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Ledyard’s Visionary Legacy

Senr back to America when the war had been effectively reduced to an armed rruce pending the signing of the peace trearyin 1783,

Ledyard crossed to the American lines and found a printer in Harrford,

Connecricur, to publish his accounr of Capra in Cook’s lasrvoyage .

T his acco unr, rhe first to ap pear in print, was widely nored in the whole Western world .

The literate, intellectually curious publi c was growing, and of course merchants in these.

countries paid special attention to the adva ntages of the rich fur trade,

which gave Westerners a product-aparr from Spanish silver from their min es in South America-which.

the ycould exchangewirh Chinese merchants to acquire the silks,

po rcelains and other fine products of rhe Chinese civilization.

Ledyard, in pursuit of his dream of opening an American trade wirh China, crossed the ocean to Paris afrer the war.

There he enlisted the supporr of Thomas Jefferson and John Paul Jones for a visionary project to walk across Russia to the Bering Srrair,

where he hoped to get a ship to Vancouver’s Nootka Sound.

Then he would walk across North Ameri carillhe arrived on the doorsteps of the wealthy merchants of Boston.

Ledyard’s Visionary Legacy and New York who might be led to embark on this important, lucrative trade.

Here it is nor fancifu l to see a concept of the American Republic srrerching from the Atlantic to the Pacific,

which one can see adumbrated in Ledyard’s writing and eve n in Cook’s crack about “an American indeed.”

 Ledyard’s Visionary Legacy This vital concept clearly took root in Jefferso n’s mind,

butwouldhave srarrled mosr Americans, who thought of the Mississippi River as a splendid western border to their new nation .

Ledyard actually embarked on this grear adve nture, but Ca therine rhe Great had him intercepted ar Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal.

A few years later Ledyard managed to ger himself appointed in London as agent for a proj ecr to discover rhe so urces of Africa’s N ile River,

srill following his explorer’s benr.

In Cairo, Egypt, in January 1789, he died, aged 38.

In his limited span of years Ledyard, rhe visionary, had devo red himself to a distincrive American idea l of relations with narive peoples,

 and a concern with developing mankind’s knowledge ofirs world,

with a strong admixture of new concepts of oceanic trade which people better equipped for th e task were to take up for America.

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