The journals of Prince Maximilian of Wied rank among the most important firsthand sources documenting the early-nineteenth-century American West. Published in their entirety as an annotated three-volume set, the journals present a complete narrative of Maximilian’s expedition across the United States, from Boston almost to the headwaters of the Missouri in the Rocky Mountains, and back. This new concise edition, the only modern condensed version of Maximilian’s full account, highlights the expedition’s most significant encounters and dramatic events.
The German prince and his party arrived in Boston on July 4, 1832. He intended to explore “the natural face of North America,” observing and recording firsthand the flora, fauna, and especially the Native peoples of the interior. Accompanying him was the young Swiss artist Karl Bodmer, who would document the journey with sketches and watercolors. Together, the group traveled across the eastern United States and up the Missouri River into present-day Montana, spending the winter of 1833–34 at Fort Clark, an important fur-trading post near the Mandan and Hidatsa villages in what is now North Dakota. The expedition returned downriver to St. Louis the following spring, having spent more than a year in the Upper Missouri frontier wilderness.
The two explorers experienced the American frontier just before its transformation by settlers, miners, and industry. Featuring nearly fifty color and black-and-white illustrations—including several of Karl Bodmer’s best landscapes and portraits—this succinct record of their expedition invites new audiences to experience an enthralling journey across the early American West.