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Schoolcraft's Expedition to Lake Itasca

Philip P. Mason

Publication Year: 2011

Scientist, explorer, historian, and Indian agent Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's name must be included in the pantheon of early nineteenth-century adventurers who were in the vanguard of American expansion into the heart of the continent. While some, individuals like William Clark, Meriwether Lewis, John C. Fremont, and Kit Carson did not stop until they reached the Pacific Ocean, others took it as their task to explore the cast, unknown interior; chief among this group was Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. Originally issued by Michigan State University Press in 1958, Schoolcraft's Expedition to Lake Itasca contains a semi-official report of his 1832 trip to the upper Mississippi region. His purposes for exploring the area, now part of Minnesota, were to quell a feud between warring Chippewa and Sioux factions and to locate the Mississippi headwaters. Although he did not stop the fighting, Schoolcraft did discover the river's true source and left us an unsurpassed account of life in the region in the 1830s. Anyone interested in the early white exploration of the upper Midwest should own a copy of this valuable resource.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

The last two decades have witnessed a renewed interest in the career of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, the famous nineteenth-century Indian agent, explorer, naturalist, writer, and student of the life and customs of the Indians of North America. For twenty years, from 1822 to 1841, he served as Indian agent of the Chippewa and Ottawa tribes of northern Michigan and Wisconsin. During his twenty-year residency, Schoolcraft took...

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pp. xi-xii

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was one of the most remarkable men of the nineteenth century. He won acclaim as a writer, scientist, authority on the North American Indian, and poet. His books on exploration and travel in the Old Northwest were widely read by his contemporaries and gave him an international reputation. In recent years there has been a reawakening of interest in this man and his writings. Consequently all the numerous...

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Editor’s Introduction

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pp. 13-30

IN A DENSE FOREST in northern Minnesota, nestled in a range of hills known to generations of fur traders as the hauteurs des terres or "height of land," lies a placid lake. It is shaped like an inverted letter "V" and made up of two arms, each about eight miles long. A small wooded island, the only one in the lake, lies in the upper part. Several rivulets empty into the...

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Schoolcraft’s Narrative of an Expedition Through the Upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake

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pp. 1-75

...American geography may be said to have had three important problems to solve, in modem times. The first and second of these, related to the source of the Missouri, and to the course and termination of the Columbia. Both, were substantially resolved by the expedition of Lewis and Clark, under the administration of Mr. Jefferson. It is to be borne in mind, however, that but one of the three forks, up to which the Missouri was traced,...

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Exploratory Trip Through the St. Croix and Burntwood (or Brul

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pp. 77-104

...That portion of the Upper Mississippi, lying between the junction of the De Corbeau and St. Anthony's Falls, presents to the eye a succession of prairie and forest land, which has the characteristics of a valuable agricultural country. It is difficult in passing it, to resist the idea, that it will, at some future day, sustain a dense population. It is so elevated above the bed ...


A. Letters and Reports Relating to the Organization of the Expedition in 1831 and 1832

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pp. 107-143

B. Reports and Letters of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft on the Expedition of 1832

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pp. 144-162

C. Journal and Letters of Lieutenant James Allen

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pp. 163-241

D. Journal, Letters and Reports of Dr. Douglas Houghton

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pp. 242-305

E. Journal and Letters of the Reverend William Thurston Boutwell

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pp. 306-351

F. Newspaper Reports of Expedition of 1832

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pp. 352-369


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pp. 370-373


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pp. 375-390

E-ISBN-13: 9781609172763
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870133350

Page Count: 390
Publication Year: 2011