Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian by Jennifer S. H. Brown

By Jennifer S. H. Brown

The North American fur alternate of the eighteenth and 19th centuries was once a vividly complicated and altering social international. Strangers in Blood fills a huge hole in fur exchange literature via systematically studying the investors as a bunch -- their backgrounds, social styles, household lives and households, and the issues in their offspring.

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Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

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Example text

As a result, no colonization was attempted until Lord Selkirk won company support for the settlement of Red River in 1811, and even that project was strictly circumscribed and regulated so that it would not interfere with the fur trade. Although the company did not send colonists to Hudson Bay, there were three other options available for occupying its chartered lands; and these were pursued with varying degrees of seriousness and success in the early years. The first, and earliest one used, was a kind of "maritime transhumance" whereby ships sailed to the Bay each spring to trade with the Indians and departed before the early winter ice closed in.

But much evidence, early and late, from the fur trade and from Britain, suggests that the Bay posts developed semi-independently over the years following an older British organizational form that was neither military nor monastic. The company post took shape as a large-scale "household," a unit of social and economic organization basic to seventeenth-century English society (Laslett 1965). As an organizational mode well known to both traders and company directors of the late 1600s and early 1700s, the household provided an implicit model for structuring Bay posts and, as such, could readily have been imported to the Bay by traders arriving not as social planners but simply as carriers of British social patterns and values.

In the same period in which the directors were confronted with deciding whether to allow officers' wives to the Bay, they were discovering that their married men's families, even remaining in Britain, could become burdensome. On several occasions, for example, the committee minutes of the early years recorded the petitions of wives asking that their husbands be sent home from the Bay (Rich 1945, I: xxxiv, 55, 170, 212). These requests were generally granted if the men themselves wished to return; the committee doubtless wished to avoid both the lowering of morale among Bay employees and the responsibility for aggravating their domestic problems.

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