American Voyageur

american voyageurAmerican Voyageur: The Journal of David Bates Douglass (1969)

Edited by Sydney W. Jackman et al.

“You are assigned to accompany a party to be employed in exploring the southern coasts and shores of Lake Superior in the course of the ensuing summer under the direction of Governor Cass of Michigan Territory…You will join him at Detroit by the first of May, at farthest, and when your services will be no longer required by him, you will return to West Point, N.Y., and report by letter from thence to this department.” With this formal notice, David Bates Douglass became officially a member of the expedition proposed by Lewis Cass to explore more intimately the Lake Superior and Upper Mississippi region.

Douglass’ journal is not the finished product of a good scholar, but rather it is the raw material of something that might have been. Even so, it has a considerable charm in itself; it is perceptive, informative and it has style. It has the agreeable quality of the spontaneous prose which a later and more polished entity might lack. Douglass’ comments on events and scenery add much to our knowledge and these remarks indicate how much the world has changed since he wrote. Douglass and others of his generation give a graphic portrayal of a simpler world before the impact of modern life had been experienced and before the Jeffersonian world was swept away by the industrial revolution.

(Source: Introduction, pages xii and xxii of American Voyageur: The Journal of David Bates Douglass.)