[Prairie du Chien, Wi.]. Sept. 25, 1833. pp. on folded letter sheet, 8 x 10 inches, with text on recto, docketed on verso of second sheet. Old fold lines. Nearly split at main fold, smaller splits on secondary folds with no loss of text. Very good. Item #WRCAM29970
In this letter H.L. Dousman, an agent for the fur trading Upper Mississippi Outfit, appeals to Pierre Chouteau, Jr. of the American Fur Company for assistance in collecting debts owed by the U.S. Army, which had purchased supplies to use in the Black Hawk War the previous year. The Upper Mississippi Outfit was a successor of the Columbia Fur Company and worked with the American Fur Company in a loose alliance. Dousman explains that a Captain Palmer purchased a good amount of horses, saddles, and other supplies from traders in the Outfit. Included in the letter is a list of the names of nineteen claimants, mostly with French names, and the amounts they are owed, totaling $2582. Dousman, no doubt feeling pressure from his trappers, asks Chouteau to do what he can to secure payment. Pierre Chouteau, Jr. was arguably the most powerful agent of the American Fur Company working in the field, and certainly had a reputation for being able to get things done. Chittenden praises his "rare quality of turning to pecuniary profit whatever he touched" and says, "his code of business morals was sufficiently elastic to fit the situation with which he had to deal." Chittenden describes Chouteau's penchant for meticulously preserving his correspondence in neat packages, and this stray letter is doubtless a rarity on the market. Chittenden, AMERICAN FUR TRADE OF THE FAR WEST, pp.381-83.