Saturday, July 4, 2009
THE SECRET OF THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE concept and character art by Peter Duffy with color and overly wordy writing by Chris Duffy
The Louisiana Purchase--president Thomas Jefferson's bold move in 1803 that secured America's expansion past the Mississippi. But do the history books reveal ALL his reasons for acquiring so much new territory? Few government officials, even with highest levels of security clearance, have ever known that the secret motive that made it crucial for the U.S. to gain this territory was one man: Jacques Chasseur, also known as the Secret of the Louisiana Purchase, Jack the Hunter, He Who Always Catches His Prey, and the Immortal American.
Though Chasseur's full life story is not known, it is believed that he has lived in the area comprising the western portion of the Mississippi drainage basin since BEFORE the arrival of the peoples who would become the Indian tribes of the Western Hemisphere. This has never been confirmed, but folktales about an ageless hunter in this region who possessed great strength, the eyes of a hawk, and an uncanny sense of smell predate the arrival of Europeans.
In making his historic purchase, Jefferson managed to make this legendary individual a citizen of the young republic. Stories had already reached Washington via spies of a wandering trapper who was said to be able to elude or fend off even the largest of Indian war parties (though he was generally regarded by tribes as an ally if not as a sort of demi-god).
For reasons unknown, Chasseur is compelled to obey the rulers of the territory he calls his home, though he will only follow direct orders spoken aloud in his earshot. These facts had also come to Jefferson via spies in the Spanish and French army, the two nations that had previously controlled the region (it is also unknown how the French and Spanish learned that Chasseur was compelled to obey any occupying government). Chasseur had managed to mostly avoid contact with Spanish and French who would issue orders to him, but in the few cases when he DID receive commands, his abilities had proven invaluable.
The United States did not have to wait long to benefit from their control of Chasseur. In 1815 in the Battle of New Orleans, he single-handedly repulsed several attacks on American positions, luring hundreds of British infantry into the nearby Cypress Swamps from which they never emerged.
Chasseur served for a time in the Secret Service, but most of his career as a U.S. agent (like most of his life story) is shrouded in mystery.