St. Louis Missouri Fur Company


Contract to Convey the Mandan Chief to His Home

A transcription of this contract was published in an appendix to James, Thomas, 1782-1847. Three years among the Indians and Mexicans , by General Thomas James. Edited with notes and biographical sketches, by Walter B. Douglas. St. Louis, Missouri Historical Society, 1916.


Contract to Convey the Mandan Chief to His Home

Articles of Agreement Made and Indented at the Town of Saint Louis in the Territory of Louisiana the Twenty fourth day of February in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Nine by and between His Excellency Meriwether Lewis Governor of the said Territory of Louisiana, and Superintendent of Indian affairs within the same, for and on behalf of the United States of America, on the one part, and the Undersigned members of and belonging to the Saint Louis Missouri Fur Company of the other part.

Witnesseth, that the said Company for and in consideration of the articles, stipulations and conditions hereinafter contained on the part of the said Meriwether Lewis, have covenanted and agreed, and do hereby covenant and agree to and with the said Lewis, his successor in office, heirs, Executors, and Assigns, to and for the sole use behoof and benefit of the said United States, as follows, To-wit.

First.--To Engage and raise one Hundred and Twenty five effective men (of whom Forty shall be Americans and expert Rifle men) who together shall form a body of Militia of this Territory, and act in a Military capacity, on an expedition from the said Town of Saint Louis, to the Mandan Villages, on the River Missouri, for the safe conveyance and delivery of the Mandan Chief his Wife and Child, to the Mandan nation. The members of which body thus raised for the purpose aforesaid shall be approved by the Governor of this Territory.

Second.--The said Company shall furnish the said detachment for the aforesaid expedition, with good and suitable Fire arms, of which Fifty at least shall be Rifles, and a sufficient quantity of good ammunition, the quantity and quality of all which shall be approved by the Governor of this Territory.

Third.--The command of the said detachment shall be given to Peter Choteau, the United States Agent for the Osage nation of Indians (who will be specially commissioned and instructed by the Governor for that purpose) until the said expedition shall arrive at the Mandan nation or Villages, and at that place or the last of them, the military functions of the said Choteau, and the officers appointed under him for this service shall cease and expire.

Fourth.--The said Company shall provide comfortable, and suitable accommodations on board of Covered Barges, for the said Mandan Chief, his Wife and Child, and for Jesson (the Interpreter) his Wife and child, and shall furnish them and each of them with a sufficiency of Good and Wholesome Provisions for their and each of their consumption, from the day of their embarkation, until their arrival at the Mandan nation--the said accommodations in this article mentioned, to be approved by the Governor of this Territory.

Fifth.--The said Company shall also provide and furnish accommodations in some of their Barges or Boats, for Two other Interpreters, and transport them therein as far as the said Peter Choteau Agent as aforesaid shall direct, and shall also furnish them with a sufficiency of good and wholesome provisions for their consumption, so long as they shall continue with the said Company. The said accommodations to be approved of, and the Interpreters to be such as shall be for that purpose selected by the Governor aforesaid.

Sixth.--The said Company shall safely deliver the said Mandan Chief, his wife and Child, Jesson (the Interpreter) his Wife and Child, at the said Mandan Village, as soon as practicable after the departure of the said intended Expedition from Saint Louis, and shall defend them from all War like and other attacks, by force of arms, and every other means to the extent of their power, and at the risque of the lives of the said detachment, and shall moreover use and employ their and each of their diligent exertions for the health, preservation and safety of the said Mandan Chief, his Wife and Child, Jesson (the Interpreter) his Wife and Child, and for preventing of any accidents to them, each and all of them --and if unfortunately, the said Mandan Chief, his Wife and Child, Jesson (the Interpreter) his Wife and Child, or all or either of them, should by any unavoidable accident or the death of all or either of them be fail to beprevented from being transported to the said Mandan Village, not by reason or through the fault, neglect, omission, want of care, or want of defence on the part of the said Company and detachment, the same being sufficiently proven to the Government of the United States, or to the particular officer or person charged and authorized to that effect, then the said sum of Seven thousand dollars herein after mentioned, shall be fully paid as is herein stipulated. If, on the contrary, the said Mandan Chief, his Wife and Child, Jesson his Wife and Child, should not be by the said Company safely delivered at the Mandan Nation or Village through the fault, omission, neglect or want of defence on the part of the said detachment, then the said Company shall not be entitled to the sum of Seven thousand dollars herein after covenanted to be paid nor any part thereof; and all sum or sums of money by the said Lewis advanced to the said company by reason of this agreement, shall in the latter case, be by the said Company refunded and paid to the said Lewis, his successor in office, heirs, executors or assigns, on request--for the use and benefit of the United States.

Seventh.--The said Company shall cause the said Expedition, and detachment to Embark and Start from Saint Louis aforesaid, on or before the Twentieth day of April next, and to proceed with all convenient and necessary speed to the place of destination-- and in case of any unforeseen accident, proventing the same before or on that day then the said expedition, shall without any pretense of delay whatsoever embark, start and proceed as aforesaid, on or before the Tenth day of May then next, under the penalty for default thereof of paying to the said Lewis, his successor in office, Heirs, Executors or Assigns, to and for the sole use behoof and benefit of the said United States, the sum of three thousand dollars; lawful money of the United States.

Eighth--The said Company shall safely convey such Goods, Wares Merchandizes Articles and Utensils as the Governor of the Territory shall deem necessary to send as Presents to the Indians up the Missouri, either by the said Agent Peter Chouteau, or by the said Mandan Chief.

Ninth.--The said Company shall immediately after the safe arrival at the Mandan Village of the said Mandan Chief his Wife and Child, the said Jesson, his Wife and Child dispatch a Messenger to the Governor of this Territory, with a written report giving him information thereof.

And the said Meriwether Lewis, for and on behalf of the said United States, and for and in consideration of the articles, conditions, stipulations and covenants herein before contained on the part of the said members of the Saint Louis Missouri Fur Company, doth hereby promise and covenant to and with the said Company their Heirs & Assigns as follows, To-wit--

First.--To pay to the said Company, their assigns, certain attorney or attorneys or to their authorized agent the sum of Seven thousand dollars lawful money of the United States, the one moiety or half part thereof on the request of the said Company, or a majority of the members thereof after the said detachment is fully formed, completed, armed, furnished and equipped to the approbation of the Governor of this Territory, and the remaining moiety, or half part, when information as aforesaid shall have been received from the said Company by the said Governor, that the stipulations and covenants herein before contained on the part of said Company have been fully, completely and bona fide performed and fulfilled.

Second.--The said Lewis shall not before the last day fixed herein for the departure of said expedition, authorize License or permit any other person or persons to ascend the Missouri any higher or further up said River than the mouth of the River La Platte, for the purpose of Trading with the Indians. Nor permit any party accompanying the said detachment or any other party, to ascend the River, go before or in advance of the said detachment commanded by said Choteau from the mouth of the said River La Platte, to the Mandan Village.

And it is further mutually understood, agreed and covenanted by and between the parties aforesaid, that in the absence of the Governor of this Territory, the direction and approbation of General William Clarke of Saint Louis in all matters and things in which the direction and approbation of the said Governor is required in this agreement, shall be as good, effectual and binding on the parties aforesaid, as if the same were given by the said Governor of this Territory personally.

For the true and faithful performance of each and every of the Conditions, Covenants, and Stipulations, herein before contained the said parties respectively, do hereby jointly and severally bind themselves, their Heirs, Excecutors, Administrators and Assigns each to the other in the penal sum of Ten thousand dollars lawful money of the United States.

In Witness Whereof the parties aforesaid have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and Seals, the day and Year and place first before written.

Signed sealed and delivered in presence of - - -

Wm. Clark
E. Hempstead

Meriwether Lewis
Pre Chouteau
Manuel Lisa
Wm Morrison
Ben Wilkinson
A. P. Chouteau

(Eight wafer and paper seals attached along right margin)