Special Collections Department
LANDS OF OPPORTUNITY
THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE
The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 opened up vast areas of the Great Plains for the growing country. Anxious for settlers, the territories offered virtually free land to families willing to farm the land. The native peoples were pushed further westward and restricted to smaller and smaller territories in order to open up the farm and ranch lands to the settlers.
Rural Sketches of Minnesota, the El Dorado of the Northwest: containing full descriptions of the country, its productions, villages, state of society, &c.: together with a series of letters upon northern Wisconsin, its appearance, improvements, &c.: with a table of distances. Milan, Ohio: C. Waggoner, 1850.
An early promotional work to attract settlers to Minnesota and Wisconsin, Rural Sketches is written in the form of a series of letters reporting on the places visited during a journey from Chicago to Galena, the Illinois prairies, Prairie du Chien, Dubuque, Fort Snelling and Mendota.
Sketches of Iowa and Wisconsin, taken during a residence of Three Years in those Territories. St. Louis: Chambers, Harris & Knapp, 1839.
Sketches of Iowa and Wisconsin was the first book printed west of the Mississippi to discuss and recommend a national railroad to the Pacific Coast. Plumbe was a strong advocate of the railroad, even traveling through the West looking for possible routes. Unfortunately, the railroad was not to cross the continent for another thirty years.
Nouveaux voyages aux Indes Occidentales; contenant une relation des differens peuples qui habitent les environs du grand fleuve Saint-Louis, appellé vulgairement le Mississipi; leur religion; leur gouvernement; leurs moeurs; leurs guerres & leur commerce. Paris: Le Jay, 1768.
Bossu went to Louisiana in 1750 as a captain in the French marines. The narrative is made up of a series of twenty-one letters describing his life and travels in the Louisiana country from 1751 to 1762. His journey took him from Fort Chartres, in present Illinois, to Mobile, and along the Mississippi River. He visited New Orleans only thirty years after it was founded and was able to gather recollections from those who had lived through the early years of settlement.
A Journal of Travels into the Arkansa Territory, during the year 1819. With occasional observations of the manners of the aborigines. Philadelphia: T.H. Palmer, 1821.
One of the most important early travel narratives of the area which now includes Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The Journal includes material on the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Osage Indian tribes, as well as a botanical history of the region.
Emigrants' Guidewas an advertising promotion for Leavenworth City, published by the Kansas Weekly Herald, the local newspaper. Aimed primarily at the gold prospector, it includes a map of the gold mines, descriptions of the country, and details and cost of a miner's outfit. Although at least 20,000 copies were reportedly produced, this is one of only two known copies.
Dans les Montagnes Rocheuses. Paris: E. Plon, Nourrit, 1884.
A French nobleman, Mandat-Grancey visited the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1883. His romanticized portrayal of cowboys and ranching was published at a time when Europeans were interested in investing in American ranches.
The first book printed in Laramie, Wyoming, The Territory of Wyoming was written only five years after the Territory was organized. It was written to attract settlers to an area which was still mainly unexplored. It includes detailed information about cattle and sheep ranching including costs of starting a ranch and projected profits.
Pencil Sketches of Montana. New York: Pub. by the author, 1868.
The full-page views in this very rare work are among the only authentic records of Montana during the first days of its settlement. They were made on location by the author, who also drew them on the lithographic stone. The images, which include Virginia City, Helena, Fort Benton, and Great Falls, are mainly of southwest Montana, near Yellowstone, which was the first area of the state to be settled and mined.
Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates
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