Mackenzie spent the following winter at Chipewyan, despondent and lonely. “What a situation, starving and alone!” he writes to his cousin. The hard life was beginning to wear down the dauntless spirit. “I spend the greater part of my time in vague speculations. . . . In fact my mind was never at ease, nor could I bend it to my wishes. Though I am not superstitious, my dreams cause me great annoyance. I scarcely close my eyes without finding myself in company with the dead.”
The following winter Mackenzie left the West never to return. The story of his travels was published early in the nineteenth century, and he was knighted by the English king. The remainder of his life was spent quietly on an estate in Scotland, where he died in 1820.
[Illustration: The Mouth of the Mackenzie by the Light of the Midnight Sun.—C. W. Mathers.]
The First White Men to ascend the Missouri to its Sources and descend the Columbia to the Pacific—Exciting Adventures on the Canons of the Missouri, the Discovery of the Great Falls and the Yellowstone—Lewis’ Escape from Hostiles
The spring of 1904 witnessed the centennial celebration of an area as large as half the kingdoms of Europe, that has the unique distinction of having transferred its allegiance to three different flags within twenty-four hours.
At the opening of the nineteenth century Spain had ceded all the region vaguely known as Louisiana back to France, and France had sold the territory, to the United States; but post-horse and stage of those old days travelled slowly. News of Spain’s cession and France’s sale reached Louisiana almost simultaneously. On March 9, 1804, the Spanish grandees of St. Louis took down their flag and, to the delight of Louisiana, for form’s sake erected French colors. On March 10, the French flag was lowered for the emblem that has floated over the Great West ever since—the stars and stripes. How vast was the new territory acquired, the eastern states had not the slightest conception. As early as 1792 Captain Gray, of the ship Columbia, from Boston, had blundered into the harbor of a vast river flowing into the Pacific. What lay between this river and that other great river on the eastern side of the mountains—the Missouri? Jefferson had arranged with John Ledyard of Connecticut, who had been with Captain Cook on the Pacific, to explore the northwest coast of America by crossing Russia overland; but Russia had similar designs for herself, and stopped Ledyard on the way. In 1803 President Jefferson asked Congress for an appropriation to explore the Northwest by way of the Missouri. Now that the wealth of the West is beyond the estimate of any figure, it seems almost inconceivable that there were people little-minded enough to haggle over the price paid for Louisiana—$15,000,000—and to object to the appropriation required for its exploration—$2500; but fortunately the world goes ahead in spite of hagglers.