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There must have been something especially winning and trustworthy in the personality of this historical pilgrim, which obtained for him the confidence and affection of all classes in the communities he visited. Seldom did he meet with rebuff or harsh treatment; friendly faces greeted him and kindly hearts entertained him in the rich homes of the planters or the rude cabins of the poor. His deference to the aged, his sympathy with misfortune, his singleness of purpose, won him a welcome and often life-long friends. In the intervals of his pilgrimages he carried on an immense correspondence, continuing in his letters the same methods he had adopted in his interviews. His papers abound with questionnaires skillfully worked out to elucidate some especial portion of a hero's career, or to recover some forgotten episode of border interest. The same method was applied to topography; dozens of letters to local settlers were written to discover where the old pioneer trails led over the mountains, by what exact route George Rogers Clark crossed the prairies of Illinois. To a cursory eye much of the material in the Draper manuscript collection seems irrelevant, unimportant, and valueless. Closer knowledge of its character corrects such impression. Not a letter was written but was aimed directly at some point important to a complete knowledge of the vicinity or of the man; even the replies, while frequently discursive and garrulous, contain somewhere the precious nugget of information which fits into the need of the historical narrative and gives accuracy and precision to its texture.

It was not long before echoes of the work of this new adventurer into historic fields reached the ears of the older and more established workers. From the first, Draper was accepted as a comrade by such historians as Jared Sparks, William H. Prescott, George Bancroft, and Benjamin Lossing, leaders of the historical forces of their generation. These experienced men recognized the quality of Draper's

ability. His field being unique, and almost unrecognized on the historical horizon, there was no jealousy of his achievements; only on the part of some scholars a slight wonder at his choice of so unpromising a field to cultivate. To their minds the obscure skirmishes on the frontier were of little value, the frontiersmen a wild, rough race of small importance. Draper's investigations bore little relation to the course of American history as then conceived. It was not, indeed, until a generation later, when the Mississippi Valley began to play a leading rôle in American politics, that its beginnings became interesting to the majority of American historians.

Draper's relations with Francis Parkman, the historian of the French régime in the West, were cordial and complementary. Parkman was one of the first to appreciate the importance and the value of the work Draper was accomplishing. He wrote to him in the tone of a tyro to a master, asking his advice and exchanging with him documents of importance. While Parkman was writing the Conspiracy of Pontiac, he frequently appealed to Draper for information. Although not himself a French scholar, Draper was alert to the interest of Parkman's work, and they collaborated for many years. Draper also appreciated the value of Spanish sources and obtained what he might of transcripts from such archives. His unique opportunity, however, was the Anglo-American West, the field of individual effort, of personal initiative unrecorded in archives, or public documents, to be sought only in personal papers and survivors' memories, to be recovered only with the utmost diligence and industry.

While Sparks and Bancroft were exploiting the resources of the British Public Record Office, and Parkman was having copied thousands of papers from the French archives, Draper was wandering through the West on his quest, traveling hundreds of miles on foot, horseback, or stage

coach, often footsore and weary, disappointed, or disheartened. Frequently he would reach a goal only to find the pioneer he sought was dead; often to find the papers he eagerly hoped to acquire had been carelessly destroyed or devoured by fire. A successful interview, or the recovery of some unexpected papers would revive his spirits and set him forth upon a further quest.

It would be useless enumeration to recount the journeys he undertook or the parts of the West he visited. These may be traced in his notebooks and letters. He himself, in 1875, summarized his undertakings as follows: “My collections are the systematic result of over forty years' labors and 60,000 miles of journeyings the fullest and best collection I will venture to say ever collected on the Anglo-American history of the West."

Even after the coming to Wisconsin and assuming the care of the Historical Society, Draper continued for many years his occasional journeys and his constant correspondence with pioneer descendants; however, the bulk of his manuscript collection was made in the early days of his career. During the first decade of his journeyings he obtained the Preston, Fleming, Clark, Croghan, Martin, Campbell, Sevier, Henderson, Shelby, and Blount papers, chief sources for the knowledge of the winning of the West, the basis of the history of the Mississippi Valley as an American possession. Does anyone seriously believe that but for Draper's efforts these papers would now be preserved and available for American scholars?

It has sometimes been offered as a reproach that Draper did not keep his promises to his friends the pioneers by publishing, as he intended, the biographies of the border heroes. With his unerring sense of ultimate values he realized that the Westward movement was the work of individual initiative; that the western men relied upon their own courage and acted independently in each emergency.

Draper, however, did not conceive as did Carlyle, that each epoch of history was dominated by a single colossus, one great hero imposing his will upon a herd of lesser men. He, indeed, considered each man in his environment, and it was one of his achievements that he grouped the lesser lights in galaxies around his suns. This very tendency delayed his writings and put a drag upon their completion. New facts and certainties were constantly to be sought. His standard of thoroughness paralyzed his pen. After a long life of ceaseless activity Draper published but a single volume of history, chronicling the battle of King's Mountain, that daring dash of the men of the western waters which, in 1780, saved the southern colonies from complete subjection to the British. Three other works are still in manuscript-an essay on the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a series of descriptions of border forays, and an unfinished life of Boone in five manuscript volumes. The truth is, Draper was not a literary genius; he lost himself in the abundance of his material; he had no sense of historical proportion, no appreciation of the relative value of facts. It was thus a travesty to call him, as was frequently done during his lifetime, the "Plutarch of the West." Better compare him, if one must have a classical prototype, to the builder of the Alexandrine library, than to the entertaining and prolix biographer of the first century.

If, however, Draper never wrote the ponderous biographies he planned, the cause of research is none the poorer, nor did he belie his promises to his expectant friends. Not destined himself to proclaim the fame of his favorite heroes to the world, he rescued that fame from forgetfulness, and has left the materials from which modern biographers and modern historians must build their edifices. He himself, by the very negation of his ambition, saved for others all he could not use himself.

Lacking a sense of proportional values, Draper also ignored many phases of historical research interesting to present-day inquirers. He knew nothing apparently of economic forces; nothing in his collections preserves a memory of changing modes of travel, of the growing civilization in the West, by which the frontier blended into modern life. It is useless to search in the Draper manuscripts for political progress or social adjustments. He conceived of the epoch of Western wars, beginning with the skirmish in the valley of Virginia in 1742, closing with the last battles of the War of 1812, as an epic period, static in its purposes, apart from the common drift of historical influences, peopled by an uncommon race of men. This conception, while it has its limitations, nevertheless renders his collection unique and remarkably close-knit, one portion fitting into another with precision and effect. To alienate any considerable portion of this collection would destroy the usefulness of the whole. Draper's manuscripts, like the library he built, bear the stamp of his personality and scholarship.

Then, in the fullness of time, after his services for the Society had met fruition, after his efforts at publication had resulted in failure, he crowned his unselfish devotion to Wisconsin by the legacy of all he possessed to the Society he cherished. The personal collection for which he had wrought with unceasing labor and unflagging enthusiasm for a half-century was bequeathed to the Society whose interests he had promoted two score years, and his work was complete. The Draper manuscripts became the capstone of the Society's library, or, to change the figure, the crown jewels preserved in its innermost tower. As the custodian of the Draper manuscripts, our Society is famed throughout the continent; for their sake we are visited by eminent scholars, careful historians, and eager genealogists. By freely granting the privilege of their use the fame of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin has grown great.

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