Thomas Duggan managed the British Army's Indian Department storehouse at Fort Michilimackinac and St. Joseph Island with the 24th Regiment of Foot. In the journal, he detailed the outpost's interactions with Ojibwa (referred to as Chippewa in the journal), Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sioux, and Cherokee groups that came to the store for "presents" of food, arms, and supplies, from October 31, 1795 to September 6, 1801.
The Thomas Duggan journal is composed of 120 pages of journal entries and 23 pages of ledgers (128 blank pages), spanning from October 31, 1795 to September 6, 1801. Duggan, a storekeeper and clerk for the British Army’s 24th Regiment of Foot stationed at Fort Michilimackinac, wrote several entries per week, varying in length from a few sentences to 4 pages. Duggan discussed managing the store and detailed his outpost's interactions with the Native American groups that came to the store for "presents" of food, arms, and supplies. He recorded numerous tribes and Indian chiefs by name and the places from which they had traveled. The bulk of the interactions were with the Ojibwa tribe (referred to as Chippewa in the journal) and the Ottawa Indians, but Duggan also mentioned the Potawatomi, Sioux, and Cherokee. Indians traveled from Detroit, Milwaukee (Minowaukee), Thunder Bay, L'Arbre Croche (now Harbor Springs, Michigan), Saginaw, Beaver Island, Grand Traverse Bay, Mackinaw Island, Sault Sainte Marie, Lake Superior, and other locations around the Great Lakes.
The first entry noted the start of Duggan's post of storekeeper and clerk for the Indian Department. In the bulk of the entries, Duggan records information on the groups of Indians visiting the store and recounts their conversations and speeches. He frequently used paternalistic language in discussing the relationship between the British and the Indians, terms also found in his transcriptions of speeches given by Indians. The following excerpt is typical of such language that reinforces the idea of Indian dependency on the British: "Their great father [King George III] would never forsake them as long as they behaved as good Children" (p. 27). Duggan described British charity toward and protection of the Indians, and many entries include reports on the hardships and brutality of the region. Duggan also makes several notes on the Indians’ relations with Americans. In one instance, Duggan wrote about an American Council, during which the Americans threatened the Indians with violence if they did not "behave themselves" (p.22). "That if they stole nets or any thing else from the White people they should pay four times their Value and be imprisoned. That if they killed any One They should be tied by the neck and hung up like dogs[,] in short that They should suffer for the least injury they done to a White man..." (p.22).
Other notable entries include:
- A copy of a "Commission for Indian Chiefs" from Quebec Governor Frederick Haldimand (p.6).
- A translation of a speech by the Ottowa Chief [Mitamianu], addressed to their "Great Father" King George III, which includes a discussion of the relationship between the Indians, British, and Americans in the Michigan region (p.40-43).
- News of a local conflict between the Nadowessies (Sioux) and the Ojibwa, which resulted in 45 Ojibwa and 5 Sioux fatalities (p.54).
- A story from a white trader of Indians, suffering from starvation, who ate their two young children (p.71)
Duggan also noted regular contact with the British military in Detroit and throughout the Great Lakes region. He mentioned William Doyle, Deputy Adjutant-General in Canada, and transcribed a letter sent from Lieutenant Colonel Commandant D. Strong and British Agent of Indian Affairs Jacob Schieffelin, advising the Chippewa not to attack the Cherokee Nation, (p.73-75).
In the back of the journal is a ledger of accounts for trade of sugar, fur, clothing, and other goods, covering the period from 1787-1801. The last five tables document wampum, sugar, and caribou traded by the British at St. Joseph with the Ojibwe and Ottawa tribes. They list the names of the Indian traders. See Additional Descriptive Data for a list of goods traded to the Indians.
The volume holds one unbound letter, in French, from A. Joseph to Duggan (July 4, 1798). The letter concerns a shipment of porcelain and other goods to the outpost (letter is laid in at page 121).