Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike

Home » Pike: On This Day » 4. April 1807 » April 09, 1807 A Fellow American

April 09, 1807 A Fellow American

9th April, Thursday….Was informed that David Fero was in town and wished to speak to me.  This man had formerly been my father’s ensign, and was taken with Nolan’s party at the time the latter was killed.  He possessed a brave soul, and had withstood every oppression since his being made prisoner, with astonishing fortitude.

Fortitude in the face of physical hardship, was perhaps the character trait that Pike most admired.  This is high praise for Fero.

Although his leaving the place of his confinement (the village of St. Jeronimie [San Geronimo] without the knowledge of the general, was in some measure clandestine, yet, a countryman, and acquaintance, and formerly a brother soldier…had ventured much to see me–could I deny him the interview from any motives of delicacy?  No; forbid it humanity! forbid it every sentiment of my soul.

Pike’s quandary here stems from the fact that he wishes to meet with Fero but needs to avoid arousing the suspicions of Spanish officials, who already believe both Fero and Pike are spies or worse and who would be further alarmed to find the two men conferring.  As a result, they meet secretly at night at Pike’s quarters.  Where Walker is at this point, Pike does not say.

Our meeting was affecting, tears standing in his eyes.  He informed me the particulars of their being taken, and many other circumstances since their being in the country.  I promised to do all I could for him consistent with my character and honor, and their having entered the country without the authority of the United States.  As he was obliged to leave the town before day…I bid him adieu, and gave him what my purse afforded, not what my heart dictated.

Pike has delicately promoted himself in his narration of this incident. By the time he publishes the account, his expedition will have come under a cloud of suspicion about its possible connections to the schemes of James Wilkinson and Aaron Burr. In refusing to jeopardize U.S. interests by formally consorting with someone who had entered New Spanish without U.S. authority, Pike indicates his concern for his nation and distances himself from those disloyal to it. With the over-the-top language of tears, heart, and soul, Pike avoids appearing consequently callous and instead demonstrates his sensitivity to fellow humans, a character trait highly esteemed in the era’s upper class men (which Pike is not but aspires to be).


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