The Daring Trader (Paperback)

Jacob Smith in the Michigan Territory, 1802-1825

By Kim Crawford

Michigan State University Press, 9781611860269, 320pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2012

List Price: 29.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A fur trader in the Michigan Territory and confidant of both the U.S. government and local Indian tribes, Jacob Smith could have stepped out of a James Fenimore Cooper novel. Controversial, mysterious, and bold during his lifetime, in death Smith has not, until now, received the attention he deserves as a pivotal figure in Michigan’s American period and the War of 1812. This is the exciting and unlikely story of a man at the frontier’s edge, whose missions during both war and peace laid the groundwork for Michigan to accommodate settlers and farmers moving west. The book investigates Smith’s many pursuits, including his role as an advisor to the Indians, from whom the federal government would gradually gain millions of acres of land, due in large part to Smith’s work as an agent of influence. Crawford paints a colorful portrait of a complicated man during a dynamic period of change in Michigan’s history.

About the Author

Kim Crawford is a retired newspaper reporter and author of The Daring Trader: Jacob Smith in the Michigan Territory and coauthor of The 4th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War. He has written about Michigan Civil War soldiers for Michigan History magazine, served as guest curator for the Flint Sloan Museum’s 2012 Civil War exhibit, The Brave and the Faithful, and has given talks on both the 4th and 16th Michigan Infantry regiments to historical societies and Civil War roundtables.

Praise For The Daring Trader: Jacob Smith in the Michigan Territory, 1802-1825

Kim Crawford is a first-class investigative reporter and researcher with a wonderfully clear writing style. He uses all those talents to bring to life a fascinating but previously untold world of fur traders, Indians, and British and American soldiers plying the Michigan wilderness in the early 1800s. Crawford fills a gaping hole in Michigan history by documenting the eventful life of Jacob Smith, an adventurer, entrepreneur, Indian interpreter and American spy, and the first white settler of what is now Flint.
—Lawrence R. Gustin, author, Billy Durant: Creator of General Motors and David Buick’s Marvelous Motor Car: The Men and the Automobile That Launched General Motors

 Crawford digs deeply into little-used archival sources to illuminate an important era in Michigan’s history as the frontier of a burgeoning United States of America. The Daring Trader adds tremendously to the literature of the fur trade and the War of 1812.
—David Lee Porembaauthor and book reviewer