By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in Wisconsin
Author: Turner, Frederick Jackson, 1861-1932
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in Wisconsin" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



    History is past Politics and Politics present History.--Freeman


The Character and Influence of the
Indian Trade in Wisconsin

_A Study of the Trading Post as an Institution_


_Professor of History, University of Wisconsin_

November and December, 1891




   I. INTRODUCTION                                             7
  II. PRIMITIVE INTER-TRIBAL TRADE                            10
      1. Early Trade along the Atlantic Coast                 11
      2. In New England                                       12
      3. In the Middle Region                                 18
      4. In the South                                         16
      5. In the Far West                                      18
   V. WISCONSIN INDIANS                                       22
 VII. FRENCH EXPLORATION IN WISCONSIN                         26
VIII. FRENCH POSTS IN WISCONSIN                               33
  IX. THE FOX WARS                                            34
   X. FRENCH SETTLEMENT IN WISCONSIN                          38
        INDIAN TRADE ON DIPLOMACY                             42
XIII. THE NORTHWEST COMPANY                                   51
 XIV. AMERICAN INFLUENCES                                     51
  XV. GOVERNMENT TRADING HOUSES                               58
 XVI. WISCONSIN TRADE IN 1820                                 61
XVII. EFFECTS OF THE TRADING POST                             67



The trading post is an old and influential institution. Established in
the midst of an undeveloped society by a more advanced people, it is a
center not only of new economic influences, but also of all the
transforming forces that accompany the intercourse of a higher with a
lower civilization. The Phoenicians developed the institution into a
great historic agency. Closely associated with piracy at first, their
commerce gradually freed itself from this and spread throughout the
Mediterranean lands. A passage in the Odyssey (Book XV.) enables us to
trace the genesis of the Phoenician trading post:

"Thither came the Phoenicians, mariners renowned, greedy merchant-men
with countless trinkets in a black ship.... They abode among us a whole
year, and got together much wealth in their hollow ship. And when their
hollow ship was now laden to depart, they sent a messenger.... There
came a man versed in craft to my father's house with a golden chain
strung here and there with amber beads. Now, the maidens in the hall and
my lady mother were handling the chain and gazing on it and offering him
their price."

It would appear that the traders at first sailed from port to port,
bartering as they went. After a time they stayed at certain profitable
places a twelvemonth, still trading from their ships. Then came the
fixed factory, and about it grew the trading colony.[2] The Phoenician
trading post wove together the fabric of oriental civilization, brought
arts and the alphabet to Greece, brought the elements of civilization to
northern Africa, and disseminated eastern culture through the
Mediterranean system of lands. It blended races and customs, developed
commercial confidence, fostered the custom of depending on outside
nations for certain supplies, and afforded a means of peaceful
intercourse between societies naturally hostile.

Carthaginian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman trading posts continued the
process. By traffic in amber, tin, furs, etc., with the tribes of the
north of Europe, a continental commerce was developed. The routes of
this trade have been ascertained.[3] For over a thousand years before
the migration of the peoples Mediterranean commerce had flowed along the
interlacing river valleys of Europe, and trading posts had been
established. Museums show how important an effect was produced upon the
economic life of northern Europe by this intercourse. It is a
significant fact that the routes of the migration of the peoples were to
a considerable extent the routes of Roman trade, and it is well worth
inquiry whether this commerce did not leave more traces upon Teutonic
society than we have heretofore considered, and whether one cause of the
migrations of the peoples has not been neglected.[4]

That stage in the development of society when a primitive people comes
into contact with a more advanced people deserves more study than has
been given to it. As a factor in breaking the "cake of custom" the
meeting of two such societies is of great importance; and if, with
Starcke,[5] we trace the origin of the family to economic
considerations, and, with Schrader,[6] the institution of guest
friendship to the same source, we may certainly expect to find important
influences upon primitive society arising from commerce with a higher
people. The extent to which such commerce has affected all peoples is
remarkable. One may study the process from the days of Phoenicia to
the days of England in Africa,[7] but nowhere is the material more
abundant than in the history of the relations of the Europeans and the
American Indians. The Phoenician factory, it is true, fostered the
development of the Mediterranean civilization, while in America the
trading post exploited the natives. The explanation of this difference
is to be sought partly in race differences, partly in the greater gulf
that separated the civilization of the European from the civilization of
the American Indian as compared with that which parted the early Greeks
and the Phoenicians. But the study of the destructive effect of the
trading post is valuable as well as the study of its elevating
influences; in both cases the effects are important and worth
investigation and comparison.


[Footnote 1: In this paper I have rewritten and enlarged an address
before the State Historical Society of Wisconsin on the Character and
Influence of the Fur Trade in Wisconsin, published in the Proceedings of
the Thirty-sixth Annual Meeting, 1889. I am under obligations to Mr.
Reuben G. Thwaites, Secretary of this society, for his generous
assistance in procuring material for my work, and to Professor Charles
H. Haskins, my colleague, who kindly read both manuscript and proof and
made helpful suggestions. The reader will notice that throughout the
paper I have used the word _Northwest_ in a limited sense as referring
to the region included between the Great Lakes and the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers.]

[Footnote 2: On the trading colony, see Roscher und Jannasch, Colonien,
p. 12.]

[Footnote 3: Consult: Müllenhoff, Altertumskunde I., 212; Schrader,
Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples, New York, 1890, pp. 348
ff.; Pliny, Naturalis Historia, xxvii., 11; Montelius, Civilization of
Sweden in Heathen Times, 98-99; Du Chaillu, Viking Age; and the
citations in Dawkins, Early Man in Britain, 466-7; Keary, Vikings in
Western Christendom, 23.]

[Footnote 4: In illustration it may be noted that the early Scandinavian
power in Russia seized upon the trade route by the Dnieper and the Duna.
Keary, Vikings, 173. See also _post_, pp. 36, 38.]

[Footnote 5: Starcke, Primitive Family.]

[Footnote 6: Schrader, l.c.; see also Ihring, in _Deutsche Rundschau_,
III., 357, 420; Kulischer, Der Handel auf primitiven Kulturstufen, in
_Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft_, X., 378.
_Vide post_, p. 10.]

[Footnote 7: W. Bosworth Smith, in a suggestive article in the
_Nineteenth Century_, December, 1887, shows the influence of the
Mohammedan trade in Africa.]


Long before the advent of the white trader, inter-tribal commercial
intercourse existed. Mr. Charles Rau[8] and Sir Daniel Wilson[9] have
shown that inter-tribal trade and division of labor were common among
the mound-builders and in the stone age generally. In historic times
there is ample evidence of inter-tribal trade. Were positive evidence
lacking, Indian institutions would disclose the fact. Differences in
language were obviated by the sign language,[10] a fixed system of
communication, intelligible to all the western tribes at least. The
peace pipe,[11] or calumet, was used for settling disputes,
strengthening alliances, and speaking to strangers--a sanctity attached
to it. Wampum belts served in New England and the middle region as money
and as symbols in the ratification of treaties.[12] The Chippeways had
an institution called by a term signifying "to enter one another's
lodges,"[13] whereby a truce was made between them and the Sioux at the
winter hunting season. During these seasons of peace it was not uncommon
for a member of one tribe to adopt a member of another as his brother, a
tie which was respected even after the expiration of the truce. The
analogy of this custom to the classical "guest-friendship" needs no
comment; and the economic cause of the institution is worth remark, as
one of the means by which the rigor of primitive inter-tribal hostility
was mitigated.

But it is not necessary to depend upon indirect evidence. The earliest
travellers testify to the existence of a wide inter-tribal commerce. The
historians of De Soto's expedition mention Indian merchants who sold
salt to the inland tribes. "In 1565 and for some years previous bison
skins were brought by the Indians down the Potomac, and thence carried
along-shore in canoes to the French about the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
During two years six thousand skins were thus obtained."[14] An
Algonquin brought to Champlain at Quebec a piece of copper a foot long,
which he said came from a tributary of the Great Lakes.[15] Champlain
also reports that among the Canadian Indians village councils were held
to determine what number of men might go to trade with other tribes in
the summer.[16] Morton in 1632 describes similar inter-tribal trade in
New England, and adds that certain utensils are "but in certain parts of
the country made, where the severall trades are appropriated to the
inhabitants of those parts onely."[17] Marquette relates that the
Illinois bought firearms of the Indians who traded directly with the
French, and that they went to the south and west to carry off slaves,
which they sold at a high price to other nations.[18] It was on the
foundation, therefore, of an extensive inter-tribal trade that the white
man built up the forest commerce.[19]


[Footnote 8: Smithsonian Report, 1872.]

[Footnote 9: Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 1889, VII.,
59. See also Thruston, Antiquities of Tennessee, 79 ff.]

[Footnote 10: Mallery, in Bureau of Ethnology, I., 324; Clark, Indian
Sign Language.]

[Footnote 11: Shea, Discovery of the Mississippi, 34. Catilinite pipes
were widely used, even along the Atlantic slope, Thruston, 80-81.]

[Footnote 12: Weeden, Economic and Social History of New England, I.,
ch. ii.]

[Footnote 13: Minnesota Historical Collections, V., 267.]

[Footnote 14: Parkman, Pioneers of France in the New World, 230, citing

[Footnote 15: Neill, in Narrative and Critical History of America, IV.,

[Footnote 16: Champlain's Voyages (Prince Society), III., 183.]

[Footnote 17: Morton, New English Canaan (Prince Society), 159.]

[Footnote 18: Shea, Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley,

[Footnote 19: For additional evidence see Radisson, Voyages (Prince
Society), 91, 173; Massachusetts Historical Collections, I., 151;
Smithsonian Contributions, XVI., 30; Jesuit Relations, 1671, 41;
Thruston, Antiquities, etc., 79-82; Carr, Mounds of the Mississippi
Valley, 25, 27; and _post_ pp. 26-7, 36.]


The chroniclers of the earliest voyages to the Atlantic coast abound in
references to this traffic. First of Europeans to purchase native furs
in America appear to have been the Norsemen who settled Vinland. In the
saga of Eric the Red[20] we find this interesting account: "Thereupon
Karlsefni and his people displayed their shields, and when they came
together they began to barter with each other. Especially did the
strangers wish to buy red cloth, for which they offered in exchange
peltries and quite grey skins. They also desired to buy swords and
spears, but Karlsefni and Snorri forbade this. In exchange for perfect
unsullied skins the Skrellings would take red stuff a span in length,
which they would bind around their heads. So their trade went on for a
time, until Karlsefni and his people began to grow short of cloth, when
they divided it into such narrow pieces that it was not more than a
finger's breadth wide, but the Skrellings still continued to give just
as much for this as before, or more."[21]

The account of Verrazano's voyage mentions his Indian trade. Captain
John Smith, exploring New England in 1614, brought back a cargo of fish
and 11,000 beaver skins.[22] These examples could be multiplied; in
short, a way was prepared for colonization by the creation of a demand
for European goods, and thus the opportunity for a lodgement was


[Footnote 20: Reeves, Finding of Wineland the Good, 47.]

[Footnote 21: N.Y. Hist. Colls., I., 54-55, 59.]

[Footnote 22: Smith, Generall Historie (Richmond, 1819), I., 87-8, 182,
199; Strachey's Travaile into Virginia, 157 (Hakluyt Soc. VI.); Parkman,
Pioneers, 230.]


The Indian trade has a place in the early history of the New England
colonies. The Plymouth settlers "found divers corn fields and little
running brooks, a place ... fit for situation,"[23] and settled down
cuckoo-like in Indian clearings. Mr. Weeden has shown that the Indian
trade furnished a currency (wampum) to New England, and that it afforded
the beginnings of her commerce. In September of their first year the
Plymouth men sent out a shallop to trade with the Indians, and when a
ship arrived from England in 1621 they speedily loaded her with a
return cargo of beaver and lumber.[24] By frequent legislation the
colonies regulated and fostered the trade.[25] Bradford reports that in
a single year twenty hhd. of furs were shipped from Plymouth, and that
between 1631 and 1636 their shipments amounted to 12,150 _li_. beaver
and 1156 _li_. otter.[26] Morton in his 'New English Canaan' alleges
that a servant of his was "thought to have a thousand pounds in ready
gold gotten by the beaver when he died."[27] In the pursuit of this
trade men passed continually farther into the wilderness, and their
trading posts "generally became the pioneers of new settlements."[28]
For example, the posts of Oldham, a Puritan trader, led the way for the
settlements on the Connecticut river,[29] and in their early days these
towns were partly sustained by the Indian trade.[30]

Not only did the New England traders expel the Dutch from this valley;
they contended with them on the Hudson.[31]


[Footnote 23: Bradford, Plymouth Plantation.]

[Footnote 24: Bradford, 104.]

[Footnote 25: _E.g._, Plymouth Records, I., 50, 54, 62, 119; II., 10;
Massachusetts Colonial Records, I., 55, 81, 96, 100, 322; II., 86, 138;
III., 424; V., 180; Hazard, Historical Collections, II., 19 (the
Commissioners of the United Colonies propose giving the monopoly of the
fur trade to a corporation). On public truck-houses, _vide post_, p.

[Footnote 26: Bradford, 108, gives the proceeds of the sale of these

[Footnote 27: Force, Collections, Vol. I., No. 5, p. 53.]

[Footnote 28: Weeden, I., 132, 160-1.]

[Footnote 29: Winthrop, History of New England, I., 111, 131.]

[Footnote 30: Connecticut Colonial Records, 1637, pp. 11, 18.]

[Footnote 31: Weeden, I., 126.]


Morton, in the work already referred to, protested against allowing "the
Great Lake of the Erocoise" (Champlain) to the Dutch, saying that it is
excellent for the fur trade, and that the Dutch have gained by beaver
20,000 pounds a year. Exaggerated though the statement is, it is true
that the energies of the Dutch were devoted to this trade, rather than
to agricultural settlement. As in the case of New France the settlers
dispersed themselves in the Indian trade; so general did this become
that laws had to be passed to compel the raising of crops.[32] New York
City (New Amsterdam) was founded and for a time sustained by the fur
trade. In their search for peltries the Dutch were drawn up the Hudson,
up the Connecticut, and down the Delaware, where they had Swedes for
their rivals. By way of the Hudson the Dutch traders had access to Lake
Champlain, and to the Mohawk, the headwaters of which connected through
the lakes of western New York with Lake Ontario. This region, which was
supplied by the trading post of Orange (Albany), was the seat of the
Iroquois confederacy. The results of the trade upon Indian society
became apparent in a short time in the most decisive way. Furnished with
arms by the Dutch, the Iroquois turned upon the neighboring Indians,
whom the French had at first refrained from supplying with guns.[33] In
1649 they completely ruined the Hurons,[34] a part of whom fled to the
woods of northern Wisconsin. In the years immediately following, the
Neutral Nation and the Eries fell under their power; they overawed the
New England Indians and the Southern tribes, and their hunting and war
parties visited Illinois and drove Indians of those plains into
Wisconsin. Thus by priority in securing firearms, as well as by their
remarkable civil organization,[35] the Iroquois secured possession of
the St. Lawrence and Lakes Ontario and Erie. The French had accepted the
alliance of the Algonquins and the Hurons, as the Dutch, and afterward
the English, had that of the Iroquois; so these victories of the
Iroquois cut the French off from the entrance to the Great Lakes by way
of the upper St. Lawrence. As early as 1629 the Dutch trade was
estimated at 50,000 guilders per annum, and the Delaware trade alone
produced 10,000 skins yearly in 1663.[36] The English succeeded to this
trade, and under Governor Dongan they made particular efforts to extend
their operations to the Northwest, using the Iroquois as middlemen.
Although the French were in possession of the trade with the Algonquins
of the Northwest, the English had an economic advantage in competing for
this trade in the fact that Albany traders, whose situation enabled them
to import their goods more easily than Montreal traders could, and who
were burdened with fewer governmental restrictions, were able to pay
fifty per cent more for beaver and give better goods. French traders
frequently received their supplies from Albany, a practice against which
the English authorities legislated in 1720; and the _coureurs de bois_
smuggled their furs to the same place.[37] As early as 1666 Talon
proposed that the king of France should purchase New York, "whereby he
would have two entrances to Canada and by which he would give to the
French all the peltries of the north, of which the English share the
profit by the communication which they have with the Iroquois by
Manhattan and Orange."[38] It is a characteristic of the fur trade that
it continually recedes from the original center, and so it happened that
the English traders before long attempted to work their way into the
Illinois country.[39] The wars between the French and English and
Iroquois must be read in the light of this fact. At the outbreak of the
last French and Indian war, however, it was rather Pennsylvania and
Virginia traders who visited the Ohio Valley. It is said that some three
hundred of them came over the mountains yearly, following the
Susquehanna and the Juniata and the headwaters of the Potomac to the
tributaries of the Ohio, and visiting with their pack-horses the Indian
villages along the valley. The center of the English trade was
Pickawillani on the Great Miami. In 1749 Celoron de Bienville, who had
been sent out to vindicate French authority in the valley, reported that
each village along the Ohio and its branches "has one or more English
traders, and each of these has hired men to carry his furs."[40]


[Footnote 32: New York Colonial Documents, I., 181, 389, §7.]

[Footnote 33: _Ibid._ 182; Collection de manuscrits relatifs à la
Nouvelle-France, I., 254; Radisson, 93.]

[Footnote 34: Parkman, Jesuits in North America; Radisson; Margry,
Découvertes et Établissemens, etc., IV., 586-598; Tailhan, Nicholas

[Footnote 35: Morgan, League of the Iroquois.]

[Footnote 36: N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 408-9; V., 687, 726; Histoire et
Commerce des Colonies Angloises, 154.]

[Footnote 37: N.Y. Col. Docs., III., 471, 474; IX., 298, 319.]

[Footnote 38: _Ibid._ IX., 57. The same proposal was made in 1681 by Du
Chesneau, _ibid._ IX., 165.]

[Footnote 39: Parkman's works; N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 165; Shea's
Charlevoix, IV., 16: "The English, indeed, as already remarked, from
that time shared with the French in the fur trade; and this was the
chief motive of their fomenting war between us and the Iroquois,
inasmuch as they could get no good furs, which come from the northern
districts, except by means of these Indians, who could scarcely effect a
reconciliation with us without precluding them from this precious

[Footnote 40: Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, I., 50.]


The Indian trade of the Virginians was not limited to the Ohio country.
As in the case of Massachusetts Bay, the trade had been provided for
before the colony left England,[41] and in times of need it had
preserved the infant settlement. Bacon's rebellion was in part due to
the opposition to the governor's trading relations with the savages.
After a time the nearer Indians were exploited, and as early as the
close of the seventeenth century Virginia traders sought the Indians
west of the Alleghanies.[42] The Cherokees lived among the mountains,
"where the present states of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and the
Carolinas join one another."[43] To the west, on the Mississippi, were
the Chickasaws, south of whom lived the Choctaws, while to the south of
the Cherokees were the Creeks. The Catawbas had their villages on the
border of North and South Carolina, about the headwaters of the Santee
river. Shawnese Indians had formerly lived on the Cumberland river, and
French traders had been among them, as well as along the
Mississippi;[44] but by the time of the English traders, Tennessee and
Kentucky were for the most part uninhabited. The Virginia traders
reached the Catawbas, and for a time the Cherokees, by a trading route
through the southwest of the colony to the Santee. By 1712 this trade
was a well-established one,[45] and caravans of one hundred pack-horses
passed along the trail.[46]

The Carolinas had early been interested in the fur trade. In 1663 the
Lords Proprietors proposed to pay the governor's salary from the
proceeds of the traffic. Charleston traders were the rivals of the
Virginians in the southwest. They passed even to the Choctaws and
Chickasaws, crossing the rivers by portable boats of skin, and sometimes
taking up a permanent abode among the Indians. Virginia and Carolina
traders were not on good terms with each other, and Governor Spottswood
frequently made complaints of the actions of the Carolinians. His
expedition across the mountains in 1716, if his statement is to be
trusted, opened a new way to the transmontane Indians, and soon
afterwards a trading company was formed under his patronage to avail
themselves of this new route.[47] It passed across the Blue Ridge into
the Shenandoah valley, and down the old Indian trail to the Cherokees,
who lived along the upper Tennessee. Below the bend at the Muscle Shoals
the Virginians met the competition of the French traders from New
Orleans and Mobile.[48]

The settlement of Augusta, Georgia, was another important trading post.
Here in 1740 was an English garrison of fifteen or twenty soldiers, and
a little band of traders, who annually took about five hundred
pack-horses into the Indian country. In the spring the furs were floated
down the river in large boats.[49] The Spaniards and the French also
visited the Indians, and the rivalry over this trade was an important
factor in causing diplomatic embroilment.[50]

The occupation of the back-lands of the South affords a prototype of the
process by which the plains of the far West were settled, and also
furnishes an exemplification of all the stages of economic development
existing contemporaneously. After a time the traders were accompanied to
the Indian grounds by _hunters_, and sometimes the two callings were
combined.[51] When Boone entered Kentucky he went with an Indian trader
whose posts were on the Red river in Kentucky.[52] After the game
decreased the hunter's clearing was occupied by the _cattle-raiser_, and
his home, as settlement grew, became the property of the _cultivator of
the soil_;[53] the _manufacturing era_ belongs to our own time.

In the South, the Middle Colonies and New England the trade opened the
water-courses, the trading post grew into the palisaded town, and rival
nations sought to possess the trade for themselves. Throughout the
colonial frontier the effects, as well as the methods, of Indian traffic
were strikingly alike. The trader was the pathfinder for civilization.
Nor was the process limited to the east of the Mississippi. The
expeditions of Verenderye led to the discovery of the Rocky
Mountains.[54] French traders passed up the Missouri; and when the Lewis
and Clarke expedition ascended that river and crossed the continent, it
went with traders and voyageurs as guides and interpreters. Indeed,
Jefferson first conceived the idea of such an expedition[55] from
contact with Ledyard, who was organizing a fur trading company in
France, and it was proposed to Congress as a means of fostering our
western Indian trade.[56] The first immigrant train to California was
incited by the representations of an Indian trader who had visited the
region, and it was guided by trappers.[57]

St. Louis was the center of the fur trade of the far West, and Senator
Benton was intimate with leading traders like Chouteau.[58] He urged the
occupation of the Oregon country, where in 1810 an establishment had for
a time been made by the celebrated John Jacob Astor; and he fostered
legislation opening the road to the southwestern Mexican settlements
long in use by the traders. The expedition of his son-in-law Frémont was
made with French voyageurs, and guided to the passes by traders who had
used them before.[59] Benton was also one of the stoutest of the early
advocates of a Pacific railway.

But the Northwest[60] was particularly the home of the fur trade, and
having seen that this traffic was not an isolated or unimportant matter,
we may now proceed to study it in detail with Wisconsin as the field of


[Footnote 41: Charter of 1606.]

[Footnote 42: Ramsay, Tennessee, 63.]

[Footnote 43: On the Southwestern Indians see Adair, American Indians.]

[Footnote 44: Ramsay, 75.]

[Footnote 45: Spottswood's Letters, Virginia Hist. Colls., N.S., I.,

[Footnote 46: Byrd Manuscripts, I., 180. The reader will find a
convenient map for the southern region in Roosevelt, Winning of the
West, I.]

[Footnote 47: Spottswood's Letters, I., 40; II., 149, 150.]

[Footnote 48: Ramsay, 64. Note the bearing of this route on the Holston

[Footnote 49: Georgia Historical Collections, I., 180; II., 123-7.]

[Footnote 50: Spottswood. II., 331, for example.]

[Footnote 51: Ramsay, 65.]

[Footnote 52: Boone, Life and Adventures.]

[Footnote 53: Observations on the North American Land Co., pp. xv., 144,
London, 1796.]

[Footnote 54: Margry, VI.]

[Footnote 55: Allen, Lewis and Clarke Expedition, I., ix.; _vide post_,
pp. 70-71.]

[Footnote 56: _Vide post_, p. 71.]

[Footnote 57: _Century Magazine_, XLI., 759.]

[Footnote 58: Jessie Benton Frémont in _Century Magazine_, XLI., 766-7.]

[Footnote 59: _Century Magazine_, XLI., p. 759; _vide post_, p. 74.]

[Footnote 60: Parkman's works, particularly Old Régime, make any
discussion of the importance of the fur trade to Canada proper
unnecessary. La Hontan says: "For you must know that Canada subsists
only upon the trade of skins or furs, three-fourths of which come from
the people that live around the Great Lakes." La Hontan, I., 53, London,


The importance of physical conditions is nowhere more manifest than in
the exploration of the Northwest, and we cannot properly appreciate
Wisconsin's relation to the history of the time without first
considering her situation as regards the lake and river systems of North

When the Breton sailors, steering their fishing smacks almost in the
wake of Cabot, began to fish in the St. Lawrence gulf, and to traffic
with the natives of the mainland for peltries, the problem of how the
interior of North America was to be explored was solved. The
water-system composed of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes is the key
to the continent. The early explorations in a wilderness must be by
water-courses--they are nature's highways. The St. Lawrence leads to the
Great Lakes; the headwaters of the tributaries of these lakes lie so
near the headwaters of the rivers that join the Mississippi that canoes
can be portaged from the one to the other. The Mississippi affords
passage to the Gulf of Mexico; or by the Missouri to the passes of the
Rocky Mountains, where rise the headwaters of the Columbia, which brings
the voyageur to the Pacific. But if the explorer follows Lake Superior
to the present boundary line between Minnesota and Canada, and takes the
chain of lakes and rivers extending from Pigeon river to Rainy lake and
Lake of the Woods, he will be led to the Winnipeg river and to the lake
of the same name. From this, by streams and portages, he may reach
Hudson bay; or he may go by way of Elk river and Lake Athabasca to Slave
river and Slave lake, which will take him to Mackenzie river and to the
Arctic sea. But Lake Winnipeg also receives the waters of the
Saskatchewan river, from which one may pass to the highlands near the
Pacific where rise the northern branches of the Columbia. And from the
lakes of Canada there are still other routes to the Oregon country.[61]
At a later day these two routes to the Columbia became an important
factor in bringing British and Americans into conflict over that

In these water-systems Wisconsin was the link that joined the Great
Lakes and the Mississippi; and along her northern shore the first
explorers passed to the Pigeon river, or, as it was called later, the
Grand Portage route, along the boundary line between Minnesota and
Canada into the heart of Canada.

It was possible to reach the Mississippi from the Great Lakes by the
following principal routes:[62]

1. By the Miami (Maumee) river from the west end of Lake Erie to the
Wabash, thence to the Ohio and the Mississippi.

2. By the St. Joseph's river to the Wabash, thence to the Ohio.

3. By the St. Joseph's river to the Kankakee, and thence to the Illinois
and the Mississippi.

4. By the Chicago river to the Illinois.

5. By Green bay, Fox river, and the Wisconsin river.

6. By the Bois Brulé river to the St. Croix river.

Of these routes, the first two were not at first available, owing to the
hostility of the Iroquois.

Of all the colonies that fell to the English, as we have seen, New York
alone had a water-system that favored communication with the interior,
tapping the St. Lawrence and opening a way to Lake Ontario. Prevented by
the Iroquois friends of the Dutch and English from reaching the
Northwest by way of the lower lakes, the French ascended the Ottawa,
reached Lake Nipissing, and passed by way of Georgian Bay to the islands
of Lake Huron. As late as the nineteenth century this was the common
route of the fur trade, for it was more certain for the birch canoes
than the tempestuous route of the lakes. At the Huron islands two ways
opened before their canoes. The straits of Michillimackinac[63]
permitted them to enter Lake Michigan, and from this led the two routes
to the Mississippi: one by way of Green bay and the Fox and Wisconsin,
and the other by way of the lake to the Chicago river. But if the trader
chose to go from the Huron islands through Sault Ste. Marie into Lake
Superior, the necessities of his frail craft required him to hug the
shore, and the rumors of copper mines induced the first traders to take
the south shore, and here the lakes of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota
afford connecting links between the streams that seek Lake Superior and
those that seek the Mississippi,[64] a fact which made northern
Wisconsin more important in this epoch than the southern portion of the

We are now able to see how the river-courses of the Northwest permitted
a complete exploration of the country, and that in these courses
Wisconsin held a commanding situation,[65] But these rivers not only
permitted exploration; they also furnished a motive to exploration by
the fact that their valleys teemed with fur-bearing animals. This is the
main fact in connection with Northwestern exploration. The hope of a
route to China was always influential, as was also the search for mines,
but the practical inducements were the profitable trade with the Indians
for beaver and buffaloes and the wild life that accompanied it. So
powerful was the combined influence of these far-stretching rivers, and
the "hardy, adventurous, lawless, fascinating fur trade," that the
scanty population of Canada was irresistibly drawn from agricultural
settlements into the interminable recesses of the continent; and herein
is a leading explanation of the lack of permanent French influence in


[Footnote 61: Narr. and Crit. Hist. Amer., VIII., 10-11.]

[Footnote 62: Narr. and Crit. Hist. Amer., IV., 224, n. 1; Margry, V.
See also Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, I., map and pp. 38-9, 128.]

[Footnote 63: Mackinaw.]

[Footnote 64: See Doty's enumeration, Wis. Hist. Colls., VII., 202.]

[Footnote 65: Jes. Rels., 1672, p. 37; La Hontan, I., 105 (1703).]


"All that relates to the Indian tribes of Wisconsin," says Dr. Shea,
"their antiquities, their ethnology, their history, is deeply
interesting from the fact that it is the area of the first meeting of
the Algic and Dakota tribes. Here clans of both these wide-spread
families met and mingled at a very early period; here they first met in
battle and mutually checked each other's advance." The Winnebagoes
attracted the attention of the French even before they were visited.
They were located about Green bay. Their later location at the entrance
of Lake Winnebago was unoccupied, at least in the time of Allouez,
because of the hostility of the Sioux. Early authorities represented
them as numbering about one hundred warriors.[67] The Pottawattomies we
find in 1641 at Sault Ste. Marie,[68] whither they had just fled from
their enemies. Their proper home was probably about the southeastern
shore and islands of Green bay, where as early as 1670 they were again
located. Of their numbers in Wisconsin at this time we can say but
little. Allouez, at Chequamegon bay, was visited by 300 of their
warriors, and he mentions some of their Green bay villages, one of which
had 300 souls.[69] The Menomonees were found chiefly on the river that
bears their name, and the western tributaries of Green bay seem to have
been their territory. On the estimates of early authorities we may say
that they had about 100 warriors.[70] The Sauks and Foxes were closely
allied tribes. The Sauks were found by Allouez[71] four leagues[72] up
the Fox from its mouth, and the Foxes at a place reached by a four days'
ascent of the Wolf river from its mouth. Later we find them at the
confluence of the Wolf and the Fox. According to their early visitors
these two tribes must have had something over 1000 warriors.[73] The
Miamis and Mascoutins were located about a league from the Fox river,
probably within the limits of what is now Green Lake county,[74] and
four leagues away were their friends the Kickapoos. In 1670 the Miamis
and Mascoutins were estimated at 800 warriors, and this may have
included the Kickapoos. The Sioux held possession of the Upper
Mississippi, and in Wisconsin hunted on its northeastern tributaries.
Their villages were in later times all on the west of the Mississippi,
and of their early numbers no estimate can be given. The Chippeways were
along the southern shore of Lake Superior. Their numbers also are in
doubt, but were very considerable.[75] In northwestern Wisconsin, with
Chequamegon bay as their rendezvous, were the Ottawas and Hurons,[76]
who had fled here to escape the Iroquois. In 1670 they were back again
to their homes at Mackinaw and the Huron islands. But in 1666, as
Allouez tells us, they were situated at the bottom of this beautiful
bay, planting their Indian corn and leading a stationary life. "They are
there," he says, "to the number of eight hundred men bearing arms, but
collected from seven different nations who dwell in peace with each
other thus mingled together."[77] And the Jesuit Relations of 1670 add
that the Illinois "come here from time to time in great numbers as
merchants to procure hatchets, cooking utensils, guns, and other things
of which they stand in need." Here, too, came Pottawattomies, as we have
seen, and Sauks.

At the mouth of Fox river[78] we find another mixed village of
Pottawattomies, Sauks, Foxes, and Winnebagoes, and at a later period
Milwaukee was the site of a similar heterogeneous community. Leaving out
the Hurons, the tribes of Wisconsin were, with two exceptions, of the
Algic stock. The exceptions are the Winnebagoes and the Sioux, who
belong to the Dakota family. Of these Wisconsin tribes it is probable
that the Sauks and Foxes, the Pottawattomies, the Hurons and Ottawas and
the Mascoutins, and Miamis and Kickapoos, were driven into Wisconsin by
the attacks of eastern enemies. The Iroquois even made incursions as far
as the home of the Mascoutins on Fox river. On the other side of the
state were the Sioux, "the Iroquois of the West," as the missionaries
call them, who had once claimed all the region, and whose invasions,
Allouez says, rendered Lake Winnebago uninhabited. There was therefore a
pressure on both sides of Wisconsin which tended to mass together the
divergent tribes. And the Green bay and Fox and Wisconsin route was the
line of least resistance, as well as a region abounding in wild rice,
fish and game, for these early fugitives. In this movement we have two
facts that are not devoid of significance in institutional history:
first, the welding together of separate tribes, as the Sauks and Foxes,
and the Miamis, Mascoutins and Kickapoos; and second, a commingling of
detached families from various tribes at peculiarly favorable


[Footnote 66: On these early locations, consult the authorities cited by
Shea in Wis. Hist. Colls., III., 125 _et seq._, and by Branson in his
criticism on Shea, _ibid._ IV., 223. See also Butterfield's Discovery of
the Northwest in 1634, and _Mag. West. Hist._, V., 468, 630; and Minn.
Hist. Colls., V.]

[Footnote 67: Some early estimates were as follows: 1640, "Great
numbers" (Margry, I., 48); 1718, 80 to 100 warriors (N.Y. Col. Docs.,
IX., 889); 1728, 60 or 80 warriors (Margry, VI., 553); 1736, 90 warriors
(Chaurignerie, cited in Schoolcraft's Indian Tribes, III., 282); 1761,
150 warriors (Gorrell, Wis. Hist. Colls., I., 32).]

[Footnote 68: Margry, I., 46.]

[Footnote 69: Jes. Rels., 1667, 1670.]

[Footnote 70: 1718, estimated at 80 to 100 warriors (N.Y. Col. Docs.,
IX.,889); 1762, estimated at 150 warriors (Gorrell, Wis. Hist. Colls.,
I., 32).]

[Footnote 71: Jes. Rels., 1670.]

[Footnote 72: French leagues.]

[Footnote 73: 1670, Foxes estimated at 400 warriors (Jes. Rels., 1670);
1667, Foxes, 1000 warriors (Jes. Rels., 1667); 1695, Foxes and
Mascoutins, 1200 warriors (N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 633); 1718, Sauks 100
or 120, Foxes 500 warriors (2 Penn. Archives, VI., 54); 1728, Foxes, 200
warriors (Margry, V.); 1762, Sauks and Foxes, 700 warriors (Gorrell,
Wis. Hist. Colls., I., 32). This, it must be observed, was after the Fox

[Footnote 74: Jes. Rels., 1670; Butterfield's Discovery of the

[Footnote 75: In 1820 those in Wisconsin numbered about 600 hunters.]

[Footnote 76: On these Indians consult, besides authorities already
cited, Shea's Discovery, etc. lx.; Jes. Rels.; Narr. and Crit. Hist. of
Amer., IV., 168-170, 175; Radisson's Voyages; Margry, IV., 586-598.]

[Footnote 77: Jes. Rels., 1666-7.]

[Footnote 78: Jes. Rels., 1670.]


The Indian trade was almost the sole interest in Wisconsin during the
two centuries that elapsed from the visit of Nicolet in 1634 to about
1834, when lead-mining had superseded it in the southwest and land
offices were opened at Green Bay and Mineral Point; when the port of
Milwaukee received an influx of settlers to the lands made known by the
so-called Black Hawk war; and when Astor retired from the American Fur
Company. These two centuries may be divided into three periods of the
trade: 1. French, from 1634 to 1763; 2. English, from 1763 to 1816; 3.
American, from 1816 to 1834.


Sagard,[79] whose work was published in 1636, tells us that the Hurons,
who traded with the French, visited the Winnebagoes and the Fire Nation
(Mascoutins),[80] bartering goods for peltries. Champlain, the famous
fur-trader, who represented the Company of the Hundred Associates,[81]
formed by Richelieu to monopolize the fur trade of New France and govern
the country, sent an agent named Jean Nicolet, in 1634,[82] to Green bay
and Fox river to make a peace between the Hurons and the Winnebagoes in
the interests of inter-tribal commerce. The importance of this phase of
the trade as late as 1681 may be inferred from these words of Du
Chesneau, speaking of the Ottawas, and including under the term the
Petun Hurons and the Chippeways also: "Through them we obtain beaver,
and although they, for the most part, do not hunt, and have but a small
portion of peltry in their country, they go in search of it to the most
distant places, and exchange for it our merchandise which they procure
at Montreal." Among the tribes enumerated as dealing with the Ottawas
are the Sioux, Satiks, Pottawattomies, Winnebagoes, Menomonees and
Mascoutins--all Wisconsin Indians at this time. He adds: "Some of these
tribes occasionally come down to Montreal, but usually they do not do so
in very great numbers because they are too far distant, are not expert
at managing canoes, and because the other Indians intimidate them, in
order to be the carriers of their merchandise and to profit

It was the aim of the authorities to attract the Indians to Montreal, or
to develop the inter-tribal communication, and thus to centralize the
trade and prevent the dissipation of the energies of the colony; but the
temptations of the free forest traffic were too strong. In a memoir of
1697, Aubert de la Chesnaye says:

"At first, the French went only among the Hurons, and since then to
Missilimakinak, where they sold their goods to the savages of the
places, who in turn went to exchange them with other savages in the
depths of the woods, lands and rivers. But at present the French, having
licenses, in order to secure greater profit surreptitiously, pass all
the 'Ottawas and savages of Missilimakinak in order to go themselves to
seek the most distant tribes, which is very displeasing to the former.
_It is they, also, who have made excellent discoveries;_ and four or
five hundred young men, the best men of Canada, are engaged in this
business.... They have given us knowledge of many names of savages that
we did not know; and four or five hundred leagues more remote are others
who are unknown to us."[84]

Two of the most noteworthy of these _coureurs de bois_, or wood-rangers,
were Radisson and Groseilliers.[85] In 1660 they returned to Montreal
with 300 Algonquins and sixty canoes laden with furs, after a voyage in
which they visited, among other tribes, the Pottawattomies, Mascoutins,
Sioux, and Hurons, in Wisconsin. From the Hurons they learned of the
Mississippi, and probably visited the river. They soon returned from
Montreal to the northern Wisconsin region. In the course of their
wanderings they had a post at Chequamegon bay, and they ascended the
Pigeon river, thus opening the Grand Portage route to the heart of
Canada. Among their exploits they induced England to enter the Hudson
Bay trade, and gave the impetus that led to the organization of the
Hudson Bay Company. The reports which these traders brought back had a
most important effect in fostering exploration in the Northwest, and led
to the visit of Menard, who was succeeded by Allouez, the pioneers of
the Jesuits in Wisconsin.[86] Radisson gives us a good account of the
early Wisconsin trade. Of his visit to the Ottawas he says:

"We weare wellcomed & made of saying that we weare the Gods and devils
of the earth; that we should fournish them, & that they would bring us
to their enemy to destroy them. We tould them [we] were very well
content. We persuaded them first to come peaceably, not to distroy them
presently, and if they would not condescend then would wee throw away
the hatchett and make use of our thunders. We sent ambassadors to them
wth guifts. That nation called Pontonatemick[87] without more adoe
comes and meets us with the rest, and peace was concluded." "The
savages," he writes, "love knives better than we serve God, which should
make us blush for shame." In another place, "We went away free from any
burden whilst those poore miserable thought themselves happy to carry
our Equipage for the hope that they had that we should give them a
brasse ring, or an awle, or an needle."[88] We find them using this
influence in various places to make peace between hostile tribes, whom
they threatened with punishment. This early commerce was carried on
under the fiction of an exchange of presents. For example, Radisson
says: "We gave them severall gifts and received many. They bestowed upon
us above 300 robs of castors out of wch we brought not five to the
ffrench being far in the country."[89] Among the articles used by
Radisson in this trade were kettles, hatchets, knives, graters, awls,
needles, tin looking-glasses, little bells, ivory combs, vermilion,
sword blades, necklaces and bracelets. The sale of guns and blankets was
at this time exceptional, nor does it appear that Radisson carried
brandy in this voyage.[90]

More and more the young men of Canada continued to visit the savages at
their villages. By 1660 the _coureurs de bois_ formed a distinct
class,[91] who, despite the laws against it, pushed from
Michillimackinac into the wilderness. Wisconsin was a favorite resort of
these adventurers. By the time of the arrival of the Jesuits they had
made themselves entirely at home upon our lakes. They had preceded
Allouez at Chequamegon bay, and when he established his mission at Green
bay he came at the invitation of the Pottawattomies, who wished him to
"mollify some young Frenchmen who were among them for the purpose of
trading and who threatened and ill-treated them."[92] He found fur
traders before him on the Fox and the Wolf. Bancroft's assertion[93]
that "religious enthusiasm took possession of the wilderness on the
upper lakes and explored the Mississippi," is misleading. It is not true
that "not a cape was turned, nor a mission founded, nor a river entered,
nor a settlement begun, but a Jesuit led the way." In fact the Jesuits
followed the traders;[94] their missions were on the sites of trading
posts, and they themselves often traded.[95]

When St. Lusson, with the _coureur de bois_, Nicholas Perrot, took
official possession of the Northwest for France at the Sault Ste. Marie
in 1671, the cost of the expedition was defrayed by trade in beaver.[96]
Joliet, who, accompanied by Marquette, descended the Mississippi by the
Fox and Wisconsin route in 1673, was an experienced fur trader. While Du
Lhut, chief of the _coureurs de bois_, was trading on Lake Superior, La
Salle,[97] the greatest of these merchants, was preparing his
far-reaching scheme for colonizing the Indians in the Illinois region
under the direction of the French, so that they might act as a check on
the inroads of the Iroquois, and aid in his plan of securing an exit for
the furs of the Northwest, particularly buffalo hides, by way of the
Mississippi and the Gulf. La Salle's "Griffen," the earliest ship to
sail the Great Lakes, was built for this trade, and received her only
cargo at Green Bay. Accault, one of La Salle's traders, with Hennepin,
met Du Lhut on the upper Mississippi, which he had reached by way of the
Bois Brulé and St. Croix, in 1680. Du Lhut's trade awakened the jealousy
of La Salle, who writes in 1682: "If they go by way of the Ouisconsing,
where for the present the chase of the buffalo is carried on and where I
have commenced an establishment, they will ruin the trade on which alone
I rely, on account of the great number of buffalo which are taken there
every year, almost beyond belief."[98] Speaking of the Jesuits at Green
Bay, he declares that they "have in truth the key to the beaver country,
where a brother blacksmith that they have and two companions convert
more iron into beaver than the fathers convert savages into
Christians."[99] Perrot says that the beaver north of the mouth of the
Wisconsin were better than those of the Illinois country, and the chase
was carried on in this region for a longer period;[100] and we know from
Dablon that the Wisconsin savages were not compelled to separate by
families during the hunting season, as was common among other tribes,
because the game here was so abundant.[101] Aside from its importance as
a key to the Northwestern trade, Wisconsin seems to have been a rich
field of traffic itself.

With such extensive operations as the foregoing in the region reached by
Wisconsin rivers, it is obvious that the government could not keep the
_coureurs de bois_ from the woods. Even governors like Frontenac
connived at the traffic and shared its profits. In 1681 the government
decided to issue annual licenses,[102] and messengers were dispatched to
announce amnesty to the _coureurs de bois_ about Green Bay and the south
shore of Lake Superior.[103]

We may now offer some conclusions upon the connection of the fur trade
with French explorations:

1. The explorations were generally induced and almost always rendered
profitable by the fur trade. In addition to what has been presented on
this point, note the following:

In 1669, Patoulet writes to Colbert concerning La Salle's voyage to
explore a passage to Japan: "The enterprise is difficult and dangerous,
but the good thing about it is that the King will be at no expense for
this pretended discovery."[104]

The king's instructions to Governor De la Barre in 1682 say that,
"Several inhabitants of Canada, excited by the hope of the profit to be
realized from the trade with the Indians for furs, have undertaken at
various periods discoveries in the countries of the Nadoussioux, the
river Mississipy, and other parts of America."[105]

2. The early traders were regarded as quasi-supernatural beings by the
Indians.[106] They alone could supply the coveted iron implements, the
trinkets that tickled the savage's fancy, the "fire-water," and the guns
that gave such increased power over game and the enemy. In the course of
a few years the Wisconsin savages passed from the use of the implements
of the stone age to the use of such an important product of the iron age
as firearms. They passed also from the economic stage in which their
hunting was for food and clothing simply, to that stage in which their
hunting was made systematic and stimulated by the European demand for
furs. The trade tended to perpetuate the hunter stage by making it
profitable, and it tended to reduce the Indian to economic
dependence[107] upon the Europeans, for while he learned to use the
white man's gun he did not learn to make it or even to mend it. In this
transition stage from their primitive condition the influence of the
trader over the Indians was all-powerful. The pre-eminence of the
individual Indian who owned a gun made all the warriors of the tribe
eager to possess like power. The tribe thus armed placed their enemies
at such a disadvantage that they too must have like weapons or lose
their homes.[108] No wonder that La Salle was able to say: "The savages
take better care of us French than of their own children. From us only
can they get guns and goods."[109] This was the power that France used
to support her in the struggle with England for the Northwest.

3. The trader used his influence to promote peace between the
Northwestern Indians.[110]


[Footnote 79: Histoire du Canada, 193-4 (edition of 1866).]

[Footnote 80: Dablon, Jesuit Relations, 1671.]

[Footnote 81: See Parkman, Pioneers, 429 ff. (1890).]

[Footnote 82: Margry, I., 50. The date rests on inference; see
Bibliography of Nicolet in Wis. Hist. Colls., XI., and cf. Hebberd,
Wisconsin under French Dominion, 14.]

[Footnote 83: N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 160.]

[Footnote 84: Margry, VI., 3; Coll. de Mamiscrits, I., 255, where the
date is wrongly given as 1676. The italics are ours.]

[Footnote 85: Radisson, Voyages (Prince Soc. Pubs.); Margry, I., 53-55,
83; Jes. Rels., 1660; Wis. Hist. Colls., X., XI; Narrative and Critical
Hist. Amer., IV., 168-173.]

[Footnote 86: Cf. Radisson, 173-5, and Jes. Rels., 1660, pp. 12, 30;
1663, pp. 17 ff.]

[Footnote 87: Pottawattomies in the region of Green Bay.]

[Footnote 88: Wis. Hist. Colls., XI., 67-8.]

[Footnote 89: _Ibid._ XI., 90.]

[Footnote 90: Radisson, 200, 217, 219.]

[Footnote 91: Suite, in Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of
Science, Arts and Letters, V., 141; N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 153, 140,152;
Margry, VI., 3; Parkman, Old Régime, 310-315.]

[Footnote 92: Cf. Jes. Rels., 1670, p. 92.]

[Footnote 93: History of United States, II., 138 (1884).]

[Footnote 94: Harrisse, Notes sur la Nouvelle France, 174-181.]

[Footnote 95: Parkman, Old Régime, 328 ff., and La Salle, 98; Margry,
II., 251; Radisson, 173.]

[Footnote 96: See Talon's report quoted in Narr. and Crit. Hist. Amer.,
IV., 175.]

[Footnote 97: Margry abounds in evidences of La Salle's commercial
activity, as does Parkman's La Salle. See also Dunn, Indiana, 20-1.]

[Footnote 98: Margry, II., 254.]

[Footnote 99: Margry, II., 251.]

[Footnote 100: Tailhan's Perrot, 57.]

[Footnote 101: Jes. Rels., 1670.]

[Footnote 102: La Hontan, I., 53; N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 159; Parkman,
Old Régime, 305.]

[Footnote 103: Margry, VI., 45.]

[Footnote 104: Margry, I., 81.]

[Footnote 105: N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 187. On the cost of such
expeditions, see documents in Margry, I., 293-296; VI., 503-507. On the
profits of the trade, see La Salle in 2 Penna. Archives, VI., 18-19.]

[Footnote 106: See Radisson, _ante_, p. 28.]

[Footnote 107: _Vide post_, p. 62.]

[Footnote 108: _Vide ante_, p. 14; Radisson, 154; Minn. Hist. Colls.,
V., 427. Compare the effects of the introduction of bronze weapons into

[Footnote 109: Margry, II., 234. On the power possessed by the French
through this trade consult also D'Iberville's plan for locating
Wisconsin Indians on the Illinois by changing their trading posts; see
Margry, IV., 586-598.]

[Footnote 110: Wis. Hist. Colls., XI., 67-8, 90; Narr. and Crit. Hist.
Amer., IV., 182; Perrot, 327; Margry, VI., 507-509, 653-4.]


In the governorship of Dongan of New York, as has been noted, the
English were endeavoring to secure the trade of the Northwest. As early
as 1685, English traders had reached Michillimackinac, the depot of
supplies for the _coureur de bois_, where they were cordially received
by the Indians, owing to their cheaper goods[111]. At the same time the
English on Hudson Bay were drawing trade to their posts in that region.
The French were thoroughly alarmed. They saw the necessity of holding
the Indians by trading posts in their midst, lest they should go to the
English, for as Begon declared, the savages "always take the part of
those with whom they trade."[112] It is at this time that the French
occupation of the Northwest begins to assume a new phase. Stockaded
trading posts were established at such key-points as a strait, a
portage, a river-mouth, or an important lake, where also were Indian
villages. In 1685 the celebrated Nicholas Perrot was given command of
Green Bay and its dependencies[113]. He had trading posts near
Trempealeau and at Fort St. Antoine on the Wisconsin side of Lake Pepin
where he traded with the Sioux, and for a time he had a post and worked
the lead-mines above the Des Moines river. Both these and Fort St.
Nicholas at the mouth of the Wisconsin[114] were dependencies of Green
Bay. Du Lhut probably established Fort St. Croix at the portage between
the Bois Brulé river and the St. Croix.[115] In 1695 Le Sueur built a
fort on the largest island above Lake Pepin, and he also asked the
command of the post of Chequamegon.[116]

These official posts were supported by the profits of Indian
commerce,[117] and were designed to keep the northwestern tribes at
peace, and to prevent the English and Iroquois influence from getting
the fur trade.


[Footnote 111: N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 296, 308; IV., 735.]

[Footnote 112: Quoted in Sheldon, Early History of Michigan, 310.]

[Footnote 113: Tailhan's Perrot, 156.]

[Footnote 114: Wis. Hist. Colls., X., 54, 300-302, 307, 321.]

[Footnote 115: Narr. and Crit. Hist. Amer., IV., 186.]

[Footnote 116: Margry, VI., 60. Near Ashland, Wis.]

[Footnote 117: Consult French MSS., 3d series, VI., Parl. Library,
Ottawa, cited in Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 422; Id., V., 425. In 1731 M.
La Ronde, having constructed at his own expense a bark of forty tons on
Lake Superior, received the post of La Pointe de Chagouamigon as a
gratuity to defray his expenses. See also the story of Verenderye's
posts, in Parkman's article in _Atlantic Monthly_, June, 1887, and
Margry, VI. See also 2 Penna. Archives, VI., 18; La Hontan, I., 53; N.Y.
Col. Docs., IX., 159; Tailhan, Perrot, 302.]


In 1683 Perrot had collected Wisconsin Indians for an attack on the
Iroquois, and again in 1686 he led them against the same enemy. But the
efforts of the Iroquois and the English to enter the region with their
cheaper and better goods, and the natural tendency of savages to plunder
when assured of supplies from other sources, now overcame the control
which the French had exercised. The Sauks and Foxes, the Mascoutins,
Kickapoos and Miamis, as has been described, held the Fox and Wisconsin
route to the West, the natural and easy highway to the Mississippi, as
La Hontan calls it.[118] Green Bay commanded this route, as La Pointe de
Chagouamigon[119] commanded the Lake Superior route to the Bois Brulé
and the St. Croix. One of Perrot's main objects was to supply the Sioux
on the other side of the Mississippi, and these were the routes to them.
To the Illinois region, also, the Fox route was the natural one. The
Indians of this waterway therefore held the key to the French position,
and might attempt to prevent the passage of French goods and support
English influence and trade, or they might try to monopolize the
intermediate trade themselves, or they might try to combine both

As early as 1687 the Foxes, Mascoutins and Kickapoos, animated
apparently by hostility to the trade carried on by Perrot with the
Sioux, their enemy at that time, threatened to pillage the post at Green
Bay.[120] The closing of the Ottawa to the northern fur trade by the
Iroquois for three years, a blow which nearly ruined Canada in the days
of Frontenac, as Parkman has described,[121] not only kept vast stores
of furs from coming down from Michillimackinac; it must, also, have kept
goods from reaching the northwestern Indians. In 1692 the Mascoutins,
who attributed the death of some of their men to Perrot, plundered his
goods, and the Foxes soon entered into negotiation with the
Iroquois.[122] Frontenac expressed great apprehension lest with their
allies on the Fox and Wisconsin route they should remove eastward and
come into connection with the Iroquois and the English, a grave danger
to New France.[123] Nor was this apprehension without reason.[124] Even
such docile allies as the Ottawas and Pottawattomies threatened to leave
the French if goods were not sent to them wherewith to oppose their
enemies. "They have powder and iron," complained an Ottawa deputy; "how
can we sustain ourselves? Have compassion, then, on us, and consider
that it is no easy matter to kill men with clubs."[125] By the end of
the seventeenth century the disaffected Indians closed the Fox and
Wisconsin route against French trade.[126] In 1699 an order was issued
recalling the French from the Northwest, it being the design to
concentrate French power at the nearer posts.[127] Detroit was founded
in 1701 as a place to which to attract the northwestern trade and
intercept the English. In 1702 the priest at St. Joseph reported that
the English were sending presents to the Miamis about that post and
desiring to form an establishment in their country.[128] At the same
date we find D'Iberville, of Louisiana, proposing a scheme for drawing
the Miamis, Mascoutins and Kickapoos from the Wisconsin streams to the
Illinois, by changing their trading posts from Green Bay to the latter
region, and drawing the Illinois by trading posts to the lower
Ohio.[129] It was shortly after this that the Miamis and Kickapoos
passed south under either the French or English influence,[130] and the
hostility of the Foxes became more pronounced. A part of the scheme of
La Motte Cadillac at Detroit was to colonize Indians about that
post,[131] and in 1712 Foxes, Sauks, Mascoutins, Kickapoos,
Pottawattomies, Hurons, Ottawas, Illinois, Menomonees and others were
gathered there under the influence of trade. But soon, whether by design
of the French and their allies or otherwise, hostilities broke out
against the Foxes and their allies. The animus of the combat appears in
the cries of the Foxes as they raised red blankets for flags and shouted
"We have no father but the English!" while the allies of the French
replied, "The English are cowards; they destroy the Indians with brandy
and are enemies of the true God!" The Foxes were defeated with great
slaughter and driven back to Wisconsin.[132] From this time until 1734
the French waged war against the Foxes with but short intermissions. The
Foxes allied themselves with the Iroquois and the Sioux, and acted as
middlemen between the latter and the traders, refusing passage to goods
on the ground that it would damage their own trade to allow this.[133]
They fostered hostilities between their old foes the Chippeways and
their new allies the Sioux, and thus they cut off English intercourse
with the latter by way of the north. This trade between the Chippeways
and the Sioux was important to the French, and commandants were
repeatedly sent to La Pointe de Chagouamigon and the upper Mississippi
to make peace between the two tribes.[134] While the wars were in
progress the English took pains to enforce their laws against furnishing
Indian goods to French traders. The English had for a time permitted
this, and their own Indian trade had suffered because the French were
able to make use of the cheap English goods. By their change in policy
the English now brought home to the savages the fact that French goods
were dearer.[135] Moreover, English traders were sent to Niagara to deal
directly with "the far Indians," and the Foxes visited the English and
Iroquois, and secured a promise that they might take up their abode with
the latter and form an additional member of the confederacy in case of
need.[136] As a counter policy the French attempted to exterminate the
Foxes, and detached the Sioux from their alliance with the Foxes by
establishing Fort Beauharnois, a trading post on the Minnesota side of
Lake Pepin.[137]

The results of these wars were as follows:

1. They spread the feeling of defection among the Northwestern Indians,
who could no longer be restrained, as at first, by the threat of cutting
off their trade, there being now rivals in the shape of the English, and
the French traders from Louisiana.[138]

2. They caused a readjustment of the Indian map of Wisconsin. The
Mascoutins and the Pottawattomies had already moved southward to the
Illinois country. Now the Foxes, driven from their river, passed first
to Prairie du Chien and then down the Mississippi. The Sauks went at
first to the Wisconsin, near Sauk Prairie, and then joined the Foxes.
The Winnebagoes gradually extended themselves along the Fox and
Wisconsin. The Chippeways,[139] freed from their fear of the Foxes, to
whom the Wolf and the Wisconsin had given access to the northern portion
of the state, now passed south to Lac du Flambeau,[140] to the
headwaters of the Wisconsin, and to Lac Court Oreilles.[141]

3. The closing of the Fox and Wisconsin route fostered that movement of
trade and exploration which at this time began to turn to the far
Northwest along the Pigeon river route into central British America, in
search of the Sea of the West,[142] whereby the Rocky Mountains were
discovered; and it may have aided in turning settlement into the
Illinois country.

4. These wars were a part of a connected series, including the Iroquois
wars, the Fox wars, the attack of the Wisconsin trader, Charles de
Langlade, upon the center of English trade at Pickawillany,[143] Ohio,
and the French and Indian war that followed. All were successive stages
of the struggle against English trade in the French possessions.


[Footnote 118: La Hontan, I., 105.]

[Footnote 119: Near Ashland, Wis.]

[Footnote 120: Tailhan, Perrot, 139, 302.]

[Footnote 121: Frontenac, 315-316. Cf. Perrot, 302.]

[Footnote 122: Perrot, 331; N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 633.]

[Footnote 123: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 124: N.Y. Col. Docs., IV., 732-7.]

[Footnote 125: N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 673.]

[Footnote 126: Shea, Early Voyages, 49.]

[Footnote 127: Kingsford, Canada, II., 394; N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 635.]

[Footnote 128: Margry, V.,219.]

[Footnote 129: _Ibid._ IV., 597.]

[Footnote 130: Wis. Hist. Colls., III., 149; Smith, Wisconsin, II.,

[Footnote 131: Coll. de Manus., III., 622.]

[Footnote 132: See Hebberd's account, Wisconsin under French Dominion;
Coll. de Manus., I., 623; Smith, Wisconsin, II., 315.]

[Footnote 133: Margry, VI., 543.]

[Footnote 134: Tailhan, Perrot, _passim_; N.Y. Col. Docs., IX., 570,
619, 621; Margry, VI., 507-509, 553, 653-4; Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 422,
425; Wis. Hist. Colls., III., 154.]

[Footnote 135: N.Y. Col. Docs., V., 726 ff.]

[Footnote 136: _Ibid._ IV., 732, 735, 796-7; V., 687, 911.]

[Footnote 137: Margry, VI., 553, 563, 575-580; Neill in _Mag. Western
History_, November, 1887.]

[Footnote 138: Perrot, 148; Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, I., 42;
Hebberd, Wisconsin under French Dominion, chapters on the Fox wars.]

[Footnote 139: Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 190-1.]

[Footnote 140: Oneida county.]

[Footnote 141: Sawyer county.]

[Footnote 142: Margry, VI.]

[Footnote 143: Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, I., 84, and citations; _vide
post_, p. 41.]


Settlement was not the object of the French in the Northwest. The
authorities saw as clearly as do we that the field was too vast for the
resources of the colony, and they desired to hold the region as a source
of peltries, and contract their settlements. The only towns worthy of
the name in the Northwest were Detroit and the settlements in Indiana
and Illinois, all of which depended largely on the fur trade.[144] But
in spite of the government the traffic also produced the beginnings of
settlement in Wisconsin. About the middle of the century, Augustin de
Langlade had made Green Bay his trading post. After Pontiac's war,[145]
Charles de Langlade[146] made the place his permanent residence, and a
little settlement grew up. At Prairie du Chien French traders annually
met the Indians, and at this time there may have been a stockaded
trading post there, but it was not a permanent settlement until the
close of the Revolutionary war. Chequamegon bay was deserted[147] at the
outbreak of the French war. There may have been a regular trading post
at Milwaukee in this period, but the first trader recorded is not until
1762.[148] Doubtless wintering posts existed at other points in

The characteristic feature of French occupancy of the Northwest was the
trading post, and in illustration of it, and of the centralized
administration of the French, the following account of De Repentigny's
fort at Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan) is given in the words of Governor La
Jonquière to the minister for the colonies in 1751:[149]

"He arrived too late last year at the Sault Ste. Marie to fortify
himself well; however, he secured himself in a sort of fort large enough
to receive the traders of Missilimakinac.... He employed his hired men
during the whole winter in cutting 1100 pickets of fifteen feet for his
fort, with the doublings, and the timber necessary for the construction
of three houses, one of them thirty feet long by twenty wide, and two
others twenty-five feet long and the same width as the first. His fort
is entirely furnished with the exception of a redoubt of oak, which he
is to have made twelve feet square, and which shall reach the same
distance above the gate of the fort. His fort is 110 feet square.

"As for the cultivation of the lands, the Sieur de Repentigny has a
bull, two bullocks, three cows, two heifers, one horse and a mare from
Missilimakinac.... He has engaged a Frenchman who married at Sault Ste.
Marie an Indian woman to take a farm; they have cleared it and sowed it,
and without a frost they will gather 30 to 35 sacks of corn. The said
Sieur de Repentigny so much feels it his duty to devote himself to the
cultivation of these lands that he has already entered into a bargain
for two slaves[150] whom he will employ to take care of the corn[151]
that he will gather upon these lands."


[Footnote 144: Fergus, Historical Series, No. 12; Breese, Early History
of Illinois; Dunn, Indiana; Hubbard, Memorials of a Half Century;
Monette, History of the Valley of the Mississippi, I., ch. iv.]

[Footnote 145: Henry, Travels, ch. x.]

[Footnote 146: See Memoir in Wis. Hist. Colls., VII.; III., 224; VII.,
127, 152, 166.]

[Footnote 147: Henry, Travels.]

[Footnote 148: Wis. Hist. Colls., I., 35.]

[Footnote 149: Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 435-6.]

[Footnote 150: Indians. Compare Wis. Hist. Colls., III., 256; VII., 158,
117, 179.]

[Footnote 151: The French minister for the colonies expressing approval
of this post writes in 1752: "As it can hardly be expected that any
other grain than corn will grow there, it is necessary at least for a
while to stick to it, and not to persevere stubbornly in trying to raise
wheat." On this Dr. E.D. Neill comments: "Millions of bushels of wheat
from the region west and north of Lake Superior pass every year ...
through the ship canal at Sault Ste. Marie." The corn was for supplying
the voyageurs.]


While they had been securing the trade of the far Northwest and the
Illinois country, the French had allowed the English to gain the trade
of the upper Ohio,[152] and were now brought face to face with the
danger of losing the entire Northwest, and thus the connection of Canada
and Louisiana. The commandants of the western posts were financially as
well as patriotically interested. In 1754, Green Bay, then garrisoned by
an officer, a sergeant and four soldiers, required for the Indian trade
of its department thirteen canoes of goods annually, costing about 7000
livres each, making a total of nearly $18,000.[153] Bougainville
asserts that Marin, the commandant of the department of the Bay, was
associated in trade with the governor and intendant, and that his part
netted him annually 15,000 francs.

When it became necessary for the French to open hostilities with the
English traders in the Ohio country, it was the Wisconsin trader,
Charles de Langlade, with his Chippeway Indians, who in 1752 fell upon
the English trading post at Pickawillany and destroyed the center of
English trade in the Ohio region.[154] The leaders in the opening of the
war that ensued were Northwestern traders. St. Pierre, who commanded at
Fort Le Boeuf when Washington appeared with his demands from the
Governor of Virginia that the French should evacuate the Ohio country,
had formerly been the trader in command at Lake Pepin on the upper
Mississippi.[155] Coulon de Villiers, who captured Washington at Fort
Necessity, was the son of the former commandant at Green Bay.[156]
Beaujeau, who led the French troops to the defeat of Braddock, had been
an officer in the Fox wars.[157] It was Charles de Langlade who
commanded the Indians and was chiefly responsible for the success of the
ambuscade.[158] Wisconsin Indians, representing almost all the tribes,
took part with the French in the war.[159] Traders passed to and from
their business to the battlefields of the East. For example, De
Repentigny, whose post at Sault Ste. Marie has been described, was at
Michillimackinac in January, 1755, took part in the battle of Lake
George in the fall of that year, formed a partnership to continue the
trade with a trader of Michillimackinac in 1756, was at that place in
1758, and in 1759 fought with Montcalm on the heights of Abraham.[160]
It was not without a struggle that the traders yielded their beaver


[Footnote 152: Margry, VI., 758.]

[Footnote 153: Canadian Archives, 1886, clxxii.]

[Footnote 154: Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, I., 84.]

[Footnote 155: Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 433. Washington was guided to the
fort along an old trading route by traders; the trail was improved by
the Ohio Company, and was used by Braddock in his march (Sparks,
Washington's Works, II., 302).]

[Footnote 156: Wis. Hist. Colls., V., 117.]

[Footnote 157: _Ibid._, 115.]

[Footnote 158: Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, II., 425-6. He was
prominently engaged in other battles; see Wis. Hist. Colls., VII.,

[Footnote 159: Wis. Hist. Colls., V., 117.]

[Footnote 160: Neill, in _Mag. West. Hist._, VII., 17, and Minn. Hist.
Colls., V., 434-436. For other examples see Wis. Hist. Colls., V.,
113-118; Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 430-1.]


In the meantime what was the attitude of the English toward the
Northwest? In 1720 Governor Spotswood of Virginia wrote:[161] "The
danger which threatens these, his Maj'ty's Plantations, from this new
Settlement is also very considerable, for by the communication which the
French may maintain between Canada and Mississippi by the conveniency of
the Lakes, they do in a manner surround all the British Plantations.
They have it in their power by these Lakes and the many Rivers running
into them and into the Mississippi to engross all the Trade of the
Indian Nations w'ch are now supplied from hence."

Cadwallader Colden, Surveyor-General of New York, says in 1724: "New
France (as the French now claim) extends from the mouth of the
Mississippi to the mouth of the River St. Lawrence, by which the French
plainly shew their intention of enclosing the British Settlements and
cutting us off from all Commerce with the numerous Nations of Indians
that are everywhere settled over the vast continent of North
America."[162] As time passed, as population increased, and as the
reports of the traders extolled the fertility of the country, both the
English and the French, but particularly the Americans, began to
consider it from the standpoint of colonization as well as from that of
the fur trade.[163] The Ohio Company had both settlement and the fur
trade in mind,[164] and the French Governor, Galissonière, at the same
period urged that France ought to plant a colony in the Ohio
region.[165] After the conquest of New France by England there was still
the question whether she should keep Canada and the Northwest.[166]
Franklin, urging her to do so, offered as one argument the value of the
fur trade, intrinsically and as a means of holding the Indians in check.
Discussing the question whether the interior regions of America would
ever be accessible to English settlement and so to English manufactures,
he pointed out the vastness of our river and lake system, and the fact
that Indian trade already permeated the interior. In interesting
comparison he called their attention to the fact that English commerce
reached along river systems into the remote parts of Europe, and that in
ancient times the Levant had carried on a trade with the distant

That the value of the fur trade was an important element in inducing the
English to retain Canada is shown by the fact that Great Britain no
sooner came into the possession of the country than she availed herself
of the fields for which she had so long intrigued. Among the western
posts she occupied Green Bay, and with the garrison came traders;[168]
but the fort was abandoned on the outbreak of Pontiac's war.[169] This
war was due to the revolt of the Indians of the Northwest against the
transfer of authority, and was fostered by the French traders.[170] It
concerned Wisconsin but slightly, and at its close we find Green Bay a
little trading community along the Fox, where a few families lived
comfortably[171] under the quasi-patriarchal rule of Langlade.[172] In
1765 trade was re-established at Chequamegon Bay by an English trader
named Henry, and here he found the Chippeways dressed in deerskins, the
wars having deprived them of a trader.[173]

As early as 1766 some Scotch merchants more extensively reopened the fur
trade, using Michillimackinac as the basis of their operations and
employing French voyageurs.[174] By the proclamation of the King in 1763
the Northwest was left without political organization, it being reserved
as crown lands and exempt from purchase or settlement, the design being
to give up to the Indian trade all the lands "westward of the sources of
the rivers which fall into the sea from the West and Northwest as
aforesaid." In a report of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and
Plantations in 1772 we find the attitude of the English government
clearly set forth in these words:[175]

"The great object of colonization upon the continent of North America
has been to improve and extend the commerce and manufactures of this
kingdom.... It does appear to us that the extension of the fur trade
depends entirely upon the Indians being undisturbed in the possession of
their hunting grounds, and that all colonization does in its nature and
must in its consequence operate to the prejudice of that branch of
commerce.... Let the savages enjoy their deserts in quiet. Were they
driven from their forests the peltry trade would decrease."

In a word, the English government attempted to adopt the western policy
of the French. From one point of view it was a successful policy. The
French traders took service under the English, and in the Revolutionary
war Charles de Langlade led the Wisconsin Indians to the aid of Hamilton
against George Rogers Clark,[176] as he had before against the British,
and in the War of 1812 the British trader Robert Dickson repeated this
movement.[177] As in the days of Begon, "the savages took the part of
those with whom they traded." The secret proposition of Vergennes, in
the negotiations preceding the treaty of 1783, to limit the United
States by the Alleghanies and to give the Northwest to England, while
reserving the rest of the region between the mountains and the
Mississippi as Indian territory under Spanish protection,[178] would
have given the fur trade to these nations.[179] In the extensive
discussions over the diplomacy whereby the Northwest was included within
the limits of the United States, it has been asserted that we won our
case by the chartered claims of the colonies and by George Rogers
Clark's conquest of the Illinois country. It appears, however, that in
fact Franklin, who had been a prominent member and champion of the Ohio
Company, and who knew the West from personal acquaintance, had persuaded
Shelburne to cede it to us as a part of a liberal peace that should
effect a reconciliation between the two countries. Shelburne himself
looked upon the region from the point of view of the fur trade simply,
and was more willing to make this concession than he was some others. In
the discussion over the treaty in Parliament in 1783, the Northwestern
boundary was treated almost solely from the point of view of the fur
trade and of the desertion of the Indians. The question was one of
profit and loss in this traffic. One member attacked Shelburne on the
ground that, "not thinking the naked independence a sufficient proof of
his liberality to the United States, he had clothed it with the warm
covering of our fur trade." Shelburne defended his cession "on the fair
rule of the value of the district ceded,"[180] and comparing exports and
imports and the cost of administration, he concluded that the fur trade
of the Northwest was not of sufficient value to warrant continuing the
war. The most valuable trade, he argued, was north of the line, and the
treaty merely applied sound economic principles and gave America "a
share in the trade." The retention of her Northwestern posts by Great
Britain at the close of the war, in contravention of the treaty, has an
obvious relation to the fur trade. In his negotiations with Hammond, the
British ambassador in 1791, Secretary of State Jefferson said: "By these
proceedings we have been intercepted entirely from the commerce of furs
with the Indian nations to the northward--a commerce which had ever been
of great importance to the United States, not only for its intrinsic
value, but as it was the means of cherishing peace with these Indians,
and of superseding the necessity of that expensive warfare which we have
been obliged to carry on with them during the time that these posts have
been in other hands."[181]

In discussing the evacuation of the posts in 1794 Jay was met by a
demand that complete freedom of the Northwestern Indian trade should be
granted to British subjects. It was furthermore proposed by Lord
Grenville[182] that, "Whereas it is now understood that the river
Mississippi would at no point thereof be intersected by such westward
line as is described in the said treaty [1783]; and whereas it was
stipulated in the said treaty that the navigation of the Mississippi
should be free to both parties"--one of two new propositions should be
accepted regarding the northwestern boundary. The maps in American State
Papers, Foreign Relations, I., 492, show that both these proposals
extended Great Britain's territory so as to embrace the Grand Portage
and the lake region of northern Minnesota, one of the best of the
Northwest Company's fur-trading regions south of the line, and in
connection by the Red river with the Canadian river systems.[183] They
were rejected by Jay. Secretary Randolph urged him to hasten the removal
of the British, stating that the delay asked for, to allow the traders
to collect their Indian debts, etc., would have a bad effect upon the
Indians, and protesting that free communication for the British would
strike deep into our Indian trade.[184] The definitive treaty included
the following provisions:[185] The posts were to be evacuated before
June 1, 1796. "All settlers and traders, within the precincts or
jurisdiction of the said posts, shall continue to enjoy, unmolested, all
their property of every kind, and shall be protected therein. They shall
be at full liberty to remain there, or to remove with all or any part of
their effects; and it shall also be free to them to sell their lands,
houses, or effects, or to retain the property thereof, at their
discretion; such of them as shall continue to reside within the said
boundary lines shall not be compelled to become citizens of the United
States, or to take any oath of allegiance to the government thereof; but
they shall be at full liberty to do so if they think proper, and they
shall make and declare their election within one year after the
evacuation aforesaid. And all persons who shall continue there after the
expiration of the said year without having declared their intention of
remaining subjects of his British Majesty shall be considered as having
elected to become citizens of the United States." "It is agreed that it
shall at all times be free to His Majesty's subjects, and to the Indians
dwelling on either side of the said boundary line, freely to pass and
repass by land or inland navigation into the respective territories and
countries of the two parties on the continent of America (the country
within the limits of the Hudson's Bay Company only excepted), and to
navigate all the lakes, rivers and waters thereof, and freely to carry
on trade and commerce with each other."

In his elaborate defence of Jay's treaty, Alexander Hamilton paid much
attention to the question of the fur trade. Defending Jay for permitting
so long a delay in evacuation and for granting right of entry into our
fields, he minimized the value of the trade. So far from being worth
$800,000 annually, he asserted the trade within our limits would not be
worth $100,000, seven-eighths of the traffic being north of the line.
This estimate of the value of the northwestern trade was too low. In the
course of his paper he made this observation:[186]

"In proportion as the article is viewed on an enlarged plan and
permanent scale, its importance to us magnifies. Who can say how far
British colonization may spread southward and down the west side of the
Mississippi, northward and westward into the vast interior regions
towards the Pacific ocean?... In this large view of the subject, the fur
trade, which has made a very prominent figure in the discussion, becomes
a point scarcely visible. Objects of great variety and magnitude start
up in perspective, eclipsing the little atoms of the day, and promising
to grow and mature with time."

Such was not the attitude of Great Britain. To her the Northwest was
desirable on account of its Indian commerce. By a statement of the
Province of Upper Canada, sent with the approbation of
Lieutenant-General Hunter to the Duke of Kent, Commander-in-Chief of
British North America, in the year 1800, we are enabled to see the
situation through Canadian eyes:[187]

"The Indians, who had loudly and Justly complained of a treaty [1783] in
which they were sacrificed by a cession of their country contrary to
repeated promises, were with difficulty appeased, however finding the
Posts retained and some Assurances given they ceased to murmur and
resolved to defend their country extending from the Ohio Northward to
the Great Lakes and westward to the Mississippi, an immense tract, in
which they found the deer, the bear, the wild wolf, game of all sorts in
profusion. They employed the Tomahawk and Scalping Knife against such
deluded settlers who on the faith of the treaty to which they did not
consent, ventured to cross the Ohio, secretly encouraged by the Agents
of Government, supplied with Arms, Ammunition, and provisions they
maintained an obstinate & destructive war against the States, cut off
two Corps sent against them.... The American Government, discouraged by
these disasters were desirous of peace on any terms, their deputies were
sent to Detroit, they offered to confine their Pretensions within
certain limits far South of the Lakes. if this offer had been accepted
the Indian Country would have been for ages an impassible Barrier
between us. twas unfortunately perhaps wantonly rejected, and the war

Acting under the privileges accorded to them by Jay's treaty, the
British traders were in almost as complete possession of Wisconsin until
after the war of 1812 as if Great Britain still owned it. When the war
broke out the keys of the region, Detroit and Michillimackinac, fell
into the British hands. Green Bay and Prairie du Chien were settlements
of French-British traders and voyageurs. Their leader was Robert
Dickson, who had traded at the latter settlement. Writing in 1814 from
his camp at Winnebago Lake, he says: "I think that Bony [Bonaparte]
must be knocked up as all Europe are now in Arms. The crisis is not far
off when I trust in God that the Tyrant will be humbled, & the Scoundrel
American Democrats be obliged to go down on their knees to
Britain."[188] Under him most of the Wisconsin traders of importance
received British commissions. In the spring of 1814 the Americans took
Prairie du Chien, at the mouth of the Wisconsin river, whereupon Col.
M'Douall, the British commandant at Michillimackinac, wrote to General
Drummond:[189] ... "I saw at once the imperious necessity which existed
of endeavoring by every means to dislodge the American Genl from his new
conquest, and make him relinquish the immense tract of country he had
seized upon in consequence & which brought him into the very heart of
that occupied by our friendly Indians, There was no alternative it must
either be done or there was an end to our connection with the Indians
for if allowed to settle themselves by dint of threats bribes & sowing
divisions among them, tribe after tribe would be gained over or subdued,
& thus would be destroyed the only barrier which protects the great
trading establishments of the North West and the Hudson's Bay Companys.
Nothing could then prevent the enemy from gaining the source of the
Mississippi, gradually extending themselves by the Red river to Lake
Winnipic, from whense the descent of Nelsons river to York Fort would in
time be easy."

The British traders, voyageurs and Indians[190] dislodged the Americans,
and at the close of the war England was practically in possession of the
Indian country of the Northwest.

In the negotiations at Ghent the British commissioners asserted the
sovereignty of the Indians over their lands, and their independence in
relation to the United States, and demanded that a barrier of Indian
territory should be established between the two countries, free to the
traffic of both nations but not open to purchase by either.[191] The
line of the Grenville treaty was suggested as a basis for determining
this Indian region. The proposition would have removed from the
sovereignty of the United States the territory of the Northwest with the
exception of about two-thirds of Ohio,[192] and given it over to the
British fur traders. The Americans declined to grant the terms, and the
United States was finally left in possession of the Northwest.


[Footnote 161: Va. Hist. Colls., N.S., II, 329.]

[Footnote 162: N.Y. Col. Docs., V., 726.]

[Footnote 163: Indian relations had a noteworthy influence upon colonial
union; see Lucas, Appendiculae Historicae, 161, and Frothingham, Rise of
the Republic, ch. iv.]

[Footnote 164: Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, I., 59; Sparks, Washington's
Works, II., 302.]

[Footnote 165: Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, I., 21.]

[Footnote 166: _Ibid._ II., 403.]

[Footnote 167: Bigelow, Franklin's Works, III., 43, 83, 98-100.]

[Footnote 168: Wis. Hist. Colls., I., 26-38.]

[Footnote 169: Parkman, Pontiac, I., 185. Consult N.Y. Col. Docs., VI.,
635, 690, 788, 872, 974.]

[Footnote 170: Wis. Hist. Colls., I., 26.]

[Footnote 171: Carver, Travels.]

[Footnote 172: Porlier Papers, Wis. Pur Trade MSS., in possession of
Wis. Hist. Soc.; also Wis. Hist. Colls., III., 200-201.]

[Footnote 173: Henry, Travels.]

[Footnote 174: Canadian Archives, 1888, p. 61 ff.]

[Footnote 175: Sparks, Franklin's Works, IV., 303-323.]

[Footnote 176: Wis. Hist. Colls., XI.]

[Footnote 177: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 178: Jay, Address before the N.Y. Hist. Soc. on the Treaty
Negotiations of 1782-3, appendix; map in Narr. and Crit. Hist. Amer.,
VII., 148.]

[Footnote 179: But Vergennes had a just appreciation of the value of the
region for settlement as well. He recognized and feared the American
capacity for expansion.]

[Footnote 180: Hansard, XXIII., 377-8, 381-3, 389, 398-9, 405, 409-10,
423, 450, 457, 465.]

[Footnote 181: American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I., 190.]

[Footnote 182: _Ibid._ 487.]

[Footnote 183: As early as 1794 the company had established a stockaded
fort at Sandy lake. After Jay's treaty conceding freedom of entry, the
company dotted this region with posts and raised the British flag over
them. In 1805 the center of trade was changed from Grand Portage to Fort
William Henry, on the Canada side. Neill, Minnesota, 239 (4th edn.).
Bancroft, Northwest Coast, I., 560. _Vide ante_, p. 20, and _post_, p.

[Footnote 184: Amer. State Papers, For. Rels., I., p. 509.]

[Footnote 185: Treaties and Conventions, etc., 1776-1887, p. 380.]

[Footnote 186: Lodge, Hamilton's Works, IV., 514.]

[Footnote 187: Michigan Pioneer Colls., XV., 8; cf. 10, 12, 23 and XVI.,

[Footnote 188: Wis. Fur Trade MSS., 1814 (State Hist. Soc.).]

[Footnote 189: Wis. Hist. Colls., XL, 260. Mich. Pioneer Colls., XVI.,

[Footnote 190: Wis. Hist. Colls., XL, 255. Cf. Mich. Pioneer Colls.,
XVI., 67. Rolette, one of the Prairie du Chien traders, was tried by the
British for treason to Great Britain.]

[Footnote 191: Amer. State Papers, For. Rels., III., 705.]

[Footnote 192: Amer. State Papers, Ind. Affs., L, 562. See map in
Collet's Travels, atlas.]


The most striking feature of the English period was the Northwest
Company.[193] From a study of it one may learn the character of the
English occupation of the Northwest.[194] It was formed in 1783 and
fully organized in 1787, with the design of contesting the field with
the Hudson Bay Company. Goods were brought from England to Montreal, the
headquarters of the company, and thence from the four emporiums,
Detroit, Mackinaw, Sault Ste. Marie, and Grand Portage, they were
scattered through the great Northwest, even to the Pacific ocean.

Toward the end of the eighteenth century ships[195] began to take part
in this commerce; a portion of the goods was sent from Montreal in
boats to Kingston, thence in vessels to Niagara, thence overland to Lake
Erie, to be reshipped in vessels to Mackinaw and to Sault Ste. Marie,
where another transfer was made to a Lake Superior vessel. These ships
were of about ninety-five tons burden and made four or five trips a
season. But in the year 1800 the primitive mode of trade was not
materially changed. From the traffic along the main artery of commerce
between Grand Portage and Montreal may be learned the kind of trade that
flowed along such branches as that between the island of Mackinaw and
the Wisconsin posts. The visitor at La Chine rapids, near Montreal,
might have seen a squadron of Northwestern trading canoes leaving for
the Grand Portage, at the west of Lake Superior.[196]

The boatmen, or "engagés," having spent their season's gains in
carousal, packed their blanket capotes and were ready for the wilderness
again. They made a picturesque crew in their gaudy turbans, or hats
adorned with plumes and tinsel, their brilliant handkerchiefs tied
sailor-fashion about swarthy necks, their calico shirts, and their
flaming worsted belts, which served to hold the knife and the tobacco
pouch. Rough trousers, leggings, and cowhide shoes or gaily-worked
moccasins completed the costume. The trading birch canoe measured forty
feet in length, with a depth of three and a width of five. It floated
four tons of freight, and yet could be carried by four men over
difficult portages. Its crew of eight men was engaged at a salary[197]
of from five to eight hundred livres, about $100 to $160 per annum,
each, with a yearly outfit of coarse clothing and a daily food allowance
of a quart of hulled corn, or peas, seasoned with two ounces of tallow.

The experienced voyageurs who spent the winters in the woods were called
_hivernans_, or winterers, or sometimes _hommes du nord_; while the
inexperienced, those who simply made the trip from Montreal to the
outlying depots and return, were contemptuously dubbed _mangeurs de
lard_,[198] "pork-eaters," because their pampered appetites demanded
peas and pork rather than hulled corn and tallow. Two of the crew, one
at the bow and the other at the stern, being especially skilled in the
craft of handling the paddle in the rapids, received higher wages than
the rest. Into the canoe was first placed the heavy freight, shot, axes,
powder; next the dry goods, and, crowning all, filling the canoe to
overflowing, came the provisions--pork, peas or corn, and sea biscuits,
sewed in canvas sacks.

The lading completed, the voyageur hung his votive offerings in the
chapel of Saint Anne, patron saint of voyageurs, the paddles struck the
waters of the St. Lawrence, and the fleet of canoes glided away on its
six weeks' journey to Grand Portage. There was the Ottawa to be
ascended, the rapids to be run, the portages where the canoe must be
emptied and where each voyageur must bear his two packs of ninety pounds
apiece, and there were the _décharges_, where the canoe was merely
lightened and where the voyageurs, now on the land, now into the rushing
waters, dragged it forward till the rapids were passed. There was no
stopping to dry, but on, until the time for the hasty meal, or the
evening camp-fire underneath the pines. Every two miles there was a stop
for a three minutes' smoke, or "pipe," and when a portage was made it
was reckoned in "pauses," by which is meant the number of times the men
must stop to rest. Whenever a burial cross appeared, or a stream was
left or entered, the voyageurs removed their hats, and made the sign of
the cross while one of their number said a short prayer; and again the
paddles beat time to some rollicking song.[199]

    Dans mon chemin, j'ai rencontré
    Trois cavalières, bien montées;
    L'on, lon, laridon daine,
    Lon, ton, laridon dai.

    Trois cavalières, bien montées,
    L'un à cheval, et l'autre à pied;
    L'on, lon, laridon daine,
    Lon, ton, laridon dai.

Arrived at Sault Ste. Marie, the fleet was often doubled by newcomers,
so that sometimes sixty canoes swept their way along the north shore,
the paddles marking sixty strokes a minute, while the rocks gave back
the echoes of Canadian songs rolling out from five hundred lusty
throats. And so they drew up at Grand Portage, near the present
northeast boundary of Minnesota, now a sleepy, squalid little village,
but then the general rendezvous where sometimes over a thousand men met;
for, at this time, the company had fifty clerks, seventy interpreters,
eighteen hundred and twenty canoe-men, and thirty-five guides. It sent
annually to Montreal 106,000 beaver-skins, to say nothing of other
peltries. When the proprietors from Montreal met the proprietors from
the northern posts, and with their clerks gathered at the banquet in
their large log hall to the number of a hundred, the walls hung with
spoils of the chase, the rough tables furnished with abundance of
venison, fish, bread, salt pork, butter, peas, corn, potatoes, tea,
milk, wine and _eau de vie_, while, outside, the motley crowd of engages
feasted on hulled corn and melted fat--was it not a truly baronial
scene? Clerks and engagés of this company, or its rival, the Hudson Bay
Company, might winter one season in Wisconsin and the next in the remote
north. For example, Amable Grignon, a Green Bay trader, wintered in 1818
at Lac qui Parle in Minnesota, the next year at Lake Athabasca, and the
third in the hyperborean regions of Great Slave Lake. In his engagement
he figures as Amable Grignon, _of the Parish of Green Bay, Upper
Canada_, and he receives $400 "and found in tobacco and shoes and two
doges," besides "the usual equipment given to clerks." He afterwards
returned to a post on the Wisconsin river. The attitude of Wisconsin
traders toward the Canadian authorities and the Northwestern wilds is
clearly shown in this document, which brings into a line Upper Canada,
"the parish of Green Bay," and the Hudson Bay Company's territories
about Great Slave Lake![200]

How widespread and how strong was the influence of these traders upon
the savages may be easily imagined, and this commercial control was
strengthened by the annual presents made to the Indians by the British
at their posts. At a time when our relations with Great Britain were
growing strained, such a power in the Northwest was a serious
menace.[201] In 1809 John Jacob Astor secured a charter from the State
of New York, incorporating the American Fur Company. He proposed to
consolidate the fur trade of the United States, plant an establishment
in the contested Oregon territory, and link it with Michillimackinac
(Mackinaw island) by way of the Missouri through a series of trading
posts. In 1810 two expeditions of his Pacific Fur Company set out for
the Columbia, the one around Cape Horn and the other by way of Green
bay and the Missouri. In 1811 he bought a half interest in the Mackinaw
Company, a rival of the Northwest Company and the one that had especial
power in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and this new organization he called
the Southwest Company. But the war of 1812 came; Astoria, the Pacific
post, fell into the hands of the Northwest Company, while the Southwest
Company's trade was ruined.


[Footnote 193: On this company see Mackenzie, Voyages; Bancroft,
Northwest Coast, I., 378-616, and citations; _Hunt's Merch. Mag._, III.,
185; Irving, Astoria; Ross, The Fur Hunters of the Far West; Harmon,
Journal; Report on the Canadian Archives, 1881, p. 61 et seq. This
fur-trading life still goes on in the more remote regions of British
America. See Robinson, Great Fur Land, ch. xv.]

[Footnote 194: Wis. Hist. Colls., XI., 123-5.]

[Footnote 195: Mackenzie, Voyages, xxxix. Harmon, Journal, 36. In the
fall of 1784, Haldimand granted permission to the Northwest Company to
build a small vessel at Detroit, to be employed next year on Lake
Superior. Calendar of Canadian Archives, 1888, p. 72.]

[Footnote 196: Besides the authorities cited above, see "Anderson's
Narrative," in Wis. Hist. Colls., IX., 137-206.]

[Footnote 197: An estimate of the cost of an expedition in 1717 is given
in Margry, VI., 506. At that time the wages of a good voyageur for a
year amounted to about $50. Provisions for the two months' trip from
Montreal to Mackinaw cost about $1.00 per month per man. Indian corn for
a year cost $16; lard, $10; _eau de vie_, $1.30; tobacco, 25 cents. It
cost, therefore, less than $80 to support a voyageur for one year's trip
into the woods. Gov. Ninian Edwards, writing at the time of the American
Fur Company (_post_, p. 57), says: "The whole expense of transporting
eight thousand weight of goods from Montreal to the Mississippi,
wintering with the Indians, and returning with a load of furs and
peltries in the succeeding season, including the cost of provisions and
portages and the hire of five engages for the whole time does not exceed
five hundred and twenty-five dollars, much of which is usually paid to
those engages when in the Indian country, in goods at an exorbitant
price." American State Papers, VI., 65.]

[Footnote 198: This distinction goes back at least to 1681 (N.Y. Col.
Docs., IX., 152). Often the engagement was for five years, and the
voyageur might be transferred from one master to another, at the
master's will.

The following is a translation of a typical printed engagement, one of
scores in the possession of the Wisconsin Historical Society, the
written portions in brackets:

"Before a Notary residing at the post of Michilimakinac, Undersigned;
Was Present [Joseph Lamarqueritte] who has voluntarily engaged and doth
bind himself by these Presents to M[onsieur Louis Grignion] here present
and accepting, at [his] first requisition to set off from this Post [in
the capacity of Winterer] in one of [his] Canoes or Bateaux to make the
Voyage [going as well as returning] and to winter for [two years at the

"And to have due and fitting care on the route and while at the said
[place] of the Merchandise, Provisions, Peltries, Utensils and of
everything necessary for the Voyage; to serve, obey and execute
faithfully all that the said Sieur [Bourgeois] or any other person
representing him to whom he may transport the present Engagement,
commands him lawfully and honestly; to do [his] profit, to avoid
anything to his damage, and to inform him of it if it come to his
knowledge, and generally to do all that a good [Winterer] ought and is
obliged to do; without power to make any particular trade, to absent
himself, or to quit the said service, under pain of these Ordinances,
and of loss of wages. This engagement is therefore made, for the sum of
[Eight Hundred] livres or shillings, ancient currency of Quebec, that he
promises [and] binds himself to deliver and pay to the said [Winterer
one month] after his return to this Post, and at his departure [an
Equipment each year of 2 Shirts, 1 Blanket of 3 point, 1 Carot of
Tobacco, 1 Cloth Blanket, 1 Leather Shirt, 1 Pair of Leather Breeches, 5
Pairs of Leather Shoes, and Six Pounds of Soap.]

"For thus, etc., promising, etc., binding, etc., renouncing, etc.

"Done and passed at the said [Michilimackinac] in the year eighteen
hundred [Seven] the [twenty-fourth] of [July before] twelve o'clock; &
have signed with the exception of the said [Winterer] who, having
declared himself unable to do so, has made his ordinary mark after the
engagement was read to him.

                    "JOSEPH X LAMARQUERITTE. [SEAL]
                                  Louis GEIGNON. [SEAL]
  Not. Pub."

Endorsed--"Engagement of Joseph Lamarqueritte to Louis Grignon."]

[Footnote 199: For Canadian boat-songs see _Hunt's Merch. Mag._, III.,
189; Mrs. Kinzie, Wau Bun; Bela Hubbard, Memorials of a Half-Century;
Robinson, Great Fur Land.]

[Footnote 200: Wis. Fur Trade MSS. (Wis. Hist. Soc.). Published in
Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the State Hist. Soc.
of Wis. 1889, pp. 81-82.]

[Footnote 201: See Mich. Pioneer Colls., XV., XVI., 67, 74. The
government consulted the Northwest Company, who made particular efforts
to "prevent the Americans from ever alienating the minds of the
Indians." To this end they drew up memoirs regarding the proper


Although the Green Bay court of justice, such as it was, had been
administered under American commissions since 1803, when Reaume
dispensed a rude equity under a commission of Justice of the Peace from
Governor Harrison,[202] neither Green Bay nor the rest of Wisconsin had
any proper appreciation of its American connections until the close of
this war. But now occurred these significant events:

1. Astor's company was reorganized as the American Fur Company, with
headquarters at Mackinaw island.[203]

2. The United States enacted in 1816 that neither foreign fur traders,
nor capital for that trade, should be admitted to this country.[204]
This was designed to terminate English influence among the tribes, and
it fostered Astor's company. The law was so interpreted as not to
exclude British (that is generally, French) interpreters and boatmen,
who were essential to the company; but this interpretation enabled
British subjects to evade the law and trade on their own account by
having their invoices made out to some Yankee clerk, while they
accompanied the clerk in the guise of interpreters.[205] In this way a
number of Yankees came to the State.

3. In the year 1816 United States garrisons were sent to Green Bay and
Prairie du Chien.[206]

4. In 1814 the United States provided for locating government trading
posts at these two places.


[Footnote 202: Reaume's petition in Wis. Fur Trade MSS. in possession of
Wisconsin Historical Society.]

[Footnote 203: On this company consult Irving, Astoria; Bancroft,
Northwest Coast, I., ch. xvi.; II., chs. vii-x; _Mag. Amer. Hist._
XIII., 269; Franchere, Narrative; Ross, Adventures of the First Settlers
on the Oregon, or Columbia River (1849); Wis. Fur Trade MSS. (State
Hist. Sec.).]

[Footnote 204: U.S. Statutes at Large, III., 332. Cf. laws in 1802 and

[Footnote 205: Wis. Hist. Colls., I., 103; Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 9.
The Warren brothers, who came to Wisconsin in 1818, were descendants of
the Pilgrims and related to Joseph Warren who fell at Bunker Hill; they
came from Berkshire, Mass., and marrying the half-breed daughters of
Michael Cadotte, of La Pointe, succeeded to his trade.]

[Footnote 206: See the objections of British traders, Mich. Pioneer
Colls., XVI., 76 ff. The Northwest Company tried to induce the British
government to construe the treaty so as to prevent the United States
from erecting the forts, urging that a fort at Prairie du Chien would
"deprive the Indians of their 'rights and privileges'", guaranteed by
the treaty.]


The system of public trading houses goes back to colonial days. At first
in Plymouth and Jamestown all industry was controlled by the
commonwealth, and in Massachusetts Bay the stock company had reserved
the trade in furs for themselves before leaving England.[207] The trade
was frequently farmed out, but public "truck houses" were established by
the latter colony as early as 1694-5.[208] Franklin, in his public
dealings with the Ohio Indians, saw the importance of regulation of the
trade, and in 1753 he wrote asking James Bowdoin of Massachusetts to
procure him a copy of the truckhouse law of that colony, saying that if
it had proved to work well he thought of proposing it for
Pennsylvania.[209] The reply of Bowdoin showed that Massachusetts
furnished goods to the Indians at wholesale prices and so drove out the
French and the private traders. In 1757 Virginia adopted the system for
a time,[210] and in 1776 the Continental Congress accepted a plan
presented by a committee of which Franklin was a member,[211] whereby
£140,000 sterling was expended at the charge of the United Colonies for
Indian goods to be sold at moderate prices by factors of the
congressional commissioners.[212] The bearing of this act upon the
governmental powers of the Congress is worth noting.

In his messages of 1791 and 1792 President Washington urged the need of
promoting and regulating commerce with the Indians, and in 1793 he
advocated government trading houses. Pickering, of Massachusetts, who
was his Secretary of War with the management of Indian affairs, may have
strengthened Washington in this design, for he was much interested in
Indian improvement, but Washington's own experience had shown him the
desirability of some such plan, and he had written to this effect as
early as 1783.[213] The objects of Congressional policy in dealing with
the Indians were stated by speakers in 1794 as follows:[214] 1.
Protection of the frontiersmen from the Indians, by means of the army.
2. Protection of the Indians from the frontiersmen, by laws regulating
settlement. 3. Detachment of the Indians from foreign influence, by
trading houses where goods could be got cheaply. In 1795 a small
appropriation was made for trying the experiment of public trading
houses,[215] and in 1796, the same year that the British evacuated the
posts, the law which established the system was passed.[216] It was to
be temporary, but by re-enactments with alterations it was prolonged
until 1822, new posts being added from time to time. In substance the
laws provided a certain capital for the Indian trade, the goods to be
sold by salaried United States factors, at posts in the Indian country,
at such rates as would protect the savage from the extortions of the
individual trader, whose actions sometimes provoked hostilities, and
would supplant British influence over the Indian. At the same time it
was required that the capital stock should not be diminished. In the
course of the debate over the law in 1796 considerable _laissez faire_
sentiment was called out against the government's becoming a trader,
notwithstanding that the purpose of the bill was benevolence and
political advantage rather than financial gain.[217] President Jefferson
and Secretary Calhoun were friends of the system.[218] It was a failure,
however, and under the attacks of Senator Benton, the Indian agents and
the American Fur Company, it was brought to an end in 1822. The causes
of its failure were chiefly these:[219] The private trader went to the
hunting grounds of the savages, while the government's posts were fixed.
The private traders gave credit to the Indians, which the government did
not.[220] The private trader understood the Indians, was related to them
by marriage, and was energetic and not over-scrupulous. The government
trader was a salaried agent not trained to the work. The private trader
sold whiskey and the government did not. The British trader's goods were
better than those of the government. The best business principles were
not always followed by the superintendent. The system was far from
effecting its object, for the Northwestern Indians had been accustomed
to receive presents from the British authorities, and had small respect
for a government that traded. Upon Wisconsin trade from 1814 to 1822 its
influence was slight.


[Footnote 207: Mass. Coll. Recs., I., 55: III., 424.]

[Footnote 208: Acts and Resolves of the Prov. of Mass. Bay, I., 172.]

[Footnote 209: Bigelow, Franklin's Works, II., 316, 221. A plan for
public trading houses came before the British ministry while Franklin
was in England, and was commented upon by him for their benefit.]

[Footnote 210: Hening, Statutes, VII., 116.]

[Footnote 211: Journals of Congress, 1775, pp. 162, 168, 247.]

[Footnote 212: _Ibid._, 1776, p. 41.]

[Footnote 213: Ford's Washington's Writings, X., 309.]

[Footnote 214: Annals of Cong., IV., 1273; cf. _ibid._, V., 231.]

[Footnote 215: Amer. State Papers, Ind. Affs., I., 583.]

[Footnote 216: Annals of Cong., VI., 2889.]

[Footnote 217: Annals of Congress, V., 230 ff., 283; Abridgment of
Debates, VII., 187-8.]

[Footnote 218: Amer. State Papers, Ind. Affs., I., 684; II., 181.]

[Footnote 219: Amer. State Papers, VI., Ind. Affs., II., 203; Ind.
Treaties, 399 _et seq._; Wis. Hist. Colls., VII., 269; _Washington
Gazette_, 1821, 1822, articles by Ramsay Crooks under signature
"Backwoodsman," and speech of Tracy in House of Representatives,
February 23, 1821; Benton, Thirty Years View; _id._, Abr. Deb., VII.,

[Footnote 220: To understand the importance of these two points see
_post_, pp. 62-5.]


The goods used in the Indian trade remained much the same from the
first, in all sections of the country.[222] They were chiefly blankets,
coarse cloths, cheap jewelry and trinkets (including strings of wampum),
fancy goods (like ribbons, shawls, etc.), kettles, knives, hatchets,
guns, powder, tobacco, and intoxicating liquor.[223] These goods,
shipped from Mackinaw, at first came by canoes or bateaux,[224] and in
the later period by vessel, to a leading post, were there redivided[225]
and sent to the various trading posts. The Indians, returning from the
hunting grounds to their villages in the spring,[226] set the squaws to
making maple sugar,[227] planting corn, watermelons, potatoes, squashes,
etc., and a little hunting was carried on. The summer was given over to
enjoyment, and in the early period to wars. In the autumn they collected
their wild rice, or their corn, and again were ready to start for the
hunting grounds, sometimes 300 miles distant. At this juncture the
trader, licensed by an Indian agent, arrived upon the scene with his
goods, without which no family could subsist, much less collect any
quantity of furs.[228] These were bought on credit by the hunter, since
he could not go on the hunt for the furs, whereby he paid for his
supplies, without having goods and ammunition advanced for the purpose.
This system of credits,[229] dating back to the French period, had
become systematized so that books were kept, with each Indian's account.
The amount to which the hunter was trusted was between $40 and $50, at
cost prices, upon which the trader expected a gain of about 100 per
cent, so that the average annual value of furs brought in by each hunter
to pay his credits should have been between $80 and $100.[230] The
amount of the credit varied with the reputation of the hunter for
honesty and ability in the chase.[231] Sometimes he was trusted to the
amount of three hundred dollars. If one-half the credits were paid in
the spring the trader thought that he had done a fair business. The
importance of this credit system can hardly be overestimated in
considering the influence of the fur trade upon the Indians of
Wisconsin, and especially in rendering them dependent upon the earlier
settlements of the State.

The system left the Indians at the mercy of the trader when one nation
monopolized the field, and it compelled them to espouse the cause of one
or other when two nations contended for supremacy over their territory.
At the same time it rendered the trade peculiarly adapted to monopoly,
for when rivals competed, the trade was demoralized, and the Indian
frequently sold to a new trader the furs which he had pledged in advance
for the goods of another. When the American Fur Company gained control,
they systematized matters so that there was no competition between their
own agents, and private dealers cut into their trade but little for some
years. The unit of trade was at first the beaver skin, or, as the pound
of beaver skin came to be called, the "plus."[232] The beaver skin was
estimated at a pound and a half, though it sometimes weighed two, in
which case an allowance was made. Wampum was used for ornament and in
treaty-making, but not as currency. Other furs or Indian commodities,
like maple sugar and wild rice, were bought in terms of beaver. As this
animal grew scarcer the unit changed to money. By 1820, when few beaver
were marketed in Wisconsin, the term plus stood for one dollar.[233] The
muskrat skin was also used as the unit in the later days of the
trade.[234] In the southern colonies the pound of deer skin had answered
the purpose of a unit.[235]

The goods being trusted to the Indians, the bands separated for the
hunting grounds. Among the Chippeways, at least, each family or group
had a particular stream or region where it exclusively hunted and
trapped.[236] Not only were the hunting grounds thus parcelled out;
certain Indians were apportioned to certain traders,[237] so that the
industrial activities of Wisconsin at this date were remarkably
systematic and uniform. Sometimes the trader followed the Indians to
their hunting grounds. From time to time he sent his engagés (hired
men), commonly five or six in number, to the various places where the
hunting bands were to be found, to collect furs on the debts and to sell
goods to those who had not received too large credits, and to the
customers of rival traders; this was called "running a deouine."[238]
The main wintering post had lesser ones, called "jack-knife posts,"[239]
depending on it, where goods were left and the furs gathered in going to
and from the main post. By these methods Wisconsin was thoroughly
visited by the traders before the "pioneers" arrived.[240]

The kind and amount of furs brought in may be judged by the fact that in
1836, long after the best days of the trade, a single Green Bay firm,
Porlier and Grignon, shipped to the American Fur Company about 3600 deer
skins, 6000 muskrats, 150 bears, 850 raccoons, besides beavers, otters,
fishers, martens, lynxes, foxes, wolves, badgers, skunks, etc.,
amounting to over $6000.

None of these traders became wealthy; Astor's company absorbed the
profits. It required its clerks, or factors, to pay an advance of 81-1/2
per cent on the sterling cost of the blankets, strouds, and other
English goods, in order to cover the cost of importation and the expense
of transportation from New York to Mackinaw. Articles purchased in New
York were charged with 15-1/3 per cent advance for transportation, and
each class of purchasers was charged with 33-1/3 per cent advance as
profit on the aggregate amount.[241]

I estimate, from the data given in the sources cited on page 63, note,
that in 1820 between $60,000 and $75,000 worth of goods was brought
annually to Wisconsin for the Indian trade. An average outfit for a
single clerk at a main post was between $1500 and $2000, and for the
dependent posts between $100 and $500. There were probably not over 2000
Indian hunters in the State, and the total Indian population did not
much exceed 10,000. Comparing this number with the early estimates for
the same tribes, we find that, if the former are trustworthy, by 1820
the Indian tribes that remained in Wisconsin had increased their
numbers. But the material is too unsatisfactory to afford any valuable

After the sale of their lands and the receipt of money annuities, a
change came over the Indian trade. The monopoly held by Astor was broken
into, and as competition increased, the sales of whiskey were larger,
and for money, which the savage could now pay. When the Indians went to
Montreal in the days of the French, they confessed that they could not
return with supplies because they wasted their furs upon brandy. The
same process now went on at their doors. The traders were not dependent
upon the Indian's success in hunting alone; they had his annuities to
count on, and so did not exert their previous influence in favor of
steady hunting. Moreover, the game was now exploited to a considerable
degree, so that Wisconsin was no longer the hunter's paradise that it
had been in the days of Dablon and La Salle. The long-settled economic
life of the Indian being revolutionized, his business honesty declined,
and credits were more frequently lost. The annuities fell into the
traders' hands for debts and whiskey. "There is no less than near
$420,000 of claims against the Winnebagoes," writes a Green Bay trader
at Prairie du Chien, in 1838, "so that if they are all just, the
dividend will be but very small for each claimant, as there is only
$150,000 to pay that."[242]

By this time the influence of the fur trader had so developed mining in
the region of Dubuque, Iowa, Galena, Ill., and southwestern Wisconsin,
as to cause an influx of American miners, and here began a new element
of progress for Wisconsin. The knowledge of these mines was possessed by
the early French explorers, and as the use of firearms spread they were
worked more and more by Indians, under the stimulus of the trader. In
1810 Nicholas Boilvin, United States Indian agent at Prairie du Chien,
reported that the Indians about the lead mines had mostly abandoned the
chase and turned their attention to the manufacture of lead, which they
sold to fur traders. In 1825 there were at least 100 white miners in the
entire lead region,[243] and by 1829 they numbered in the thousands.

Black Hawk's war came in 1832, and agricultural settlement sought the
southwestern part of the State after that campaign. The traders opened
country stores, and their establishments were nuclei of settlement.[244]
In Wisconsin the Indian trading post was a thing of the past.

The birch canoe and the pack-horse had had their day in western New York
and about Montreal. In Wisconsin the age of the voyageur continued
nearly through the first third of this century. It went on in the Far
Northwest in substantially the same fashion that has been here
described, until quite recently; and in the great North Land tributary
to Hudson Bay the _chanson_ of the voyageur may still be heard, and the
dog-sledge laden with furs jingles across the snowy plains from distant
post to distant post.[245]


[Footnote 221: In an address before the State Historical Society of
Wisconsin, on the Character and Influence of the Fur Trade in Wisconsin
(Proceedings, 1889, pp. 86-98), I have given details as to Wisconsin
settlements, posts, routes of trade, and Indian location and population
in 1820.]

[Footnote 222: Wis. Hist. Colls., XI., 377. Compare the articles used by
Radisson, _ante_, p. 29. For La Salle's estimate of amount and kind of
goods needed for a post, and the profits thereon, see Penna. Archives,
2d series, VI., 18-19. Brandy was an important item, one beaver selling
for a pint. For goods and cost in 1728 see a bill quoted by E.D. Neill,
on p. 20, _Mag. West. Hist._, Nov., 1887, Cf. 4 Mass. Hist. Colls.,
III., 344; Byrd Manuscripts, I., 180 ff.; Minn. Hist. Colls., II., 46;
Senate Doc. No. 90, 22d Cong., 1st Sess., II., 42 ff.]

[Footnote 223: Wis. Fur Trade MSS. Cf. Wis. Hist. Colls., XI., 377, and
Amer. State Papers, Ind. Affs., II., 360. The amount of liquor taken to
the woods was very great. The French Jesuits had protested against its
use in vain (Parkman's Old Régime); the United States prohibited it to
no purpose. It was an indispensable part of a trader's outfit. Robert
Stuart, agent of the American Fur Company at Mackinaw, once wrote to
John Lawe, one of the leading traders at Green Bay, that the 56 bbls. of
whiskey which he sends is "enough to last two years, and half drown all
the Indians he deals with." See also Wis. Hist. Colls., VII., 282;
McKenney's Tour to the Lakes, 169, 299-301; McKenney's Memoirs, I.,
19-21. An old trader assured me that it was the custom to give five or
six gallons of "grog"--one-fourth water--to the hunter when he paid his
credits; he thought that only about one-eighth or one-ninth part of the
whole sales was in whiskey.]

[Footnote 224: A light boat sometimes called a "Mackinaw boat," about 32
feet long, by 6-1/2 to 15 feet wide amidships, and sharp at the ends.]

[Footnote 225: See Wis. Hist. Colls., II., 108.]

[Footnote 226: Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 263.]

[Footnote 227: See Wis. Hist. Colls., VII., 220, 286; III., 235;
McKenney's Tour, 194; Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, II., 55. Sometimes a
family made 1500 lbs. in a season.]

[Footnote 228: Lewis Cass in Senate Docs., No. 90, 22d Cong., 1st Sess.,
II., 1.]

[Footnote 229: See D'Iberville's plans for relocating Indian tribes by
denying them credit at certain posts, Margry, IV., 597. The system was
used by the Dutch, and the Puritans also; see Weeden, Economic and
Social Hist. New Eng., I., 98. In 1765, after the French and Indian war,
the Chippeways of Chequamegon Bay told Henry, a British trader, that
unless he advanced them goods on credit, "their wives and children would
perish; for that there were neither ammunition nor clothing left among
them." He distributed goods worth 3000 beaver skins. Henry, Travels,
195-6. Cf. Neill, Minnesota, 225-6; N.Y. Col. Docs., VII., 543; Amer.
State Papers, Ind. Affs., II., 64, 66, 329, 333-5; _North American
Review_, Jan., 1826, p. 110.]

[Footnote 230: Biddle, an Indian agent, testified in 1822 that while the
cost of transporting 100 wt. from New York to Green Bay did not exceed
five dollars, which would produce a charge of less than 10 percent on
the original cost, the United States factor charged 50 per cent
additional. The United States capital stock was diminished by this
trade, however. The private dealers charged much more. Schoolcraft in
1831 estimated that $48.34 in goods and provisions at cost prices was
the average annual supply of each hunter, or $6.90 to each soul. The
substantial accuracy of this is sustained by my data. See Sen. Doc., No.
90, 22d Cong., 1st Sess., II., 45; State Papers, No. 7, 18th Cong., 1st
Sess., I.; State Papers, No. 54, 18th Cong., 2d Sess., III.;
Schoolcraft's Indian Tribes, III., 599; Invoice Book, Amer. Fur Co., for
1820, 1821; Wis. Fur Trade MSS. in possession of Wisconsin Historical

[Footnote 231: The following is a typical account, taken from the books
of Jacques Porlier, of Green Bay, for the year 1823: The Indian Michel
bought on credit in the fall: $16 worth of cloth; a trap, $1.00; two and
a half yards of cotton, $3.12-1/2; three measures of powder, $1.50;
lead, $1.00; a bottle of whiskey, 50 cents, and some other articles,
such as a gun worm, making in all a bill of about $25. This he paid in
full by bringing in eighty-five muskrats, worth nearly $20; a fox,
$1.00, and a mocock of maple sugar, worth $4.00.]

[Footnote 232: A.J. Vieau, who traded in the thirties, gave me this

[Footnote 233: For the value of the beaver at different periods and
places consult indexes, under "beaver," in N.Y. Col. Docs,; Bancroft,
Northwest Coast; Weeden, Economic and Social Hist. New Eng.; and see
Morgan, American Beaver, 243-4; Henry, Travels, 192; 2 Penna. Archives,
VI., 18; Servent, in Paris Ex. Univ. 1867, Rapports, VI., 117, 123;
Proc. Wis. State Hist. Soc., 1889, p. 86.]

[Footnote 234: Minn. Hist. Colls. II., 46, gives the following table for

_St. Louis Prices._               _Minn. Price._             _Nett Gain._
Three pt. blanket  = $3 25   60 rat skins at 20 cents = $12 00      $8 75
1-1/2 yds. Stroud  =  2 37   60 rat skins at 20 cents =  12 00       9 63
1 N.W. gun         =  6 50  100 rat skins at 20 cents =  20 00      13 50
1 lb. lead         =    06    2 rat skins at 20 cents =     40         34
1 lb. powder       =    28   10 rat skins at 20 cents =   2 00       1 72
1 tin kettle       =  2 50   60 rat skins at 20 cents =  12 00       9 50
1 knife            =    20    4 rat skins at 20 cents =     80         60
1 lb. tobacco      =    12    8 rat skins at 20 cents =   1 60       1 38
1 looking glass    =    04    4 rat skins at 20 cents =     80         76
1-1/2 yd.
scarlet cloth      =  3 00   60 rat skins at 20 cents =  12 00       9 00

See also the table of prices in Senate Docs., No. 90, 22d Cong., 1st
Sess.; II., 42 _et seq._]

[Footnote 235: Douglass, Summary, I., 176.]

[Footnote 236: Morgan, American Beaver, 243.]

[Footnote 237: Proc. Wis. Hist. Soc., 1889, pp. 92-98.]

[Footnote 238: Amer. State Papers, Ind. Affs., II., 66.]

[Footnote 239: Wis. Hist. Colls., XI., 220, 223.]

[Footnote 240: The centers of Wisconsin trade were Green Bay, Prairie du
Chien, and La Pointe (on Madelaine island, Chequamegon bay). Lesser
points of distribution were Milwaukee and Portage. From these places, by
means of the interlacing rivers and the numerous lakes of northern
Wisconsin, the whole region was visited by birch canoes or Mackinaw

[Footnote 241: Schoolcraft in Senate Doc. No. 90, 22d Cong., 1st Sess.,
II,. 43.]

[Footnote 242: Lawe to Vieau, in Wis. Fur Trade MSS. See also U.S.
Indian Treaties, and Wis. Hist. Colls., V., 236.]

[Footnote 243: House Ex. Docs., 19th Cong., 2d Sess., II., No. 7.]

[Footnote 244: For example see the Vieau Narrative in Wis. Hist. Colls.,
XI., and the Wis. Fur Trade MSS.]

[Footnote 245: Butler, Wild North Land; Robinson, Great Fur Land, ch.


We are now in a position to offer some conclusions as to the influence
of the Indian trading post.

I. Upon the savage it had worked a transformation. It found him without
iron, hunting merely for food and raiment. It put into his hands iron
and guns, and made him a hunter for furs with which to purchase the
goods of civilization. Thus it tended to perpetuate the hunter stage;
but it must also be noted that for a time it seemed likely to develop a
class of merchants who should act as intermediaries solely. The
inter-tribal trade between Montreal and the Northwest, and between
Albany and the Illinois and Ohio country, appears to have been commerce
in the proper sense of the term[246] (_Kauf zum Verkauf_). The trading
post left the unarmed tribes at the mercy of those that had bought
firearms, and this caused a relocation of the Indian tribes and an
urgent demand for the trader by the remote and unvisited Indians. It
made the Indian dependent on the white man's supplies. The stage of
civilization that could make a gun and gunpowder was too far above the
bow and arrow stage to be reached by the Indian. Instead of elevating
him the trade exploited him. But at the same time, when one nation did
not monopolize the trade, or when it failed to regulate its own traders,
the trading post gave to the Indians the means of resistance to
agricultural settlement. The American settlers fought for their farms in
Kentucky and Tennessee at a serious disadvantage, because for over half
a century the Creeks and Cherokees had received arms and ammunition from
the trading posts of the French, the Spanish and the English. In
Wisconsin the settlers came after the Indian had become thoroughly
dependent on the American traders, and so late that no resistance was
made. The trading post gradually exploited the Indian's hunting ground.
By intermarriages with the French traders the purity of the stock was
destroyed and a mixed race produced.[247] The trader broke down the old
totemic divisions, and appointed chiefs regardless of the Indian social
organization, to foster his trade. Indians and traders alike testify
that this destruction of Indian institutions was responsible for much of
the difficulty in treating with them, the tribe being without a
recognized head.[248] The sale of their lands, made less valuable by the
extinction of game, gave them a new medium of exchange, at the same time
that, under the rivalry of trade, the sale of whiskey increased.

II. Upon the white man the effect of the Indian trading post was also
very considerable. The Indian trade gave both English and French a
footing in America. But for the Indian supplies some of the most
important settlements would have perished.[249] It invited to
exploration: the dream of a water route to India and of mines was always
present in the more extensive expeditions, but the effective practical
inducement to opening the water systems of the interior, and the thing
that made exploration possible, was the fur trade. As has been shown,
the Indian eagerly invited the trader. Up to a certain point also the
trade fostered the advance of settlements. As long as they were in
extension of trade with the Indians they were welcomed. The trading
posts were the pioneers of many settlements along the entire colonial
frontier. In Wisconsin the sites of our principal cities are the sites
of old trading posts, and these earliest fur-trading settlements
furnished supplies to the farming, mining and lumbering pioneers. They
were centers about which settlement collected after the exploitation of
the Indian. Although the efforts of the Indians and of the great
trading companies, whose profits depended upon keeping the primitive
wilderness, were to obstruct agricultural settlement, as the history of
the Northwest and of British America shows, nevertheless reports brought
back by the individual trader guided the steps of the agricultural
pioneer. The trader was the farmer's pathfinder into some of the richest
regions of the continent. Both favorably and unfavorably the influence
of the Indian trade on settlement was very great.

The trading post was the strategic point in the rivalry of France and
England for the Northwest. The American colonists came to know that the
land was worth more than the beaver that built in the streams, but the
mother country fought for the Northwest as the field of Indian trade in
all the wars from 1689 to 1812. The management of the Indian trade led
the government under the lead of Franklin and Washington into trading on
its own account, a unique feature of its policy. It was even proposed by
the Indian Superintendent at one time that the government should
manufacture the goods for this trade. In providing a new field for the
individual trader, whom he expected the government trading houses to
dispossess, Jefferson proposed the Lewis and Clarke expedition, which
crossed the continent by way of the Missouri and the Columbia, as the
British trader, Mackenzie, had before crossed it by way of Canadian
rivers. The genesis of this expedition illustrates at once the
comprehensive western schemes of Jefferson, and the importance of the
part played by the fur trade in opening the West. In 1786, while the
Annapolis convention was discussing the navigation of the Potomac,
Jefferson wrote to Washington from Paris inquiring about the best place
for a canal between the Ohio and the Great Lakes.[250] This was in
promotion of the project of Ledyard, a Connecticut man, who was then in
Paris endeavoring to interest the wealthiest house there in the fur
trade of the Far West. Jefferson took so great an interest in the plan
that he secured from the house a promise that if they undertook the
scheme the depot of supply should be at Alexandria, on the Potomac
river, which would be in connection with the Ohio, if the canal schemes
of the time were carried out. After the failure of the negotiations of
Ledyard, Jefferson proposed to him to cross Russia to Kamschatka, take
ship to Nootka Sound, and thence return to the United States by way of
the Missouri.[251] Ledyard was detained in Russia by the authorities in
spite of Jefferson's good offices, and the scheme fell through. But
Jefferson himself asserts that this suggested the idea of the Lewis and
Clarke expedition, which he proposed to Congress as a means of fostering
our Indian trade.[252] Bearing in mind his instructions to this party,
that they should see whether the Oregon furs might not be shipped down
the Missouri instead of passing around Cape Horn, and the relation of
his early canal schemes to this design, we see that he had conceived the
project of a transcontinental fur trade which should center in Virginia.
Astor's subsequent attempt to push through a similar plan resulted in
the foundation of his short-lived post of Astoria at the mouth of the
Columbia. This occupation greatly aided our claim to the Oregon country
as against the British traders, who had reached the region by way of the
northern arm of the Columbia.

In Wisconsin, at least, the traders' posts, placed at the carrying
places around falls and rapids, pointed out the water powers of the
State. The portages between rivers became canals, or called out canal
schemes that influenced the early development of the State. When
Washington, at the close of his military service, inspected the Mohawk
valley and the portages between the headwaters of the Potomac and the
Ohio, as the channels "of conveyance of the extensive and valuable
trade of a rising empire,"[253] he stood between two eras--the era with
which he was personally familiar, when these routes had been followed by
the trader with the savage tribes,[254] and the era which he foresaw,
when American settlement passed along the same ways to the fertile West
and called into being the great trunk-lines of the present day.[255] The
trails became the early roads. An old Indian trader relates that "the
path between Green Bay and Milwaukee was originally an Indian trail, and
very crooked, but the whites would straighten it by cutting across lots
each winter with their jumpers, wearing bare streaks through the thin
covering, to be followed in the summer by foot and horseback travel
along the shortened path."[256] The process was typical of a greater
one. Along the lines that nature had drawn the Indians traded and
warred; along their trails and in their birch canoes the trader passed,
bringing a new and a transforming life. These slender lines of eastern
influence stretched throughout all our vast and intricate water-system,
even to the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific, and the Arctic seas, and these
lines were in turn followed by agricultural and by manufacturing

In a speech upon the Pacific Railway delivered in the United States
Senate in 1850, Senator Benton used these words: "There is an idea
become current of late ... that none but a man of science, bred in a
school, can lay off a road. That is a mistake. There is a class of
topographical engineers older than the schools, and more unerring than
the mathematics. They are the wild animals--buffalo, elk, deer,
antelope, bears, which traverse the forest, not by compass, but by an
instinct which leads them always the right way--to the lowest passes in
the mountains, the shallowest fords in the rivers, the richest pastures
in the forest, the best salt springs, and the shortest practicable
routes between remote points. They travel thousands of miles, have their
annual migrations backwards and forwards, and never miss the best and
shortest route. These are the first engineers to lay out a road in a new
country; the Indians follow them, and hence a buffalo-road becomes a
war-path. The first white hunters follow the same trails in pursuing
their game; and after that the buffalo-road becomes the wagon-road of
the white man, and finally the macadamized or railroad of the scientific
man. It all resolves itself into the same thing--into the same
buffalo-road; and thence the buffalo becomes the first and safest
engineer. Thus it has been here in the countries which we inhabit and
the history of which is so familiar. The present national road from
Cumberland over the Alleghanies was the military road of General
Braddock; which had been the buffalo-path of the wild animals. So of the
two roads from western Virginia to Kentucky--one through the gap in the
Cumberland mountains, the other down the valley of the Kenhawa. They
were both the war-path of the Indians and the travelling route of the
buffalo, and their first white acquaintances the early hunters.
Buffaloes made them in going from the salt springs on the Holston to the
rich pastures and salt springs of Kentucky; Indians followed them first,
white hunters afterwards--and that is the way Kentucky was discovered.
In more than a hundred years no nearer or better routes have been found;
and science now makes her improved roads exactly where the buffalo's
foot first marked the way and the hunter's foot afterwards followed him.
So all over Kentucky and the West; and so in the Rocky Mountains. The
famous South Pass was no scientific discovery. Some people think
Frémont discovered it. It had been discovered forty years before--long
before he was born. He only described it and confirmed what the hunters
and traders had reported and what they showed him. It was discovered, or
rather first seen by white people, in 1808, two years after the return
of Lewis and Clark, and by the first company of hunters and traders that
went out after their report laid open the prospect of the fur trade in
the Rocky Mountains.

"An enterprising Spaniard of St. Louis, Manuel Lisa, sent out the party;
an acquaintance and old friend of the Senator from Wisconsin who sits on
my left [General Henry Dodge] led the party--his name Andrew Henry. He
was the first man that saw that pass; and he found it in the prosecution
of his business, that of a hunter and trader, and by following the game
and the road which they had made. And that is the way all passes are
found. But these traders do not write books and make maps, but they
enable other people to do it."[257]

Benton errs in thinking that the hunter was the pioneer in Kentucky. As
I have shown, the trader opened the way. But Benton is at least valid
authority upon the Great West, and his fundamental thesis has much truth
in it. A continuously higher life flowed into the old channels, knitting
the United States together into a complex organism. It is a process not
limited to America. In every country the exploitation of the wild
beasts,[258] and of the raw products generally, causes the entry of the
disintegrating and transforming influences of a higher civilization.
"The history of commerce is the history of the intercommunication of


[Footnote 246: Notwithstanding Kulischer's assertion that there is no
room for this in primitive society. _Vide_ Der Handel auf den primitiven
Culturstufen, in _Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und
Sprachwissenschaft_, X., No. 4, p. 378. Compare instances of
inter-tribal trade given _ante_, pp. 11, 26.]

[Footnote 247: On the "_metis_," _boís-brulés_, or half-breeds, consult
Smithsonian Reports, 1879, p. 309, and Robinson, Great Fur Land, ch.

[Footnote 248: Minn. Hist. Colls., V., 135; Biddle to Atkinson, 1819, in
Ind. Pamphlets, Vol. I, No. 15 (Wis. Hist. Soc. Library).]

[Footnote 249: Parkman, Pioneers of France, 230; Carr, Mounds of the
Mississippi, p. 8, n. 8; Smith's Generall Historie, I., 88, 90, 155
(Richmond, 1819).]

[Footnote 250: Jefferson, Works, II., 60, 250, 370.]

[Footnote 251: Allen's Lewis and Clarke Expedition, p. ix (edition of
1814. The introduction is by Jefferson).]

[Footnote 252: Jefferson's messages of January 18, 1803, and February
19, 1806. See Amer. State Papers, Ind. Affs., I., 684.]

[Footnote 253: See Adams, Maryland's Influence upon Land Cessions to
U.S., J.H.U. Studies, 3d Series, No. I., pp. 80-82.]

[Footnote 254: _Ibid._ _Vide ante_, p. 41.]

[Footnote 255: Narr. and Crit. Hist. Amer., VIII., 10. Compare Adams, as
above. At Jefferson's desire, in January and February of 1788,
Washington wrote various letters inquiring as to the feasibility of a
canal between Lake Erie and the Ohio, "whereby the fur and peltry of the
upper country can be transported"; saying: "Could a channel once be
opened to convey the fur and peltry from the Lakes into the eastern
country, its advantages would be so obvious as to induce an opinion that
it would in a short time become the channel of conveyance for much the
greater part of the commodities brought from thence." Sparks,
Washington's Works, IX., 303, 327.]

[Footnote 256: Wis. Hist. Colls., XI., 230.]

[Footnote 257: Cong. Rec., XXIII., 57. I found this interesting
confirmation of my views after this paper was written. Compare _Harper's
Magazine_, Sept. 1890, p. 565.]

[Footnote 258: The traffic in furs in the Middle Ages was enormous, says
Friedlander, Sittengeschichte, III., 62. Numerous cities in England and
on the Continent, whose names are derived from the word "beaver" and
whose seals bear the beaver, testify to the former importance in Europe
of this animal; see _Canadian Journal_, 1859, 359. See Du Chaillu,
Viking Age, 209-10; Marco Polo, bk. iv., ch. xxi. "Wattenbach, in
_Historische Zeitschrift_, IX., 391, shows that German traders were
known in the lands about the Baltic at least as early as the knights.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in Wisconsin" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.