A Curious Series of Correspondences from Morgan

This is a series of newspaper correspondences during 1845.  The Daily Union was a newspaper in Washington, D.C., now archived online at the Library of Congress, that published this series under the pen name “Morgan.”  In this series, “Morgan” included a remarkable and vicarious description of his experiences on Lake Superior and at La Pointe.  Based on the circumstances and narrative, we theorize that the identity of “Morgan” is Morgan Lewis Martin.

 


To the Far West

“Government ought, as early as practicable, to adopt measures to build a strong fort at the junction of Pigeon river with Lake Superior, and then to erect detached forts along our entire line of frontier, up Pigeon river to the Lake of the Woods, and from thence along to the Red river, west.  These forts would serve to protect our northwestern settlements, and to keep the British and half-breed Indians, with Selkirk’s descendants, in check.”

Mackinac and Sault Ste Marie

“Almost the only tribe of Indians visiting or living about the Sault, belong to the Chippewa tribe – which, on the average, are good-locking Indians, and apparently comfortably clad, &c.  Many of the half-breeds are really beautiful; and, in regularity of features, figure, and size of hands and feet, would do credit to more civilized life.  They seem to me to be more industrious than more southern tribes of Indians among whom I have travelled, and far more inoffensive and civil to the whites.  Some of the men are exceedingly tall and fine-looking fellows.  I saw yesterday the son of a chief from the Canada side, who stood between six and seven feet high, and was as straight as an arrow.  He could not speak a syllable of English.  I saw him examining, with much attention, the new schooner building at the head of the falls.”

Copper Harbor

“At the Anse we fell in with Mr. Ord, the United States Indian agent at the Sault Ste. Marie, who was on a visit to the Indians at that point, to take the census, and to hold a talk with their chiefs in council. We arrived at the Anse a few hours before the council began. The chiefs all sat around a hall on wooden benches, while Mr. Ord, with the interpreter, was seated at the head of the circle. Many of the Indians were fine-looking men. They had a great many petty grievances to relate to the agent, who listened to them with patient attention. The Chippewas about the Anse are said to be much better off than those who trade to La Pointe, at the upper end of the lake.”

The Copper Region

“At the mouth of the Montreal river, we fell in with a party of seventeen Indians, composed of old Martin and his band, on their way to La Pointe, to be present at the payment expected to take place about the 15th of August.”

La Pointe

“What strikes the voyageur with the most interest, in the way of scenery, is the wild, high, bold, and precipitous coast of the southern shore, for such much of the whole distance between Grand Sable and La Pointe, and, indeed, for some distance beyond La Pointe ; the picturesque appearance of which often seemed heightened to us, as on a clear morning, or late afternoon, or voyageurswould conduct our boat for miles near their bases.”

Saint Croix Falls

“We continued on, amidst fields of wild rice in full bloom, which covered the lake for acres upon acres on each side of the channel. This wild rice (rizania aquatica) is of great importance to the Indians, who gather large quantities of it when ripe, in autumn, for their winter food. Its soft stem and watery roots are immersed about 2 to 2½ feet under water, while the blades, head, and stalk reach about a foot to a foot and a half above water. In flowering, its heads present a singular appearance. Its pistils, or grain part of the flower, are clustered on a long, sharp-pointed spicular, terminating in a sharp cone at the very head of the stalk; while the pollen appears attached to the stalk below the head.”

Copper Harbor Redux

” I know not who your correspondent is; but, judging from the extraordinary zeal with which he labors to forestall public opinion of certain government agents on Lake Superior, whose conduct has recently become obnoxious to very grave suspicion, I think it no unwarrantable conclusion that he has either been most egregiously imposed upon, or that he is animated in his encomiums upon the officers alluded to, by motives much more special than in his admiring comments upon the handsome scenery and novel life upon the lake. “

The Upper Mississippi River

“Descendants of this Monsieur Cadot are still living at the Sault and at La Pointe. We met one of them returning to the latter place, in the St. Croix river, as we were descending it. They, no doubt, inherit strong claims to land at the falls of the St. Mary’s river, which must ere long prove valuable to them, if properly prosecuted.”

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