Thomas Fitzpatrick

The Indians will perish before the land thrives. Indeed, examples of all their race who have preceded them on the continent, would point to a condition of poverty, of humiliation, of extinction, as the natural result of the foster policy of the government...But must it always be thus? Must the same system, which has resulted so unfortunately heretofore, be pursued remorselessly to the end? Must the course of removals from place to place, and successive contractions of territory, and perpetual isolation, which has thus far been fraught with such enormous expense, be likewise applied to the nations of the interior? This must be called by its name: the legalized murder of a whole nation. It is expensive, vicious, inhumane, and producing these consequences, and these alone. The leaders of this nation must realized that humanity will judge its policies by its fruits, not by the gloss of its high-tone words.

(1799 - 1854)

          Irish immigrant Thomas Fitzpatrick played a singularly important and unheralded role in the settlement of the American West. 

He arrived in the frontier town of St. Louis in 1822, and a few months later joined the famed Ashley expedition to the Rocky Mountains.  A natural leader, Fitzpatrick eventually teamed up with the legendary mountain man and fur trader, Jim Bridger, to found the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. 

          In March 1824, Fitzpatrick discovered South Pass in the Wyoming country, the geographic landmark on the continental divide that made it possible for him to lead the first expedition of settlers and missionaries over the Oregon Trail in 1836.  Later, he guided the expeditions of John C. Fremont and General Stephen Watts Kearney to California, Oregon, and New Mexico territories.  Other than his friend Pierre DeSmet, no white man enjoyed greater respect among the tribes of the high plains and the Mountain West than Fitzpatrick.  He became the Indian agent for the Platte River region in 1846, and was named co-commissioner, with David D. Mitchell, for the unprecedented gathering of western tribes at the Horse Creek treaty council in 1851.  Clidk here for more on Thomas Fitzpatrick





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