Part 15 out of 15
capable?' I am of the opinion that the chartering of a national bank
will not meet his approval. But there is no telling. Politicians, in
these days of humbug, make so many turnabouts that it is impossible to
scan their future conduct by their past deeds."
[Footnote 98: It was.]
_7th_. Wrote a communication for the _Michigan Farmer_, on the important
subject, as a matter of taste, of "ornamental and shade trees." New
settlers are bent on denuding their lands of every tree, and a newly
opened farm looks as if a tornado had passed over it.
_6th_. Messrs. Dawson and Bates submit estimates for the contemplated
historical volume, for which I am taking every means of preparing the
materials. I am satisfied that without publication the Hist. Society
cannot acquire a basis with the literary world to stand upon. My own
collections respecting the language and history of the Indian tribes are
alone adequate to the publication of several volumes, and I have long
sought, without being able to find, a proper medium of bringing these
materials forward. My local position is unfavorable to sending them to
the American Philosophical Society, or to any of the cities on the
seaboard, where they would, however, be mangled, as I told Mr.
Duponceau, for want of proof-reading; and here, alas! it is a question
_15th_. Rev. Geo. N. Smith reports the state of the new mission at "Old
Wing," on Little Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, as encouraging. The
American Board (who gave up this general field just at a time when, some
thought, it was ready to bear fruits) transferred the treaty fund under
which this mission was undertaken.
"We chopped in all," writes Mr. S. "about forty-five acres, but a team
is necessary to clear off the timber, so that the land can be cleared
and prepared for a crop this season. During the winter we had a school,
which produced very encouraging results. I taught it in my own house.
The scholars applied themselves closely to their studies and made great
progress in learning, so that, if we had funds to go forward without
embarrassment, our progress of ameliorating the condition of this band
would be very flattering.
"The Indians say they are going to remain here this summer, and improve
their lands, and that, if they can get their oxen, wagons, tools, &c.,
this spring, those who have never been here since they purchased (these
purchases were in the U.S. Land Office), will come immediately and
settle. And, I think, if their expectations in this respect could be
realized, they would go forward with renewed encouragement, and with a
success which would well compare with our best expectations. Also if
their annuities could be paid somewhere in this vicinity, it would be of
great advantage to them, as it would save much time which might be very
profitably spent at home."
Popular common school education--Iroquois name for Mackinack--Its scenic
beauties poetically considered--Phenomenon of two currents of adverse
wind meeting--Audubon's proposed work on American quadrupeds--
Adario--Geographical range of the mocking-bird--Removal from the West to
the city of New York--An era accomplished--Visit to Europe.
1841. _May 3d_. F. SAWYER, Jr., Esq., a gentleman recently appointed
Superintendent of Public Instruction, from Ann Arbor, writes: "Yours of
the 19th April came during my absence at Marshall, and I take the first
opportunity to reply, thanking you for the suggestions made. It is my
intention to attempt the publication of a monthly, something after the
manner of the _Boston Common School Journal_, one of the best things of
the kind, in my humble opinion, to be found in the Union. As the
legislative resolution authorizing a subscription for such a publication
is repealed, a journal, if started, will depend upon the disposition of
the people to sustain it.
"My intention is to address a circular to the different Boards of School
Inspectors throughout Michigan, urging upon them the necessity of doing
something for the cause, and invoking their efficiency in the matter. If
they will take hold and raise a certain amount in their district, and
pledge their constant exertions to excite and keep alive public interest
on the subject of common schools, much will have been effected.
"To succeed, the journal must treat of subjects in the most popular
manner, avoiding, as far as is consistent with the dignity of the object
in view, very elaborate and prosy disquisitions. I shall endeavor to get
a circular out next week. Meantime accept my thanks for the interest you
take in the subject, and be assured that if I succeed in starting the
journal, I shall, at all times, be grateful for contributions from you."
_22d_. Landed at Mackinack after having passed the winter at Detroit. It
appears from Colden that the Iroquois called this island
Teiodondoraghie. What an amount of word-craft is here--what a poetic
description thrown into the form of a compound phrase! The local term in
_doraghie_ is apparently the same heard in Ticon_deroga_--the
imprecision of writing Indian making the difference. _Ti_ is the
Iroquois particle for water, as in _Tioga_, &c. _On_ is, in like manner,
the clipped or coalescent particle for hill or mountain, as heard in
Onondaga. The vowels _i, o_, carry the same meaning, evidently, that
they do in Ontario and Ohio, where they are an exclamatory description
for beautiful scenery. What a philosophy of language is here!
_June 15th_. The balmy, soft influence of a June atmosphere, resting
upon this lovely scene of water, woods, and rocks--a perfect gem in
creation, deeply impressed me. Under a strong sense of its geological
frame-work of cliffs and winding paths, it appeared that it only
required a poetic drapery to be thrown over it and its historical
associations, to render it a pleasing theme of description. So unlike
English scenery, and yet so characteristic--so very American.
_21st_. While standing on the piazza in front of the agency house at
Mackinack, about five o'clock P.M., my attention was directed to the
strong current which set through the strait, west, under the influence
of a strong easterly wind. The waves were worked up into a perfect
series of foam wreaths, succeeding each other for miles. While admiring
this phenomenon, a cloud gathered suddenly in the west, and, in a few
minutes, poured forth a gust of wind towards the east, attended with
heavy rain. So suddenly was this jet of wind propagated towards the
east, that the foam of waves running west was driven back eastwardly,
before the waves had time to reverse their motion, which created the
unusual spectacle of two opposing currents of wind and waves, in the
most active and striking manner. The wave current still running west,
while the wind current seized its foam and carried it in a long line
towards the east. The new current soon prevailed. At half-past six
o'clock the storm had quite abated, and the wind settled lightly from
_26th_. Mr. John J. Audubon announces his intention to prepare a
complete work on American quadrupeds, correspondent, in the style of
execution, to his great work on ornithology. "As I do not know," he
modestly says, "whether you are aware of my having published a work on
the birds of America, I take this opportunity to assure you that I
have, and, at the same time, to apprise you of my having undertaken, and
in fact, began another on the viviparous quadrupeds of our country,
which it is also my intention to publish as soon as I can.
"In all such undertakings, the simple though unintermitted labors of an
individual are not sufficient, and assistance from others is not only
agreeable, but is, in my opinion, absolutely necessary to render them as
complete as possible.
"Having not only heard, but also read, of your having rendered essential
services to Charles Bonaparte, Mr. Cooper of this city, and other
eminent naturalists, I think that perhaps, you would not look upon my
endeavors to advance science as not unworthy of the same species of
assistance at your hands, and I will therefore say, at once, what my
desires are, and wish of you to have the goodness to let me know,
whether it is agreeable or convenient for you to assist me.
"My wishes are to procure of quadrupeds, of moderate and small sizes,
preserved entire in the flesh, and in strong common rum (no other
spiritous liquor will preserve them equally well), and the _heads_ and
_feet_ of the larger species, likewise in rum. The large animals in the
skins, after having taken accurate notes of measurements, the color of
the eyes, date of capture, locality, and also, whatever may relate to
their _habits_ and _habitats_! By the first of which, I more
particularly mean, their usual and unusual postures, gaits, &c., and
whether they climb trees, or are altogether terrestrial. My desire to
have the animals in the flesh, is in connection with my wish to give
their anatomy, or as much of it as may be thought useful or necessary to
the student of nature, and by which the species may be better hereafter
known than heretofore."
_28th_, Maj. Delafield writes respecting the contemplated work of
Audubon: "If in your power to aid him as proposed, you will contribute
to another magnificent American work on natural science, intended to be
on the same grand scale with his ornithology."
_July 7th_. Among the most noted aboriginal characters who have, in
bygone times, lived here, was Adario, a Wyandot, who flourished while
that tribe were in exile on this island. He appears to me, from the
descriptions given of him, to have had larger inductive powers than the
Indians generally though they were only employed on stratagems and in
negotiations, in which, curiously enough, he succeeded in making the
Iroquois vengeance fall on the French, his allies. To be wise with him
was more than to be just. Look at Colden. The philosophy put into his
mouth by La Hontan, probably has some basis, in actual talk, with the
The following appear to be turning points in Iroquois history:--
Father de Moyn discovers the Onondaga country 1653
Erie war closes 1655
New Amsterdam surrenders to the Duke of York 1664
First treaty of the Iroquois with the French 1667
La Salle builds the first vessel on the lakes 1679
La Salle lays the foundation of Fort Niagara 1679
English revolution bringing in a new dynasty in William 1688
Capture and burning of Schenectady 1690
_27th_. I received notice of my election as an honorary member of the
Pennsylvania Historical Society.
_Aug. 1st_. During the number of years I have passed in the country of
the upper lakes, I have noticed the mocking bird, _T. polyglottis_, but
once or twice as far north as the Island of Michilimackinack. I have
listened to its varied notes, during the spring season, with delight. It
is not an ordinary inhabitant, nor have I ever noticed it on, the St.
Mary's Straits, or on the shores of Lake Huron north of this island.
This island may, I think, be referred to as its extreme, northern and
_10th_. I determined to remove from Michilimackinack to the city of New
York. More than thirty years of my life have been spent in Western
scenes, in various situations, in Western New York, the Mississippi
Valley, and the basins of the Great Lakes, The position is one which,
however suitable it is for observation on several topics, is by no means
favorable to the publication of them, while the seaboard cities possess
numerous advantages of residence, particularly for the education of the
young. So much of my time had been given to certain topics of natural
history, and to the languages and history, antiquities, manners, and
customs of the Indian tribes, that I felt a desire to preserve the
record of it, and, in fact, to study my own materials in a position more
favorable to the object than the shores, however pleasing, of these vast
inland seas. The health of Mrs. Schoolcraft having been impaired for
several years, furnished another motive for a change of residence.
However great was the geographical area to be traversed, the change
could be readily effected, and promised many of the highest
concomitants of civilization. Beyond all, it was a return to my native
State after long years of travel and wandering, adventure, and
residence, which would bear, I thought, to-be looked at and reflected on
through the mellowed medium of reminiscence and study.
The journey was easily performed by steamers and railroads, which occupy
every foot of the way, and it was accomplished without any but agreeable
incidents. I left the island, which is the object of so many pleasant
recollections, about the middle of August, and reached the city of New
York during that month, in season, after some weeks agreeably passed at
a hotel, to take a private dwelling-house in the upper part of it
(Chelsea, 19th street) early in September. I now cast myself about to
publish the results of my observation on the RED RACE, whom I had found,
in many traits, a subject of deep interest; in some things wholly
misunderstood and misrepresented; and altogether an object of the
highest humanitarian interest. But our booksellers, or rather
book-publishers, were not yet prepared in their views to undertake
anything corresponding to my ideas. The next year I executed my
long-deferred purpose of visiting England and the Continent with this
plan in view, and was highly gratified with the means of comparison
which these finished countries afforded with the rough scenes of Western
America. France, Belgium, Prussia, Germany and Holland were embraced in
This visit was one of high intellectual gratification, and carried me
into scenes and situations for which the reading of books had but poorly
prepared me. I kept a journal to refresh my memory of things seen and
heard, approved and disapproved.
The Western World, they tell me, turns too fast,
By European optics scanned and glassed;
But when we look at Europe, although fair,
They must have had new Joshuas working there;
For, be our eagerness just what it will,
She, spell-bound, seems to stand profoundly still.
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