By Dr. Charles Boewe Ph.D.
Initially released in 1962, this tale of the English cost in pioneer Illinois is compiled from the eyewitness debts of the individuals. The founders, Morris Birkbeck and George Flower, in addition to their affiliates and the numerous viewers to their prairie payment, wrote regularly for fast and occasionally debatable ends. Charles Boewe has chosen excerpts from letters, descriptions, diaries, histories, and periodicals inside a chronological framework to stress the implicit drama of the settlers' deeds as they looked for an appropriate web site, based their colony, and augmented their forces with new arrivals from England. No much less dramatic is the following estrangement of the 2 founders, the disillusionment of the various English settlers, the premature demise of Birkbeck, and the financial disaster of Flower.
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To Professor Robert E. Spiller and members of the special committee of the University of Pennsylvania awarded me a post-doctoral fellowship for 195658, I am indebted for the time and encouragement to begin the work of which this is a partial result. To my teacher, Professor Merle Curti of the University of Wisconsin, I am grateful for being made to see the significance of the frontier phase of the region of which I am myself a native. To Professor Sigmund Skard, director of the Amerikansk Institutt in Norway, I am indebted for many courtesies during the Fulbright year I spent there, where I finished this book.
Ii Both Birkbeck and Flower, markedly different in temperament, were men of unusual ability whose influence went far beyond their own small settlement, beyond the state of Illinois itself, and reached to some extent the nation at large. "No man, since Columbus, has done so much towards peopling America as Mr. Birkbeck, whose publications, and the authority of whose name, had effects truly prodigious," wrote the volatile William Faux, one of the early visitors to the settlement, and himself a harsh critic of all Birkbeck and Flower stood for.
And is it, thought I, to be a member of such a society that I have quitted England? Norfolk is fourteen miles from our anchorage off Cape Comfort; the pilot boat took us thither in sixty-five minutes, and was about the same time in returning. After dinner, we proceeded about twenty miles up James River towards City Point, which is our destination, about one hundred from its mouth and fifty below Richmond. The river with its edging of pines and cedars of various tints, which seem to grow out of the water so low is the Page 19 country, is grand and beautiful beyond all that I had conceived of American rivers.