AMERICAN EXPLORER ~~ ZEBULON PIKE
ORDERS PAYMENT FOR A COURIER JUST TWO MONTHS BEFORE HIS HEROIC AND UNTIMELY DEATH
PIKE, ZEBULON M. (1779-1813). American explorer and soldier. Rare Autograph Endorsement Signed, “Z[ebulon] Pike C[ommanding] O[fficer]”, on verso of a manuscript pay order. One page, oblong octavo. [Western frontier of The United States], February 18, 1813. Fine condition. The document reads:
“To cash paid for expenses of myself and horses going from Plattsburgh to Ogdenburgh by order of Col. Pike on publick [sic] business. $15.42. I certify on honour that the above amount is correct February 18th 1813, John Roberts Major of Militia”. To which Pike added: “Major Roberts was ordered to Ogdenburgh on public service. His expenses was [sic] to be borne by the public on his certifying the truth, Gen. Wooley will discharge the same. Z.M. Pike CO”.
Zebulon Pike was perhaps best known for his discovery of Pike’s Peak, a 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado, which has since been named for him. He discovered the mountain while on a mission to find the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers in 1806. A first lieutenant in the U.S. Army since 1799, Pike was chosen for the expedition by General James Wilkinson, who had sent Pike only two years before to find the headwaters of the Mississippi. While he failed to find the source of the Mississippi (erroneously believing Leech Lake and Red Cedar Lake in Minnesota to be the sources), no one was any wiser until Lake Itasca was discovered to be the correct source in 1832. After his foray into the Southern Rocky Mountains, Pike’s love for exploring got him into trouble when he crossed the Sangre de Cristo Mountains into the Spanish territory of New Mexico. The Spanish arrested and imprisoned him until 1807, when he was released and sent back to the U.S. When he returned, he brought with him newly gained, valuable information about the Southwest, information that was used to develop interest in trade and development of that region. A few years later, Pike was commissioned a Brigadier General at the beginning of the War of 1812 and was tragically killed on April 27, 1813, while leading U.S. forces in an assault on Canada.