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stream, and descended it to the Missouri, where they joined Lewis and his men on the 12th of August.
From the point of confluence of the two rivers, the whole body moved down the Missouri; and, on the 23d of September, 1806, they arrived in safety at St. Louis, having travelled, in the course of their expedition, more than nine thousand miles.
The preceding sketch of the long and difficult expedition of Lewis and Clarke will serve to show the general course of their routes between the Mississippi and the Pacific. As to the priority and extent of their geographical discoveries, a few words will suffice. The Missouri had been ascended, by the French and Spanish traders, to the mouth of the Yellowstone, long before Lewis and Clarke embarked on it; but ample proofs are afforded, by the maps drawn prior to their expedition, that no information even approximating to correctness had been obtained respecting the river and the countries in its vicinity. With regard to the territory between the great Falls of the Missouri and those of the Columbia, and the branches of either river joining it above its falls, we have no accounts whatsoever earlier than those derived from the journals of the American exploring party. The Tacoutchee-Tessee, navigated by Mackenzie in 1793, and supposed by him to be a branch of the Columbia, was afterwards discovered to be a different stream, now called Fraser's River, emptying into the Strait of Fuca ; and no evidence has been adduced of the passage of any white person through the country between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific, north of California, from the time of Mackenzie's journey to that of the expedition of Lewis and Clarke.*
Politically, the expedition was an announcement to the world of the intention of the American government to occupy and settle the countries explored, to which certainly no other nation except Spain could advance so strong a claim on the grounds of discovery or of contiguity; and the government and people of the United States thus virtually incurred the obligation to prosecute and carry into
The journal of the expedition of Lewis and Clarke was not published until 1814, when it appeared nearly in the same state in which it came from the hands of Lewis, shortly before the melancholy termination of his existence. It affords abundant proofs of the powers of observation possessed by those who were engaged in the enterprise ; and the mass of facts, geographically, commercially, and politically important, which it contains, causes it still to be regarded as the principal source of information respecting the geography, the natural history, and the aboriginal inhabitants, of the portions of America traversed by the Missouri and the Columbia.
fulfilment the great ends for which the labors of Lewis and Clarke were the first preparatory measures.
During the absence of Lewis and Clarke, other persons were engaged, under the orders of the government of the United States, in exploring different parts of the interior of Louisiana. Lieutenant Pike ascended the Mississippi to its head-waters, near the 48th degree of latitude, where he obtained much useful information respecting the course of that stream, and the numbers, characters, and dispositions, of the Indians in its vicinity, as well as concerning the trade and establishments of the North-West Company in that quarter. Having completed this expedition, Pike, in 1806, undertook another, in the course of which he travelled south-westward from the mouth of the Missouri, to the upper waters of the Arkansas, the Red River, and the Rio Bravo del Norté : on the latter river, he and his party were made prisoners by the Spaniards of Santa Fé, who carried them southward as far as the city of Chihuahua, and thence, through Texas, to the United States. The Red and Washita Rivers were at the same time explored, to a considerable distance from the Mississippi, by Messrs. Dunbar, Hunter, and Sibley, whose journals, as well as those of Pike, subsequently published, contain many interesting descriptions of those parts of America.
Thus, within three or four years after Louisiana came into the possession of the United States, it ceased to be an unknown region, and the principal features of the territory drained by the Columbia were displayed.
1806 to 1815.
First Establishments of the North-West Company in the Countries north of the
Columbia — Pacific Fur Company formed at New York - Plan of its Founder – First Expedition from New York in the Tonquin — Foundation of Astoria near the Mouth of the Columbia River - Destruction of the Tonquin by the Savages — March of the Party under Hunt and Crooks across the Continent- Arrival of the Beaver in the Columbia - War between the United States and Great Britain fatal to the Enterprise — Establishments of the Pacific Company sold to the NorthWest Company – Astoria taken by the British — Dissolution of the Pacific Company.
The expeditions of Lewis and Clarke, and Pike, did not fail to attract the attention, and to excite the jealousy, of the British government and trading companies. Pike had restrained the incursions of the North-West Company's people into the territories of the Upper Mississippi, and had lessened their influence over the Indians inhabiting those regions. From the moment when Lewis and Clarke appeared on the Missouri, their movements were watched by the agents of the British Association ; and, so soon as it was ascertained that they were ordered to explore the Columbia, preparations were made to anticipate the Americans in the settlement of that portion of the continent, for which the expedition of those officers was evidently intended to open the way. . of the North-West Company's men was accordingly despatched, in 1805, under the direction of Mr. Laroque, to establish posts and occupy territories on the Columbia ; but this party proceeded no farther than the Mandan villages on the Missouri. In the following year, 1806, another party was despatched from Fort Chipewyan, under Mr. Simon Fraser, who crossed the Rocky Mountains near the passage of the Peace River, and formed a trading establishment on a small lake, now called Fraser's Lake, situated in the 54th degree of latitude. This was the first settlement or post of any kind made by British subjects west of the Rocky Mountains. Other posts were subsequently formed in the same country, which, in 1808, received from the traders the name of New Caledonia ; but it does not appear, from any evidence as yet adduced, that any part of the waters of the Columbia, or of the country through which they flow, was seen by persons in the service of the North-West Company until 1811.*
In the mean time, several establishments had been formed by citizens of the United States on the Columbia and its branches.
Before the transfer of Louisiana to the United States, the trade of the Missouri and the adjacent countries inhabited by the Indians, had been granted by the Spanish government to Manuel Lisa, a merchant of St. Louis, who continued to conduct it almost exclusively until 1806. After the return of Lewis and Clarke, other individuals engaged in the business, the competition between whom occasioned many and serious disputes ; until at length, in 1808, an association, called the Missouri Fur Company, was formed among
Many interesting details respecting the proceedings of the North-West Company, and the geography of the parts of America in which its establishments are situated, may be found in the journal of D. W. Harmon, a native of Vermont, who was a partner in that company, and the superintendent of all its affairs beyond the Rocky Mountains for several years. This journal was published at Andover, in Massachusetts, in 1819, but is now nearly out of print: a review of it, containing many curious extracts, may be seen in the London Quarterly Review for Janu
With regard to the dates of the earliest establishments of the North-West Company beyond the Rocky Mountains, the following extracts from Harmon's journal may be considered as decisive evidence :
" Saturday, November 24th, 1804. – Some people have just arrived from Montagne la Basse, with a letter from Mr. Chaboillez, who informs me that two captains, Clarke and Lewis, with one hundred and eighty soldiers, have arrived at the Mandan village, on the Missouri River, which place is situated about three days' distance from the residence of Mr. Chaboillez. They have invited Mr. Chaboillez to visit them. It is said that, on their arrival, they hoisted the American flag, and informed the natives that their object was not to trade, but merely to explore the country, and that, as soon as the navigation shall open, they design to continue their route across the Rocky Mountains, and thence descend to the Pacific Ocean.
“ Wednesday, April 10th, 1805. – While at Montagne la Basse, Mr. Chaboillez induced me to consent to undertake a long and arduous tour of discovery. I am to leave that place about the beginning of June, accompanied by six or seven Canadians, and two or three Indians. The first place at which we shall stop will be the Mandan village, on the Missouri River; thence we shall steer our course towards the Rocky Mountains, accompanied by a number of the Mandan Indians, who proceed in that direction, every spring, to meet and trade with another tribe of Indians, who reside on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. [This journey I never undertook : a Mr. La Roque attempted to make this tour, but went no farther than the Mandan village.]"
At page 281, Harmon says, “ The part of the country west of the Rocky Mountains, with which I am acquainted, has, ever since the North-West Company first made an establishment there, which was in 1806, gone by the name of New Caledonia," &c. And in many places he speaks of Mr. Simon Fraser as having led the first company of traders beyond the Rocky Mountains, in 1806.
the principal traders in that part of America, by which posts were established on the Upper Mississippi, the Missouri, and even beyond the Rocky Mountains. The trading post founded by Mr. Henry, one of the agents of the Missouri Company, on a branch of the Lewis River, the great southern arm of the Columbia, appears to have been the earliest establishment of any kind made by people of a civilized nation in the territory drained by the latter stream; the enmity of the savages in its vicinity, and the difficulty of obtaining provisions, however, obliged Mr. Henry to abandon it in 1810.
In that year, an attempt was made by Captain Smith, the commander of the ship Albatross, from Boston, to found a post for trade with the Indians at a place called Oak Point, on the south bank of the Columbia, about forty miles from its mouth. For this purpose a house was built and a garden was laid out and planted there; but the site was badly chosen in all respects, and the scheme was abandoned before the close of the year.
In the same year, 1810, an association was formed at New York, for the prosecution of the fur trade in the central and north-western parts of the continent, in connection with the China trade, of which a particular account will be presented, as the transactions attend ing the enterprise led to important political results.
This association was called the Pacific Fur Company.* At its head was John Jacob Astor, a German merchant of New York, who had been for many years extensively engaged in the commerce of the Pacific and China, and also in the trade with the Indian countries in the centre of the American continent, and, by his prudence and skill, had thus accumulated an immense fortune, ere he passed the meridian of life. He devised the scheme; he advanced the capital requisite for carrying it into execution, and he directed all
* The following account of the proceedings of the Pacific Fur Company is derived chiefly from — Adventures on the Columbia River, &c., by Ross Cox. London, 1831. - Relation d'un Voyage à la Cote Nord-Ouest, de l'Amérique Septentrionale, dans les Années 1810–14, par Gabriel Franchère. Montreal, 1820. [Franchère went out with the first party in the Tonquin; Cox went out in the Beaver, and they both returned to Canada by way of the lakes.] — Astoria, or Anecdotes of an Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains, by Washington Irving, Philadelphia, 1836; the latter author gives the most complete account of the circumstances, particularly of the adventures of the parties under Hunt, Crooks, and Stuart, derived from their statements and the papers in the possession of Mr. Astor, to which he had access. In addition to these authorities, several letters and papers, addressed by Mr. Astor to the executive of the United States, have been examined, and some communications have been personally received from that gentleman. One of his letters, containing a summary of the circumstances connected with his enterprise, will be found among the Proofs and Illustrations, at the end of this volume, under the letter G