Michigan Gov. Lewis Cass and geologist Henry Schoolcraft were among those who participated in the first major American expedition to explore the Upper Peninsula, which began on May 24, 1820.
People in the eastern part of the continent weren’t interested in moving to Michigan, because they’d heard reports of an unhealthy climate and poor soil quality. Cass wanted to make sure Michigan turned its reputation around, so he’d asked the federal government for permission to survey the area’s natural resources and relations with American Indians.
Also in the group, which traveled in three canoes, were 10 soldiers, two interpreters, a doctor, nine American Indians, a reporter, a geographer and a private secretary, according to Willis Dunbar’s book “Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State”.
Stops included Mackinac Island, where another 23 soldiers joined them; Sault Ste. Marie, where Cass angrily tore down a British flag flying over an Indian camp where a chief in a British redcoat uniform was in charge; what is today known as the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, and the Ontonagon River.
Part of the group made it to Wisconsin, while the rest went to Ft. Dearborn, which is where modern-day Chicago is. Another split had one contingent, including Schoolcraft, returning to Detroit via lakes Michigan and Huron, and the other, including Cass, riding horses along the Old Sauk Trail in southern Michigan to Detroit.
Cass’ plan to get Michigan good public relations worked, plus it was on this trip that Schoolcraft’s lifelong fascination with American Indians began. He became a leading ethnologist.
Source : Zlati Meyer, “Cass, Schoolcraft in 1st major U.S. expedition to U.P.”, Detroit Free Press, May 23, 2015.