Friday, April 28, 2006

James Wilkinson

Nothing that Zebulon Montgomery Pike ever tried to do was easy, and most of his luck was bad,” ~ Donald Jackson

Zebulon Montgomery Pike was born in New Jersey in 1779. Pike joined the U.S Army at the age of twenty. Pike soon became the protégé of James Wilkinson, the commanding general of the U.S Army. Wilkinson, one of American history’s worst scoundrels, was also secretly a double agent of Spain. Wilkinson gave Pike an assignment with orders to explore the Mississippi, purchase sites from American Indians for future military posts and bring back a few important chiefs back to St. Louis for talks.

Pikes second expedition included providing an escort for fifty one Osage Indians ransomed from the Potawatomi tribe and delegation of Pawnees, Osages and Otoa returning from a trip to see President Jefferson. Along the way he was to study and report on natural resources and subjects of scientific interest , as well as the Indian inhabitants in Southwestern Louisiana. He also became “lost and wandered” into Spanish controlled territory and would “unknowing” serve the needs of James Wilkinson and Aaron Burr.

During his expeditions Pike became fascinated by the blue peak in the Rocky mountains. He spent several days trying to reach the peak (which would later bear his name), but the lack of winter clothing and food eventually made him turn around. Pike along with his group became the first Europeans to complete high altitude ascent of a North American mountain.

Pike’s chance for personal glory came when war was declared on Great Britain in 1812. He was now a Brig. Gen. Pike and he led a successful attack on York, the capital of Upper Canada. Unfortunately Brig. Gen Pike did not have a long life, he died at age 34.

N Posted by Rain at 4/28/2006 11:38:00 AM


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