Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Thomas Duggan Journal, 1795-1801

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, April 2010

Summary Information
Title: Thomas Duggan journal
Creator: Duggan, Thomas, d. 1803
Inclusive dates: 1795-1801
Extent: 1 volume
Thomas Duggan managed the British Army's Indian Department storehouse at Fort Michilimackinac and St. Joseph Island with the 24th Regiment of Foot. In the journal, he detailed the outpost's interactions with Ojibwa (referred to as Chippewa in the journal), Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sioux, and Cherokee groups that came to the store for "presents" of food, arms, and supplies, from October 31, 1795 to September 6, 1801.
Language: The material is in English and French
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1949. M-731.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Thomas Duggan Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Thomas Duggan was a longtime service member of the British Army in Canada. He began his career in 1766 as an assistant to M. Chandler, a barracks master in Quebec. In 1792, Duggan was stationed in Detroit as a storekeeper and clerk in the Indian Department. He was next transferred to Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Michigan) and finally, in 1796, was stationed at St. Joseph Island with the 24th Regiment of Foot. Duggan built a house on the remote island, but in 1801, with his health failing, he requested to be transferred to a more comfortable post within the British military. In 1802, Duggan was court-martialed for defrauding several Native Americans of food and liquor, supplied by the British Indian Department. Relinquished of his duties, he remained on St. Joseph until his death on December 17, 1803.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Thomas Duggan journal is composed of 120 pages of journal entries and 23 pages of ledgers (128 blank pages), spanning from October 31, 1795 to September 6, 1801. Duggan, a storekeeper and clerk for the British Army’s 24th Regiment of Foot stationed at Fort Michilimackinac, wrote several entries per week, varying in length from a few sentences to 4 pages. Duggan discussed managing the store and detailed his outpost's interactions with the Native American groups that came to the store for "presents" of food, arms, and supplies. He recorded numerous tribes and Indian chiefs by name and the places from which they had traveled. The bulk of the interactions were with the Ojibwa tribe (referred to as Chippewa in the journal) and the Ottawa Indians, but Duggan also mentioned the Potawatomi, Sioux, and Cherokee. Indians traveled from Detroit, Milwaukee (Minowaukee), Thunder Bay, L'Arbre Croche (now Harbor Springs, Michigan), Saginaw, Beaver Island, Grand Traverse Bay, Mackinaw Island, Sault Sainte Marie, Lake Superior, and other locations around the Great Lakes.

The first entry noted the start of Duggan's post of storekeeper and clerk for the Indian Department. In the bulk of the entries, Duggan records information on the groups of Indians visiting the store and recounts their conversations and speeches. He frequently used paternalistic language in discussing the relationship between the British and the Indians, terms also found in his transcriptions of speeches given by Indians. The following excerpt is typical of such language that reinforces the idea of Indian dependency on the British: "Their great father [King George III] would never forsake them as long as they behaved as good Children" (p. 27). Duggan described British charity toward and protection of the Indians, and many entries include reports on the hardships and brutality of the region. Duggan also makes several notes on the Indians’ relations with Americans. In one instance, Duggan wrote about an American Council, during which the Americans threatened the Indians with violence if they did not "behave themselves" (p.22). "That if they stole nets or any thing else from the White people they should pay four times their Value and be imprisoned. That if they killed any One They should be tied by the neck and hung up like dogs[,] in short that They should suffer for the least injury they done to a White man..." (p.22).

Other notable entries include:

  • A copy of a "Commission for Indian Chiefs" from Quebec Governor Frederick Haldimand (p.6).
  • A translation of a speech by the Ottowa Chief [Mitamianu], addressed to their "Great Father" King George III, which includes a discussion of the relationship between the Indians, British, and Americans in the Michigan region (p.40-43).
  • News of a local conflict between the Nadowessies (Sioux) and the Ojibwa, which resulted in 45 Ojibwa and 5 Sioux fatalities (p.54).
  • A story from a white trader of Indians, suffering from starvation, who ate their two young children (p.71)

Duggan also noted regular contact with the British military in Detroit and throughout the Great Lakes region. He mentioned William Doyle, Deputy Adjutant-General in Canada, and transcribed a letter sent from Lieutenant Colonel Commandant D. Strong and British Agent of Indian Affairs Jacob Schieffelin, advising the Chippewa not to attack the Cherokee Nation, (p.73-75).

In the back of the journal is a ledger of accounts for trade of sugar, fur, clothing, and other goods, covering the period from 1787-1801. The last five tables document wampum, sugar, and caribou traded by the British at St. Joseph with the Ojibwe and Ottawa tribes. They list the names of the Indian traders. See Additional Descriptive Data for a list of goods traded to the Indians.

The volume holds one unbound letter, in French, from A. Joseph to Duggan (July 4, 1798). The letter concerns a shipment of porcelain and other goods to the outpost (letter is laid in at page 121).

Subject Terms

    • Beaver Island (Mich.)
    • Cherokee Indians.
    • Dakota Indians.
    • Detroit (Mich.)
    • Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.)
    • Fort Saint Joseph (Mich.)
    • Fort Saint Joseph Site (Ont.)--History.
    • Fur trade.
    • Grand Traverse Bay (Mich.)
    • Great Britain. Army. Regiment of Foot, 24th (2nd Warwickshire)
    • Great Britain. Army--Supplies and stores.
    • Haldimand, Frederick, Sir, 1718-1791.
    • Harbor Springs (Mich.)
    • Indians of North America--Commerce.
    • Indians of North America--Government relations--1787-1869.
    • Indians of North America--Great Lakes (North America)
    • Michigan, Lake.
    • Milwaukee (Wis.)
    • Native Americans.
    • Ojibwa Indians--History.
    • Ottawa Indians.
    • Potawatomi Indians.
    • Saint Joseph Island (Ont.)--History, Military.
    • Sault Sainte Marie (Mich.)
    • Schieffelin, Jacob, 1757-1835.
    • Sugar trade--Canada.
    • Sugar trade--Great Britain--Colonies.
    • Superior, Lake.
    • Thunder Bay Island (Mich.)
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    • Journals (accounts)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Thomas Duggan journal,  1795-1801 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    List of traded goods in the account ledger:

    • Awl blades
    • Ball shot
    • Bands: arms and wrist
    • Beads
    • Blankets
    • Black silk handkerchiefs
    • Bracelets
    • Bridles
    • Cloth:
      • Black
      • Blue
      • Cadies
      • Calicoes
      • Calimancos
      • Embossed Serge
      • Flannel
      • Linens
      • Molton
      • Ribbon
      • Scarlet
      • Scotch sheeting
      • Silk Fruits
      • Strand
      • Striped cotton
      • Thread
      • Tinsel lace
      • Vermillion
    • Combs: ivory and horn
    • Ear bobs
    • Feathers: cock and round
    • Fine Steel
    • Fish hooks
    • Fish lines and Cod lines
    • Flint
    • Gorgets
    • Guns
    • Gun locks
    • Gun powder
    • Gun worms
    • Hamburg lines
    • Hats: Laced and Plain
    • Hawk bells
    • Hoes
    • Iron
    • Kettles: copper, brass, tin
    • Knives
    • Ladles
    • Locks
    • Looking glasses
    • Medals
    • Needles
    • Pen knives
    • Pipes
    • Razors
    • Rifles
    • Scissors
    • Shirts
    • Shoes
    • Steel
    • Tobacco: rolls, carrots
    • Tomahawks ("tommyhawks")
    • Trunks
    • Wampum
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library's Michigan collection contains the following item related to Fort Michilimackinac: Alan C. Wilmont Bill of landing at Michilimackinac for a Batteau belonging to Robert Dickson (August 16, 1804)

    The Clements Library Map Division holds the following map made while Thomas Duggan was stationed at Fort Michilimackinac:

    Sterrett, James, Ebenezer Massey. Fort Michilimackinac, 1796.


    Abbott, John Roblin. The history of Fort St. Joseph. Toronto: Dundurn Group, 2000.

    Ogden, J. Cosens. A tour, through Upper and Lower Canada. Litchfield: Printed according to Act of Congress, 1799.