Stephen Morse’s 1822 Tour into Canada

Conceiving that it was within the spirit and meaning of my commission, and that it might, in various ways, aid essentially the accomplishment of the grand object of the Government in respect to the Indians, I left home on the 4th of July 1821, with a view to visit both the Canadas, and to ascertain the feelings and views of the Governors and principal men in those provinces, on the subject of the civilization and moral and religious improvement of the Indians, within their respective jurisdictions, and whether their cooperation, in such manner as they should deem proper, might be expected. 1 I proceeded by way of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Town, to York, the seat of the government of Upper Canada, where I arrived the 3d of August; and the same day had a very full and satisfactory conversation with His Excellency, Sir Peregrine Maitland, on the subject of my visit, the result of which will be found in the following letter, which I had the honor to address to you from Niagara.

August 5th, 1821.

Dear Sir,

I have just returned to this place from a visit to His Excellency Peregrine Maitland, Governor of Upper Canada, at York. He received me with much civility, in a manner respectful to the Government under whose commission I had been acting; heard my communications with an attention, which indicated deep interest in them; communicated, in turn, what had been done, and was now doing, for the Indians in this Province; expressed in strong terms his approbation of what was doing in the U. States, for the benefit of our Indians; rejoiced very sincerely in our success, and manifested his readiness to co-operate with us in all suitable ways and measures practicable for the accomplishment of the great and common object in view, the complete civilization of the Indians. A plan of future proceeding in this business was proposed by him, to which I gave my ready assent. 2 He will confer with Governor Dalhousie, now on a tour in the western part of this province, on this subject, and of whose approbation of the benevolent design, of doing good to the Indians, he entertains no doubt.

I have conversed also with the Hon. and Rev. Dr. Strachan, and other gentlemen of York; and with the Hon. William Claus, Deputy Inspector General of Indian Affairs, in Upper Canada, and a considerable number of other respectable gentlemen in Niagara, on this business, and by all am assured of their warm approbation of it, and have their promises of cordial support.

A foundation, I trust, is thus laid for future intercourse and cooperation between the Governments, and respectable and influential individuals in these Provinces, and our own Government and individuals connected with it, which will tend to harmonize and strengthen the efforts which shall in future be made, each within their respective jurisdictions, to raise the long neglected native tribes, whom the Providence of God has placed under our care, as Christian nations, from their present state of ignorance and wretchedness, to the enjoyment, with us, of all the blessings of civilization, and of our holy religion. In all events, I shall never regret, that I have made this visit and effort to accomplish an object obviously good, and of deep importance. The gratifications I have enjoyed in the polite and favorable manner in which my communications were received, as well as in other respects, are an abundant reward for all the fatigues and privations I have endured in so long a tour, in so hot a season, and far away from my family. I am, dear Sir, with high consideration and esteem,

Your obedient Servant,
Hon. John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War.Citations:

  1. A summary Journal of this Tour is given in the Appendix K.[]
  2. The plan suggested was, that a correspondence should be opened and continued between the Honourable and Reverend Dr. Stuart of Lower Canada and myself on the subject at large, under his, the Governor’s sanction, and that in this form he would most cheerfully give the business his influence. A letter, accordingly, introducing and opening the subject, has been forwarded to Dr. Stuart.

    The absence of Governor Dalhousie, prevented my going, as I had intended, to Montreal and Quebec, and of course my ascertaining from personal conversation, the feelings and opinions of a number of respectable gentlemen in those places, particularly Chiel Justice Sewall, and Sir William Johnson, Bart. Inspector General of Indian Affairs, to whom 1 had letters of introduction. These letters have been since forwarded, with letters explaining fully the design of my intended visit to them. Their answers have not yet been received.[]


Morse, Rev. Jedidiah. A Report to the Secretary of War of the United States on Indian Affairs, Printed by S. Converse, 1822.

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