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for present information, and possess only the value of a past year's almanac; the fate necessarily of books of mere details.
The country of which the present volume treats is one of great interest intrinsically, and especially at this time when two new sovereignties are about to be established within its limits. And the object of the writer has been, to put together some notes upon it, in such form as will be interesting to persons seeking general information in relation to the United States, and of such a kind as will be more permanent than the usual chapters of detail.
The physical geography of a country will, of course, remain unchanged, while the descriptions of towns given to-day will hardly apply to the same place when the earth shall come again to the same place in its orbit.
The same is true of the history of a country. What has transpired will not be effaced by a new page, but what is once written will remain.
The other portions of the work are not of so permanent a nature, yet a considerable portion of the remaining three parts will not very soon become obsolete. The population and municipalities, the state of society, and the pursuits of the people, will undergo modifications. They are, however, made to occupy a subordinate place in the work.
The physical description of the country has been drawn almost exclusively from two sources : the writer's own observation, and the very excellent and graphic report of Mr. Nicollet to the Topographical Bureau of the War Department of the United States : from which, being the only published description of a considerable portion of this country,
narrated in very animated style, large extracts have been transcribed literally, as better than a reproduction in new shape.
The history has been collected from a variety of sources : some of them of undoubted authenticity. Some of the older relations, however, to which resort must be had to ascertain the early events connected with the discovery of the country, are not to be received without caution. The practice among the French of publishing books in names of other persons, not the authors of them, has thrown doubts over some of its story. M. Tonti disclaimed the authorship of the volume published in his name; and it is probable the same liberty may have been taken with others.
Parts III. and IV. are principally the result of the writer's observation, aided in some particulars by Mr. Wetmore's Gazetteer of Missouri, by a contribution of a gentleman of Wisconsin, and by some few public documents.
The reports of Mr. Owen and Nicollet, being very full and correct on the geology of this region, large extracts from them have been transcribed in the Appendix, and that part of the volume consists of little else than extracts from these reports and Mr. Keating's descriptions. These form the most complete and satisfactory account of the geology of the district that can be furnished; and it was thought best to insert them literally. On that account this has been placed in the Appendix, though the subject would make it more appropriate to the body of the work. In the Appendix also is a very curious and interesting extract from Mr. Owen's Report, giving a minute description of some earth work monuments in Wisconsin. These two portions of the Appendix consist of matter suitable to the body of the work :—and to many readers will have more interest than I dare to hope for the original matter. The only reason for placing them in the Appendix is that they are not original matter. This will be a sufficient apology to most readers
. for the length of the Appendix.
The design of the work is to make an instructive volume for the library—and at the same time, though not strictly a guide, yet more useful to the emigrant than a book of mere details can be, by imparting to him those general ideas of the country which will be always of no less value than a knowledge of minute particulars in relation to certain places.