Exploring North America, 1800-1900, Revised Edition by Maurice Isserman

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Thorn set sail up the Pacific coast for Vancouver Island, where he heard there was rich fur trading. There he got into a quarrel with the local Salish Indians, several hundred of whom swarmed aboard the Tonquin. They killed Thorn and his crew. According to a somewhat suspect version of the end of the Tonquin, popularized by novelist and essayist Washington Irving, a dying crew member managed to blow up the ship’s powder magazine, sinking the ship and avenging its crew with the mass death of the Salish boarders.

Returning to the gulf the following year, he sailed up what he called “the river of Canada,” the present-day St. Lawrence River. In a series of expeditions in the early seventeenth century, Samuel de Champlain thoroughly explored the St. Lawrence and the surrounding region. In the name of the king of France, he claimed the territory that became known as Quebec and planted the first French settlements in the region. Champlain reached the shores of both Lake Huron and 59 60  Exploring North America, 1800–1900 Lake Ontario in 1615, the first time any of the Great Lakes had been glimpsed by Europeans.

He had been among the St. Louis residents who cheered Lewis and Clark on their return in 1806. Astor hired him in 1809 to lead a party westward along the Lewis and Clark trail. Before he set off, Hunt had long conversations with Lewis and Clark veteran John Colter, and perhaps with William Clark himself. He was convinced that Lewis and Clark’s route was probably not the best one Fur Traders and the Exploration of the Western Frontier  to follow. He believed that a more southerly route across the interior, following the Yellowstone rather than the Missouri River, offered a surer path to and over the Rocky Mountains.

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