previous next

[192] Travels of Carver (1778), the Travels of William Bartram (1791), and the Letters from an American Farmer of Crevecoeur (1782).

The dubious personal history of Carver, and questions as to the authenticity of his book, will excuse the introduction of certain details in his biography. Jonathan Carver, the ostensible author of Travels through the interior parts of North America in the years 1766, 1767, and 1768, was not the great-grandson of the first colonial Governor of Connecticut, but was probably born in humble circumstances at Canterbury in that state. In 1746 he married Abigail Robbins, by whom he had seven children; he later contracted a bigamous marriage in England. The extent of his education has been disputed; but he seems to have had some knowledge of surveying and map-making, with perhaps a smattering of medicine. His title-page calls him “J. Carver, Esq., Captain of a Company of Provincial Troops during the Late War with France” ; and he probably was captured with Burk's company of rangers in 1757, when he was “wounded in his Leg at the bloody Massacree of the unhappy Garrison of Fort William Henry at Lake George.” The war over, he says he began to think of exploring the most unknown parts of England's new territory. In the opinion of a severe critic, Professor Edward G. Bourne, Carver's actual journey was limited to this: he went from Boston to Michilimackinac, thence by way of the Fox River and the Wisconsin to the Mississippi, and thence up the Minnesota; returning, he explored northern Wisconsin and the northern shore of Lake Superior. Failing in Boston to publish an account of his discoveries, in 1769 he went to England with a project for further exploration in the North-west. The pecuniary aid accorded him as a needy person by the Government would argue some recognition of his services. He evidently enlisted the sympathy of Dr. Lettsom and others who took an interest in his schemes, and, like many another, no doubt received help with the manuscript before his Travels were published in 1778. But he failed in his main endeavour, and is said to have “died in misery, in 1780, at the age of 48.”

His book instantly became popular, and it so remained, as twenty-three editions and translations bear witness. The author or compiler, whoever he was, understood the public, was a man of some imagination, and knew how to combine

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jonathan Carver (4)
Abigail Robbins (1)
Lettsom (1)
Jean De Crevecoeur (1)
J. Carver (1)
John Burk (1)
Edward G. Bourne (1)
William Bartram (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1778 AD (2)
1791 AD (1)
1782 AD (1)
1780 AD (1)
1769 AD (1)
1768 AD (1)
1767 AD (1)
1766 AD (1)
1757 AD (1)
1746 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: