Talk:Zebulon Pike

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Note on this article's origins[edit]

This article apparently began in large measure from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, a book now in the public domain. Please see the edit history for attribution of content to that source, which was not properly footnoted at the time of creation. Carrite (talk) 21:00, 17 December 2014 (UTC)[reply]


The Park Service biography and [1911 Encyclopedia Britannica] differ on some minor points on the Mississippi headwater expedition. I'm going to try to figure out which is correct. -- ESP 20:45 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Ideal would be if there were a scholarly bio or history of the dead tree sort. When sources conflict, if often means there are multiple interpretations, and you need a more detailed work to explain the discrepancy. Stan 21:47 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)
That's probably it. It's silly stuff that I could find out with a little more work -- basically, it's the location of Fort Snelling, and whether Pike thought Cass Lake or Leech Lake was the headwaters of the Mississippi. More or less it's documenting Pike's blunders and screw ups. B-) -- ESP 23:45 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Fort Snelling's in Saint Paul, Minnesota (still there actually). - Hephaestos 00:15 17 Jul 2003 (UTC)
OK, cool. Thanks! So the info on the page is correct (since the Falls of St. Anthony are also near the Twin Cities area, right?). Now I just have to find out which lake Pike mistakenly thought was the headwaters of the Mississippi. -- ESP 00:26 17 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Cass and Leech are pretty close to each other, so that might be a challenge.  :) I have no idea which, myself. - Hephaestos 00:28 17 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Shoot. At this point I'm going to have to dig up whatever first sources there are! -- ESP 05:45 17 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Oh, another thing: the tone of the Park Service article is really different from a straight text. They kind of treat Pike like this blustering boob. Which, in a lot of ways, he was, but I think they overemphasize his incompetence as an explorer to point out that what he was really doing was spying on the Spanish. Anyways, I tried to keep the tone a little more respectful and objective, without losing the essentials -- that Pike's Mississippi expedition and the Pike expedition were less than successful. -- ESP 05:49 17 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Under Jefferson's authority[edit]

Also at issue is the lead which says Pike traveled to Minnesota "under authority" of the president. He did not. He was traveling at the behest of James Wilkinson, the new governor of the Louisiana territory (and thus Pike had no authority to negotiate a treaty). Please ping me if there is a reply. -SusanLesch (talk) 23:30, 11 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

It's a bit of a gray area; his first expedition was authorized by Jefferson only after the fact (see footnote on page cited); Seems like an unnecessary detail for the lead; authorization of each expedition can be expanded in the body of the article. I went ahead and made the change. Glendoremus (talk) 01:50, 12 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@Glendoremus: Thank you for cleaning up the dispute flag. Please tell me what book is cited? Where? -SusanLesch (talk) 03:34, 12 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
If it isn't too long maybe you would type the footnote here? Or give me some idea what it says? I am using page 14 in this book[1] which says, There were also validity questions on the US side: because the president had not authorized Pike's expedition, the lieutenant had no authority. -SusanLesch (talk) 03:48, 12 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@SusanLesch: This is the source I used:
Berry, Trey; Beasley, Pam; Clements, Jeanne, eds. (2006). The Forgotten Expedition, 1804–1805: The Louisiana Purchase Journals of Dunbar and Hunter. Louisiana State University Press. p. xi, fn2. ISBN 978-0-8071-3165-7.
It's accessible on if you have a userid (I'd sign-up, it's worth it), but I'll follow up this note with a excerpt from the footnote. Glendoremus (talk) 15:00, 12 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
OOPS! It would help if I used the correct url. Should be fixed now!Glendoremus (talk) 15:07, 12 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
footnote 2, page xii:
"Pike's expedition was authorized by Jefferson only after he had departed St. Louis. It was viewed as a reconnaissance mission for the military. General James Wilkinson, serving at St. Louis, had sent Pike on this venture. As Jefferson had said, it was "to reconnoitre the country and to know the positions of his [Wilkinson's] enemies, Spanish and Indian.
Hope this is useful. Glendoremus (talk) 15:16, 12 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, indeed, it is very useful! Thank you very much, Glendoremus. I am no history student but thanks to your information I found the missive your source used. Jefferson doesn't seem to be authorizing Pike after the fact. If he had been, I would have to write to the author of my source and dispute his book! What's at stake here is the land on which Minneapolis–Saint Paul is built. With just this short bit of WP:OR I feel confident that Mr. Weber has the story straight. I don't think young Pike had the authority to negotiate a treaty.
  • Jefferson seems to be asking Dearborn to refresh his memory. A book by Wilson contains some aspersions against Jefferson who recently saw that book: now I wish the aid of your memory as to the main fact on which the libel is bottomed...—that Wilson had asked to go with Pike and that Jefferson refused him. if my memory is right, that was a military expedition, set on foot by General Wilkinson... that it was set on foot of his own authority, without our knowledge or consultation; that being unknown to us until it had departed, it was less likely to be known to Wilson, and to be a thing on which he had set his heart....I have not among my papers...on the subject, which is proof I took no part in its direction
  • Dearborn replied on November 6: ...Pike's expedition for exploring the [Arkansa?] was [???] and directed entirely by General Wilkinson...
Thank you for rewording the lead. Best wishes, SusanLesch (talk) 17:35, 12 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ Weber, Tom (2022). Minneapolis: An Urban Biography (Updated ed.). Minnesota Historical Society Press. ISBN 978-1-68134-260-3.

Seeking info re descendants of Zebulon Pike[edit]

Q (by unknown): I am told I am related to Zebulon Pike through Ivory Pike (a gold prospector) and Alice Pike (mother of my grandfather) who spent her married life in Sanford Maine. Is anything known of Zebulon's descendants?

A (by D.A.Pike): To the best of my knowledge, Zebulon had no sons who survived to adulthood. He did have a daughter Clarissa who married a son of President William Henry Harrison ... as far as I know all of Zebulon's descendants descend from Clarissa. For more details, try contacting the Pike Family Association.

I've been told that I am a descendant of Zebulon Pike as well. My parents gave me the middle name of Pike because of this relation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:13, 28 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Find a Grave[edit] I can not add this to the article, please add it to the article which is locked for some bizarre reason. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:35, 11 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you for your suggestion. I have added a source to his burial site. Unfortunately, I was hesitant in adding the link supplied, because of how the website can be edited. Websites with such editorial oversight (like other Wikipedia articles) should not be sourced on Wikipedia. Also, about the semi-protection, the article is semi-protected because IP addresses had been regularly adding vandalism and unconstructive edits to the article. This particular semi-protection will be relieved on May 1, 2011, one month after it was enacted. For more information on the protection policies of Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Protection policy. Backtable Speak to meconcerning my deeds. 03:18, 11 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

External links modified[edit]

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Mississippi expedition preceding Pike[edit]

First expedition description ends with the statement "Pike's was the second expedition dispatched by the government into its new territory, and the first to return." Not clear if this is referring to General Georges Henri Victor Collot or some unnamed person. Need a reference if it is some unnamed person. If Collot, then "dispatched by the government" needs to be clarified because it was a different government.