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Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers   By: (1793-1864)

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[Illustration: Engraved by A.B. Walter Philad.]

PERSONAL MEMOIRS

OF A

RESIDENCE OF THIRTY YEARS

WITH THE

INDIAN TRIBES

ON THE

AMERICAN FRONTIERS:

WITH BRIEF

NOTICES OF PASSING EVENTS, FACTS, AND OPINIONS, A.D. 1812 TO A.D. 1842.

BY HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT.

1851.

TO

ALEXANDER B. JOHNSON, ESQ.

OF UTICA.

My dear sir: I feel impelled to place your name before these sheets, from a natural impulse. It is many years since I accompanied you to the Genesee country, which was, at that time, a favorite theatre of enterprise, and called the "Garden of the West." This step, eventually, led me to make deeper and more adventurous inroads into the American wilderness.

If I am not mistaken, you will peruse these brief memoranda of my exploratory journeys and residence in the wide area of the west, and among barbarous tribes, in a spirit of appreciation, and with a lively sense of that providential care, in human affairs, that equally shields the traveler amidst the vicissitudes of the forest, and the citizen at his fireside.

Very sincerely yours,

HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT.

PREFACE.

Ten years ago I returned from the area of the Mississippi Valley to New York, my native State, after many years' residence and exploratory travels of that quarter of the Union. Having become extensively known, personally, and as an author, and my name having been associated with several distinguished actors in our western history, the wish has often been expressed to see some record of the events as they occurred. In yielding to this wish, it must not be supposed that the writer is about to submit an autobiography of himself; nor yet a methodical record of his times tasks which, were he ever so well qualified for, he does not at all aspire to, and which, indeed, he has not now the leisure, if he had the desire, to undertake.

Still, his position on the frontiers, and especially in connection with the management of the Indian tribes, is believed to have been one of marked interest, and to have involved him in events and passages often of thrilling and general moment. And the recital of these, in the simple and unimposing forms of a diary, even in the instances where they may be thought to fail in awakening deep sympathy, or creating high excitement, will be found, he thinks, to possess a living moral undertone . In the perpetual conflict between civilized and barbaric life, during the settlement of the West, the recital will often recall incidents of toil and peril, and frequently show the open or concealed murderer, with his uplifted knife, or deadly gun. As a record of opinion, it will not be too much to say, that the author's approvals are ever on the side of virtue, honor, and right; that misconception is sometimes prevented by it, and truth always vindicated. If he has sometimes met bad men; if he has experienced detraction, or injustice; if even persons of good general repute have sometimes persecuted him, it is only surprising, on general grounds, that the evils of this kind have not been greater or more frequent; but it is conceived that the record of such injustice would neither render mankind wiser nor the author happier. The "crooked" cannot be made "straight," and he who attempts it will often find that his inordinate toils only vex his own soul. He who does the ill in society is alone responsible for it, and if he chances not to be rebuked for it on this imperfect theatre of human action, yet he cannot flatter himself at all that he shall pass through a future state "scot free." The author views man ever as an accountable being, who lives, in a providential sense, that he may have an opportunity to bear record to the principles of truth, wherever he is, and this, it is perceived, can be as effectually done, so far as there are causes of action or reflection, in the recesses of the forest, as in the area of the drawing room, or the purlieus of a court. It is believed that, in the present case, the printing of the diary could be more appropriately done, while most of those with whom the author has acted and corresponded, thought and felt, were still on the stage of life... Continue reading book >>




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