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Toussaint Charbonneau
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Explorer
    (March 20, 1767-August 12, 1843)
    Born in Boucherville, Quebec, Canada
    French Canadian fur trader
    Husband of Sacagawea (m. 1804)
    Member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-06)
    Acted as a translator and interpreter and guide, with his wife, for the Expedition
    Had two children with Sacagawea, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau and Lisette Charbonneau
    Later found work with Manuel Lisa's Missouri Fur Company and Upper Missouri Agency's (Federal) Indian Bureau
    Portrayed by Alan Reed in the film 'The Far Horizons' (1955)
    Meriwether Lewis called him 'a man of no peculiar merit.'
    He posthumously lives in his wife's shadow (whom he treated like crap).
    His first in-print mention was after a Salteaux Indian woman stabbed him with an awl while he was trying to rape her daughter (1795).
    He was known for having an extremely short temper with his wives.
    He was married to girls as young as fourteen, and as many as five at one time.
    He married Sacagawea after purchasing her as a slave from the Hidatsa in exchange for some horses (some accounts claim that he actually won her in a 'game of chance').
    He was chastised by William Clark after he was caught beating Sacagawea in a fit of anger.
    He had second thoughts about joining the Expedition due to its requirement to stand guard and performing manual labor.
    This resulted in his quitting shortly before the expedition was to begin, only to return days later begging for his job back.
    He panicked and dropped the rudder of the boat they were traveling on after a gust of wind rattled it, and nearly capsized the boat in the process (his wife had to save the instruments/medicines that had fallen overboard).
    He was allegedly non-committal towards the idea of raising the son he conceived with Sacagawea, taking Clark up on his offer to raise the child at his St. Louis estate. He hardly ever visited Jean-Baptiste.
    His bad reputation may have been the result of inaccurate or biased accounts.
    His behaviour and lifestyle would not have been deemed all that unusual for a man living in the 18th/19th-century frontier.
    In addition to speaking English and French, and intermediate Hidatsa and Shoshone, he was skilled in sign language.
    He recognized his wife's potential value to the expedition, early on, and used her as leverage to negotiate their terms (an eventual $500 along with a horse and lodge).
    The common assumption is that he was of little benefit to the expedition, but he helped on several occasions (such as when the group encountered hostile French-Canadian trappers).
    He was a good cook capable of making dishes from bison meat (probably the only thing Lewis & Clark liked about him).
    His bargaining skills also turned out to be invaluable when it came to acquiring a vital supply of horses for the expedition at the Shoshone encampment.
    He gave his son up to live a life of opportunity that he otherwise would have been unable to provide on his own.
    He was employed by the two competing 'trading' giants of the day: Lisa's Missouri Fur Company and John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company.
    He's suffered badly enough in contemporary memory that artists tend to depict him looking like one of the robots on the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' ride at Disneyland.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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