Voyageur Contract.

PERROT Nicolas (1689.)



Ms. in ink, signed by the two voyageurs and Nicolas Perrot (known to various Indian tribes as "Ironlegs"). 2pp. Folio. [Fort St. Pierre,] July 1688 and later August

A remarkable survival from the far west of French colonial America.


"Sr. Nicolas Perrot, Seigneur of the "Riviere du Loup", on one part and "Raphael Beauvais & Nicolas Gode of this island," on the other part signed by all three, and others outlining a two year expedition for fur trading with the conditions of their employment; their provisions and recompense. With a second paragraph in a different notarial hand dating from 1689 concluding the agreement signed again by Beauvais, but not by his partner.


One of the most extraordinary characters in the opening up of the west during the French colonial period, Perrot arrived in New France with the Jesuits in 1660 and formed a fur trading company in what is now Wisconsin seven years later. He'd taken advantage of the opportunity to learn the native languages and was engaged as a translator for the French commissary Daumont de Saint-Lusson, whose remit encompassed the territories of the Ottawas, Amikwas, Illinois, and other Indian natives to be discovered in the direction of Lake Superior. In this role, Perrot continued to trade furs and received a land grant near Quebec.


"As French commandant in the region of (present) Wisconsin Perrot undertook expeditions to the upper Mississippi. Cold weather and frost, which broke his canoes, prevented his return to Sioux country so Perrot and his companions built a wintering post at the foot of a mountain, behind which was a great prairie abounding in wild beasts." The site was near the present town of Trempealeau located about twenty miles north of La Crosse along the Mississippi River" (Howgego).


His reputation rests largely on his involvement in Indian affairs. In 1684, he brokered a peace treaty between several Indian nations and the Governor's army. A year later he was made Commandant-in-Chief of Bais Des Puants and had some success in establishing peace between the warring Fox, Sioux and Chippewa tribes. In 1687, Perrot acted as an interpreter for the treat between the Governor and Otreouti, the Onondaga chief, who promised the neutrality of the Onondagas, Cayugas, and Oneidas. He was also responsible for French claims on the unmapped wildneress west of the Great Lakes.


At the time of this document, Perrot was engaged in building Fort Saint-Pierre at the mouth of the Wisconsin River. He was one the most important figures of this period. His activities as an explorer, diplomat and trader were vital in promoting peace throughout New France.


Perrot is also of particular interest as he is one of the very few early pioneers to have left a written record of his exploits. It was not published until 1864 Memoires sur les moeurs, coustumes et relligion des sauvages de L'Amérique Septentrionale.

Stock Code: 206700

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