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miles square, at the mouth of the Chickago River ;” and in the year 1804 the Government established a fortified post on this remote verge of its dominions. The vast territory of Louisiana, extending up the Mississippi Valley almost to this parallel of latitude, had been purchased from Napoleon the year before, for fifteen million dollars; and the stations of the
army were advanced farther into the unknown West. About the Chicago River were the wigwams and hunting-grounds of the valiant Pottawatomie Indians, with whom the little garrison-a company of infantry-dwelt on terms of amity and fraternity. The fort was only a frontier block-house or palisade, without artillery, and there were five houses outside it. A subterranean way ran from the stockade to the river, which could be used to procure water for the garrison, or as a sally-port in case of siege. The entire commerce of the place was done by a small schooner, sent out by the United States once a year from Buffalo, to carry supplies to the garrison. Oecasionally a few Canadian bateau.r, filled with merry royageurs and halfbreeds, descended from the north, from the distant fortress-rock of Mackinaw, or the remoter towns toward the outflow of the St. Lawrence. More often the birch-bark canoes of the Indians lightly skimmed the surface of Lake Michigan, silent, bird-like, fleet, bearing the proud chiefs of the forest-clans to hunting, or festival, or battle. Powerful as the tribes were, and weak as the attacking van-guard of civilisation appeared, the red hunters kept peace with their invaders, as if remembering the prophecy of Hiawatha.
When war broke out between Great Britain and the United States in 1812, as a result of the arbitrary conduct of the former Power in impressing British seamen found on American ships, the contest, begun on the high seas, spread to the innermost recesses of the continent, and along the course of the Great Lakes. The chiefs of the Indian tribes, who had suffered in various ways at the hands of the Americans, and had been kindly treated and plied with presents by the British officers, in many cases declared in favour of the latter, and ranged their red warriors under the royal standard. Among these were the traculent Pottawatomies, one of the most valiant and pitiless of the prairie clans. The hostility of the Indians, and the danger that the wretched stockade of Fort Dearborn might be attacked by British armed vessels on the lake, caused the commander of the army to send orders that Chicago should be evacuated. The supplies were to be distributed as a peace-offering to the Indians, and the troops received orders to retreat eastward to Fort Wayne. Captain Heald, the commander of the post, was urged by his officers, who dreaded the treachery of the natives, to hold the works until reinforcements came up, or at least until the hostile British fleet arrived, when they might surrender to Christians and gentlemen. On the other hand, Winnimeg, a friendly Indian, advised him to march out as soon as possible, and reach a secure distance while the warlike tribe should be plundering the fort. But the captain-a little sentimental, witbal, and sadly irresolute—finally decided to trust the good faith and mercy of the savages, and held a solemn council with them, agreeing to surrender the ammunition and supplies in Fort Dearborn if they would escort his company in safety to Fort Wayne. After this bargain was concluded, the captain destroyed all the gunpowder and spirits in his charge, and, by thus breaking faith with the enemy, invited their vengeance. The retreating garrison marched along the shore of Lake Michigan, with twelve friendly Miami warriors in advance, the soldiers in the centre, and the wagon-train, containing the baggage, the sick, and the women and children, in the rear. As they emerged from the works, the garrison band played the Dead March in “Saul.” When the doomed procession had reached a point a mile and a half from the fort, the Miami scouts discovered an ambush, and were put to flight by sudden volleys of musketry. The soldiers were formed into line, and charged over the sand-hills into the midst of ten times their number of Pottawatomies, where they fought with desperate valour until two-thirds of them were slain. The wife of Lieq. tenant Helm was the heroine of the scene, urging on the soldiers and moving about in the thickest of the battle. While vigorously wrestling with one of the savages, and trying to get his scalping-knife, another Indian seized her and bore her into the lake, where
he plunged into the deep water, but held her head above the waves. This was the friendly Black Partridge, who thus preserved her life by feigning to destroy it. One of the wagons in the rear contained twelve children, and these were all slaughtered by a single savage.
When but twenty-six soldiers were left to confront five hundred warriors, the commander surrendered, stipulating that the women and children should be spared. Fifty-six whites had been killed ; and the Indians destroyed the fort and barracks by fire.
In 1816 white men once more sought the site of Chicago, and Fort Dearborn was rebuilt and garrisoned. In 1823 the civilian population was augmented by the arrival of Clybourne, who rode thither on horseback, a thousand miles, from Virginia. In 1827 there were two other families living outside the fort—the indomitable John Kinzie and his competitor, the French trader Oulimette. The fortifications were inconsiderable, and consisted mainly of a block-house near the mouth of the river. As late as the year 1857 this venerable defence was still standing, weather-beaten and ruinous, but worthy to have been preserved as an eloquent historical relic. On several occasions it had served as city of refuge during the terrors of the border-wars; and the Government agency continued in its walls for many years. From 1832 until 1836 it was garrisoned by two companies of infantry under Winfield Scott, afterwards the conqueror of Mexico and commander-in-chief of the American armies. The Agency building proper—a grotesque group of log-buildings, with many angles and wings-was entitled Cobweb Castle by the imaginative pioneers. At that time the North Side was covered with a vigorous forest, while the South Side lay partly under water and morasses.
An active and prominent citizen, Mr. Gurdon S. Hubbard, found but two families living here when his first visit was made (he then being a lad of sixteen) in the year
1818. He was an employé of the American Fur Company, sent out from Montreal, and detailed to service in the Illinois brigade of traders, over whom the Canadian voyageur, Antoine Dechamps, held command. Cautiously and slowly the little flotilla of Mackinaw boats coasted the shores of the Great Lakes, as the early merchants were wont to do, passing hundreds of leagues of desolate and uninhabited lands. They found a few whites at Mackinaw and Chicago, but nowhere any others, from Lake Ontario to the Mississippi River.
By the year 1830 Chicago had made no advance, and was still composed of a military post and a fur-station—the former a log-fort, garrisoned by two companies of regulars, the latter composed of two shops, filled with trinkets for barbarian traders ;—three taverns, where the Indians who brought furs spent their earnings in drunkenness; a blacksmith's shop, where rude work was done ; a house for the interpreter ; and a shanty for the chiefs of the visiting tribes. John Jacob Astor's little schooner made a yearly voyage to the post to carry away the accumulated furs.
The fort was menaced by the Winnebago Indians in 1828, and reinforcements were hurried in from the eastward. But four years later the garrison evacuated the works, and their barracks were occupied by immigrant families. At one time, more than four thousand Indians gathered here to receive their annuities; and soon afterwards, during the disastrous war waged by the chief Black Hawk against the frontier settlements, Fort Dearborn was crowded with many hundreds of refugees from the devastated country beyond. The powerful tribe of Indians who had always lived near the fort assumed a menacing attitude, and it was only by the most skilful diplomacy that the Government agent held them under control. A year or two later, when there were still but twenty-eight men living in the hamlet, seven thousand Pottawatomie Indians, of the tribe which from time immemorial had owned and dwelt on these plains, were convened here, and executed a treaty with
the agent of the United States, ceding to the National Government all their domains in Illinois and Wisconsin, amounting to twenty million acres. But the red men did not yield up their birthright quite willingly, and several chiefs, notably the brilliant young Metenay, made eloquent speeches against the proposed cession, evidently foreseeing that this advancing tide of traders and farmers, unless checked, would drive them for ever from the prairies. Great quantities of merchandise were distributed among the tribes, in such rude fashion that the strongest braves got all the presents, and the others were left without anything ; and at night the usual scene ensued
-a wild and bloody debauch, which left the unfortunate Indians poorer
than before. It was in the autumn of 1833 that the great exodus began, and the wretched remnant of the Pottawatomies left their ancient hunting-grounds for ever. Forty wagons, each drawn by four oxen, carried the children and the scanty effects of the tribe, and the men and women marched on foot beside them. Thus the sad and solemn march went on--for twenty days across the prairies to the Mississippi River, and then for twenty days more into the wild and unknown regions beyond, until the weary clan settled on the reservation which the Great Father at Washington had appointed as their home.
When the garrison was withdrawn, in 1831, the twelve resident families deserted their rude shebeens on the prairie and spent the winter in the fort, making a right merry time, with their debating society and dancing parties. The next year the first public building was erected-a pound for stray cattle, which cost £2 Ss., one-twelfth of the entire annual tax-levy. The woods and swamps about the little hamlet abounded in game, deer, wolves, bears, foxes, lynxes, and wild-cats; and in a single day in 1834 a party of hunters killed a bear and forty prairie wolves on the present site of the city. Several years later, the long howl of the wolf was often heard by night within the municipal limits.
The United States Government, which is so economical as regards its army and navy, has always been ready to spend vast sums on internal improvements, and far in advance of its
GROWTH OF THE CITY.
probable needs. In 1834, therefore, a corps of engineers was sent to Chicago, the muddy little lake-village in the far West, and dredged out the river, which had hitherto been blockaded by a sand-bar, so that vessels of above fifty tons could enter. A curiously timely freshet came the next season, and scoured out the bed of the stream to a much greater depth, changing the boggy fissure into a snug and commodious harbour.
Soon afterwards, the great Western exodus from the Atlantic States began, a march of civilisation which bids fair to continue far into the twentieth century. The proximity of Fort Dearborn, and the fine harbour now afforded by the mouth of the Chicago River, attracted many settlers to this locality; and in the year 1837 Chicago was declared a city. So meagre was the local productiveness at this time, and so carefully did the agricultural classes shun this marshy flat, which during the rainy season was sometimes stirrup-deep in water, that the provisions necessary to supply the incoming population had to be brought from distant points in Michigan.
The metropolitan position of Chicago, already foreshadowed by its command of the navigation of the great lakes, was assured by the year 1952, when the Lake-Shore and Michigan Central Railways were finished, connecting it with the teeming States on the Atlantic slope. Henceforward, the primacy of the West became an affair of railway construction; and the locomotives, crossing the broad prairies in every direction, with their tracks converging here, rapidly made the commerce of the rising empire of the new States tributary to Chicago. This interest has always been held paramount, until now twelve thousand miles of railways, penetrating the remotest valleys of the north-west and south-west, bring their vast freights hither, where they may be carried to the seaboard by the great trunk-lines to the eastward, or shipped on the white-winged fleets which patrol the lakes.
The Great Lakes are to America what the Mediterranean is to Europe, and their united area is almost as large as that of the classic sea. At the head of this long system of navigation, like Smyrna or Alexandria in the Levant, is the harbour of Chicago, a system of water-lanes, among which miles of masts are grouped, and scores of steamships. Venice and Genoa united, with all their poetry of history and antique splendour, have not the population of this encampment of the nomads of yesterday; have not its energy and commercial activity ; have not its comfort and happiness for the people at large.
In 1840, Chicago was a village of a few hundred inhabitants, and ten years later her population was 30,000. Another decade passed, and the census showed 112,172 inhabitants, a gain of 373 per cent. In 1870, although the devastating civil war had been weakening the Republic for years, the population numbered 298,977. The last decade was disastrous in many ways; it was a period of great commercial depression, and the city sank down at one time under a conflagration which destroyed all its best and richest precincts. Yet the tide of immigration and increase continued to rise without interruption. In the year 1866 alone the number of houses erected in the city was nine thousand, for which, besides the timber