CHAPTER I THE FRONTIER Last spring, 1846, was a busy season in the City of St. Louis. Not only were emigrants from every part of the country preparing for the journey to Oregon and California, but an unusual number of traders were making ready their wagons and outfits for Santa Fe. Many of the emigrants, especially of those bound for California, were persons of wealth and standing. The hotels were crowded, and the gunsmiths and saddlers were... more...

Few passages of history are more striking than those which record the efforts of the earlier French Jesuits to convert the Indians. Full as they are of dramatic and philosophic interest, bearing strongly on the political destinies of America, and closely involved with the history of its native population, it is wonderful that they have been left so long in obscurity. While the infant colonies of England still clung feebly to the shores of the... more...

INTRODUCTION. The springs of American civilization, unlike those of the elder world, lie revealed in the clear light of History. In appearance they are feeble; in reality, copious and full of force. Acting at the sources of life, instruments otherwise weak become mighty for good and evil, and men, lost elsewhere in the crowd, stand forth as agents of Destiny. In their toils, their sufferings, their conflicts, momentous questions were at stake,... more...

PREFACE. The discovery of the "Great West," or the valleys of the Mississippi and the Lakes, is a portion of our history hitherto very obscure. Those magnificent regions were revealed to the world through a series of daring enterprises, of which the motives and even the incidents have been but partially and superficially known. The chief actor in them wrote much, but printed nothing; and the published writings of his associates stand wofully in... more...

PREFACE. The events recounted in this book group themselves in the main about a single figure, that of Count Frontenac, the most remarkable man who ever represented the crown of France in the New World. From strangely unpromising beginnings, he grew with every emergency, and rose equal to every crisis. His whole career was one of conflict, sometimes petty and personal, sometimes of momentous consequence, involving the question of national... more...

The occupation by France of the lower Mississippi gave a strong impulse to the exploration of the West, by supplying a base for discovery, stimulating enterprise by the longing to find gold mines, open trade with New Mexico, and get a fast hold on the countries beyond the Mississippi in anticipation of Spain; and to these motives was soon added the hope of finding an overland way to the Pacific. It was the Canadians, with their indomitable spirit... more...