Teacher | Student
Originally produced in:
Also available in: en

1. Extract from the report presents the position and existence of settlers

The whole loads of the new population is divided into three classes remaining in the different lines or levels, marked by their habits, property and right character. The first class of men called the forest men, is the first line of the Indian peoples. These are, properly speaking, nomads. They do not cultivate the land and do not have another job apart from cruising among the forests and trading with wildlife nations. They often spend years among the deserts and have no permanent habitat. Hut covered with bark and supported on two poles, great fire built from the eastern side, a long blanket they use as a cover when going to rest, legs turned to the fire and head under the roof, (...) As soon as they perceive that the number of animals is reduced and that the population grows and there is the need to set up court - house, they move forty or fifty miles away, to look for , they say, more food resources and more freedom and they do not want to do with justice. (...) Forest people are followed by the first settlers, that is the second line. First settlers have many similarities to the forest men, however, they are more permanently settled, eat less food from hunting, breed cattle, clean pieces of land from roots, however always no larger than needed, and they lead a more settled way of life, a bit more carefully arrange their accommodation . Their sheds (...) are wider at the top than at the bottom, have slits everywhere, and sometimes tend to be surrounded by huge, twelve feet high palisades, they are made from trees not treated, among which the remaining empty spaces are clogged with clay mixed with chaff, roof is sometimes covered with bark or chips of wood, a chimney consists of stones arranged in a column at the end wall of the dwelling (...). It often happens that the wild people take vengeance on them and sometimes attack their headquarters. Then the American defends himself fiercely, his wife does not hesitate to take a gun in her hand, and standing at one of the slits, she still shoots it; (...) As long as the savages do not master by betrayal a similar house or are unable to set fire, their attack is almost always ineffective and the American remains invincible, but then he must stay for a whole month closed, for fear of being approached, until the gifts and agreements alleviate the anger of the savages and an alliance with them is concluded. The former nomads usually stay in one place for five or six years , later the entire population, always moving forwards, gives way to the so-called great - settlers, who constitute a third line, and are the real farmers, receive some reward from those who occupy their place, not as the value of the land, which to them almost never belong, but for work they have done there, and above all to preserve their friendship. The third class called great - settlers is made up of prosperous farmers of various state who have a big family and have gone into the country in search of a cheaper land, so that having more of it, they could give each child a separate settlement. But in relation to independence, which their small fortunes provided them , they are cautious and seeking safety for their families so they do not want to be very close to savages; (...) Because the great - settler takes possession of new lands , he soon demolishes the hut of his predecessor and in its place builts a decent house, a good piece of carpentry work ; he grubs great spaces, surrounds them with ditches, plants meadows and gardens, and lives in security, abundance and happiness.

Source: Podróż do Ameryki Północnej albo opisanie krajów zroszonych rzekami Missisipi, Ohio, Missouri i innymi do nich wpadającymi, z wiadomościami dokładnymi o kierunku i głębokości tych rzek, o miastach, wsiach, wioskach, osadach tej części świata, z dołączeniem uwag filozoficznych, politycznych, naukowych i handlowych oraz projektu linii granicznych i granic ogólnych przez śp. jenerała Collot byłego gubernatora Guadelupy, „Kolumb” 1828, No. 6, p. 284 – 288; quoted by: G. Chomicki, L. Śliwa, Wiek XIX. Teksty źródłowe. Tematy lekcji i zagadnienia do historii w szkole średniej, Cracow 2001, p. 84 – 86.


Victor Collot (1751 – 1805) – French officer who served in the corps that supported the United States in the war for independence in the years 1775 to 1783. In the years 1793 - 1794 he was the governor of Guadeloupe. In 1796, he traveled with a spying mission down the Mississippi River through Illinois, Ohio and Louisiana, during which he prepared the maps needed for any military action against France, Spanish, American forts. After completing the task, he returned to France, where he wrote a report with the maps and drawings. It was published in print only in 1826.


  1. Characterize lifestyle, living conditions and diet of different groups of settlers.
  2. What were the relations between the settlers and Indians?
  3. How often settlers changed their place of residence?
  4. What was the impact of the move of the successive waves of settlers on the environment?

Display teacher's view to find the answers.

Description and Analysis

  1. Victor Collot divided the settlers into three groups. The first group of settlers were forest men. They led a nomadic way of life and lived off collecting berries and hunting. They did not cultivate land. Their living conditions were also very modest. Their house was the roof covered with bark and wood supported on two stilts. At night they kindled fire and hid under the roof. Another group of settlers formed the first settlers. They led a more settled way of life. They lived off animal husbandry and cultivation of small pieces of land. Their homes were also of more robust design than forest men’s houses. They were built of tree trunks and clay. The roof was covered with bark, and the chimney was built of stones arranged in a column. The third group of settlers formed the so-called great – settlers, who lived off the land cultivation. Great - settlers usually had a large family and wanted to provide each of their childen with the living source , in search of larger and cheaper pieces of land they moved further into the country. They lived in solid houses, cleared the forests to cultivate fields and gardens.
  2. Indians frequently attacked the homes of settlers. Most settlers managed to repel the attack of Indians. The settlers and their wives and children put up brave resistance. Settler sometimes managed to bribe the Indians to give up attacking his home.
  3. Forest men often moved to another place as soon as there weren’t enough animals for hunting. First Settlers remained on the occupied territory for 5 - 6 years. Great-settlers led settled way of life.
  4. The settlers hunted animals in the place occupied by them and cleared the forests to obtain land to grow crops, which exerted a negative impact on the environment.

Geographical/Historical Context

Between 1775 – 1783 there was the War of Independence of the United States between the Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in North America. Under the Treaty of Paris signed in 1783 in Versailles, England recognized the independence of the thirteen colonies of North American. This treaty also granted them the territory west of the Appalachians to the Mississippi River. Then the colonization movement westwards began , which stopped on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. In 1803, the Union (the so-called United States) bought Louisiana from France. In 1819, the United States bought Florida from Spain, so the Americans gained access to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1846 the United States bought from the UK the territory of Oregon. In 1845, the Mexican territory of Texas was incorporated into the Union, which led to the Mexican – American conflict in 1846. The peace was concluded in 1848. Americans received Texas and the land between Texas and the Pacific (later the states of New Mexico, Arizona, California , Nevada, Utah). The treaty established the US border - the Mexican Rio Grande River. In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia. The main reason of the United States territorial expansion was the rapid population growth due to the influx of immigrants from Europe. After 1830 about 100 - 150 thousand people settled there a year. They fled from their homeland mainly because of religious and political persecution and poor economic conditions - unemployment and poverty.