First Reaction Paper
The unique terrain of Michigan, particularly the terrain of the Upper Peninsula made traversing the land very challenging for explorers, traders, and geologists alike. The expeditions of Lewis Cass, Charles Fenno Hoffman, and Alexis de Tocqueville illustrate in their chronicles the unique landscape of Michigan and the hardships they endured to explore and settle the harsh terrain.
The obstacles of settling the Michigan wilderness came not only from its rugged terrain but also from the persistent threat of attacks by Native Americans. Tecumseh’s Confederacy was at the heart of these attacks which persisted from the early settlement of the Ohio Valley after its cession to the United States from Britain in 1783 to the end of the Confederacy which came at the death of Shawnee War Chief Tecumseh in 1813 at the Battle of the Thames. This event greatly diminished the number of attacks on European settler s by Native Americans on the frontier. This minimization of the threat of Native Americans caused a significant increase in the settlement and exploration of the Michigan wilderness.
The records of Alexis de Tocqueville from his 1831 summer expedition show how his preconceived notions and expectations of Michigan were far from accurate. From the in climate weather conditions on these fresh water lakes and the immense forests, Tocqueville both immensely enjoyed the beauty and uniqueness of the landscape as well as respected the challenges it posed. “A strong breeze was blowing from the northwest and gave the waters of Lake Erie the very look of the waves of a stormy ocean. To the right stretched a limitless horizon. To the left we hugged the southern shores of the lake so close that we often came within earshot of it. These shores were perfectly level and different from those of all the lakes I have ever chanced to visit in Europe. Neither were they any more like the shores of the sea. Immense forests shaded them and formed round the lake as...