails, 
transverse pieces of timber retain them in their 
places. Thousands of cabins are thus constructed, 
without a particle of iron or even a common plank. 
The rough clapboards give to the roof almost the 
shaggy aspect of thatch at a little distance, but they 
render it impermeable to even the heaviest and 
most protracted rain-storms. A rude gallery often 
extends along one or both sides of the building, add- 
ing much to its coolness in summer and to its warmth 
in winter by the protection afforded from sun and 
snow. "The floor is constructed of short, thick 
planks, technically termed 'puncheons,' which are 
confined by wooden pins ; and, though hardly 
smooth enough for a ball-room, yet well answer 
every purpose for a dwelling, and effectually resist 
moisture and cold. The apertures are usually cut 
with a view to free ventilation, and the chimneys 
stand at the extremities outside the walls of the 
cabin. A few pounds of nails, a few boxes of glass, 


a few hundred feet of lumber, and a few days assist- 
ance of a house carpenter, would, of course, contrib- 
ute not a little to the comfort of the shieling; 
but neither of these are indispensable." 20 "The fur- 
niture of the apartment consisted of two plank- 
erections designed for bedsteads, which, with a tall 
clothes-press, divers rude boxes, and a side-saddle, 
occupied a better moiety of the area ; while a rough 
table, a shelf against the wall, upon which stood a 
water -pail, a gourd, and a few broken trenchers, 
completed the house-hold paraphernalia of this 
most unique of habitations. A half-consumed flitch 
of bacon suspended in the chimney, and a huge iron 
pot upon the fire, from which issued a savory indi- 
cation of the seething mess within, completes the 
' still-life ' of the picture." 21 " In rear of the premises 
rise the out-buildings; stables, corn-crib, meat-house, 
etc., all of them quite as perfect in structure as the 
dwelling itself, and quite as comfortable for residence. 
If to all this we add a well, walled up with a section of 
a hollow cotton-wood, a cellar or cave in the earth for 
pantr} r , a zigzag rail fence enclosing the whole clear- 
ing, a dozen acres of Indian corn bristling up beyond, 
a small garden and orchard, and a host of swine, 
cattle, and naked children about the door, and the 
toute ensemble of a back-woods farmhouse is com- 
plete. . . . The present mode of cultivation sweeps 
off vast quantities of timber ; but it must soon be 
superseded. Houses of brick and stone will take the 
place of log-cabins ; hedge-rows will supply that of 
rail enclosures, while coal for fuel will be a substi- 
tute for wood." 20 


Missouri offered great attractions to the pioneer 
farmer. The land in the river-bottoms, where the 
rich black loam had accumulated to a depth of 
thirty feet, was of phenomenal fertility, while the 
ridges of flint and limestone that divided the river 
courses in the southern portion afforded excellent 
pasture. Here were thousands of acres of the 
rank native herbage to which the oak trees, grown 
hoary in the course of centuries, gave a parklike 
beauty. There was little of the malaria-infested 
swamp-land that was the bane of settlers on the 
lower Mississippi. The climate was dry and whole- 
some and the temperature quite uniform, avoiding 
the severe winters of New England and the hot sum- 
mers of Louisiana. All the cereals, corn, wheat, 
rye, and oats, were successfully grown. Corn was 
especially prolific, running up to a height of twenty 
feet and bearing ninety bushels to the acre. Flax, 
hemp, and tobacco did well in the rich bottom lands 
where the nitrogenous elements of the soil were 
renewed by yearly floods. A farmer's family was 
self-sustaining so far as bread and meat, fruit and 
vegetables were concerned, and might even make 
shift to provide sufficient clothing. Cotton was 
grown in the southern districts "for family use, not 
for market," and a coarse cotton cloth was woven 
by the women of the household. If the settlement 
was near a navigable river, the surplus stock of grain, 
salt meat, and live stock might be got to market, 
but the demand for farm products was limited. 
Only the few flatboats that reached New Orleans 
early in the season could command paying prices and 

VOL. II — E 


later cargoes were often sold t at loss. As cultiva- 
tion extended, prices of food-stuffs fell below the 
cost of production, and the sale of the grain boats 
barely covered the expenses of the voyage. The 
farmers were therefore obliged to live off their own 
and abjure imported goods. Tea, coffee, and foreign 
sugar were high-priced luxuries, indulged in spar- 
ingly by all but the few who had money to spend. 
Manufactures were developing, however, with the 
increase in local demand. Flour-mills and distilleries, 
sawmills and tan-yards, were among the first, but 
carding machines, fulling and cloth mills soon fol- 
lowed. These last were on Big River and were run 
by water-power. 22 

The very abundance of the natural resources of 
the country proved a detriment. Soil, timber, and 
mineral wealth were exploited as if the supply was 
limitless. Waste of timber had some justification 
among the pioneers east of the Mississippi where 
trees stood in the way of cultivation and shut out 
the air and sunlight on which health depended ; 
but here on the margin of a treeless region, needless 
destruction of the forest growth was manifestly 
disastrous. Nevertheless, the pines and oaks were 
remorselessly felled, and every settlement showed 
what Flint called a " Kentucky outline of dead 
trees, and huge logs lying on all sides in the fields." 23 
Underbrush was fired with wanton carelessness, 
and thousands of acres of pasture went up in smoke. 
A light wind served to carry the conflagration to a 
great distance, and often travellers over the tenant-less 
plains were overtaken by the flames and destroyed. 


The mineral deposits were treated with the same 
careless disregard of the future. In 1780, one of 
the hunters (named Burton or Breton), left at Ste. 
Genevieve by Renault, literally stumbled upon a 
surface deposit of lead and, recognizing its value, 
gave notice of his find to the authorities. During 
the Spanish regime, a little ore was brought to Ste. 
Genevieve and smelted in an open log furnace, but 
by this crude process hardly fifty per cent of the 
metal was extracted. This was sent down the river 
in pig, and no manufactures were attempted. In 
1797, Moses Austin, a Connecticut Yankee who 
had had some experience of lead mining on New 
River, in Virginia, brought his family and his slaves 
to this region and, having secured a league-square 
land grant from Carondelet, began operations at 
Mine a Burton. He introduced scientific methods 
of smelting, erected a reverberatory furnace and a 
shot tower, and shipped shot and sheet lead to New 
Orleans and Havana. Other American settlers dis- 
covered Mine a, Robin, Mine a Martin, etc., and 
it soon became evident that a very important 
mineral region, three thousand square miles in ex- 
tent, lay in the hills between the sources of the 
Big and St. Francis rivers. Silver and zinc were 
mingled with the lead. Iron Mountain, a ridge from 
five to six hundred feet high, was largely composed 
of iron of excellent quality, while Chartier and 
Cedar Creek furnished water-power adequate to 
"drive any number of forges." Black manganese, 
alum, and saltpetre were also abundant, and only cap- 
ital was needed to develop industries of the first order. 


The new arrivals regarded the mineral resources 
of the territory as free to all American citizens. 
Miners worked on their own account or in little 
companies and were content to raise the surface 
deposits with pickaxe and shovel, never using any- 
thing more elaborate than a bucket and windlass. 
When at a depth of ten or fifteen feet a bed of lime- 
stone was encountered, the diggings were abandoned 
and a new bed was sought for, until the whole region 
was torn up with prospectors' holes. Schoolcraft, 
the geologist, who made a study of the region in 
1819, protested against this extravagance. "Much 
time is thus consumed, in hunting new beds of ore, 
which if spent in labour upon the old ones, would 
be found infinitely more advantageous. Thus a 
kind of laziness is created ; — they who spend the 
most time in hunting for ore, spend the least in 
digging it." 24 Austin had condemned this wasteful 
practice quite as strongly in a report submitted to 
the government in 1816. He himself had sunk a 
shaft eighty feet deep and found rich deposits 
below the rock ledge. It was evident that the reck- 
less drift-mining menaced the future of the industry, 
but there were few men in the field who had capital 
or ability to work a force of slaves under scientific 
direction. The ordinary miner sold the ore he raised 
to the proprietor of a furnace for $2 per hundred- 
weight and realized on an average $2 a day, — no more 
than the wage of a skilled mechanic in the neighbor- 
hood. The rock, cleaned of spar, was smelted in an 
open-hearth furnace which was fired by logs and kept 
at a steady and increasing heat for twenty-four hours, 


when the lead was run off. Much of the metal 
remained in the ashes, perhaps fifty per cent, 25 but 
the process was inexpensive. The open hearth was 
built of loose stones, cost but $50 to $60, and re- 
quired only three men to run it — one to fetch wood 
and two to guard the fire in alternate watches — 
whereas the ash furnace cost $100 and necessitated 
more skill. The pigs were carted to Ste. Genevieve 
or Herculaneum and sold to merchants, who shipped 
the metal down the river or converted it into shot 
for sale to the fur companies of St. Louis. 

The first shot-tower was put up by Jean Maklot 
in 1809, the second by Moses Austin the year fol- 
lowing. Schoolcraft describes the process used. 
"A considerable proportion of the lead made in this 
[Missouri] Territory is manufactured into shot. 
There are 3 shot towers in the vicinity of Hercu- 
laneum, where shot is made by letting it fall down 
the banks of the Mississippi. The banks at this 
place consist of limestone, which forms a perpendicu- 
lar bluff of about 100 feet immediately at the water's 
edge, both above and below the town. On this 
bluff a small wooden tower is erected, with a furnace 
and kettles for preparing, smelting, and casting the 
lead, and having a projection in front, from which 
the lead is dropped into a receptacle with water 
below, where there is another building and apparatus 
for glazing and polishing. The lead, previous to 
being dropped, is prepared by mixing with it a 
small quantity of arsenic, which renders it more 
fluid in casting, and increases its hardness when 
cold. It is melted in an iron pot in the upper part 


of the tower, and poured into a copper sieve, made 
by perforating a copper pan full of holes, of the size 
of the shot, through which the globules of fluid 
lead drop into the cistern below. By the time they 
reach the water they have become sufficiently cool to 
preserve their globular shapes. Shot of the largest 
size require to be dropped from the greatest height, 
say 140 feet, while the small sizes are only suffered 
to fall about 90 feet. One man will smelt and cast, 
after the lead is prepared by alloying it with arsenic, 
from 4 to 5000 lbs. per day. To polish these will 
occupy him nine days. The polishing is done by 
putting a quantity of shot into a hollow cylindrical 
wooden vessel or barrel, which is fixed on a shaft 
and turned by a crank. The action of the shot 
against each other, converts them into perfect 
spheres, and a little plumbago which is added gives 
them a gloss, in which state they are ready for 

"An improvement has lately been made here by 
Mr. Elias Bates, which facilitates the casting of 
shot, and supersedes the necessity of using a sieve. 
He has a ladle of cast iron, in the shape of a parallelo- 
gram, but smaller at the bottom than the top. 
The two longest, being opposite sides of this ladle, 
are perforated with holes near, and at an equal 
distance from, the top, so that by canting the ladle 
a little either way, the shot drop through, and as 
the ladle is smallest at the bottom, are not at all 
impeded on their way to the cistern below. The 
quantity of shot made here for 18 months, ending 
1st June, 1817, was 668,350 lbs. The present 


price of shot is $7.50 per cwt. The business, I am 
told, has been very profitable." 26 

Austin estimated the yield from the Mine a Bur- 
ton from 1798 to 1804, at 360,000 pounds per annum; 
from 1804 to 1808, at 800,000 pounds, and from 
that date to 1816, the year of his report to the gov- 
ernment, at 500,000. The total production since his 
coming to the country he estimated at approxi- 
mately 9,360,000 pounds. Schoolcraft estimated 
the output of 1819 for the whole region at 4,971,000 
pounds and thought the gross product since the 
acquisition of Louisiana might be put at 55,000,000, 
a sum total which at four cents a pound must 
have brought in $3,000,000, — one-fifth of the pur- 
chase price. The number of men employed — miners, 
teamsters, blacksmiths, woodcutters — was approxi- 
mately 1130 in 1819, and in the four years of maxi- 
mum production the number had been considerably 
larger. There were forty-five lead mines and thirty- 
four furnaces, while the shot towers crowned every 
point of vantage on the bluffs of Herculaneum. 
Lead mining was an industry that rivalled the fur 
trade in industrial importance, if not in dramatic 

Even more essential to the prosperity of the 
frontier, though representing less capital and 
smaller revenue, were the numerous salt-works. 
Salines were more frequent and extensive west of 
the Mississippi because of the lighter rainfall and 
greater proportion of sunshine inducing evaporation. 
The brine, whether found in swamps, lakes, or 
springs, was reduced by boiling in open kettles, 


and there was no attempt at refining. Fifty or 
sixty gallons of brine were sufficient to produce one 
bushel of salt which sold in the neighborhood at $1 
per bushel. On the Saline Fork of Le Mine River, 
were salt-works where Braxton Cooper was getting 
out one hundred bushels a week, and on Camp 
Fork, a Mr. Lockhart was manufacturing five hun- 
dred bushels. The Saline Creek that emptied into 
the Mississippi just below Ste. Genevieve furnished 
the people of that district with this necessity of 
life; the deposits on Salt River, one hundred miles 
north of St. Louis, were extensively worked, while 
the rich salines on Des Moines River were attract- 
ing attention. A law of 1807 reserved from sale 
such public lands as were supposed to contain salt 
or minerals, and provided for a system of three- 
year leases and the payment of a royalty to the 
government. Apparently this was intended not so 
much to secure revenue as to conserve the natural 
resources of the country, but the difficulty of en- 
forcing the law was so great that the restriction was 
largely inoperative. 

Whatever the pioneer industry, whether the out- 
put was salt, lead, furs, flour, cotton, or tobacco, 
cheap transportation was essential to s_uccess. The 
country offered few obstacles to road-building, but 
the public authorities had small revenue with which 
to finance such enterprises, and the need did not 
seem pressing. Prairie schooners might be driven 
over the highest ridges, and emigrant parties fol- 
lowed the beaten track or deviated from it at their 
convenience. There were two great roads leading 


to the Red River settlements and beyond, worn 
wide and plain by droves of cattle and horses, emi- 
grant carts and freight wagons ; but the costs of 
land carriage were prohibitive for agricultural 
produce, and the country west of the Mississippi was 
dependent, as still older communities were, on water 
transportation. The all-important avenues of trade 
and travel were the rivers — not only the Mississippi 
and the Missouri, but lesser streams such as the 
St. Francis, the Maramee, the Gasconnade, and the 
Osage — by which flatboat, raft, or dugout canoe 
might make its way to a market town or down the 
Mississippi to Natchez and New Orleans. 27 The 
people of Ste. Genevieve were eagerly anticipating 
the opening of a water route by way of the Illinois 
River and Lake Michigan with Detroit and Buffalo, 
and thence via the new Erie Canal with Utica and 
New York. The scheme seemed entirely practicable 
to Schoolcraft. "The river Plein, the main head 
fork of Illinois, approaches so near the head of 
Chicago River, which enters Lake Michigan at 
Fort Dearborn, that a communication exists in high' 1 
water. I conversed with a trader last summer at 
St. Louis, who had come through in the spring, 
and afterward saw his boat lying at the wharf. It 
carried from 4 to 6 tons, and was built skiff-fashion, 
with a flat bottom. He represented the undertaking 
as easy of execution, not requiring an artificial cut 
of more than 2 miles, and this through an alluvial 
soil." 28 

The Mississippi was the great highway on which 
all traffic converged, and craft of every description, 


from the rough home-made scows and dugouts to 
the flatboats and keels that held tons of merchan- 
dise, thronged the river front at every port from St. 
Louis to New Orleans. Various improvements were 
being made in the primitive models. "It is now 
common to see flatboats worked by a bucket 
wheel, and a horse power, after the fashion of steam- 
boat movement. Indeed, every spring brings forth 
new contrivances of this sort, the result of the 
farmer's meditations over his winter's fire." 29 

Flint describes this traffic at New Madrid: "In 
one place there are boats loaded with planks from 
the pine forests of the southwest of New York. 30 
In another quarter there are the Yankee notions of 
Ohio ; from Kentucky, pork, flour, whiskey, hemp, 
tobacco, bagging, and bale rope ; from Tennessee 
there are the same articles, together with great 
quantities of cotton ; from Missouri and Illinois, 
cattle and horses, the same articles generally as 
from Ohio, together with peltry and lead from 
Missouri. Some boats are loaded with corn in the 
ear and in bulk; others with barrels of apples and 
potatoes. Some have loads of cider, and what they 
call 'cider royal,' or cider that has been strengthened 
by boiling or freezing. There are dried fruits, every 
kind of spirits manufactured in these regions, and 
in short, the products of the ingenuity and agricul- 
ture of the whole upper country of the West. They 
have come from regions thousands of miles apart. 
They have floated to a common point of union. 
The surfaces of the boats cover some acres. Dung- 
hill fowls are fluttering over the roofs, as an in- 


variable appendage. The chanticleer raises his 
piercing note. The swine utter their cries. The 
cattle low. The horses trample, as in their stables. 
There are boats fitted on purpose, and loaded en- 
tirely with turkeys, that, having little else to do, 
gobble most furiously. The hands travel about 
from boat to boat, make inquiries, and acquaint- 
ances, and form alliances to yield mutual assistance 
to each other, on their descent from this to New 
Orleans. . . . The fleet unites once more at 
Natchez, or New Orleans, and, although they live on 
the same river, they may perhaps never meet each 
other again on the earth." 31 Some of these flat- 
boats were fitted up as dram-shops, others as dry 
goods stores, and in others mechanics plied their 
respective trades. " While I was at New Madrid," 
continues Flint, "a large tinner's establishment 
floated there in a boat. In it all the different 
articles of tin-ware were manufactured and sold by 
wholesale and retail." Aboard another boat "were 
manufactured axes, scythes, and all other iron tools 
of this description, and in it horses were shod. . . . 
It was a complete blacksmith's shop." The settlers 
naturally clung to the rivers where wood and water 
were to be had in abundance and where alone cheap 
transportation were available for surplus products. 

The movement of population into the Far West 
was greatly accelerated by the substitution of steam 
for oar and cordelle on the river boats. The first 
steamer destined for use on western waters (the 
New Orleans) was built at Pittsburgh in 1809 by 
Nicholas Roosevelt at a cost of $38,000. The 


cautious New Yorker did not risk his vessel to the 
vagaries of river navigation until he had first gone 
the whole length of the Ohio and Mississippi in a 
keel-boat. The trial trip was made in 1809 with 
complete success, but the steamer was unluckily 
burned as she lay at anchor by the wharf in New 
Orleans. Other steamboats were soon built, how- 
ever, at the ship yards of Pittsburgh, Wheeling, and 
Cincinnati. The first voyage up-stream was made 
by the Enterprise in 1815, the distance of one thou- 
sand miles between New Orleans and Louisville 
being covered in twenty-five days. A barge manned 
by twenty to thirty hands could make but ten miles 
a day up-stream, whereas a steamer easily accom- 
plished one hundred. The superior speed and 
security of the new motor once assured, lines of 
packet boats were established, and all who could 
afford a cash fare abandoned the slower craft. 
Timothy Flint estimated (1818) that the steamers 
had thrown ten thousand flatboats and keel-boats 
out of employment. Schoolcraft gives a list of the 
fifty steamboats that were running on the Mississippi 
and its tributaries in 1819 with a registered tonnage 
of 7306. Steamboats were then building that would 
raise the total number to sixty- three, — "two ... at 
Pittsburgh, one at Wheeling, one at Steubenville, 
one at Marietta, two at Cincinnati, one at Frank- 
ford, two at Shippingport, one at Madison, and two 
at New Albany." Each boat made on the average 
three trips a year to and from New Orleans, loaded 
with freight and passengers. Freight charges from 
Pittsburgh to New Orleans were one cent a pound, 


from New Orleans to Pittsburgh, four cents. Pas- 
senger rates down-stream were $60, up-stream, $100. 
Each boat carried on an average ten passengers 
down-stream and five up. On this basis, Schoolcraft 
reckoned the total annual revenue for freight and 
passengers at $2,405,700. 32 Wharves of the Ohio 
and Mississippi river towns were still lined with 
keel boats and barges, however, and much of the 
produce was carried to market in flat-bottomed 
boats, "of a temporary construction, which were 
not calculated to ascend the stream and were gen- 
erally sold for a trifle or abandoned." 33 

In 1824 Congress appropriated $105,000 for the 
improvement of navigation on the Mississippi, and 
Captain Henry M. Shreve was placed in charge of 
the work. Under his skilful management, the snags 
and drifting trees, the "sawyers" and "planters," 34 
the sand bars and sunken rocks, that had long been 
the dread of pilots, were removed, and arrangements 
were made for the systematic survey of the channel 
so that the annual accretions might be weeded out 
year by year. The tributary rivers, the Missouri, 
Arkansas, and Red, were dealt with in turn. The 
removal of the Great Raft from Red River doubled 
the stretch of navigable water, and the grateful 
people named their westernmost settlement Shreve- 
port. Flagg describes 35 the operations of a machine 
invented by Captain Shreve which extracted snags 
at an average cost of $12 to $15 each, and which 
the river men irreverently dubbed "Uncle Sam's 

The navigation of the upper Mississippi was more 


difficult and less remunerative. The up-stream pull 
from Cairo to St. Louis was a serious addition to the 
cost of a voyage, but it was soon warranted by trade. 
The arrival of the first steamboat, the General Pike 
(1817), was regarded by the people of St. Louis as the 
opening of an era of commercial greatness. The corn 
and flour, salt pork and beef, produced by the Mis- 
souri farmers began to be shipped down the Missis- 
sippi by reliable traders, and the planters of the lower 
river abandoned the production of their own sup- 
plies and concentrated their working force on their 
most remunerative crop. Moreover, the transpor- 
tation of emigrants was soon a considerable business. 
The steamer on which Flagg went to St. Louis 
stopped at "a desolate-looking spot up on the Mis- 
souri shore" in order to deposit a party of settlers, 
"men, women, and little ones, with slaves, household 
stuff, pots, kettles, dogs, implements of husbandry, 
and all the paraphernalia of the backwood's farm." 36 
The risks of navigation on the Missouri were even 
greater than those offered by the Mississippi. The 
frequent floods, the rapid shiftings of the bed, the 
cavings of the bank and the sudden formation of sand 
bars frequently upset the calculations of the most ex- 
perienced pilot, and it was the universal custom to 
tie up for the night. The swiftness of the current 
and the weight of the silt-laden water made necessary 
more powerful engines and a higher expenditure for 
fuel than were required for the Ohio and Mississippi 
boats. A plucky little tug, the Independence, made 
the trip to Franklin and Chariton in May, 1819, and 
Long's vessel, the Western Engineer, making three 

Difficulties of Navigation on the Missouri. 



St. Louis in 1855. 


miles an hour, succeeded in reaching Council Bluffs 
in the following month ; but the transports built at 
St. Louis for the Yellowstone Expedition could not 
stem the current. For many years thereafter the 
only steamers seen on the upper Missouri were sent 
out by the American Fur Company. Chouteau's 
boat, the Yellowstone, ascended the Missouri to its 
junction with the Milk in 1831, and for fifteen years 
thereafter, until 1846, an annual trip was made for 
the purpose of carrying men and supplies to the vari- 
ous posts. For the transportation of furs and buffalo 
hides downstream, however, the reliance was still on 
the Mackinaw boat which, loaded to the gunwales, 
made one hundred miles a day and required a crew of 
only five men. Between St. Louis and Westport 
Landing, on the other hand, traffic grew heavy with 
the increase in westward migration. Five regular 
steamers were employed on this route in 1831, from 
fifteen to twenty in 1836, and twenty-six in 1842. 

" St. Louis is a kind of central point in this immense 
valley. From this point, outfits are constantly 
making to the military posts, and to the remotest 
regions by the hunters for furs. Boats are also con- 
stantly ascending to the lead-mine districts on the 
upper Mississippi." 37 Along the water front lay 
craft destined for the Mandan villages, for Prairie du 
Chien and the Falls of St. Anthony, for the voyage 
up the Illinois and through the navigable swamp that 
divided it from the Chicago River and Lake Michi- 
gan. Others were bound to the south, — to Arkan- 
sas Post, to Natchez, and New Orleans. An Indian 
trail, worn into a wagon road, connected St. Louis 


with Little Rock and Natchitoches. Another, the 
Osage Trace, led southwest to the trading post on the 
Verdigris and along the Poteau River to the Kiamichi 
settlements. The population of St. Louis had in- 
creased slowly during the War of 1812, but there- 
after it grew apace and mounted to four thousand in 
1820 and to six thousand in 1830. The people were still 
largely foreign, and men were yet living who had felled 
the trees for the building of Laclede's fort. The lead- 
ing merchants bore old French names, — Chouteau, 
Sarpy, Pratte, Menard, Sulard, — while Manuel Lisa 
was of Spanish origin. The French quarter lay to the 
south and was described by Flagg as "a right Rip 
Van Winkle-looking region, where each little steep- 
roofed cottage yet presents its broad piazza, and the 
cozey settee before the door beneath the tree shade, 
with the fleshy old burghers soberly luxuriating on an 
evening pipe, their dark-eyed, brunette daughters at 
their side." 38 Every house, whether the " steep- 
roofed stone cottage of the Frenchman or the tall 
stuccoed dwelling of the don," stood alone in the 
center of a garden which was often surrounded by a 
stout palisade, a necessary precaution against Indian 
forays. The "venerable mansions" of Auguste and 
Pierre Chouteau were surrounded by " lofty walls of 
masonry, with loop-holes and watch towers for de- 
fense." The residences of the well-to-do Americans, 
such as that of General William Ashley, stood on the 
high bluff overlooking the river, while the shops and 
warehouses were ranged along the water front at its 
foot, where two narrow streets running parallel with 
the river served as wharf and highway combined. The 


preeminent commercial advantage of this site was a 
limestone ledge that extended for several miles above 
and below the town and formed a stable shore, much 
to be preferred to the muddy and caving banks 
characteristic of the Missouri and the lower Missis- 
sippi. Manufactures, too, were being undertaken 
where the produce of the farm might be converted into 
marketable form. In 1819 the place had one brew- 
ery, two distilleries, two water-mills, one steam flour- 
ing mill, and a grist-mill propelled by ox-power. 

The population of Missouri in 1810 was but twenty 
thousand. By 1820, it had reached sixty-six thou- 
sand. The rapidly growing territory had great am- 
bitions and a movement was organized to elevate the 
northern half (excluding Arkansas) to statehood. It 
was the first of the new commonwealths to be created 
west of the Mississippi, and the question of slavery, — 
settled for the Northwest, Southwest, and Mississippi 
territories by a series of congressional ordinances, — was 
raised anew. There were by this time ten thousand 
slaves in Missouri. Many of the plantations and mines 
were worked by slaves, and there were among them 
skilled artisans, blacksmiths and carpenters, whose ser- 
vices were extremely valuable to their masters and to 
the community. It was believed that the resources 
of the country could not be developed without slave 
labor. New England and the Northern states were 
keenly alive to the significance of the issue, and the 
question was bitterly debated in both houses of Con- 
gress. An attempt made by representatives of the 
Northern states to amend the motion for admission 
(introduced into the House of Representatives, Feb- 

VOL. II — P 


ruary, 1819) by the proviso that no more slaves be 
admitted and that all children thereafter born in the 
new state be set free at the age of twenty-five years, 
was defeated ; but a compromise was reached in the 
enactment that slavery would henceforth be pro- 
hibited in Louisiana Territory north of the thirty- 
sixth parallel. The proclivity of emigrants from the 
slave-holding states for the rich bottom-lands of the 
Missouri and Arkansas rivers was thus confirmed. 
In the seaboard and Gulf states the number of slaves 
was increasing, and the productive power of the soil 
was declining. The younger and more enterprising 
planters were eager to recoup their fortunes in the 
new lands beyond the Mississippi. 


Meantime, the land of the Kiowas was attracting 
attention in the Northern states. The trend of Amer- 
ican migration from east to west has always fol- 
lowed parallels of latitude. The denizens of the At- 
lantic states and of the commonwealths west of the 
Appalachians, seeking new homes, choose a climate 
to which they are accustomed and try to locate 
their farms where they can raise the crops with which 
they are familiar. In the estimation of men from 
New England, New York, and Ohio, the exclusion of 
slavery from the territory north of the thirty-sixth 
parallel gave additional value to this region. Emi- 
gration to the northwest was forwarded, moreover, 
by the opening up of the trans- Alleghany routes, — the 
Erie Canal, the Pennsylvania Canal and Portage 
Railway, the Baltimore and Ohio Canal, and the 


National Post Road. Local enterprise was not slow- 
to supplement these great highways and facilitate 
access to Iowa. There were ferries across the Missis- 
sippi at Dubuque, Buffalo, and Burlington, and a 
regular steamboat line was sstablished (1825) which 
carried passengers up the river as far as Fort Snelling. 
In the early twenties there was a rush for the lead 
mines, and claims were taken up and profitably 
worked before the Indian titles were quieted or the 
land opened for settlement. The pioneers soon dis- 
covered that the fat, alluvial soils of the interior were 
even more productive than the mines, and squatters 
began cultivation before land offices were provided. 
To the frontier farmer, the toilsome task of breaking 
the sod was sufficient evidence of title, and he was 
outraged when the tract was sold at auction to some 
speculator from the East, who thus paid the govern- 
ment for the value of the improvements. Claims 
associations were organized for the purpose of adjudi- 
cating boundaries and titles among the actual farmers 
and for beating off alien bidders by combination, 
force, or fraud. Thus a rough justice was attained 
in defiance of law. Iowa Territory was organized in 
1838 and statehood was granted in 1846. 

The westward movement had been augmented by 
the hard times that prevailed in the eastern cities in 
1833 and 1834. Workmen and operatives thrown 
out of employment by the curtailment of industry, 
turned to the unclaimed lands beyond the Mississippi 
as an opportunity not only to earn a livelihood but 
to attain the independence that was the dream of 
every American citizen. Canal boats, lake steamers, 


and river steamers were crowded, while thousands of 
the more impecunious families made their way on 
foot or on horseback, in carts or prairie schooners, 
along post-road and trail, to the land of freedom and 
plenty. Allured by tales sent back by the pioneers 
or by the prospectuses distributed by speculators, they 
undertook the journey with the strong conviction 
that fortune lay before them, but with small com- 
prehension of the risks and hardships of the new 

The whole movement was speculative. The emi- 
grants brought little with them but hope and energy 
and the American's capacity for adaptation. The 
land companies were engaged in a credit operation of 
ticklish proportions, expecting to make good their 
obligations out of the revenue from sales. The 
steamship companies, the merchants, wholesale and 
retail, the innkeepers along the routes, were all doing 
business on borrowed money, for there was limitless 
credit for any man who had a plausible scheme in his 
head. The "coon box" banks, organized after the 
termination of the second National Bank, were issu- 
ing money with small concern for redemption and 
were eager to loan on land security, even though that 
land was entirely undeveloped. The Specie Circu- 
lar, requiring that payments at the United States 
land offices should be made in legal tender, suddenly 
pricked this overblown bubble of credit financiering, 
and a thousand prosperous enterprises collapsed in a 
night. Farmers were unable to sell their produce 
even at falling prices and so had no money with which 
to pay the installments of principal and interest; 


land companies were ruined, for the mortgaged lands 
that came back into their possession had no commer- 
cial value; bankers closed their doors, and mer- 
chants, unable longer to get goods on credit from 
their eastern correspondents, were fain to do likewise. 
Hundreds of mushroom towns were abandoned, and 
the transportation projects that had seemed so 
feasible in the boom times before the panic, were in- 
volved in the general calamity. 

Thomas H. Benton 

The dominant figure in Missouri and an influential 
factor in the destiny of the Far West for the critical 
decades from 1820 to 1850 was Thomas H. Benton, 
the eloquent statesman who served during this period 
as representative of Missouri in the United States 
Senate. Benton was born in the "back country" 
of North Carolina, but his mother came of good Vir- 
ginia stock and was a woman of sufficient intellectual 
capacity to direct her son's reading and to shield him 
from whiskey and cards, the demoralizing amuse- 
ments of the frontier. In 1800, when the boy was 
but eight years old, this heroic mother moved her 
little family to a tract of land in western Tennessee, 
later known as Widow Benton's Settlement, where, 
with the aid of her slaves and this trusty son, she put 
up cabins and barns, a school and a church, laid roads, 
built bridges, and cleared the land for the growing of 
cotton. Here the boy grew to manhood, on familiar 
terms with Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, and 
other ambitious spirits of the pioneer state. Faith 
in the great destinies of the West was the fundamen- 


tal article of their political creed. In 1815 young 
Benton opened a law office in St. Louis and quickly 
acquired a large practice among the Creole population, 
whose land grants, authorized by French and Span- 
ish governors, were being challenged by American 
squatters. Elected to the United States Senate in 
1821, he immediately withdrew from this practice, 
stating that his relations with the Federal govern- 
ment might prejudice the land office in his favor. 

For the next thirty years, Senator Benton used his 
great and growing influence for the development of 
the West. A visit to Jefferson at Montecello ren- 
dered him a champion of the transcontinental trade 
route, and his intercourse with General Clark and 
the trappers and traders of St. Louis gave him 
unusual knowledge of the resources of Missouri Ter- 
ritory. Benton was a thoroughgoing expansionist, 
ardently concerned for the annexation of Texas, the 
assertion of our claims to Oregon, and the acquisition 
of California; but he was no less insistent on the 
development of transportation facilities and the pro- 
motion of the interests of the traders and farmers 
who were laying the foundations of future prosperity. 
Early associated in a legal way with Astor and the 
St. Louis traders, he was ever the firm friend of the 
fur companies, and put forth every effort to bring 
about the abolition of the government factories. 
Benton thus narrates the part he played in that con- 
troversy: "As a citizen of a frontier State, I had 
seen the working of the system — seen its inside 
working, and knew its operation to be entirely con- 
trary to the benevolent designs of its projectors." 


These views had been communicated to the Secretary 
of War in 1820, "but he [Calhoun] had too good an 
opinion of the superintendent ... to believe that 
any thing was wrong m the business, and refused his 
countenance to my proposition. Confident that I 
was right, I determined to bring the question before 
the Senate — did so — brought in a bill to abolish 
the factories, and throw open the fur trade to individ- 
ual enterprise, and supported the bill with all the 
facts and reasons of which I was master." 39 No less 
energetic and decisive was his campaign for the ac- 
quisition of the Indian lands, of which fifteen and a 
half million acres lay within the state of Arkansas 
and two and three quarters millions in Missouri. 
Treaties negotiated with the Kansas and Osage tribes 
by General Clark in 1825 and ratified by the Senate 
the following year, ceded all the territory between 
the Missouri and the Rockies, with the exception of 
certain carefully defined reservations. Benton in- 
dignantly denounced the charge that the government 
had not dealt fairly by its Indian wards, citing in 
evidence the various land purchases to prove that in 
the first fifty years of its existence the United States 
had paid $85,000,000 for tribal lands, to say nothing 
of its expenditures in the way of education, etc. 40 His 
personal knowledge of the vexations and hardships 
consequent on the uncertainties of Spanish grants 
led him to advocate that the cases still pending be 
referred to a Federal commission. Such a commis- 
sion was appointed for Missouri in 1832, evidence as 
to basis of the several claims was taken and titles 
verified. The findings of the commission were later 


affirmed by Congress, and the many tedious and 
costly suits were brought to a sudden termination. 

The government policy as to the public lands was 
the object of persistent criticism in the new states 
west of the Mississippi, and Benton succeeded, by 
dint of persistent and unwearying effort, in securing 
some highly important modifications. The system 
of credit sales was abandoned in 1821, and the price 
per acre was reduced from $2 to $1.25 ; but the prac- 
tice of offering the land at auction was still main- 
tained, with the result that men with ready money 
secured the more desirable tracts, and squatters were 
often ousted from holdings to which their labor had 
given augmented value. Mineral lands and salines 
were not put upon the market, but leased to the 
developing companies, who paid a royalty on their 
output and charged a compensating price to the 
consumer. Benton was the consistent foe of mo- 
nopoly whether exercised by the private speculator or 
a Federal agent, and he did not hesitate to attack this 
revenue-producing policy as prejudicial to settle- 
ment and development. Familiar with the head- 
right by which any citizen of North Carolina might 
obtain six hundred and forty acres of Tennessee land 
on condition of clearing and planting it, at the nomi- 
nal price of ten cents an acre, Benton advocated that 
the Federal government adopt an equally generous 
policy. He brought in bill after bill in behalf of a 
more democratic land system, and his efforts met 
with a considerable measure of success. The saline 
lands were put upon the market in 1828, the lead and 
iron deposits in 1846, and the preemption right was 


guaranteed to all actual occupiers of government land 
in 1841. But "the two repulsive features of the fed- 
eral land system [remained.], — sales to the highest 
bidder and donations to no one — with an arbitrary 
minimum price ... of one dollar twenty-five cents 
per acre." 41 Benton continued to the end of his 
public career to urge upon the Senate the advantages 
of a more generous policy, the reduction of the price 
to seventy-five cents and $1 an acre, and free grants to 
actual and destitute settlers. 

Senator Benton's campaign against the salt mo- 
nopolies created by the Federal leases had been early 
crowned with success, but his attempts to remove 
the import duty of twenty cents a bushel levied on 
the salt imported from Portugal and the West Indies 
were less fortunate. Missouri as a large producer of 
salt may be supposed to have profited by the tax, but 
Senator Benton thought the interests of the consumer 
more important. He argued that the domestic prod- 
uct was inferior in quality and high in price and un- 
suitable for curing beef and pork for exportation. 
The prosperity of a great industry was at stake. The 
farmers who supplied beef, pork, bacon, butter, and 
cheese to the mines of Missouri and the upper Mis- 
sissippi, to the plantations of the lower river, to the 
Army and Navy, and to the Indian reservations, must 
have the sun-evaporated salt at a reasonable price, or 
cease production. The West India trade was also in 
jeopardy, for salt provisions made up a considerable 
part of the outgoing cargoes. Given free trade in 
salt, and "the levee at New Orleans would be cov- 
ered — the warehouses would be crammed with salt ; 


the barter trade would become extensive and uni- 
versal, a bushel of corn, or of potatoes, a few pounds 
of butter, or a few pounds of beef or pork, would pur- 
chase a sack of salt ; the steamboats would bring it 
up for a trifle [17 cents per bushel]; and all the upper 
States of the Great Valley, where salt is so scarce, so 
dear, and so indispensable for rearing stock and cur- 
ing provisions, in addition to all its obvious uses, 
would be cheaply and abundantly supplied with that 
article." 42 The advocates of protection were stronger 
and more influential than any influence the consumer 
could bring to bear, however, and Benton succeeded 
only in removing the duty on solar (alum) salt. 

As to slavery, Benton, a Southerner born and bred, 
was wholly in sympathy with the compromise of 
1820. He was not a member of the convention that 
drew up the state constitution ; but he states in the 
Thirty Years' View 43 that he was the "instigator" of 
the clause which sanctioned slaveholding and for- 
bade the legislature to interfere with the practice. 
He was "equally opposed to slavery agitation and to 
slavery extension," but he fully indorsed the right of 
citizens to avail themselves of this form of labor, and 
he believed the recognition of this principle important 
"for the sake of peace." 



A roundabout and hazardous commerce had been 
carried on with the Spanish provinces by way of Taos, 
the old-time market to which the Apache Indians 
brought their furs. An Indian trader named Purcell 
(Pursley of Pike's Journal) had been led by the Paw- 
nees up the Platte River and across the divide to this 
rendezvous of the mountain tribes. His success in- 
duced William Morrison, an enterprising mei chant 
of Kaskaskia (later a member of the Missouri Fur 
Company), to despatch a Creole, La Lande, with a 
small consignment of goods to Taos in 1804. La 
Lande did not return, and Pike was commissioned to 
ascertain his fate. He found the faithless agent at 
Santa Fe, only too well content with the treatment 
accorded him. The authorities had given him a 
grant of land and a business opening, for the purpose 
of preventing his carrying back to his patron infor- 
mation that might lead to similar expeditions. The 
publication of Pike's Journal (1806) and his Disser- 
tation on Louisiana (1808) attracted attention to the 
rich resources of New Spain and the ease with which 
Santa Fe could be reached via the Arkansas River. 
Hidalgo's insurrection, moreover, gave reason to 
hope that the exclusive commercial policy enforced 
by the Spanish authorities might give way as soon 
as the Creole population came into power. With the 


purpose of being first on the ground, a party of 
traders, McKnight, Chambers, and Beard, set out in 
1812, following Pike's route to Taos ; but the venture 
proved ill-timed. The insurrectos suffered defeat, 
and the suspicion attaching to American interlopers 
was only augmented. The unlucky traders were 
seized as spies, their goods confiscated, and the men, 
some dozen in number, incarcerated at Chihuahua. 
There they remained until the revolution of 1821 
opened the prison doors. Meantime, A. P. Chouteau 
and Julius De Munn of St. Louis organized a trap- 
ping expedition that led them beyond the mountain 
boundary to the sources of the Arkansas and of the 
Rio Grande. Their attempt to secure a license from 
the commandante at Santa Fe failed, and they were 
arrested and thrown into prison, while the furs 
gathered in two years' hard work on both sides the 
boundary were confiscated. Chouteau addressed 
an indignant protest to the Department of State and 
had sufficient influence at Washington to secure com- 
pensation to the amount of $30,000. Daniel Meri- 
wether, who had a similar experience in 1819, was less 
fortunate in the outcome. 

In the autumn of 1821, an Indian trader named 
Hugh Glenn set out from his post on the Verdigris 
River with a cargo of goods for Santa Fe. The 
journal of the expedition was kept by Jacob Fowler, 
a Kentucky planter with a taste for adventure, who 
had gathered a party of twenty hunters to trap 
beaver in the Rocky Mountains, and was glad to 
join forces with the trader. They carried no pro- 
visions but salt, expecting to live on buffalo and 


antelope, together with the corn, beans, and dried 
pumpkins purchased of the Osage Indians. The caval- 
cade of horses and mules followed an Indian road up 
the Arkansas, coming occasionally upon signs of other 
trapping or trading parties, until the Spanish peaks 
rose above the horizon. There, near the Chico River, 
they found a great Indian encampment — Arapahoes, 
Snakes, Comanches, and Kiowas — an extraordinary 
concourse of twenty thousand people, lodged in four 
hundred tepees and consuming one hundred buffalo 
per day. Chances for trade were very poor, how- 
ever, for the assembled tribes could offer nothing 
but buffalo robes, horses, and some twenty beaver 
skins (Fowler complains that these nomad tribes 
showed no capacity whatever for trapping game) 
and there was serious risk of losing the goods by theft 
or violence. The appearance of a party of Spanish 
traders gave Glenn the opportunity he sought of find- 
ing his way to Santa Fe. Fowler and his men built 
a blockhouse on Fountain qui Bouille, the spot Pike 
had fixed upon for a winter camp fifteen years be- 
fore, and from that point of vantage trapped the 
mountain streams, collecting several packs of beaver. 
In January came a messenger from Colonel Glenn 
with the good news that he had been well received at 
Santa Fe, that Mexico had declared independence of 
the mother country and was eager for trade with the 
people of the United States, and, farther, that per- 
mission had been granted Fowler to trap in the 
valley of the Rio Grande. Nothing loath, he crossed 
the mountains to Taos, following Pike's route, and 
camped on the Canejos only a few miles below that 


explorer's unlucky fort. Three months' sojourn 
proved highly remunerative to both trapper and 
trader, and they had the satisfaction of recovering 
McKnight and his men. On May 12, 1822, the snow 
being gone and the horses fattened on the spring 
grass, the Americans set out for home, recrossing the 
Sangre de Cristo by Taos Pass. Steering directly 
east, "like a ship without a rudder" (sic), they 
crossed the Cimarron Desert, a desolate plain where 
there was no fuel but buffalo dung and where the 
only water was had by digging holes in the sand. 
"We are now In the oppen World not a tree, Bush or 
Hill of any kind to be Seen for When you take the 
Eye off the ground you See nothing but the Blue 
Horezon." 1 

Another expedition of even greater importance was 
made in 1821. William Becknell, of Boone's Lick, 
equipped a pack train and made his way via Taos to 
Santa Fe, where he was able to sell his American cali- 
coes at $2 and S3 per vara, the price commanded by 
goods imported through Vera Cruz. The duties 
imposed at United States ports were comparatively 
low, the carriage from St. Louis was but two-thirds 
that from the Mexican port, and the consequent 
margin of profit was such as to attract other mer- 
chants to this new field. In 1822, the independence 
of Mexico being assured, Becknell repeated his ven- 
ture on a larger scale, taking $5000 worth of goods in 
loaded wagons. Turning south from the Great Bend 
of the Arkansas, he undertook to cross the Cimarron 
Desert, having small comprehension of its terrors. 
The party nearly perished with thirst, and he was 



The Santa Fe Trail and other Routes across the Great Plains. 

forced to return. This same year Benjamin Cooper, 
with his nephew, Braxton Cooper from Le Mine River, 
conducted a pack train from Franklin by the Taos 
route, got safely through, and realized so high a profit 
on the investment that he ventured again in 1823 
and brought back four hundred mules and a large 
quantity of furs. The year following, Colonel Mar- 
maduke, Bernard Pratte, Augustus Storrs, and some 
eighty other traders joined forces and transported 
from $25,000 to $30,000 worth of goods over the 
prairie to the Great Bend and thence across the 
dreaded desert directly to Santa Fe. Wheeled ve- 
hicles were employed — stout road wagons, carts, and 
dearborns — besides a long train of pack mules, and 
the open plains proved easy travelling, water suffi- 


cient for the arid intervals being carried in the 
wagons. The returns from this cooperative enter- 
prise were very flattering, — $180,000 in specie and 
$10,000 in furs. 

No legislative achievement of Senator Benton was 
more highly appreciated by his fellow-townsmen 
than the Federal appropriation for the survey of a 
road from Franklin to Santa Fe. The bill was in- 
troduced in the session of 1824-1825, evidence being 
brought to show that a profitable trade might be 
developed if the transportation of goods across the 
seven hundred miles of plain and desert were ren- 
dered safe. Benton submitted a report from Augus- 
tus Storrs, the Vermont Yankee, who had sold his 
cargo of cotton goods for $190,000 worth of silver, 
furs, and mules, and was very enthusiastic about 
the commercial opportunity. Congress appropriated 
$10,000 for the survey and $20,000 more for the 
purpose of purchasing the right of transit from the 
Indians. A Federal commission faithfully carried 
out this double task. The usual route as far as the 
Great Bend was marked by mounds of earth, but 
thence the surveyors followed the Arkansas to Taos 
as the safer way. The traders, however, preferred 
the short cut across the desert in spite of its risks. 
This part of the trail was undefined until 1834, when 
the caravan, crossing after a heavy rain, cut deep 
ruts in the sand, and thereafter the wagon track 
was plain enough. 

The chief danger of this route was from the thieving 
bands of nomad Indians to whom the horses and 
ammunition were an irresistible lure, and many a 


desperate encounter marked the path across the 
Cimarron Desert. The offenders might be Pawnees, 
Comanches, or Arapahoes, but the traders did not 
attempt to distinguish between them. They re- 
garded all Indians as natural enemies, and visited 
punishment for the outrages inflicted by one tribe 
upon the first inferior band they encountered, regard- 
less of actual responsibility. Such a practice bred a 
fierce hostility between the white man and the red, 
and the friendly relations established by Pike, Chou- 
teau and Lisa gave way to endless retaliations and 
finally to a war of extermination. 

The Pawnee and Osage Indians, in a treaty nego- 
tiated at Council Grove (1825), undertook not to 
molest the caravans in consideration of $800 worth 
of goods tendered them by the commissioners ; but 
the Comanches were less tractable. For years they 
infested the trail, ever ready to swoop down upon 
an unprotected wagon or to attack small groups of 
hunters who had been obliged to leave the caravan 
in pursuit of buffalo. Gregg tells the story of the 
disaster that cost the fife of Jedidiah Smith (1829), 
"one of the most undaunted spirits that ever trav- 
ersed the Rocky Mountains." "Capt. Smith and 
his companions were new beginners in the Santa Fe 
trade, but being veteran pioneers of the Rocky 
Mountains, they concluded they could go anywhere ; 
and imprudently set out without a single person in 
their company at all competent to guide them on 
the route. They had some twenty-odd wagons, 
and about eighty men. There being a plain track 
to the Arkansas River, they did very well thus far ; 


but from thence to the Cimarron, not a single trail 
was to be found, save the innumerable buffalo paths, 
with which these plains are furrowed, and which are 
exceedingly perplexing to the bewildered traveller." 2 
For days the party wandered about the Cimarron 
Desert looking for water. Smith, who took the 
lead, came at last upon the river only to find it 
dry, but his long experience taught him that there 
might be water beneath the sand. He scooped out 
a hole and was rejoiced to see the underflow trickling 
in. He had stooped to drink when a wandering 
band of Comanches came upon him and struck him 
down. He was discovered by his men lying upon his 
face, quite dead, but the water he had found saved 
the lives of the party. J. J. Warner, who met Smith 
at St. Louis as he was setting out on this fatal ad- 
venture, describes him as "a well-bred and intelligent 
gentleman," who endeavored to repress the ardor of 
the novice in the fur trade by telling him that in 
going into the Rocky Mountains his chances were 
better for finding death than fortune, and that the 
probabilities were that he would be ruined for any- 
thing but such pursuits as suited the " passions of a 
semi-savage." Smith said that " he had spent about 
eight years in the mountains and should not return 
to them." Warner went on, none the less, to Santa 
Fe and to California. 3 

For twenty years (1825-1845) the Santa Fe 
Expedition was an annual event of the first magni- 
tude to the business men of St. Louis. Franklin 
was the outfitting station until that prosperous 
town was washed into the Missouri, and for several 


years thereafter Independence served as the point 
of departure. When steamers became the regular 
means of transportation from St. Louis, the superior 
wharfage facilities at Westport Landing drew all 
the river trade to that town. The start was made 
in April, when grass was fresh and water abundant. 
The several parties scattered over the prairie, each 
leader making his own choice as to direction and 
place of encampment, but all came together on an 
appointed day at Council Grove, ten days' journey 
from the Missouri, in order to organize for mutual 
defence through the region where Comanches were 
to be feared. There a captain and four lieutenants 
were chosen, and the force was divided into com- 
panies of eight men each, for guard duty. Every 
night encampment was an impromptu barricade. 
The wagons were drawn up in a hollow square which 
served as a corral for the animals and a shelter be- 
hind which to fight in case of need. The men, 
rolled in Mackinaw blankets, slept on the ground 
under the carts, for there were no tents in the cara- 
van. The camp fires were built outside the corral, 
and there the sentries paced their watches. The 
most serious risk was not to men or goods, but to 
the horses, which were greatly coveted by the nomad 
tribes and stolen whenever opportunity offered. A 
few riding horses were necessary for scouting pur- 
poses, but mules were preferred as draft animals 
because they were better able to endure the long 
marches and scant pasturage. These, in turn, were 
prone to sudden panic and were often stampeded 
by the rush of a buffalo herd or a thieving band of 


Indians. Oxen were tried in 1830, and were used 
thereafter as much as mules. They were less afraid 
of crossing streams and stronger to drag a wagon 
out of a bog, but less enduring. On the other hand, 
these slow-footed animals were less likely to be lost 
or stolen and were allowed to run at large about 
the night encampment, whereas horses or mules 
must be staked out or hobbled. 

The freight wagons were similar in design to the 
old-time conestogas, though of larger proportions. 
A cover of stout Osnaburg canvas was stretched 
over the top frame to keep off rain and dust. They 
were as scientifically packed as a pirogue, for there 
must be no displacements on the long, rough journey. 
So skilful were the men of the trail at this delicate 
business that cottons, silks, china, glass, and hard- 
ware reached Santa Fe in as sound condition as if 
the goods had been conveyed over the smoothest of 
eastern post roads. Flour, bacon, coffee, sugar, and 
salt were laid in, at the rate of one hundred and 
thirty-five pounds per man; but the main food 
reliance was the buffalo. A herd might be en- 
countered soon after leaving Turkey Creek, and the 
hunt was a diversion in which every plainsman de- 
lighted. Fresh meat was abundant for the first 
week or two, and in this time of plenty a quantity 
was jerked for the portion of the trail that lay 
beyond the pasture belt. Here, too, wood and 
water must be provided sufficient to furnish the 
caravan for the sixty miles march to the Cimarron, 
a veritable Jornado del Muerto. Beyond the Ar- 
kansas, Indian ambuscades and night attacks were 


always to be apprehended, and precautions were 
doubled. On three occasions (1829, 1834, 1843) the 
government sent a military escort, but United 
States troops might not cross the Arkansas where the 
greatest danger lay, and the cost of the expedition 
was out of all proportion to the benefit conferred. 
In 1834 the governor of New Mexico sent a force of 
cavalry to meet the caravan at the boundary, and 
the martial representatives of the two republics 
bivouacked on Chouteau's Island. For the most 
part, however, the traders were left to depend upon 
their own prowess and, being bred to the frontier, 
they were equal to most emergencies. 

The journey of seven hundred miles was usually 
accomplished in five or six weeks, and men and ani- 
mals were pretty well worn down when their goal 
was finally reached. For the citizens of Santa Fe 
the arrival of the caravan was the great event of 
the year. Not only did the traders bring the an- 
nual supply of goods from the states, but Americans 
were the most generous patrons of the cafes and 
places of amusement. There were important trans- 
actions to be conducted, not only by the local mer- 
chants, whose accumulated stock of furs and buffalo 
robes, wool, blankets, and mules was to be disposed 
of, but by the customs officials, whose charge it was 
to collect the import duties. The Spanish traditions 
of venality and double-dealing held with the Mexi- 
can regime, and the merchants well understood that 
certain gratuities would secure the abatement of the 
prescribed tariff. The duties amounted to sixty 
per cent ad valorem, but in actual adjustment the 


trader usually got an abatement of one-thh i and 
the collector pocketed one-third, so that not inore 
than one-third the legal charge found its way into 
the public treasury. American goods sold at double 
the original price; but fortunate was the trader 
who, after customs, expenses, and incidental losses 
were deducted, realized a profit of forty per cent. 
The ordinary profits ranged from ten to twenty per 
cent. The burdens and impositions with which 
the traffic was saddled by the authorities quite 
arbitrarily reduced the proceeds. In 1835 the gov- 
ernor of Chihuahua imposed a contribution de guerra 
to keep the Apaches in check, requiring $25 from 
Americans and but $5 from natives. In 1839 
Armijo exempted hijos del pais from the tax on store- 
houses, shops, etc., throwing the whole burden of 
the impost on foreigners and naturalized citizens. 
Thinking to secure farther revenue at the expense 
of the traders, this same governor levied a tax of 
$500 on each freight wagon ; but the Americans 
minimized the charge by increasing the capacity of 
their wagons to two tons and a half and adding four 
draft animals to the eight previously necessary. 
Every deviation from the minutely prescribed routes, 
tariffs, and bills of lading was made a pretext for con- 
fiscation. "The trader can have three points of des- 
tination named in his guia, to either of which he may 
direct his course, but to no others, while in the draw- 
ing up of the factum, or invoice, the greatest care is 
requisite, as the slightest mistake, even an accidental 
slip of the pen, might, according to the terms of the 
law, subject the goods to confiscation." 4 

Mexican Arrieros with an Atajo of Pack-mules. 

Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Y 


On the return trip the loads were lighter, for 
specie and furs were less bulky in proportion to 
value than dry goods and hardware, and the mules 
and jackasses purchased in New Mexico travelled 
afoot. Fully half the wagons were sold to the 
Mexicans, and they brought four or five times their 
original cost ; but the worn-out oxen were sacrificed 
at $10 a yoke. Not more than half the muleteers 
returned over the trail. Many died, broken down 
by the hardships of the journey or by the dissipa- 
tions that ensnared them in the gay capital of New 
Mexico; many found their way back to the United 
States by way of Matamorras; still others settled 
for life in this land of opportunity. The neglected 
farm lands, mines, and commercial openings of the 
north Mexican states offered most attractive chances 
for investment, and the people were hospitable to 
strangers. There was an American colony at San 
Fernando de Taos and an American quarter in 
Santa Fe. In the second decade of the New Mexi- 
can trade, as the annual caravan attained larger 
proportions and the cargoes were increased, prices 
fell at Santa Fe, and there developed a glut of the 
market that made it expedient to carry the goods 
on to Chihuahua, Sonora, and even to California, in 
search of a profitable market. In 1830 EwingYoung, 
William Wolf skill, and J. J. Warner followed Escal- 
lante's trail from Taos across the mountains, and 
thence over the Mohave Desert to southern Cali- 

The Santa Fe trade was never monopolized by 
large companies as was the fur trade of the Missouri. 


The annual turnover of $130,000 represented the 
investments of some thirty different merchants, no 
man of whom contributed more than a dozen wagons 
to the train. Describing this trade in his Memoir 
of 1839, Nathaniel J. Wyeth states: "More than 
one-half these people are farmers and buy their 
goods on twelve months [credit] and often mortgage 
their farms and consequently are obliged to make 
returns the same year." The Santa Fe Trail meant 
to the men of Missouri what the Mississippi River 
meant to the settlers of Tennessee, Kentucky, and 
Ohio, — an outlet for their surplus products and an 
opportunity for their adventurous young men. To 
the people of New Mexico it meant cheaper goods 
than the merchants of Chihuahua could send them 
and the establishment of amicable relations with 
the American frontier. When Santa Anna, dread- 
ing lest these commercial relations might lead to 
political rapprochement, laid an embargo on the 
traffic in 1843, he forced the outraged people of 
Santa Fe to question whether their interests would 
not be promoted by annexation to the United States. 

New Mexico 

An outcome of the Santa Fe trade quite as im- 
portant as its financial results was the information 
concerning the north Mexican states disseminated 
through the United States by some of the traders. 
Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, 5 written by a man 
who had been ten years in the trade, was a conscious 
effort in this direction ; but other men, less learned 
and not so well known, contributed to our knowledge 


of the rich natural resources and political weakness 
of our southern neighbors. Jacob Fowler described 
the Creoles as he saw them in 1821-1822 as a happy, 
hospitable, well-disposed people, whom the Co- 
manches regarded with contempt. The Spanish 
traders were miserably equipped with goods, poor in 
quality and high in price. The peasants were in real 
destitution, bread and meat were scarce and dear 
because of a long drought and a plague of grass- 
hoppers, and corn was selling at $10 a bushel, while 
a mule brought but $30 and the best running horse 
but $100. To describe the crudity of their living 
arrangements and their moral foibles would "require 
the pen of a Butler and the pencil of a Hogarth." 

Even more extensive and graphic was the account 
of the northern provinces of Mexico given by J. 0. 
Pattie, who with his father, Sylvester Pattie, went 
to Santa Fe with Bernard Pratte's caravan in the 
spring of 1824. The Patties had been pioneers for 
three generations, first in the "back country" of 
Virginia, again in Kentucky, where men of the 
name served under Benjamin Logan and George 
Rogers Clark, and then on the Missouri frontier, 
where the head of the house had defended Cap-au- 
Gris against a formidable Indian force. Sylvester 
Pattie was chosen commander of Pratte's outfit and 
had occasion to display his prowess in combats with 
Pawnees, Comanches, and grizzly bears. Arrived at 
Santa Fe, the Patties secured a permit to trap on 
the Gila River. Beaver were abundant, though the 
fur was not so fine as on more northern streams, and 
the take was a large one (two thousand skins), but 


unfortunately their cache was rifled by the Indians, 
and the fruit of the winter's work lost. A new 
occupation was found when the proprietor of the 
Santa Rita copper mines, near the source of the 
Gila River, engaged the valiant Americans to defend 
his property against the Apaches, who were wont to 
pillage his supply trains and carry off the women, 
with small regard for the cautious Mexican garri- 
sons. The elder Pattie remained here in charge of 
the mines ; but the son, impelled by the wanderlust 
in his blood, undertook a second trapping expedi- 
tion. He followed the Gila to the Colorado and, 
returning north of this rio de los misterios, found his 
way to South Pass, to the Big Horn, and the Yellow- 
stone, and finally rode back across the Plains to 
Santa Fe, with a rich harvest of furs. The southern 
rivers had apparently never been hunted before, 
and Pattie's men frequently found a beaver in every 
trap set; but the streams of the upper Platte he 
reported "trapped out." Again the plucky adven- 
turer was bereft of the profits of a winter's strenuous 
labor, this time by the governor of Santa Fe, who 
announced that the first year's license did not hold 
for the second and ruthlessly confiscated the furs. 
The young man then tried his luck in trade, going 
to Sonora and Chihuahua, and returning by way of 
El Paso. The Journal expresses profound contempt 
for the primitive processes of Mexican agriculture. 
The clumsy wooden plough is minutely described. 
" Their hoes, axes and other tools are equally in- 
different ; and they are precisely in such a predica- 
ment as might be expected of a people who have 

Beaver Dam built of Cottonwood Branches filled in with Rushes 
and plastered with mud. 

Small Trees are used to support the Dam, hence its Irregular 


no saw mills, no labor saving machinery, and do 
everything by dint of hard labor, and are withal 
very indolent and unenterprising." "This province 
[Sonora] would be among the richest of the Mexi- 
can country, if it were inhabited bj r an enlightened, 
enterprising and industrious people. Nothing can 
exceed the indolence of the actual inhabitants. The 
only point, in which I ever saw them display any 
activity, is in throwing the lasso, and in horseman- 
ship. In this I judge, they surpass all other people. 
Their great business and common pursuit, is in 
noosing and taming wild horses and cattle." El 
Paso was even then "a nursery of the fruit trees, of 
almost all countries and climes" surrounded by 
" magnificent vineyards, . . . from which are made 
great quantities of delicious wine. The wheat fields 
were equally beautiful, and the wheat of a kind I 
never saw before, the stalks generally yielding two 
heads each. The land is exceedingly rich and its 
fertility increased by irrigation." The valley of the 
Pecos was "a rich and delightful plain," on which 
lay the deserted sheepfolds and horse pens where 
the vaqueros once kept their stock. They had been 
driven away by the Apache raids, and thus "one of 
the loveliest regions for farmers that I have ever 
seen" could not be utilized for settlement because 
these mountain bandits had never been subdued. 6 
Pattie's trading enterprises were successful, and 
he returned to Santa Rita with a well-lined purse. 
Sylvester Pattie, meantime, had secured a fine tract 
of land which he was cultivating to wheat and other 
food-stuffs, and was proposing to purchase supplies 


in the United States. Better at fighting than at 
business, he had intrusted his affairs to a Mexican 
bookkeeper. This man was commissioned to go to 
St. Louis for goods, and the sum of $30,000 was put 
in his hands; but he decamped with the money. 
The owner of the mines, a Spaniard from Chihuahua 
(Pablo Guerra), was driven from the country by the 
decree of exile issued by the Mexican government in 
1829, and the mines were sold at a heavy loss to 
McKnight of St. Louis and Curcier of Philadelphia. 
The new owners were soon driven off by the Apaches. 
The Patties, having lost all they had by the treachery 
of the bookkeeper, were forced to resort to the 
trapper's hazardous trade. Again they followed the 
Gila to the Colorado, trapping the region for the 
third time and loading their horses with furs. Un- 
luckily they understood the Yumas to indicate that 
there were white settlements at the mouth of the 
Colorado and were beguiled into trusting themselves 
and their booty to boats. A brief experience of the 
tide-vexed current induced these landsmen to aban- 
don the river, and, making shore on the west bank, 
they succeeded in crossing the Colorado Desert to 
San Diego. Echeandia, the governor, regarded the 
advent of these distressed Americans as wanton 
trespass and threw them into prison. There the 
elder Pattie died, and the son, having finally secured 
his freedom by serving as interpreter in an im- 
portant business transaction, made the best of his 
opportunity to see California. Under a commis- 
sion to vaccinate the neophytes, he proceeded up 
the coast, stopping at one mission after another and 


renewing his contempt for the non-industrial ways 
of the hijos del pais. Repeated attempts to get 
possession of the furs cached on the Colorado failing, 
he made his way to the City of Mexico in the un- 
reasonable hope of securing indemnity for his losses. 
On his way to Vera Cruz, the desperate adven- 
turer was robbed of his little all by highwaymen, and 
only by the aid of fellow-travellers was he enabled 
to get back to Cincinnati. There this ruined but 
most interesting wanderer was discovered by Timothy 
Flint, the young and enterprising editor of the 
Western Monthly, and induced to write out his story. 
The Journal appeared in book form in 1831, and 
was read with avidity by all men interested in the 
future of the Southwest. 



Benton strenuously opposed the treaty of 1819 
by which the United States government paid Spain 
$5,000,000 for the Floridas and surrendered all 
claim to Texas. 1 He protested that the rich country 
beyond the Sabine had been given away, and he 
" wished to get it back whenever it could be done 
with peace and honor." 2 He deprecated the in- 
trigues that threatened an embroglio with Mexico, 
but was ready to go to war with any European power 
for the sake of opening these fertile lands to Ameri- 
can settlers. In 1827 a secret offer was made to 
the Mexican government, — $1,000,000 for the Rio 
Grande boundary or $500,000 for that of the Colo- 
rado ; but the tender was rejected. 

Meantime the dreaded Americans had succeeded 
in planting a colony in the very heart of the coveted 
territory. Moses Austin, the vigorous entrepreneur 
who had accumulated wealth in the lead mines of 
Missouri, now faced ruin. He had been deprived of 
his square league of land by the land commissioners 
of the United States, and the failure of the Bank of 
St. Louis (1818) had stripped him of his fortune. A 
man of indomitable fortitude, he determined to begin 
over again with an agricultural colony under Spanish 
auspices, and in 1819 he brought his project before 
the governor of Texas at San Antonio, having ridden 


the eight hundred miles by the Natchitoches Trace 
and the Camino Real. The oath of allegiance taken 
twenty years before stood him in good stead with 
the authorities, and he had little difficulty in ne- 
gotiating a floating grant of indefinite extent on 
condition of settling thereon three hundred families 
of good character and Catholic faith. Unhappily 
the hardships of the return journey broke the con- 
stitution of this heroic man, and he died in the 
year following. His son, Stephen Austin, then not 
thirty years of age, but already accustomed to heavy 
responsibilities, took up the task of colonization. 
He arrived at San Antonio just in time to learn of 
the declaration of independence, but succeeded in 
getting his grant confirmed by Iturbide, and located 
his lands between the Brazos and Colorado rivers, 
the old San Antonio Road, and the Coast. 3 The 
task of bringing in colonists of the right type was 
more serious. On condition that the land be 
brought under cultivation within two years, Austin 
offered to every adult male six hundred and forty 
acres, for his wife three hundred and twenty, for 
each child one hundred and sixty, and for every 
slave imported eighty acres. The nominal charge 
of twelve and a half cents an acre was barely 
sufficient to repay the expenses of survey and the 
transportation of emigrants and goods. Various 
untoward happenings balked the first two emigra- 
tions ; the supply ships were wrecked, the Indians 
proved troublesome, and the settlers retreated to 
Louisiana. But adversity developed in Austin the 
qualities of a first-rate leader. His tact, courage, and 


patience never failed, he overcame one obstacle after 
another, and after eight years of strenuous labor, 
he was able to turn over the government to a reliable 
body of colonists. Austin's settlers were men from 
Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, of the best 
frontier type, energetic, honest, and enduring ; but 
they had the pioneer's devotion to the rights of the 
individual. They took their obligations to the 
Catholic church lightly, refused to pay the acreage 
charge on their lands, brought in slaves in defiance 
of Mexican law (1827), and ordered their little 
commonwealth in thoroughly American fashion. 

Emulous of Austin's achievement, other am- 
bitious Americans, General Wilkinson among the 
number, were besieging the Mexican government 
for land grants, and it was deemed necessary to deter- 
mine a permanent and uniform policy. The law of 
1824 provided that grants might be made to em- 
pressarios in the proportion of fifteen sitios (a square 
league or four thousand four hundred acres) of 
pasture-land and five labores (two hundred acres) 
of irrigable land for each one hundred families (up 
to eight hundred) whom he should bring into the 
country. The families must be of good character 
and ready to accept the Catholic faith and Mexican 
allegiance. No grants to foreigners might be made 
within ten leagues of the coast or within twenty 
leagues of the boundary line. 4 Under these provi- 
sions, grants were made to various adventurers — 
Mexican, American, English, Scotch, and Irish — until 
the area so blocked out approached the present con- 
fines of the state. It is evident to-day that the arid 



region of the Llano Estacado was impossible of cul- 
tivation and that the major part of these grants 

Texas in 1S40. Map of Land Grants. 

could never be redeemed, but south of the San 
Antonio Road, settlement went on apace. The fame 
of San Felipe de Austin was spread abroad and the 
land-hungry looked to Texas as their goal. Two 
well-travelled roads brought this rich region within 
easy reach of Natchitoches and New Orleans, while 
a series of natural harbors rendered it easy of ac- 
cess from the sea. Americans gravitated to the 
Austin colony, Dewitt's colony, and to Edward's 


enterprise at Nacogdoches, Irishmen to the tract 
along the Nueces River held by McMullin and 
McGloine, while Mexicans preferred empressarios of 
their own blood and sought De Leon's settlement 
at Victoria. By 1830, the population of Texas had 
grown to be more than twenty thousand — a figure 
that exceeded any reached under the Spanish regime 
— and the wisdom of peopling a land with men of 
calibre was amply vindicated. 

But the Mexican government took alarm. There 
was grave reason to fear that this frontier would be 
preempted by Americans. In 1830 the Cortes for- 
bade further colonization of a border state, cancelled 
all grants where the terms were unfulfilled, and 
summarily prohibited the importation of slaves. 
Futile efforts were made to introduce Mexican 
farmers, and convicts were sent in to work the 
roads with the privilege of becoming citizens and 
landowners as soon as their terms expired. The 
law of 1834, providing that would-be settlers from 
Mexico be transported to Texas at the expense of 
the state and supported for the initial year at the 
rate of four reals a day and that to each family be 
given farm implements, a yoke of oxen, and land 
to the amount of four hundred and forty-two acres 5 
had no appreciable effect. In 1835 there were 
twenty thousand Americans and three thousand 
Mexicans in the province. It was quite impossible 
for the ephemeral governments that followed each 
other in rapid succession at the City of Mexico to 
enforce measures of repression in far-away Texas, 
and the restrictive legislation amounted to no more 


than a helpless threat. When the decree (1829) 
declaring all children born of slaves on Mexican 
soil emancipated at the age of fourteen was pro- 
tested by the Americans, on the ground that it 
would set free one thousand slaves, Guerrero ex- 
empted Texas from its operation. 6 

Under Austin's restraining influence, theTexans pro- 
ceeded with some regard to their obligations toward 
the tumultuous republic to which they had sworn 
allegiance, until the Centralist revolution capped the 
climax of tyranny and misrule. Then they, in com- 
mon with other Federalists, demanded a return to 
the constitution of 1824. Their grievances, as sum- 
marized by the convention of 1833, were religious 
intolerance, the exclusion of immigration from the 
United States, the perversion of land grants, the 
refusal of trial by jury and grants in aid of public 
education, the imposition of customs duties, and the 
excesses of the military. The protestants demanded 
a separate state government for Texas. Far from 
complying with this reasonable request, Santa Anna 
increased his garrisons and finally, San Antonio 
having been taken by the insurgent forces, marched 
to its relief. The massacre of the Alamo converted 
the movement for self-government into a war for 
independence. The issue could not long be doubtful. 
Santa Anna was far from his base of supplies and 
could not count on the support of the Mexican 
people, and his troops were largely convicts, serving 
under compulsion. The Texans, on the other hand, 
were fighting for their homes and the institutions 
which they held essential to liberty. They were 


valiant, self-reliant, hardy frontiersmen, excellent 
marksmen and accustomed to Indian warfare. 
They were quickly reenforced by volunteer com- 
panies from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, 
and Sam Houston, ex-governor of Tennessee and 
a protege of President Jackson, was placed in com- 
mand of their little force. In the battle of San 
Jacinto the Texans proved of what stuff they were 

When Burr, an old man, broken in health and 
fortune, read the exploits of Sam Houston and his 
fellow-filibusters, he exclaimed, "There! You see? 
I was right ! I was only thirty years too soon. 
What was treason in me thirty years ago is pa- 
triotism now !" 7 

Don Juan Almonte, the patriotic Mexican who 
made a tour of inspection through Texas in 1834, 
regarded this northernmost state as Mexico's most 
valuable possession, and he deplored the neglect that 
was leaving its colonization to foreigners. In soil, 
climate, and productive capacity, it had no equal 
among the federated states, and its commercial pos- 
sibilities were unrivalled on the Gulf of Mexico. A 
series of first-rate harbors situated midway between 
Vera Cruz and New Orleans gave promise of abun- 
dant traffic, so soon as there were goods to export. 
Remoteness from the conflicts that were devastat- 
ing the older states left the Texans at peace to pur- 
sue the cultivation of the land, the raising of cattle, 
the building of roads and towns ; and their industrial 
enterprises far outran those of less favored sections 
of the Republic. The Spanish-speaking population 


was only half what it had been in 1806, but the 
American settlements were flourishing. In the 
central department of Brazos there were ten thou- 
sand people, and in the Nacogdoches region ten 
thousand more. This was not due to the zeal of 
the empressarios. Most of the American immi- 
grants had come on their own initiative and at their 
own cost from the adjoining sections of the United 
States, and they were lawless and intractable men who 
brought in slaves in defiance of the law of the land. 
It was of supreme importance that public-spirited 
Mexicans should undertake the peopling of this rich 
country. Almonte announced his intention of lead- 
ing the way and declared his conviction that an 
eleven-league grant in Texas could be speedily 
transformed into a valuable estate. Soil and climate 
were admirably adapted to the growing of cotton, 
sugar, corn, tobacco, and wheat, while the natural 
pastures would feed great herds of cattle. Prices 
were low for the time being, because all products 
must be consumed at home; but experiments were 
being made in the navigation of the Sabine, the 
Brazos, and the Colorado, and transportation by 
sea-going vessels would soon be assured. Five 
thousand bales of cotton had already been sent to 
New Orleans and sold at ten cents a pound. Im- 
portations from the United States rendered domestic 
manufactures unprofitable, but two or three cotton- 
gins, a tannery, and the manufacture of shoes were 
already under way. 

What might have been the result if the insurrec- 
tion had not interfered with Almonte's colonization 


project, it is impossible to say; but one thing is 
evident, Mexico could offer little better colonizing 
material in 1835 than in 1721. 

Texas did not present an alluring prospect to the 
immigrant, by whichever route he entered it. If he 
came by steamer up the Red River to Natchitoches, 
the usual means of access from the western states, 
he must cross a stretch of pine barrens and clay 
hills ; if he arrived by ship from New Orleans or 
New York, the coast appeared an uninviting waste 
of sand bars and shallow lagoons, and the lowlands 
beyond were wet and malarial. On the side of 
Mexico, the sterile and waterless tract between the 
Rio Grande and the Nueces River seemed impossible 
of settlement. Curiously enough, the ten-league 
strip forbidden to foreign empressarios by the law of 
1824 was precisely the least desirable portion of 
Texas. The interior was a delectable country. A 
gently rolling plain drained by the half dozen rivers 
that flowed from the Llano Estacado to the Gulf, 
wooded in the eastern section and open prairie west 
of the Trinity, offered to the pioneer a wonderful 
combination of fertile soil, all-the-year-round pastur- 
age, and down-stream transportation. The arid 
plains were covered with the mesquit-grass which 
grew low and thick and was self-curing. In the 
wetter regions, the indigenous growth was tall and 
coarse and ran up to a height of eight or nine feet, 
heavily seeded. In the river bottoms the cane- 
brakes grew rank and high, providing abundant 
fodder. So mild were the winters that there was 
nowhere need of stabling, even for horses, and water 


and salt were always within reach. Hogs, too, 
might be allowed to run at large in confidence that 
they would fatten in due time on the native peanuts 
or the mast of the live-oak forests. It was a com- 
mon saying among the pioneers that "in the North 
man lived for the beast, while in Texas the beast 
lived for man." According to the custom of the 
south United States, the cultivated fields were 
fenced in and the Uve stock was free to roam the 
open range. Only at the annual round-up did the 
ranchman take account of his property and brand 
the yearling calves. 

Men of experience judged the prairies of Texas 
better farming country than Kentucky, for nine- 
tenths of the land was cultivable and the same crops 
could be grown, with sugar and cotton added. The 
settler from east of the Mississippi, accustomed to 
the exhausting labor of clearing the forest before 
ploughing could begin, who had often seen the better 
part of a man's life spent in reclaiming a few patches 
for cornfields which still remained encumbered by 
stumps and weeds and infected with malaria, re- 
joiced in the sunny open prairie where the soil 
seemed prepared by nature for the farmer's use. 
An English observer estimated the economic ad- 
vantage of Texas land as follows : "A heavy plough 
and a strong team are required the first year, to 
break up the tough sward and turn over the soil. 
The Indian corn is dropped in the furrows and 
covered with a hoe, which with an occasional light 
ploughing to clear away the weeds, is the only labor 
bestowed upon it until it is fit to gather. . . . By 


turning the grass down, exposing the roots to the 
sun, and leaving the soil undisturbed, the sward 
becomes mellowed in a single season, and while 
undergoing the process of decomposition, affords 
nourishment to the growing corn. In the ensuing 
spring, the roots of the wild grass are completely 
rotted, and the plough passes through a rich light 
mold fit for all the purposes of husbandry. . . . 
The superior facility of working open land, the 
saving in the wear of farm implements, the economy 
of time, and, of course, the greater degree of cer- 
tainty in the farmer's calculations, with the com- 
parative exemption from local disease, give a pre- 
eminence to the prairie over the timbered land not 
to be materially reduced by any inconvenience that 
may be occasioned by an inadequate supply of 
wood. It would be sounder economy for a farmer 
to settle in the midst of a prairie and draw his fuel 
and fence wood five miles, than to undertake the 
clearing of a farm in the forest. . . . Supposing the soil 
of both to be of equal quality, a laborer can cultivate 
two-thirds more of prairie than of timbered land ; 
the returns are larger, and the capital to be invested 
less." 8 

The most serious handicap on the settler in Texas 
was the uncertainty as to land titles. The one em- 
pressario who had fulfilled the terms of his contract 
with the Mexican government was Stephen Austin, 
and therefore on his tracts only could clear title be 
given. Bradbury and Staples (the Rio Grande Com- 
pany) had been assigned (1828) for fifteen years the 
exclusive privilege of putting steamers on the Rio 


Grande on condition of colonizing the adjacent coun- 
try ; but the river was not navigable beyond Loredo 
and the region was adapted to nothing but pastur- 
age, so the project failed. McMullen, who attempted 
an Irish colony at San Patricio, become involved in 
a scheme for diverting the water of the Rio Grande 
into the Nueces and was unable to meet his obliga- 
tions. Dewitt died before he had brought in his full 
complement of people, and his title lapsed to the gov- 
ernment. De Leon was equally unfortunate. Bur- 
net and Zavalla apparently had no intention of col- 
onization, but hastened to dispose of their claims to 
a New York company which, in turn, sold to would-be 
emigrants. These deluded mortals arrived on the 
Neches to find themselves possessed of nothing more 
than a squatter's claim. The revolutionary govern- 
ment added to the confusion by declaring all titles 
forfeit except for such men as had proved their 
loyalty to the American insurrection by service in the 
field, and later undertook to redeem its heavy ob- 
ligations out of this one available asset. All sol- 
diers were paid in land bounties, and land scrip was 
offered to the highest bidder whether resident or 
alien. Moreover, land donations were made in the 
form of head-rights of six hundred and forty acres to 
married men and three hundred and twenty acres to 
single men who could furnish evidence of three years' 
residence during the five critical years from 1836 to 
1841, and a bonus of three thousand acres was pro- 
posed for every woman who married such a citizen. 
Land scrip as well as donations were in the nature 
of floating grants, and the effort to locate these was 


attended with extraordinary difficulties, since no 
official system of survey and registration was as yet 
provided. Texas in the forties was the paradise of 
lawyers, as Kentucky and Tennessee had been fifty 
years before. 

During the decade following on the attainment 
of independence, the Texans were hard bestead to 
maintain autonomy. Raids from Mexico, Indian 
forays on the northern border, and the prospect of 
interference on the part of France and Great Britain 
rendered the task trebly difficult. The embryo gov- 
ernment was saddled with heavy obligations — the 
maintenance of an army and navy in addition to 
ordinary expenses — and the revenues were inevi- 
tably scanty. The population was wholly agricul- 
tural, and land, the only taxable property, had but 
low value. Foreign trade was slight and the preju- 
dice against the levy of customs duties was strong. 
Such credit as the new-born state could rally in the 
United States and Europe was utilized to the break- 
ing point. Bonds were issued, land scrip sold, and 
promissory notes offered in payment of debt, until 
such obligations depreciated to twenty cents on a 
dollar. In 1841 the total indebtedness amounted 
to $7,500,000, six times the total revenue, and there 
was no relief except in the drastic curtailment of ex- 
penses. The administration of government was at 
a standstill. There were no jails and no police, the 
postal service had collapsed, and only a handful of 
soldiers were available for the defence of the frontier. 
Certain enactments of the newly organized congress 
involved the state in prolonged embarrassments, 


e.g. every head of a family locating in Texas was 
promised one sitio and one labor from the public 
domain, — a heedless generosity which attracted a 
horde of ne'er-do-weels and speculators and made 
heavy drafts on the one source of wealth. 

The only salvation of Texas was in annexation to 
the United States, and for this issue of the long 
struggle, there was good prospect. To the slave 
states of the Union, Texas was an economic neces- 
sity. Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi had one 
after another been occupied by younger sons and 
surplus slaves from the seaboard states. Louisiana 
was already preempted, and the fat lands beyond the 
Sabine were regarded as the inevitable destiny of the 
slavocracy. Moreover, the great majority of the 
settlers in Texas were Southerners and slaveholders. 
Their declaration of independence was signed by 
fifty-six men, of whom three were Mexicans, five 
were from Northern states of the Union, and forty- 
eight from slaveholding states. The constitution 
adopted by this constituency was distinctly pro- 
slavery. Vide Section IX: " Congress shall pass no 
laws to prohibit emigrants of the United States of 
America from bringing their slaves into the Republic 
with them and holding them by the same tenure by 
which such slaves were held in the United States, nor 
shall congress have power to emancipate slaves ; nor 
shall any slave holder be allowed to emancipate his 
or her slave or slaves without the consent of congress 
unless he or she shall send his or her slave or slaves 
without the limits of the Republic. No free person 
of African descent, either in whole or in part, shall be 


permitted to reside permanently in the Republic, 
without the consent of congress." This acceptance 
of slavery as a fundamental institution attracted fa- 
vorable notice in the Southern states. The legisla- 
tures of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee peti- 
tioned Congress for the annexation of Texas, while 
the statesmen of the seaboard states congratulated 
their constituents on the prospective rise in the price 
of their most profitable export. Eight Northern 
legislatures promptly protested annexation. In- 
terest in the annexation project was disseminated by 
three land companies financed in New York, which, 
having secured concessions from certain empressarios 
who had been unable to colonize their grants, pro- 
ceeded to sell these very dubious properties to all the 
gullible whom they could lay hands on. This land 
scrip was scattered throughout the Northern states 
and served to attach men who had purchased it to 
the annexation project, their best chance of getting 
their titles ratified. 

John C. Calhoun, Tyler's secretary of state, suc- 
ceeded in negotiating an annexation treaty with the 
government of Texas, but it was defeated in the Sen- 
ate (thirty-five to sixteen). The resentment among 
pro-slavery men against this thwarting of their hopes 
ruined the Whig party in the South, while the out- 
and-out opponents of slavery organized the Liberty 
party. Conservative men, generally, dreaded the 
reopening of the slavery question, and feared that the 
addition of a territory south of the Missouri Compro- 
mise Line and large enough to form five states would 
overturn the balance of power on which the curtail- 


ment of the slave system depended. The Democrats, 
however, declared for the "re-annexation of Texas," 
and their nominee, James K. Polk of Tennessee, 
was elected (1844) by a good majority of the electoral 
college, although the popular vote was quite evenly 
divided. With this apparent sanction of their policy, 
the annexationists abandoned the treaty and suc- 
ceeded in carrying through both houses of Congress a 
joint resolution in favor of incorporating Texas into 
the Union. 




Section I 

The Traders 

The westward movement of population was 
checked at the farther confines of Arkansas, Mis- 
souri, and Iowa by the apparently sterile nature of 
the semi-arid plains and by the Indian reservations 
which the government had located in this con- 
fessedly hopeless region. But beyond the Rockies, 
on the far Pacific Coast, rumor reported a region 
of limitless and quite unexploited resources. The 
Oregon country had been discovered, explored, and 
even colonized by Americans, but with the loss of 
Astoria, the Columbia River and its possibilities 
had passed under control of the British fur com- 
panies, and the Boston ships and the St. Louis fur 
traders were treated as interlopers. The immense 
financial resources of the Hudson's Bay Company 
and its highly efficient organization enabled the 
chief factor to hold any Yankee competitor at bay. 

Under the treaty of Joint Occupation, American 
traders had equal rights with the British in the 
Oregon country ; but it was the policy of the Honor- 
able Company to keep them east of the Blue Moun- 
tains. This was not a difficult task, since the British 
goods were of better quality than could be made in 

VOL. II — I 113 


the States and, since they paid no duty, might be 
sold at lower prices than the merchants from St. 
Louis could afford. Moreover, the costs and risks of 
overland transportation were far greater than by sea, 
so that, in their ventures on the Columbia and Snake 
rivers, the Americans were hopelessly handicapped. 
Even in the open territory of the upper Missouri 
and the Great Basin, the Hudson's Bay Company 
was able to compete on equal terms. Its factors did 
not hesitate to put up the price of furs to ten times 
the normal figure in order to drive out an American 
competitor. It was the custom of the Company to 
set aside an annual guarantee fund to make good 
these business emergencies. 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark had been brought 
out in popular form by Nicholas Biddle of Philadel- 
phia in 1811 ; Patrick Gass' even more readable diary 
was published a year or two earlier. Both accounts 
of the wonderful transcontinental journey were widely 
read, and the possibilities of the Columbia as well as 
those of the Missouri became matters of common 
knowledge. A certain schoolmaster of Boston, Hall 
J. Kelley by name, whose interest in the Columbia 
region was first excited by the Lewis and Clark 
Journals, had been accumulating all the information 
to be found in the descriptions given by fur traders 
and travellers, and had arrived at the conviction 
that the opportunities there afforded for commerce, 
manufactures, and agriculture far exceeded those of 
the Mississippi Valley. He was fully assured that 
the American government had clear title to the ter- 
ritory — based on the discoveries of Gray and Ken- 


drick — from the forty-second parallel to Puget Sound 
and Vancouver Island, and he therefore regarded the 
Hudson's Bay Company's assumption of trade monop- 
oly as unwarranted and intolerable. The rights of the 
United States, he was persuaded, could best be made 
good by the actual occupation of the land by Ameri- 
can citizens. To this end Kelley organized (1829) 
the American Society for the Settlement of Oregon 
Territory. The capital of the Company ($200,000) 
was to be subscribed in the first instance by public- 
spirited citizens, but each emigrant was expected to 
take one $100 share. It was anticipated that the 
government would lend aid to this national enter- 
prise. Kelley 's Manual of the Oregon Expedition 
was addressed "to all persons of good character 
who wish to emigrate to Oregon Territory." It 
set forth the unexcelled advantages of the lower 
Columbia; a remarkably even climate where cattle 
could be pastured in the open all the year round, 
a fertile soil requiring only to be ploughed and 
planted to yield better crops than New England had 
ever known, inexhaustible forests from which timber 
might be shipped to all parts of the world, 1 admirable 
transportation facilities afforded by the Columbia 
River, which was navigable two hundred miles from 
the sea, and by the many natural harbors adequate 
to the reception of sea-going vessels. The commerce 
of South America, the Pacific Isles, and the East Indies 
must eventually accrue to this favored territory. 
In a memorial addressed to Congress asking for 
"troops, artillery, military arms, and munitions of 
war, for the defence and security of the contem- 


plated settlement," the Society urged as a reason 
for aggressive action on the part of the United 
States the fact that the Hudson's Bay Company 
was taking steps to colonize the country. "Already, 
have they, flourishing towns, strong fortifications, 
and cultivated farms." In order to forestall this 
alien occupation, the Society petitioned for a grant 
of power corresponding to those of the great trad- 
ing company and the extinction of the Indian title 
to the Multnomah Valley lands. A republican form 
of government was in contemplation with freedom 
of the press, freedom of worship, etc. 

Several hundred persons were ready to migrate to 
the land of promise, but the great expedition was 
delayed from time to time. The government was 
slow to act on Kelley's proposition and assert its 
rights of exclusive possession. The treaty of Joint 
Occupation was renewed in 1828, and no guarantee 
as to squatters' rights could be given. Moreover, 
the fur traders of St. Louis, who did not relish the 
prospect of having their hunting grounds pre- 
empted by farmers, threw various obstacles in the 
way, exaggerating the difficulties of the route, the 
hostility of the Indians, etc. In his Manual of the 
Oregon Expedition, Kelley quotes from the recent 
report of Mr. Pilcher, Indian agent, to the secre- 
tary of war to prove with what ease the journey 
across the mountains might be made by way 
of the South Pass and the Snake and Columbia 
rivers. 2 For the character of the Indians of the 
Pacific slope, Kelley had no fears. "They are fond 
of the Society of white men, and will long continue 


to appreciate, and promptly to reciprocate honest 
and fair dealing. Nothing is more remote from the 
intentions of the Society than to oppress them, or 
to occupy their lands without making ample and 
satisfactory remuneration. ... It is desired that 
each [Indian] head of a family receive a lot of land. 
That the Chinnook tribe be located on the back 
lots, in the seaport town, where they can be in- 
structed, and encouraged in cultivating garden 
grounds, and where schools can be opened for their 
children," etc. 

To each settler was to be assigned, after New Eng- 
land precedent, a town lot of forty acres and farm land 
to the amount of one hundred and sixty acres, withpas- 
ture rights in the public land in addition. This claim, 
guaranteed to every emigrant above fourteen years 
of age (except married women), was to be converted 
into a permanent title after two years' occupation. 
The point of departure was to be St. Louis. From 
that point, travelling expenses were to be met from 
the common stock, excepting arms, knapsacks, cloth- 
ing and blankets, and wagons for the women and 
children. A deposit of $20 was required of every 
subscriber as a pledge of sincerity and guarantee of 
good conduct. Captains elected by each cohort of 
fifty were to have absolute authority en route. The 
plan was a good one, but the scale was too mag- 
nificent for that day of small things. It fell to 
pieces of its own weight. The date of departure 
was postponed from 1828 to 1830, from 1830 to 
1832, and from January to June and July of the 
latter year. These delays were discouraging to 


the more active and practical members of the 

One of the men whom Kelley's propaganda had 
deeply impressed was Nathaniel J. Wyeth of Cam- 
bridge, a man of affairs who had already achieved 
an enviable reputation for business acumen as a 
pioneer in the ice business. His aspirations were, 
however, not political or social, but purely financial. 
He thought he saw in the unoccupied territory 
between the Columbia and the Spanish boundary 
an opportunity for developing a trade such as might 
eventually rival that of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany itself. The success of the Boston houses that 
had sent trading ships to the northwest coast 
seemed to justify his hopes ; the failure of Astor's 
enterprise he thought was purely accidental, due to 
over-confidence in British agents and the outbreak 
of war ; the achievements of the St. Louis traders, 
handicapped as they were by a long overland carriage, 
argued larger profits for a post established within 
reach of the Pacific and possessed of an all-water route 
to New York and European markets. Wyeth meant 
to avail himself of Kelley's crusade and so applied 
for a "scituation" for himself and his brother Jacob 
in the expedition scheduled for January, 1832 ; but 
when the date of departure was deferred from 
month to month, and especially when he learned 
that it was proposed to burden the party with 
women and children, he became convinced that he 
must act independently of the Boston enthusiast. 
His project was explained at length to various busi- 
ness men of Boston, New York, and Baltimore whom 


he hoped to induce to contribute capital. A party 
of picked men was to go overland to the Columbia, 
and there, at a post sufficiently remote from Fort 
Vancouver to give no umbrage to the Great Com- 
pany, furs and salmon and such agricultural products 
as might prove feasible were to be gathered and 
stored. A Boston firm, Hall, Tucker & Williams, 
agreed to send a ship round the Horn stocked with 
goods for the Indian trade. It was expected that 
the bills for the goods, bought on a year's credit, 
would be paid out of the return cargo, and that a 
very considerable profit would be realized by all 
connected with the enterprise. Wyeth secured the 
$5000 needed to equip the overland party and 
succeeded in enlisting, under a five-year contract, 
thirty-two able-bodied and intelligent men. The 
organization was on a profit-sharing basis, familiar 
to the Gloucester fishermen. After the initial cost 
had been paid, the net proceeds were to be divided, 
eight parts to the promoter of the enterprise, two to 
his brother Jacob who was to act as surgeon and 
physician, and one part to each of the forty men who 
were to make up the full tale of the working force. 
Wyeth took great pains to inform himself as to 
the conditions of success in the fur trade and the 
best methods of catching, pickling and smoking sal- 
mon, raising and curing tobacco, etc., and he spared 
no labor in perfecting the details of his equipment. 
The party left Boston in March, 1832, and journeyed 
to St. Louis by way of Pittsburgh and the Ohio 
River. The horseback journey across the Plains 
was made in company with Sublette's brigade; 


but its hardships staggered two of the men (Jacob 
Wyeth and young Livermore), an encounter with 
the Blackfeet at the famous rendezvous of Pierre's 
Hole 3 disheartened the rest, and all but eleven 
turned back, taking their riding horses. Undis- 
couraged, Wyeth proceeded on his way, in com- 
pany with Milton Sublette, and, aided by the friendly 
Shoshones, trapped the streams that empty into 
Snake River, and crossed the Blue Mountains to 
Fort Walla Walla, where his party was hospitably 
received. "At the post we saw a bull, cow & calf, 
hen & cock, pumpkins, potatoes, corn, all of which 
looked strange and unnatural and like a dream." 
At Fort Vancouver, Dr. McLoughlin was no less 
courteous, dispensing the hospitality of the place 
with an Old World courtesy very congenial to the 
wanderer from Cambridge. Here bad news awaited 
the promoter of American trade. The supply ship, 
Sultana, had been wrecked off Society Islands, and 
her cargo was a total loss, while the remaining men 
asked to be released from their engagement. 4 "I 
could not refuse. They had already suffered much, 
and our number was so small that the prospect of 
remuneration to them was very small. . . . They were 
good men and persevered as long as perseverance 
would do good. I am now afloat on the great sea 
of life without stay or support, but in good hands, 
i.e. myself and providence and a few of the H. B. 
Co. who are perfect gentlemen." 5 Nothing remained 
of the great enterprise but the furs cached in the 
interior, and the recovery of these was more than 


Wyeth had surrendered an honorable and lucra- 
tive position at home for this ambitious project 
on the Pacific Coast, and he now faced ruin ; but 
pride and determination to wring success out of 
defeat, held him to his task. Valuable experience 
at least could be won from his unlucky plight, and 
with this in view he sought employment with the 
Hudson's Bay Company as an independent trader 
operating south of the Columbia. The proposition 
was forwarded to London and, biding an answer, 
Wyeth submitted to Captain Bonneville a plan for 
a joint hunt up the Willamette Valley and beyond 
the mountains as far as the Spanish settlements on 
San Francisco Bay. Having collected twelve men and 
thirty-four horses and pack mules, he set out for the 
rendezvous at Fort Bonneville on Green River, where 
he found the brigades of the American Fur Company 
and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company encamped 
in full force, together with Bonneville and Ferris 
and other independent trappers. Thence, in the 
autumn of 1833, the undiscouraged Yankee voyaged 
in a bull-boat down the Big Horn and the Yellow- 
stone, stopping at Fort Cass and Fort Union to 
trade skins and robes for provisions, and so on to 
St. Louis and home. 

In spite of the melancholy failures of the first 
expedition, Wyeth was able to find backers for a 
second. This time he hoped to meet the expenses 
of the overland party by taking out a stock of goods 
for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company whose chief, 
Milton Sublette, he had convinced that supplies 
might be had at much better figures than were 


offered by the brother who had retired from the 
partnership. A new joint stock concern, the Colum 
bia Fishing and Trading Company, was organized. 
Hall, Tucker & Williams again undertook to send a 
vessel round the Horn, and again a party of men 
was enlisted, but this time at St. Louis, where trap- 
pers and engages of experience could be found. 
Wyeth had no need of guide or protection in his 
second journey across the Plains, for he was now 
bourgeois on his own account, and in his train travelled 
two distinguished scientists, Thomas Nuttall and 
J. K. Townsend. He reached the rendezvous on 
Ham's Fork in June, 1834, only to find that Milton 
Sublette had repudiated his contract. Wyeth's 
business sagacity did not desert him in this emer- 
gency. With characteristic energy he determined 
to turn his rejected goods and superfluous men to 
account by erecting a trading post on Snake River, 
hoping to trade with the Shoshones, Nez Perces, and 
Flatheads for buffalo robes. The post was erected 
at the point where the Port Neuf River joins the 
Snake, and was named Fort Hall after the senior 
partner in the Boston firm which was to reap no 
other gain from the expedition. Here twelve men 
were left with a hundred guns and rifles, while the 
main party pushed on to the Columbia. 

Arrived at Fort Vancouver in October, the daunt- 
less leader found to his chagrin that the May Dacre 
was only just coming up the river. The ship had 
been struck by lightning off Valparaiso and obliged 
to put in for repairs. The delay of three months 
had forfeited the salmon season, and the proposed 


return cargo could not be prepared till the second 
summer. "We have failed in everything for the 
first year," Wyeth wrote home. "After so long an 
abstinence, I feel hungry for a little success." But 
there was no use in crying over spilt milk. The ship 
was loaded with timber from the magnificent pine 
forests of the neighborhood and despatched to the 
Sandwich Islands with instructions to bring back 
cattle, sheep, and hogs. Meantime, Wyeth set to 
work with redoubled energy to develop the re- 
sources of the region he had claimed for his own. 
He put up a fishing station on Wappatoo Island 
with kilns for smoking salmon and a rude garrison 
which he called Fort William. He explored the 
Willamette and fixed on a site for a farm, — a prairie 
three miles below Duporte's, "about fifteen miles 
long and seven wide, surrounded with fine timber 
and a good mill stream on it," — and two men were 
sent there with implements and seed for the first plant- 
ing. The bulk of the force Wyeth led on a trapping 
expedition up Des Chutes River, a wild stream run- 
ning through deep chasms and over precipitous rocks. 
The results of the winter's hunt did not compensate 
for the loss in men and equipment, however, and the 
leader returned broken in health and spirits. His 
experience in curing salmon was also discouraging. 
The Indians could not supply the fish fast enough 
for the smoking process, and his own men did little 
better. Only half a cargo was put up, and that of 
an inferior quality. Fort William made but a 
dreary residence. Most of the natives had died of 
the plague that had swept the length of the coast from 


California northward several years previous, and 
the Americans suffered from various disorders due 
to dampness, overwork, and perhaps in some degree 
to infection. One-third the men were ill the greater 
part of the summer, and seventeen died violent 

In the autumn of 1835 Wyeth went to Fort Hall 
with supplies, and again in the autumn of 1836 ; but 
the Hudson's Bay Company had built a trading post 
on the Boise and their competition was too sharp 
for him. Concluding at last to abandon the field, 
he sold Fort Hall to the Great Company. He 
returned to the states by way of Santa Fe and the 
Arkansas River, and reached Boston in November of 
1836, hoping to secure capital for a new venture on 
the Columbia; but the financial situation was not 
promising. The few men who had money to spare 
were unwilling to jeopardize it on so dubious a ven- 
ture. Fortunately, his former employer in the ice 
business was eager to reinstate him, and Wyeth 
was able to pay all his debts and accumulate a 
competence before his death. 6 

The projector of the Columbia Fishing and Trad- 
ing Company accomplished little for the furtherance 
of American trade in Oregon and nothing for emi- 
gration. His lukewarmness in this latter respect, it 
must be conceded, was due to a juster appreciation 
of the risks and hardships involved than the enthu- 
siasts of the Oregon Colonization Society possessed. 
In a letter written to Hall J. Kelley in April of 1832, 
Wyeth said: "I shall at all times be disposed to 
further an emigration to the Columbia as far as I 


deem, on actual knowledge of the country, that it 
will be for the advantage of the emigrants, but 
before I am better acquainted with the facts, I will 
not lend my aid in inducing ignorant persons to 
render their situation worse rather than better." 
Four years' experience of the hazards of the Far 
West must have reenforced his opinion that it was 
"impracticable and inhuman" to involve women 
and children in such an enterprise. 

On both his visits to Fort Vancouver, Wyeth was 
received with perfect courtesy and given the free- 
dom of the quarters ; but he was allowed to learn 
none of the secrets of the trade and was definitely 
informed that his efforts to establish relations with 
the Indians would be effectively checkmated. In his 
Memoir submitted to Congress in 1839, Wyeth recog- 
nized the courtesy of the Hudson's Bay Company's 
agents while writhing under the sense of obligation to 
victorious rivals. " In their personal intercourse with 
Americans who come into the country, they are 
uniformly hospitable and kind. The circumstances 
under which we meet them are mortifying in the 
extreme, making us too often but the recipients of 
the bounty of others, instead of occupants to ad- 
minister it, as should be the case. No one who has 
visited their posts, I presume, can say anything to 
dispraise his reception; for myself, setting matters 
of trade aside, I have received the most kind and 
considerate attention from them." 

Americans who came by sea were no more success- 
ful. Only seven trading vessels flying the Stars and 
Stripes ventured across the Bar in the years between 


1814 and 1842 : the Oahee and Convoy from Boston 
in 1829, the May Dacre and the Euro-pa in 1834, the 
Thomas Perkins in 1840, the Maryland in 1841, and 
the Chemanes in 1842. Their efforts to open a trade 
with the natives were uniformly unfortunate ; the 
Indians were readily induced by the offer of better 
bargains and by appeals to their loyalty to let the 
" Bostons" alone. Kelley states that when the Eu- 
ro-pa from Boston came into the river to trade in 1834, 
Dr. McLoughlin immediately fitted out the Llama 
with an attractive cargo and instructions to follow the 
American vessel and undersell her goods, no matter 
at what prices, until she was driven from the coast. 
This trade ostracism was not wholly due to com- 
mercial reasons. Dr. McLoughlin had cause to fear 
the demoralizing influence of his irresponsible rivals. 
Wyeth brought in distilling apparatus on his second 
expedition to the Columbia ; but he had the grace 
to respect the protest of the chief factor and 
abandon his purpose of manufacturing whiskey. 
The Thomas Perkins had large quantities of liquor 
aboard. Dr. McLoughlin bought up the whole 
stock and stored it at the Fort to prevent its getting 
into the hands of the natives, "as this was an article 
which, after a great deal of difficulty, we had been 
able to suppress in the trade." 7 The influence of 
the Americans was no less demoralizing to the 
tribes of the interior. There were from five to six 
hundred free trappers in the Snake River country, 
and the unscrupulous competition of rival parties 
was rapidly destroying the Indian's respect for the 
white man. 



Meantime the apostle of the attractive gospel, 
Oregon for Americans, had been engrossed in his 
colonization enterprise. Convinced of the necessity 
of a preliminary survey of the possibilities and diffi- 
culties involved, Kelley had finally set out with a 
small party early in 1832. He went by way of 
New Orleans and Mexico, 8 taking along a stock of 
trading goods, culinary utensils, and farming imple- 
ments. These were promptly confiscated by the 
Mexican officials in lieu of customs duties, and 
the secretary of the Oregon Colonization Society 
found himself a penniless vagabond. Undiscouraged, 
he begged his way to Monterey, but there new 
troubles awaited him. Figueroa, then governor of 
Upper California, had no liking for Americans. 
This particular specimen excited his suspicion by 
proposing to make a survey of the Sacramento 
Valley for the Spanish government. Thwarted in 
this endeavor to earn his passage to Vancouver, 
Kelley succeeded in inducing Ewing Young, a trader 
from Taos, to try his fortunes on the Columbia 
River. Horses were to be the stock in trade, and a 
herd of over a hundred was got together, as well as 
a gang of men — sailors and unemployed trappers — 
to assist in driving the animals to their destination. 
The journey was made over the trail of the Hudson's 
Bay Company's California brigade, but it proved too 
difficult for the Boston schoolmaster. He fell ill of 
fever and would hardly have got through alive but 
for the kindness of Framboise, one of the Company's 
engages on the Umpqua. At Fort Vancouver, a 
staggering disappointment awaited him. Figueroa 


had forwarded to Dr. McLoughlin by a north- 
bound vessel a letter of warning, apprising him that 
Kelley and Young had stolen their horses from a 
ranch on the Sacramento. The charge was false. 
The actual thieves (if thieves there were) were some 
irresponsible adventurers who joined Young's party 
on the Sacramento and deserted before they reached 
the Umpqua ; but the chief factor could do no less 
than post a warning, pending investigation. He 
despatched inquiries to Figueroa, and that func- 
tionary was induced to withdraw his assertion : but 
in the three months' interval between question and 
answer, Young and Kelley were forbidden the Fort. 
Kelley, who was still seriously ill, was assigned 
quarters in an outlying cabin and a servant to 
attend to his wants. Food and medicines were 
regularly sent him, but he was denied the pleasant 
intercourse of the factor's table. That intercourse 
was especially interesting in the winter of 1834-1835 
because of the presence of half a dozen American 
gentlemen who had come over with Wyeth: the 
naturalists Nuttall and Townsend, and the Meth- 
odist missionaries Jason and Daniel Lee and Cyrus 
Shepherd. It would seem that these men, all of 
whom knew Kelley 's standing in Boston, might 
have vouched for his character and extricated him 
from this humiliating dilemma; but no one of 
them dared to visit the discredited man except 
Shepherd, "the gentle Christian whom everybody 
loved." When Wyeth returned to Fort Vancouver 
from his excursion up the Des Chutes River, 
he found to his "great astonishment, Mr. Hall 


J. Kelley at the Fort. He came in company with 
Mr. Young from Monte El Rey, and it is said 
stole between them a bunch of horses. Kelley is 
not received at the Fort as a gentlemen a house is 
given him and food sent him from the Gov. table 
but he is not suffered to mess here." 9 Kelley re- 
counts that Wyeth came to his cabin, but his only 
words were, "Well, Kelley, how did you get here? " 
The wretched visionary, sick and destitute, clad in 
a tattered Mexican costume, obliged to accept alms 
from the hated Britons, and shunned by the only 
men who could be of use to him, bitterly resented 
this treatment from the friend to whom he had 
given the first information about the Oregon coun- 
try. But Wyeth was himself in desperate straits 
and could offer no aid. Moreover, his experience in 
the mountains had taught him that honorable men 
might resort to dishonorable methods to tide them 
over an emergency. 

Unlike Wyeth, who expressed unbounded ad- 
miration for the efficiency of the great monopoly, 
even while his business opportunities were melting 
away, Kelley railed against the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany as the author of all his misfortunes. He 
believed that the real ground of his exclusion from 
Vancouver was his known intention of colonizing 
Oregon with American citizens. 10 In the Memoir 
submitted to the House Committee on Foreign 
Affairs in 1839, the embittered man asserted that 
he was "an object of dread and dislike to the grasp- 
ing monopolists of the H. B. Co." because he was 
resolved "to act independently as an American on 


American soil, seeking authentic information for 
general diffusion, and pursuing the avowed purpose 
of opening the trade of the territory to. general com- 
petition, and the wealth of the country to general 
participation and enjoyment." He persuaded him- 
self that his papers were tampered with and his food 
poisoned, and that he was finally hurried out of the 
country as a dangerous character. Dr. McLoughlin 
did give him free passage to the Sandwich Islands 
on a Company's ship, and a much needed contribu- 
tion of £ 7 from his private purse. The latter 
courtesy Kelley does grudgingly acknowledge, but 
his obligations to the Company were ignored. In. 
his Narrative, Dr. McLoughlin recounts the Kelley 
episode and adds: "On his return to the States, he 
published a narrative of his voyage in which, instead 
of being grateful for the kindness shown him, he 
abused me and falsely stated I had been so alarmed 
with the dread that he would destroy the H. B. Co.'s 
trade that I had kept a constant watch over him." 
President Jackson sent Lieutenant Slacum of the 
Navy to investigate the supposed outrage (1836), 
but he was soon convinced that Kelley had mis- 
represented the situation. 

Ewing Young was a man of very different caliber. 
A Tennesseean by birth, he had engaged in the fur 
trade, first in Santa Fe and then in California, until, 
forced to the conclusion that this was a losing busi- 
ness, he determined to make a place for himself in 
Oregon. While Kelley was proclaiming his wrongs, 
Young possessed himself of an extensive tract of 
land on Chehalem Creek and there bred his Spanish 


horses. He bitterly resented the accusation of 
horse stealing, 11 a capital crime on the frontier, and 
even when he was exonerated by Figueroa and given 
the same trade privileges at Fort Vancouver as 
other settlers, he cherished a stubborn grudge 
against the chief factor. Champoeg became the 
rallying ground for the " mountain-men," and the 
center of a zealously American party. Young un- 
dertook to set up a distillery as a means of restoring 
his depleted finances, using the kettles left by 
Wyeth for distilling vats ; but this enterprise, the 
manufacture of "the white man's poison, the In- 
dian's certain death," was earnestly protested by 
Dr. McLoughlin and the Lees. Young consented 
to abandon it on condition that his expenditure be 
made good to him, and the Doctor furnished him 
the means to erect a sawmill. Once established in 
business, Young's energy and uprightness of char- 
acter soon rendered him a respected and influential 

Kelley's campaign for an American Oregon was 
exaggerated and impractical because he took no 
account of obstacles and glorified his promised land 
beyond credence. The Rambler ridiculed his prop- 
aganda as the ravings of "a crack-brained school- 
master of Boston." " Kelley's promises were indeed 
magnificent. According to him this transmontane 
Canaan was a land of milk and honey, full of navi- 
gable rivers, and practicable in every direction. 
The timber tops ascended into the very heaven ; 
the soil yielded more to the acre, spontaneously, 
than the cultivated fields of Belgium and Britain. 


No country afforded such facilities for ship-building ; 
how easy it would be to transport the grain of 
Oregon, in vessels of Oregon timber, to India, China, 
and Japan ! What facilities the country offered to 
the whale fishery and to railroad enterprise ! The 
Columbia and its tributaries were literally choked 
with salmon." 12 The unlucky dreamer marked out 
the sites of future settlements, — a manufacturing 
town at the Falls of Willamette, a commercial town 
at the junction of the Willamette with the Columbia, 
a seaport on Gray's Bay. He even projected (in his 
Geographical Sketch of Oregon, 1829) a transcon- 
tinental railroad. It was to begin on the Missouri 
River at the mouth of the Kansas, " cross the back- 
bone of the Continent through a depression near 
the 43rd parallel," follow the Snake River to Walla 
Walla, and thence "make a mountainous transit" 
to the southern extremity of Puget Sound, " there 
to connect with the interminable tracks of the ships 
of the great deep." Kelley sincerely believed that 
if the Hudson's Bay Company had not thwarted his 
efforts, this road would have been graded through- 
out and Oregon fully populated by 1840. Sharing 
the fate of all idealists, he was a generation in 
advance of his day. All that he hoped for Oregon 
was destined to come to pass, and largely through 
his mad propaganda. His pamphlets and his news- 
paper generated a romantic enthusiasm for the vast 
realm beyond the Rockies so rapidly slipping from 
American control. His suggestion that every colonist 
should receive a grant of two hundred acres of 
arable land appealed with irresistible force to the 


homeless and unemployed of the eastern cities and 
furnished the foundation for the Donation Act. 
Kelley's project for the occupation of Oregon 
failed, but a new impulse derived from an entirely 
different source proved more potent than the un- 
measured enconiums of the ardent New Englander. 

Section II 
The Missionaries 

All explorers, traders, and travellers, from Lewis and 
Clark to T. J. Farnham, are agreed as to the high 
moral qualities of the Flathead Indians. Fran- 
chere thought they got their religion as well as their 
horses from the Spanish settlements. "McTavish 
assured us that he had seen among the Spokanes, an 
old woman who told him that she had seen men 
ploughing the earth; she told him that she had also 
seen churches, which she had made him understand 
by imitating the sound of a bell, and the action of 
pulling a bellrope ; and further to confirm her ac- 
count, made the sign of the cross. That gentleman 
concluded that she had been made prisoner and sold 
to the Spaniards on the Del Norte; but I think it 
more probable it was nearer, in North California, at 
the Mission of San Carlos or San Francisco." 13 Wy- 
eth records the religious observances of the Flatheads 
in the journal of his first expedition. " Every morn- 
ing some important Indian addresses either heaven or 
his countrymen or both, I believe exhorting the one 
to good conduct to each other and to the strangers 
among them, and the other to bestow its blessings. 


He finishes with 'I am done.' The whole set up an 
exclamation in concord during the whole time. Sun- 
day there is more parade of prayer as above. 
Nothing is done Sunday in the way of trade with 
these Indians, nor in playing games, and they seldom 
fish or kill game or raise camp. While prayers are 
being said on week days, every one ceases whatever 
vocation he is about ; if on horse-back he dismounts 
and holds his horse on the spot until all is done. 
Theft is a thing almost unknown among them and is 
punished by flogging, as I am told, but have never 
known an instance of theft among them. The least 
thing, even to a bead or pin, is brought you if found, 
and things that we throw away. This is sometimes 
troublesome. I have never seen an Indian get in 
anger with each other or strangers. I think you 
would find among twenty whites as many scoundrels 
as among one thousand of these Indians. They have 
a mild, playful, laughing disposition, and their quali- 
ties are strongly portrayed in their countenances. 
They are polite and unobtrusive, and however poor 
never beg except as pay for service, and in this way 
they are moderate and faithful but not industrious." 14 
In the summer of 1831, before Wyeth and Kelley set 
out for the Columbia, four mountain Indians, two 
Flatheads and two Nez Perces, came to St. Louis with 
Sublette's train and, finding General Clark, asked him 
to send to their people men who could teach them 
how to worship God. They were courteously enter- 
tained by the man who owed so much to these tribes, 
and were told that missionaries would come to the 
land that lay at the dividing of the waters. 15 News 


of this unusual type of Indian fell into the hands of 
a sojourner in St. Louis, who forthwith wrote an 
account of their mission for the eastern press. 16 
Dr. Wilbur Fisk, president of Wesleyan University, 
Middletown, Connecticut, raised "the cry from Mace- 
donia" with convincing eloquence, and appealed to 
the Missionary Society of the M. E. Church to send 
the gospel to the Flatheads. An appropriation of 
$3000 was made by the Board, meetings were held in 
New York, New Haven, Middletown, Philadelphia, 
and Baltimore, and additional funds sufficient for the 
enterprise were soon raised. Jason Lee of Canada, 
and his nephew, Daniel Lee, were appointed 
preachers, while Cyrus Shepherd of Lynn, Massachu- 
setts, went as teacher. At Independence, Missouri, 
where the missionaries joined Wyeth's second ex- 
pedition, P. L. Edwards was enlisted as lay helper 
and C. M. Walker as hired assistant. From Port 
Neuf River, where Wyeth stopped to build his trad- 
ing post, the missionaries went on with the Hudson's 
Bay Company's factor, McKay, "toiling through 
immense tracts of mountain sage, or, more properly, 
wormwood, an ugly shrub from two to six feet 
high." 17 When McKay stopped to trap and trade 
for beaver, they joined the party of Captain Stuart, 
an English traveller, for the journey across the Blue 
Mountains to Walla Walla. The voyage down the 
Columbia was made with the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany's brigade. Arrived at Fort Vancouver, they 
were accorded a cordial welcome by Dr. McLoughlin, 
who was glad of any civilizing influence that entered 
his barbarous empire, and advised that they settle 


on the Willamette, where they would have the pro- 
tection of the Fort. He furnished them horses, a 
guide — Gervais — and provisions for a tour of explo- 
ration to French Prairie, where lay the farms of the 
ex-trappers. 18 The site selected for the mission sta- 
tion lay farther up the Willamette, about sixty miles 
from its mouth and on the east bank (Yamhill 
Creek). "Here was a broad, rich bottom, many 
miles in length, well watered, and supplied with 
timber, oak, fir, cottonwood, white maple, and white 
ash, scattered along the borders of its grassy plains, 
where hundreds of acres were ready for the plough." 19 
The two lay helpers abandoned the enterprise, 
Walker transferring his services to Wyeth's post, 
Fort William, while Edwards opened a school at 
Champoeg, twelve miles below. Shepherd spent the 
winter at Vancouver in charge of the school that had 
been opened by Dr. McLoughlin "some time before," 
and the Lees were left to develop the Mission with 
such aid as they could secure from the settlers. A 
log house was built with implements procured from 
the May Dacre, and a barn raised. Dr. McLoughlin 
loaned fifteen head of cattle and gave £26 on his own 
account to this "public institution." In the spring 
of 1835 thirty acres was planted to corn, potatoes, 
wheat, oats, and vegetables. The yield exceeded the 
most sanguine hopes, and a subsistence for a con- 
siderable community was thereafter assured. When 
Slacum visited the Mission in 1836, there were one 
hundred and fifty acres fenced and under cultivation, 
and the cattle from Vancouver were doing well. The 
appeal of the Flatheads was apparently forgotten. 



EDgrn'ing Co., N.Y. 

Oregon Settlements in 1844. 

The Lees justified this diversion from the original 
object of their mission by the statement that "a 
larger field of usefulness was contemplated as the ob- 
ject of the mission than the benefiting of a single 
tribe." 20 

So far as they had in contemplation service to the 
" mountain men," the change of plan was wise; but 
the Indians of the lower Columbia were far less hope- 
ful material for civilization than the tribes of the 
interior. Lewis estimated the Indian population 
(1806) at eight tribes of perhaps one thousand per- 
sons each, but they were even then fast degenerating 
under intercourse with the trading vessels. Kelley 
states that when he was on the river nothing re- 
mained but the remnants of these tribes, and that the 


sum total could not have been more than five hun- 
dred souls. The Multnomahs were all dead, and 
their villages in ruins. 21 The Clatsops had lost their 
tribal autonomy and had taken refuge with the 
Chenooks on the north bank. "All the remaining 
Indians below Vancouver live in the most brutal, 
sottish and degraded manner ; addicted to the gross- 
est intemperance, and associating with the whites in 
such a manner that there can scarcely be found among 
them a full-blooded Indian child." 

Such were the people whom the Methodist mis- 
sionaries undertook to convert to the ways of Chris- 
tianity ! They wisely began with the children, or- 
ganizing a home school for their benefit ; but under 
the unaccustomed strain of confinement and regular 
tasks the poor things sickened and died or returned 
to the degraded savagery of their own villages, "free 
as a bird escaped from its cage." 22 "There were 
more Indian children in the mission grave-yard at 
the Walamet, . . . than there were of such as were 
alive in the manual labour school." 23 Consumption 
and scrofula and intermittent fever were the usual 
ailments, a dismal preoccupation that left little 
time for training, intellectual or industrial. Indeed, 
Daniel Lee naively records that the amount of labor 
to be performed about the place greatly retarded the 
p± ogress of his pupils, while the adults were obdurate 
to the influences brought to bear. An old chief, who 
came to the Mission to be healed of a wound, de- 
clared openly that "the Bostons should never make 
him good." A serious effort was made to reach the 
Indians through the offer of material advantage. 


They were urged to locate on a piece of ground as- 
signed to their use and to till the soil, and the Lees 
offered to assist them in the building of comfortable 
houses. "A man was hired to help them, and some 
efforts were made in order to induce them to work 
and help themselves. There was, however, so much 
apathy among them, that, after having used various 
means for a year quite in vain, they abandoned 
the attempt." 24 The demoralizing influence of the 
sailors on the river seemed to be greater than all the 
efforts of the missionaries. The missions undertaken 
by Daniel Lee and Thomas Perkins at the Dalles and 
by J. H. Frost among the Chenooks were no more 
promising. These tribes were more demoralized, if 
possible, than the Calapoosas on the Willamette. 
The bandits at the Dalles did show much enthusiasm 
at first, but Daniel Lee was forced to admit in the 
end, that while prospective temporal gain might 
"make them ardent professional friends and serious 
hearers in the absence of all higher motives," yet 
the conversion was only skin-deep. 

With the whites, the missionaries had better for- 
tune. They set on foot a flourishing temperance 
society among the "mountain men," and the half- 
breed children came eagerly to school. The mission 
station was on the trail that led to California, and 
many weary travellers "worn out by their long and 
hungry tramp" found rest and refreshment at the 
hospitable station. Lee's Ten Years records the pass- 
ing of Ewing Young with his "twelve sailors and 
hunters," and of Mr. Kelley, "a New England man 
who entertained some very extravagant notions 


in regard to Oregon which he published on his 
return." 25 

In May and September of 1837 two supply ships 
arrived, bringing twenty more missionaries, among 
them several devout young women, and the bachelor 
missionaries were speedily married. This entailed 
the building of more houses and provision for the 
future. In the same year a joint stock company 
was organized for the purchase of cattle, the settle- 
ment having grown too large to be supplied from the 
Fort. Slacum, whose ship, Loriot, was in the road- 
stead, offered free passage to Bodega for the party of 
ten commissioned to purchase cattle in California, 
advanced 1500 on behalf of the Mission, and gave to 
Ewing Young, who was to direct the enterprise, a 
new suit of clothes and a loan of $150. The other 
settlers got together $1000, and Dr. McLoughlin con- 
tributed $1250 on account of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany. The expedition returned overland the year 
following, reenforced by several Americans from 
California and driving six hundred cattle and forty 
horses. The horses were sold at auction and the 
cattle distributed among the stockholders at the rate 
of $7.67 apiece. The Mission thus secured eighty 
fine animals. The settlers were allowed to redeem 
the domesticated cattle loaned them from Vancouver 
with these wild steers, — an offer that was gladly 

Dr. Elijah White, a physician who came out with 
the reenforcement of 1837, indicates, in his Ten Years 
in Oregon, considerable dissatisfaction with Jason 
Lee's conduct of affairs. The following year he was 


induced to return to the states, " ostensibly " to collect 
funds and secure additional workers, but also in the 
hope that "commingling once more with polished 
society would result advantageously to himself and 
the mission." - 6 The letter addressed by Jason Lee 
to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (Middle- 
town, Conn., Jan. 17, 1839) gives evidence that his 
views as to the function of the Willamette Mission 
had undergone a change. "The exclusive object of 
the Mission is the benefit of the Indian tribes west 
of the Rocky Mts. But to accomplish this object it is 
found necessary to cultivate the soil, erect dwelling 
houses and schools, build mills and, in fact, introduce 
all the necessaries and helps of a civilized colony." 
He stated his conviction that the missionaries would 
remain as the nucleus of an American settlement 
after their services to the Indians were no longer 
required, provided the United States government 
would guarantee title to the lands taken up and im- 
provements thereon, together with protection and 
the laws of a civilized community. "The country 
will be settled, and that speedily, from some quarter ; 
and it depends very much upon the speedy action of 
Congress what that population will be. ... It may 
be thought that Oregon is of little importance ; but, 
rely upon it, there is the germ of a great state." 
Lee returned to the Willamette in May, 1840, bringing 
fifty additional missionaries (thirty-eight adults and 
thirteen children) and $40,000 worth of supplies, a 
reenforcement that still further diluted the zeal for the 
conversion of the Indians. Sir George Simpson, who 
visited the Willamette Valley in 1841, charged the 


Methodists with lukewarmness. "The American 
missionaries are making more rapid progress in the 
extension of their establishments and in the improve- 
ments of their farms, than in the ostensible objects 
of their residence in this country. As I cannot 
learn that they are successful, or taking much pains 
to be so, in the moral and religious instruction 
of the natives, who are perfectly bewildered by the 
variety of doctrines inculcated in this quarter." 27 
The Methodist Mission was closed in 1844, and the 
property divided among the members. 

The "cry from Macedonia" met with response 
from the Presbyterian Church, less generous than 
that of the Methodist Board in the way of money, 
but far more costly in human life. Two young mis- 
sionaries, Samuel Parker and Marcus Whitman, were 
despatched to Oregon in 1835. Parker made his way 
through to the Columbia, but decided that the field 
was not adapted to his talents and came back around 
the Horn. Whitman thought better of the prospect 
and returned to the United States for another helper 
and for his wife, Priscilla Prentis Whitman. The 
letters of this heroic woman furnish our most inti- 
mate knowledge of the struggles, the successes, the 
failure of the Waiilatpu Mission. In the spring of 
1836, Mr. and Mrs. Whitman, Mr. and Mrs. Spald- 
ing and a Mr. Gray, crossed the Plains in the train of 
the American Fur Company to the annual rendez- 
vous. They were provided with the usual number 
of horses and beef cattle, but the quite unusual ac- 
cessory of a four-wheeled wagon was added for the 
comfort of the ladies. Ashley had taken wagons 


through the South Pass ten years earlier, but such a 
vehicle had never attempted the lava beds along the 
Snake River nor threaded the steep denies of the 
Blue Mountains. 

On the trail up Bear River to Fort Hall, the mis- 
sionaries travelled in company with McLeod and 
McKay, the factors of the Hudson's Bay Company 
posts, and these gentlemen were indefatigable in 
their efforts to smooth the path of the gentle emis- 
saries of civilization. Buffalo failed after Bear 
River was passed, but antelope and elk were abun- 
dant, and at Fishing Falls there were plenty of 
salmon. Snake River was crossed at a point where 
two islands divide the stream into fordable channels. 
Here the wagon capsized, and much of the luggage 
had to be abandoned ; but when the axletree broke, 
the indomitable Whitman converted the vehicle into 
a two-wheeled cart. At Fort Boise the wagon was 
finally abandoned. 28 In recrossing the Snake, below 
the Boise, the ladies were intrusted to a rush canoe 
towed by Indians on horseback. "It is simply 
bunches of rushes tied together, and attached to a 
frame made of a few sticks of small willows. ' ' 29 Whit- 
man had intended to settle at Grande Ronde, the 
rendezvous of the mountain tribes, but was dissuaded 
by the almost insurmountable difficulty of getting 
supplies into a region so far from navigable rivers. 
The crossing of the Blue Mountains was the most 
awkward part of the journey, and the western slope 
was dangerous even for pack horses. "It was like 
winding stairs in its descent, and in some places 
almost perpendicular." 29 


Arrived at Fort Walla Walla, the weary travellers 
were cordially welcomed by Mr. Pambrun and 
feasted on the good things of his little farm. They 
had now reached the country of the Nez Perces, but 
it was deemed necessary to go onto Vancouver for sup- 
plies, and here the hospitable Dr. McLoughlin gave 
the new-comers a hearty welcome. He was not very 
encouraging, however, as to their prospects among 
the Flatheads, and warned them that their lives were 
in danger unless they settled under the protection 
of one of the Company's forts. This advice was 
adopted, and the men of the party returned to the 
Walla Walla to build a house at Waiilatpu, some 
thirty miles above the Fort, while the ladies accepted 
the hospitality of Fort Vancouver for the winter. 
Boats and guides and supplies were placed at the 
service of the new missionaries. u Dr McLoughlin 
promises to loan us enough to make a beginning, and 
all the return he asks is that we supply other settlers 
in the same way. He appears desirous to afford us 
every facility in his power for living. No person 
could have received a more hearty welcome, or be 
treated with greater kindness than we have been 
since our arrival." 30 

The Presbyterian missions were placed at strategic 
points among the mountain tribes ; the Whitmans 
settled at Waiilatpu in the land of the Cayuses, the 
Spaldings among the Nez Perces at Lapway on the 
Clearwater, while Walker and Eels, who came out in 
1839, went into the heart of the Flathead country 
above Fort Colville. At all of these stations, every 
effort was made to teach the natives industry as well 


as religion. Vegetables and fruits were introduced, 
fields cultivated to wheat, and grist-mills erected. 
At first the Indians seemed honest and tractable and 
eager to improve their condition. They even so far 
overcame their repugnance to manual labor as to 
till the fields and care for the hogs, hens, and cattle 
obtained from Walla Walla. But a quite unlooked- 
for source of dissension arose. The natives grew 
jealous of the waxing prosperity of the new-comers 
and began to demand payment, not only for the land, 
but for the wood and water as well. "It is difficult 
for them to feel but that we are rich and getting rich 
by the houses we dwell in and the clothes we wear 
and hang out to dry after washin from week to 
week, and the grain we consume in our families." 31 
This state of mind impressed the hard- worked mis- 
sionaries as both unreasonable and ungrateful. Dr. 
Whitman explained that the mission property was 
not his but belonged to the American Board, that he 
had come at the invitation of the Indians and would 
withdraw when he was no longer welcome. Another 
cause of distrust was that the medicines administered 
by Dr. Whitman did not always cure. When the 
sick persons had recourse to the medicine man, they 
were told that the whites were giving poison to rid 
the land of the Indian. An Iroquois named Joe 
Gray, who had been educated at Dartmouth but had 
reverted to the wild life of his fathers, came to the 
Walla Walla at this unlucky juncture and told the 
people that east of the mountains the whites had 
paid the Indians for all the land they tilled. He sug- 
gested that the Cayuses should insist upon their 



rights. Nothing but the near neighborhood of 
Fort Walla Walla prevented an open outbreak. 

Meantime the Catholic church had not been ob- 
livious to the needs of this remote land. The Hud- 
son's Bay Company had sent two priests to the Co- 
lumbia district (1838) for the benefit of the French 
engages at the forts, Walla Walla and Vancouver, and 
the settlements of Cowlitz and French Prairie, and, 
according to Sir George Simpson, "they had been 
very zealous in the discharge of their missionary 
duties." They could boast no less a convert than 
Dr. McLoughlin himself. Some time during the 
winter of 1841-1842, after reading Milner's polemic, 
The End of Controversy, he was baptized into the 
faith dear to his mother and his wife and to the 
French Canadians with whom he had so long been 
associated. It was an impolitic step so far as his 
Oregon interests were concerned, but it was taken 
with the chief factor's characteristic firmness. An 
antagonism between the Fort and the Methodist 
Mission is traceable from this time. 

The Flathead deputation of 1831 had been noted 
by the Catholic clergy. Indeed, the two Indians who 
died at St. Louis were buried in the cathedral. 
When neither the Methodist nor the Presbyterian 
missionaries ventured to this devoted people, a second 
deputation was sent to St. Louis (1835) and a third 
(1837). The Jesuit order took up the neglected 
task, and in the spring of 1840 Father de Smet jour- 
neyed to the mountains with the American Fur Com- 
pany's brigade. At Pierre's Hole, he met the Flat- 
heads and preached the gospel to the assembled tribe, 


baptizing several hundred. Immensely encouraged, 
the zealous apostle returned to St. Louis in the autumn 
for reinforcements, and in the following spring re- 
crossed the Plains with two priests and four lay 
brethren and an adequate outfit to found the mission 
of St. Mary's in the Bitter Root Valley. The enter- 
prise was planned for the civilization as well as the 
conversion of the Indians. They were taught to 
plough and plant, and wheat, oats, and potatoes were 
sown and harvested, to the amazement and delight 
of these aspirants for the white man's way of life. 
The following year, Father de Smet went down to 
Fort Vancouver to confer with his fellow-clergy and 
with the chief factor, and it was determined that he 
should canvass the United States and Europe for rein- 
forcements. He returned by ship in 1843 with a con- 
siderable number of "black frocks." Thus strength- 
ened, the apostle to the Flatheads extended his 
endeavor to other mountain tribes and founded the 
mission of the Sacred Heart for the Cceur d'Alenes 
and St. Ignatius' for the Pend d'Oreilles. Indus- 
trial development kept pace with the religious. At 
St. Mary's, Father Ravalli built a grist-mill, having 
brought the millstones from Europe for this purpose. 
For his sawmill, this same ingenious priest provided 
saw and crank beaten out of wagon tires. At St. 
Ignatius, too, a flour-mill was set up and a whip-saw 
run by water-power. The first church was built of 
sawed timbers which were put together without nails. 
The first missionaries, Protestant and Catholic, 
were devoted and self-sacrificing ; but the rival es- 
tablishments, preaching different forms of worship, 


had an unfortunate effect on the Indian mind. The 
confusion of authority was discouraging. Moreover, 
the natives had anticipated that the white man's re- 
ligion would bring them prosperity, — successful 
hunts and immunity from disease. When they found 
that the old ills were not abated and that new evils 
hitherto unknown were upon them — the white 
man's diseases, the white man's preemption of land 
and game — a sense of grievance and hostility took 
the place of their early hospitality. Apparently the 
gulf between the aborigines and civilized man was 
too wide to be crossed in one generation. It seems 
the irony of fate that the saintly Whitmans were 
selected as the victims of their futile wrath. On an 
autumn evening of 1847, the Cayuses suddenly at- 
tacked the Mission at Waiilatpu, killing in their blind 
rage not only Dr. and Mrs. Whitman, but the chil- 
dren resident in school and some American emigrants. 
The immediate result was a punitive expedition 
under the auspices of the United States, and the re- 
lations of friendship and equality between white man 
and red were at an end. 

Section III 
Dr. McLoughlin as a Colonizer 

The policy of the Hudson's Bay Company towards 
the Indians had always been conservative. The 
aborigines were regarded as hardly less important 
than the fur-bearing animals as factors in their trade, 
and the continuance of the several tribes in their an- 
cient hunting grounds was a matter of serious con- 


cern. For this reason, liquor was debarred, and 
intermarriage between native women and the Hud- 
son's Bay Company's men was encouraged. The 
chief factor himself had married a half-breed, the 
widow of Alexander McKay. The advent of foreign 
traders who brought in whiskey and vicious practices, 
together with the coming of settlers not under the 
jurisdiction of the Great Company, was naturally 
dreaded; but, far from discouraging colonization, 
the Company regarded the agricultural development 
of such territory as had ceased to produce furs in prof- 
itable proportions as a natural sequence; — witness 
the Red River settlement. By the terms of its char- 
ter, the Company was not permitted to discharge any 
of the Hudson's Bay Company servants in the wil- 
derness. They must be returned to the headquarters 
in Montreal. This was a humane provision, quite 
analogous to the regulation that a seaman may not 
be abandoned in a foreign port ; but the retiring 
employees of the Columbia district, seeing that this 
was a goodly land and well suited to farming, peti- 
tioned the chief factor to be allowed to settle there. 32 
Dr. McLoughlin devised a scheme by which he might 
conform to the letter of the law, while providing for 
the needs of the men and at the same time furthering 
the ultimate advantage of the Company. Engages 
who had completed their contracted term of service 
and accumulated £50 out of their wages, were per- 
mitted to take their families to the Willamette Valley 
and settle there ; but their names were not stricken 
from the books. They were still servants of the 
Company and liable to recall in case of need. Seed 


wheat, etc., was advanced from the stores at the Fort, 
on the understanding that the debt would be cleared 
with the first surplus product. Two oxen and two 
cows were furnished each settler on condition that all 
the increase be returned to Vancouver, but on no con- 
sideration were any cattle sold from the Company's 
herd. Implements and other supplies were sold to 
engages at fifty per cent advance on London prices. 33 
Wyeth wrote in 1839: "For several years past the 
Hudson's Bay Company have been in the practice of 
permitting their servants to retire from their employ, 
and settle on the Willamette; there are perhaps 
some twenty or thirty persons of this description, 
who are cultivating to a small extent on the bottoms 
of that river above the Falls (French Prairie). In 
these cases the obligations beween them and the Com- 
pany are not dissolved, but only suspended at the 
will of the Company, who can at pleasure recall them 
at their stations ; and this is often done, and the 
power to do so is used to govern them; their pay 
from the Company ceases during their absence from 
their stations, but is restored on their return." It 
was essential to the peace of the district that these 
discharged employees should be held in effective con- 
trol. A definite colonization scheme was deter- 
mined on during Dr. McLoughlin's visit to London 
(1840), and settlers were sent out by way of the Sas- 
katchewan in 1841 under the auspices of the Puget 
Sound Agricultural Association. 

Besides the Hudson's Bay Company's servants, 
there were a number of free trappers, who, finding 
increasing difficulty in making a livelihood from the 


beaver hunt, were desirous of settling down as farmers 
in the Multnomah country. The remnant of the 
Astorians — Joseph Gervais, William Cannon, and 
Alexander Carson, Lucier, La Framboise, Louis 
Labonte, Jack and Philip Degre — were settled here, 
and one man, Francois Rivet, who claimed to have 
been one of Lewis and Clark's party. Other trappers, 
" mountain men" from Snake River and the Seed- 
skeedee, having heard of the beauty and fertility of 
the Willamette Valley, determined to recoup their 
failing fortunes by moving thither. 34 Farnham met 
on Snake River two of these discouraged trappers, 
Gordon and Meek, who were setting out with their 
squaws, papooses, and all their "possibles" for the 
descent of the Columbia. They and many of their 
fellow trappers were proposing to " settle in one 
neighbourhood, and cultivate the earth, or hunt, as 
inclination or necessity might suggest, and thus pass 
the evening of their days among the wild pleasures of 
that delightful wilderness." 35 The cabin of one of 
these squatters is described by Farnham: "It was 
a hewn log structure, about twenty feet square, with 
a mud chimney, hearth and fireplace. The furni- 
ture consisted of one chair, a number of wooden 
benches, a rude bedstead covered with flag mats ; 
and several sheet-iron kettles, earthen plates, knives, 
forks, tin pint cups, an Indian wife, and a brace of 
brown boys." 36 

To all these would-be farmers — French, Scotch, 
and American — Dr. McLoughlin offered the same 
terms as to his old servants. Without his aid 
success would have been impossible, for Vancouver 


was the only source of supply for seed, implements, 
cattle, and provisions, and the only market for their 
surplus products. At first sight the chief factor's 
plan of action would seem to go directly athwart 
the interest of the great fur monopoly; but to a 
man actually resident in the country, it was evident 
that the fur-bearing animals were being exhausted 
and that new commodities must be brought to the 
Fort or its trade would languish. Astor's scheme 
of a trade with the Russian settlements was success- 
fully developed by McLoughlin, and for this trade 
food-stuffs were the first essential. , The grain 
grown on the Company's farm could not supply 
the demand, so it was evident that an agricultural 
colony producing wheat and potatoes would be a 
valuable accessory. To the settlers, the near neigh- 
borhood of the Fort was an unmixed gain, furnishing 
adequate protection from the Indians and from 
foreign interference, as well as a sure market for 
their surplus products. For wheat a fixed price of 
three shillings a bushel, always paid in supplies at 
thirty per cent less than the trade level, meant the 
equivalent of $1.25 in the States. The certificates 
of sale given to the farmers and redeemable at the 
Company's stores served all the purposes of money. 
To enable the penniless to earn a living, the chief 
factor " commenced building extensively, at the ails 
of the Wallamette, and thereby gave immediate em- 
ployment, at the highest wages, to all those who 
wished to labor." 37 

That Dr. McLoughlin's policy was not displeasing 
to his superiors is evident from the recently published 


report of Sir George Simpson, who visited the Columbia 
district in 1841. He notes that there were at that 
date one hundred and twenty-six men, heads of 
families, settled on the Willamette — sixty-five Ameri- 
cans and sixty-one Canadians — making a total popu- 
lation of five hundred whites. "All these people 
have taken possession of tracts of country at pleas- 
ure, which they expect to retain under a good title 
arising from such possession, whenever the boundary 
question may be determined ; and are generally very 
comfortably settled, bringing portions of their farms 
gradually under cultivation, and having large stocks 
of cattle brought from California. * * * We have this 
season purchased from these settlers about 4000 bu. 
wheat at 3 / per bushel, which will be disposed of 
to advantage by resale, and instead of manifesting 
any opposition to these people by withholding sup- 
plies from them, or putting them to inconvenience 
in other respects, it is considered good policy to deal 
with them on such fair and reasonable terms, that 
no stranger would benefit materially by opposing 
us in our transactions with them." 38 Sir George 
visited not only "the pastoral settlement at Mult- 
nomah Is." (Governor's Island at Willamette Falls), 
but the "Puget Sound Company's tillage farm" at 
the head of Cowlitz River. Here was a tract of 
eighteen hundred acres, of which one thousand was 
under cultivation, producing eight thousand bushels of 
wheat and four thousand bushels of oats and barley, 
besides a large quantity of potatoes. Here and on 
the fertile plains about Hood's Canal the land was 
farmed by tenants, — English and French half-breeds, 


retired servants of the Hudson's Bay Company 
from Red River. The men of English blood were 
furnished with sheep and cattle, and cultivated their 
crops on halves. The French were intrusted with 
seed and agricultural implements, but it was thought 
they were "not likely to do well with cattle." The 
governor in chief opined that this region would be 
"very favorable for settlement and would find an 
outlet for a foreign market by the straits of de 
Fuca." "There is no doubt that that country will 
in due time, become important as regards settle- 
ment and commerce, while the country in the 
vicinity of the coast, bordering on the Columbia 
and Willamette Rivers, so much spoken of in the 
United States as the El Dorado of the shores of the 
northern Pacific, must from the dangers of the bar 
and the impediments of navigation together with 
its unheal thiness sink in the public estimation." A 
contrary opinion was held by David Thompson, the 
old Northwester. Thompson was now a broken and 
forgotten man, but he addressed to the English gov- 
ernment a vigorous protest against the surrender of 
the Columbia River country, the most promising 
portion of the British inheritance on the Pacific 

Section IV 

American Emigrants 

The interest in Oregon awakened by Kelley's 
campaign and Wyeth's enterprises was stimulated 
and disseminated by reports of the beauty and fer- 


tility of the region sent back to "the States" by the 
missionaries. The Lees wrote letters to the Chris- 
tian Advocate, which was published simultaneously 
in New York, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis ; Whitman's 
articles appeared in the Congregationalist of Bos- 
ton, the Missionary Herald of New York, the Chris- 
tian Mirror of Portland. Even more stirring were 
the addresses made by the returned missionaries or 
their representatives in the Eastern cities. We have 
an account of one such lecture delivered by Jason 
Lee in Peoria in the autumn of 1838 which impelled 
a young lawyer from Vermont, T. J. Farnham, to 
lead a party of nineteen to the land of promise the 
following year. Farnham's enterprise added but 
eight settlers to the Willamette colony, but his 
report of what he saw and heard in the course of 
his journey to the far-famed Valley was widely read 
and had great effect in stimulating emigration to the 
Pacific Coast and in determining the American 
people to get possession not only of Oregon, but of 
California. During the decade 1839 to 1849, there 
was an annual migration from Westport up the 
Platte River and across South Pass to Fort Hall, 
thence down the Snake and over the Blue Moun- 
tains to Waiilatpu. 

With dangers thickening about their infant mis- 
sion, the Whitmans welcomed the appearance of 
white settlers. In May of 1840 Mrs. Whitman 
wrote, "a tide of immigration appears to be moving 
this way rapidly. . . . We are emphatically situ- 
ated on the highway between the States and the 
Columbia River, and are a resting place for the 


weary travellers, consequently a greater burden 
rests upon us than upon any of our associates — to 
be always ready." Considerations of humanity as 
well as of safety determined these devoted servants 
of God to give such food and shelter as they pos- 
sessed to all who passed that way. In 1841 two 
parties of Missourians, forty-two people all told, 
went through to the Willamette Valley. "Those 
emigrants were entirely destitute of every kind of 
food when they arrived here, and we were under 
necessity of giving them provisions to help them on. 
Our little place is a resting spot for many a weary, 
way-worn traveller, and will be as long as we live 
here. If we can do good that way, perhaps it is as 
important as some other things we are doing." 39 
In a letter written this same year, Whitman signed 
himself, "Your obedient fellow laborer for the sal- 
vation of the Indians, white settlers and passers-by 
in Oregon." 

In October of 1842 Dr. Whitman made a hurried 
journey back to the States on mission business. 
Because of the lateness of the season, he took the 
circuitous route by way of Taos, Santa Fe, and 
Bent's Fort, and arrived on the seaboard early in 
March, 1843, after a hazardous journey. In April 
he was back on the Missouri frontier piloting a 
party of emigrants to Oregon. His caravan of one 
hundred and twenty wagons was the first to cross 
the Snake River Desert and the Blue Mountains to 
the Walla Walla. From the Shawnee Mission he 
wrote : "It is now decided in my mind that Oregon 
will be occupied by American citizens. Those who 

Independence Rock. 
A landmark on the Oregon Trail. 

Crossing of the Platte. 
Mouth of Deer Creek. 



go [now] only open the way for more another year." 40 
Nearly one thousand men, women and children 
followed the Oregon Trail under his guidance, with 

Emigrant Roads, 1859. 

Wi.luiinn Eo«. Co., N.V. 

fifteen hundred cattle. The bulk of the emigrants 
came from the Western states — Kentucky Tennessee, 
Missouri, Arkansas, and Illinois — and were farmers, 
lured by the prospect of free land and by the in- 
satiable desire to see something of the world and to 
better themselves. J. C. Fremont, Senator Benton's 
son-in-law, who undertook a survey of the route this 
year, found it already thronged with emigrants. 
"The edge of the wood, for several miles along the 
[Bear] river, was dotted with the white covers of the 
emigrant wagons, collected in groups at different 
camps, where the smokes were rising lazily from 


the fires, around which the women were occupied 
in preparing the evening meal, and the children play- 
ing in the grass ; and herds of cattle grazing about 
in the bottom, had an air of quiet security, and 
civilized comfort, that made a rare sight for the 
traveller in such a remote wilderness." 41 

While in Washington in the spring of 1843, Whit- 
man had some conference with the secretary of 
war, and in consequence submitted a statement 
concerning the difficulties and dangers of the route 
and the draft of a bill proposing that the govern- 
ment provide military protection and a series of 
agricultural stations at strategic points along the 
Trail. The river crossings were suggested as the 
most desirable posts, because here the Indians were 
prone to fall upon the unguarded cattle, and here, 
too, soil and water supply were apt to make feasible 
the cultivation of wheat and other food needed by 
the people. Whitman thought such stations would 
be self-supporting, for the sale of supplies to the 
travellers would suffice for all money expense. 
Cattle and horses would be raised to make good the 
losses suffered by the trains, and blacksmiths and 
carpenters should be at hand to repair damages to 
the wagons. This admirable proposition was not 
submitted to Congress because the unsettled state 
of the boundary question rendered Oregon a delicate 
subject ; but the service which Whitman suggested 
should be undertaken by Uncle Sam was soon ap- 
propriated by private citizens. Fort Hall and Fort 
Boise and Fort Laramie — the American Fur Com- 
pany's post on the South Platte — were already driv- 


ing a thriving trade in emigrants' supplies, and 
another, Fort Bridger, was built this same year by 
a quondam fur trader, James Bridger. 

Even more helpful to the on-coming Americans 
was the chief factor at Fort Vancouver. As the 
parties of way-worn emigrants came down the 
Columbia, ragged and destitute, they were received 
at the Hudson's Bay Company trading post as at 
a mediaeval hospice. The thievish Indians at the 
Dalles and at the Cascades were warned not to 
molest the white men, the sick were taken into the 
hospital and tended by the post physician, food 
and shelter were furnished the women and children 
free of charge until they could be removed to the 
settlement, seed wheat was provided for the first 
sowing, and cattle, oxen, cows, and hogs were 
loaned on the same terms as to the Company's 
men. This assistance was offered by Dr. McLough- 
lin on his own responsibility and at his personal 
cost, because it was impossible for a man of his 
training and in his position to see human beings 
suffer from hunger and cold. His philanthropy was 
poorly requited. Burnet, himself a pioneer and a 
Missourian, states, "Many of our immigrants were 
unworthy of the favors they received, and only re- 
turned abuse for generosity." 42 An immigrant of 
1844, Joseph Watt, makes a similar confession : 
"When we started to Oregon, we were all preju- 
diced against the Hudson's Bay Company, and Dr. 
McLoughlin, being Chief Factor of the Company 
for Oregon, came in for a double share of that feel- 
ing. I think a great deal of this was caused by the 


reports of missionaries and adverse traders, imbuing 
us with a feeling that it was our mission to bring 
this country under the jurisdiction of the Stars and 
Stripes. But when we found him anxious to assist 
us, nervous at our situation on being so late, and 
doing so much without charge, — letting us have 
of his store, and waiting without interest, until we 
could make a farm and pay him from the surplus 
products of such farm, the prejudice heretofore 
existing began to be rapidly allayed. We did not 
know that every dollar's worth of provisions, etc., 
he gave us, all advice and assistance in every shape, 
was against the positive orders of the Hudson Bay 
Company. ... In this connection I am sorry to 
say that thousands of dollars [$60,000] virtually 
loaned by him to settlers at different times in those 
early days, was never paid, as an examination of 
his books and papers will amply testify." 43 

Dr. McLoughlin probably never read de la Roche- 
foucauld's bitter maxim, If you wish to make a man 
your enemy, do him a kindness he can never repay ; 
but he had abundant reason to realize its truth. 
The details of the chief factor's relations with the 
Company during these critical years will not be 
known until a fuller study of the records can be 
made. It is probable that some one reported his im- 
politic generosity to the London Office. Certain it 
is that he was summoned to London in 1845 and soon 
after resigned his post. His position under the 
treaty of Joint Occupation was a difficult one. The 
boundary was not defined, but the suggestions given 
by Governor Simpson pointed to the Columbia 


River as the probable line of division. The Wil- 
lamette Valley might surely be regarded as open to 
American enterprise. Traders could be driven out 
by competitive methods ; but in the matter of colo- 
nization the United States clearly had the advan- 
tage, and the Americans by this time far outnumbered 
any force the chief factor could bring to bear. They 
were hot-headed frontiersmen, moreover, who knew 
how to handle their rifles, and the first attempt to 
dislodge them would certainly precipitate war. 
McLoughlin's Narrative, written to justify his action 
in the minds of the London directors, adduces the fact 
that the immigrants "came from that part of the 
United States most hostile in feeling to British 
interests," u and he cites Irving's Astoria as highly 
provocative of the belief that the United States had 
been unfairly treated. 

Section V 
Congressional Intervention 

A resolution that inquiry be made as to the condition 
of the American settlements on the Pacific Ocean and 
as to the expediency of occupying the Columbia River, 
was introduced in the Congressional session of 1820- 
1 82 1 , — only two years after the treaty of Joint Occupa- 
tion had been concluded, — by Dr. Floyd, senator from 
Virginia. Thomas Benton was not yet a member of 
the Senate, but he was in Washington urging Mis- 
souri's right to statehood, and he used his influence 
in behalf of the lost territory. He relates in the 
Thirty Years' View 45 that he and Floyd were stop- 


ping at the same hotel with Ramsay Crooks and 
Russell Farnham, and that the extension of the fin- 
trade in this direction was a matter of frequent dis- 
cussion. Floyd's bill passed the second reading and 
was then dropped by tacit consent. It was sup- 
ported by an impressive array of information and 
statistics supplied by Hall J. Kelley, and the argu- 
ments advanced, in addition to the recovery of the 
territory and the advantage to the fur trade, were 
the desirability of having a supply station for 
whaling vessels on this coast and the promotion of 
commerce with Asia. This last point appealed to 
Benton's fervid fancy and he ventured to prophesy, 
"The valley of the Columbia might become the 
granary of China and Japan, and an outlet to their 
imprisoned and exuberant population." 46 Undis- 
couraged by the initial failure, Benton himself intro- 
duced a bill (1825) proposing that the defence of the 
Columbia be undertaken in order that Americans 
might have equal chances with the agents of the 
Hudson's Bay Company. 47 He opposed the renewal 
of the treaty of Joint Occupation (1828) "with all 
the zeal and ability of which I was master," and he 
found six western senators to vote with him. The 
renewal for an indefinite period of an arrangement 
that gave the great British monopoly a free hand 
in Oregon aroused his indignant scorn, and the 
failure of the Ashburton Treaty (1842) to settle the 
boundary question, he denounced as little short of 
treason. The attempt to colonize Puget Sound 
with emigrants from Canada and Great Britain he 
proclaimed a defiance of the Monroe Doctrine. 


Meantime the Oregon controversy was being 
settled by the emigrants. They were pouring into 
the country, — one hundred and twenty-five in 1842 
and eight hundred and seventy-five in 1843, — and 
they took up land in the Willamette Valley and 
built cabins, quite regardless of treaty obligations 
or United States law. In May, 1843, they met in 
convention at Champoeg (Young's ranch) and 
organized a provisional government. 48 Dr. McLough- 
lin was powerless to interfere, even had he desired to 
do so, and when in 1845 word came that the British 
government would not undertake to protect Fort 
Vancouver, the chief factor and all the British resi- 
dents took oath to support the newly constituted 
authorities, reserving, as did the Americans, allegiance 
due to the home government. 49 In this same year, 
L. F. Linn, junior senator from Missouri, brought 
forward a bill providing for the erection of five 
blockhouses along the Oregon Trail for the protec- 
tion of emigrants and granting farms in the disputed 
territory to bona fide settlers. 50 The bill failed to 
pass, but the mere proposal to allow six hundred and 
forty acres to every head cf a family with one hun- 
dred and sixty acres to his wife and one hundred and 
sixty acres to each child under eighteen years, at 
the end of five years' cultivation — served as a new 
stimulus to the westward movement. Eighteen 
hundred people followed the Trail in 1844 and three 
thousand in 1845. By the end of 1845, there were 
six thousand Americans in Oregon. The emigration 
of the next year doubled the number and determined 
the fate of the country. 


The inauguration of President Polk, a thorough- 
going expansionist, in 1846, settled the policy of the 
government. The Democratic platform had fixed 
upon 54° 40', the southern boundary of the Russian 
dominions (determined by treaty in 1824), as the 
northern limit of the American possessions ; but the 
soberer statesmen, including Benton, regarded this 
claim as untenable. Great Britain was ready to 
compromise at the forty-ninth parallel, and this 
moderate policy prevailed in the treaty of 1846. 
The Donation Act of 1850 finally realized the 
liberal land p'olicy proposed by Hall, Whitman, 
and Linn. To every citizen of the United States 
who had settled in Oregon before the passage of the 
bill, including half-breeds, was allotted land to the 
amount of three hundred and twenty acres ; to his 
wife, if he was married or about to be married, three 
hundred and twenty acres more. To all Americans 
who should settle in the territory before 1853, one 
hundred and sixty acres for the man and one hundred 
and sixty more for the wife. To avail themselves 
of this legislation, Dr. McLoughlin and others of the 
Hudson's Bay Company officials took out citizens' 
papers. The attempt to open this newly acquired 
territory to slave labor failed. 

The American settlers had entered upon a goodly 
heritage and they proceeded to make the most of it. 
The Hudson's Bay Company was now the inter- 
loper, and its property rights in the territory were 
given slight regard. The admirable mill site at 
Willamette Falls which Dr. McLoughlin had de- 
veloped in behalf of the Company, blasting a null- 


race and collecting squared timber and machinery 
for a saw-mill, was claimed by the Methodist Mis- 
sion. Oregon City was the most promising town 
site on the Willamette and here a flourishing settle- 
ment had sprung up. Palmer described it in 1845 
as having one hundred houses and six hundred 
inhabitants. "There are two grist mills; one 
owned by M'Laughlin, having three sets of buhr 
runners, and will compare well with most of the 
mills in the United States ; the other is a smaller 
mill, owned by Governor Abernethy and Mr. Beers. 
At each of these grist-mills there are also saw-mills 
which cut a great deal of plank for the use of 
emigrants. There are four stores, two taverns, one 
hatter, one tannery, three tailor shops, two cabinet- 
makers, two silversmiths, one cooper, two black- 
smiths, one physician, three lawyers, one printing 
office, . . . one lath machine, and a good brick yard 
in active operation. There are also quite a number 
of carpenters, masons etc. in constant employment, 
at good wages, in and about this village." 51 On his 
own behalf, Dr. McLoughlin claimed a tract of six 
hundred and forty acres on the river bank at this 
point, where he had put a number of houses and 
projected a town. These prior rights could not be 
gainsaid except by power of eminent domain ; there- 
fore representations were made to Congress that 
brought about the incorporation of Section Eleven 
into the Donation Act, reserving these lands as 
financial foundation for a state university. Under 
this show of legality, Dr. McLoughlin's tract was 
sold to the men who had secured the legislation. 52 


The broken-hearted old man protested without avail. 
"I founded this settlement and prevented a war 
between the United States and Great Britain, and 
for doing this peaceably and quietly, I was treated 
by the British in such a manner that from self- 
respect I resigned my situation in the Hudson's Bay 
Company's service, by which I sacrificed $12000 per 
annum, and the ' Oregon Land Bill ' shows the treat- 
ment I received from the Americans." 53 

The boundary treaty had reserved the right of 
the Hudson's Bay Company to navigate the Colum- 
bia and to continue its trading operations until the 
expiration of its charter, although these privileges 
were hardly worth prosecuting now that the beaver 
were being supplanted by cultivation and American 
vessels sailed up the roadstead bringing goods from 
the United States and carrying produce to California 
and the Sandwich Islands. When the great British 
company withdrew in 1859, the property at the 
several posts was offered to the United States gov- 
ernment for $1,000,000. A commission was ap- 
pointed to estimate the value of the improvements 
at Fort Vancouver. The property had been so 
looted and wasted by the squatters who hurried to 
take possession as soon as it was vacated, that the 
commissioners found justification for appraising this 
estate at $250 ! 



Thus far the dominant motive in the westward 
movement had been the demand for new lands, the 
desire to better material conditions. The initial 
impulse in the peopling of the Great Basin was given 
by religious persecution. Like the Pilgrims who 
founded Plymouth Colony, the Mormon leaders 
sought an unoccupied country where they might be 
free to worship God according to their own con- 
victions and might build a commonwealth after their 
own notions of moral and spiritual well-being. 
First in Ohio and then in Missouri, they had at- 
tempted to establish a community patterned upon 
the revelations enunciated by their prophet, Joseph 
Smith. Such an enterprise was of necessity exclu- 
sive, and this exclusiveness, coupled with their pro- 
jects of universal dominion, aroused the envy and ill- 
will of their " Gentile " neighbors. Driven from their 
Missouri homes by mob violence (Independence, 
1831 ; Far West, 1838) and forced to abandon lands 
and property, they found refuge in Illinois. Com- 
merce, a little settlement on a bluff overlooking the 
Mississippi, was purchased by their agent and re- 
christened Nauvoo. There, by dint of thrift and 
solidarity, the Latter Day Saints soon acquired 
farms, started manufactures, and accumulated con- 
siderable wealth. Missionaries were sent through- 



out the civilized world (1840) to enlist converts and 
solicit financial aid for the New Jerusalem. By 
1844, thirty thousand Mormons were gathered at 
Nauvoo, and twice as many disciples in the Eastern 
states, in England, in Scandinavia, and in Germany, 
were preparing to join their revered leader in this 
new Zion. 

The frontier population of Illinois was hardly less 
lawless than that of Missouri. River pirates, 
refugees from justice, half-breed Indians, defiant 
squatters, mingled with the law-abiding element, 
both in Nauvoo and in the surrounding country. 
The Mormons, on the other hand, were charged with 
harboring cattle thieves, counterfeiters, and polyga- 
mists. It is not unlikely that some of the more 
ignorant and reckless brethren interpreted as im- 
mediate in application the prediction that the saints 
should inherit the earth, and so regarded the theft of 
cattle and grain from Gentile farmers as justifiable, — 
the " spoiling of the Egyptians" as the phrase was. 
The authorities were both unwilling and unable to 
enforce the law against either contestant, words 
waxed to blows, and in the end the much-enduring 
Mormons were once more forced to migrate. A 
scant space of six months was allowed them in 
which to sell their possessions and purchase the 
wagons, oxen, and supplies for this third decamp- 
ment. Their determination to go into a far wilder- 
ness, beyond the reach of their persecutors, was 
sealed by the betrayal and murder of Joseph Smith. 
That crime was the final demonstration of the 
duplicity of the Gentile world and the necessity of 


building an independent commonwealth where the 
Saints might dwell in peace and safety. No true 
Mormon hesitated to face the issue. 

In February, 1846, the advance-guard crossed the 
Mississippi and formed a temporary camp at Sugar 
Creek, about nine miles back from the river. Early 
in March, sixteen hundred men, women, and children 
set out thence to cross the rolling plains of southern 
Iowa. Wood, water, and game were abundant, and 
there was no difficulty in securing food from the 
farmers along the route in exchange for labor. 
Arrived at Council Bluffs, they crossed the Missouri 
and camped in the Indian reservation. Here among 
the Ottawas or in the Pottawattamie bottoms on the 
east bank of the river, the refugees found sanctuary. 
For twenty years thereafter, the Bluffs was the 
point of departure for the Mormon who had set his 
face Zionward, and a " Winter Quarters" was main- 
tained where the emigrants might recuperate and 
secure the outfit for their journey across the plains. 1 
Here fields were planted and cattle gathered for the 
use of the ever increasing tide. A grist-mill was 
built to prepare the flour, and blacksmiths and 
wheelwrights were employed to make ready the 
wagons that were to transport the " Saints " and their 
belongings to the land of promise, and here, during 
the summer and autumn of 1846, the Nauvoo 
refugees rallied. The late comers, those who because 
of illness or inability to provide means for the 
journey had delayed their departure till Septem- 
ber, suffered severely. Overtaken by winter storms 
and scantily supplied with food and clothing, they 


encountered every hardship. Exposure and the 
malaria-haunted country through which they were 
marching bred disease. The names given to their 
halting places, Poor Camp and Misery Bottom, 
attested their wretched plight. Had not food and 
fresh oxen been sent to their aid from Winter Quar- 
ters, the women and children, the sick and aged 
must have perished. Under the efficient direction 
of the apostles, the combined resources of the 
church were brought to bear in this trek of a de- 
voted people, and every individual gave ungrudg- 
ingly time, strength, and skill to the task of making 
provision for the needy. By intelligent cooperation 
fifteen thousand human beings with three thousand 
wagons, thirty thousand cattle, large flocks of 
sheep, and all manner of tools, machinery, and ma- 
terials deemed serviceable in the colonization of a 
wilderness were conveyed across the four hundred 
miles between Nauvoo and Council Bluffs in the 
short space of six months. 2 

It was a great achievement, but only the begin- 
ning of the task the Mormon leaders had set them- 
selves. Brigham Young, the successor of Joseph 
Smith in the presidency, had determined to place 
his flock beyond the mountains that formed the 
western limit of the Louisiana Purchase, out of 
reach of persecution. Little was then known of the 
vast basin or series of basins lying between the 
continental divide and the Sierra Nevada, except 
that the region was arid, treeless, and comparatively 
destitute of animal life. It was indicated on con- 
temporary maps as the Great American Desert. 


Trappers had followed the mountain streams and 
practically exterminated the beaver, Ashley had 
held his rendezvous at Salt Lake, and Jedidiah 
Smith had made this desolate spot his headquarters. 
W. A. Walker had crossed (1833) the desert to the 
Sierras beyond, returning by way of Ogden River. 
Ten years later, the "pathfinder," under the guidance 
of Kit Carson, had explored the Great Salt Lake and 
reported his " discovery" to the government. Fre- 
mont's brilliant Journal was printed in 1845 and 
may have fallen into the hands of the Mormon 
leader ; but in any case, the route to South Pass 
and the wonderful possibilities of Upper California 
-were well known, so that migration to that region 
could not be regarded as an enterprise requiring 
superhuman foresight. It was the part of a judicious 
Moses, however, to go in advance of his people and 
spy out the land. 

Early in April of 1847, President Young, with a 
company of one hundred and forty picked men, set 
out to discover the promised Zion. Seventy-three 
ox carts were loaded with food for the march and 
with farm implements, seeds, and carpenters' tools 
for the preparation of quarters for the later migra- 
tion. The south bank of the Platte was the usual 
route of the Oregonians, but Young followed the 
north bank. It was higher and more wholesome 
and offered better pasturage and fewer Indians than 
the beaten trail, and the Mormons were desirous, 
moreover, to avoid coming into conflict with Mis- 
sourians and other troublesome emigrants. Their 
order of march was like that of disciplined troops. 


Every man walked with his gun loaded and powder- 
horn ready, the wagons were kept well together, 
and an advance-guard determined the most practi- 
cable road and looked out for buffalo and marauding 
Indians. The night encampment was a model of 
its kind. The wagons were drawn into a semi- 
circle, with diameter on the river, in such fashion 
that the tongues formed an awkward barricade and 
the fore-wheel of each wagon, interlocking with the 
hind wheel of the wagon in front of it, completed a 
substantial corral. Within this enclosure the cattle 
were confined, while the tents were placed outside. 
The night watch was intrusted to experienced men 

Early in June the little army reached Fort Lar- 
amie, the former trading post at the foot of the Black 
Hills, and here they halted to build rafts for the cross- 
ing of the North Platte and to dry meat for the moun- 
tain journey. Here, too, they secured a considerable 
addition to their scanty stock of food as compensa- 
tion for the service rendered a party destined for 
Oregon, who were glad to make use of the impromptu 
ferry. At Fort Laramie, Young left a detachment 
of nine men to maintain the ferry as a means of ob- 
taining money and supplies from the Oregonians and 
for the use of the Mormon emigrants when they 
should arrive. Once over South Pass and on west- 
ward-flowing water, the " pioneers" turned south 
from the Oregon Trail and, following down the Big 
Sandy, came to the Green River, over which they 
rafted the wagons. Black's Fork led them to Fort 
Bridger, which Orson Pratt describes as "two ad- 


joining log houses, with dirt roofs, and a small picket 
yard of logs set in the ground, about eight feet high. 
The number of men, squaws and half-breed children 
in these houses and [the surrounding] lodges may be 
about fifty or sixty." Colonel Bridger gave a most 
discouraging account of the agricultural possibilities 
of the Cordilleran area. The "whole region was 
sandy and destitute of timber and vegetation except 
the sage brush." He knew exceptions, such as Bear 
Valley, Cache Valley, and the Willamette, but these 
fertile oases were preempted either by white men or 
Indians. There was a "good country " south of Utah 
Lake where the Indians were producing "as good 
corn and wheat and pumpkins as was ever raised in 
old Kentucky," and twenty days' march farther south 
the aborigines grew any quantity of the "very best 
wheat"; 3 but he was ready to offer $1000 for the 
first ear of corn grown in the Great Basin. Con- 
cluding that they would not turn back until they had 
seen the country for themselves, the "pioneers" 
pushed on, directly west, and found their way, with 
considerable difficulty, to Echo Cafion and across the 
range to Emigration Cafion, — a narrow defile that 
opens on to the mesa overlooking Salt Lake Valley. 
Two small rivers flowing down from the Wasatch 
Range made this seem a promising location, and here 
within two hours of their arrival (July 23) the ad- 
vance-guard began to plough for a belated planting. 
The baked earth was hard as iron, and several of the 
shares were broken in the attempt to turn a furrow. 
To soften the soil, they dammed the creek and di- 
rected the flow over the land. The device worked 


satisfactorily and was used there after, not only to 
soften the soil,, but to moisten the seed. The dam- 
ming of City Creek marked the beginning of irrigation 
in the Great Basin. Pueblo Indians and their Spanish 
successors had practised irrigation in New Mexico, 
after inherited methods ; but that Yankee farmers and 
English artisans should have hit upon the process with 
their first planting argues a high degree of ingenuity. 
During the month of August, some eighty acres 
were planted to corn and potatoes. The wheat crop 
was a failure because planted too late to ripen, but 
enough potatoes were gathered to furnish seed for 
the coming year. Shelter was quite as important as 
food, and men were sent to bring down timber from 
the mountains for the construction of a fort. 4 A pit- 
saw was soon erected, and some thirty houses were 
built of logs and adobe in four blocks so as to form a 
hollow square ten acres in extent. The outside walls 
were perforated with loopholes only, and all doors 
and windows opened on the court, after the fashion 
of a palisaded fort in frontier Kentucky. 

On the seventeenth of August, less than a month 
after the arrival of the "pioneers," a company of 
seventy men was sent back to meet the main body 
of the refugees and escort them over the mountains. 
The " first emigration" comprised 1553 men, women, 
and children. Their live stock consisted of 2213 cattle, 
124 horses, 887 cows, 358 sheep, with a few hogs 
and chickens. This great train with its 566 prairie 
schooners set out from Elkhorn River on the fourth of 
July and arrived at Salt Lake on the twenty-seventh of 
September in good health and without serious mishap. 




Once in the valley, the way-worn emigrants en- 
countered a staggering disappointment. The pros- 
pect as they descended Emigration Canon was 
beautiful as scenery, but it did not promise much in 
the way of sustenance. The plain was a waste of 
sage-brush, over which floated a heat mirage dis- 
torting distant objects. The ground was white with 
alkali and infested with black crickets, lizards, and rat- 
tlesnakes. Only along the creeks flowing down from 
the mountains was there any green, and here grew 
nothing but cottonwood, willow, and scrub-oak. 
Trees suitable for building — ash, maple, fir, and 
pine — were back in the canons, eight or ten miles 
distant from the site of the city, and the only pas- 
turage was the bunch grass that covered the mesa. 
Return was unthinkable, however, and the Saints 
resolutely set to work, determined to force the desert 
to yield them a living. Those who had arrived too 
late to secure cabins, dug caves in the dry earth or 
placed the covered wagon beds upon the ground and 
used them for shelter. The rainy season was cold 
and uncomfortable, but it reassured them as to the 
chances of agriculture. 

The city was soon laid out in wide streets and 
house lots of an acre and a quarter each. Five-acre 
lots were surveyed in the suburbs as garden plots for 
the mechanics. Beyond were the farm lots of ten, 
forty, and eighty acres, increasing with distance 
from the population center. After the initial year 
of common cultivation, these lands were assigned to 
all comers as equitably as might be, each man draw- 
ing for his portion of the general inheritance. To 

Emigration Canon. 

The Wasatch Kange, above Provo. 


che leaders who had plural wives and large families, 
a proportionate holding was awarded. Ten-acre lots 
were reserved for the temple and for public parks. 
As the Danes " roped out" their arable lands 
in conquered Anglia, so these conquerors of the 
desert divided to each man his portion. Claims 
were based on need and use. Brigham Young is 
reported as saying "that no man should buy land 
who came here ; that he had none to sell ; but every 
man should have his land measured out to him for 
city and farming purposes. He might till it as he 
pleased, but he must be industrious and take care 
of it." 5 In the First General Epistle issued in the 
autumn of 1849, the president stated: "A field of 
eight thousand acres has been surveyed south of 
and bordering on the city. The five and ten acre 
lots are distributed to the brethren by casting lots, 
and every man is to build a pole, ditch, or stone fence 
as shall be most convenient, around the whole field 
in proportion to the land he draws ; also a canal on 
the east side for the purpose of irrigation." A quite 
similar apportionment of land and labor was custom- 
ary in colonial New England. The common fence 
and the common ditch and the common pasture (to 
which the cows were driven by a common herder) 
were not the effect of Owenism or Fourierism or any 
of the contemporary communistic theories, but the 
dictates of common-sense and brotherly cooperation. 
The same union of effort was evidenced in the set- 
ting up of a pit-saw and the building of the first saw- 
and grist-mills. The water-power of the mountain 
streams was rapidly utilized, and sixteen sawmills 
vol. n — N 


and eleven grist-mills were completed by the spring 
of 1850. 6 Irrigating canals, mill-dams, roads, and 
bridges would have been impossible without such 
cooperation. The so-called "public works" were 
accomplished by labor furnished as equivalent for 
the tithes due from all church members and offered 
by assisted emigrants in return for transportation. 
So were built on Temple Block the first shops for car- 
penters, blacksmiths, and machinists. Here, and by 
contributed labor, was forged and cast the machinery 
used in the flour and lumber mills, also carding ma- 
chines, fanning mills and farm tools, — the iron being 
taken from the hubs and tires of discarded wagons. 
Later, when produce and even money began to be 
brought to the tithing office, laborers were hired and 
paid in food and clothing, and many a successful 
business man was helped to his start in life by em- 
ployment on the public works. The directing genius 
of all these enterprises was Brigham Young. Never 
had a great colonizer so free a hand. His word was 
law, and his requisitions were complied with in Scrip- 
ture measure. Not even the founder of Pennsylvania 
had more definite plans for his ideal city or was more 
autocratic in determining the business undertakings 
of the people who came to the New World under his 

In March of 1848 the population of Salt Lake City 
was 1671 ; 423 houses had been put up, and there 
were 5000 acres under cultivation (500 being planted 
to wheat) ; the outlook for the future was full of 
promise. Then befell a staggering calamity. A 
"plague of locusts" overspread the land and tlireat- 

Salt Lake City in 1849. 
Looking east. 

Salt Lake City in 1S53. 
Looking south. 


ened to destroy the crops. The people combated their 
advance with every conceivable device, but it was a 
losing fight. They had given up the struggle in de- 
spair, when lo ! a great flock of gulls came up from the 
lake and gorged themselves upon the enemy. To 
the half-starved Saints this seemed a miracle, but it 
was fortunately a miracle that happened every year. 
The remnant of the crops was saved, though barely 
enough to carry the "pioneers" and the summer's 
accession of three thousand emigrants through the 
next winter. This was the Mormons' "starving 
time." Frost and snow were exceptionally severe 
that year, and fuel was scarce. The stock of flour 
ran so low that from February to July the ration 
was three-quarters of a pound per head per day. 
Many families were reduced to digging the roots of 
the sego lily for food, and a rawhide broth was made 
from old buffalo robes. Word was sent to Winter 
Quarters that no emigrants should be forwarded the 
coming season who were not fully self-sustaining, and 
that these must bring several months' supply of 

Even so, the colony might have perished but for a 
quite unforeseen event; viz., the discovery of gold in 
the Sacramento Valley. The first gold-seekers ar- 
rived at Salt Lake in August, 1849, and the Mormon 
settlement soon became the halfway station on the 
overland route to California and an important trad- 
ing post. In their wild race to be first in the field, 
the "forty-niners" were ready to make any sacrifice. 
Fresh horses and mules were purchased at ten times 
their eastern value, while the jaded animals of the pack 


trains, often of excellent breed, were abandoned or sold 
for a song. Flour brought $25 per hundredweight, 
and the labor of skilled mechanics — blacksmiths and 
wheelwrights — rose to S3 a day. On the other hand, 
"States goods," unobtainable hitherto at any price, 
sold at New York rates, or even less. Merchants who 
had stocked up for the California trade, hearing that 
goods were being sent round the Horn, were glad to 
dispose of their merchandise in this certain market. 
Money, thus far the scarcest of commodities, began 
to circulate. The awkward produce payments and 
the promissory notes issued by the apostles were no 
longer necessary. A transportation enterprise was 
organized under the auspices of the church, the Great 
Salt Lake Valley Carrying Company, for the convey- 
ance of passengers and freight from the Missouri 
River to the Pacific Coast, and proved very profitable. 
The rate for passengers was $300 each and for goods, 
$250 per ton. 

President Young did not intend his people to become 
dependent on the outside world. The difficulty of 
maintaining a colony divided from any market by one 
thousand miles of wagon trail was far greater than 
on the seaboard within reach of supply ships, and 
from the start the Mormons understood that they 
must be self-sustaining. Cloth and blankets were 
woven on hand-looms, the wool being carded and spun 
by the thrifty housewives. Not only shoes and boots, 
but clothes, were made of deer and elk skins. The 
brine of the lake yielded from one-third to one-fourth 
its weight in salt, and this necessity of life was hauled 
by the wagon-load from works set up on the shore. 


A supply was even sent back to Winter Quarters. 
The soda springs a few miles to the north were made 
to serve another prime need. Sugar was not a 
product of the desert, but Old World experience 
suggested that saccharine might be obtained from 
corn or from beets. A crushing mill was built from 
the funds of the church in 1855, the machinery being 
welded out of scrap iron. Under the same benign 
auspices, a tannery, a pottery, a woollen mill, and a 
nail factory were soon in operation, and a railroad 
was built up the canon to bring stone from a distant 
quarry. Bishops were accustomed to instruct their 
flocks in the economical administration of their farms 
and to read in public a list of those who were to be 
commended for superior husbandry, fencing and 
other improvements, — also a black list of the "idle, 
slothful and unimproving portion of the community, 
who were held up to reprobation, and threatened, in 
default of certain tasks allotted them being finished 
at the next visit, to be deprived of their lots and ex- 
pelled the community." 7 

An agricultural society was established for the pur- 
pose of instructing the new-comers in the methods of 
irrigation, making experiments in fruits and vege- 
tables, and offering prizes to the most successful 
farmers. The territorial assembly (1855) offered 
prizes for the largest crop of flaxseed, hemp, flower 
seed, etc., grown on a half acre of ground, and a re- 
ward of $1000 was offered (1854) to the discoverer of 
a bed of merchantable coal within feasible reach of 
Salt Lake City. Rewards were proposed, also, for the 
manufacture of rifle powder from materials found in the 


territory, — $100 for the first hundred pounds, $100 
for the second, $50 for the third, and so on till two 
thousand pounds should be put upon the market. 
Moreover, capital was encouraged to invest in the 
region by liberal terms of incorporation. The Des- 
eret Iron Company was chartered in 1853 in the hope 
of developing the mineral resources of the Escallante 
Valley, and the church and the territorial govern- 
ment took $10,000 worth of stock. The Provo Manu- 
facturing Company was authorized (1853) to raise a 
capital of $1,000,000 and to employ it "in such 
manufactures as they shall deem best * * * and for 
the erection and maintenance of such machinery, 
dams, buildings, races, watercourses, bridges, roads, 
etc.," as might serve their purpose. 

Labor adequate to all these enterprises was in- 
sured by a steady stream of immigrants. The Per- 
petual Emigration Fund was organized (1849) for 
the purpose of assisting needy Saints to reach the 
city of their hopes. The sum of $5000 was raised at 
Salt Lake in 1849, and $35,000 was collected abroad 
in the next five years. The expenses of transporta- 
tion were reduced to a minimum, and the recipient 
of aid was expected to restore the sum to the treasury 
as soon as possible, in order that others of the world's 
poor might enjoy a like benefit. 8 

In 1855 disaster again befell the infant colony. 
Grasshoppers swarmed the fields and threatened to 
be as destructive as the " crickets " had been. The 
following winter was unusually severe. The poorer 
families were reduced to rations of roots and raw- 
hide, and great was the suffering in the frail wagon 

Gathering to Zion. " Life by the Way. 

The Handcart Emigrants in a Storm. 


tents. The Emigration Fund was by this time so 
depleted that a cheaper method of transportation 
was proposed. The emigrants were to cross the 
Plains on foot, pushing their belongings in hand- 
carts, and the charge for the journey from Liverpool 
to Salt Lake on these terms was reduced from £15 
to £9 with half rates for infants in arms. In the 
summer of 1856, thirteen hundred people were sent 
over the Mormon Trail in five different companies, — 
the so-called " hand-cart brigades." To each hun- 
dred were allotted five tents, twenty hand-carts, and 
one wagon drawn by three yoke of oxen. Tents and 
general supplies were stowed in the wagon, but each 
family carried its own rations and its quota of the 
sick and helpless in the hand-cart, while women 
and children, from the toddlers to the aged, walked 
the weary road (a three months' tramp) from Winter 
Quarters to the Valley. The first three companies 
suffered no more than the inevitable hardships, but 
the two last, delayed by the scarcity of carts until 
mid-August, suffered terribly from hunger and 
drought, were overtaken by heavy snow-storms in 
the mountains, and the loss of life was great. The 
news of this disaster, together with discouraging re- 
ports concerning crops, etc., checked the emigration 
movement. It never again reached the proportions of 
1855, and the hand-cart experiment was not repeated. 
In the fifteen years between 1840 and 1854, twenty- 
two thousand Mormons took ship for America, three- 
fourths of this number after 1848. The bulk of these 
people came from Great Britain. At Liverpool, an 
authorized agent of the church chartered the ships 


and sold the tickets, commissioning one or more 
elders to take charge of the emigrants en route. 
These were responsible for good order and cleanli- 
ness, and we have abundant testimony to the effect 
that the personnel of these companies was higher 
and their standards of health and conduct much 
better than on the ordinary passenger steamers. 9 
If the port was New York or Philadelphia, the 
emigrants went over the Alleghanies to the Ohio 
River and thence by boat to St. Louis ; but the more 
economical, and therefore the more usual, route was 
by way of New Orleans and the Mississippi and 
Missouri rivers to St. Louis or Keokuk, Indepen- 
dence or the Bluffs, — whatever point of departure 
for the overland journey might have been determined 
on. At each transfer was an agent who looked after 
the comfort of the emigrants and furnished them 
with the necessary supplies. For the journey across 
the Plains, a carrying company was organized 
which was ready to transport passengers and luggage 
as well as ordinary freight at reasonable charges. 
This did away with the necessity of buying oxen and 
wagons at these congested points, where the demand 
was always in excess of the supply. In this service 
and in the retailing of oxen, wagons, and food to in- 
experienced foreigners, there was abundant oppor- 
tunity for maltreatment and speculation; but the 
representatives of the church seem, as a rule, to have 
performed their duties with commendable ability and 
uprightness. It was, taken all in all, the most suc- 
cessful example of regulated immigration in United 
States history. 


The march of this motley multitude was managed 
by an organization suggestive of that under which 
the Angles and Saxons migrated to Britain. The 
people were divided and subdivided into hundreds 
and fifties and tens, the natural attachments of kin- 
ship and neighborhood being observed, and to each 
division was assigned a responsible captain. Each 
hundred was to provide itself with oxen, carts, and 
all needed supplies. For a party of ten, a wagon, two 
milch cows, and a tent was the standard require- 
ment. 10 Each was to send forward pioneers to plant 
crops and build houses, each was to care for its pro- 
portion of "the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and 
the families of those who have gone into the army." u 
Military order was observed on the march and in the 
encampments, the several officers taking turns at 
guard duty about the improvised corral. On this 
plan were organized all the Mormon companies that 
crossed the Plains for the next thirty years, until the 
Union Pacific Railway was carried through to Ogden. 
Thorough discipline and mutual aid were the means 
by which one hundred thousand people, the majority 
of them women and children, were conducted over 
one thousand miles of desert and mountain with a 
minimum of loss in life and property. 

The original source of this extraordinary migration 
was Nauvoo, but later accessions came from the 
Eastern and Southern states, from England, Wales, 
Scotland, and Scandinavia. The fourth and fifth dec 
ades of the nineteenth century proved an epoch of 
misery and unrest, when the poor of every land were 
seeking escape from political and industrial oppres- 


sion, and no solution of their difficulties was too 
transcendental for credence. The wretched opera- 
tives of Manchester and Birmingham, workmen in 
the potteries of Staffordshire, miners of the Lan- 
cashire collieries, the struggling artisans of London, 
the landless peasants of Scotland, the superfluous 
population of Norway, caught eagerly at this op- 
portunity to secure earthly prosperity and eternal 
salvation at one stroke. Thousands accepted the 
Mormon faith and prepared to migrate to the prom- 
ised land with the vaguest notion of the chances and 
hardships involved. By far the greater number were 
farmers and mechanics of the better class who had 
the means to remove to the land of opportunity. A 
large proportion, according to official statistics of 
the British government, were skilled laborers who 
carried with them the tools needed to pursue their 
occupation. The amount of hold luggage brought 
to the dock by Mormon passengers was a common 
complaint of ships' captains, who avowed that the 
vessel lay an inch deeper in the water on this account. 
The migration agents were directed by the church 
authorities "to seek diligently in every branch [of 
their British church] for wise, skilful and ingenious 
mechanics, manufacturers, potters, etc." 12 The 
emigrants were advised to bring with them tools and 
machinery, or designs of machinery, textile and other- 
wise, that they might set up their several crafts in 
the Valley. From time to time President Young 
announced the industries most needed in the com- 
monwealth beyond the Rockies, e.g. "We want a 
company of woollen manufacturers to come with 


machinery, and take our wool from the sheep, and 
convert it into the best clothes, and the wool is ready. 
We want a company of cotton manufacturers, who 
will convert cotton into cloth and calico, etc., and 
we will raise the cotton before the machinery can be 
ready. We want a company of potters ; we need 
them. The clay is ready and the dishes wanted. 
Send a company of each, if possible, next spring. 
Silk manufacturers and all others will follow in rapid 
succession. We want some men to start a furnace 
forthwith ; the coal, iron and moulders are waiting. 
We have a printing press, and any who can take good 
printing and writing paper to the Valley will be bless- 
ing themselves and the Church." 13 

Under this systematic propaganda, emigrants were 
arriving at the rate of two and three thousand a year, 
and it was evident that the narrow strip of irrigable 
land between the mesa and the lake could not 
sustain the growing community. Steps were taken 
to enlarge the borders, and exploring parties were 
sent out to find new locations. Wherever soil and 
water supply were adequate for agriculture, where 
there was water-power suited for milling purposes or 
mineral resources to be developed, "stakes" were 
planted. Companies of colonists were organized 
under trusted leaders and equipped with provisions 
and the implements and materials necessary to the 
prosecution of their industrial mission. Weber Valley 
to the north and Utah Valley to the south held better 
promise for the farmer than the shores of Salt Lake, 
and here a series of settlements was made. Farther 
south in the arid San Pete Valley, mountain streams 



were found sufficient to maintain Nephi, Juab, and 
Manti stakes along the Spanish Trail. Cedar City 

Stakes planted in Zion, 1847-1877. 

was founded, two hundred and seventy miles south 
of Salt Lake, for the working of the iron and coal 
deposits discovered there. A smelter was erected 
which produced a ton of metal per day, and five 
hundred acres were planted to wheat for the main- 
tenance of the miners. In every case the site of the 
settlement and its leader were approved by President 
Young, and careful provision was made that ade- 
quate supplies of tools, seeds, and live stock were in 
the outfit and that each company included a suffi- 
cient number of artisans. 

When in 1850 the State of Deseret became the 
Territory of Utah, there were eleven thousand people 
in the Valley, sixteen thousand acres of land were 
under cultivation, and the taxable property of the 


colony amounted to $1,000,000. During the next 
six years, in spite of the grasshopper plague and other 
discouraging circumstances, the colony doubled these 

In the first days at Salt Lake, Brigham Young had 
said, "Now if they will let us alone for ten years, I'll 
ask no odds of them." u The tenth anniversary of 
the settlement brought the Mormon commonwealth 
to a trial of strength with the Federal authorities. 
Controversies with the "gold-seekers" over payment 
for supplies, claims to strayed cattle, damages for 
trespassing, etc., had embittered the relations be- 
tween Mormon and Gentile. 15 The officials sent out 
from Washington were mere place-hunters, neither 
tactful nor wise nor, in all cases, upright, but the 
scandal of polygamy had shocked the moral sense of 
the nation. Representations forwarded to President 
Buchanan to the effect that United States authority 
was defied by the Mormons, induced him to order 
troops to Utah for the purpose of overawing the mal- 
contents and inaugurating the first Gentile administra- 
tion in the person of Governor Cummings. Six thou- 
sand troops were detailed for this service, and the 
commissariat exceeded in quantity and cost any that 
had ever been sent into the West. Two thousand 
beef cattle, as many horses and mules, and a long 
train of wagons were provided, with a view to an in- 
definite sojourn in the wilderness. The fraud and 
peculation practised on the government by the pur- 
veyors gave to this expedition the nickname, "the 
contractors' war." No negotiations had preceded 
this extraordinary military demonstration, and the 



Saints were quite in the dark as to its mission ; but 
the people were as one man in their determination to 
resist armed invasion. The Mormon militia num- 
bered only one thousand insufficiently armed men, 

Eog. Co.. N.Y. 

Wagon Routes across the Wasatch Range, 1858-1859. 

but defence of their mountain stronghold was not 
difficult. A force was deputed to barricade Echo 
Cafion, a narrow defile with precipitous walls several 


hundred feet in height and the only direct access to 
the Valley from the east, and another was sent for- 
ward to intercept the provision trains and otherwise 
embarrass the advancing army. Lot Smith and his 
men succeeded in burning two wagon trains and in 
cutting out hundreds of oxen which were driven off 
to the Valley, while they fired the plains in the path 
of the troops and destroyed Fort Bridger, the first 
objective point. 16 So ingeniously did the Mormons 
make their country and climate fight for them, that 
General Johnson, seeing his army deprived of food 
and shelter and means of transportation (for the 
starved animals were dying by hundreds) and over- 
taken by furious snow-storms, was forced to abandon 
hope of reaching Salt Lake before spring. He made 
the best of a desperate situation by establishing 
winter quarters on Black Fork, one hundred and fif- 
teen miles from Salt Lake City. 

Meantime Governor Cummings had been induced 
to visit the city and treat with the Mormon officials, 
and a truce was agreed upon. The army was to 
enter the Valley, but on the understanding that pri- 
vate property was not to be molested and that the 
encampment was to be forty miles distant from any 
Mormon settlement. 

When, however, General Johnson and Governor 
Cummings rode into Salt Lake City at the head of 
the United States troops, they found the place de- 
serted. The inhabitants had moved to the south, to 
the settlements in Utah Valley and beyond, leaving 
only a few watchmen who were under orders to set 
fire to the houses, workshops, and granaries in case 
any hostile demonstration was made by the much 


distrusted commander. Evidently Brigham Young 
and his people were prepared for another trek into the 
wilderness rather than submit to military rule. Not 
until the army was encamped in Cedar Valley (Camp 
Floyd) did the devoted Saints return to their homes. 
In the end, the presence of the army proved a ma- 
terial blessing, since the demand for grain, cattle, and 
labor was enormously increased. During the two 
years of its sojourn in Utah, the Mormon farmers 
enjoyed a good market at high prices, and many an 
impoverished emigrant got work at the Fort at wages 
hitherto unknown in the Valley. When at the out- 
break of the Civil War, the troops were withdrawn, 
great quantities of military supplies were sold for a 
song or abandoned. Goods valued at $4,000,000 
were sold for $100,000. 

Because of their peculiar social and industrial 
order, the Mormon settlements have been misrep- 
resented to an extraordinary degree. Most of the 
first-hand authorities are either Mormon or anti- 
Mormon, and in neither case can the record be 
relied upon. The recounting of the simplest facts 
is likely to be colored by prejudice — even distorted 
beyond recognition. Fortunately for the impartial 
historian, however, the commonwealth was visited 
during the first ten years of its existence by several 
travellers whose fair-mindedness and powers of ob- 
servation can hardly be called in question. A 
summary of their conclusions seems essential to an 
unbiased estimate of the economic results of the 
Mormon migration. 

A "forty-niner" described Salt Lake City thus: 


"The houses are small, principally of brick, built 
up only as temporary abodes, until the more urgent 
and important matter of enclosure and cultivation 
are attended to ; but I never saw anything to sur- 
pass the ingenuity of arrangement with which they 
are fitted up, and the scrupulous cleanliness with 
which they are kept. There were tradesmen and 
artisans of all descriptions, but no regular stores, or 
workshops, except forges. Still, from the shoeing of 
a wagon to the mending of a watch, there was no 
difficulty experienced in getting it done, as cheap 
and as well put out of hand as in any other city in 
America. Notwithstanding the oppressive tempera- 
ture, they were all hard at work at their trades, 
and abroad in the fields weeding, moulding, and irri- 
gating; and it certainly speaks volumes for their 
energy and industry, to see the quantity of land 
they have fenced in, and the breadth under culti- 
vation. . . . There was ample promise of an abun- 
dant harvest, in magnificent crops of wheat, maize, 
potatoes, and every description of garden vegetable, 
all of which require irrigation, as there is little or 
no rain in this region, a Salt Lake shower being 
estimated at a drop to each inhabitant. They 
have numerous herds of the finest cattle, droves of 
excellent sheep, with horses and mules enough and 
to spare, but very few pigs, persons having them 
being obliged to keep them chained, as the fences 
are not close enough to prevent them damaging the 
crops. However, they have legions of superior 
poultry, so that they live in the most plentiful 
manner possible. We exchanged and purchased 


some mules and horses on very favorable terms, 
knowing we would stand in need of strong teams 
in crossing the Sierra Nevada." 17 

Captain Howard Stansbury of the United States 
Topographical Survey was sent to Utah in 1849 to 
explore Salt Lake and its immediate environs. It 
was a difficult task because of the desolate character 
of the " Great Briny Shallow," whose periphery of 
mud flats, twenty miles back from the shores, 
afforded neither wood nor water nor game sufficient 
to maintain an exploring expedition. Success de- 
pended upon the interested cooperation of the 
white settlers of the valley. The first Mormons 
were encountered at Brown's settlement on the 
Weber, "an extensive assemblage of log buildings, 
picketed, stockaded, and surrounded by out-buildings 
and cattle yards, the whole affording evidence of 
comfort and abundance far greater than I had ex- 
pected to see in so new a settlement." 18 Here the 
party met with a surly reception and were even 
refused food and shelter. The unexpected rebuff 
was later explained by the fact that Brown doubted 
if the United States government would recognize 
the validity of his Spanish title and lived in dread 
of the appearance of land office agents. When 
Stansbury had opportunity to state the purpose of 
his expedition to Brigham Young, he was assured 
of all the aid the struggling community was able to 
give. Stansbury's was the first party of white 
men to make the circuit of the lake by land, and 
he attributed this achievement in good part to the 
help and comfort freely rendered him by the Mor- 


mons. The winter of 1849-1850 was spent in the 
city of the Saints, and his relations with the officials 
were such as to give him abundant opportunity to 
observe the unique economy of the new Zion. 
Houses were scarce, and many of the people were 
still living in wagon beds ; but food was abundant, 
and considerable enterprises such as mills and 
bridges and toll roads were well under way. Stans- 
bury credits the Mormon brethren with a high 
standard of commercial morality, stating that in 
no instance had fraud or extortion been practised 
upon his party. Prices for farm produce were 
moderate and quality good. The not infrequent 
difficulties between the settlers and the gold-seekers 
were generally, in his opinion, occasioned by disregard 
of property rights and of municipal regulations on 
the part of the lawless element in the emigrant 
trains. The offenders who were arrested and fined, 
or even, in default of payment, forced to labor in 
the public works by the church authorities, vigor- 
ously protested this alien jurisdiction. Brigham 
Young, Stansbury describes as a man of keen good 
sense, fully alive to the responsibilities of his station 
and indefatigable in devising ways and means for 
the moral, mental, and physical uplifting of his 
people. The almost universal prosperity of this 
farming community, only two years remove from 
the sage-brush, Stansbury attributed to (1) the high 
degree of industry and intelligence observable in the 
settlers, precisely the most vigorous and enter- 
prising of the denizens of the British Isles, (2) the 
prudence and sagacity of the leaders whose arrange- 


ments for the journey to Salt Lake City and for the 
industrial welfare of its people were most business- 
like, (3) the discipline of the rank and file who 
rendered implicit obedience to their ecclesiastical 
superiors, (4) the spirit of cooperation, — of indi- 
vidual contribution to the common good, which was 
the fundamental principle of this extraordinary 
society. Every man paid tithes of produce and of 
labor to the church officials, in addition to the taxes 
levied by the civil government. Notwithstanding 
this double burden, every one was prosperous. 
There were literally no paupers. A proposal to 
establish a poorhouse had been abandoned because 
of the evident lack of patronage. Some part of 
this happy exemption was due to the systematic aid 
given by the church to newly arrived emigrants, 
some part, no doubt, to the fact that intoxicating 
liquors were scarce and dear. Whiskey retailed at 
$8 per gallon and brandy at $12, because of the 
heavy duty (fifty per cent) on the imported article. 
On his return trip through Echo Canon Stans- 
bury met a Mormon caravan of ninety-five wagons, 
each furnished with from three to five yoke of oxen, 
all in fine condition. "The wagons swarmed with 
women and children," and poultry coops were 
swung on behind. "I estimated the train at one 
thousand head of cattle, one hundred head of sheep, 
and five hundred human souls." 19 A little later, on 
the upper Platte (September, 1850), Stansbury reports 
" crowds of emigrant-wagons, wending their way to 
the Mormon Valley, with droves of cattle and sheep, 
whose fat and thriving condition, after so long a 


journey, was the subject of general remark, and 
excited universal admiration." 20 

To Lieutenant Gunnison, his very efficient second 
in command, Stansbury deputed the study of the 
religious and social features of the Mormon state, 
and to his treatise, The Mormons or Latter Day 
Saints in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, 21 the 
reader is referred as a conscientious endeavor to see 
and tell the exact truth in regard to many contro- 
verted points. Gunnison advised the let-alone policy 
(the policy later urged by Abraham Lincoln) as the 
method by which the infant commonwealth would 
most surely slough off its errors of faith and prac- 
tice. He believed that the strength of the theoc- 
racy was enhanced by persecution. With peace, 
prosperity, and education, its power would inevi- 
tably disintegrate. 

Five years after the Stansbury party left the State 
of Deseret, the Valley was visited by Jules Remy, 
a French naturalist, who, being something of a 
philosopher as well, ventured the voyage from 
Honolulu and the journey across the desert for the 
sake of observing with his own eyes this extraordi- 
nary development of religious fanaticism. To the 
Frenchman, " Joseph Smith was a cheat and an im- 
postor" and "Mormonism was the coarsest form of 
Mysticism" ; but he was forced to concede the ex- 
traordinary success of this new industrial order. 
Here was a community of sixty thousand people 
representing fifteen different nationalities — Britons, 
Canadians, Americans, Scandinavians, Germans — 
by no means the most temperate or least quarrel- 


some of races ; but Remy was struck with the 
" order, the tranquillity and industry" of the inhabit- 
ants and the cleanliness and comfort of their 
dwellings. 22 " Neither grog shops, gaming-houses, 
nor brothels are to be met with." While the Mor- 
mons did not abstain from the temperate use of 
liquors (whiskey distilled from wheat or potatoes, 
and beer brewed from the hops grown in the Valley), 
there was no drunkenness. He was struck, too, 
with the marvellous activity of the seven-year-old 
city, not only in the Temple Block, where "emigrants 
who have newly arrived, as well as residents who 
are without employment apply for work," but in 
the outlying wards. "The whole of this small 
nation occupy themselves as usefully as the working 
bees of a hive. . . . The idle or unemployed are 
not to be met with here." 23 The extraordinary ma- 
terial achievements of the modern Zion were, to 
his mind, not the result of communism, but of pa- 
triotism. Each man put forth his utmost effort 
under the threefold necessity of preserving alive 
himself, his family, and the commonwealth. 

Brigham Young, Remy thought a coarse, unedu- 
cated man, but a leader of remarkable shrewdness 
and force. His ability was acknowledged even by 
those Gentiles who denounced Mormonism as a 
poisonous gangrene. The Gentiles, of whom there 
were not more than one hundred in the city, were 
not the best element of the population. They were 
merchants, physicians, and Federal officers, all super- 
fluous vocations from the Mormon point of view, 
and a motley collection of vagabonds, "coming no 


one knew whence, living no one knew how, mostly 
at the expense of travellers and the Mormons them- 
selves." 24 The Saints were not infrequently charged 
with the crimes committed by these lawless char- 
acters, and while Remy recognized, as did his Mor- 
mon informants, that there were many ne'er-do- 
weels clinging to the skirts of the mountain state, 
he came to the conclusion that the rank and file 
were "industrious, honest, sober, pious, and . . . 
even chaste in their polygamic relations." 25 

It is interesting to put alongside this French 
estimate of the Mormon commonwealth the obser- 
vations of two English travellers who perhaps better 
understood a people in whom the Teutonic blood so 
largely dominated. William Chandless, though a man 
of education and substance, crossed the Plains with a 
cattle train, serving as an ordinary teamster, in the 
summer of 1855. He had frequent opportunity to 
observe the admirable order of the Mormon caravans, 
and attributed this to the devotion of their leaders. 
The drivers of ordinary teams were paid more than the 
Mormons in the ratio of five to three, but they were a 
far inferior type of men. "It was a pretty sight to 
watch them [a Mormon caravan] starting off for the 
day's march ; great numbers of women and children 
walking in advance gaily, the little ones picking 
flowers, the boys looking for grapes or plums if 
there were trees near, and the mothers knitting as 
they went ; all seemed willing to endure hardship, 
looking upon the journey as a pilgrimage to the 
promised land, where they should have rest." 26 
After three months' experience of all types of plains- 


men, Chandless came to the conclusion that the 
Mormons were as good Christians as the others. 
As a whole, they were a "good plain, honest sort of 
people, simple-minded, but not fools, nor yet al- 
together uneducated ; an omnium gatherum from 
half-a-dozen nations, containing many excellent 
artisans and some tradespeople, along with a large 
number of mere laborers and some few men of 
talent and cultivation." 27 Chandless thought Salt 
Lake Valley not a promising site for a colony, but 
unexcelled as a refuge from persecution. The 
settlers were thrifty and industrious and had ap- 
parently made the best of their scanty opportunities. 
Marvels had been accomplished in spite of the 
scarcity of fuel and raw materials and the double 
burden of tithes and taxes. 

Richard F. Burton, a world traveller, made the 
journey from St. Joseph to Salt Lake more luxuriously 
in the mail coach (1859) ; but he saw, none the less, 
much of the Mormon emigrants. He, too, noted the 
excellent discipline of their camps, and thought 
that their equipment did credit to the Perpetual 
Emigration Fund's travelling arrangements. The 
hand-cart brigade was a thing of the past. Many 
of this year's emigrants had purchased their own 
outfits at a cost of $500 per family. In the earlier 
stages of the route there was no hardship ; but once 
in the mountains, the lack of food and water began 
to exhaust the strength of the feebler members of 
the party. On Ham's Fork, Burton's record is : 
"We had now fallen into the regular track of Mor- 
mon emigration, and saw the wayfarers in their worst 


plight, near the end of the journey. We passed 
several families, and parties of women and children 
trudging wearily along; most of the children were 
in rags or half nude, and all showed gratitude when 
we threw them provisions." 28 Once in the Valley 
and under the care of their co-religionists, the emi- 
grants had every prospect of success. "Morally 
and spiritually, as well as physically, the proteges of 
the Perpetual Emigration Fund gain by being trans- 
ferred to the Far West. Mormonism is emphatically 
the faith of the poor, and those acquainted with the 
wretched condition of the English mechanic, collier, 
and agricultural laborer . . . who, after a life of 
ignoble drudgery, . . . are ever threatened with the 
work house, must be of the same opinion. Physically 
speaking, there is no comparison between the con- 
ditions of the Saints and the class from which they 
are mostly taken. In point of mere morality, the 
Mormon community is perhaps purer than any 
other of equal numbers." " Furthermore, the Mor- 
mon settlement was a vast improvement upon its 
contemporaries in the valleys of the Mississippi and 
the Missouri." 29 

Traces of the Utah War were still evident in the 
breastworks and barricades along Echo Canon and 
in the general uneasiness of the people. Governor 
Cummings seemed to Burton a man of ability and 
uprightness, a finer type of man than had been pre- 
viously sent out by the Federal government; but 
he had the peacemaker's ungrateful task. "The 
scrupulous and conscientious impartiality which he 
has brought to the discharge of his difficult and 


delicate duties, and, more still, his resolution to 
treat the Saints like Gentiles and citizens, not as 
Digger Indians or felons, have won him scant favor 
from either party." 30 Brigham Young impressed 
him as rude and uncouth, but sincere. "Of his 
temperance and sobriety there is but one opinion. 
His life is ascetic." He was accustomed to lecture 
his people on their sins with a plainness of speech 
and an energy of invective that were Cromwellian. 
An extract from a sermon printed in the Mormon 
Expositor is cited: "That man that sells liquor and 
believes that he must, I will promise him damna- 
tion for it. That man that makes liquor and gives 
it to his neighbor, he shall have his reward in Hell." 
Captain Simpson of the United States Topo- 
graphical Survey, who passed through Salt Lake 
and Utah valleys in 1859 and 1860, reports on the 
character of the outtying settlements. The toll 
roads were excellent and the bridges adequate, but 
he thought the adobe villages with their decaying 
earthworks slovenly and thriftless. "The generality 
of the houses is far below in character what obtains 
among the poorest of our population in the States. 
The roofs are generally of mud, and give frequent 
evidences of tumbling in ; and the doors and win- 
dows all indicate penury and an inattention to 
cleanliness." These villages "are all inhabited by 
farmers, who cultivate the land contiguous to the 
town, and the yards are filled with the implements 
of husbandry, stacks of wheat and hay ; and in the 
evening, during harvest, there is to be seen a con- 
stant succession of wagons, filled with the produce 

Adobe House with Thatched Roof and Wattled Fence. 

A Mormon House at Provo, Utah, 


of the field, and cattle driven in for security. The 
inhabitants send out their cattle in herds to pasture, 
the herdsman passing in the morning from one end 
of the town to the other, and as he does so, sound- 
ing his horn as a signal for the owners to turn their 
stock into the general herd. The charge is about 
two cents per animal per day." 31 The Mormons 
were planting colonies in the remote mountain 
valleys where rich meadowland furnished excellent 
pasturage and hay for winter feed. In Round 
Prairie at the head of Provo Canon, a little settle- 
ment of ten families sprang up between Captain 
Simpson's first and second traverse of the mountains. 
Garland Hurt, Indian agent for the Territory, 
furnished Simpson with a table of " Population and 
Industries " from which it appears that there were 
at that time in Utah twenty-eight "stakes" and 
a population of forty-two thousand eight hundred. 
Salt Lake City was estimated to have a popula- 
tion of eight thousand, Provo four thousand, Cedar 
City, Ogden, Springville, and Spanish Fork, two 
thousand each. The cultivated area (43,400 acres) 
was a little more than an acre per capita of the 
population, and the twenty-eight towns had built 
twenty-seven flour mills and eighteen sawmills. 

The Mormons in California 

The original destination of the Mormon hegira 
was quite indefinite. Somewhere beyond the moun- 
tains that bounded the territory of the United 
States, in the region described by the fur traders 
and latterly by Fremont, the explorer, there must 


be a land where a new and free commonwealth could 
be built. California was already a name to conjure 
with, and especially Upper California, — a term then 
used to include everything north of Sonora and 
west of the Rockies. The Latter Day Saints were 
accustomed to sing: — 

" The Upper California, oh, that's the land for me, 
It lies between the mountains and the great Pacific Sea!" 

So while Brigham Young was organizing the trek 
from Nauvoo, Samuel Brannan, the leader of the 
Saints in the East, was preparing to lead his flock to 
California by sea. In February, 1846, the Brooklyn 
sailed from New York with two hundred and thirty- 
five emigrants on board and an ample stock of farm 
implements, seeds, etc., and machinery for saw- and 
grist-mills. They had reason to believe that their 
prospects of success were better than those of the 
overland contingent, for it was understood that Presi- 
dent Polk favored the enterprise as a means of 
Americanizing the coveted territory. On the out- 
break of the Mexican War, the president called upon 
the Mormons on the Missouri to furnish a battalion. 
The call came at a time (August, 1846) when every 
able-bodied man was needed for the march across 
the Plains ; but it was deemed all-important to give 
the government this proof of loyalty, and five hun- 
dred men were sent, without protest, to join General 
Kearney's command. The Mormon Battalion served 
under Colonel Cooke, who was deputed to open a 
wagon road from Santa Fe to the Pacific, and he 
paid a high tribute to the morale of the men. "Much 


credit is due to the battalion for the cheerful and 
faithful manner in which they have accomplished 
the great labors of this inarch, and submitted to its 
exposures and privations," 32 and his words were 
reenforced by General Mason, who would have been 
glad to reenlist them. Once arrived in San Diego, 
however, finding the war at an end, the Saints were 
eager to rejoin their families. Each man received 
forty dollars in bounty and was allowed to retain 
his uniform and firearms. They found a ready 
market for labor in California, and thus when, in 
small parties and by different routes, they made 
their way back to the colony at Salt Lake, they 
were none the worse for their brief military experi- 
ence, and had accumulated some welcome cash. 33 

Meantime, the Brooklyn was voyaging round the 
Horn and, at the end of six months, arrived in the 
harbor of San Francisco to find, to Brannan's amaze- 
ment and dismay, the United States flag floating 
over Yerba Buena. Brannan speedily adjusted 
himself to the situation, apostatized, and entered 
into some profitable business enterprises. Others 
secured employment with Captain Sutter and were 
working on the mill-race at Coloma when the first 
gold was discovered there. Tradition has it that 
some of these men went back across the mountains 
to Salt Lake City, driving donkeys loaded with gold 
dust. Certain it is that the first coins authorized 
by the State of Deseret were struck from California 
gold, ninety-four thousand ounces of which were 
turned into the treasury of the church. 

The gold fever was steadily discouraged by the 


apostles at Salt Lake, for they feared it would de- 
moralize the colony. Brigham Young said in his 
trenchant way, "If we were to go to San Francisco 
and dig up chunks of gold, it would ruin us," and 
he succeeded in persuading his people that there 
was more certain wealth in the sage-brush mesas of 
the Valley. The commercial opportunities afforded 
by the gold craze were, however, utilized to the full. 
Cattle were driven to the Coast, and the returning 
mule trains brought potatoes and grain and other 
needed supplies. A stake was planted at the 
eastern base of the Sierras (Genoa, Nevada) as a 
halfway station for the muleteers. 

The agricultural possibilities of California were 
not ignored by the long-headed business men at the 
helm of this great colonizing enterprise. It was 
hoped that a less difficult route than the overland 
trail might be developed; viz. across the Isthmus 
of Panama, by ship to San Diego, and thence via 
Las Vegas and the Sevier River to Salt and Utah 
lakes. A large emigration with one hundred and 
fifty wagons was sent over the Spanish Trail to 
found the settlement of San Bernardino just below 
Cajon Pass, and the towns of Provo, Springville, 
Paysan, and Manti were founded as depots of sup- 
plies. Laguna Beach was the receiving station at 
San Diego. 


Section I 
Traders and Trappers 

Arguello's hospitality to trading vessels from 
Boston opened up trade relations between California 
and the United States and led to the domiciling 
of various American citizens in this outlying 
province of Mexico. The first American settlers 
were merchants, such as Gale and Cooper of Mon- 
terey, Abel Stearns of Los Angeles, W. G. Dana 
and Alfred Robinson of Santa Barbara, Nathan 
Spear, William H. Davis and Captain Hinckley of 
Yerba Buena. They readily ingratiated themselves 
with the Californians by becoming naturalized, 
adopting the Roman Catholic religion, and marry- 
ing hijas del pais. Their superior business ability 
soon secured them wealth and influence. Less 
known, but no less influential in the Americanization 
of California, were the sailors and mechanics who, 
year by year, deserted the whalers and the hide 
ships and found refuge with the hospitable natives. 
They had no difficulty in maintaining themselves in 
a country where skilled labor was so scarce. 

Another current of American influence was fur- 
nished by the hunting parties that made their way 
over the Sierras to the beaver streams along their 



western slopes. Tradition has it that, in 1822, 
Arguello sent an expedition up the Sacramento to 
the foothills of the Sierras to ascertain the truth of 
a report brought in by the Indians that a number 
of white men clad in leather and carrying long guns 
were in hiding there. Whatever the foundation of 
the rumor, his troopers failed to find the invaders. 
Four years later, Jedidiah Smith crossed the Mohave 
Desert to San Gabriel Mission and trapped the 
length of the San Joaquin Valley. Repeating 
the daring adventure in 1827, he was forced by 
the suspicious authorities of Monterey to leave the 
country. The luckless Patties crossed the Colorado 
Desert to San Diego in 1829, and were sentenced to 
solitary confinement for their pains. The son was 
offered five hundred cattle and as many horses, with 
land sufficient to maintain them, if he would settle 
in the country, become a Catholic and a Mexican 
citizen; but he indignantly refused and returned 
home to report the wealth and defencelessness of 
California. A little later W. A. Walker crossed the 
Great American Desert and the Sierras to Monterey, 
and, getting off without molestation, brought back 
an enthusiastic account of the chances for trader and 

These daring experiments attracted imitators. 
Smith's heavy catch of furs revealed to Dr. McLough- 
lin the rich possibilities of the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin valleys and opened the way for the exploi- 
tation of the district by the Hudson's Bay Company. 
In the autumn of 1828, McLeod was sent south 
along Smith's trail for that season's hunt. He 


Tulare L. 

VOL. II — p Hudson's Bay Company's Trail. 

Williuu Eo„. Co.. N.lf 


trapped the mountain streams with excellent success 
and was returning to Fort Vancouver with pack- 
horses loaded with beaver and land-otter skins when 
he was caught in the ascent of Pitt River by an un- 
expected fall of snow and obliged to cache his furs 
and hurry on in order to save his men and animals. 
McLeod was severely censured for this misfortune, 
and the following year the California district was 
intrusted to McKay. He ventured even to the Bay 
of San Francisco and took four thousand beaver along 
its reedy shores ; but the fur was inferior in quality 
to that of the mountain beaver and brought only 
$2 a pound. The next season, Peter Skeene Ogden 
was transferred to this field, and under his ener- 
getic management, the Great Valley was thoroughly 
explored and developed. For ten years (1829-1838), 
a Hudson's Bay Company brigade made its annual 
traverse, south in the autumn and north in the 
spring, between Fort Vancouver and French Camp. — 
the post on the San Joaquin. The cavalcade was a 
picturesque one, formed in Indian file and led by 
the chief trader. "Next him rode his wife, a native 
woman, astride — as is common with the females — 
upon her pony, quite picturesquely clad. . . . Next, 
the clerk and his wife, much in the same manner ; 
and so on to the officers of less importance, and the 
men ; and finally the boys, driving the pack horses, 
with bales of fur one hundred and eighty pounds to 
each animal. The trampling of the fast-walking 
horses, the silvery tinkling of the small bells, rich, 
handsome dresses, and fine appearance of the 
riders, whose number amounted to sixty or seventy" 


made a really patriarchal array. 1 Smith's trace soon 
became a well-beaten road some five hundred and 
fifty miles in length, but since four-fifths of it ran 
along the levels of the Willamette and Sacramento 
valleys, the journey was usually made in thirty-one 

American trappers were not slow to avail them- 
selves of the new hunting grounds revealed by 
Smith, Pattie, and Walker, and year by year larger 
parties appeared in the Great Valley. They no 
longer attempted to pack their furs over the moun- 
tains, but sold them to traders at the coast ports, 
and the traffic grew to considerable proportions, — 
from $15,000 to $20,000 a year. 2 Every trapping 
party was required to have a license, and the 
fees brought in a tidy revenue, highly gratifying 
to the officials ; but the interlopers were for the 
most part a vagabond crew — frontiersmen from 
Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri — and their 
influence on the Indians was demoralizing. Some 
of the Americans found horses and mules a more 
profitable game than beaver, and they had the 
cooperation of the natives, who were only too ready 
to pay off old scores by stealing live stock from the 
missions or from the rancheros. Thus there gathered 
in the interior valleys, lawless companies of men 
who made no pretence of naturalization, practised 
no useful vocation, and cherished both hatred and 
contempt for the pusillanimous Spanish rule. 

The long-sought route between California and 
Santa Fe was opened by Americans. In 1829 
Ewing Young came across the mountains from Taos, 


via Escallantes' trail and Walker's Pass, with a 
party of trappers — Mexican and Canadian — and 
found Ogden in the Tulares. Venturing to Los 
Angeles, he became involved in a drunken riot and 
was forced to flee the country. He carried back to 
New Mexico, however, such reports of the trade 
possibilities of California as greatly excited the mer- 
chants of Santa Fe. Young returned in 1830 in com- 
pany with William Wolfskill and J. J. Warner, 
bringing trappers and hunters via Cajon Pass for 
the purpose of taking sea-otter along the coast 
and beaver in the interior. His license from the 
governor of New Mexico permitted him to take 
nutria, a word which properly means sea-otter, but 
which in Santa Fe was used colloquially for beaver. 
This license was received with some demur by the 
Californian authorities ; but Young proceeded to 
San Pedro, where he built some boats with the aid 
of an American carpenter out of planking brought 
from Boston. The padre of San Gabriel gave the 
party passage on his schooner to the Santa Barbara 
Islands, and there Young conducted a very success- 
ful hunt, shooting the otter in the surf and laying 
in a large store of these valuable furs. The year 
following he moved his party to the Great Valley 
and trapped along the San Joaquin, thence to Sac- 
ramento, and thence across the Coast Range and 
north to the Umpqua River. Recrossing the moun- 
tains, he came down the Sacramento, trapping 
beaver all the way ; but on reaching Monterey, his 
rich catch was confiscated by Figueroa, on the 
ground that his license did not include beaver. The 


resourceful American then purchased horses from 
the missions, intending to sell them at Fort Van- 
couver. The difficulties there created by Figueroa's 
misrepresentations have already been related. 

Meantime, convinced that farming in California 
was more profitable than hunting, Wolfskill and 
Warner got possession of land. The former planted 
the f