A Narrative of Occurrences in the Indian Countries of North America,
WILCOCKE Samuel Hull (1817.)
£1750.00 [First Edition]
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THE HARMSWORTH-STREETER COPY
since the connexion of the Right Hon. the Earl of Selkirk with the Hudson's Bay Company, and his attempt to establish a colony on the Red River, with a detailed account of his Lordship's Military Expedition to, and Subsequent Proceedings at Fort William, in Upper Canada.
First edition. 8vo. Original printed paper wrappers. Minor repairs to spine, ink signature to front wrapper, lightly soiled. Pages untrimmed. Contemporary ownership inscription John Hamilton in ink to title page. In a red buckram covered custom drop back box, gilt title. Very good. xiv, 152, , 87pp. London, Egerton, Nornaville & Fell, & Richardson,
The Harmsworth-Streeter copy of this rare and important work of Canadiana. This pamphlet presents a brief outline of the establishment and growth of the Selkirk Colony from 1812, and attempts to defend and justify the North West Company's actions as the natural consequence of the encroachments, hostilities, and provocations of Lord Selkirk and the Hudson's Bay Company.
Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl Selkirk (1771-1820) was a Scottish peer and philanthropist with a vision to found a Scots colony in North America. Seeing emigration as a solution to the widespread poverty amongst Scottish agrarian classes following the Highland Clearances, he spent many years negotiating a deal with the Hudson's Bay Company, culminating in the Selkirk Concession of 1811, which granted him 120,000 square miles of land around the Red River region south of Lake Winnipeg. This land was intended for use as an agricultural colony, advantaging the Hudson's Bay Company by supplying their own trading posts with a more sustainable source of produce than their current system of importing goods from Britain.
The arriving settlers were unprepared and under-provisioned, and their presence immediately raised the hackles of the North West Company. In 1815 the first major act of aggression was made against the settlers with the burning of Fort Douglas. There was retaliation from the Red River community, which saw Governor Robert Semple killed alongside twenty others in the Battle of Seven Oaks. Lord Selkirk arrived in the colony at this time, and gathered his own private army, with whom he captured the North West Company's Fort William and took several hostages.
The legitimacy and legality of these series of actions was severely hashed out in print. The first publication, by Lord Selkirk himself was The Sketch of the Fur Trade in North America. The present title is essentially the North West Company's hurried rejoinder, refuting Selkirk's claims and alleging that he used the unfortunate death of Governor Semple to his own ends. Selkirk had also accused the North West Company of "encouraging the use of spiritous liquors amongst the Indian Tribes", a claim which this text vehemently denies.
Although sometimes attributed to Simon McGillivary and Edward Ellice the elder, the work was probably prepared by Samuel Hull Wilcocke, "a hack-writer in the employ of the North-West Company" (TPL). The pamphlet was issued under the direction of the London representatives of the North West Company to counter charges of unwarranted aggression and destruction of the Selkirk settlement on the Red River, levelled against them by John Halkett in his Statement Respecting The Earl Of Selkirk's Settlement (1817).
"An important work relating to the foundation of Winnipeg" - Harmsworth.
"This narrative is the rejoinder of the Northwest Fur Company, covering pp.1 to 152. The Appendix which follows, paged separately 1 to 87, is composed of affidavits of the traders, of Indian speeches, etc" (Field).
Field, 1117; Gagnon II: 1948; Harmsworth, 6362 (this copy); Lande, 1313; Peel, 50; Sabin 20699; Streeter Sale 3675, (this copy).
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