3.Mountain Man

Carson: Yes, sometimes I run after [Indians],
but most times they war runnin’ after me.
Edwin L. Sabin, Kit Carson Days
There are two kinds of people:
those who divide people into two different kinds,
and those who don’t.
Attributed to William James

While Kit Carson learned saddle-making in David Workman’s shop, the country itself, like the young apprentice, was on the edge of great change. It was becoming more industrialized, politically democratic, and continental in reach. The debate over Missouri’s admission to the Union as a slave state was a more ominous development. In the mid1820s, white Anglo-America was still on the eastern edge of the transMississippi West. Missouri and Louisiana were still the only states west of the great river. Large Indian nations remained east of the Mississippi, until Andrew Jackson implemented his removal policy in the 1830s. Two major Indian-white conflicts, the Black Hawk War and the Second Seminole War, were yet to be fought in the East. Illinois and Wisconsin, the theater of the first war, were still “the West,” and would be until the Civil War.

Officially, the country’s boundaries reached west to Mexican Texas and the Continental Divide. Practically, Missouri was a salient of white settlement on the far side of the river. The Louisiana Purchase was hardly a generation past. Lewis and Clark had gone to the Pacific in 1804–6, and on their heels American trappers and traders had moved up the Missouri all the way to the headwaters in present Montana, some of them crossing to the sea. The War of 1812 cut this development short. The U.S. Army established Fort Atkinson above the mouth of the Platte in 1819, and Major Stephen Long explored parts of the southern

-37-

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Kit Carson and the Indians
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • 1- Will the Real Kit Carson Please Stand Up? 1
  • 2- Backcountry 24
  • 3- Mountain Man 37
  • 4- Guideandscout 85
  • 5- Indian Agent 148
  • 6- Soldier 228
  • 7- Peacemaker 343
  • 8- Conclusion 418
  • Notes 461
  • Index 509
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