||Carver, Jonathan, 1710-1780
||Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America, in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768 [excerpt]
||Carver, Jonathan. Travels through the Interior Parts of North America, in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768. By J. Carver, Esq. Captain of a Company of Provincial Troops During the Late War with France. Illustrated with Copper Plates, Coloured. The Third Edition. To Which Is Added, Some Account of the Author, and a Copious Index. (London: Printed for C. Dilly; H. Payne; and J. Phillips, 1781). Pages 1-22; i-xvi; 17-180; and 6 plates.
||211 / 7
Jonathan Carver (1710-1780) was born in Weymouth,
Massachusetts, in 1710 but grew up in Connecticut. His early
life is obscure, but in 1746 he married and in 1749 moved to the
Connecticut River town of Montague, Massachusetts. During the
1750s he served in local militia units fighting the French and
Indians in upstate New York, was wounded, captured, and promoted
to the rank of captain. When the war ended in 1760, England
gained control of Canada and the interior of the continent.
Major Robert Rogers, whom Carver may have known during the war,
was charged with consolidating the fur trade in the northwest
and he hired Carver to accompany another former officer on the
first British exploration into that region.
After the expedition described here, the British government
balked at paying him for his labors so Carver went to London to
argue his case. He arrived in early 1769 and, desperate for
money, began to weave a web of deceptions about himself. He
claimed to have received an enormous land grant west of the
Mississippi, for example; and despite already having a wife in
Massachusetts he married a London widow. Although he was awarded
about 1,400 pounds for his services, he died impoverished in
London in January 1780.
Expedition of 1766-1767
On May 20, 1766, Carver left Boston for the Great Lakes,
reaching the junction of lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior at
the end of August. On September 3, 1766, he left Machilimackinac for
present-day Green Bay, crossed present-day Wisconsin to the Mississippi at
Prairie du Chien, and turned upriver past the site of modern
Minneapolis. He spent the winter somewhere in west-central
Minnesota with the Dakota nation. In May 1767 he returned to
Prairie du Chien before heading north again, this time bearing
east along the Chippewa, Namekagon, and Brule rivers to the
vicinity of present-day Duluth, Minnesota. When expected
supplies failed to appear, Carver followed Lake Superiorís north
shore back to Machilimakinac, where he arrived at the end of
August, having been away on his explorations almost exactly a
Hoping to earn some profits from a book about his travels,
Carver carried his journals with him to London. Unfortunately
his publisher and editor attempted to improve his manuscript by
plagiarizing lengthy passages from French travelers Louis
Armand, Baron de Lahontan, Louis Hennepin (see AJ-124), and others. Although this quickly
prompted challenges to its credibility, Carverís book was an
international success which went through sixteen editions over the
next two decades, including translations into French, German, and
Other Internet and Reference Sources
We give only an excerpt here because the entire book is
already available at Early Canadiana Online (www.canadiana.org).
Carverís original journals, now in the British Library, were
edited by John Parker and published as The Journals of
Jonathan Carver and Related Documents, 1766-1770 (St. Paul:
Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1976).
The James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota
has a biography of Carver on its Website at
http://bell.lib.umn.edu/hennepin/carver.html that includes
pictures, a bibliography and links to other sources.