Fitzpatrick, Thomas

Fitzpatrick, Thomas,

c.1799–1854, American trapper, fur trader, and guide, one of the greatest of the mountain menmountain men,
fur trappers and traders in the Rocky Mts. during the 1820s and 30s. Their activities opened that region of the United States to general knowledge. Since the days of French domination there had been expeditions to the upper Missouri River, and in the early 19th
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, b. Co. Cavan, Ireland. He emigrated early to the United States, and by 1823 he was engaged in St. Louis for a trading expedition of William Henry AshleyAshley, William Henry,
c.1778–1838, American fur trader and politician, b. Virginia. In 1820 he was elected lieutenant governor of Missouri. He sent fur-trading expeditions up the Missouri River to the Yellowstone in 1822 and 1823; the parties included Jedediah Smith and
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 up the Missouri. Like others of the mountain men, he spent many of the succeeding years opening up the West. He went with Jedediah S. Smith into the Green River country through the South PassSouth Pass,
broad, level valley (alt. c.7,550 ft/2,301 m), SW Wyo., cutting across the Rocky Mts. It was used by trappers and explorers before Jedediah Smith inaugurated its use as a route for settlers.
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 in 1824. Fitzpatrick worked for the Ashley interests until Ashley withdrew (1826) from the trade; then he was a trader for Smith, Jackson, and Sublette until 1830, when the Rocky Mountain Fur Company was formed with Fitzpatrick as senior partner. After that company was dissolved (1834), Fitzpatrick became a guide. He piloted the John Bidwell party, the first emigrant train bound for California, as far as Fort Hall in 1841, and the next year he performed the same service for the first train to Oregon. He gained some celebrity as guide to John C. Frémont on his second expedition and in 1846 was guide to Stephen W. KearnyKearny, Stephen Watts
, 1794–1848, American general in the Mexican War, b. Newark, N.J. At the beginning of the Mexican War he was made commander of the Army of the West with the rank (June, 1846) of brigadier general.
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 on the march to Santa Fe. In Nov., 1846, he was appointed Indian agent for a large part of the present Colorado and was successful in negotiating treaties.


See L. R. Hafen and W. J. Ghent, Broken Hand: The Life Story of Thomas Fitzpatrick (1931); B. De Voto, Across the Wide Missouri (1948).

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Fitzpatrick, Thomas

(c. 1799–1854) trapper, guide, Indian agent; born in County Cavan, Ireland. He came to America by 1816 and served as a guide to pioneer groups, John C. Frémont's second expedition (1843–44), and to military groups just prior to and during the Mexican War (1845–46). He negotiated peace treaties with the Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa Apache (1851–53). The Indians trusted him and called him "Broken Hand."
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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