Richard Whitworth papers  [1765]-1836
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Richard Whitworth papers contain 32 documents, 7 letters, and 3 notes, bound by Richard Whitworth into an 80-page volume. The collection primarily concerns Jonathan Carver's and Richard Roberts' money-making ventures in North America, several of which they proposed while in England, and about which they consulted Whitworth during his tenure as a Member of Parliament.

The volume opens with four pages of accounts, written in an unknown hand and covering 1814-1815. They record transactions involving wheat, barley, peas, iron, and other items. Following this is a document entitled "An Account of the Situation, Trade and Number of Hunting Indians at Lake Pepin in the Mississippi, North America" (pp. 7-10), written by Carver to Whitworth in 1773. In it, Carver proposed the opening of a distillery near Lake Pepin (about 70 miles southeast of present-day Minneapolis) in order to sell rum and brandy to the local Native Americans, requiring an initial investment of £4000 and about 32 workers. He also described the activities and numbers of Native American hunters in the area, and gave a detailed description of the land, including terrain, trees, and opportunities for settlement by Europeans. The volume also contains two documents related to Carver's request to the King to grant him mining rights to large swaths of northeastern North America, in effect giving him a monopoly on precious metals produced in those areas. Included is a draft of his petition (p. 12), which gives the boundaries of the desired land and the specifics of the proposed agreement.

Other documents relate to the exploration for the Northwest Passage, and the attempts to secure payment for such an expedition, including one entitled "Memorandum for Mr. Whitworth," which proposed "rather an expedition by Water than otherwise," (p. 14); it provided many details of what Carver envisioned as a successful journey, including the types of men to hire, and supplies, pack animals, and weapons to bring. An additional document gives information on pay and the necessity of cooperation from the "Commanding Officers of Posts in the Interior part of the Country" (p. 22). Two printed copies of a petition from Rogers to the King (pp. 57-64), dated February 11, 1772, call the search for the Northwest Passage a "Great National Object," and claim that a small number of "Adventurers" could undertake such an endeavor for a "very moderate Sum." Also included is a document signed by Rogers, listing three pages of "Necessaries" for such an expedition (pp. 46-48), and a list of American tree seeds (p. 51).

Another highlight of the collection is a 1775 copy of a "land deed" fabricated by Carver, which he claimed documented a transfer of territory to him from the Naudowessie Indians in 1767. Oddly, the land purportedly granted, located in Wisconsin, belonged not to the Naudowessie, but rather to their enemies, the Ojibwe (Chippewa). The document includes the falsified pictographic signatures of "Hawnopawjatin" (turtle) and "Ottotongomlishea" (snake).

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