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The Man with the Iron Hand. E-book

The Man with the Iron Hand. E-book

di John Carl Parish


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Editor: Benjamin F. Shambaugh

The purpose of this book is to present in readable narrative form, yet with strict accuracy, some of the events which attended the coming of the French explorers into the Mississippi Valley, and to deal with these events as much as possible from the standpoint of the Indians whose country the white men entered. In other words, an effort has been made to place the reader in the position and environment of the native inhabitants in order that he may witness the coming of the whites through the eyes and minds of the Indians instead of viewing from the outside the exploration, by men of his own kind, of an unknown land peopled by a strange and vaguely understood race.

For the sake of preserving the standpoint of the Great Valley, the story of explorations is centered about Henry de Tonty—the “Man with the Iron Hand”—who, unlike his leader La Salle, remained in the valley of the Mississippi and in close relations with its inhabitants for a quarter of a century.

This book is not in any sense fiction. It has been written directly from the original sources and from the best information available upon the life of the Indian at the time of the arrival of the whites. The sources consist mainly of the letters and relations of Father Marquette and other Jesuits, of Joliet and La Salle and Tonty, and the writings of the various friars, priests, and soldiers who accompanied them. A few fragments are accessible in manuscript form only; but the most important material has been compiled, edited, and published by Pierre Margry, John Gilmary Shea, B. F. French, Reuben Gold Thwaites, and others.

Where conversations are given they have been taken from the reports of those who held them or heard them. Usually they have been translated literally from the French records. Sometimes the direct discourse has been turned into indirect, or abridged, and in a few cases the indirect has been turned into the direct form.

The writings of the early explorers and priests abound in descriptive details of a climatic, physical, or personal nature; and this information, wherever illuminative, has been drawn upon to reproduce as vividly and as truly as possible the conditions surrounding the events described.

There is one secondary writer who will always deserve the gratitude of the student of subjects connected with the French and Indians in Canada and the Mississippi Valley, and acknowledgments are here made to Francis Parkman, not as a source of information—although his conclusions, drawn from an exhaustive study of original documents, are invaluable—but as a pioneer and unrivaled master in the field and a source of unfailing inspiration.

There are many persons who have aided the work in various ways, and their assistance has been duly appreciated; but space will permit the mention of only two of them. The helpful criticism and suggestions of my wife throughout the entire preparation of the volume have materially benefited the text; and the constant advice and encouragement of the editor of the series, Dr. Benjamin F. Shambaugh, and his careful editorial revision of the manuscript have added much to the value of the book.


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