Outlines of the incidents of the summer of 1823—Glance at the geography of the lake country—Concretion of aluminous earth—General Wayne’s body naturally embalmed by this property of the soil of Erie—Free and easy manners—Boundary Survey—An old friend—Western commerce—The Austins of Texas memory—Collision of civil and military power—Advantages of a visit to Europe.
1823. June 10th. Mr. Thomas Tousey, of Virginia, writes from Philadelphia, after completing a tour to the West: “The reading of books and looking at maps make a fugitive impression on the mind, compared to the ocular view and examination of a country, which make it seem as though we cannot obtain valuable information, or money to serve a valuable purpose, without great personal labor, fatigue, and often danger. This was much verified to my satisfaction, from a view of the great western lakes; the interesting position where you are—Mackinaw, Green Bay, the fine country between Green Bay and Chicago, and Chicago itself, and the whole country between the latter place and St. Louis.
“Without seeing that country, supposed by many to be the region of cold and sterility, I could not have believed there was in it such a store of blessings yet to be drawn forth by the labor and enterprise of man, for succeeding generations. As yet, there are too many objects to tempt and attract the avarice of man to more mild, but more dangerous climates. But the progress of population and improvement is certain in many parts of the country, and with them will be connected prosperity and happiness.”
When it is considered what a small population of civilized beings inhabit that part of the world, it is not to be wondered at that so little knowledge about it exists. I went from Green Bay, with the Express, where but few people ever travel, which was attended with fatigue and danger; but the journey produced this conviction on my mind, that the Michigan Territory has in it a great extent of fine country.
I regard Green Bay, at the mouth of Fox River, and Chicago, as two very important positions, particularly the latter. For many years I have felt a most anxious desire to see the country between Chicago and the Illinois (River), where it has generally been, ignorantly, supposed that only a small sum would be wanting to open a communication between them. By traveling on horseback through the country, and down the Illinois, I have conceived a different and more exalted opinion of this communication, and of the country, than I had before, while I am convinced that it will be attended with a much greater expense to open it than I had supposed.
[Footnote 41: The Illinois Canal now exists here.]