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Their wants and caprices being supplied, they would take leave of the governor, strike their tents, Astroia their canoes, and ply their way up the Ottawa to the lakes. Every partner who had charge of an interior post, and a score of retainers at his Command, felt like the chieftain of a Highland clan, and was almost as important in the eyes of his dependents as of himself.
The greater part of them were American, and owned by Boston merchants. In the course of her voyage she discovered the mouth of a large river in lat.
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To these were added an aspiring spirit that always looked upwards; a genius bold, fertile, and expansive; a sagacity quick to grasp and convert every circumstance to its advantage, and a singular and never wavering confidence of al success. Some correspondence and negotiation ensued. Each permitted the fitting out of two large canoes with merchandise for the lakes, and looikng more than twenty-five s were to be issued in one year. The old coureurs des bois were broken up and dispersed, or, where they could be met with, were slow to accustom themselves to the habits and manners of their British employers.
An audience would be demanded of the governor-general, who would hold the conference with becoming state, seated in an elbow-chair, with the Indians ranged in semicircles before him, seated on the ground, and silently smoking their pipes. The main feature of his scheme was to establish a line of trading posts along the Missouri and the Columbia, to the mouth of the latter, where was to be founded the chief trading house or mart.
Fir made his overtures to several of these persons, and three of them entered into his views.
It was not until the yearthat the trade regained its old channels; but it was then pursued with much avidity and emulation by individual merchants, ollder soon transcended its former bounds. They hoped, too, by a timely move, to secure the mouth of the Columbia before Mr. With these they were to make their way up one of the branches of the Missouri, explore the mountains for the source of the Oregon, or River of the West, and sail down that river to its supposed exit, near the Straits of Annian.
These s were granted in forr by the governor-general, and at first were given only to persons of respectability; to gentlemen of broken fortunes; to old officers of the army who had families to provide for; or to their widows. In this way the trade augmented, and was drawn from remote quarters to Montreal. A ship ofr to be sent annually from New York to this main establishment with reinforcements and supplies, and with merchandise suited to the trade.
Objects of American Enterprise.
Northwest Partners. As Mr. The facts, however, will prove to be linked and banded together by one grand scheme, devised and conducted by a master spirit; one set of characters, also, continues throughout, appearing Astpria, though sometimes at long intervals, and the whole enterprise winds up by a regular catastrophe; so that the work, without oloking labored attempt at artificial construction, actually possesses much of that unity so much sought after in works of fiction, and considered so important to the interest of every history.
The canoes would be unladen, taken on shore, and their contents disposed in order.
He now offered, if aided and protected by government, to turn the whole of that trade into American channels. Astor was in London at the time, and immediately made a contract with the agents of the Northwest Company for furs. Inthe French lost possession of Canada, and the trade fell principally into the hands of British subjects.
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As the valuable furs soon became scarce in lookinng neighborhood of the settlements, the Indians of the vicinity were stimulated to take a wider range in their hunting expeditions; they were generally accompanied on these expeditions by some of the traders or their dependents, who shared in the toils and perils of the chase, and at the same time made themselves acquainted with the best hunting and trapping grounds, and with the remote tribes, whom they encouraged to bring their peltries to the settlements.
The company, as we have shown, was at first a spontaneous association of merchants; but, after it had been regularly organized, admission into it became extremely difficult. TWO leading objects of commercial gain have given birth to wide and daring enterprise in the early history of the Americas; the precious metals of the South, and the rich peltries of the North. Twelve, fifteen, eighteen months would often elapse without any tidings of them, when they would come sweeping their way down the Ottawa in full glee, their canoes laden down with looking of beaver skins.
As this gentleman was a native born citizen of the United States, a person of great probity and worth, he was selected by Mr.
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They were to take with them fifty or sixty men, artificers and mariners. Sometimes they sojourned for months among them, assimilating to their tastes and habits with the happy facility of Frenchmen, adopting in some degree the Indian dress, and not unfrequently taking to themselves Indian wives.
During this period, the passengers of the various ships used occasionally to go on shore, and mingle sociably together. His probation was generally passed at the interior trading posts; removed for years from civilized olde, leading a life almost as wild and precarious as the savages around him; exposed to the severities of a northern winter, often suffering from a scarcity of food, and sometimes destitute for a long time of both bread and salt. They ascended the rivers in great state, like sovereigns making a progress: or rather like Highland chieftains navigating their subject lakes.
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The Indians, as yet unacquainted with the artificial value given to some descriptions of furs, in civilized life, brought quantities of the most precious kinds and bartered them away for European trinkets and cheap commodities. He was brought up in the simplicity of rural life, but, while yet a mere stripling, left his home, and launched himself mem the busy scenes of London, having had, from his very boyhood, a singular presentiment that he would ultimately arrive at great fortune.
Astor might arrive. An elder brother had been for some few years resident in the United States, and Mr. The Canadian traders, for a long time, had troublesome competitors in the British merchants of New York, who inveigled the Indian hunters and the coureurs des bois to their posts, and traded with them on more favorable terms.
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The councils were held in great state, for every member felt as if sitting in parliament, and every retainer and dependent looked up to the assemblage with awe, as to the House of Lords. The missions had often a beneficial effect on the simple sons of the forest, but had little power over the renegades from civilization. In the meantime Mr. To behold the Oloking Company in all its state and grandeur, however, it was necessary to witness an annual gathering at the great interior place of conference established at Fort William, near what is called the Grand Portage, on Lake Superior.
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Such was the Northwest Company in its powerful and prosperous days, when it held a kind of feudal sway over a vast domain of lake and forest. The Astora, however, was unsuccessful, as most commercial expedients are prone to be, where the dull patronage of government is counted upon to outvie the keen activity of private enterprise. This, too, was a rendezvous for the rangers of the woods, as well those who came up with goods from Montreal as those who returned with peltries from the interior.
The company were aware of the advantages which would be possessed by Mr. Without oldsr on the borders, they have penetrated at once, in defiance of difficulties and dangers, to the heart of savage countries: laying open the hidden secrets of the wilderness; leading the way to remote regions of beauty and fertility odler might have remained unexplored for ages, and beckoning after them the slow and pausing steps of agriculture and civilization.
While the fiery and magnificent Spaniard, inflamed with the mania for gold, ln extended his discoveries and conquests over those brilliant countries scorched by the ardent sun of the tropics, the adroit and buoyant Frenchman, and the cool and calculating Briton, have pursued the less splendid, but no less lucrative, traffic in furs amidst the hyperborean regions of the Canadas, until they have advanced even within the Arctic Circle.
Among the clerks of the Northwest Company were several of great capacity and experience, who had served out their probationary terms, but who, either through lack of interest and influence, or a want of vacancies, had not been promoted.