[About this transcript: Items inside italicized square brackets have been added for clarity. Page and chapter numbers are hyper-linked to facsimiles of the original pages, with the kind permission of the 1st-Hand-History Foundation ( www.1st-hand-history.org ).
Marshall, William I. Acquisition of Oregon and the Long Suppressed Evidence about Marcus Whitman, 1911, Vol. I., pages 25-140.]
THE UNIQUE FEATURES OF THE HISTORY OF THE ACQUISITION OF OREGON.
The Old Oregon Territory comprises all our territory on this continent west of the summit of the main range of the Rocky Mountains between 42 degrees and 49 degrees, north latitude, covering the present States of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, with so much of Montana (about 28,000 square miles) as is west of the main range, and so much (about 13,000 square miles) of Wyoming as is west of the main range and north of 42 degrees, in all about 292,000 square miles, or nearly 1/12 of all our domain on this continent, and the true history of its acquisition by the United States is not only full of most romantic incidents, but is unique in the following respects:
1. It is that part of our territory to which our chain of title is not only as long as to any other, but is very much more curiously complex than to any other region we possess.
2. It is the only territory on this continent to which we have ever claimed a title by priority of (a) discovery, (b) exploration and (c) settlement.
3. It is the only acquisition of territory on this continent to which we have obtained an undisputed title without either conquest or cash purchase.
4. It was the first territory on the Pacific Coast to which we ever made any claim, and the first one on that coast to which we established a title.
5. It was the first Pacific Coast region to which there was any considerable overland migration from the States east of the great plains.
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6. It is the only part of our territorial acquisition concerning whose great value to us the foresight of our greatest statesmen was so clear and so unanimous that, while it was separated from our most western settlements by a full thousand miles of little known and wholly unsettled wilderness, they all--Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Tyler, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, Calhoun, Clay, Gallatin, Everett, Webster, Walker, Forsyth, Richard Rush, Henry Middleton, Cambreling, Choate, More-head, Floyd, Robt. J. Walker, J. W. Taylor, Sevier, King, Benton, Linn, Woodbury, John Reed, Caleb Cushing, and many others--insisted on no line more favorable to Great Britain than 49 degrees to the Pacific--and, as early as 1826, J. Q. Adams' administration notified the English government that "49 degrees to the Coast was our ultimatum."
7. It is our only acquisition of territory on this continent which had been very extensively explored by land and sea, alike by our private citizens on fur trading and scientific expeditions, and by government parties under command of officers of our army and navy, before our title to it was fully established. The reports of their explorations had not only been widely read by our own citizens, but also republished in London and Dublin, and translated into the French, German and Dutch languages, and published in those countries in 1814 and 1819, and between 1836 and 1841,
8. It is the only territory not undisputably ours which Great Britain captured from us in the War of 1812, and was compelled to restore to us by the Treaty of Ghent.
9. It is the only territory in which for nearly a whole generation (1818 to 1846) the citizens and subjects of Great Britain and the United States were, by wise and freely executed treaties, at liberty to live on a footing of perfect equality, and where, during all that time--as every particle of the contemporaneous correspondence of the Americans shows--every American who entered the territory--fur traders, missionaries, scientists, explorers or settlers--was very kindly received and most hospitably entertained by the Hudson's Bay Company's officers at all their posts; and, if they desired to remain in any other capacity than fur traders, were aided in the most liberal manner to establish themselves as missionaries or as settlers.
If Americans sought to engage in the fur trade they were met with the strongest competition that the Hudson's Bay Company could wage, but that competition was as fair as, and no fiercer than, the rival American fur traders waged against each other in regions far east of those ever occupied by the Hudson's Bay Company's posts.
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10. It is the acquisition to which there was far less opposition, whether we consider the relative numbers of those who spoke and wrote against and for it, or their weight in the councils of the nation, than to any other acquisition of territory we have ever made, except the Florida Purchase and the Gadsden Purchase, to both of which there was practically no opposition.
11. It is that part of our territory about which, before March 1, 1843 (i. e., more than three years before our title to it was fully established, and before Marcus Whitman could have reached St. Louis, let alone Washington), we had had more numerous and more important diplomatic negotiations, more debates in Congress, more committee reports to Congress--all unanimous by the committees and unanimously adopted by Congress--more books and magazine articles printed for general reading, more reports printed by the government for gratuitous distribution, and therefore far more knowledge possessed alike by the government at Washington and by the people of the country generally, than about any other territorial acquisition we have ever made on this continent, even on the day such other acquisition was finally accomplished.
12. It was the region which originated so much of the Monroe Doctrine as declares "That the American continents, by the free and independent position they have assumed, are to be henceforth no longer regarded as open to colonization by any European nation," this having been first stated July 22, 1823, in two letters of instructions from John Q. Adams, Secretary of State, to Henry Middleton, Minister to Russia, and Richard Rush, our Minister to England, who were then negotiating respecting the Oregon boundary.
13. It is the only portion of our territory where for more than twenty-five years all British subjects were liable to arrest and trial by the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company for minor offenses, and where, between British subjects, all civil cases involving no more than 200 pounds were also tried before the Hudson's Bay Company's officers, while for graver offenses British subjects were liable to be arrested by the Hudson's Bay Company's officers and sent to Upper Canada for trial, and civil cases involving more than 200 pounds, between British subjects, were also sent to Upper Canada for trial (Cf. Act of Parliament, July 2, 1821, quoted in full by Greenhow, Ed. 1845, p. 467).
14. It is the. only part of our territory where, for more than three years, the citizens of the United States and the subjects of Great Britain jointly supported a provisional government organized by the people living in Oregon, without any authorization therefor or assistance therein from either home government, and without those of either nationality losing their allegiance to their respective
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governments. In the language of a memorial of this provisional government, dated June 28, 1844, "By treaty stipulations, the territory has become a kind of neutral ground, in the occupancy of which the citizens of the United States and the subjects of Great Britain have equal rights and ought to have equal protection."
Although the Treaty of 1846, fixing 49 degrees as the north boundary of Oregon, the news of which reached Oregon Nov. 12, 1846, ended "the neutral territory" matter, and also all authority of the Hudson's Bay Company to arrest and try British subjects in Oregon, or send them to Canada for trial, this provisional government continued to be the only government in Oregon till, on March 3, 1849, Joseph Lane of Indiana (having arrived at Oregon City the day before) assumed his duties as the first regularly appointed territorial governor of Oregon, under the Act of Congress of Aug. 14, 1848, creating the Territory of Oregon, and providing for its government.
15. It is the only territory we have acquired concerning the obtaining of which there has been injected into our history, and very widely circulated and believed, a pure legend known as the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, a fiction for the history of whose genesis and development, and the proof of whose total falsity the reader is referred to Part II. of this book.
It is the purpose of this book (which is the result of more than twenty-eight years' careful study of the subject) to establish beyond any possibility of dispute the correctness of all the foregoing fifteen propositions, and to state without fear or favor all the important facts about the acquisition of Oregon, as they appear in the original contemporaneous documents, many of which have not heretofore been published (and the more important of which that relate to Marcus Whitman have been deliberately suppressed for the past half century or more by those advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story who have possessed or controlled them).
Conscious of his lack of a polished literary style, the author will permit each of the important actors in the Oregon Expansion to tell, as far as possible, in his own words, his part therein; and as several of the positions he seeks to establish are directly contrary to the ideas generally believed about the history of the acquisition of the Oregon Territory, he must crave the reader's indulgence if he not only cites very many original authorities, but if he also quotes very fully from many of them, and especially from those which other writers upon the subject have neglected to examine, or to mention; or, in the case of a few that they have mentioned, to quote fairly, so that the reader could judge for himself whether or not the documents really sustain the claims that the advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story have advanced.
THE PERIOD OF MARITIME DISCOVERY.
The true story of the acquisition of the Old Oregon Territory must be sought in many an unfamiliar book and many an unpublished manuscript, and is all too little known, even by those who are very well read in the history of our States east of the Rocky Mountains, but one whose interest, as well as value, to all patriotic Americans yields rich compensation for the time needed to rapidly review it.
The history of the Oregon Territory vividly recalls the story of Cinderella.
From 1818 to 1848 the Oregon Territory largely occupied public attention, while all else we now own beyond the Rocky Mountains-- then belonging to Mexico and Russia--was rarely mentioned. But the discovery of gold in California in 1848, and later of the rich silver mines in Nevada, so fixed attention on these States that for more than thirty years little was heard of the Oregon Territory till, a few years since, it suddenly appeared; that when the prince came seeking what Pacific Coast section could wear the dainty slipper of highest prosperity, it best fitted, not the golden nor even the silver State, but their long-neglected, patiently drudging sister, ''Where Rolls the Oregon." The exports of Oregon in 1880 having exceeded, per capita, those of any other State in the Union, and with the speedy completion thereafter of transcontinental railroad communication with it, first by the Oregon Short Line division of the Union Pacific, soon followed by the Northern Pacific, and a few years later by the Great Northern, it began to receive again its proper share of attention from the people of the rest of the country, who had almost entirely ignored it for a whole generation.
As in the case of all other territory on this continent, any part of our title to which is derived from Spain, the first link in our curiously complex chain of title to Oregon is written in the Bull of Pope Alexander V., in 1493, granting Spain exclusive rights of trade, navigation, fishery and conquest in all seas not before occupied by a Christian prince or people, which they might find in westward exploration, as Pope Nicholas had, in 1454, granted to Portugal for southward and eastward exploration.
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In 1494 Spain and Portugal signed the famous "Treaty of Partition of the Ocean," which gave Portugal everything east of a meridian passing 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, and Spain everything west of that line. The east coast of Brazil being afterwards found to extend east of that meridian, this treaty gave that immense empire to Portugal, much to the chagrin of Spain, which had hoped to monopolize the New World. In 1519 Cortez landed in Mexico and soon conquered it.
Exploration crept northward along the Pacific Coast from Mexico very slowly till, in 1543, Cabrillo is supposed to have reached 43° N. Lat., which is one degree N. of the line which, by the Florida treaty of 1819, was established as the S. boundary of Oregon.
About 1543 Spain concluded that the less known about the coasts and countries north of Mexico, the less likely would they be to have other nations contending with them for the commerce and dominion of the Pacific and its coasts, and for many years they discouraged all farther exploration, and by most stringent regulations strove to prevent the too-rapid development of Spanish America.
No Spaniard could emigrate to America, no new settlement be formed there, no new sea or country explored without express permission of the King, which was very difficult to obtain; and the results of exploration were often concealed or tardily and imperfectly announced. Nothing could be cultivated or manufactured for commerce in America which could be imported from Spain; and no intercourse could be carried on between Spanish colonies, or between them and Spain, except in government vessels, or those under its immediate supervision. The Spanish American could have no correspondence with other countries, and foreigners were prohibited from touching territories claimed by Spain, or even navigating the seas in their vicinity, under pain of death. "Whoever," says Hakluyt, at the end of the 16th century, "is acquainted with the Spanish and Portugese writers shall find that they account all other nations for pirates, rovers and thieves who visit any heathen coast, that they have sailed by or looked on."
No other exploring expedition went to the N. W. Coast for sixty years, when, in 1602-3, Vizcaino made a fairly good survey of the California coast, discovering and remaining some time in the lovely Bay of Monterey, but saw no more of Oregon than Cabrillo. His voyage was attended with serious troubles. The scurvy raged violently, and they were sorely tried--says Torquemada, the historian of the expedition--by their "chief enemy the N. W. wind," (which is the prevailing summer wind of that coast, but) which, in accordance with the general superstition of his age, he declares "was raised up by the foe of the human race, in order to prevent the ad-
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vance of the ships, and to delay the discovery of those countries, and the conversion of their inhabitants to the Catholic faith."
Though annually the Spanish galleons, on their voyages from the East Indies to Acapulco sailed along the California coast southward from Cape Mendocino, and the Russians, under Behring and Tchirikof, in 1741 and '42, had discovered and partly explored our territory of Alaska, one hundred and sixty years passed after Vizcaino's voyage, before Spain consented to any colonization of California, or farther exploration of the N. W. Coast.
But while all the Oregon Coast remained thus untrodden and unseen by Europeans, numerous fictitious accounts were published in Europe, of explorations there, and of the discovery there of the long sought N. W. passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the most noted of which were those of Maldonado and of Fonte, which, though widely believed, were pure fabrications, and of de Fuca, which (if it had any foundation in an actual voyage) was mistaken in supposing that the strait through which he claimed to have sailed led across the continent. These fabulous narratives are striking proofs of the ignorance, even of the most enlightened nations of Europe, as late as the early years of the 18th century, concerning the shape and extent of America, and especially its North West Coasts.
Spain's high pretensions to exclusive ownership of America on the Atlantic coast were successfully resisted by other European nations, and French, English, Dutch and Swedish colonies had occupied that coast, from the St. Lawrence to some way south of the Savannah, and were slowly creeping over the Alleghanies and along the Great Lakes into the Mississippi Valley, when the mighty struggle between France and England for American supremacy ended in the fatal defeat of Montcalm, and the fall of Quebec, in 1759, followed by the secret cession to Spain, in 1762, of all the claims of France to territory west of the Mississippi River, and the following year, by her surrender to England of all her claims east of the Mississippi.
Spain, now fearing for the security of her claims to exclusive dominion on the Pacific Coast, devised an extensive but unpractical scheme of colonization and exploration, under which between 1769 and 1779, eight missionary establishments under the charge of the Franciscans were placed in the present state of California, stretching from San Diego north to San Francisco.
Unlike the Jesuits who had had missions in Lower California, from 1697 to 1767 (when they were expelled from Spain and all Spanish America), and who had diligently explored the country and studied all its natural resources, the Franciscans, who were mostly from the lower orders of society and wholly uneducated (except in their church duties and ritual, and some kind of industry), made no
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attempt at exploration, and no efforts to acquire a knowledge of the resources of Upper California.
They seem, to have been honest, patient, well meaning men, who labored heroically and faithfully to discharge their duty as they understood it, but whose mental horizon was so very narrow, that their seventy years' occupancy of the country added scarcely anything to the world's knowledge of its climate, natural features, vegetable and animal productions or mineral resources, and under whose regime California furnished nothing to the world's commerce but hides, horns and tallow.
How different the history of the modern world would have been had Spain, in the plenitude of her pride and power, explored California in, the 16th century, sufficiently to have discovered its rich mines of gold!
Even in her decline, in the latter part of the 18th and the earlier years of the 19th century, had the Jesuits instead of the Franciscans been put in charge of the Upper California missions or had Spain not crushed the energy and enterprise out of her colonists by more than 200 years of repression of development, there could scarcely have been failure for more than half a century to find those mines of gold, the possession of which by Spain would certainly have changed the destinies of this country in ways no man's imagination can conceive, and have exercised a profound and far-reaching effect on all the later, modern history of civilized humanity.
To strengthen her claims to exclusive ownership under the papal bull by at least a show of occupancy, in 1774 for the first time in 171 years, the Spanish flag again saluted the breeze off the Oregon coast, waving from the corvette Santiago, under command of Ensign Juan Perez, whose explorations were so unsatisfactory that the next year Capt. Bruno Heceta was sent in the same corvette, with Lieut. Bodega accompanying, in the schooner Sonora. The day the battle of Bunker Hill was fought, they were taking fresh water on board, in the little harbor of Port Trinidad, about fifty miles south of the Oregon line.
Exploring the Oregon coast with various adventures and mishaps, on August 15, 1775, in Lat. 46° 17', Heceta came opposite an opening whence rushed too strong a current to allow his entering, though he remained another day to try it.
He named this bay Assumption Inlet, but on the charts published in Mexico, after his return, it is called Heceta's Inlet, and Rio de San Roque. This opening was the bay at the mouth of the "Great River of the West," the full discovery, exploration, naming and ownership of which was reserved for the citizens of the new nation, whose soldiers were then besieging their British foes in Boston.
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In 1776, the last of Capt. Jas. Cook's famous exploring expeditions sailed from England, mainly to determine the question of a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Parliament having amended an act offering 20,000 pounds reward to any English merchant vessel discovering such a passage from Hudson's Bay, so that it was offered to naval as well as merchant ships, for any such passage by Hudson's Bay or otherwise. Cook made important discoveries farther north, but saw nothing on the Oregon coast not previously seen by the Spaniards. He was murdered in the Sandwich Islands, and in December, 1779, his ships anchored at Canton, China, where they made a wholly unlocked for discovery, of vastly more commercial importance than all the others they had made, and one which profoundly affected the destinies not only of the Oregon Territory, but of the whole N. W. Coast of America, opening new avenues to commerce, and within a dozen years thereafter sending adventurous vessels into every nook and corner of that immense stretch of coast which for 250 years after the conquest of Mexico, had only at long intervals, and at a few points been beheld by white men.
As they had touched here and there, officers and crew had bartered to the natives old clothes, buttons, knives, and other things To them of little or no value, for rich furs, not as articles of merchandise, but for use on board ship, for clothes and bedding.
Many of them had thus become spoiled or much damaged.
When reported in Canton (whither no ship had ever before come from the N. W. Coast of America), that Cook's ships had furs, there was great excitement, and eager competition, and in a few days for what had cost them little or nothing the seamen received money and goods to the value of more than $10,000.
The news of this immense profit stimulated adventurous English and American merchants to fit out vessels for this "Northwest Trade," as it was called.
Irving well says "It was as if a new Gold Coast had been discovered."
Some of the earliest vessels in this trade were commanded by John Meares, a lieutenant in the British navy on half pay, but sailing under the Portugese flag to avoid the claims of the British East India Co. to a monopoly of the commerce of the Pacific, in vessels under the British flag.
July 5, 1788, he started to sail into the bay at the mouth of the "Great River of the West," but, frightened by the terrible breakers, hauled out without crossing the bar, and, though the river must then have been at high flood, he unaccountably concluded that there was no river there, entering in his log-book, that "We can now safely assert that there is no such river as that of St. Roque exists,
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as laid down on the Spanish charts;" and so he rechristened the Assumption Inlet of Heceta as Deception Bay, and the bold cape on its north side as Cape Disappointment.
Yet, so hard pressed for argument were the British commissioners, appointed in 1826 to treat with our Government on the question of title to the Oregon Territory, that they actually quoted this paragraph from Meares' Narrative, as proof that he had actually discovered the mouth of the river, whose existence is in it positively denied.
Meares' vessels were seized in 1789, by the Spanish Commander at Nootka Sound, as intruders on Spanish territory.
This led to a vigorous diplomatic correspondence between the English, Spanish and French governments, some phases of which, owing to the famous "Family Compact" between the kings of France and Spain, and to the complications of the French Revolution, are very interesting and curious, if space permitted entering into particulars of them, to extensive war preparations on the part of most of the powers of Europe, and to various demands and counter proposals, one of which demands made by England was that the Northern line of exclusive Spanish dominion should be fixed at the 40th parallel of North Latitude, from the Pacific to the Missouri River.
Fortunately for our national welfare, Spain absolutely refused any limitation on the North, and the rapid progress of the French Revolution compelling England to abate her unjustifiable demands, finally, October 28, 1790, the first treaty ever made between any European nations concerning the N. W. Coast of America, and generally known as the "Nootka Treaty," was signed.
John Ledyard, the famous traveller, was born in Connecticut, and was serving as a corporal of marines on board the Resolution, one of Capt. James Cook's ships in his last famous exploring voyage (1776-1780) and from his letters the news of the immense profits to be made in the fur trade of the N. W. Coast of America soon spread among the adventurous merchants and fearless seamen of New England, and the result is thus told by Geo. Bancroft, in the "Reply of the United States to the case of the Govt. of Her Britannic Majesty," in the San Juan Island Arbitration: "The British case exaggerates the importance of the voyage of Captain Vancouver. So far were American fur-traders from following his guidance, they were his forerunners and teachers. Their early voyages are among the most marvelous events in the history of commerce. So soon as the Independence of the United States was acknowledged by Great Britain the strict enforcement of the old unrepealed navigation laws cut them off from their former haunts of commerce, and it became a question from what ports American ships could bring home coffee,
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and sugar, and spices, and tea. All British colonies were barred against them as much as were those of Spain. So American ships sailed into eastern oceans, where trade with the natives was free. The great Asiatic commerce poured wealth into the lap of the new republic, and Americans observing the fondness of the Chinese for furs, sailed fearlessly from the Chinese seas, or round Cape Horn to the northwest coast of America, in quest of peltry to exchange for the costly fabrics and products of China. They were in the waters of northwest America long before the Hudson's Bay Company. We know, alike from British and from Spanish authorities, that an American sloop, fitted out at Boston in New England, and commanded by Captain Kendrick, passed through the straits of Fuca just at the time when the American Constitution went into operation--two years before Vancouver, and even before Quimper and de Haro. Americans did not confine themselves to one passage in preference to others, but entered every channel, and inlet, and harbor, where there was a chance of trafficking with a red Indian for skins; and they handed down from one to another the results of their discoveries.
"The instruction from the British Admiralty to Captain Vancouver was prompted by an account, which they had seen, of the voyage of Kendrick, and the belief, derived from that account, that the waters of the Pacific might reach far into the American continent." (Cf. Berlin Arbitration, pp. 124-125. )
Among the American captains in the N. W. trade was Robert Gray, Master of the good ship Columbia, from Boston, who, sailing from Nootka Sound, for Canton, in 1789, sold his furs, took in a cargo of tea, and August 10, 1790, entered Boston Harbor, having the honor of first carrying the stars and stripes around the world.
He immediately returned to the N. W. Coast, and remained exploring and trading with the natives till the spring of 1792.
In April, 1792, the famous British explorer, Capt. Geo. Vancouver, reached the California coast, and sailed slowly northward, examining closely--as he himself says--"under the most favorable conditions of wind and weather," the whole coast and especially the Deception Bay of Meares, and April 29th, entered in his journal that "The several large rivers, and capacious bays and inlets, that have been described as discharging their waters into the Pacific, between the 40th and 48th parallels were reduced to brooks, insufficient for our vessels to navigate, or to bays inaccessible as harbors for refitting."
The very day that Vancouver thus recorded his conviction that there was no great river at Deception Bay, he spoke the Columbia, and was informed by Captain Gray that he had been off the mouth of a great river, in Lat. 46°, 10', where the outset was so
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strong as to baffle all his attempts at entrance for nine days, whereupon, Vancouver, with that lordly contempt for an American captain, then felt by all His Britannic Majesty's naval officers, added to his entry of Captain Gray's information, in his journal, that "This was probably the opening passed by us on the forenoon of the 27th, and was apparently inaccessible not from the current, but from the breakers that extend across it."
Eminent explorer and great navigator as Captain Vancouver of His Majesty's service was, he was vastly mistaken for once, as the Down East merchant captain proved by immediately sailing away to Meares' Deception Bay, and, on May 11, 1792--a date ever memorable in Oregon history--he sailed boldly through the breakers which the British naval officers had agreed were impassable, and into the mouth of the "Great River of the West," long sought for, and which Meares and Vancouver both declared did not exist, and thus gave us a claim by priority of discovery to the vast territory it drained.
Anchoring ten miles up the stream, he remained three days, trading and filling his casks there with fresh water from its vast flood, and then sailed twelve or fifteen miles farther up the stream, when finding that he had taken the wrong channel, he anchored again, and on the 20th sailed out and to the North, where, fortunately for his fame as the discoverer of the most important river of the Pacific coast, he gave Quadra, the Spanish commandant at Nootka the particulars of his discovery, and charts of the mouth of the river.
That Captain Gray was a man of energy, and enterprise, and dauntless courage is plain from his whole career, and from nothing more so than from his passage of that fearful bar, which has swallowed so many lives in its foaming breakers and is even now dreaded by many experienced seamen.
That he was modest is evident from his not attempting to affix his own name to the Great River. That he was patriotic, as became the captain whose good fortune it had been to first carry his country's flag around the world, appears from the name he did give it, and he would seem to have been gifted with something of prophetic vision, for he entered the name in his log-book, not as we now have it, the Columbia River, but with the apostrophe and s of the possessive--Columbia's River--as if giving notice to all the world that his country would ever maintain its claim by right of discovery, which his enterprise and valor had given it to the vast region which it drains. Gray's log-book (covering May 7-21, 1792) was first printed in full by Congress in Baylies' Supplemental Rept. (No. 213, H. of R., 19 Cong., 1st Sess., May 26, 1826); also in Linn's Rept. (No. 470, Vol. 5, Sen. Docs., 25 Cong., 2d Sess., June 6, 1838) accompanied by the deposition of Chas. Bulfinch; also in Cushing's Rept.
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of which 10,000 extra copies were ordered printed January 4, and February 16, 1839 (Rept. No. 101, H. of R., 25th Cong., 3d Sess.); also in the Government edition of Greenhow's Oregon, February 10, 1840 (No. 174, Vol. 4, Sen. Docs., 26th Cong., 1st Sess.) of which 2500 copies besides the usual number were ordered. It was printed in full in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine in April, 1842, and the article copied in full into Niles' Register for May 21, 1842. It was also printed on pp. 434-6 of the 1845 edition of Greenhow's "History of Oregon and California."
Nixon (p. 17) of "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon" and p. 90 of his "Whitman's Ride Through Savage Lands," and Mowry, ("Marcus Whitman," p. 1) says "Gray took posession in the name of the United States of America" but neither gives any authority for it (and Gray's log-book gives no intimation of any such proceeding, which he certainly would have recorded had it been done). The only entry in his log-book about any one from the ship going on shore at all is the following: "May 15. In the afternoon Captain Gray and Mr. Hoskins, in the jolly boat, went on shore to take a short view of the country."
Nothing could be more unlikely than that Gray would attempt to take possession of the country in the name of the United States, for the United States reckoning from the Declaration of Independence was not quite 16 years old, and since out of the confederation of jealous and mutually distrustful colonies a still pretty loosely "United States" had been formed, it was only three years when Gray discovered and named "Columbia's River."
The population of these states (which were still so weakly bound together that no one yet spelled Nation with a big N.) was almost entirely on the Atlantic slope of the Alleghanies and its western boundary was the Mississippi river, so that, between the headwaters of the Columbia and any territory owned by the United States, stretched about a thousand miles owned by Spain, a region wholly unknown, except that all geographical principles made it certain that there must be a vast mountain system there, and as the world then looked it would take two centuries for the region east of the Mississippi to become thickly populated.
Not till after the Treaty of Ghent had provided for the restitution of Astoria to the United States did the U. S. Government have so much as a copy of Gray's log-book, but knowing of the discovery through "Vancouver's Narrative" and from newspaper accounts, in 1816 President Madison applied to Samuel Brown, Esq., the principal living owner of the sloops Washington and Columbia (which Capt. Robt. Gray had commanded), for correct copies of all proceedings relative to the discovery of the Columbia that should be found in the papers left by Captain Gray, and after some search Mr. Silas
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Atkins, a brother of the widow of Gray, found the log-book of the Columbia, as appears by a deposition of Chas. Bulfinch of Boston, accompanying the copy of the log which he furnished the Government. (Cf. p. 20, Linn's Rept., being No. 470, Sen. Docs., 2nd Sess., 25th. Cong., Vol. V., June 6, 1838. )
Five months to a day after Gray left the Columbia, Vancouver, having obtained copies of Gray's chart and narrative from Quadra, the Spanish Commander at Nootka Sound, sent his subordinate, Broughton, into the river, who, anchoring a few miles from the ocean, rowed 80 miles farther up the stream, and then had the effrontery "To take possession of the river and the country in its vicinity in His Britannic Majesty's name, having every reason to believe that the subjects of no other civilized nation or state had ever entered this river before. In this opinion he was confirmed by Gray's sketch, in which it does not appear that Mr. Gray either saw, or was within five leagues of its entrance." (Cf. Vol. 1, Chap. XI., and Vol. 2, Chap. III., of "A Voyage of Discovery to the No. Pacific Ocean and Bound the world, etc., under command of Capt. George Vancouver, London, 1798.")
This quibble, devised to rob Gray of the honor and his country of the benefit of his daring deed, without which it is plain that Vancouver would never have thought of trying to enter the stream, which he had declared to be "only a mere brook, or at most a stream too small for navigation," must ever remain a stain on the fame of Vancouver, and was based on the very ingenious and before unheard of device of claiming that the river began 25 miles up the stream, where it narrows to the width of a thousand yards, and that Gray had only entered a bay at its mouth, and this though Gray's log-book states that he filled his casks with fresh water at his first anchorage only 10 miles inside the bar.
THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE. THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION IN 1803-6.
After escaping in 1782 from a British frigate on which he was compelled to serve against his native land, John Ledyard interested the famous Robt. Morris in a project to trade on the N. W. Coast, but the ruin of Morris' fortunes spoiled the plan, and in February, 1786, Ledyard was in Paris, trying to interest French capital in the North West Coast fur trade, but failing to succeed, his adventurous spirit led him to accept a proposition made him by Thos. Jefferson, then our minister at Paris, which is stated in Jefferson's own words as follows: "I then proposed to him to go by land to Kamtchatka, cross in some of the Russian vessels to Nootka Sd., fall down into the latitude of the Mo., and penerate to and through the "U. S." (Coues' Ed. of Lewis and Clark, Intro. pp. XVIII. and XIX. See also Biography of Ledyard by Jared Sparks, pp. 233-372. Also Greenhow, 1845 Ed. pp. 162-63). Jefferson, through the famous Baron de Grimm, obtained the consent of the Empress Catharine of Russia and Ledyard had proceeded as far as Irkutsk, in Siberia, where, on the night of the 28th of February, 1788, he was arrested by order of the Empress (probably at the instigation of the Russian American Co., who wished to keep all the details of their operations secret), and conveyed night and day in a closed carriage to the border of Poland, and there released with strict orders not to again set foot on Russian territory.
In 1792, Jefferson (then Secretary of State) arranged with Captain Merriwether Lewis to attempt to cross the continent, with Michaux the famous French botanist as his only companion, and they had proceeded as far as Kentucky, when Michaux was unexpectedly recalled by the French government, and so the trans-continental trip was abandoned (Cf. Coues' Lewis and Clark, Vol. 1, Intro. pp. XIX.-XX.) October 1, 1800, Spain by a secret treaty (never published in full till 1820) ceded to France "The colony or province of Louisiana, with the same extent which it now has in the hands of Spain, and which it had when France possessed it, and such as it should be according to the treaties subsequently to be made between Spain and other States."
40 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
The same year Thos. Jefferson, whose great mind had for years appreciated the value of the Louisiana Ty., and the absolute necessity of at least the Isle of Orleans (on which New Orleans is situated), with its control of the Mississippi River, to the prosperity of the rapidly growing States beyond the Alleghanies, was first elected President.
In unexpected emergencies, the mere politician, thinking only and always of self, asks "What must I do to be consistent with my own record, and my party platform?" But the statesman, knowing that new conditions often impose new duties, and so the consistent pursuit of his country's advantage will frequently require him to do things inconsistent with his own past opinions, as well as with his party's platform, asks only, "What action will best promote my country's welfare?" Fortunately for our national welfare Thos. Jefferson was one of the ablest, most unselfish, and most patriotic of statesmen.
He had been elected after an exceedingly acrimonious contest, as the champion of "the strict construction of the constitution," and the most ingenious sophistry could not find in a strict construction of that instrument any authority for the President to purchase new territory; but the good of his country demanded it, and so among the early acts of his administration he instructed the venerable Chancellor Livingston, our minister to France, to try to buy at least the Isle of Orleans, and, if possible, all of Louisiana.
But Napoleon, bent on founding a great French military colony in Louisiana, and so repairing the disaster of Montcalm's defeat and the fall of Quebec, would listen to no proposition to sell, till in the spring of 1803, it became plain that the famous peace of Amiens would barely live out its first brief year.
Meanwhile Jefferson--determined to carry out his pet project of a transcontinental exploration--on January 18, 1803, sent to Congress a confidential message recommending such an expedition, which resulted in an appropriation of $2,500.00, and the selection again of Captain Merriwether Lewis, who had been private secretary to Jefferson, to command the party in association with Captain William Clark, a younger brother of General George Rogers Clark, the conqueror of the N. W. Territory in the Revolutionary War, each commander having equal authority.
This message of President Jefferson was on request of the House of Representatives again transmitted by President J. Q. Adams, December 27, 1825, and they voted to continue to treat it as confidential. (Cf. Cong. Debates, 19th Cong., 1st Sess., 1823-6, Vol. 2, Part 1, p. 662. ) It is not printed in Jefferson's Works, and was never published till 1846, when it appeared in the 2d edition of "The Addresses and Messages of the Presidents of the United States, In-
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 41
augural, Annual and Special, 1789 to 1846, 2 vols., 8vo., New York, Edw. Walker, 1846, Appendix, pp. XXV.-XXVII., entitled "Jefferson's Confidential Message recommending a Western Exploring Expedition."
It is now easily accessible, being printed on pp. 352-354 of "Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897, Vol. 1, 1789-1817. Richardson." As France then owned Louisiana, and Spain claimed the whole Pacific Coast as far north as Prince William's Sound in Lat. 61° No. it was needful to avoid exciting their antagonism.
The message began as follows:
"Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:
"As the continuance of the Act for establishing trading houses with the Indian tribes will be under the consideration of the Legislature at its present session, I think it my duty to communicate the views which have guided me in the execution of that Act, in order that you may decide on the policy of continuing it in the present or any other form, or discontinuing it altogether if that shall on the whole seem most for the public good." Then for something more than a page he states his view of the proper mode of conducting Indian affairs so as to lead the Indians to abandon hunting and fishing, for stock raising and farming, and then adroitly introduces the subject of an exploring tour across the continent, on the plea of the necessity of a better knowledge of the Indians along the Missouri River, and the great advantages which would accrue from the fur trade being diverted from the Canadian route to some of the numerous channels which our great river systems offer, mentioning so many of them as to attract support for the measure from all the Atlantic seaboard south of New England as follows: "The river Missouri and the Indians inhabiting it are not as well known as is rendered desirable by their connection with the Mississippi, and consequently with us.
"It is, however, understood that the country on that river is inhabited by numerous tribes, who furnish great supplies of furs and peltry to the trade of another nation, carried on in a high latitude through an infinite number of portages and lakes, shut up by ice through a long season.
"The commerce on that line could bear no competition with that of the Missouri, traversing a moderate climate, offering, according to the best accounts, a continued navigation from its source, and possibly a single portage from the Western Ocean, and finding to the Atlantic a choice of channels through the Illinois or Wabash, the Lakes, and Hudson, through the Ohio and Susquehanna or Potomac, or James Rivers, and through the Tennessee and Savannah Rivers.
42 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
"An intelligent officer with 10 or 12 chosen men fit for the enterprise and willing to undertake it, taken from our posts where they may be spared without inconvenience, might explore the whole line, even to the Western Ocean, have conferences with the natives on the subject of commercial intercourse, get admission among them for our traders as others are admitted, agree on convenient deposits for an interchange of articles, and return with the information acquired in the course of two summers.
"Their arms and accoutrements, some instruments of observation, and light and cheap presents for the Indians would be all the apparatus they would carry, and with the expectation of a soldier's portion of land on their return would constitute the whole expense.
"Their pay would be going on whether here or there.
"While other civilized nations have encountered great expense to enlarge the boundaries of knowledge by undertaking voyages of discovery, and for other literary purposes in various parts and directions, our nation seems to owe to the same object, as well as to its own interests, to explore this the only line of easy communication across the continent, and so directly traversing our own part of it.
"The interests of commerce place the principal object within the constitutional powers and care of Congress, and that it should incidentally advance the geographical knowledge of our own continent cannot but be an additional gratification.
"The nation claiming the territory, regarding this as a literary pursuit which it is in the habit of permitting within its dominions, would not be disposed to view it with jealousy, even if the expiring state of its interest there did not render it a matter of indifference.
"The appropriation of $2,500 for the purpose of extending the external commerce of the United States, while understood by the executive as giving the legislative sanction, would cover the undertaking from notice, and prevent the obstructions which interested individuals might otherwise previously put in its way."
Thus (while it was uncertain whether or not we could buy any part of Louisiana) originated that famous Lewis and Clark's expedition, which Coues fittingly characterizes as "Our great National epic of exploration."
While the plans for the trans-continental exploring expedition were thus taking shape, the negotiations relating to the Louisiana Purchase went on, and Mr. Monroe, sent on a special mission by Jefferson with written authority to pay $2,000,000 for the little Isle of Orleans, and ample verbal instructions for the possible chance to purchase all of Louisiana, joined Livingston, in Paris, April 12, 1803, and, to his delighted astonishment learned that Napoleon, who had so long refused all offers for a little island, had
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 43
the day before thrown an empire at Livingston's feet by offering the whole of Louisiana, comprising not only the present State of Louisiana, but also all of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Indian Territory and most of Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, Minnesota and Wyoming, and part of Colorado, an area larger than the United States then possessed, and about four times the size of France, because he knew that when the then rapidly approaching war should begin, his hated enemy--Great Britain-- would seize it if owned by France.
Negotiations progressed rapidly, and April 30, 1803, the whole of Louisiana (with the same provisions as to boundaries heretofore cited from the treaty of 1800 ceding it to France (Cf. p. 39, ante), was ceded to the United States for $15,000,000, or about two cents an acre. (Cf. Greenhow, p. 279, J. Q. Adams' Life of Monroe, pp. 255-6, Randall's Life of Jefferson, pp. ----, and Am. State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. II., pp. 506-583. )
Though owned by France since 1800, the Spaniards still remained in possession of Louisiana, when the treaty was made ceding it to the United States, and protested against its transfer to the United States; and not till November 30, 1803, did the Spanish Commissioners at New Orleans deliver possession of the Province of Louisiana to the French Commissioners, and three weeks later, on December 20, 1803, the French Commissioners formally transferred it to our Commissioners, Governor Claiborne of the Mississippi Territory and General Wilkinson. (Cf. Jefferson's Message to Cong., dated January 16, 1804, in Messages and Papers of the Presidents. 1789-1817. Vol. 1, 1789-1817, Richardson, p. 367; also p. 581, Vol. II., Am. State Papers, For. Rel. )
History records no other real estate transaction approaching this in magnitude and in the importance of its results, and yet there were not wanting many truly patriotic, albeit in this narrow minded men, who bitterly opposed its consummation, and zealously labored to prevent the ratification of the treaty--so true is it that partisanship often blinds the judgment even of able and honest men, and the supposed necessities of party make even true patriots sometimes opposed to measures, that their sons and grandsons, with fuller knowledge, applaud.
Not always are the men knaves who stone the prophets, nor their sons hypocrites when they build sepulchers, alike to the prophets whose mission their fathers failed to comprehend, and to their fathers also, not because they stoned the prophets, but, in spite of that mistake for their many other sterling qualities of head and heart.
Thus, as in 1790, the early stages of the French Revolution compelled England to abate her unjust demands on Spain to fix her
44 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
northern boundary line at 40° N. Lat., to our serious injury, so in 1803, the progress of that mighty struggle, unexpectedly and without bloodshed, more than doubled our National domain.
In both cases the results appear to have been the best for humanity which could have happened, and it is such events, which compel all reverent souls as they read history to believe in a Divine Providence ruling in human affairs and make them join devoutly in the Psalmist's declaration, that "He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him."
A few days after the original instructions for the trans-continental tour in President Jefferson's own hand writing had been received by Captain Lewis, news of the signing of the treaty for the cession of Louisiana reached our Government. This necessitated some changes in the instructions, and though a start was made for the West in the Autumn of 1803, with the hope of going some distance up the Missouri before the winter should begin, the unexpected delay in the transfer of the territory prevented it." (Cf. Ch. I., "Lewis and Clark Expedition.")
At length, on May 14, 1804, the party, in all forty-four persons in three boats, entered the mouth of the Missouri River.
The steamboat was then just taking shape in Fulton's brain, and they were forced to struggle against the swift current of the muddy stream as best they could, with sails and oars.
October 20, 1804, they had worked their toilsome way 1,600 miles up to the Mandan Indian villages, at "the great bend" of the Missouri. They had not merely to explore the country, and observe its geography, but also to obtain all possible information about the Indian tribes dwelling on it, and to notify them of the change in the ownership of the country, and of the good intentions of the new "Great Father" at Washington, and his purpose to establish trading posts among them.
They held councils with various tribes, and many a chief thereafter strutted proudly about his village, full dressed in an uncomfortable cocked hat and feather, and an ill-fitting coat gaudy with gold lace and scarlet embroidery and with a pewter medal proudly displayed on his naked breast, while his favorite squaw was made passing rich by the gift of an awl, a little mirror in a pewter frame, some needles, a few yards of brass wire for bracelets, ear-rings, and pendants to her jet-black locks, or by some strands of cheap beads-- more precious to her than pearls or diamonds--or perhaps best of all, a little vermillion to heighten the color of her coppery cheeks and forehead.
In the Aricaras they found one of the very few tribes of savages wise and abstemious enough to despise strong drink, which they refused with the sensible remark, "That they were surprised that
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 45
their great father should present them with a liquor which would make them fools." ("Lewis and Clark," 1842 Ed., p. 111. )
Though thus singular in the matter of drink, they were thorough Indians on the title to horseflesh, for, a few years after, when, in a council about selling horses to the Astoria party, one chief doubted if they could spare enough, another chief promptly rebuked him, declaring that there need be no trouble about it, for, if they had not enough, they could easily steal a plenty. ("Astoria," Chap. XX.)
Building a stockade near the Mandan villages they wintered there, and their narrative furnishes many interesting glimpses of Indian life, of which none is more thoroughly characteristic than that Pocapsahe, one of the principal Mandans, visited them New Year's day, and brought them some meat, not on his own lordly shoulders, but on--(what doubtless seemed to him the most natural and proper beast of burden in the world)--his wife's back. ("Lewis and Clark," 1842 Ed., Ch. VI., p. 151. )
April 6, 1805, sending a detachment back with reports, etc., the balance continued up the--from there--unknown river, and June 13th--first of white men--they beheld the grandeur of the Great Falls of the Missouri.
July 19, they passed through the sublime defile which they named The Gate of the Rocky Mountains, and, six days later reaching the Three Forks of the Missouri, and naming them Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson, they paddled up the latter (because it came from the West instead of the South, like the other two streams), till it divided into three forks, of which they followed the middle, or Beaverhead, till it would no longer float a canoe.
Now, late in August of their second summer, their situation was difficult if not desperate, for they were worn down with incessant toil, and almost constant wading in the oft-recurring shallows of the cold, swift streams, their provisions were nearly exhausted, and game had become scarce, and unless they should soon meet a band of Indians and get horses to transport their luggage over none knew how many hundreds of miles of lofty and rugged mountains, to the navigable waters of the Columbia, they must fail in the great object of all their toils and dangers.
Beaching the source of the stream, "One of the men in a moment of enthusiasm, standing with one foot on either bank of the little rivulet, thanked God that he had lived to bestride the mighty Missouri," (L. & C., Ch. XIV. ) and soon crossing the summit they drank of the headwaters of the Salmon River branch of the Columbia, and in a little while came suddenly on three Shoshone squaws, who, taking the bronzed strangers for the ever dreaded Blackfeet Indians, expected only death or captivity; but Captain Lewis stripping up his sleeve to show his color, and saying tabba bone, which is Sho-
46 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
shone for white man, soon calmed their fears; and giving them presents and painting their cheeks a brilliant vermillion, "made their hearts very good," and they soon notified the tribe, whereupon, hastening to meet for the first time the "pale faces," the chiefs first, and then the whole body of the warriors saluted the Captain and his men with utmost cordiality and in most approved style of Indian politeness, by each putting the left arm over the stranger's right shoulder, clasping the back and applying the left cheek to the right cheek of Ms white brother, vociferating "Ah-hi-e ah-hi-e!" "I am much pleased! I am much rejoiced." (L. & C., Ch. XVI. )
It scarcely needs be said that when the ceremony ended the pale faces had received no small share of the paint and grease with which the Indians were freely besmeared.
Nor was pathos wholly wanting, for Sacajawea, the interpreter's wife, was a Shoshone, taken prisoner years before by the Blackfeet, and in Cameahwait, the Shoshone chief, she recognized her brother.
Buying horses they started across one of the most rugged of all the Rocky Mountain regions, and suffering much hardship from snow, and frost, and scarcity of food, after twenty-one days or nearly four hundred miles travel, having been forced to kill two colts and one horse for food, they came out September 21st among the Nez Perces Indians, about six hundred miles from the Pacific, on a stream navigable for boats.
Leaving Their horses with the Nez Perces, they built canoes, and October 7, 1805, started down the river for "the great stinking pond," as the Indians of the mountains called the ocean, and on November 7th their journal says: "The fog suddenly clearing away we were at last presented with the glorious sight of the ocean--that ocean, the object of all our labors, the reward of all our anxieties."
No holiday pastime had this month been of boating down the unknown Koos Kooske, the Snake and the Columbia, for they have numerous rapids where huge rocks divide their waters, and threaten the daring boatsmen with destruction.
More than fifty of these rapids they ran with imminent hazard, but, fortunately with no more serious consequences than frequent wetting of cargoes and ducking of crews.
Other rapids they dared not run, but made weary portages, carrying boats and lading on their shoulders and carefully watching to prevent the Indians from plundering.
Provisions, too, were scarce and high priced, for westward of the Mandans none of the Northern Indians cultivated the soil, and our explorers were reduced to the necessity of subsisting very largely on dogs bought from the Indians, and as the tribes on the Columbia, unlike those on the Missouri, never ate dogs, the demagogues among them soon held the pale faces up to ridicule and con-
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 47
tempt as "dog eaters," precisely as now, white demagogues hold the patient, industrious Chinaman up to as ill-deserved reproach, as eaters of cats and rats.
As the Astoria party--the next party of whites that passed down the Columbia--were reduced to the same necessity of living on dogs, I have often wondered what legends would have been handed down among these tribes if it had chanced that no more whites had visited them for a generation or two.
How the "medicine men" would have sneered whenever the pale faces were mentioned, and savagely denounced them as "Miserable, degraded dog-eaters--men who, by some strange freak of the Great Spirit had been given skill to make many wonderful and useful things but whose tastes in the matter of food were sadly debased."
Nothing speaks more eloquently of the material progress of the past century, than the comparison of this first journey ever made overland to the Pacific within our territory, which occupied this well equipped and admirably managed party eighteen months of arduous toil from St. Louis, with much hardship, and many perils and no little risk of starvation on the way, and the present overland journey made from St. Louis to the Pacific by any one of a half dozen routes in three days in the luxurious ease of a palace car.
They wintered in log huts on the south of the mouth of the Columbia, and March 23, 1806, started back, and when they reached the Flathead country, turning more to the north they struck across to and followed up the great northern branch of the Columbia, since then known as Clark's Fork, or the Flathead River, and about where Missoula, Mont, now stands the party divided, Captain Lewis taking an easterly route, and crossing the main range of the Rockies on to the Dearborn River, by Lewis and Clark's Pass (though Captain Clark never saw it), while Captain Clark, taking a more southeasterly course, crossed the main range of the Rockies to the headwaters of the Jefferson River, not. far from where Dillon, Mont., now is, over a pass which is sometimes called Gibbon's, but more commonly is called--as it ought ever to be--Clark's Pass, concerning which their narrative says, "They had now crossed from Traveller's Rest Creek to the head of Jefferson's River, which seems to form the best and shortest route over the mountains during almost the whole distance of 164 miles. It is, in fact, a very excellent road; and by cutting down a few trees it might be rendered a good route for wagons, with the exception of about four miles over one of the mountains, which would require some levelling." (L. & C. Ex. 1842 Ed., p. 285. Coues' Ed. Vol. 3, p. 1128. ) Of the great importance of this discovery of a pass so easily practicable for wagons I shall have something to say hereafter in discussing the story of the development of a wagon road across the continent.
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After various adventures the two parties were reunited near the mouth of the Yellowstone, on August 12, 1806, and September 23d, two years, four months and nine days after they first entered the Missouri River, they ran out of its mouth, and in the language of their journal, "Rounded to at St. Louis, where we received a most hearty and hospitable welcome from the whole village." (L. & C. Ex., 1842 Ed., Vol. 2, p. 338. )
This expedition added priority of exploration of the valley of Columbia's river, to discovery of its mouth in our chain of title, Great Britain being too late in reaching its sources, as she had been in entering its mouth, for though as soon as they heard of Lewis and Clark's expedition, the Northwest Company sent a party to explore it, for some unknown reason they never went beyond the Mandan villages. (Greenhow, p. 290, Harmon's Journal, pp. 132 and 137, under dates of Nov. 24, 1804, and Apr. 10, 1805. )
THE FOUNDING AND CAPTURE OF ASTORIA.
American fur trading companies having their headquarters in St. Louis quickly followed up the route of Lewis and Clark and as early as the autumn of 1810, Mr. Andrew Henry, of the Missouri Fur Company, following up the Madison fork of the Missouri, had crossed the main range of the Rockies on to that beautiful branch of the Snake or Lewis River, which has ever since been known as Henry Fork, and established a trading post on it, which was the first establishment of any kind made by American people in the territory drained by Columbia's river. The enmity of the savages in its vicinity, and the difficulty of obtaining provisions, obliged Mr. Henry to abandon the post in the spring of 1811 (which proved very disastrous to the overland part of the Astoria party in the autumn of 1811).
Henry's Lake is the head of Henry Fork, and is a most lovely little lakelet covering about twelve square miles. It lies in a horseshoe-shaped bend of the main range of the Rocky Mountains, and upon its shores, within a semicircle of less than fifteen miles converge three passes, Reynolds, Tahgee and Red Rock, each so gentle of slope that wagons could be driven across the Continental Divide into the Oregon Territory, over any one of them with only a few days' labor in road making, and, in fact, over two of them, Reynolds and Tahgee--hundreds of wagons went before even a survey for a road was made, and when the entire amount of labor expended on the two passes was not more than the equivalent of the labor of five men for a week. This I know from my own experience in driving over them in 1873 and 1875.
So far as I have been able to learn there is no other place on earth where three easy passes across a great Continental Divide converge within a semicircle of fifteen miles.
Meanwhile the Astoria party was organizing, whose story through the elegant narrative of Irving, and the less known and less fascinating but very valuable books of Franchere, of Ross Cox and of Alexander Ross, is so well known as to need but brief mention.
Admirably planned by the keen intellect of John Jacob Astor, the project, which would finally have settled the title of the Oregon
50 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
Territory by adding actual occupancy to our claims by discovery, and exploration, and the contiguity of territory resulting from the Louisiana purchase failed through the war of 1812, and the treachery to Mr. Astor's interests of those partners in the company who were British subjects.
The overland part of the Astoria Expedition (numbering sixty well-armed men), fearing the hostility of the Blackfeet Indians, struck southwest from the Missouri River at the Arickara village, crossed the Continental Divide south of what is now the Yellow-stone National Park, and, guided by the mighty Tetons (which they named the Pilot Knobs), came on to the headwaters of the Lewis or Snake River, where they made the sad mistake of leaving their horses, and trying the rest of the journey in canoes, but finding the stream unnavigable from its numerous cataracts and rapids, they were forced in winter to traverse on foot the (to white men) wholly unknown, dismal, sand deserts and dreary lava beds of the central part of the Snake River valley, where the Indians, knowing the whole country and all its scanty resources were barely able to subsist.
They suffered the direct extremes of hunger, so that they ate their beaver skins, and even their old moccasins, and when, at some miserable encampment of squalid savages they obtained a few dogs, or a horse, they could not wait for the flesh to be cooked, but ate it half or wholly raw.
Two perished in the raging torrent, to which the Canadian voyageurs gave the name of "the accursed mad river."
Some died of hunger and cold, and several were killed by Indians.
Thus always it is true of the progress of humanity, that "Other men have labored," aye and suffered and died too, "and we have entered into their labors," and of no part of our country is it truer than of the Oregon territory, that our title to it was finally established only by the great heroism, patient endurances, and in not a few cases the life blood of some of the bravest, truest hearted souls that ever lived.
That part of the Astoria party (seven in number) which returned overland discovered in November, 1812, that remarkable gap in the main range of the Rockies known as the South Pass. (See letter of Ramsay Crooks dated New York, June 20, 1850, to Anthony Dudgeon, Esq., Detroit, Mich.. and printed in Detroit Free Press in 1856. I have the clipping from the Free Press containing the letter, but not the precise date of publication. In this letter, Crooks says he was then the only survivor of that party of seven. )
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The British hoped to forestall us in the actual occupation of the valley of Columbia's river, but as in its discovery and exploration, they were a little behind hand.
As soon as they learned of Mr. Astor's plans the Northwest Company (the great Canadian fur company which after sixteen years of bitter and relentless competition with the Hudson's Bay Company was consolidated with it in 1821) started a party for "Columbia's River," but though they did succeed in crossing the Rocky Mountains onto its extreme headwaters, did not descend it till a few weeks after the foundation of Astoria on April 12, 1811. (Irving's "Astoria," Ch. IX.; Greenhow, p. 296; Franchere, p. 101.) (The Northwest Company, by their intrepid explorer David Thompson, actually occupied the extreme headwaters of the Columbia in 1808, 1809 and 1810. )
On October 16, 1813 (according to Irving, but October 23, according to Franchere), all the interests of Mr. Astor in the Oregon country were sold by his managing partner, McDougal, to the Northwest Company of Montreal, for about one-third of their value, for which piece of treachery to his partner's interests McDougal was shortly afterwards rewarded with an interest in the Northwest Company. (Cf. Irving's "Astoria," Chap. 59, Franchere, Chap. XV. ) November 30, 1813, the British sloop-of-war Raccoon of twenty-six guns and 120 men, arrived off Astoria, its officers and crew eagerly anticipating great profits for themselves in the prize money they should receive for the American vessels and the rich store of furs they expected to capture there. When they discovered that there were no American ships there, and that their expected fortunes had been traded away from their grasp only six weeks before by the shrewd Scotch agents of that same Northwest Company, one of whose partners had not only instigated their being despatched on their tedious cruise to capture Astoria from its Yankee owners, but, with five voyageurs for the service of his company, had been taken as passengers on the Raccoon, their disgust and disappointment were inexpressible, and at first they were inclined to resent what they regarded as a trick put upon them by their bargaining countrymen, and demanded that the property should be inventoried that measures might be taken to recover its value in England, from the Northwest Company. A few days' reflection, however, satisfied Captain Black, Commander of the Raccoon, that he might better make the best of the situation and not attempt any legal contest with the sharp traders who had so cunningly jockeyed a fortune out of his hands.
Fortunately for us, Captain Black was not content "to let well enough alone," and sail away without going through the form of having captured Astoria, and so, on December 12, 1813, "Attended
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by his officers he entered the fort, caused the British standard to be erected, broke a bottle of wine, and declared in a loud voice, that he took possession of the establishment and of the country, in the name of His Britannic Majesty, changing the name of Astoria to that of Ft. George," and soon after sailed away. (Irving's "Astoria," Ch. 60, Chanchere, Chap. XV.)
This empty ceremonial, as we shall soon see, forged another strong link in our complex chain of title to the vast region "Where Rolls the Oregon."
THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF A ROUTE PRACTICABLE FOR AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL WAGON ROAD.
The myth-loving originators and advocates of the Whitman Legend have invented so many amazing and amusing fictions about Whitman's experience with his "old wagon" that a vast majority of those who have read anything about him regard him as the chief factor in discovering and developing the wagon road to Oregon.
It is doubtful if about any other so wholly unimportant and inconsequential an event in our history has there ever been imagined and printed as true so many palpably false statements, as about Whitman's driving his "old wagon" to Ft. Boise in 1836, and hence it becomes necessary to relate briefly, not only the true story of that event, but also of what preceded and followed it in the discovery of a route for and the establishment of a wagon road to Oregon. First let us glance briefly at what is claimed for Whitman in this matter. In the chapters on the varying forms of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, and on what Whitman himself claimed (in Part II.), will be found abundant proof of the extravagance of the claims made by Atkinson in the first two forms of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story in 1858 and 1859, and in Whitman's own letters from November 1, 1843, to October 18, 1847, as to his share in leading the migration of 1843 to Oregon; but neither Atkinson nor Whitman claimed that his wagon in 1836 was of any special consequence, and though the legend had as early as 1858-9 so far developed as to accuse the H. B. Co. of opposing later wagons going beyond Ft Hall, even Atkinson does not venture to accuse the H. B. Co. of opposing Whitman's taking his wagon in 1836, while not a sentence has been found in any letter or diary of Whitman, or Mrs. Whitman, or Mrs. Spalding, or in any letter or diary of Spalding, or Gray, or C. Eells, or Mrs. Eells, or E. Walker, or Mrs. Walker prior to the publication of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story in 1865-G, that accuses the H. B. Co. of offering any opposition to wagons going beyond Ft. Hall, or making any effort to prevent Americans from reaching and settling in Oregon. And though in his articles in the "Pacific," in September, October and November, 1865, in launching the first pub-
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lication of any definite and detailed form of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, Spalding accused the H. B. Co. of stopping wagons at Ft. Hall to prevent the settling of the country by Americans (Cf. "Pacific," Nov. 9, 1865), nowhere in any of those articles, nor in his pamphlet published in 1871 (as Sen. Ex. Doc. 37, 41st Cong. 3d Sess.), with all its wildly extravagant and baseless claims for Whitman, and its equally unfounded denunciations of the H, B. Go. is there one sentence about any opposition on the part of the Hudson's Bay Co. to Whitman's driving his wagon beyond Ft. Hall in 1836.
But as the legend developed, and it became evident that it could not obtain credence unless the belief could be created that the Hudson Bay Go. was bitterly opposed to Americans reaching and settling in Oregon, the myth-lovers speedily invented statements to that effect, and that this opposition began when Whitman drove his old wagon up to Ft. Hall, and grew more intense year by year thereafter. These statements having been often repeated and apparently substantiated by fraudulent quotations (like that from Palmer's Journal hereinafter examined), and by other fabricated evidence have come to be generally accepted as true, though there exists the most indisputable contemporaneous evidence of their total falsity.
In his article in the "Pacific" for September 28, 1865, Spalding wrote: "The only one purpose of these consecrated women" (Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding) "was to obey their Lord and carry the Gospel to the Indians. God had also another, the opening the Great Wagon Eoute from the Missouri to the Columbia and the gold mines of the Pacific. They actually settled the question by their own sacrifices and trials and dangers, that women, and wagons and cattle could cross the mountains, a thing pronounced impossible by hundreds of mountain men. . . Therefore to these two American missionary heroines are the people of the United States, especially the citizens of this coast, indebted more than to any other two persons dead or alive, for the present and prospective importance of this Great West. . . . This vastly important emigrant route, thus established by the personal sacrifices and hazards of these two devoted missionaries" (Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding) , "was saved to our country as it was about to be extinguished by the false representations and wiles of the Hudson's Bay Co., by the personal hazards and hardships of that devoted missionary, Dr. Whitman, in the California Mountains in the winter of 1842 and '43." Turn now to W. H. Gray's contemporaneous letters and statements and compare them with what he wrote and published in 1870 in his "History of Oregon." If the reader will turn to Chapter 3 of Part II., infra, he will find Gray's testimony in the case of the Hudson's Bay Co. vs. the U. S., in which he admitted not only that he knew that Dr. Whitman reported to the American Board
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that he had been treated by the officers of the Hudson's Bay Co. with the utmost and unlimited kindness all the time he had been in Oregon, but that "I did the same myself when I was at home" (i. e., in the winter of 1837-38).
January 10, 1838, Gray wrote a long letter from Fairfield, N. Y., to Rev. D. Greene, Secretary of the A. B. C. F. M. (from which nothing has yet been ptiblished as far as I know, but), from which the following is an extract:
"You have been informed as to the very kind reception and treatment we have received from the Officers and Gentlemen connected with the Honorable Hudson's Bay Company. You are also fully acquainted with their object in the country and you also know ours. The request we have to make is that you will forward to the Commissioners of the Honorable Hudson's Bay Company in London a statement of instructions that you may forward to us, requiring us as your agents, or representatives, or servants, to have nothing to do with the Trade of the country, so far as it relates to furs of any kind. You will be particular and explicit on this point. We have thus far received almost, if not quite, the unbounded confidence of the gentlemen of the Company. We have told them that we will have nothing to do with the Fur Trade in the country. It is not our business nor do we mean to be troubled with it. We wish an expression of the Board to be forwarded to the Commissioners in London, and also to Dr. McLoughlin at Vancouver. This will relieve them from any apprehension of our becoming at all concerned in the Fur Trade. If I am correctly informed as to our Methodist friends on the Columbia, they have in this particular excited suspicion, if nothing further, as to their object in coming to the country. The Company are extremely jealous of their Trade, and as we have no definite instructions from the Board on this particular, we wish them to understand through the Board what our instructions are."
Accordingly, in the "Instruction of the Prudential Committee of the A. B. C. F. M. to Rev. Messrs. E. Walker, C. Eells, A. B. Smith and W. H. Gray, March 18, 1838," the original Mss. of which is now among the documents of the Oregon Historical Society (and a copy of which covers 29 pp. letter size double space type-written Mss.), we find the following: "On your long journey and after your arrival at the place of your destination, you will have more or less intercourse with the gentlemen engaged in the Indian trade, especially with those connected with the American Fur Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. They will be your companions in travel and, during the last half of your journey, you will often stop at their trading posts. Prom these, your predecessors in the field have received the most friendly and hospitable treatment, and we
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have no reason to doubt that they will extend similar facilities to you in your journeys and labors. They have in this respect laid your brethren and the Board under great obligations, of which we take pleasure in making this public acknowledgment. We are confident that you, in your turn, will be to them courteous and respectful, rendering them aid, meeting their wishes, and especially ministering to them of spiritual things, as far as the accomplishment of your work among the Indians will permit; thus showing that you value their friendship and are grateful for their favors. You, of course, hardly need to be reminded that you are in no manner to interfere with their trade, but scrupulously to stand aloof from everything which may awaken jealousy on this point. Your objects are entirely different from theirs. Theirs are the ordinary gains of traffic; yours to introduce and establish Christianity."
Yet in face of this positive instruction from the American Board to its missionaries made at the request of Whitman and Spalding through Gray, not to have anything to do with the fur trade, in the progress of the development of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story we find the following on page 74 of Spalding's pamphlet (Sen. Ex. Doc. 37) in the "Resolutions adopted by the Pleasant Butte Baptist Church of Linn County, Oregon, October 22, 1869:
"By the crossing of the Rocky Mountains in 1834 (four years before any Romish priest set foot in Oregon), by the Protestant Lee, the pioneer missionary, and his little band, to become permanent missionaries and settlers on this coast. And the undaunted patriotism exhibited by this Christian hero in his first interview with the governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, then a corrupt British monopoly on this coast. The governor said to Mr. Lee: "All needed supplies and facility in our power shall be afforded to your mission while you confine yourselves to your work as teachers, but the day you lay hands on beaver all supplies will be stopped, and you will be left destitute. The trade in furs and the commerce of these seas belong to us." The reply of this missionary, American withal, was prompt and characteristic: "Governor, it is true I was born a British subject; but I am now an American citizen, and as such I have and shall claim the same right on these shores as the most favored British subject, and that too by treaty. I shall therefore trade beaver where and when I please." The same reply, almost word for word, was made two years later to the same English officer, by that faithful Christian but stern patriot, Marcus Whitman. That determined the fate of both of these valuable men; they fell martyrs to this their country. The destruction of the one was brought about through apostate Americans and disaffected friends employed to misrepresent; that of the other by imported Romish agents and Hudson's Bay interpreters worikng upon the savages." These reso-
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lutions contain abundant proof that they were written by Spalding as was pretty much everything else in the pamphlet.
In 1839, Gray, having quarreled with all his associates, began to scheme to desert the mission, which he finally did in Sept., 1842, in a manner that Rev. C. Eells and Rev. E. Walker denounced as dishonorable and deceptive.
His first step was to apply to the Hudson's Bay Co. for the position of teacher of their school at Ft. Vancouver for his wife, and employment for himself in some capacity, (not named in the evidence, but probably at his "profession" of cabinet maker or carpenter).
His application was promptly declined on the ground that the company had no satisfactory evidence that the Mission were willing that he should sever his connection with it. (Cf. on these points Gray's testimony in case of the H. B. Co. vs. the U. S., Part 2, Chapter III., infra, and C. Eells' letter of Oct. 3, 1842, to D. Greene, secretary, endorsed as correct [especially in its criticism of Gray's course] by Rev. E. Walker, Part 2, Chapter IV., infra.)
Forthwith Gray reported to the American Board that there was a rupture of the friendly relations that had previously existed between their missionaries in Oregon and the Hudson's Bay Co., which being reported back to Whitman, in 1840, in a letter from D. Greene, evoked a most emphatic contradiction from Whitman in his of July 13, 1841, in which he wrote "Your fears lest our good understanding with the gentlemen of the Hudson's Bay Co. should have been interrupted are not well founded, for it has remained undisturbed up to this date, indeed we never were on better terms than at present." And the evidence hereinafter presented in Chapter VII., on "The Truth About the Relation of the Hudson's Bay Co. to the American Exploration, Occupation and Settlement of Oregon," demonstrates beyond dispute that this good understanding remained unimpaired till the destruction of the Mission by the massacre in Nov., 1847. Yet, when Gray published his "History," in 1870, he declared, (p. 183) "From that time forward" (i. e., the fall of 1839) "a marked change was manifest in the feelings of most of the gentlemen of the company."
(P. 118) Gray says, "Whitman and his four men opened it (i. e., the wagon road to Oregon) as far as they could with a light wagon and a cart. To him must be given the credit of the first practical experiment, though Ashley, Bonneville and Bridger had taken wagons into the Rocky Mountains and left them, and pronounced the experiment a failure, and a wagon road impracticable. Whitman's perseverance demonstrated a great fact--the practicability of a wagon road over the Rocky Mountains."
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(P. 133) Gray says that at Ft. Hall, "Miles Goodyear left the Mission party," and continues, "This loss of manual strength to the Mission party compelled the Doctor to curtail his wagon, so he made a cart on two of the wheels, placed the axle tree and the other two wheels on his cart, and about the 1st of August, 1836, our camp was again in motion." Idem. (p. 140) "At this place (i. e., Ft. Boise) "McLeod and McKay, and all the Johnny Crapauds of the company united in the opinion that it was impossible to get the Doctor's cart any farther without taking it all apart . . . and packing it ... After several consultations, and some very decided expressions against any further attempt to take the wagon further, a compromise was made, that after the party had reached their permanent location the Doctor or Mr. Gray would return with the Hudson's Bay Company's caravan and get the wagon and bring it through." Why neither he nor Dr. Whitman ever sent for the cart left at Ft. Boise, Gray vouchsafes no information. In the whole 624 pages of his History, Gray not only does not quote one sentence from the contemporary correspondence and diaries of the various members of the American Board Mission in Oregon, but he gives no intimation that any such matter existed at the headquarters of the American Board in Boston and in the possession of the friends and relations of the missionaries to the amount of nearly or quite one million words.
Possibly some of his friends might urge in his defense that it was a long and expensive journey from Oregon to Boston, in 1866-70, more than a dogen years before there was any transcontinental railroad into Oregon.
But what can be said in defense of Rev. Wm. Barrows, who not only lived most of his life in and close to Boston, but for six years-- 1873-79--just before he "threw together" his "Oregon," as Secretary of the Massachusetts Home Missionary Society had his office in the same building as the A. B. C. F. M., and must have known of all the correspondence therein existing, and yet, as Prof. Bourne says, not only "Successfully resisted the temptation" to examine and quote any of it, but, from title page to finis of his book never even alludes to its existence, but instead of these original sources of the history of American Board Mission in Oregon relies on Gray's History of Oregon, Spalding's Pamphlet (Ex. Doc. 37), and Rev. M. Eells' Indian Missions, (which is as untrustworthy as Gray or Spalding), and, more than all else, on his own vivid and myth-loving imagination.
Naturally in his book the "Whitman's old wagon" myth blossoms out in its wildest form, as witness the following quotations, page 140, chapter XVI., "Whitman's Old Wagon": "The Oregon question finally turned on wheels . . . Then diplomacy, civil
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engineering and the two nations--all concerned--had to wait for the wagons. The taking one through overland to the Columbia by Dr. Whitman was the most important act in all preliminaries in the settlement of the Oregon controversy. At first only two parties took a proper view of a wagon for Oregon--Marcus Whitman and the Hudson's Bay Co. In 1836, when the wagon- was at Fort Hall and Fort Boise with its two women occupants, it suggested to the Company the family and a civilized home and permanent settlement in Oregon, and a highway from the Missouri to that settlement which others could follow. The Company therefore determined to turn the wagon back, or divert it to California, or stop it absolutely. Dr. Whitman took the same view of the wagon, and therefore concluded to take it through to Oregon."
(P. 142) "Arrived at Ft. Hall ... all parties, mission, and Hudson's Bay and the postmen, too, combined to say that the wagon could be hauled no farther . . . But the iron Doctor was immovable . . . Finally the indomitable man made a compromise, converted the wagon into a cart, loaded in the duplicate wheels and axletree and started again on wheels for the Columbia."
(P. 142) Speaking of what took place at Ft. Boise, Barrows says: "Finally a compromise was effected. The wagon should be left at Ft. Boise, till some one could come back and take it on to the established mission . . . and soon after the fold wagon' went through, the first to pass the plains and the mountains so far towards Oregon." So (on p. 145) he says: "The 'Old Wagon' of Marcus Whitman . . . finally and later came out all right on the lower Columbia at Ft Walla Walla." P. 146 he says: "The wagon and the two brides, Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding, had won Oregon. The first wheels had marked the prairie, and brushed the sage, and grazed the rocks and cut the river banks all the way from the Missouri to the Columbia." As to the "two brides," it is proper to observe that the Spaldings were married Oct. 12, 1833, and Mrs. Spalding had borne and buried a child before Whitman invited them to go to Oregon in February, 1836, and, except in such romances as the Whitman Legend, a woman is supposed to cease to be "a bride" some time before she bears a child--(Cf. on this "Sketch of Life of H. H. Spalding in Trans. Oregon Pioneers' Association," 1897, p. 107)--and as to the child (which none of the romancers wishing to represent this as a double bridal tour have ever alluded to), Cf. Whitman's letters to D. Greene, secretary, dated Rushville, N. Y., January 29, 1836, as follows: "Your allusion to Mr. Spalding is incorrect. They lost their child by death some time since."
(P. 147) Writing of the journey of the 1838 reinforcement to the American Board Mission--consisting of Rev. C. Eells, E. Walker,
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A. B. Smith and their wives, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Gray and Mr. Cornelius Eogers, Barrows says of their experiences at Ft. Hall: "Impediments, perils and Indians do not seem to have been put before them at that fur traders' Gibraltar, for they had no carriages."
"They had acted on the already well-established impression in the East that carriages could not travel to Oregon." But W. H. Gray in his History of Oregon, (p. 177), says: "In the winter of 1837-8 Gray is in the States giving an account of his trip across the Rocky Mountains with Messrs. Spalding and Whitman and of . . the fact that a wagon had been taken by Dr. Whitman and his party to Ft. Boise, and that it could be taken to the Wallamet Settlement."
That there was no "well-established impression in the East that carriages could not travel to Oregon" is evident from the fact that this party started with a wagon, as appears from the following extract from a letter of W. H. Gray to D. Greene, secretary, (from which nothing has yet been published), dated Rendezvous, Wind River Mountains, July (no day), 1838. On p. 8, after explaining that they had been compelled to dispose of a wagon in trade for a mule at a loss of $45, because it was old and not adapted to the trip, he says: "The wagon we purchased to supply the place of the one sent by Dr. Weed" (which was the old one before referred to) "we have exchanged for a horse with Capt. Fontenelle, who kindly exchanged with us when we could bring it no further for want of horses." This, bear in mind, was 27 years before there was any "Whitman Saved Oregon" tale invented, and when there was no temptation, even to Gray's mendacious mind, to falsely accuse that awful Hudson's Bay Company of stopping the wagon, which he admits they had traded off to an American fur trader at some point more than 350 miles east of Ft. Hall, not from any opposition of fur traders to its further progress, nor on account of the difficulties of the way, but because they "could bring it no further for want of horses." This swapping of the wagon for a horse took place at Ft. Laramie. (Cf. Mrs. Eells' Diary in Tr. Oregon Pioneers' Association, 1889, p. 73.)
Dr. Weed kept a religious book store in Cincinnati for many years, and was the agent there for the A. B, C. F. M. He was the father of Geo. Ludington Weed, who has written two of the most wildly extravagant and grotesquely fictitious newspaper articles in' support of the Whitman Legend that have ever been printed. (Cf. Ladies' Home Journal, November, 1897, and Sunday School Times, August 23, 1902.)
(P. 152) Barrows says: "Now such a company (i. e., the Hudson's Bay Company) was driven into anxiety. It was confronted
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and troubled and forced into strategy by an 'old wagon.' Under this fear" (i. e., that if wagons went through they would lose Oregon) "they fought all its kith and kin as they drove up to Ft. Hall, and they spread the impression through the United States from New Hampshire to Texas, that wheels could not be driven from the Snake River Valley to the Columbia."
(P. 153) "Not only did the Company hold this known pass by representing it to be impassable for carriages, but they kept the knowledge of other passes a secret."
(P. 166) Speaking of Whitman's ride to the States in 1842-3, and his arrival at Ft. Hall, Barrows says: "If Capt. Grant and the Hudson's Bay Co. generally made a mistake in letting Dr. Whitman through with his old wagon six years before, they made a greater one in letting him return on horseback to the States." I shall present the most indisputable evidence that no Hudson's Bay Company's officers or men made any objection to Whitman's trying the experiment of driving his wagon to and beyond Ft. Hall, nor did any one of them offer the slightest opposition to his return to the States.
Furthermore, Grant was not at Ft. Hall six, nor five, nor four, nor three, nor two years before this, but came there to take command less than one year before this time, as witness the following extract from a letter of A. McKinley (who was in command at Ft. Walla Walla from 1841 to 1846), to Hon. Elwood Evans, quoted by Mr. Evans in Seattle Daily Intelligencer of April 28, 1881:
"The Red River Colony arrived at Walla Walla when the old fort was burned, October 3, 1841. The express from Selkirk arrived about the 25th of October, in charge of Mr. Richard Grant, afterwards for several years in charge of Ft. Hall.
"In 1842 not a single immigrant came from Red River to Oregon." So Grant had no more to do with hindering or helping Whitman about his wagon in 1836, than Rev. Wm. Barrows himself had, and, as we shall see later, the contemporaneous testimony of every American who was at Ft. Hall while Grant was in command there (i. e., from 1842 to 1851) was that Grant's treatment of all Americans who reached Ft. Hall on the way to Oregon was uniformly kind and courteous.
Nixon, of course, accepts these fictions of Barrows about Grant as authentic history, and gives freest rein to his own very lively and unrestrained imagination in embellishing in the most lurid "newspaperish" English his ideas of Grant's interview with Whitman, in October, 1842. So much easier is it to dash down a history (?) of Oregon, as one does an editorial for the Inter-Ocean from "one's own interior consciousness," assisted by intense religious prejudices, than to patiently study contemporaneous evi-
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dence to learn what actually occurred, (Cf. Nixon's "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon," pp. 109-110.)
Barrows (p. 171) says of Whitman: "The same man this is who made the Rocky Mountains give up to a wagon."
(P. 247) Writing of the arrival of the 1843 migration at Ft. Hall, Barrows says: "Serious troubles confronted the Doctor. He could feed a thousand people on the plains, ford the rivers and force the mountains, but to run the gauntlet of the Hudson's Bay post, whose interests were so deeply involved in stopping him, was another labor." . . . (P. 246) "A desperate effort must be made" (i. e., by the Hudson's Bay Company's officers at Ft. Hall) "to scatter or divert or turn back the company" (i. e., the 1843 migration.) . . . "At this point many immigrant companies had been intimidated and broken up, and so Ft. Hall served as a cover to Oregon, just as a battery at the mouth of a river protects the inland city on its banks." (P. 249) "Here the postmen had made the fatal mistake of allowing the 'old wagon' of the Doctor to go through seven years before . . . Oregon was taken at Ft. Hall."
As we shall see in this chapter, and in the chapter on "The Truth About the Relation of the Hudson's Bay Company to the American Exploration, Occupation and Settlement of Oregon," all this about opposition by the Hudson's Bay Company at Ft. Hall--or anywhere else--in 1836, or 1843 --or at any other time--to wagons going to Oregon is pure fiction, not only absolutely destitute of any support in contemporaneous letters, diaries, reports of government officers, and books published in 1838, 1839, 1840, 1845 and 1847, by explorers, and travelers and emigrants to Oregon, but is squarely contradicted by all those contemporaneous documents published and unpublished, the writers of every one of which gratefully acknowledge their obligations to the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company for their most kind and hospitable reception and treatment at all their various posts in the Oregon Territory, especially Ft. Hall, Ft. Boise, Ft. Walla Walla and Ft. Vancouver.
Barrows, who never saw it--calls Ft. Hall "This fur traders' Gibraltar," but Col. Wni. Gilpin--a graduate of West Point, who accompanied Fremont to Oregon in 1843, and returned via Ft. Hall and the Spanish Trail to Bent's Fort in 1844, and afterwards took a prominent part in the Mexican War, and was subsequently Governor of Colorado--(and as such organized the little army that utterly routed the Confederate army sent under Gen. Sibley to conquer New Mexico and Colorado, and, if possible, California), on February 8, 1867, in Washington, D. C., testified in the famous case of "The Hudson's Bay Co. vs. the U.S." (Cf. vol. 6, pp. 330 et seq. of report of that case) as follows: That he was at Ft. Hall several days in 1843 on his way to Oregon, and several weeks in the sum-
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mer of 1844 on his return; that it was a small quadrangular trading post, about 100 feet square, built of adobies (or sun-dried bricks) and log cabins, occupied by about eleven men, designed for mere temporary use for the protection of stores, and trade with, the Indians; that having built such structures himself, and having once been in treaty for the purchase of Bent's Fort, he was well acquainted with the value of such establishments, and that he should consider $2,000 a liberal price to pay for all the buildings he saw at Ft. Hall.
The magnifying by Barrows of this little $2,000 trading post "occupied by about eleven men" into a "fur traders' Gibraltar" is a perfectly fair example of the way Barrows' imagination swelled and distorted every fact connected in any way with Whitman's relation to Oregon.
With the publication of Barrows' Oregon, in 1883, the "wagon myth" concerning Marcus Whitman may be regarded as fully developed, though some of the later myth loving advocates of the Whitman Legend, notably Geo. Ludington Weed, Rev. Jonathan Edwards, and Rev. L. H. Hallock, have added "some frills and feathers of ornamentation" to it with which even Barrows' fervid imagination, wholly unlimited as it was by any sense of obligation to inquire into the truth of what his fancy impelled him to write, did not venture to adorn his story.
We are now ready to examine the contemporaneous evidence and learn the true story of the whole of the discovery of routes practicable for, and the speedy development of the first wagon road across the continent, and to learn how very trifling was Whitman's part in that matter.
But before we can understand with what ease many routes practicable for wagons when almost or entirely in a state of nature were discovered along the whole eastern edge of the old Oregon Territory, from 42 degrees to 47 degrees north latitude, and the speed with which a wagon road was developed over not only the Main Range of the Rocky Mountains, but over all the outlying ranges as far West as the Cascades, without any governmental expenditure even for a survey of the route we must know a little of the peculiar geographical features of the Rocky Mountain region.
The whole Appalachian system before the whites settled our country was covered with dense forests stretching far out east and west from their bases, and generally full of a dense undergrowth of vines and shrubs, which rendered the exploration of their slopes and the discovery of passes over their summits an exceedingly slow and laborious task.
In the Rocky Mountain region, on the contrary, timber covers but a small part of the higher slopes of the ranges, all the lower
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slopes and the foothills and the plains stretching hundreds of miles away to the east, and the great interior plateaus and basins and broad valleys of the larger rivers west of the Main Range as far as the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains being almost entirely destitute of trees except here and there a little grove in a moist spot, and a narrow fringe--generally of cottonwood, and poplar, and box elder, and alders, and willows--along the banks of the streams. The forests of the whole Rocky Mountain region on the borders of and within the Old Oregon Territory, as far west as the Cascade Mountains, were almost entirely of conifers--pines, firs, hemlocks, cedars, etc.--and in the Rocky Mountains proper rarely began below 6,000 to 7,500 feet above the sea level, and were rarely continuous for any great distances, but were interspersed with great stretches of grass land, which cover generally much more than one-half the area within the forest belt on the mountains.
Furthermore, the forests rarely have much undergrowth, and the trees usually are so scattering that there is not the slightest difficulty in riding on horseback where one chooses in the forests, except as fallen timber from fires and storms sometimes blocks the way, and very often one can drive a wagon with very little trouble through the forests for long distances with only cutting here and there a tree.
This openness of the country has been one of the most potent factors in the speedy exploration and settlement of the whole region beyond the Great Plains, since from the summit of a range one can "read the face of the country" in the valleys on either side as easily as one can read the pages of an open book, and often, after studying for an hour or two with a field glass the landscape below him, tracing every turn and winding not only of the main stream that drains it, but also of each of its tributaries, by the belt of trees along the courses of all the larger streams and the ribbon of shrubs and bushes along the smaller ones, one can make a more accurate map of a region covering one or two or three or four hundred square miles in which he has not even so much as set his foot, than any one could have made of an equal area in the Appalachian system masked with dense forests after spending many weeks in constantly traveling over it.
But the special feature in the structure of the Rocky Mountains that made the opening of a transcontinental wagon road a very easy matter is the wonderful breaking down of the whole range between 41 degrees and 47 degrees north latitude.
The Rocky Mountains culminate in so remarkable a manner in Colorado, that in that State between 37 degrees and 41 degrees north latitude are some 70 peaks more than 14,000 feet high, and no pass exists across the Main Range in that State less than about
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11,000 feet above the sea, and they range up from that to more than 13,000 feet, while going northwest along the Main Range from there to British America, a distance along the windings of the range much more than twice as many miles as from the southern to the northern boundary of Colorado, not a single peak rises to the height of 14,000 feet, and very few reach even 13,000 feet, while the passes --of which there are many--range from 5,800 feet to 8,500 feet above the sea, or fully 3,000 to 4,000 feet lower than in Colorado, and several of these passes are broad, grassy valleys of such gentle slope and so flat on their summits that even those of us who have often crossed them on horesback are always in doubt when we have reached the top, and are only satisfied of it when we find some little watercourse running to the other ocean.
Between 1866 and 1905 I have crossed the Main Range of the Rocky Mountains seventy-six times over twenty-six different passes between 35 degrees and 47 degrees north latitude, of which thirteen led directly into the Old Oregon Territory and two others led into what was formerly Mexican territory (now in Southwest Wyoming), very near the southeast corner of the Old Oregon Territory.
Over ten of these passes leading directly into the Old Oregon Territory I have ridden twenty-eight times on horseback. All these passes were well known to and used by our fur traders several years before Whitman or anybody else dreamed of going missionarying to the Oregon Indians.
It is impossible for me to recall how many times I have crossed the various spurs and outlying ranges of the Rocky Mountain system during my continuous residence from June, 1866, to October, 1875, in the Rocky Mountains, and my extensive journeying in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and California since that time.
Why our first overland expedition in their westward journey in 1805 did not find any of the three easy passes by the entrances of which they journeyed--the Pipestone, the Deer Lodge and Clark's or Gibbon's-- (the last of which they discovered on their return trip in 1806)--I have not space to explain, but it was not because they might not easily have been found had the party been mounted instead of in canoes, and had they not set their faces so steadfastly to the west that they would not turn to the north or the northwest.
On their return trip the division under Capt. Clark discovered and traversed the pass commonly known as Gibbon's, though it ought forever to bear the name of Clark, and in the "History of the Expedition Under the Command of Capts. Lewis and Clark," vol. 3, p. 1128, of Coues' edition and vol. 2, pp. 285-C of the 1842 edition, it is thus mentioned: "They had now crossed from Travelers' Rest Creek to the head of Jefferson's River, which seems to form the best
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and shortest route over the mountains during almost the whole distance of one hundred and sixty-four miles.
"It is, in fact, a very excellent road; and by cutting down a few trees it might be rendered a good route for wagons, with the exception of about four miles over one of the mountains, which would require some leveling."
On this Dr. Coues prints the following note: "It seems almost incredible that the modesty or the indifference of the great explorer should have led him to dismiss this part of his route without further remark. A road of 164 miles across the great Continental Divide--we hardly realize what it meant to make that discovery in 1806."
The original edition of the "History of the Expedition Under the Command of Capts. Lewis and Clark" (of which Dr. Coues' edition is an exact reprint) was published in Philadelphia in 1814, and before 1818 three editions of it were also published in London, and one in Dublin, besides which it was translated into German, and also into Dutch, and editions were published in Germany and Holland.
In the spring of 1810 Andrew Henry, one of the leading men in the St. Louis "Missouri Fur Co.," founded an Indian trading post in what is now Montana, about two miles above the junction of the Madison and Jefferson Rivers, but was so harassed by the Blackfeet that in the autumn of 1810 he abandoned that locality, journeyed up the Madison and crossed the Continental Divide, and established a post called Ft. Henry on Henry Fork of the Snake River, the stream which will ever perpetuate Andrew Henry's name. This post was about fifty miles southwest of Henry Lake and near where the town of Egin, Idaho, now stands.
As Ft. Henry was only about forty to fifty miles a little east of south of the summit of Beaver Cañon Pass (over which many thousands of the early settlers of Montana went with their wagons before there was any expenditure of money in making a road, and over which the Oregon Short Line Railroad now goes), there is every probability that Henry traversed that pass also while occupying Ft. Henry.
This post was abandoned in the spring of 1811, an event which had much to do with the disastrous experiences of the overland portion of the Astoria expedition, who occupied this abandoned post for ten days in October, 1811. Henry Fork is a beautiful stream of crystal water rising in Henry Lake, one of the loveliest little lakes in all the Rocky Mountain region, of irregular outline, covering about twelve miles, swarming with salmon trout, and the summer home of countless water fowl--ducks, geese, brant, swans, pelicans, cranes, herons, gulls, etc.
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Around its shores the Continental Divide sweeps in a very short horseshoe shaped bend, whose opening is scarcely a score of miles across. The basin of the lake is so flat that it is nowhere more than fifteen feet deep, and its waters will not average more than four or five feet in depth.
The most remarkable thing, however, about this mountain bend and the lake that rests within it is that across the Continental Divide three passes, each easily practicable for wagons, converge on the shores of Henry Lake with a semicircle of less than fifteen miles.
Reynold's Pass leads over from the Madison at a point just below its second or middle canon, and is a broad, grassy valley of such gentle slope that one has no idea he is crossing a mountain range, but just as he begins to inquire, "When are we going to leave this valley and start across the range?" he is informed that lie has just crossed the summit.
About seven miles to the southwest around the shore of the lake, and almost at right angles to Reynold's Pass, is Tahgee Pass, coming also from the Madison, but starting between its middle and upper canons, while directly opposite the mouth of Tahgee Pass is Red Rock Pass, leading over to Red Rock Lake, the source of the Red Rock Fork, which is the longest tributary of the Jefferson River--the longest of the three streams which unite to form the Missouri--so that Red Rock Lake is the beginning of the longest river in the world. Over all these passes I have been on horseback, and over Reynold's and Tahgee in a two-horse wagon before any money had been spent on the former, and less than forty dollars on Tahgee in road making.
All three of these passes must have been perfectly well known to Andrew Henry and his men in 1810-11. (Cf. for Henry's experience near the junction of the Madison and Jefferson, and his founding and abandonment of Ft. Henry, "The History of the American Fur Trade of the Far West, by Hiram M. Chittenden, Captain Corps of Engineers, U. S. A.," N. Y., F. P. Harper, 1902, Vol. I., 1434, and Vol. III., 974.) The next party of Americans to cross the Continental Divide was the Astoria party, who, on their westward journey, from fear of the Blackfeet Indians, swung so far to the southwest from where they left the Missouri River at the Arickara Villages, as to cross the Continental Divide south of Yellowstone Lake in one of its wildest and most rugged portions along the whole border of the Old Oregon Territory, and so they discovered on their outbound journey no easy pass practicable for wagons but, as we have already seen in Chapter IV., that part of the Astoria party who returned overland to the States discovered, in November, 1812, the pass afterwards known as the South Pass, which for thirty
68 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
years after its rediscovery in 1824 was by far the most widely known feature of the Rocky Mountains in Europe as well as America.
So far therefore is it from being true, as Barrows states (Oregon, p. 153) "Not only did the Company" (i. e., the Hudson's Bay Co.) "hold this known pass by representing it to be impassable for carriages, but they kept the knowledge of other passes a secret," that before the Hudson's Bay Co. had any post within 500 miles of any part of the only portion of the Oregon Territory for which we were really contending (i. e., the part south of 49 degrees), almost before its more energetic rival, the Canadian "Northwest Co.," had succeeded in establishing itself at any point in the Old Oregon Territory the Americans had certainly already discovered five passes practicable for wagons into Oregon, viz.: Clark's, Red Rock, Reynold's, Tahgee and South Pass. Besides these it is altogether probable that John Colter (who had at his own request been discharged from the Lewis and Clark party on its return trip, that he might remain in the mountains and trap beaver) had before 1808 discovered Pipestone and Deer Lodge Passes over the Continental Divide in Montana--the former situated a few miles south of the Homestake Pass, which is now traversed by the Northern Pacific Railroad, and the latter by the Oregon Short Line--and that Henry had discovered Beaver Cañon Pass.
One would suppose, to read Barrows and many writers who have depended on him as an authority, that mountain passes, instead of being great natural features of the geographical structure of the country--often visible dozens and scores of miles away--were nice little toys, that a Hudson's Bay Co. trader could lock up in his writing desk, or wrap in a bit of paper and hide in his tobacco pouch.
When traveling on horseback over the mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, I have often beheld these passes, like mighty gateways in the ranges, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty and even sixty and seventy-five miles away.
Mr. Barrows and those who have endorsed him have refrained from telling us by what process the Hudson's Bay Co. "kept the knowledge of other passes a secret" from the hundreds of American trappers and traders who were constantly traveling and pursuing their vocation on both sides of the Rocky Mountains after 1824 (when the South Pass was rediscovered). None but fearless and resolute and hardy men attempted this life, and a most rigorous "natural selection" soon weeded out those who were unfitted for it, so that those who remained in it were as keen-witted, clear-eyed, energetic, vigorous and resourceful men as ever explored new regions on any continent.
To suppose that from such men as W. H. Ashley, L. Maxwell,
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Thomas Fitzpatrick, A. Godey, Kit Carson, Milton Sublette and his brother W. L., James Bridger, David E. Jackson, Jedediah Smith, Joseph Walker, J. L. Meek, Caleb Wilkins, Robert Newell, and scores of other American mountaineers, the Hudson's Bay Co.--or any other organization on earth--could "keep the knowledge of passes a secret" is a proposition so inane that its statement is its sufficient refutation, and it seems to be one of the very many of the most preposterous fictions about the Whitman myth, which Barrows' fancy invented.
After the treachery to Mr. Astor's interests of his partner McDougal had put the Northwest Co. in possession of Astoria, our fur traders seem to have confined their efforts to the east side of the Rockies, and mainly to the region along the Missouri River, till in the winter of 1822-23, in a quarrel between some hunters and a party of Arickara Indians, two of the latter were killed. This caused the Arickara Indians on June 2, 1823, to attack Mr. W. H. Ashley's party of thirty-five men, of whom they killed thirteen and wounded ten. This resulted in Col. Leavenworth, in command of the military post at Council Bluffs, proceeding with 200 soldiers against the Indians, and in a battle fought August 10, 11 and 12, 1823, they were defeated, Ashley taking part in the fight with eighty of the employes of the Missouri Fur Co. (Gf. Mles Register, August 9, 1823, and October 11, 1823.) The result of this was that Ashley withdrew from operations on the Upper Missouri, and determined to follow up the valley of the Platte, and strive to cross the Continental Divide where the return portion of the Astoria party had crossed it.
This he succeeded in doing in 1824, and crossing first the Continental Divide on to Green River, and nest the range between Green and Bear Rivers, he followed the latter stream down to the Great Salt Lake, and explored the beautiful valley about that lake, and following the Jordan River to the south established a fort on Utah Lake, some forty miles south of where the Mormons twenty-three years later located Salt Lake City.
How quickly the knowledge of this important discovery reached the earnest friends of Oregon, and was by them given the widest possible publicity, may be seen from this description of the pass given by Floyd of Virginia in a debate on Oregon in the House of Representatives, December 20, 1824. (Cf. Debates, not Abridgment of Debates, in Congress, 18 Cong., 2 Sess., p. 24.)
After speaking of easy passes discovered at the headwaters of the Yellowstone and Big Horn Rivers, and declaring, "Through them you may pass with ease and safety, so much so that I have the most perfect confidence that even now a wagon with the usual freight could be taken from this capital to the mouth of the Co-
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lumbia," he goes on: "Besides these passes there is still another, which though longer to the upper part of that river, is yet better, where even the feeble difficulties there are here almost annihilated. This route, pursued by many now engaged in that" (i. e., the fur) "trade, holds its course from the Missouri up the Kansas River . . then falling on to the river Platte, thence entirely up that river to its source, where the Oregon or Rocky Mountains sink into a bed of sand, without water or timber for the space of eighty miles, smooth and level."
A fuller and more exact description appeared in the Missouri Herald in the autumn of 1826, and was widely copied throughout the country, appearing on page 229 of Vol. 31 of Mles' Register, December, 1826, as follows: "The recent expedition of Gen. Ashley to the country west of the Rocky Mountains has been productive of information on subjects of no small interest to the people of the Union. It has proved that overland expeditions in large bodies may be made to that remote region without the necessity of transporting provisions for men or beasts. Gen. Ashley left St. Louis in March last, and returned in September. His return caravan consisted of upwards of 100 horses and mules, and more than that number of men. He went to the station of the party which he had left beyond the mountains when he came in a year ago, and thence descended a river believed to be the Bonaventura, about 150 miles to the Great Salt Lake. The return march to St. Louis occupied seventy days, each horse and mule carrying nearly 200 pounds of beaver fur, the animals keeping their strength and flesh on the grass which they found and without losing any time on this long journey. The men also found an abundance of food. They say there was no day on which they could not have subsisted a thousand men, and often ten thousand. Buffalo furnished the principal food, water of the best quality was met with every day. The whole rotite lay through a level and open country, better for carriages than any turnpike road in the United States. Wagons and carriages could go with ease as far as Gen. Ashley went, crossing the Rocky Mountains at the sources of the Platte and descending the valley of the Bouaventura towards the Pacific Ocean."
Then follows a brief description of the Great Salt Lake, after which the article goes on as follows: "In the whole expedition Gen. Ashley did not lose a man, nor had any of those died whom he left behind last year, many of whom have been out four or five years, and are too happy in the freedom of these wild regions to think of returning to the comparative thralldom of civilized life. It would seem that no attempt has been made to ascertain the precise latitude and longitude of the point at which Gen. Ashley crossed the mountains. It is to be hoped that this will not be neg-
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lected on the next expedition. From all that we can learn the elevation is exceedingly small where the passage of the mountains was effected, so small as hardly to affect the rate of going of the caravan, and forming at the most an angle of three degrees, being two degrees less than the steepest ascent on the Cumberland road."
What happened in the discovery of routes practicable for transcontinental wagon roads, and the development of the first of those roads in the next six years, is best stated by W. H. Ashley, Major Joshua Pilcher, and the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. (or the firm of Smith, Sublette & Jackson) in letters which the National Government deemed of so much importance that less than three months after the last of them was received by the Secretary of War, in response to a resolution of the Senate asking him to communicate any information in possession of the Government relative to the British establishments on the Columbia, President Jackson sent to the Senate a very brief message of transmittal, dated January 24, 1831. January 25 it was referred to the Committee on Military Affairs, and January 26 that committee reported it back with a recommendation that the message and accompanying documents be printed and "1,500 copies in addition to the usual number" (which was a liberal allowance for that time) "be furnished for the use of the Senate." It is Sen. Ex. Doc. 39, 21st Cong., 2d Sess., covers thirty-six pages and is very interesting. Ashley's letter is dated Washington, March, 1829, and begins: "You request me to communicate to you, by letter, my opinion as it regards a military force best calculated for the protection of our western frontier, the fur trade and our trade and intercourse direct from Missouri and Arkansas to the Mexican provinces, etc., etc."
He then gives his opinion on the number of troops needful to protect our citizens west of the mountains, and on pages 6 and 7, "in compliance with your request," he states his method of equipping and moving men through the Indian coTintry "in the course of my general excursions to the Rocky Mountains," and concludes as follows: "In this way I have marched parties of men the whole way from St. Louis to the vicinity of the Grand Lake, which is situated about 150 miles down the waters of the Pacific Ocean, in seventy-eight days. In the month of March, 1827, I fitted out a party of sixty men, mounted a piece of artillery (a four-pounder) on a carriage which was drawn by two mules. The party marched to or near the Grand Salt Lake, beyond the Rocky Mountains, remaining there one month, stopped on the way back fifteen days, and returned to Lexington, in the western part of Missouri, in September, where the party was met with everything necessary for another outfit, and did return (using the same horses and mules) to the mountains by the last of November in the same year."
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This letter is addressed at its close "Gen. A. Macomb, Commander in Chief of the Army of the United States, Washington City," and signed "W. H. Ashley."
(Cf. also for accounts of Ashley's expeditions of 1826 and 1827, Niles' Register, p. 229, December, 1826, and p. 213, December, 1827.)
Immediately following Ashley's letter is a letter by Major Joshua Pilcher addressed to Hon. J. H. Eaton, Secretary of War, undated, but from its contents certainly written between July 1, 1830, and January 20, 1831.
It describes his very extensive and fearless expedition of exploration and discovery between September, 1827, and June 30, 1830. I regret that space will not permit me to quote its whole fourteen pages here, but part of it, as well as of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company's letter, belongs more properly to Chapter VII., on "The Truth About the Relation of the Hudson's Bay Company to the American Exploration, Occupation and Settlement of Oregon."
Pilcher says that he "engaged in the Indian trade of the Upper Missouri eleven years ago, say 1819." . . . and "I determined in 1827 on more extensive operations. With this view I left Council Bluffs in September of that year with a party of men, forty-five in the whole, and an outfit of merchandise suited to the object. My route lay up the river Platte to its forks, and thence up its north branch to its source in the Rocky Mountains. Here I had to make a depot of merchandise and property, which is done by burying it in the ground, the Indians having completed their designs upon our horses by stealing the last of them. I had set out from Council Bluffs with 104 of these indispensable animals, and was left to make the transit of the mountains almost without any. The snow was deep, but the ascent and descent easy, being a depression of the mountains to such a degree that a carriage could cross without the least difficulty. The depression was not only low, but wide, something like a valley through the mountains, say thirty or forty miles wide, the river Colorado taking its rise on the opposite side. I passed the winter of 1827-28 on the Colorado." . . . "In July, 1828," his partners and most of the men having returned to St. Louis, Pilcher, "with nine men commenced a tour of the Northwest, with a view of exploring the region of the Columbia River to ascertain the attractions and capabilities for trade." . . . "The excursion occupied me till June, 1830 (a period of nearly two years), when I returned to St. Louis." He kept along the west side of the Rocky Mountains to Lewis River and thence to Clark's River, and December 1, 1828, began a winter's camp at Mathead Lake.
"In the latter part of the spring" of 1829 all his men but one were at their own request discharged to return to St. Louis with a
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small party with, whom they had spent part of the winter, and with that one companion he continued his explorations.
In the summer of 1829, by invitation of the Hudson's Bay Company trader among the Flatheads, he accompanied him to Ft. Colvile, and after being hospitably entertained there for twenty days, on September 21, 1829, having been invited to accompany the Hudson's Bay Company's annual East-bound express, he set out up the Columbia "with six men of the post carrying the annual export across the mountains," recrossed the Continental Divide in 54 degrees north latitude, and reached the Red River Settlement March 24, 1830, and after three days' hospitable entertainment there, he struck off on snowshoes to the Mandan Indian villages on the Upper Missouri, and from there finally returned to St. Louis June 30, 1830.
On p. 19, writing of Passes through the Mountains, he says: "The most erroneous ideas prevail upon this head. The Rocky Mountains are deemed by many to be impassable, and to present the barrier which will arrest the westward march of the American population. The man must know but little of the American people who supposes they can be stopped by anything in the shape of mountains, deserts, seas or rivers, and he can know nothing at all of the mountains in question to suppose that they are impassable."
He then says that he has known these mountains for three years and has crossed them from 42 degrees to 54 degrees, and continues r "I say then, that nothing is more easily passed than these mountains."
"Wagons and carriages may cross them (i. e., the Rocky Mountains) in a state of nature without difficulty, and with little delay on the day's journey. Some parts are very high, but the gradual rise of the country in the vast slope from the Mississippi to the foot of the mountains makes a considerable elevation without perceptible increase, and then the gaps or depressions let you through almost upon a level.
"This is particularly the case opposite the head of the Platte," (i. e., the South Pass) "where I crossed in 1827, and which has already been described. I have crossed here often and always without delay or difficulty. It is, in fact, one of the best passes, and presents the best overland route from the valleys of the Mississippi to the mouth of the Columbia that would follow the line of the Platte and Lewis Rivers . . . These observations I address to you, sir, as an organ of communication with the President. As an American citizen anxious for the prosperity of my country, I deem it my duty to communicate to the Government the observations which I have made upon the state of things west of the Rocky Mountains."
The letter of Smith, Sublette and Jackson, doing business as the
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Rocky Mountain Fur Co., is dated St. Louis, October 29, 1830, and addressed to Hon. J. H. Eaton, Secretary of War. It begins as follows: "The business of taking furs from the United States Territories beyond the Rocky Monutains has since been continued by Jedediah S. Smith, David E. Jackson and W. L. Sublette, under the firm name of Smith, Sublette and Jackson.
"They commenced business in 1826, and have since continued it; and have made observations and gained information which they think it important to communicate to the Government. The number of men they have employed has usually been from 80 to 100, and with these divided into parties they have traversed every part of the country west of the Rocky Mountains, from the peninsula of California to the mouth of the Columbia River. Pack horses or rather mules were at first used; but in the beginning of the present year it was determined to try wagons; and in the month of April last, on the tenth day of the month, a caravan of ten wagons drawn by five mules each, and two dearborns drawn by one mule each, set out from St. Louis. There were eighty-one men in the party, all mounted on mules. Our route was nearly due west to the western limits of the State of Missouri, and thence along the Santa Fe trail about forty miles, from which the course was some degrees north of west, across the waters of the Kansas, and up the great Platte River to the Rocky Mountains, and to the head of Wind River, where it issues from the mountains. This took us until the 10th of July, and was as far as we wished to go with the wagons, as the furs to be brought in were to be collected at this place, which is, or was this year, the great rendezvous of the persons engaged in that business.
"Here the wagons could easily have crossed the mountains, it being what is called the Southern Pass, had it been desirable for them to do so, which it was not for the reasons stated. For our support, at leaving the Missouri settlements, until we should get into the buffalo country, we drove twelve head of cattle, besides a milch cow.
"Eight of these only being required for use before we got to the buffaloes, the others went on to the head of Wind River. We began to fall in with buffaloes on the Platte, about 350 miles from the white settlements, and from that time lived on buffaloes, the quantity being infinitely beyond what we needed. On the 4th of August, the wagons being in the mean time loaded with the furs which had been previously taken, we set out on our return to St. Louis.
"All the high points of the mountains then in view were white with snow; but the passes and valleys, and all the level country were green with grass. Our route back was over the same ground nearly as in going out, and we arrived in St. Louis on the 10th of
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October, bringing back the ten wagons, four of the oxen and the milch cow, as we did not need them for provisions. Our men were all healthy during the whole time; we suffered nothing from Indians and had no accident but the death of one man, being buried under a bank of earth that fell in upon him, and another crippled at the same time. Of the mules we lost but one by fatigue, and two horses stolen by the Kansas Indians, the grass being along the whole route going and coming sufficient for the support of the horses and mules. The Uxsual weight in the wagons was about 1,800 pounds.
"The usual progress of the wagons was from fifteen to twenty miles per day.
"The country being almost all open, level and prairie, the chief obstructions were ravines and creeks, the banks of which required cutting down, and for this purpose a few pioneers were generally kept in advance of the caravan. This is the first time that wagons ever went to the Rocky Mountains, and the ease and safety with which it was done prove the facility of communicating overland with the Pacific Ocean. The route from the Southern Pass, where the wagons stopped, to the Great Falls of the Columbia, being easier and better than on this side of the mountains, with grass enough, for the horses and mules; but a scarcity of game for the support of the men."
This it will be remembered was six years before Whitman went to Oregon with his wagon; four years before any one went as a missionary to the Oregon Indians and three years before the "high-wrought and incorrect" account of the visit of the Flatheads to St. Louis in the Christian Advocate and Zion's Herald started the excitement about sending missionaries to Oregon. These letters of Pilcher and the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. were widely read in Document 39, and repeatedly quoted in newspaper and magazine articles, and, as we shall see, in later Congressional reports.
In 1832 (the very next year after the publication of this Senate Document No. 39), Capt. Bonneville of the United States Army, having obtained a furlough for his famous fur trading expedition, by "offering to combine public utility with his private projects, and to collect statistical information for the War Department concerning the wild country and tribes he might visit" (Cf. Gen. Macomb's Instructions to Capt. Bonneville, in Appendix to Irving's "Bonneville"), proceeded to demonstrate the correctness of Smith, Sublette and Jackson's prediction by driving twenty loaded wagons across the Rocky Mountains through the South Pass and into the Oregon Territory as far as the fur traders' rendezvous for that year, which was in Green River Valley, and in 1837 Irving published his account of "Bonneville's Adventures," which was immediately republished in England.
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Whitman knew about these wagons of Bonneville before he started with his two wagons in 1836, and also that the route presented no particular difficulties, for in a sixteen page letter which he wrote in the form of a journal of his trip with Rev. Samuel Parker to the rendezvous on Green River, just west of the South Pass (from which nothing has been published heretofore), he wrote, on page 13, under date of October 20, 1835: "If Col. Dodge should go to the Pacific and transport cannon as he did last year, we could cross the mountains with a wagon."
"There were twenty wagons at one time from St. Louis at the place where the company rendezvoused last summer.
"There is no obstruction from timber except in a few instances of willow upon the streams, which is trifling." No advocate of the Whitman Legend has ever alluded to this letter, or given any intimation that Whitman had ever heard of Bonneville's wagons.
I have been unable to learn whether or not the fur traders' annual caravans took any wagons in 1833 and 1834, but as Ft. Laramie (589 miles from Independence, Mo., and 272 miles east of the summit of the South Pass) was founded in 1834, it is altogether probable that wagons were taken that far.
In 1835 the annual caravan of the American Fur Co., with which Rev. S. Parker and Dr. Whitman went as far as Green River, took six wagons as far as Ft. Laramie, where they left them, not on account of any fear of being unable to take them across the Main Range into Oregon, but for the very obvious reason that now having a permanent fort, where Indians and white trappers could come to trade all the year, a very large part of their goods for that trade need not be transported any farther than Ft. Laramie. (Cf. for these wagons, and the leaving of them, Rev. S. Parker's "Journal of an Exploring Tour Beyond the Rocky Mountains," pp. 52 and 72.)
This brings us to 1836 and Whitman's wagon, and that the reader may know all the facts about his wagon, I will quote all of the contemporaneous evidence known to exist that says anything about his wagon (which is something not to be found in any book advocating the Whitman Legend).
As both Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding kept diaries of this journey, and both Dr. Whitman and Mr. Spalding wrote letters in which the facts about the wagon and its fate are explicitly stated, we have abundance of contemporaneous evidence to enable us to know the truth about this innocent and unimportant vehicle, and those who have accepted as trustworthy authorities Gray's History and Spalding's Pamphlet, and Barrows, Nixon, Craighead, Mowry, Rev. M. Eells, Prof. Lyman, President Penrose, D. H. Montgomery's Leading Facts (?) in American History, Prof. H. W. Parker, Geo.
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Ludington Weed, and all the other inventors or endorsers of the fictions about Whitman's wagon, will be greatly surprised to read what Mr. and Mrs. Whitman and Mr. and Mrs. Spalding wrote while on the journey and immediately after its conclusion, and no less so what they did not write in the next six years.
May 5, 1836, Whitman wrote to D. Greene, secretary, from "Cantonment Leavenworth": "We have one wagon for ladies and one for baggage."
May 20, 1836, H. H. Spalding wrote from Otoe Agency to D. Greene, secretary, as follows: "We have two hired men, one Nez Perce, a faithful and valuable young man, besides Richard and John, ten of us in all. Two wagons, thirteen horses, six mules, seventeen head of cattle, including calves. We think it best to take the wagons to the Black Hills with horses, then our packing animals will be packed for the remainder of the journey with sound backs."
"We have now a very limited supply of everything. We find that we must leave many things we consider almost indispensable. My classical and theological books will nearly all be left. We can take almost nothing in the line of mechanical tools and farming utensils, but very little clothing, no seeds except a few garden seeds."
Mrs. Spalding's diary (among Mss. of Oregon Historical Society) under date of Liberty, Mo., April 27, 1836, after stating that Messrs. Spalding and Gray, and the two Nez Perces boys, and one young man to assist them, had started that day by land from Liberty for Council Bluffs, continues: "It was necessary for the gentlemen to make the route by land on account of the wagons, horses and cattle purchased at this place."
Mr. Spalding wrote to D. Greene, secretary, from Rendezvous, July 9, 1836, as follows: "We have got our wagon to this place without much difficulty, and shall probably take it through."
A postscript on margin of page 1 says: "Mr. McLeod, a director of the Fur Company, arrived in camp today, 12th of July, from Walla Walla, bringing letter from Mr. Parker. Arrangements are made for us to return in his company. It seems the most marked Providence in our favor of any we have yet experienced. Now all anxieties respecting a long and dangerous route with the Indians cease. We have now a safe convoy that will conduct us immediately to the spot. We find Mr. McLeod very friendly, and well disposed toward our object. He says he will render us any assistance in his power."
Mrs. Whitman's diary (in the Transcript Oregon Pioneer Association, 1891, on page 41) says: "We attempted to reach Loup Fork that night (i. e., Tuesday, May 14, 1836,) "and part of us succeeded. Those in the wagons drove there by 11 o'clock, but it was
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too much for the cattle." . . . (P. 42) The next morning "the Fur Company was on the opposite side of the river, which we forded and without unloading our wagons much." . . . "Since we came up with the camp, I rode in the wagons most of the way to the Black Hills. It is astonishing how well we get along with our wagons where there are no roads. I think I may say it is easier traveling here than on any turnpike in the States."
(P. 43) Under date of July 14, 1836, she wrote: "We are now at the Rocky Mountains, at the encampment of Messrs. McLeod and McKay, expecting to leave on Monday morning for Walla Walla. It seems a special favor that that company has come to Kendezvous this season; for otherwise we would have had to have gone with the Indians a difficult route, and so slow that we should have been late at Walla Walla, and not have had the time we wanted to make preparations for winter."
Mrs. Spalding's diary under date of June 15, 1836, at Ft. William, (i. e., Ft. Laramie), says: "We are camped near the fort and shall probably remain here several days, as the company" (i. e., the American Fur Co.) "leave their wagons at this post, and make arrangements to transport their goods the remainder of the journey on mules."
Eeturning again to Mrs. Whitman's diary (Trans. O. P. A. 1891, p. 44): "July 25, 1836. Husband has had a tedious time with the wagon today. It got stuck in the creek this morning when crossing, and he was obliged to wade considerably in getting it out. After that, in going between the mountains, on the side of one so steep that it was difficult for horses to pass, the wagon upset twice; did not wonder at this at all it was a greater wonder that it was not turning somersaults continually. It is not very grateful to my feelings to see him wearing out with such excessive fatigue, as I am obliged to. He is not as fleshy as he was last winter. All the most difficult part of the way he has walked, in laborious attempts to take the wagon."
(P. 45) "July 28. One of the axle-trees of the wagon broke today; was a little rejoiced, for we were in hopes they would leave it, and have no more trouble with. it. Our rejoicing was in vain, for they are making a cart of the back wheels this afternoon and lashing the fore wheels to it--intending to take it through in some shape or other. They are so resolute and untiring in their efforts they will probably succeed."
This, it will be noticed, was not at Ft. Hall (where all the advocates of the Whitman Legend represent Whitman as reducing his wagon to a cart on account of the opposition of the Hudson's Bay Co. to its going any farther), but six days' journey east of Ft. Hall,
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at which place, according to Mrs. Spalding's diary, they arrived a little after noon of August 3.
(P. 49) Friday, August 12, Mrs. Whitman's diary says: "Dear Harriet, the little trunk you gave nie has come with me so far, and now I must leave it here alone . . . The hills are so steep and rocky that husband thought it best to lighten the wagon as much as possible, and take nothing but the wheels, leaving the box" (i. e., the rude box he made out of the wagon body on July 28, when the breaking of the axle compelled him to make his wagon into a cart), "with my trunk."
(P. 50) "Saturday, August 13. We have come fifteen miles and have had the worst route in all the journey for the cart. We might have had a better one but for being misled by some of the company who started out before the leaders. It.was 2 o'clock before we came into camp." . . . Describing the crossing of Snake River: "Husband had considerable difficulty in crossing the cart. Both cart and mules were turned upside down in the river, and entangled in the harness. The mules would have been drowned but for a desperate struggle to get them ashore. Then after putting two of the strongest horses before the cart, and two men swimming behind to steady it, they succeeded in getting it across."
(P. 52) August 22. "As for the wagon, it is left at the fort, and I have nothing to say about crossing it at this time. Five of our cattle were left there also, to be exchanged for others at Walla Walla. Perhaps you will wonder why we have left the wagon, having taken it so nearly through. Our animals were failing, and the route in crossing the Blue Mountains is said to be impassable for it. We have the prospect of obtaining one in exchange at Vancouver. If we do not we shall send for it, when we have been to so much labor in getting it thus far. It is a useful article in the country."
Turning now to Whitman's own letters, we find every advocate of the Whitman legend has failed not only to quote from, but in any way to allude to, the existence of the following two, written to Rev. D. Greene, secretary: "Encampment of Messrs. McOloud and McCay" (should be McLeod and McKay, W. I. M.), "near Green River, ten miles from Rendezvous, July 16, 1836. Our greatest difficulty was to bring our cattle up to the forced march of the company (i. e., the American Fur Co. or Fitzpatrick and Dripps), "and with our wagon, one of which we have brought to this place, and expect to take it through the whole journey. Most of the difficulty with the wagon originated from the forced marches manner of traveling, the company having one cart only from Ft. William to Rendezvous. When we first met the Indians we did not know of any other company with whom we could go, and intended to accom-
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modate ourselves to their route, although we might have to go out of our way to accommodate them for buffalo, and should be detained for them to kill and dry their winter's supply of meat. But by the arrival of Messrs. McCloud and McOay we are furnished with a safe and direct escort to Walla Walla, and have availed ourselves of their company and protection. We received the most flattering encouragement from these gentlemen, one of whom, Mr. McCloud, is a partner in the Northwest Fur Co." (should be Hudson's Bay Co., W. I. M.) "that we should have every facility in our journey, and all necessary supplies of goods, provisions, etc., at Walla Walla."
September 15, 1836, Whitman wrote from Ft. Walla Walla . . "We have received the kindest hospitality from those with whom we have traveled, but more especially since we joined the camp of Messrs. McLeod and McKay. For most of the way that we traveled with them we were in a country where there is but little game, yet by their great exertion they often obtained some, and whenever they were so fortunate we were sure to share largely with them. We brought our wagon and all our cattle to Snake Fort" (Ft. Boise), "about 250 miles above this post on Lewis (or, as called here, Snake) River. The wagon we left subject to future order,"
September 20, 1836, H. H. Spalding wrote a very long letter to D. Greene, secretary, from Ft. Vancouver, from which copious extracts were printed in the Missouri Herald for October, 1837, but every advocate of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story has always carefully refrained from quoting from it or even mentioning it.
In it he wrote: "We drove a wagon to Snake Fort, and could have driven it through but for the fatigue of our animals; expect to get it at some future time." From these dates, September 15, 1836, for Whitman, and September 20, 1836, for Spalding, the word wagon does not occur again, nor one word about a wagon road in all the voluminous correspondence of Whitman, Spalding and Mrs. Whitman, till after Whitman had returned from Boston to Missouri, in May, 1843, except that Mrs. Whitman, in a letter to her husband begun October 4, and finished October 17, 1842, describing the kindness of McKinlay, the Hudson's Bay agent in command of Ft. Walla Walla (in whose charge her husband left her when he returned to the States), in taking her from the mission station to Walla Walla on October 11, 1842, wrote: "I am now at Walla Walla--came here yesterday; was too unwell to undertake the journey, but coiild not refuse, as Mr. McKinlay had come on purpose to take me. He came in the wagon, and brought the trundle bed, and I laid down most of the way."
This failure to even mention wagon or wagon road for more
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than six years after their arrival in Oregon shows how intense was their interest in the "desperate," or "patriotic," or "heroic," or "resolute" "attempt" to "open up a passage on wheels to Oregon!" (Cf. Trans. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1891, p. 166, for this letter of Mrs. Whitman.)
There is not in all the voluminous correspondence, and the fragments of journals of these missionaries, not only during this journey, but subsequently during the whole continuance of the mission, and even after its destruction on account of the Whitman massacre, during all the years to the invention of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, a single sentence that gives any intimation that Whitman in trying to get his wagon through to Ft. Hall; or the rude cart to which it was reduced by the breaking of the axle six days' journey east of Ft. Hall, and finally the wheels and axle only through to Ft. Boise, was influenced by any greater or loftier motive than that stated by Mrs. Whitman above, viz: "It is a useful article in the country." Nor did Whitman in all the extravagant and unwarranted claims he made of service to the Government in letters after his return to Oregon, in September, 1843, down to his death (Gf. Chapter VII., Part 2 infra) ever write one word about his driving this wagon and its reduction to a cart and finally to a pair of wheels driven to and left at Ft. Boise "on account of the fatigue of the animals." The evidence in the diaries of Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding and the letters of Dr. Whitman and Mr. Spalding is absolutely irrefutable that from the time McLeod and McKay invited them to join their camp on July 9, 1836, at Green Biver, these Hudson's Bay Company's officials treated them with the greatest possible kindness, nor is there a single intimation in any of this contemporaneous evidence that there was at any time or place the least objection made by any Hudson's Bay Co. officer or employe to Whitman's attempt to drive his wagon or cart or pair of wheels through to the Columbia.
It should be remembered that none of this party of Hudson's Bay Co. officers and men had the least acquaintance with any one of this party of American missionaries, that there were no letters of introduction to them, that they were not under the least conceivable special obligation--political, religious, fraternal, or financial--to do anything whatever to help these missionaries to get over the longest and most dreaded part of their journey, and that they were traveling with saddle and pack animals, so that (as all of us well know who have had experience--as the writer repeatedly has-- with a mixed cavalcade of saddle and pack animals and wagons) to undertake to convoy a party with a wagon, even over a region where there was a plainly marked road, would inevitably mean some trouble and delay to them, and much more over a region
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where no road had been even located, and where, consequently (though the route was easily practicable for a wagon road), there must necessarily be a good deal of time consumed in determining where, and for how long distances, it was necessary to depart from the saddle trail to find a route over which a wagon could be driven.
They would therefore have been perfectly justified had they said to the missionary party at Green River: "We shall be glad to have you travel with our party, if you will leave the wagon here, since it must be no small delay to our movements to have it taken further."
And had they said this it would not have been the slightest evidence of any "fear of," or any "antagonism to," the development of the wagon road further into Oregon.
There is not in Mrs. Whitman's nor in Mrs. Spalding's diaries nor in any of the contemporaneous letters of the Spaldings, Whitman's and Mr. W. H. Gray the least intimation that at any point on the journey the Hudson's Bay Company people made the least objection to the wagon, nor in any way opposed the effort to take it through, but the opposition was chiefly on the part of Mrs. Whitman, who, like many another bride, thought her husband was working too hard, and also on that of others of the missionary party, who evidently thought "the game not worth the candle."
Beyond Boise the fragments of Whitman's wagon never went, though why Whitman should have so completely lost all interest in the subject of a wagon road for six and a half years after he left it there, as not only not to have sent for it, but never again to have written the words wagon or wagon road in any of his letters from September 15, 1836, to May 28, 1843, is an utterly unsolvable mystery. Various advocates of the Whitman Legend have asserted that Whitman's old wagon subsequently went through to the Willamette or to Walla Walla, but no one of them has produced any proof of it.
Gray in an article in the Oregonian, February 1, 1885, reprinted in the "Whitman Controversy" (pamphlet), Portland, 1885 (p. 29), declares that he saw Whitman's wagon at Boise in 1838, as Farnham did (in 1839), but even he dares not affirm that it was ever taken beyond there, and though he says (p. 31), "The wagon was not abandoned, but left for Gray to bring through at some future time," he vouchsafes no information as to why he never brought it through. He speaks of it as a wagon all through this article, though he well knew it was but "the thills, one axle, and a pair of wheels."
In 1837, so far as appears, no wagons crossed the Continental Divide, nor in 1838, though, as we have already seen, Gray claims to have been telling audiences in the States in the winter of 1837-8
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that "Whitman's wagon could have been taken through to the Willamette" (Cf. Gray's History of Oregon, p. 177), and so far was it from being true that the 1838 reinforcement to the American Board Mission had, as Barrows says, no wagon, "because they had acted on the already well-established impression in the East that carriages could not travel to Oregon" (Cf. Barrows' Oregon, p. 147); that they had acted on the precisely opposite belief, even then so generally diffused in the States, that wagons could go to Oregon; that Dr. Weed--the agent of the A. B. C. F. M. in Cincinnati--had sent a wagon to the frontier for them, which, not being suitable for their use, they had traded for another, and that they traded that one to Capt. Fontenelle, at Ft. Laramie, 631 miles east of Ft. Hall, when they could take it no farther "for want of horses."
On this point we have the following strictly contemporaneous evidence: (1) Mr. W. H. Gray wrote to D. Greene, secretary, a letter covering four pages closely written foolscap, dated "Bendezvous on Wind River, Rocky Mountains, July (no day), 1838," It is almost entirely taken up with an account of the expenses of the 1838 reinforcement.
On page 2, after explaining that they had been compelled before starting from the Missouri frontier to dispose of a wagon in trade for a mule at a loss of $45, because it was old and not adapted to the trip, he says: "The wagon we purchased to supply the place of the one sent by Dr. Weed" (which was the old one before referred to), "we have exchanged for a horse with Capt. Fontenelle, who kindly exchanged with us when we could bring it no further for want of horses."
(2) Mrs. C. Eells kept a journal of this trip, which was published in Trans. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1889, pp. 54-89, and mentions their wagon repeatedly (pp. 63, 66, 67), and (p. 73), under date of May 31, 1838, at Ft. William (or Laramie) she wrote: "Give the wagon to Capts. Drips and Fontenelle."
Thos. J. Farnham, ostensibly a private traveler and explorer, but really in the employ of the National Government (Cf. Congressional Globe, 27th Cong., 3d Sess., Appendix, p. 229), in 1839 led out a small migration to Oregon. He was described by an Englishman who was a fellow passenger on the Pacific with him as a "flamboyantly patriotic American." September 13, 1839, he reached Ft. Boise (Travels, p. 141), and (p. 142) he says: "The 14th and 15th were spent very pleasantly with this gentleman" (i. e., Mr. Payette) . . . "Among the curiosities of this establishment were the fore wheels, axle-tree and thills of a one-horse wagon, said to have been run by the American missionaries from the State of Connecticut through the mountains thus far towards the mouth of the Columbia. It was left here under the belief that
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it could not be taken through the Blue Mountains. But fortunately for the next that shall attempt to cross the continent, a safe and easy passage has lately been discovered by which vehicles of the kind may be drawn through to Walla Walla."
Farnham returned to the States via the Sandwich Islands, and at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., in 1841, published the first edition of his "Travels on the Great Western Prairies, the Anahuac and Rocky Mountains, and in the Oregon Territory." It was so popular that in 1843 two more editions were published in New York, and a two volume edition in London.
Some of the advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story-- notably Rev. M. Eells and W. H. Gray--have sought to make it appear that Payette did not communicate this information to Farnham, but that he was informed of this easy pass by Whitman, declaring that he revised his "Travels" after he was at Whitman's mission (which was September 23 to 30, 1839). To this it is enough to reply that: First, this paragraph appears in its regular order under the date of his stop at Ft. Boise, without any intimation that he had learned anything included in this paragraph at any later time, or from any other person than Payette.
Second, it is certain that this paragraph was not revised by Farnham after his visit at Whitman's, on account of the error it contains about these missionaries, as follows: "American missionaries from the State of Connecticut." Immediately preceding Farnham, in 1839, were Revs. J. S. Griffin and Asahel Hunger and their wives, who had been sent out as "Independent Missionaries" (i. e., independent of the American Board) by some churches in Connecticut which had become dissatisfied with the management of the A. B. C. F. M. Monsieur Payette's knowledge of the geography of the States was limited, and he very naturally would speak of "American missionaries from the State of Connecticut," since the last ones who had passed were from that State, but if during his week's stay at Whitman's station Farnham had discussed this matter with Whitman, who had left these wagon wheels there in 1836, not for the reason assigned by Farnham, nor from any opposition of the Hudson's Bay Co., but, as stated by Spalding in his letter of September 20, 1836, as follows: "We drove a wagon to Snake Fort, and could have driven it through but for the fatigue of our animals, expect to get it at some future time," certainly Whitman would have corrected the statement that the "thills and wheels and axle-tree" Farnham saw at Boise were left there by "American missionaries from the State of Connecticut," since neither Whitman nor anyone of his associates in the Mission of the American Board was from Connecticut.
Griffin and Munger are said to have taken a wagon over the
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Continental Divide and as far as Ft. Hall, where they left it, as Whitman did his axle and wheels at Boise, "on account of the fatigue of their animals."
In 1840 Revs. Harvey Clark and A. T. Smith, and Mr. P. B. Littlejohn and their wives, Independent Protestant missionaries to the Oregon Indians, reached Ft. Hall with wagons, and left them "on account of the fatigue of their animals."
What happened soon after they left Ft. Hall is best told in the following extract from the address of Hon. Elwood Evans at the 1877 meeting of the Oregon Pioneer Association (Tr. 1877, pp. 22-23):
"Let me now refer to the statement of the late Dr. Kobert Newell, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Oregon, ia 1846, a name familiar and held in high remembrance by ancient Oregonians. It is interesting for its history, and in the present connection illustrates the difficulty at that time of getting into Oregon. It details the bringing of the first wagon to Ft. Walla Walla, Oregon, in 1840, the Wallula of Washington Territory. The party consisted of Dr. Newell and family, Col. Joseph L. Meek and family, Caleb Wilkins of Tualitan Plains and Frederic Ermatinger, a Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company. It had been regarded as the height of folly to attempt to bring wagons west of Ft. Hall. The Doctor suggested the experiment, Wilkins approved it and Ermatinger yielded. The Revs. Harvey Clark, A. B. Smith (should be Alvin T. Smith, Cf. Gray's History, p. 109, also list of members Oregon Pioneer Association in Trans., 1877, p. 94) and P. B. Littlejohn, missionaries, had accompanied the American Fur Company's expedition as far as Green River, where they employed Dr. Newell to pilot them to Ft. Hall. On arriving there, they found their animals so reduced that they concluded to abandon their two wagons, and Dr. Newell accepted them for his services as guide. In a letter from the Doctor, he says: "At the time I took the wagons, I had no idea of undertaking to bring them into this country. I exchanged fat horses to these missionaries for their animals, and after they had been gone a month or more for Wallamet, and the American Fur Company had abandoned the country for good, 1 concluded to hitch up and try the much-dreaded job of bringing a wagon to Oregon. I sold one of those wagons to Mr. Ermatinger, at Ft. Hall. Mr. Caleb Wilkins had a small wagon which Joel Walker had left at Ft. Hall. On the 5th of August, 1840, we put out with three wagons. Joseph L. Meek drove my wagon. In a few days we began to realize the difficult task before us, and found that the continual crashing of the sage under our wagons, which was in many places higher than the mules' backs, was no joke. Seeing our animals begin to fail, we began to light up; finally
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threw away our wagon-beds and were quite sorry we had undertaken the job. All the consolation we had was that we broke the first sage on that road, and were too proud to eat anything but dried salmon skins after our provisions had become exhausted. In a rather rough and reduced state we arrived at Dr. Whitman's mission station in the Walla Walla valley, where we were met by that hospitable man, and kindly made welcome and feasted accordingly. On hearing me regret that I had undertaken to bring wagons, the Doctor said, 'Oh, you will never regret it. You have broken the ice, and when others see that wagons have passed they, too, will pass, and in a few years the valley will be full of our people.' The Doctor shook me heartily by the hand; Mrs. Whitman, too, welcomed us, and the Indians walked around the wagons, or what they called 'horse canoes,' and seemed to give it up. We spent a day or so with the Doctor and then went to Ft. Walla Walla, where we were kindly received by Mr. P. C. Pambrun, Chief Trader of Hudson's Bay Company, Superintendent of that post. On the 1st of October we took leave of those kind people, leaving our wagons and taking the river trail."
The simple fact that these, the first wagons to go through to the Columbia, were not only outfitted at Ft. Hall, but that one of them was owned, outfitted and driven by Frederic Ermatinger, the Hudson's Bay Co. chief trader in charge of Ft. Hall in 1838, 1839, 1840 and 1841, of itself reduces to senseless drivel all the scores of pages in Barrows, Nixon, Craigliead, Mowry and the other advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, which accuse the Hudson's Bay Co. of opposing the passage of wagons beyond Ft. Hall.
One point should not be forgotten in reading the account of these first wagons through to the Columbia. Unable from their small number to keep a party of pioneers in advance to dig down steep banks of creeks, and select the most favorable routes over hills and mountains, they found the difficulties of the way so great that they threw away their wagon beds, and only got the frames and running gears through to the Columbia.
This, however, was all that was of any special importance, as they could easily get pine or fir boards to make new bodies for the wagons at Ft. Vancouver, but well-seasoned hardwood lumber for wagon wheels, and axles, and framework could not be had, nor could the iron work be easily obtained at Vancouver, or elsewhere in Oregon at that time.
The experience of these men fully justified the advice given at Ft. Hall to the parties of '39, '40, '41 and '42, to leave their wagons, and go from there with pack animals, while at the same time it fully confirmed the declaration of the Rocky Mountain Fur Co., in 1830, that they--a party of resolute, well-disciplined men--could have
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driven their wagons through to the Great Palls of the Columbia, and would have found a better road beyond the Continental Divide than on the east of it. Meek, Newell and Wilkins were miserably poor, so that they had very little as a loading for their wagons. Meek and Newell had Indian wives, who, however little they might have been adapted to grace a drawing room, were true "helpmeets" for such a journey, being as expert as the men in all its drudgery and hardships, and especially in making and breaking camp. The four men, Meek, Newell, Wilkins and Ermatinger, were all experienced mountaineers and trappers, vigorous, skilled in "reading the face of the country," resourceful in any wilderness emergency, as brave as any men ever were, able to converse freely with the Indians, and so to obtain assistance from them if needed, and with all the prestige of the Hudson's Bay Co. to assist them--Ermatinger being well known to all the leading Indians of that region as a Hudson's Bay Co. chief trader--and they left Ft. Hall with fresh horses. It is quite within bounds to say that, considering all these circumstances, they were at least two or three, if not five or six times as strong a party for the journey from Ft. Hall to the Columbia by wagon as either the party of 1839 or 1840, composed as they were of unpractical men, fresh from theological schools, with little experience in overcoming the difficulties of the way, with no knowledge of the Indian language, and no experience in dealing with Indians and no prestige of the Hudson's Bay Co. to aid them, with stock worn out by the more than 1,200 miles journey from the Missouri frontier to Ft. Hall, with white wives who could be of little service in pioneering a wagon road, and loaded down with much more weighty and bulky impedimenta of various sorts than these poverty-stricken trappers.
If Meek's party, with all their skill, and courage, and energy, and Indian wives to help them, and with fresh stock at Ft. Hall, were obliged to throw away their wagon bodies, what can be more evident than that if the missionary parties of '39 and '40 had tried it, they would have been obliged not only to wholly abandon the wagons, but also to leave behind most, if not all, of their loading, and so have experienced much more of hardship and discomfort, and have reached the Columbia much poorer than they did by taking pack animals from Ft. Hall?
Neither Whitman nor his wife nor any other of the American Board missionaries in any letter written to the American Board, or to their friends, even so much as mentioned the arrival of these three wagons at his station in 1840, with their complete demonstration of the easy practicability of the route for loaded wagons whenever a party of 80 to 100 or more resolute and tolerably disciplined men should attempt it.
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The only contemporaneous account I have been able to find of the 1841 overland migration is the very brief and vague one in "Letters and Sketches, with a Narrative of a Year's Residence Among the Indian Tribes of the Rocky Mountains, by P. J. De Smet, S. J., Philadelphia, 1843."
Father DeSmet, notwithstanding his great ability, is like most enthusiastic missionaries provokingly inexact in many of his statements, and so absorbed in the emotions excited by his religion that he omits any mention of a multitude of matters that seem to the historian of vastly more consequence than much of what he has written.
On page 64, speaking of the crossing of the Kansas River, he wrote: "Our baggage wagons and men crossed in a pirogue, which at a distance looked like one of those gondolas which glide through the streets of Venice."
(P. 65) "On the 19th (May, 1841,) we continued our journey to the number of seventy souls, fifty of whom were capable of managing the rifle."
(P. 104) "It was here that we left Bear River. On the 14th of August our wagons, having proceeded ten hours without intermission, arrived at the outlet of a defile which seemed to us the end of the world."
(P. 125) "Writing of the rapid current of the South Platte where they had forded it, he writes: "It would have carried away wagons and carts, had they not been supported on all sides while the mules exerted all their strength to pull them onward."
(P. 126) Grossing of North Platte: "The largest wagon was carried off by the force of the current in spite of all the efforts, shouts and cries of the men, who did all they could to keep themselves from being drowned. Another wagon was literally turned over."
On pages 127-8 he describes the overturn in fording Snake River of some sort of wheeled vehicle, with which he had left Ft. Hall for his journey with the Flathead Indians to their home in the Flathead Valley, in northwest Montana. He twice calls it a "vehicle," and three times a "carriage," but in a letter to another party describing the same incident (on p. 175) he twice calls it a "cart." How far he took this vehicle he does not inform us, nor why he abandoned it (if he did so), but by the route he traveled up Snake River to Henry Lake, across the Continental Divide over Red Rock Pass, down the Beaver Head, and back again across the Continental Divide over Deer Lodge Pass, he could certainly have driven a cart through to the Flathead Valley. How many wagons there were in this party is unknown, but there would seem to have been sis or eight at least as far as some point well up the Platte, for in an
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account (p. 129) of an alarm given at the appearance of a hand of eighty Cheyenne warriors he says, "The Colonel orders the wagons to he drawn up in double file, and places between them whatever may he exposed to plunder."
Prom page 97 it appears that that part of this migration that had started for California did not go to Ft. Hall, but "left us a few days before our arrival at the fort, in the vicinity of the boiling springs which empty into Bear River" (i. e., the Soda Springs, which are about eighty miles south of east from Ft. Hall).
Page 96 informs us that those who had joined the party merely for information or pleasure, some five or seven in number, had started back to the States at Green River.
Whether the California party took any wagons beyond Soda Springs we are not informed. The only information we have as to the relative numbers in this party for California, and those for the settlements in Oregon, is in a letter of Mrs. Whitman to her sister Jane, dated "Wieletpoo, Oregon Territory, October 1, 1841" (and published in Trans. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1891, p. 139), as follows:
"The emigrants were twenty-four in number--two families, with small children, from Missouri. This company was much larger when they started. About thirty went another route, to California. The company of Jesuits were twelve in number, consisting of three priests, three novitiates, four laborers, and their pilot, started from St. Louis, one they found on their way. Their pilot is Fitzpatrick, the same person that commanded the party ,we came with from the States. This company came as far as Ft. Hall. They then go with the Indians to the Flathead country, or Pend d'Oreille. It is not known where they will settle, but it is reported that they expect to locate themselves somewhere in that region, and in the same language that part of our mission are occupying."
That this party was too small to open a wagon road over the Blue Mountains is obvious, and the fact that Ermatinger was still in command at Ft. Hall is all the proof needed that there was no opposition on the part of the Hudson's Bay Co. at Ft. Hall to wagons going beyond there, and that the advice given this small party to leave their wagons there and go on with pack horses was entirely proper.
This brings us to the 1842 migration, and fortunately we have abundant and detailed contemporaneous evidence of the movements of this migration, and the fate of its wagons, and its treatment at Ft. Hall, in (a) "The Emigrants' Guide to Oregon and California," by Lansford W. Hastings (who was one of the leaders of the party). The first edition of this was published at Cincinnati in 1845 and later editions in 1847 and 1849.
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(b) Fremont's report of his first and second expeditions, published by the Government in 1845.
(c) The reports of Dr. Elijah White (the organizer and first captain of the party) as Sub-Indian Agent to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
(d) "White's Ten Years in Oregon," Ithaca, N. Y., 1847.
(e) "The Journal of Hon. Medorem Crawford," one of the publications of the Oregon Historical Society, and Crawford's address as President of the Oregon Pioneer Association at its 1881 meeting. This address is fairly entitled to rank as a contemporaneous account because based on and agreeing with his journal. This was the first large overland migration, numbering fifty-one men and fifty-seven women and children.
From these strictly contemporaneous sources we learn that this first large American overland migration started from the Missouri frontier May 16, 1842, with seventeen or eighteen wagons. Crawford's Journal (p. 7) says 17, and White's Ten Years (p. 147) says 18; that at the American trading posts of Fts. Laramie and John --rivals and competitors of the Hudson's Bay Co.--and located more than 600 miles east of Ft. Hall, part of these wagons were traded off, not to that wicked Hudson's Bay Co., but to American Fur traders; that more of them were abandoned in the Green River Valley, about 300 miles east of Ft. Hall, and only seven wagons reached that place, and that they, the first large overland migration, were received with the utmost kindness at Ft. Hall, and furnished with flour at only one-half of what the American traders had charged them at Ft. Laramie. A letter to me from Mr. Crawford, dated September 17, 1891, says: "Only eight wagons went beyond Green River, one of which was abandoned, and seven wagons arrived at Ft. Hall. . . We were very kindly treated at Ft. Hall. Never heard the officers at Ft. Hall charged with misrepresentations. It had been understood by all that we were too late to take wagons farther than Ft. Hall." Hasting's Emigrants' Guide (p. 9) says: "Upon arriving at Fts. Laramie and John we were received in a very kind and friendly manner by the gentlemen of those forts. . . While here several of our party disposed of their osen and wagons, taking horses in exchange. This they were induced to do under the impression that wagons could not be taken to Oregon, of which they were assured" (not by any wicked Hudson's Bay Go. officers, but) "by the gentlemen of these forts and other mountaineers," (i. e,, by American fur traders, who were rivals of and bitterly antagonistic to the Hudson's Bay Co., and as thoroughly patriotic Americans as ever lived).
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HASTINGS'S ACCOUNT OF TREATMENT AT FT. HALL.
Idem, pp. 18-20, describes their arrival and reception at Ft. Hall, and the following are extracts: "We were received in the kindest manner by Mr. Grant, who was in charge; and we received every aid and attention from the gentlemen of that fort during our stay in their vicinity. We were here informed, by Mr. Grant and other gentlemen of the company, that it would be impossible for us to take our wagons down to the Pacific, consequently a meeting of the party was called for the purpose of determining whether we should take them further or leave them at this fort, from which place it appeared that we could take them about half way to the Pacific without serious interruption." (This would be to the eastern base of the Blue Mountains, W. I. M.) "Some insisted that the great convenience of having wagons with us would amply warrant taking them as far as we could, while others thought, as we would eventually be under the necessity of leaving them, it would be preferable to leave them at the fort, especially as we could there obtain tools and all other means of manufacturing our packing equipage, which we could not do elsewhere. Another reason which was urged in favor of leaving them was that we could, perhaps, sell them for something at this place, which we could do at no other point upon the route. The vote having been taken, it was found that a great majority was opposed to taking them any further, the consequence of which was that there was no alternative for the minority, as our little government was purely democratic. Mr. Grant purchased a few of the wagons, for which he paid in such provisions as he could dispose of without injury to himself. He could not, of course, afford to give much for them, as he did not need them, but bought them merely as an accommodation."
FREMONT'S ACCOUNT OF THE 1842 MIGRATION AT FTS. LARAMIE AND JOHN.
Page 40 of Sen. Ex. Doc. 174, 28th Cong., 2d Sess., being report of Fremont's 1842 Exploration, under date of July 13, 1842, after describing his arrival at Fts. Laramie and John (less than 600 miles from Independence, Mo., and over an almost level country, with a plainly marked wagon road the whole way), continues as follows: "The emigrants to Oregon and Mr. Bridger's party met here, a few days before our arrival. Division and misunderstandings had grown up among them; they were already somewhat disheartened by the fatigues of their long and wearisome journey, and the feet of their cattle had become so much worn as to be scarcely able to travel. In this situation, they were not likely to find encouragement in the hostile attitude of the Indians and the
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new and unexpected difficulties which sprang up before them. They were told that the country was entirely swept of grass, and that few or no buffaloes are to be found on their line of route; and with their weakened animals it would be impossible for them to transport their heavy wagons over the mountains. Under these circumstances, they disposed of their wagons and cattle at the forts, selling them at the prices they had paid in the States, and taking in exchange coffee and sugar at one dollar a pound, and miserable, worn-out horses, which died before they reached the mountains; Mr. Bondeau informed me that he had purchased thirty, and the lower fort eighty head of fine cattle, some of them of the Durham breed."
WHITE'S ACCOUNT OF ABANDONING WAGONS BY 1842 MIGRATION AND ITS TREATMENT AT FT. HALL.
White's "Ten Years in Oregon" (p. 147) says that they set out from the Missouri frontier with 18 wagons. P. 154 "At this fort" (Laramie) "they exchanged herds for fresh horses and purchased materials for food--some at enormous rates. For flour, for instance, they were charged half a dollar per pint; coffee, tea, sugar, etc., corresponding--all of which they were obliged to have, as many of the party were by this time destitute of the articles." P. 162 "Here" (i. e., on the Little Sandy tributary of the Green River, more than 300 miles east of Ft. Hall) "twelve of the party, who were extremely desirous of advancing more rapidly, divested themselves of carts, wagons and all unnecessary encumbrances and went on, leaving the general encampment to follow more leisurely to Ft. Hall. This was not accomplished without a struggle with those who remained; some being grieved, and others provoked, at being left behind." P. 164 "Four days' longer march through an interesting and verdant country brought them to Fort Hall. . . . Their reception was of the kindest character, and they spent a week very pleasantly with Mr. Grant and his worthy associate, McDonald, who made advantageous exchanges of commodities and afforded them every facility in their power for their further journey. Flour cost them but half what it did at Ft. Laramie, although conveyed on horseback 800 miles." As it is certain that this 1842 migration was the only one that had reached Ft. Hall when Grant was in command of it, prior to the arrival of the 1843 migration, and as the wrongs which Gray (writing 1866 to 1870), who was never within some 400 miles of Ft. Hall after 1838 till after the treaty of 1846 was made, and Spalding (writing in 1858 to 1870), who was never within 300 to 400 miles of Ft. Hall after 1836, allege that this 1842 migration suffered there, at the hands
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of Grant, form a large part of the basis on which they rest the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, and as not a single advocate of that story has ever quoted any part of this contemporaneous evidence of Dr. White and L. W. Hastings, the leaders of the party, and of Fremont and Crawford as to what actually happened to them on the road, inducing them to abandon their wagons, and as to their treatment at Ft. Hall, it seemed to me best to quote it fully preparatory to discussing the experiences of the 1843 migration at Ft. Hall.
From what will be demonstrated in the account of the 1843 migration to have been the trifling difficulties of the route from Ft. Hall to Walla Walla it is certain that this 1842 migration, if harmonious and under any reasonable discipline, could have taken their wagons to the Columbia. But they were inharmonious from the start, and when only a month on the road split into two discordant factions, which much of the way would not even camp together. The advice Grant gave them therefore was good, for they unquestionably could not have taken their wagons over the Blue Mountains.
Instead of referring to these strictly contemporaneous sources for the history of this 1842 migration and the disposition made of its wagons, Spalding when he first launched the Whitman Saved Oregon Story wrote: "In 1840 three missionary ladies from New York, Mrs. Smith, Clark and Littlejohn, and their husbands crossed the mountains and brought their wagons. But on reaching Fort Hall they were compelled to abandon their wagons by the representatives of the Hudson's Bay Co. ... In 1842 considerable emigration moved forward with ox teams and wagons, but on reaching Ft. Hall the same story was told them, and the teams were sacrificed and the emigrant families reached Dr. Whitman's station late in the fall, in very destitute circumstances." (Cf. Pacific, Sept. 28, 1865.) This was also used by Spalding in his "Lecture" embodying his version of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story. (Cf. p. 20 of his pamplet; Ex. Doc. 37, 41st Cong. 3d Sess.) Barrows with his usual disregard of all original sources copies this from Spalding's pamphlet (Cf. Barrows Or., p. 148), and then on p. 149 he tells it again in his own language as follows: "In 1842 immigrants to the number of one hundred and thirty-seven" (should be 108), "men, women and children, secular and missionary, had run the gauntlet of the traders and escaped the financial steel-traps of a monarch monopoly all along the path. But they had been forced by alarms and dangers made to order to leave their wagons behind." Rev. M. Eells ("Ind. Missions," p. 156) echoes these false statements as follows: "At Ft. Hall ... in 1842 the same misrepresentations" (i. e., that wagons could not be driven through to the Columbia) "were again successful with a small company of
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emigrants led by Dr. E. White." Dr. Nixon as usual gives his fervid imagination full swing on this, and (p. 190 of "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon") prints the following (which is more ridiculously false than anything anybody else has written about Whitman's wagon, and the action of the Hudson's Bay Co. relative to it, and all subsequent wagons): "It is not at all strange they made the fight they did; they had in 1836 feared the advent of Dr. Whitman's old wagon more than an army with banners. They had tried in every way in their power except by absolute force to arrest its progress. They foresaw that every turn of its wheels upon Oregon soil endangered fur. Those in command at Fort Hall and Fort Boise were warned to be more watchful. The consequence was that not another wheel was permitted to go beyond those forts from 1836 to 1843." As a specimen of pure fancy in direct contradiction of the facts as established by overwhelming contemporaneous evidence, this is probably unsurpassed even by any other writer in support of the Whitman Legend, and in this paragraph we doubtless have the climax of all the absurdities about Whitman's "old wagon." He follows this by the usual deceptive quotation made by the advocates of the Whitman Legend from Palmer's Journal, but shows his ignorance of the book by beginning with "Gen. Palmer . . . says 'While at Fort Hall in 1842'" (though the title page of Palmer's Journal shows that he was not there till 1845), and then Nixon continues (on p. 192): "They (i. e., the H. B. Co. at Ft. Hall) did succeed in scaring this band of one hundred and thirty-seven men, women and children in 1842 into leaving all their wagons behind, but they went on to Oregon on pack-saddles."
Instead of this migration arriving at Dr. Whitman's "late in the fall in very destitute circumstances," they arrived there very early in the autumn, to-wit, Sept. 14 and 15. (Cf. Crawford's Journal, p. 20, and Rev. C. Eells' letter of Oct. 3, 1842, to D. Greene, secretary, which says that letters brought by Dr. White were received by Eells and Walker, five days' journey from Whitman's Station, on Sept. 21, and no contemporaneous account has anything to say about their being in destitute circumstances.)
This brings us to the 1843 migration--the first one which fulfilled the conditions of the Rocky Mountain Fur Co.'s letter of Oct. 29, 1830, giving an account of the first wagons to the Rockies, in which they stated, not that any party of one, or two, or a half dozen men could drive wagons through to the Great Falls of the Columbia, but that they, a well armed and fairly disciplined company of eighty-one resolute men--numerous enough to be able to keep a small band of pioneers in advance to select the best route, and dig down the steep banks of creeks, and cut out brush and trees where they were in the way--could have gone through with their wagons.
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That Whitman's connection with the origin of that migration was trifling and inconsequential is evident from four of his own letters, the first from St. Louis, May 12th, the other three from Shawnee Indian Mission, about ten miles from the rendezvous of the migration, May 27th, 28th, 30th, 1843.
The first and last were to D. Greene, secretary, and the others to two of Dr. Whitman's brothers-in-law.
All about the migration in the first is the following:
"I have made up my mind that it would not be expedient to take any families across the mountains this year, except such as can go at this time. For this reason I have found it my duty to go on with the party myself."
On page 181, Dr. Mowry prints part of this letter, but carefully omits the above paragraphs.
In that addressed to his wife's brother, Edward Prentiss, dated May 27th (i. e., five days after the migration had started from its camp near Independence, Mo., for Oregon), all that relates to it is the following:
"I cannot tell you very much about the migration to Oregon. They appear very willing, and, I have no doubt, are generally of an enterprising character. There are over 200 men, besides women and children, as it is said. No one can well tell until we are all on the road and get together how many there are. Some have been gone a week, and others have not yet started. I hope to start tomorrow. I shall have an easy journey, as I have not much to do, having no one depending on me."
To this letter Dr. Mowry (though fully informed about it) never alludes, and the same is true of every other book, magazine or newspaper article advocating the Whitman Saved Oregon Story.
I have conducted sundry excursions to the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast regions myself, but while they were gathering I did not stay ten miles from their rendezvous, nor wait for an invitation to visit and address them, nor say--after they were fairly started-- that "I could not tell very much about them," and, still less, that "I expected to have an easy journey, not having much to do, having no one depending upon me," and if there were no other letter but this--the authenticity of which is beyond dispute--it would utterly destroy the whole story that Whitman had any special influence on or concern about the originating or organizing of that migration, or felt any responsibility for its getting through to Oregon, with or without wagons.
In that of May 28th he wrote: "I have been, as it were, waiting for three weeks. When I got to St. Louis I found I had time, and so I went to Quincy and saw sister Jane. I had a fine journey all the way, and have been here nearly two weeks. I shall start
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tomorrow or next day. Some of the emigrants have been gone a week, and others are just going. ... I hope to be expeditious in traveling. After we get to Fort Hall I shall try to go on rapidly, if not before." From this Dr. Mowry (erroneously stating that it was written from St. Louis) quotes (on pages 196-7) about 275 words, but carefully omits the last two sentences above quoted, which show that a week after the migration had started (except the few stragglers which always bring up the rear of such a great movement), Whitman intended on reaching Fort Hall (beyond which there was no danger from Indians) to leave the migration behind, though that was the only part where there was not a well-known wagon road, and where he could be of any special service to it.
In that of May 30th he wrote:
"You will be surprised to see that we are not yet started. . . , I shall start tomorrow. I regret that I could not have spent some of the time spent here in suspense with my friends in the East. I have only a lad of thirteen, my nephew, with me. I take him to have someone to stay with Mrs. W.
"I cannot give you much of an account of the emigrants until we get on the road. It is said that there are over 200 men, besides women and children."
The proper place for this in Mowry's "Marcus Whitman" was on page 197, after that of May 28th, but Dr. Mowry neither prints it there nor puts a footnote of reference to it, but on pages 262-3 he puts it in the Appendix, where few of his readers will peruse it, and fewer note its significance in refuting the claim that Whitman was prominent in originating, organizing and leading the 1843 migration.
I have specified Dr. Mowry's treatment of these four letters because he is the only author who in a book or magazine article advocating the Whitman Legend mentions any of them, and the ingenious way in which he suppresses the conclusive evidence they furnish of Whitman's ignorance concerning and utter lack of any feeling of responsibility as to the organization or movements of this migration even eight days after it had started is thoroughly characteristic of the deceptive methods which mark every chapter of his book.
(Cf. for the full text of the letters of May 27 and 28, Tr. Or. Pi. Asscn., 1891, pp. 177-9, and for those of May 12 and 30, Vol. 138, Mss. A. B. C. F. M.)
It is impossible to determine just where and when Whitman overtook the migration, but it was probably when they were about 150 miles on their journey, as a letter published in the Burlington Gazette of July 8, and copied into the New York Tribune of Aug. 5, 1843, says: "Dr. Whitman from Walla Walla, who is in our
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company, advises that the company divide into three or four parties for speed and convenience, as there will be no danger from Indians."
This letter was dated Kansas River, June 3, 1843, and though unsigned was undoubtedly written by M. M. McCarver. Though dated June 3, it is altogether probable that it was not finished for some days afterward, as their first opportunity to send it back was on June 10, when about 160 miles from their starting point, they met a party of fur traders from Fort Laramie going back to the States with furs. I am indebted to the courtesy of Prof. Shafer for a copy of this letter.
That he was a useful member of the party after he overtook it no one disputes, but that he was in any sense an indispensible member of it, or that it would not have gone through with its wagons had he not been with it, is, I think, established beyond a shadow of a doubt by the evidence with which I shall conclude this chapter, since this party completed the development of the transcontinental wagon road to the Dalles of the Columbia (i. e., to the eastern base of the Cascade Mountains), across which, range the Barlow road was built by Barlow, of the 1845 migration, in the spring of 1846, as hereinafter stated in Chapter III. of Part II.
Unfortunately no contemporaneous book was published by any member of that migration, nor has any such full and detailed contemporaneous account of it in letters or journals ever been found as every student of the history of the Oregon Expansion wishes had been written, and we must content ourselves with a few letters from various members of the migration as hereinafter stated, and with very brief extracts from and not very full accounts based on the only known journal of the movements of the migration. This journal was kept by Peter H. Burnett (who was the first Governor of the State of California), and of this he says: "I kept a concise journal of the trip as far as Walla Walla and have it now before me." ("Old Pioneer," p. 101.) That it was so very "concise" as to be little more than a memorandum from which to refresh his memory is certain from some extracts from it which he sent me in 1885. It is much to be regretted that Governor Burnett's sons have not so far acceded to repeated requests made by me (and presumably by others) to publish that journal in full, excepting, of course, such parts (if there are any) as relate to personal and domestic matters which do not concern the public, or at least to furnish me with a transcript of everything in it which relates in any way to Dr. Whitman. Three accounts (one of only a small part, and the other two of the whole) of that journey, based on that "concise journal," have been published, as follows: (A) Five letters written by Burnett in January, February and March, 1844, and printed in the New York Herald, Dec. 28, 1844, Jan. 5 and 6 (two letters), and 18, 1845. These let-
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ters were reprinted in Or. Hist. Quarterly, December, 1902. (B) Part II. (pp. 63-113) of George Wilkes' "History of Oregon," New York, May, 1845. (0) Pages 97-138 of Burnett's "Recollections of an Old Pioneer" (written between March and October, 1878), New York, 1880.
Besides this there are some very important passages in the report of Fremont's 1843 exploration, as will hereinafter appear, and a letter of Whitman, of Nov. 1, 1843, and a few other letters as hereinafter mentioned and quoted where they give any information of consequence about the development of the Wagon Road to Oregon. Three of the Herald letters cover the movements of the migration in some detail only up to June 27, that is for 37 days, and for only about 400 miles, or scarcely one-fifth of their journey, leaving them east of the crossing of the South Fork of the Platte, and more than 400 miles east of the Continental Divide, and though the other two letters give considerable information about the scenery, geographical divisions, timber, fisheries, climate, etc., of Oregon, there is not in all the letters published in the Herald the least information about what took place at Fort Hall when this migration reached there, nor about their reception at Fort Boise, Fort Walla Walla and Fort Vancouver, nor is the Hudson's Bay Co. so much as mentioned, and though Dr. McLoughlin's name is indeed once mentioned, it is not "as the good angel of the migration," assisting them as if they were his brothers, nor is there the least intimation that they were indebted to the Hudson's Bay Co.'s good offices in any way, and for anything which appears in the Herald letters, Dr. McLoughlin might have been a member of this American migration. Nor is there a word in the Herald letters about any incident of their journey beyond the South Fork of the Platte, nor a word about their experience in developing the wagon road beyond Fort Hall. The account in Wilkes was undoubtedly based upon the letters written to the Herald which Burnett (Cf. O. P., pp. 177-8) stated covered some 125 pages of foolscap.
The Herald letters are absolutely valueless as to the development of the wagon road, though they are of value as to the organization of the migration, and interesting as to its movements over about 400 miles of level prairie, over which the Rocky Mountain Fur Co.'s train of loaded wagons had gone without the slightest difficulty thirteen years before, and numerous other wagons in the intervening years.
The Herald published but a small part--probably not more than about one-third to one-fourth--of the matter that Burnett would naturally have written on "some 125 pages of foolscap," and in the absence of the full text of the letters, and of any other reference to them by Burnett than that heretofore mentioned (on pp. 177-8 of
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"Old Pioneer"), it must ever remain uncertain to what extent its editorial force altered those which it did publish, though, it is probable (since on all material points there is a close agreement as to facts betAveen this part of the Wilkes Narrative and the Herald letters), that there were no material alterations except such as would result from a condensation of them by a New York city editor, wholly unfamiliar with frontier life and manners.
Similarly it will never be possible to determine with absolute certainty whether or not on immaterial points Wilkes rewrote some parts of the letters in a more ornate style than that of Burnett, nor is it of any particular consequence, since by comparison with Fremont's Rept. and with Whitman's letter of Nov. 1, 1843, and with "Ford's Road Makers" (MS.), and with the letters to me hereinafter quoted from Burnett, Shively, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate, and from a comparison of the movements of the migration from the Missouri frontier to Fort Hall, and from Fort Hall to the Columbia, it can be proved beyond any possibility of dispute that Wilkes' statements are correct, even when they differ from the statements on the same points in the "Old Pioneer," as to all the really important points, which are:
(1) Were the difficulties of the route from Fort Hall to the Columbia serious or comparatively trifling ?
(2) What was Whitman's real relation to the party, and how far was he its guide beyond Fort Hall ?
(3) What treatment did the migration receive at Fort Hall from the officers of the Hudson's Bay Co.?
(4) Would the migration have gone through with wagons had Whitman not been with it?
As Wilkes did not claim that he was presenting either a transcript of the journal or a verbatim copy of the letters, he violated no principle of the most rigid code of historical or literary ethics if in preparing the "Narrative of the Migration of 1843" (which he explicitly declared was not a copy of the journal, but was "prepared from the journal of a member of the recently organized Oregon Legislature") he rewrote a little or much of it, provided he did not change any material statement of fact it contained, nor is its value as an "original source" for this migration affected, when it is admitted that in some wholly immaterial points, as for instance the number of miles traveled May 22 and 23, the statements in Wilkes are erroneous. That they were not intentionally so is patent to the dullest comprehension, since Wilkes prints (p. 112) the "Table of Distance," which proves the statements as given (on p. 72) of the distances traveled May 22 and 23 to be incorrect. The probability is that the error relates to distances traveled the ISth and 19, or the 20th and 21st (of which there is no record in either
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the letters published in the New York Herald or in the "Old Pioneer"), and which were misplaced by one of those printer's errors which continually vex the souls of authors and editors.
First as to the route from Fort Hall to the Columbia.
The advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story have so enormously exaggerated the difficulties of the route from Fort Hall to the Columbia that it is time a few plain and indisputable facts about it should be stated. Let us consider first the relative rate of travel of this migration over this part of the route, compared with its travel from the Missouri frontier to Fort Hall--1,323 miles-- over "the best natural road of its length in the world." Burnett ("Old Pioneer," pp. 116-117) says they arrived at the Great Soda Springs on Bear River (83 miles east of Fort Hall), on Aug. 22, and reached Fort Hall Aug. 27, and quitted Fort Hall Aug. 30, "many of our young men having left us with pack trains." The Wilkes Narrative (pp. 824) says they left the Great Soda Springs Aug. 27, and reached Fort Hall, 83 miles distant, Aug. 30. Turning to Fremont's Rept. (Sen. Ex. Doc. 174, 28th Cong., 2d Sess., pp. 133-9), we find that Aug. 22 he rode for several miles down Bear Biver by the camps of this migration, who "had been reposing for several days in this delightful valley in order to recruit their animals on its luxuriant pasturage after their long journey, and prepare them for the hard travel along the comparatively sterile banks of the Upper Columbia." He did not make a camp (which was 42 miles east of Soda Springs) till 10 at night of the 22d, and under date of the 23d he says: "The road in the morning presented an animated appearance. We found that we had encamped near a large party of emigrants; and a few miles below, another party was already in motion." August 26 he remained in camp at Soda Springs, till 11 a. m., and says: "In the course of the morning the last wagons of the emigration passed by." These wagons, of course, camped the night of Aug. 26 not many miles beyond Soda Springs, and started from there on the 27th, as stated in Wilkes, and as there is no place named (in Wilkes or in the "Old Pioneer") between Soda Springs and the Portneuf, Burnett naturally and properly would say, as stated in Wilkes, that they left the Soda Springs on the 27th, though as a matter of fact it was a camp probably six or eight miles west of Soda Springs, where they camped' the night of the 26th. Fremont, it is true, says (p. 139), that it was "probably fifty miles to Fort Hall from where they left the valley of Bear River." But he did not go over that route to Fort Hall, while Burnett, who did go over it, estimated the distance from Soda Springs to Fort Hall as 83 miles. This would give for the distance from where they undoubtedly camped the night of the 26th to Fort Hall about 71 to 75 miles, which would require at least
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four days' travel, and bring them to Fort Hall about August 30, as Wilkes states, and not August 27, as Burnett wrote in "Old Pioneer" 35 years after the event. Accepting the date given in the Wilkes Narrative--August 30--as the correct one for the arrival at Fort Hall of the larger part of the migration, which it is certain that Fremont found strung out along Bear River Valley, August 22 to 25, they had occupied 101 days in traveling 1,323 miles, or an average rate of progress of practically 13 1-10 miles a day; and even if we admit, what from Fremont's contemporaneous record is proved incorrect, that they reached Fort Hall three days earlier, as stated in the "Old Pioneer," that would only make the average daily journey 13½ miles. How does this compare with their progress from Fort Hall to the Columbia? Wilkes and "Old Pioneer" agree in the statement that they came down the western slope of the Blue Mountains and camped on the Umatilla on Oct. 6, and from that camp to Whitman's Mission, 29 miles, and thence to Fort Walla Walla, 25 miles, in all 54 miles, was a stretch of plains with some sand hills. The difficult part of the road, therefore, was all passed when they were at the Umatilla, and they had traveled 417 miles from Fort Hall to the Umatilla, in 36 days, if we accept as correct the date of leaving Fort Hall--Sept. 1--as given in Wilkes, which gives an average of 11 7-12 miles a day, while even if we accept the manifestly erroneous "Old Pioneer" date of Aug. 30 for the departure from Fort Hall, the daily average was 10 37-38, or practically 11 miles. But several other things must be taken into account.
First--Their teams were all fresh when they started from Missouri, May 22, and it goes without saying that after 1,323 miles travel they were much reduced in strength when they reached Fort Hall.
Second--Until they reached Fort Hall they had all the way (except perhaps the five days, Aug. 12-17, ocupied in the detour via Bridger's Fort to Bear River), a plainly marked road, and needed to spend no time in finding or making a road, and had no trees to cut to open the road, while between Fort Hall and the Umatilla, or, more strictly, between Fort Boise and the Umatilla, they had to lose a little time at a few points determining the best way to go, and for a few miles (probably about 25 miles, or three days' journey) they had to cut a road through the forests on the Blue Mountains.
Third--And most important of all, from May 22 to Sept. 1, they had an average length of day between sunrise and sunset of two and a half hours more than between Sept. 1 and Oct. 6, i. e,, 14 hours 40 minutes, against 12 hours 8 minutes. The lightening of the loads by the consumption of provisions counterbalanced in part,
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at least, the jaded condition of their teams, but (since the weight of wagons, clothing, furniture, etc., remained unchanged) even if we allow (what I do not think is correct) that the lightening of the loads entirely balanced the jaded condition of the teams, the other two conditions are not affected thereby, and the indisputable fact remains that with some time lost in road making, and an average of two and a half hours less daylight, this migration made an average of only just about two miles a day less from Fort Hall to the plains of the Columbia River than from the beginning of their journey 1,323 miles to Fort Hall, over what Burnett ("Old Pioneer," p. 116) says "was perhaps the finest natural road of the same length to be found in the world."
In Old Pioneer (p. 126) Burnett says: "On the 10th of October we arrived within three miles of Dr. Whitman's mission, and remained in camp until the 14th." This conveys the impression that the whole migration stopped there, but turning to Wilkes (pp. 88-89) we finding the following: "On the 8th of October we moved on" (i. e., from the Umatilla) "and encamped in the afternoon within twenty miles of the Methodist mission establishment kept by Dr. Whitman, on the banks of a little tributary of the Walla Walla; but not finding the pasturage to our liking, we moved on the next day a few miles farther in advance, and finding a prairie offering us all the advantages we sought, the section to which I was attached, determined to make a halt for a few days, to recruit our weary and way-worn cattle. Most of the party had advanced before us, and were already at the mission, but we, in consequence of our halt, which continued through a period of five days, did not reach there until the 15th." Burnett's high character is sufficient guarantee that the omission (on p. 126 of "Old Pioneer") of the fact that only the section to which he was then attached made this five days' halt, and so lengthened the time from Fort Hall to the Columbia River, and that the larger part of the migration did not make this halt, and so reached the Columbia Oct. 11, instead of Oct. 16, as he did, was not intended to deceive; but it is a striking commentary on the claims of Prof. Schafer that the "Old Pioneer" should be substituted for the Wilkes Narrative as "virtually a contemporary source for the whole of the migration of 1843," that in this, as in every other case in which we can compare the Wilkes account with unquestionable contemporary documents it is found correct.
Nothing is more evident than that when Burnett wrote the "Old Pioneer" account of this migration he followed his journal closely, and wrote only of the movements of that part of the migration to which he was attached. That section of the party reached Fort Hall, as he states in "Old Pioneer," and as the extract from his journal (published by Prof. Schafer in the Oregonian of Nov. 13,
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 103
1903, states), on Aug..27, but that the bulk of the migration could not have arrived there before Sept. 1, as stated by Wilkes, is certain from the extracts herein quoted from Fremont's Rept., under dates Aug. 22-26 inclusive. How far from accurate was Burnett's memory even about very important matters connected with the movements of this migration 35 years afterward, when he wrote the account of it in "Old Pioneer," is evident from the things he omits to mention in that account, which are in both the Herald letters and the Wilkes Narrative, and a letter of his to me fully confirms this, and also shows that his journal was so very concise as to be--certainly on most dates--merely a series of memoranda, with which to subsequently to refresh his memory, and not any detailed account of the events of the day. June 26, 1885, he wrote me as follows: "In reply to your third inquiry" (which was as to how long the 1843 migration continued together, and where and how they divided) "I will give the following extracts from my journal, as the entries were made at the time, except a few corrections in the spelling of certain words and names." (I quote the extracts from his journal verbatim as they are given in his letter.)
"May 22, 1843. A general start was this day made from the rendezvous.
"May 23. Wagons still coming in, and others yet behind.
"May 26. Camped at Kansas River. ... As yet no organization and no guards put out.
"May 28. Wagons still coming in rapidly.
"May 30. The company still crossing rapidly and new wagons arriving.
"May 31. Still crossing Kansas River. . . . Many of the company disposed to separate into two companies.
"June 1. Organized our company by electing P. H. Burnett captain, and Mr. Nesmith orderly sergeant and nine council men.
"June 10. At night we overtook old man Zachary and some others and formed a good corral.
"July 4. Continued crossing." (S. Platte.) . . . "Chiles here overtook us.
"July 8. Part of the company joined Chiles and left us.
"July 14. Reached Fort Laramie about 10 o'clock. . . Here we found Applegate and Chiles.
"July 20. Mr. Hembree belonged to Applegate's company, which is only two or three miles ahead of us now.
"Aug. 6. Overtook Applegate's company.
"Aug. 7. Chiles' company, Cooper's and Applegate's all in sight at 12.
"Aug. 13. Divided our company into smaller companies of about 15 wagons.
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"The greater portion of the emigrants for Oregon left the rendezvous together on May 22, 1843, and others, who had not arrived in time, came up later. At the time of the organization, June 1, they had all overtaken us except a very few, and all joined in. the organization except Mr. Zachary and a few others, not exceeding thirty persons in all, according to my best recollection. They united with the company June 10. The first division of the company occurred July 6, when some of the company left with Chiles, who had overtaken us on the 4th of July on his way to California, and while we were crossing South Platte. But as we approached nearer to the Rocky Mountains our people formed still smaller parties, as shown in the extracts herein given."
Certainly one of the most important events connected with the journey of that migration was its division into two sections, one under the command of William Martin, and the other under Jesse Applegate, which took place according to both the Herald letters and the Wilkes Narrative on June 9, 1843, yet that seems to have been omitted entirely from Burnett's "concise journal," and is not even alluded to in the "Old Pioneer," and so completely had his long residence in California put him "out of touch" with Oregon pioneer affairs and dimmed his memory where there was no record in his "concise journal" by which to refresh it, that in this letter to me he explicitly declares (in answer to my inquiry as to when the 1843 migration first divided) that "the first division of the company occurred July 6."
Whitman's letter of Nov. 1, 1843, hereinbefore referred to, not only confirms this item in Wilkes' account about "most of the party" having reached the mission before Oct. 10, but also shows that Burnett's statement in "Old Pioneer" (p. 116) that "Whitman was our pilot from Fort Hall to the Grand Ronde" is incorrect, and that, as a matter of fact, over the really difficult portion of the route (i. e., that west of Fort Boise), Whitman was not with the party at all, and this fact confirms the accuracy of the only allusion made in the Wilkes Narrative to any important service rendered to the migration by Whitman at any time between its starting from the Missouri frontier on May 22, and the time they reached his mission station and purchased provisions of him, being charged therefor the full market rates. Wilkes (p. 35) says: "On the 23d (Sept.) we started off again, with the same cutting wind that had visited us the day before, and which stayed with us over night. Our road today was tolerably good, and after having accomplished 16 miles over it, we brought our day's journey to a close on the bank of a dry creek, with no water at hand, except what was found in a sort of puddle in its bed. Two miles further on would have taken us to a good encampment, with plenty of fine range and water, but the
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Indian pilot who had been employed for us by Dr. Whitman was ahead, and out of reach with the foremost wagons."
The following extracts from Whitman's letter of Nov. 1, 1843, to Rev. D. Greene, secretary of the A. B. C. F. M. (which no advocate of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story has ever quoted, except that Mowry, in his "Marcus Whitman and the Early Days of Oregon," not having quoted a word from it in the body of his book, nor even referred to it in his Chapter XVIII. describing the journey of the 1843 migration, prints this letter in full in his Appendix, where few will read it, or note its significance in connection with the claims made for Whitman as leader of that migration), show that Whitman left the migration at Fort Boise, 100 miles east of the Grande Ronde, and did not see any members of it again (except perhaps some of those who went ahead on horseback and with pack trains) until Oct. 9 or 10, at or near his mission. "By taking a light wagon I was enabled to come ahead from Fort Boise. At the Grand Ronde, east of the Blue Mountains, I met a letter from Mr. Walker, written at Lapwai, urging me to come with speed to see Mr. and Mrs. Spalding, who were both in a dangerous state of sickness. At this point I engaged one of the Wailatpu (Kayuses) to complete the piloting of the company across the Blue Mountains, which he did in a most judicious and faithful manner, and I hired a fresh horse and guide, and went direct to Mr. Spalding's, where I arrived on Monday evening, 25th Sept. ... I did not remain but one night, and then returned with Mr. Geiger to Wailatpu, which had been left in the care of an Indian only, the wheat being in chaff and out of doors and part of the corn to be gathered by them also. In the meantime some of the advance parties of the emigrants on horseback had reached and broke open the house, and left it open to the Indians, although wheat, corn, potatoes, garden vegetables, hogs and cattle were in abundance outside." He then went to Tshimakain (i. e., Eells' and Walker's station), and returned to Wailatpu, Oct. 9, and the letter continues: "In the meantime a large part of the emigrants had passed my house with their wagons." Whitman could not have made the journey from the Grand Ronde to Spalding's station in less than two days, so that he must have been in Grande Ronde (69 miles in advance of the migration he is stated in "Old Pioneer" to have been piloting) on the same 23d of Sept. that, according to the Wilkes Narrative, that migration, for want of a competent pilot, was obliged to make a "dry camp," only 31 miles from Boise. As both "Old Pioneer" and Wilkes state that the migration did not reach Fort Boise till Sept. 20, it is evident that if Whitman was with them when they reached Boise, and did not stop there at all himself, he must have traveled "with a light wagon" the 100 miles between Boise and Grande
106 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
Ronde (including the 26 miles up Burnt River, which all authorities agree was much the roughest stretch of road the whole journey) in the four days Sept. 20-23, which is enough of itself to demonstrate beyond dispute that the road offered no obstacle that these 260 resolute men--descendants of those who had pioneered from the Atlantic Coast over the Alleghanies and across the prairies to the Missouri--could not easily have surmounted if neither Whitman nor "the Indian he employed" had been with them. Wilkes (p. 87) says they might have avoided the two worst hills they encountered on the whole route (being the ones by which they descended into the Grande Ronde on Oct. 1, and left it on Oct. 2) "by turning to the left on the mountain side and passing them altogether," and this (which is not mentioned in "Old Pioneer") finds full confirmation in Fremont's Rept., under date of Oct. 17-21, 1843 (pp. 178-81) as follows:
"Probably with the view of avoiding a circuit, the wagons had directly descended into the Ronde by the face of a hill so very rocky and continuously steep as to be apparently impracticable; and following down on their trail we encamped on one of the branches of the Grande Ronde River, immediately at the foot of the hill."
We have already quoted Burnett's statement in Wilkes (p. 88) that Fremont found a much easier route over the Blue Mountains than the one over which the migration went. Burnett in "Old Pioneer" makes no allusion to this, though he gives considerable space to his interviews with Fremont and travel with him from Fort Vancouver to the Dalles. (O. P., pp. 130-135.) Turning again to Fremont's Rept. (pp. 179-181), we find that the reason why he followed the migration down the steep hill into the Ronde, instead of making the circuit of the mountain side, was that he intended to go a good ways farther to the north in the Ronde, and cross the Blue Mountains by an easier pass. (P. 179.) "Oct. 18. We resumed our journey somewhat later than usual, traveling in a nearly northerly direction across this beautiful valley; and about noon reached a place on one of the principal streams, where I had determined to leave the emigrant trail, in the expectation of finding a more direct and better road across the Blue Mountains. At this place the emigrants appeared to have held some consultation as to their further route, and finally turned directly off to the left, reaching the foot of the mountain in about three miles, which they ascended by a hill as steep and difficult as that by which we had yesterday descended to the Ronde. Quitting, therefore, this road, which, after a very rough crossing, issues from the mountains by the heads of the Umatilah River, we continued our northern course across the valley, following an Indian trail which had been indicated to me
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by Mr. Payette, and encamped at the northern extremity of the Grande Ronde on a slough-like stream of very deep water, without any apparent current. . . . Elevation 2,600 feet above the sea. Oct. 19. We passed out of the Grande Ronde by a fine road along the creek, which for a short distance runs in a kind of rocky chasm. Crossing a low point, which was a little rocky, the trail conducted us into the open valley of the stream--a handsome place for farms, (p. 180.) . . . We halted for a few minutes in the afternoon at the foot of the Blue Mountains, on a branch of the Grand Ronde River, at an elevation of 2,700 feet. Resuming our journey, we commenced the ascent of the mountain through an open pine forest of large and stately trees, among which the balsam pine made its appearance; the road being good, with the exception of one steep ascent with a corresponding descent, which might both have been easily avoided by opening a way for a short distance through the timber. Oct. 20. . . . The instrument carriage occasioned much delay, it being frequently necessary to fell trees and remove fallen timber. The trail we were following led up a long spur with a very gradual and gentle rise. . . . After traveling occasionally through open places in the forest, we were obliged to cut a way through a dense body of timber, from which we (p. 181) emerged on an open mountain side, where we found a number of small springs, and encamped after a day's journey of 10 miles. Our elevation here was 5,000 feet." "Oct. 21. . . .We continued to travel through the forest, in which the road was rendered difficult by fallen trunks, and obstructed by many small trees which it was necessary to cut down. But these are only accidental difficulties which could easily be removed, and a very excellent road may be had through this pass, with no other than very moderate ascents and declivities." This pass was undoubtedly the same one of which Payette had informed Thomas J. Farnham, as stated by Farnham in that passage from his "Travels" (quoted on p. 83 ante), which, as hereinbefore stated, Wilkes quoted (on p. 52) as demonstrating beyond question the feasibility of the route for a national railroad to the Pacific. As there is not a shadow of doubt that Payette would as readily have informed the leaders of the 1843 migration of this "easy pass" as he had informed Farnham, in 1839, and as. he informed Fremont 18 days after the migration had passed, it is plain that if the migration, instead of depending on Whitman's Indian guide Isticus, had consulted Payette, they would have learned of a much easier route over the Blue Mountains than the one over which Isticus led them. That the difficulties of that one, however, were by no means great will appear from the simple fact that both Wilkes (pp. 87-88) and "Old Pioneer" (pp. 125-126) agree that the migration left the Grande Ronde Oct. 2, and crossed the Blue Moun-
108 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
tains 43 miles, to the Umatilla River, during Oct. 2 to 6 inclusive. That is, with a day from sunrise to sunset of only 11½ hours, with considerable forest through, which they were compelled to cut their way, and with teams pretty thoroughly worn out, they traveled across this range at an average of 8 3-5 miles a day, which was only about 4½ miles less than they had traveled on an average from the Missouri frontier, 1,323 miles, to Fort Hall, over "the best natural road of its length in the world," starting with fresh teams, with no forest through which to cut their way, and having an average length of day from sunrise to sunset of 14 hours and 40 minutes. Whoever will read Fremont's Rept. of his 1843 exploration with care will find in it ample confirmation of the positions herein advanced as to the slight difficulties of the route beyond Fort Hall, for though he says the road up Burnt River was very bad, he mentions no other very bad road except a few hills, and several times he declares of other portions of this part of the road that they were "very good." The Or. Hist. Quarterly for December, 1902 (pp. 395-8), publishes a letter of Tallmadge B. Wood, "written about April, 1844," from Willamette Falls, Oregon. He states that he was second in command of one of the divisions of the 1843 migration, but does not say which division it was, and his letter gives a very brief and vague account of the movements of the migration, covering only about 700 words. Though he intended, undoubtedly, to he accurate, it is curious that two of the three dates he gives are erroneous, as he says they started April 25, 1843, instead of May 22, and that they arrived at Fort Hall the last of September instead of the last of August or first of September. He also says there were 320 wagons, whereas J. W. Nesmith, who was the orderly sergeant of the company, says "there were 111 wagons of all kinds." (Tr. Or. P. Asscn. 1875, p. 53). (P. 396) Wood's letter says: "We arrived at Fort Hall the last of September. Here (though two-thirds of the distance was passed) the difficulties of the journey just commenced, though not so difficult as had been represented, yet the roads from this place were very rough and grass in many places very scarce." So far as yet appears, besides these forty-eight words in Wood's letter, the only contemporary accounts of the difficulties of the way beyond Fort Hall except what is in the Wilkes Narrative and in Fremont's Rept. are:
First--In a letter published in the Ohio Statesman, Sept. 11, 1844, dated Willamette, Nov. 6,1843, Mr. M. M. McCarver (who was one of the Council of Nine and one of those who went ahead of the migration on horseback from Fort Hall) wrote as follows: "We have had less obstacles in reaching here than we had a right to expect, as it was generally understood before leaving the States that one-third of the distance--to-wit, from Fort Hall to this place--
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 109
was impassable with, wagons. Great credit, however, is due to the energy, perseverance and industry of this emigrating company, and particularly to Dr. Whitman, one of the missionaries at the Walla Walla Mission, who accompanied us out. His knowledge of the route was considerable, and his exertions for the interest of the company were untiring."
Second--In the Or. Hist. Quarterly for September, 1903, are two letters from, members of this migration.
(1) (On pp. 274-6) A letter from John Boardman to J. Wells, Esq., dated at Sandwich Islands, July 17, 1844, and published in the Western (Mo.) Journal, Jan. 4, 1845, and space only permits the following extracts: "I left the Shawnee Mission on the 29th of May; our route was through the Caw Indian country, which is good, has considerable timber, and is well watered. It is a bad country for wagons to travel through, having so many sloughs and bad creeks; the teams were often stalled, and made very slow progress. . . . On the 13th of July we arrived at the crossing of Laramie's Fork, at the fort of the American Fur Co. . . . After we left Laramie we came to the Black Hills, the worst of all traveling--hilly, sandy and full of wild sage--'tis death on a wagon. The country is all of this barren, sandy kind, until we reach Fort Hall, and destitute of timber. Arrived at Fort Hall the 13th of September, after experiencing some cold rains, snow, hail, etc. The country down Snake River is hilly, rocky, sandy, no timber, but an abundance of sage, until we get to the Blue Mountains. Here is plenty of pine, the country very broken, and bad traveling, though the wagons went through. ... I hardly know what to write about Oregon, or what you would like to know; though if I were where you are, and should see someone from Oregon, I could ask him a hundred questions, as you could me. The report of Wilkes that you had is very correct." (This is, of course, the 14 pages of Lieut. Charles Wilkes' Special Report, published in the 2d edition of Pendleton's Report, of which 5,000 copies were ordered printed by the House Jan. 4, 1843. [Ho. Ex. Doc. No. 31, 27th Cong., 3d Sess.]--W. I. M.)
It will be noticed that Boardman gives the time of arrival at Fort Laramie as July 13, whereas the Wilkes Narrative gives the date as July 9, and says they left there July 11, while "Old Pioneer" says they arrived July 14, and remained two days repairing the wagons. Boardman also did not arrive at Fort Hall till Sept. 13.
(2) On pp. 280-84 is a letter from Mr. S. H. Gilmore dated Fort Vancouver, Nov. 11, 1843. He does not give a date when they were at any point between May 27 and the arrival of the party he was with at Fort Hall, Aug. 25, two days in advance of the party Burnett was with, and 19 days before the party with whom Boardman
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was traveling. All that Gilmore (who was later a prominent man in Oregon) says about the difficulties of the road is the following extracts: "We left Westport on the 27th of May, and crossed the Kansas River near the old village; thence up the north side of the Kansas, where we had a great deal of rain and stormy weather to encounter. . . . We came to a small stream, called Sweetwater, one of the streams of the northern branch of Platte; we traveled up this until we passed through the Rocky Mountains, which we found to be as good as any part of our road." . . . (This plainly refers only to the stretch of road up the Sweetwater and over the South Pass to Green River--W. I. M.) . . . "We traveled several days down this river (Bear River), then crossed over to the Snake River, and arrived at Fort Hall on the 25th day of August. Here I found some of the best beef I ever saw. . . . From here we traveled down Snake or Lewis River, crossing and recrossing the same to Fort Bosie (Boise); thence to Fort Walla Walla, crossing the Blue Mountains in our route. We passed them much easier than I expected. . . . The road from Independence to Fort Hall is as good a road as I would wish to travel; from Fort Hall there is some bad road and some good."
(3) Prof. Schafer, in a letter to me, quotes the following from "a letter from one of the emigrants" published in the New York Herald of June 3, 1843: "We had a very good road to the fort (Hall), from there the worst in the world." There seems to be some mistake as to either the paper or the date as to this, for in response to a request for a copy of the whole letter, the librarian of the Wisconsin Historical Society informs me that the Herald of that date contains no letter from anyone referring to the Oregon migration.
Assuming that in the Herald (or some other paper), such an anonymous letter was published, it amounts to nothing in view of the indisputable figures hereinbefore given showing the rate of progress of the migration. The expression "the worst road in the world" is merely an exaggerated statement of one's impatience with a rough, uncomfortable road, and I have heard that precise expression used about stretches of highway in Ohio, Kentucky, Vermont and New Hampshire which had been traveled continuously for from 60 to 200 years. Whitman's letter of Nov. 1, 1843, does not contain one word about the difficulties of the route, nor do any of his subsequent letters give any information about any difficulties of the way, but only assertions that the opening of the wagon road was due to his being with the party.
Wilkes (p. 86): "Ou the 28th (Sept.) the road got worse, if anything, than before, and after floundering through the hills and hollows for six miles, we struck a hill of most difficult ascent that
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 111
required us to double our teams. Yet even this Mil, as well as another still more difficult which we descended, might have been entirely avoided by an advance of 200 yards farther up the stream, where nature had furnished an easy ascent round the sides of both. This, however, was not discovered until all the wagons had passed. The above hill is the first that we have met in our road, which obliged us to double our teams." This was at the head of Burnt River, and in H. H. Bancroft's "Oregon," Vol. I., p. 401, we find the following: "The first grading required on any part of the route from the main Platte to the Columbia was at the crossing of the ridge at the head of Burnt River; and this, too, was the first occasion on which it had been necessary to double teams." (Ford's Road Makers, Ms. 10.) This first hill requiring any grading or the doubling of teams was 350 miles west of Fort Hall, and 1,673 miles from their starting point, and only 131 miles east of Fort Walla Walla.
As Prof. Schafer (in Oregonian for Nov. 13, 1903) still insists that Wilkes deliberately deceived his readers as to the difficulties of the road west of Fort Hall, and as he does not quote one word of what Fremont says about that stretch, so that his readers can judge whether his condemnation of Wilkes is warranted by the facts, I will now quote every word in Wilkes, and in Fremont's Rept., and in "Old Pioneer" as to the road from Fort Boise to the Grande Ronde, where Fremont's route diverged from that of the migration, that he might follow Payette's direction and cross the Blue Mountains by an easier route, as hereinbefore stated.
There is no use in wasting any time on the road from Fort Hall to Fort Boise, since that offered no difficulties worth considering, as this migration traveled that 274 miles at almost exactly the same average daily rate as they did the 1,323 miles from the Missouri frontier to Fort Hall, though their day was an average of almost two and a half hours shorter from Hall to Boise than from Missouri to Fort Hall. No one's opinion is of any consequence on historical matters except as it agrees with, "the weight of evidence" after examining all the valid evidence, and unlike Prof. Schafer in this matter, I prefer to put all the evidence before my readers, that they may judge for themselves as to whether there is any warrant for his accusations against Wilkes.
Fort Boise to Burnt River occupied the migration Sept. 22, 23 and 24 according to Wilkes, and 21, 22, 23 and 24 according to "Old Pioneer." The distance is given in the "Table of Distance" in both Wilkes and the Herald letters as 41 miles, and by Fremont, who went over it Oct. 11 and 12, as 47 miles. Fremont's distances (where his route was identical with that of the 1843 migration) are almost always considerably greater than those given by Burnett, and prob-
112 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
ably more accurate, but as his route was very different from that of the migration from the crossing of the Kansas River to the Sweet Water, from Soda Springs to Fort Hall, and from the place where the migration started out of the Grande Ronde over the Blue Mountains to Whitman's station, it seems necessary to use Burnett's "Table of Distances" for the whole journey.
Let us compare what Wilkes says as to the quality of the road with what Fremont says. We cannot compare with "Old Pioneer" for this stretch, for all Burnett says of this journey from Fort Boise to Burnt River is the following (on p. 124): "On the 21st we recrossed the Snake River by fording, which was deep but safe. On the 24th we reached Burnt River."
Turn now to Wilkes (p. 85): "On the 22d we left Fort Boise, and after traveling over an excellent road for fifteen miles we came to a creek in the latter part of the afternoon. This we crossed without serious difficulty, and encamped upon its western bank. . . . On the 23d we started off again with the same cutting wind, etc. , . . Our road today was tolerably good.
"On the 23d we had to encounter a very hilly road which retarded our progress most seriously. The hills, however, were not high, neither were they rugged or abrupt, but they were frequent, and thence our difficulty."
Now let us see what Fremont reported of this precise stretch of road.
On p. 174 of his report of his 1843 expedition (Sen. Ex. Doc. 174, 28 Cong., 2 Sess.) we find, under date of Oct. 11, 1843. . . . "At 11 o'clock we resumed our journey. . . . About sunset we reached the Riviere aux Malheurs. . . . With the exception of a bad place of a few hundred yards long, which occurred in rounding a point of a hill to reach the ford of the river, the road during the day had been very good."
Oct. 12 (p. 175). "Leading for five miles up a broad, dry branch of the Malheurs River, the road entered a sandy hollow, where the surface was rendered firm by the admixture of other rock; being good and level until arriving near the head of a ravine, where it became a little rocky, and we met with a number of sharp ascents over an undulating surface. Crossing here a dividing ridge, it became an excellent road of gradual descent down a very marked hollow."
Oct. 13 (p. 176). "Leaving entirely the Snake River ... we ascended a long and somewhat steep hill; and crossing the dividing ridge came down into the valley of Burnt River."
Up Burnt River all accounts--Wilkes, Fremont and "Old Pioneer"--agree was the roughest road of the whole journey, but it was only 26 miles, and it was not so bad but what they made the
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 113
26 miles in three days (Sept. 25, 26 and 27), or an average of eight and two-thirds miles a day, with only 11 hours 53 minutes between sunrise and sunset. A careless reading of Wilkes under date of Sept. 27 would lead one to think that the migration left Burnt River on the morning of the 27th, but a careful reading and a footing of the miles traveled on the 25th, 26th and 27th shows that it was only the more difficult part of the road up Burnt River that they left behind them on the morning of the 27th, and that they did not finally leave its valley till the 28th, which agrees exactly with "Old Pioneer" (p. 124).
Let us now compare the "Old Pioneer," the Wilkes and the Fremont accounts of this--admitted by all to be--the worst stretch of road on the whole route.
All that "Old Pioneer" says (p. 124) is: "It hardly deserves to be called a river, being only a creek of fair size. The road up this stream was then a terrible one, as the latter runs between two tall ranges of mountains, through a narrow valley full of timber, which we had not the force or time to remove."
Wilkes (p. 85): "Sept. 25 we started up the line of Burnt River. The valley of the stream is very narrow, at some points being not more than 20 yards across, and it is hemmed in by mountains on either side.
"Though it abounds in timber, quite a safe and passable road could be made through it by clearing out the space for a track, but to do this effectually several crossings of the stream would have to be made.
"This could easily be performed in consequence of its low banks and firm bottom, but we had no time to clear out the way, but of late the tortuousness of the roads had so scattered and divided our company that we proceeded helter skelter along in separate detachments, each following, as best it could, the careless lead of those who went before. We were thus betrayed into many difficulties that might have been avoided, if an orderly arrangement had been preserved. Sometimes the turn of only a few yards would have saved us the most obstructive hills and hollows, and I am informed that the course of the river could have been avoided altogether by a turn to the left, which strikes the trail near Powder Elver, running in an extensive plain, remarkable for a solitary tree in its midst, known as the "Lone Pine." But if this should not be the case (Footnote by Wilkes, 'It is the case').
"I would advise future emigrants to select some eight or ten good men to send on ahead to search for the most eligible route, and if necessary to clear one.
"This will save them much trouble. . . . The range from this spot to the end of the journey is most excellent; the bunch grass is
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plenty in the valleys and on the sides of the hills, and there is plenty of rushes along the banks of the stream. We made but eight miles today.
"On the 26th the road got worse, if anything, than before, and after floundering through hills and hollows for six miles we struck a hill of most difficult ascent, that required us to double our teams. Yet even this hill, as well as another still more difficult, which we descended, might have been entirely avoided by an advance of 200 yards farther up the stream, where nature has furnished an easy ascent round the sides of both. This, however, was not discovered till all the wagons had passed. The above hill is the first that we have met in our road, which obliged us to double our teams.
"Sept. 27. ... This morning we emerged from our troublous passage through the immediate valley of the river, and struck a beautifully undulating valley . . . and after completing 12 miles over a good road, halted for the night."
This is every word in the Wilkes Narrative as to the road, and the movements of the migration over the 26 miles up Burnt River. It is interesting to compare what he says about the ease with which they could have avoided the two worst hills had they gone 200 yards further up the stream, "where nature had furnished an easy ascent round the sides of both," with their experience as stated in both Wilkes (p. 72) and in the Herald letters (N. Y. Herald, Jan. 6, 1845, Or. Hist. Quart., Dec., 1902, p. 409) on May 24 at the crossing of the Wakarusa River, a small branch of the Kansas. (The Herald calls it Walkalusia, and Wilkes Walpalusia.)
They reached this stream May 23, and Wilkes says: "As soon as we had fallen into our regular disposition for the night and staked our horses, several of us turned out with nets and fishing tackle to sweep and tickle the river. But though we were successful in furnishing ourselves with some amusement, we were not so successful in the object of our endeavors, being only fortunate enough to secure a few trout, most of which fell to the share of the female department of the expedition.
"On the morning of the 24th we made preparations for crossing the stream, but in consequence of the steepness of its banks were obliged to let our wagons down with ropes, and to draw them up in the same way. . . . We might have avoided all the delay and trouble of this crossing if we had searched a hundred yards farther up the stream, for there we would have found a practicable ford."
The Herald letter says: "We let our wagons down the bank (which was very steep) with ropes. There was, however, a very practicable ford unknown to us about 100 yards above. . . . We found very few fish in this stream."
If in the open prairie of Eastern Kansas, "a very practicable
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ford" within 100 yards of where they spent the time and labor needed to let their wagons down with ropes and draw them up the steep banks of this "little stream of clear water, only about 60 feet wide and with a pebbly bottom," escaped the observation of all the members of this great party, though they had not only camped there over night, but had fished along the stream, how entirely credible is the statement in Wilkes that had they gone 200 yards farther up this canon of Burnt River they might have found a side valley which would have given them an easy ascent out of the canon, and avoided these two difficult hills.
The Herald letters make no mention of this stretch of road up Burnt River except the following: "You see no stumps on the road until you get to Burnt River, and very few there." (N. Y. Herald, Jan. 6, 1845, reprinted in O. H. Quart., Dec., 1902, p. 418.)
This appears on p. 68 of the Wilkes Narrative as follows: "You meet with no stumps on the road until you come to Burnt River, and there they are very few."
Let us see now what Fremont says of this road up Burnt River.
Under date of Oct. 13 (p. 176): "We now traveled through a very mountainous country, the stream running rather in a ravine than a valley, and the road is decidedly bad and dangerous for single wagons, frequently crossing the stream where the water is sometimes deep; and all the day the animals were fatigued in climbing up and descending a succession of steep ascents, to avoid the precipitous hill sides; and the common trail, which leads along the mountain side at places where the river strikes the base, is sometimes bad even for a horseman. . . . Oct. 14. ... After traveling about three miles up the valley, we found the river shut by precipices in a kind of canon, and the road makes a circuit over the mountains. In the afternoon we reached the river again, by another little ravine; and after traveling along it for a few miles, left it enclosed among rude mountains. I have never seen a wagon road equally bad in the same space as this of yesterday and today. I noticed where one wagon had been overturned twice, in a very short distance, and it was surprising to me that those wagons which were in the rear, and could not have much assistance, got through at all. Still, there is no mud, and the road has one advantage, it being perfectly firm."
Surely no fair-minded, unprejudiced person can read these two contemporaneous accounts, in the Wilkes Narrative and in Fremont's Rept., without saying that they are substantially the same as to the difficulties of the 26 miles up Burnt River--the real difficulties seem to have been in the first 14 miles, as the third day's travel of 12 miles indicates a fair road.
There remains to be considered only the road from the divide
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between Burnt and Powder Rivers to Grande Ronde, as we have already discussed the 43 miles over the Blue Mountains, which the migration traveled, and the somewhat longer route--just how much longer we cannot determine, as the "Table of Distance" on p. 292 of Fremont's Rept. omits Oct. 23, doubtless by printer's mistake-- which Fremont traveled in crossing the Blue Mountains by the "much easier route" of which the Hudson's Bay Go.'s officer in charge of Fort Boise had informed him.
Of the character of this stretch of road there is not one word in "Old Pioneer." Wilkes (pp. 86-7) only says of the first two days after leaving Burnt River that Sept. 28 "our road led through a beautiful valley," Sept 29 "we left the plain . . . and in the middle of the day entered another valley."
"Sept. 30. Traveled nine miles over an excellent road, with the exception of the last half mile, which was rocky and perplexed; but this might have been escaped, as we afterward found, had we turned down an opening to our right, which led through a smooth and easy passage directly to the place where we finally encamped."
We have already shown that Fremont's Rept. fully confirms Wilkes' statement under date of Oct. 2, that they might have avoided the two worst hills they encountered on the whole route, being those by which they descended into and ascended from the Grande Ronde, by keeping around on the side of the mountain.
Fremont's record of precisely this same stretch of road from the head of Burnt River to the edge of the Grande Ronde is on pp. 177-8 of his report, as follows: "Oct. 15. The trail did not much improve until we had crossed the dividing grounds between the Brule (Burnt) and Powder Rivers. . . . From the dividing grounds we descended by a mountain road to Powder River, on an old bed of which we encamped."
"Oct. 16. ... We made today but a short journey of 13 miles, the road being very good, and encamped in a fine bottom of Powder River."
"Oct. 17. ... We traveled this morning across the affluents to Powder River, the road being good, firm and level; and the country became constantly more pleasant and interesting. . . . From the waters of this stream the road ascended by a good and moderate ascent to a dividing ridge, but immediately entered upon ground covered with fragments of an altered siliceous slate, which are in many places large, and render the road racking to a carriage."
All else that Wilkes says about the road beyond Fort Hall to the Valley of the Columbia is the following (on p. 88):
"Let me remark for fear that I may overlook it, that while traveling on the Burnt River, and while passing through the Blue Mountains, we had much trouble in finding our stock in the morning, as
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they wandered off in the bushes during the night, and often strayed out among the hills after the bunch grass. We found the road along this river, and through these mountains, the worst of the whole route, and indeed, nearly all the bad road we saw at all. Lieutenant Fremont, who came behind us, and who had Mr. Fitzpatrick for a guide, went further down the Grande Ronde to the right, came out at a different point, and made his way through the Blue Mountains by a route which he states to be more safe and easy by far than the one by which we came. Our route, at any rate, can be so improved with a small amount of labor as to be quite practicable, and even as it was we came through it with our wagons in perfect safety, without even unloading them at a single point. Many, if not most, of the bad hills we had passed could have been avoided or overcome with a very little labor."
Every candid reader having before him in this all that is said in the two contemporaneous accounts of the Wilkes Narrative and Fremont's Report, and also all that Burnett says (in "Old Pioneer") about the quality of the road from Fort Boise to Grande Konde, can see for himself how totally unfounded is Prof. Schafer's persistent assertion that Wilkes strove to mislead the public as to the difficulties of this portion of the route in the interest of his railroad project--the fact being that Wilkes' whole purpose was to convince his readers that neither he, nor any of his political or personal friends, nor any other private person or corporation, should be permitted to build, own or operate a transcontinental railroad, but that it should be built and owned and operated by the nation, and that he almost assumed the feasibility of the route, devoting to that only about 1,200 words, or scarcely one per cent, of his book.
I think his scheme was visionary, but the fact that it was one that cut off all possibility of private gain for not only himself, but all others, certainly removed from his mind all temptation to intentionally misrepresent the facts concerning the feasibility of the route.
But Prof. Schafer, having started out with the erroneous notion that Wilkes' purpose was to prove the feasibility of the route, cannot consent to admit his mistake, which would be evident to all his readers if he would only quote the passages in which Wilkes himself states his ideas about "a national railroad across the continent." (Cf. Wilkes Preface, p. 4, and Part I., pp. 47 and 62, and especially the passages on pp. 58-60, beginning, "There are many and insurmountable reasons why it should be a national undertaking, and not left to the mercy of a band of speculators, whose narrow objects would be private gain," and ending with "lastly, it should be national, because its vast revenues would not only enable the government, after paying off the cost, to relieve the country of the burden of almost every tax, whether impost or otherwise, but afford a
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surplus, which might be expended to advantage in the gradual increase of the navy, and in strengthening our seaboard and harbor defenses to a state amounting to impregnability.")
Never once alluding in his discussions of the Wilkes Narrative to this thoroughly unselfish and patriotic (though very visionary) purpose of Wilkes in his advocacy of a "national railroad" to Oregon, Prof. Schafer calls him "a railroad projector," and characterizes his "History of Oregon" as a "promoter's pamphlet, nothing more nor less," (Cf. Oregonian, Nov. 13, 1903), and in the same paper after declaring that Wilkes "at all points shows the greatest concern to avoid admitting difficulties, or to explain them away when admitted," he continues:
"The following quotations will illustrate Wilkes' method of dealing with them:
"'On the 24th we had to encounter a very hilly road, which retarded our progress most seriously. The hills, however, were not high, neither were they rugged or abrupt.' " Here Prof. Schafer inserts the following parenthetical note: ("so as not to interfere with a railroad").
Let us see what Fremont says of this same succession of short hills (p. 175):
"The road entered a sandy hollow, where the surface was rendered firm by an admixture of other rock; being good and level until arriving near the head of the ravine, where it became a little rocky, and we met with a number of sharp ascents over an undulating surface." Surely "a number of sharp ascents over an undulating surface" conveys precisely the same meaning as "the hills, however, were not high, neither were they rugged or abrupt," and doubtless Prof. Schafer would not venture to accuse Fremont "of deliberately falsifying" the facts about the difficulties of this stretch of road.
Prof. Schafer follows this with what has been hereinbefore quoted from Wilkes as to the road up Burnt River, and as to all of the accounts he quotes of the actual difficulties of this, the worst road of the whole journey, he says: "So far Wilkes may be giving us a free rendering of Burnett." Then he quotes what the Wilkes account says about the possibility of avoiding some of the most obstructive hills and hollows, and about the possibility of avoiding the line of Burnt River altogether, as heretofore quoted by me, and then continues: "Here is an evident attempt to mislead the unwary. While Burnett probably suggested that the road could be improved, there is scarcely a possibility that he should have hinted at a way of avoiding the valley of the river. Fremont, who followed the emigrants, used the road they made, and nowhere intimates the existence of another possible route. I am personally convinced that
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Wilkes had not the slightest authority for suggesting a new route, or for the note asserting its existence."
Could determined prejudice go farther than this?
George Wilkes was an honorable man through all his long life-- a man who would have scorned the petty deceptions with which Prof. Schafer accuses him and concerning which, if Prof. Schafer would have only quoted Wilkes' own statements of his interest in a national railroad to Oregon, everyone would see at once that he had no "axe to grind" nor any temptation to in any way misstate the difficulties of the route.
Considering the constant efforts to find easier routes as exemplified in the records of many a transcontinental migration, both to Oregon and California, what conceivable ground is there for the assertion that "there is scarcely a possibility that Burnett should have hinted at a way of avoiding the valley of this river"?
Pray, why did it not occur to Prof. Schafer that if Wilkes were such an unprincipled knave as he represents him to be, he would have avoided all necessity of a footnote by altering Burnett's letter, and simply omitting "but if this should not be the case" ?
Prof. Schafer continues: "At the Grande Ronde the case is somewhat different." It is indeed somewhat different, for I had quoted from Fremont (Cf. Oregonian, Sept. 20, 1903), the passage which proves beyond question that the Wilkes Narrative is exactly correct. "He had the authority of Fremont for declaring that the two worst hills could have been avoided, and it is even possible that Burnett quotes Fremont here."
On this it is enough to remark:
First--That it is not easy to see how Burnett, writing in January, February and March, 1844, a full year before Fremont's Report of this expedition was published, and while he was still exploring in the present states of California and Nevada, could have "quoted Fremont here."
Second--That it is certain that Burnett did not even obtain this information from Fremont orally, while with him Nov. 7 to 18, 1843 ("Old Pioneer," pp. 130-135; Fremont's Report, pp. 192-195), because, instead of crediting Payette with furnishing the information about the easy pass over the Blue Mountains, as Fremont's Report does, the Wilkes account credits it to the fact that Fitzpatrick was the guide to Fremont's party. But, as a matter of fact, Fitzpatrick, though guide most of the way, not only was not with Fremont's party over the Blue Mountains, but he was not with it from Sept. 27, 1843--12 days before reaching Fort Boise--till Nov. 21, 1843, three days after Burnett and his family, and Mr. William Gilpin had started from the Dalles for Fort Vancouver, in the boats in which Burnett had accompanied Fremont from Vancouver to the
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Dalles, as witness the following extracts from Fremont's Report: "Sept. 27. . . . Our progress with 12 or 14 wheeled carriages, though light and made for the purpose, in such a rocky country was extremely slow; and I again determined to gain time by a division of the camp.
"Accordingly, today the parties again separated, constituted very much as before--Mr. Fitzpatrick remaining in charge of the heavier baggage" (p. 166). . . Idem (p. 197) "Mr. Fitzpatrick with Mr. Talbot and the remainder of the party arrived on the 21st" (Nov.).
Prof. Schafer continues as follows:
"But when (p. 88) Wilkes dexterously combines the Burnt River stretch with the Grande Ronde road, and uses Fremont to prove the feasibility of the latter" (he probably means the former, W. I. M.) "he is clearly trying to throw dust in the eyes of his reader. He" (Wilkes) "says, 'We found the road along this river' (i. e., Burnt River, W. I. M.) 'and through these mountains' (Blue Mountains) 'the worst of the whole route, and, indeed, nearly all the bad road we saw at all. Lieut. Fremont, who came behind us, and who had Mr. Fitzpatrick for a guide, went further down the Grande Ronde to the right, came out at a different point, and made his way through the Blue Mountains by a route which he states to be more safe and easy by far than the one by which we came. Our route, at any rate, can be so improved with a small amount of labor as to be quite practicable, and even as it was, we came through it with our wagons in perfect safety, without even unloading them at a single point. Many, if not most, of the bad hills we passed could have been avoided or overcome with a very little labor.'
"In such ways as these Wilkes tried to bolster up his railroad scheme, for which he had sad need of support."
"How desperate are the shifts of a confirmed theorist" has rarely received so strong a verification as in this attempt by Prof. Schafer to make Wilkes appear a dishonest "railroad promoter," deceiving the public by this perfectly fair statement of the difficulties of the only really bad stretches of road they had found.
Furthermore, Wilkes did not, "dexterously" or otherwise, "combine the Burnt River stretch with the Grande Ronde road" (for he says not one word about the road in the Grande Ronde, which was a level prairie-like valley), but with the road over the Blue Mountains, which was an altogether different thing.
How completely baseless is this vision which Prof. Schafer has evolved from "the mysterious depths of his own inner consciousness," of Wilkes as a rascally railroad promoter, striving to gull the public by wickedly altering Burnett's letters, so as "to minimize the difficulties of the way," is shown not only by what has been
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hereinbefore quoted as to the disinterested and purely patriotic aims he sought to advance in advocating a national railroad to Oregon, and by the comparison of what he says of the difficulties of the road with Fremont's Report of it, and with what the "Old Pioneer" says of it; but also by the fact that even the word railroad does not once appear in the 50 pages, or nearly 40,000 words, of his "narrative of the migration of 1843," although so greatly is the usual fairness of Prof. Schafer's mind warped by this curious theory of his about Wilkes, that he actually declares (Oregonian, Nov. 13, 1903) that "the very next sentence reveals him" (Wilkes) "from another angle as the railroad projector." That next sentence consists of the following mere truisms (the italics used to show "Wilkes as a railroad projector" being Prof. Schafer's, and not Wilkes'), viz: "Liberty and enterprise are inseparable qualities, and were it not for the obstacles of inadequate means of travel, no corner of our country would be left unpeopled."
What a curious state of mind must possess one who finds in this simple and appropriate statement of a general truth proof of the wiles of a "railroad projector," seeking to deceive the people of the country as to the feasibility of a transcontinental railroad.
Having disposed of the matters of the real difficulties of the route from Fort Hall to the Columbia and of the extent to which Whitman was the guide of the 1843 migration, let us now finish the story of the development of the first transcontinental wagon road with an examination of the other two important points, which are, What was the treatment of the migration at Fort Hall? and Would it have gone through with wagons if Whitman had not been with it? These are so closely connected that it is best to consider them together.
The advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story all allege that at Fort Hall the Hudson's Bay Co.'s chief trader, Mr. Richard Grant, contrived to frighten all parties of Americans migrating to Oregon with such dreadful stories as to the difficulties and dangers of the route from there to the Columbia, and the absolute impossibility of getting through with wagons, that they all prior to 1843 had there left their wagons, and that he tried by exaggerations and misrepresentations to prevent the 1843 migration from going on with wagons, and would have succeeded had not WTiitman been there and made them a speech, which alleged speech most of the advocates of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story print in quotation marks (as if its authenticity is undoubted). (Cf. for this, "Spalding's Lecture," in Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 37, 41st Cong., 3d Sess, p. 21; Barrow's "Oregon," pp. 166-7 and 247-8; Gray's "History of Oregon," p. 289; Nixon's "How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon," pp. 140-41; Craighead's "Story of Marcus Whitman," p. 76; Mrs. Eva
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Emery Dye's "McLoughlin and Old Oregon," pp. 253-4; M. Eell's "Indian Missions," pp. 156 and 177-8; Mowry's "Marcus Whitman," p. 205.) All of these give substantially the same account of what they allege took place at Fort Hall, but no one of them quotes a single contemporaneous book, government document, newspaper or magazine article, letter or diary in support of this story, which appears first, as far as has yet been discovered, in the two recently found letters written in 1858 and 1859 by Rev. Geo. Atkinson, a man who had never been within 400 miles of Fort Hall, having gone to Oregon by sea, after the Whitman massacre. These two letters contain the first two versions (so far as known) of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, but the first or 1858 version was so palpably false that the 1859 one dropped several of the leading and easily proved false statements of the first. These letters are herein printed for the first time. (Cf. Part II., Chapter III.)
False and widely variant as are both these versions of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, they are admittedly derived from Rev. H. H. Spalding and Rev. C. Eells. In their anxiety to make a strong case against Grant, Barrows (pp. 166-7 and 247-8), and Nixon (pp. 110 and 139-41), represent him as having been in charge of Fort Hall from 1836 onward, and as having striven to prevent Whitman from taking his wagon beyond Fort Hall in 1836, and as having prevented all others in later years from going with wagons beyond Fort Hall, whereas, the fact is, that he was not at Fort Hall till after the migration of 1841 had passed there, so that but one migration--that of 1842--had ever passed Fort Hall after Grant had charge of it until the 1848 migration reached it.
Mrs. Whitman's Diary (Tr. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1891, p. 46) says (speaking of the arrival and reception of the Whitman-Spalding party at Fort Hall on August 3, 1836, a little after noon): "We were hospitably entertained by Capt. Thing, who keeps the fort." This should be Thyng. He was one of Wyeth's 1834 party, and was left in charge of Fort Hall by Wyeth, on its erection in 1834. (Cf. Lee and Frost's Ten Years in Oregon, p. 114.) Who was in charge of Fort Hall in 1837 I have been unable certainly to determine, but think Mr. Thyng continued in command there till Ermatinger was sent to take charge, which was certainly as early as 1838, as witness the following extracts from Mrs. C. Eells' diary (in Trans. Oregon Pioneer Association for 1889, p. 83): "Friday, July 27th, 1838, arrive at Fort Hall . . . Sunday, July 29th, about 10 o'clock, Mr. Ermatinger comes to invite us to breakfast, says he has just got up. After breakfast he comes again to invite us to have preaching at the fort. Afternoon Mr. Eells preached in the dining room . . . Tuesday, July 31, find our
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provisions and four mules and one fresh horse sent by Dr. Whitman and Spalding. Ermatinger gives ten pounds sugar." While there is here no explicit assertion that he was in command, the inference that he was in charge is irresistible.
That Frederick Ermatinger was in command at Fort Hall in 1839 is distinctly stated by Farnham (Travels, p. 153), (under date of September 27th, when he was at Whitman's Mission), as follows: "In the afternoon the arrival of Mr. Ermetinger (should be ma instead of me, W. I. M.) the senior clerk at Fort Hall from Fort Walla Walla, created quite a sensation. His uniform kindness to the missionaries has endeared him to them." . . "28th Mr. Ermatinger started for Fort Hall." While Ermatinger was absent from Fort Hall on this trip to Vancouver, Farnham's party had arrived at Fort Hall, on September 1st, and had been most kindly received there, as every other party of Americans was who ever were at Fort Hall on their way to Oregon, as long as it was a Hudson's Bay Company's post, according to all the contemporary letters, and diaries, and books, and reports to the government of all the members and leaders of those parties who have left any contemporaneous written or printed record of their reception and treatment at Fort Hall. Mr. Walker, an American, was temporarily in charge of Fort Hall while Ermatinger was on this trip, and Farnham (Travels, p. 136) says: "We spent the 2d and 3d most agreeably with Mr. Walker in his hospitable adobie castle, exchanged with him our wearied horses for fresh ones, and obtained dried buffalo meat, sugar, cocoa, tea and corn meal, a guide and every other necessary within that gentleman's power to furnish for our journey to Walla Walla; "and at 10 o'clock a. m., of the 4th of September, bade adieu to our very obliging countryman." That Ermatinger was in charge of Fort Hall in 1840 is evident from the account of the outfitting there of three wagons by Newell, Wilkins, Meek and Ermatinger himself in August, 1840, and the driving them through from there to Fort Walla Walla. (Cf. Tr. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1877, p. 22, also pp. 85-87 ante).
That Ermatinger was in command there when the 1841 migration passed there, and received and treated them with, utmost kindness, is distinctly asserted by the famous Father P. J. De Smet, who was of that party, as follows:
(Under date of August 16, 1841) "But I feel bound before all to pay Mr. Ermatinger, the captain of Fort Hall, the tribute of gratitude which we owe him. Although a Protestant by birth, this noble Englishman gave us a most friendly reception. Not only did he repeatedly invite us to his table, and sell us, at first cost, or at one-third of its value in a country so remote, whatever we required,
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but he also added as a pure gift many articles which he believed would be particularly acceptable." (Cf. "Letters and Sketches, etc.," P. J. De Smet, S. J., Philadelphia, 1853.)
We have already quoted (on pp. 90-94 ante) the strictly contemporary evidence of White's report to the government as SubIndian agent, dated April 1, 1843, and his "Ten Years in Oregon" (Ithaca, N. Y., 1848), and L. W. Hasting's "Emigrant's Guide to Oregon and California" (Cincinnati, 1845), and of Fremont's Report of his 1842 expedition, and of Hon. Medorem Crawford's address, as president of the Oregon Pioneer Association at its 1881 meeting (the latter contemporaneous because based on and strictly agreeing in all its facts with his Journal, since published verbatim by the Oregon Historical Society) that this 1842 migration--the first large overland migration--were received with the utmost kindness at Fort Hall, and furnished with flour at only one-half of what the American traders had charged them at Fort Laramie.
Whether Spalding or Gray first invented these charges against Grant will probably never be known, but it is certain that they have never been found in print, or in unpublished letters or diaries till after the Whitman Saved Oregon Story began to be circulated, and Gray is chiefly responsible for their wide circulation, by publishing them in his History of Oregon (1870), as follows:
Page 321. "Grant at Fort Hall with the Indians along the route had combined to deceive and rob the naked and starving immigrants."
Page 521. "So far as McBean was concerned, he obeyed orders as implicitly as Grant of the Hudson's Bay Co. did, when he sent forty families in 1846 into the mountains of California to perish in the snow with cold and hunger." The italics are Gray's. (This relates to the Donner party, who were never within hundreds of miles of Fort Hall, they having left the regular Oregon trail on the Little Sandy tributary of Green River, to go via Bridger's Fort and the Hastings' Gut-Off, south of the Great Salt Lake, directly to California. [Cf. in Trans. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1878; address of Hon. J. C. Thornton on the migration of 1846, p. 51; also Thornton's '''Oregon and California," Vol. II., pp. 95-240.] The last named is the best and fullest account of the Donner party.) It is certain, therefore that for the dreadful fate which befell the Donner party neither Grant nor any other Hudson's Bay Co.'s employe was any more responsible than "the man in the moon" was, or than Gray himself was. (Had that party gone by Fort Hall they doubtless would have reached California safely, as did all of the other California emigrants that year who declined to go with them by Hastings' Cut-Off, and went by Fort Hall; and all the authorities are agreed that it was the time the Donner party lost finding and mak-
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ing a new road between where they left the Oregon trail, in Green River Valley, and the time they reached the eastern base of the Sierra Nevadas, which caused them to be too late to cross the Sierras. W. I. M.)
Page 360. Speaking explicitly of the 1843 migration, he says: "An immigration of 875 persons arrived in the fall, notwithstanding that deceitful servant of the Hudson's Bay Co., Grant, at Fort Hall, did all he could under the instructions of the company to induce as many as possible to go to California, by telling them all the frightful stories he and his men could invent of their danger, and of the difficulties they must encounter in getting through to the settlements on the Wallamet."
Page 367. "Grant, of the Hudson's Bay Co., must occupy Fort Hall, and do all he can to turn immigrants to California, and rob such as persist in coming to Oregon. General Palmer says in his journal (p. 43): "While we remained at this place (Fort Hall) great efforts were made to induce the immigration to pursue the route to California. The most extravagant tales were related respecting the dangers awaiting a trip to Oregon, and the difficulties and trials to be surmounted. The perils of the way were so magnified as to make us suppose the journey to Oregon almost impossible. For instance the two crossings of Snake River, and the crossings of the Columbia and other smaller streams were represented as being attended with great danger. Also, that no company heretofore attempting the passage of these streams succeeded but with the loss of men, from the violence and rapidity of the current, as also that they had never succeeded in getting more than fifteen or twenty head of cattle into the Willamet Valley.
"In addition to the above, it was asserted that three or four tribes of Indians in the middle regions had combined for the purpose of preventing our passage through their country. In case we escaped destruction at the hands of the savages, that a more fearful enemy--famine--would overtake us before making the Cascade Mountains. On the other hand, as an inducement to pursue the California route, we were informed of the shortness of the route when compared with that to Oregon, as also of the many other superior advantages it possessed." The italics in this quotation are Gray's, not Palmer's. Although Gray knew perfectly well that Palmer never was at Fort Hall till 1845, and although the title page to Palmer's book is "Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains to the mouth of the Columbia River in the years 1845 and 1846," he not only here gives his readers no hint of the date, but nowhere in his "History of Oregon" gives the date of Palmer's first overland journey, and he prints the above quotation in such connection that all except those tolerably well acquainted with Oregon history are sure
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to suppose that Palmer was with the 1842 or 1843 migration. Naturally, Rev. William Barrows, O. W. Nixon and Rev. Myron Eells fell into this trap, Barrows (p. 148) printing the above quotation between two paragraphs relating to the 1842 migration (though not asserting that it related to that migration), and Nixon (p. 191) beginning a condensation of the above quotation with "General Palmer, in speaking of this, says, 'While at Fort Hall in 1842 the perils of the way to Oregon were so magnified'," etc.; and Rev. M. Eells ("Indian Missions," p. 177) in the middle of his account of the 1843 migration, introducing this quotation with "'For instance,' says General Joel Palmer, of that year's emigration," and this though he had in his house the Trans. Oregon Pioneer Association for 1877, giving an alphabetical roster of the members of the association, which states that Palmer was a pioneer of 1845. The result has been that all giving credence to these books think that there is a strictly contemporaneous account from a man of the highest character, sustaining the accusation that the 1842 and 1843 migration (and, presumably, if either, then both of them) encountered deception and misrepresentation from Grant, evidencing opposition from the Hudson's Bay Co. to wagons going beyond Fort Hall. Finding some twenty years ago that this was in 1845, I became suspicious that somehow the quotation must be otherwise dishonest, as Grant was admittedly an able man, and it seemed to me utterly incredible that after the two great migrations of 1843 and 1844 had gone through with their wagons, even if he was as bad a man as Gray claimed, he should be foolish enough to try to deceive this 1845 migration with the statement that they could not easily and safely go where more than 2,000 of their countrymen had gone, and had reported far and wide in the States that the road was plainly marked and offered little difficulty.
At the earliest possible opportunity, therefore, I examined Palmer's Journal (which is a rare book), and found that this is a sample of that kind of misquotation--as ancient as it is disreputable--which consists in stopping a quotation when the immediately following context completely changes the impression conveyed by the part quoted. The next paragraph in Palmer's Journal after the above quotation from it is as follows: "These tales, told and rehearsed, were likely to produce the effect of turning the tide of emigration thither" (i. e., to California). Mr. Greenwood, an old mountaineer, well stocked with falsehoods, had been dispatched from California to pilot the emigration through, and assisted by a young man by the name of McDougal, from Indiana, so far succeeded as to induce 35 or 36 wagons to take that trail; about 15 wagons had been fitted out expressly for California, and joined by the aforementioned, completed a train of 50 wagons. What the
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 127
result of their expedition has been I have not been able to learn." There is not one sentence in Palmer's Journal which, honestly quoted in connection with its context, furnishes the least support to the charges of Gray against Grant, nor to any charge that the treatment of Americans migrating to Oregon was unkind or uncourteona either at Fort Hall or at any other Hudson's Bay Go. post, nor one sentence censuring Grant for anything whatever, and what little he says of Grant is entirely favorable to and commendatory of him.
Having shown from the contemporaneous records of Fremont, White, Hastings and Crawford how the 1842 migration came to leave part of their wagons at Fort Laramie, part at Green River, and the last seven at Fort Hall, and that they had only words of praise for Grant and his treatment of them, and having by quoting the immediate context disproved the claim that Palmer's Journal supports the charge that Grant attempted to prevent Americans from going beyond Fort Hall with wagons, and sought to send them to California, we are now prepared to examine the question of what treatment the 1843 migration met at Fort Hall.
Burnett's letters, as printed in Part II. of Wilkes, furnish as far as yet appears the only strictly contemporaneous account of their reception and treatment by Grant, as follows: "We arrived in the afternoon at Fort Hall, a trading post belonging to the Hudson's Bay Co., on the Snake or Saptin River, and encamped in a fine piece of timber land, under cover of its wooden battlements. We passed a most pleasant evening, in exchanging civilities with its inmates, who were not a little surprised at this tremendous irruption in their solitude. Some of the members told us that they could scarcely believe their eyes when they saw the immense stretch of our line, the number of our lowing herds and our squads of prancing horsemen, and they inquired laughingly if we had come to conquer Oregon or devour it out of hand. They treated us, however, with every attention, and answered with the utmost patience, and particularly all our inquiries in relation to the country. We paused here a day to recruit our cattle, and when we set out in the morning following (1st Sept.) we received a parting salute from one of the guns of the fort, and answered it with a volley from our small arms."
Since the foregoing was written in the Oregonian of Nov. 13, 1903, Prof. Schafer has printed a few extracts from Burnett's Journal recently obtained from the Burnett family by Prof. Young, secretary of the Oregon Historical Society, as follows:
"27th (Aug.). Came to Fort Hall. This being Sunday, no business was done. Mr. Grant very hospitable. Fort Hall stands in a wide plain of bottom land formed by Snake River. The com-
128 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
pany have a great many horses and cattle, made by trading, etc., and good range.
"28th. Remained at Fort Hall and many trades were made. Price of provisions: Flour, 25c a pint; coffee, 50c a pound; sugar, 25c a pint; rice, 33 l-3c; for powder, 56c a pound.
"29th. Still remained at Fort Hall.
"30th. Left Fort Hall and came 11 miles to the Portneuth (neuf). Good range, wood and water."
These extracts, like those hereinbefore quoted by me, show how very "concise" was this journal; but, as far as it goes, its statement about the treatment this immigration received from Mr. Grant fully supports the statements in the Wilkes Narrative.
So far as yet appears, no other contemporaneous evidence has been found in support of the accuracy of this extract from Burnett's Journal, but this statement in Gilmore's letter of Nov. 11, 1843: "We found the Hudson's Bay Co. at all their posts very accommodating" (Cf. Or. Hist. Quarterly, Sept., 1903, p. 281) except the very strong negative evidence, that not a sentence has yet been discovered in any contemporaneous letter from that migration which in any manner censures Grant's conduct, or complains of any treatment the migration received at Fort Hall, and it is quite incredible that if this account were not a correct one of the treatment they received there, some one or more of this migration would not have complained of wrongs inflicted and that the first accusation against Grant's treatment of this migration should appear in a letter written 15 years afterward, not by any member of this or any other migration that was ever at Fort Hall, but by Rev. G. H. Atkinson, a Congregational clergyman, who was in 1843 a youth at school in New England, and never went to Oregon till the summer of 1848, and then by sea, and whose ideas were plainly derived from Spalding, and Gray, and C. Eells.
Having settled that the use made by Gray, Rev. William Barrows, Rev. M. Eells and others of the quotation from Palmer's Journal was deceptive, and that it had nothing to do with the 1842 or 1843 migration, as far back as 1884, failing to find any contemporaneous evidence of the experience of the 1843 migration at Fort Hall, except that in the Wilkes Narrative, in accordance with the fundamental principles of scientific historical investigation, I sought the next best evidence, to-wit, the carefully considered subsequent statements, not of the boys like William Waldo, P. B. Whitman, John Hobson and John Zachary, who were in that migration, nor of other people in it, who, however honest and well intentioned they might have been, were not its leaders, and so had no sense of responsibility for its movements to impress upon their memories what took place there, nor were likely to have come directly in contact with
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Captain Grant as the leaders of the party did, but from the five survivors of the sis men who are universally admitted to have been the real originators, organizers and leaders of that migration, to-wit: Hon. J. M. Shively, the three Applegates, Jesse, Charles and Lindsay; Gov. P. H. Burnett and Hon. J. W. Nesmith. Of these Charles Applegate died in 1877, before any thorough investigation of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story was made, and, unfortunately, I did not learn of Mr. Nesmith's address in time for niy letter to reach him till after he was attacked with the softening of the brain that clouded the last few months of his long and honorable life, so that I never heard from him. Nesmith, in his address to the Oregon Pioneer Association (Trans. 1875, p. 47), gives the following account of what took place at Fort Hall (but with no claim that he had any contemporaneous written account of it to assist or refresh his memory as to what happened 32 years before): "Captain Grant, then in charge of the Hudson's Bay Co. at Fort Hall, endeavored to dissuade us from proceeding further with our wagons, and showed us the wagons that the emigrants of the preceding year had abandoned as an evidence of the impracticability of our determination. Dr. Whitman was persistent in his assertions that wagons could proceed as far as the Grand Dalles of the Columbia River, from which point he asserted they could be taken down by rafts or batteaus to the Willamette Valley, while the stock could be driven by an Indian trail over the Cascade Mountains, near Mount Hood. Happily, Whitman's advice prevailed, and a large number of the wagons, with a portion of the stock, did reach Walla Walla and the Dalles, from which points they were taken to the Willamette the following year. Had we followed Grant's advice and abandoned the cattle and wagons at Fort Hall, much suffering must have ensued, as a sufficient number of horses to carry the women and children of the party could not have been obtained, besides wagons and cattle were indispensable to men expecting to live by farming in a country destitute of such articles." There is nothing in this at all contrary to what is stated in the Wilkes Narrative. No one even moderately acquainted with the true story of that 1843 migration has ever doubted that at Fort Hall there was a discussion as to the advisability of wagons going farther, nor that Grant thought it doubtful if they could get them across the Blue Mountains, and that Whitman thought they could. The only question is, was this an honest opinion of Grant, and was he candid in stating it? and upon that point the evidence here adduced is overwhelmingly and unanswerably in favor of Grant, nor has any other opinion been found written in letter or diary till some 15 years after the event, when it became necessary, as an indispensable postulate of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story, to create the impression that the Hudson's Bay Co.
130 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
was opposed to wagons going beyond Fort Hall, and that Grant wrongfully strove to prevent them from going on. This correspondence with Burnett, Shively, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate began in 1884, a dozen years before I began an investigation of the Wilkes Narrative, and before I paid any attention to that narrative Gov. Burnett had died, which explains why I did not obtain any statement from him as to the authorship of that narrative and the faithfulness with which it reproduced his letters to the Herald. I put to each of these four men very definite and comprehensive questions as to Whitman's true relations to the migration generally, and as to what actually took place at Fort Hall, and the following are their replies.
Oct. 14, 1884, Gov. P. H. Burnett wrote me as follows:
"In answer to your first question I will say that, basing my judgment upon my individual knowledge of the conduct and language of Captain Grant, and also upon what I heard from reliable persons at Fort Hall in 1843, I do not believe that he made any efforts to prevent the emigration of 1843 from going through to Oregon by exaggerating the difficulties of the remainder of the journey or by attempting to persuade them to go to California instead of to Oregon."
"In answer to your second inquiry, I have to state that, founding my opinions upon the circumstances above mentioned, Captain Grant did not strive to prevent the emigrants from going farther with wagons by any statements of the difficulties of the way which I, as I subsequently passed over it, deemed exaggerated. While at Fort Hall, in 1843, I neither saw nor heard of anything objectionable in the conduct or language of Captain Grant, then in charge of that post. He seemed to speak and act with candor and witb reasonable caution under all the then existing circumstances."
April 14, 1887, Gov. Burnett, in answer to my question, "Who, if anyone, in the migration of 1843, so far as you know, was induced to join it by Dr. Whitman?" replied as follows: "I have no present recollection of any person who was induced to join that migration by Dr. Whitman."
Hon. J. M. Shively wrote me from Astoria, Ore., Oct. 20, 1884, that in the autumn of 1842 he was living in St. Louis, and decided to try and organize a migration to Oregon for 1843, and had handbills printed and posted and held several public meetings, and had a list of about 300 names of those who agreed to join the party. That at the request of the party he took a petition to Congress asking for military protection at least through the Pawnee country, being furnished with letters from leading men in St. Louis to many members of Congress.
En route to Washington he held public meetings at Louisville,
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Cincinnati and Pittsburg, on the subject of migrating to Oregon. He did not give the precise date when he reached Washington, but says he left only a few days before Congress adjourned and returned to St. Louis.
He says: "I was received in Washington with marked deference, but failed to get the desired escort of troops. I had a number of conferences with Mr. Spencer, then Secretary of War, and President Tyler and many other executive officers, and Senators Linn and Benton and Caleb Cushing, but none of them ever mentioned Dr. Whitman to me, and I never saw nor heard of him until he overtook the migration on the plains. . . . The party was made up of hardy frontiersmen, and anything Grant might say on one side or Whitman on the other would not have deterred or encouraged them. They had started to take their wagons and stock through, and they did.
"I heard a number ask Captain Grant at Fort Hall about the route down Snake River. His reply was that he knew only the pack-trail, and that wagons could not go that trail. You ask when I first heard the" (Whitman Saved Oregon) "story, as told by Gray in his History of Oregon. Answer: I never heard it spoken of till the publication of that history by Gray. I never saw any pamphlet or letter ever published by Dr. Whitman at any date."
"The part I took in 1842-3 is evidence that Dr. Whitman never made a public speech or had anything published at that time." . . . "A few words of inference: Were Dr. Whitman alive you would never have heard of his being the Savior of Oregon. It is all a fabrication; nor did Dr. Whitman ever claim to have any influence in getting up the emigration of 1843--when he overtook us the magnitude of the train took him by surprise."
June 19, 1885, Mr. Shively wrote me again, denying pointblank what Hon. John Hobson (who was a boy of 18 in 1843) wrote to Rev. M. Eells, under date of Jan. 30, 1883, as to Whitman inducing Mr. Shively, and the Hobson family, and Miles Eyars (or Ayers) to join the 1843 migration. (Cf. M. Eells' pamphlet, "Did Dr. M. Whitman Save Oregon," p. 30.)
He says: "I don't know how to reconcile Mr. Hobson's statements that I was prevailed upon to come to Oregon by Whitman, for I had no knowledge of Dr. Whitman till he overtook the migration on the Platte, in 1843." . . . "About the 1st of November, 1842, in St. Louis, Mo., I first of all had bills printed and posted to make up a party to migrate to Oregon. About this time arrived from England William Hobson and family, and they joined the migration. So did Miles Ayers, another English family, and hundreds of others. Mr. John Hobson was a hoy at that time, and is laboring under a great mistake when he says Whitman influenced me to come
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to Oregon. Six hundred and forty acres of land is what induced me to come to Oregon, and I got it. Dr. Whitman passed St. Louis after I had left, and brought me documents from my friends there. I do not remember any advice on the part of Captain Grant to leave the wagons; he told the questioners that they could not go the pack-trail, hut says he, "You Americans can do anything." I do not think that what Grant or Whitman said had a shade of influence; the party had started for the Willamette with wagons, and they were going through with them or 'bust'."
In April, 1887, I sent Mr. Shively the following questions: "From all your experience of pioneer life, do you think that the services of Dr. Whitman to the migration of 1843 were any other than or any greater than those which any vigorous, energetic and reasonably public spirited pioneer physician would have rendered, and ought to have rendered, to any party of emigrants largely composed of women and children, with whom he was traveling toward his present and their future home?" To which, on May 2, 1887, he replied: "Dr. Whitman was in the noonday of life, and was of great service to the immigrants the fore part of the route, but he soon grew weary, and finally he grew very cross, and quarreled with Mr. Lovejoy, his traveling companion, on arriving at his station."
When the migration divided into two bands, on June 9, 1843, William J. Martin was elected captain of one band and Jesse Applegate of the other. At Fort Hall, Mr. Martin, with Captain John Gantt, Mr. Joseph Childs and 14 other men took the road to California. (Cf. Tr. Oregon Pioneer Association, 1875; Nesmith's address, p. 53.) Mr. Jesse Applegate went to Oregon and spent the rest of his long and honorable life there and in California, much the greater part in Oregon.
June 22, 1885, he wrote me from Yoncalla, Ore., as follows: "Your" (my) "questions are:
"'First. Did you at any time hear Dr. Whitman claim to have any interviews with Webster and Tyler about Oregon matters?'
"Ans. I have no recollection of any such interviews."
"'Second. Did you at any time hear him claim that the possession of Oregon by the United States was in any sense dependent on that migration of 1843 going through with wagons ?'
"Ans. I did not."
"'Third. Do you remember whether or not from the letters of Robt. Shortess and others or from any other source you had learned that wagons could be taken through the Blue Mountains before you left Missouri?'
"'Fourth. Had you heard of Dr. Whitman before you left Missouri ?'
ACQUISITION OF OREGON 133
"Ans. Through a letter from Robt. Shortess I heard of Dr. Whitman as a missionary in the Walla Walla country."
(Robert Shortess was one of the Oregon migration under Thos. J. Farnham in 1839, and was hired by Dr. Whitman to work at Wailatpu for a short time in 1839-40, W. I. M.)
"'Fifth. Would your party have gone through with wagons all the way in any event, whether Dr. Whitman had been with you or not?'
"Ans. Dr. Whitman had nothing to do with our outfit or mode of travel. From the time he joined us on the Platte River he was a valuable addition to our party, but not indispensable to it."
"'Sixth. Did you hear Capt. Grant at Fort Hall make any representations about the difficulty of taking wagons beyond Fort Hall, which you, from your subsequent experience and observation in going over the route, deemed unfair or unwarranted by the facts of the case?'
"Ans. There were none such made."
"'Seventh. Was Dr. Whitman in any sense regarded by that migration after he joined it as its leader?"
"Ans. He was not so regarded."
"'Eighth. When did you first hear this story about Whitman having saved Oregon to the United States substantially as told by Rev. H. H. Spalding and Mr. W. H. Gray?'
"Ans. About the time those gentlemen convinced themselves that such was the case."
"Having answered your questions categorically I will simply state that Dr. Whitman was an energetic, intelligent and useful man, who did well his part, but his part was not a high one. He was not one to become a leader of men or a mover in any great enterprise."
Jesse Applegate had two brothers in that migration, Charles and Lindsay. That all three, like Burnett, Shively and Nesmith, were natural leaders of men is evident from their subsequent prominent records as citizens of Oregon.
In September, 1888, I sent to Hon. Lindsay Applegate at Ashland, Ore., a letter containing questions, to which he replied October 7, 1888, as follows:
"My answers to your questions are as follows:
"'Question 1. Was Dr. Whitman considered by you or by that migration generally as in any sense the organizer or one of the organizers or the leader of the migration of 1843?'
"Ans. No one ever heard of such a man until we were hundreds of miles on the way."
"'Question 2. Did you at any time while that migration was on the way hear him say or hear any one else say that they had
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heard him say that his object in going to the States had been to lead an emigration to Oregon with wagons?'
"Ans. No. He uniformly explained that his expedition was in the interest of his mission. He rushed back to prevent his Mission Board from discontinuing his mission and to urge upon the attention of that Board the necessity of not only continuing his mission, but that he should be provided with more means that he might resist the encroachments of the Catholics. He traveled with us until the most dangerous tribes of Indians had been passed, which brought us to the Burnt River Hills, and then he left us and went on to his mission station and we had our way to explore and cut through the Blue Mountains forest after that. And he took off with him a lot of our young men that we fed across the plains, whose desertion greatly weakened our force in cutting through the forests."
"At the Pacific Springs, our first camp west of the Rocky Mountains and first day's travel into Oregon, the Oregon question came up. It was in this form: What should we do in case Oregon should some time become a British province? Various determinations were expressed, many saying they would return to the States. But Whitman said that the question of the jurisdiction of any earthly prince, potentate or power was of but small consideration. What he was concerned about was the jurisdiction of the Lord Jesus Christ."
"'Question 3. Did you at any time while that migration was on the way hear from Dr. Whitman any declaration that the American title to Oregon was in any way dependent on that migration going through with wagons?'
"Ans. No. But when he overtook us on the plains he did say that he had never heard that any migration had started until he got to St. Louis."
"'Question 4. Did you then or at any later time hear Dr. Whitman claim that he had had any interviews with Secretary Webster and President Tyler about Oregon matters, and if not then, when did you hear this claim made for him, substantially as stated by Spalding and Gray?'
"Ans. No. He never pretended to any such thing. I never heard of any such claim being set up until long after the Doctor was dead."
"'Question 5. In your judgment would that migration have gone through to Walla Walla with wagons if Dr. Whitman had not been with it?'
"Ans. We did not depend upon the Doctor at all for any course or direction. We depended and relied upon the instructions which we had received from Robert Shortess of Oregon."
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"'Question 6. Did you hear Capt. Grant at Fort Hall make any representations about the difficulty of taking wagons beyond Fort Hall, which you from your subsequent experience and observation in going over the route deemed unfair or unwarranted by the facts of the case?'
"Ans. He was glad to see us and he was kind. He said that considering what we had done and what he knew of the country we could go with wagons anywhere."
"'Question 7. Did Captain Grant make any effort to induce the migration of 1843 to go to California instead of Oregon by exaggerated statements about the difficulties of the route to Oregon, or in any other way or by any other means as far as you know?'
"Ans. He did not undertake to advise us in any way."
"'Question 8. Before starting from Missouri did any fear of not being able to get through with wagons disturb you or influence you in any way?'
"Ans. We understood what we were about. We had instructions from Shortess--a careful account of the country all the way. We were able to make roads, boats or do anything, were prepared with all manner of tools. We were not starting out in a helpless condition. We had bands of cattle and horses with us. We could have left our wagons and gone on, or we could have wintered and taken another season for it. No, we had no doubt about being able to go through."
"'Question 9. Were the services of Dr. Whitman to the migration of 1843 any other than or any greater than those which any vigorous, energetic and reasonably public-spirited pioneer physician ought to have rendered to a migration composed largely of women and children, with whom he was traveling towards what was his and was destined to be their future home?'
"Ans. As far as Dr. Whitman's being of any service to the migration of 1843 is concerned, I consider it a misfortune that we ever saw him, from the fact that he left us at Boise, taking with him a portion of our young men, and leaving us to cut our way through the Burnt River and Blue Mountain forests without their aid."
"'Question 10. In your judgment would anything that Capt. Grant or any other officers of the Hudson's Bay Co. might have said about the difficulties of going further with wagons have influenced any considerable number of the 1843 migration to have left their wagons at Fort Hall, if Whitman had not been with you?'
"'Question 11. Did you notice or hear of anything in the conduct of Capt. Grant while the migration of 1843 was at Fort Hall
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which seemed to you then, or subsequently as you thought about it and about the actual difficulties of the route, as being otherwise than candid and honorable, and reasonably cautious and prudent in view of all the facts of the case?'
From Nesmith I never heard, as the mild insanity which clouded the last few months of his long and honored life had attacked him just before my letter reached him, but in a letter to Rev. M. Eells (published on pp. 28-9 of the before mentioned pamphlet entitled "Marcus Whitman, M. D., Portland, Ore., 1883,"), he wrote:
"Dixie Station, Polk County, Oregon, Jan. 22, 1883.
"Rev. M. Eells,
"My Dear Sir: In answer to your first question, 'Where did you first see Dr. Whitman?' I am not able to reply as definitely as I could wish to do, but will give you the best of my recollections. Our party of immigrants assembled at a point near Fitzhugh's Mill, a few miles west of Independence, Missouri, on the 20th of May, 1843, for the purpose of organizing. I will not be certain whether it was at this meeting or a day or two after, on the line of march, that I first met the Doctor. I had never seen or heard of him before, consequently nothing that he said or wrote had any influence in inducing me to go to Oregon. In fact, I had started from Iowa in 1842 to come to Oregon with Dr. White's party of that year, but I arrived at Independence seventeen days after Dr. White's party had left, and as the Pawnee Indians were hostile, I did not dare venturing alone to overtake the party, and remained at Fort Scott, 110 miles south of Independence, in the then Kansas territory, until the party of 1843 rendezvoused as above stated.
"I know of no person who was induced to come to Oregon in consequence of Dr. Whitman's representations, and I think that the rest of the immigration were as ignorant of Dr. Whitman, his speaking and writing, as I was.
"I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
"(Signed) J. W. NESMITH."
And certainly nothing further is needed to show that in 1883 (when the Whitman Saved Oregon Story had been pretty thoroughly discussed on the Pacific Coast) he took no stock in any "Whitman Saved Oregon" tale.
As conclusive proof of just how that wicked Hudson's Bay Co., through their agent Grant, sought "to deceive and rob the naked and starving immigrant," I submit the following statement of the prices charged the 1843 migration by the American Fur Co., at Fort Laramie, only 589 miles from the Missouri frontier, and
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with a good wagon road over a level country all the way to it, and at Fort Hall, 1,323 miles from the Missouri frontier, and 700 miles east of its base of supplies at Vancouver (of which 475 miles was pack trail transportation), and at Fort Boise. At Fort Laramie, according to "Old Pioneer" (p. 112), "coffee was $1.50 a pint; brown sugar, the same; flour, unbolted, 25 cents a pound; powder, $1.50 a pound; lead, 75 cents a pound; percussion caps, $1.50 a box; calico, very inferior, $1 a yard." Contrast this with the following in a letter to me from Gov. P. H. Burnett, dated San Francisco, Dec. 4, 1888:
"I find the following entries in my journal: At Fort Hall, prices of provisions, etc.--Flour, 25 cents a pint; coffee, 50 cents; sugar, 50 cents; rice, 33 1-3 cents; powder, 50 cents per pound. At Fort Boise, nothing in the provision line to sell but butter, 25 cents, and coffee, 50 cents a pint. Everything mentioned was sold by the pint except powder. I suppose this usage was based upon the fact that Indians understood measure better than weight.
"PETER H. BURNETT."
Yet Mrs. Eva Emery Dye, in "McLoughlin and Old Oregon," published as late as 1900, writes (p. 255) of the experiences of this migration at Fort Hall as follows:
"Flour at Fort Hall was selling at mountain prices--a dollar a pint,"--which is as close to the truth as any of her statements in support of the Whitman Saved Oregon Story.
If it is asked why Grant did not know as much about passes over the Blue Mountains as Payette did, the answer is that Payette had been then at Fort Boise (only 100 miles east of the Blue Mountains) for nearly nine years, while Grant had been less than two years at Fort Hall, 375 miles east of the Blue Mountains. It is very curious if Whitman had any special interest in the opening up of a wagon road from the States to Oregon, that he had lived for six years--1836-1842--only twenty-nine miles from the western base of the Blue Mountains, and less than fifty-five miles from the summit of that range, and only seventy-two miles by the route the 1843 party traveled from the Grande Ronde, and in all that time had learned nothing of this "easier pass" that Farnham learned about from Payette at Fort Boise in September, 1839.
From Walla Walla part of the migration of 1843 drove their wagons down the south side of the Columbia (keeping back a few miles from the river so as to have good grass) to the Dalles, and so completed the development of the wagon road to the eastern base of the Cascade Mountains.
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Various advocates of the Whitman Legend, including Mowry (p. 209), Craighead (p. 76), Rev. M. Eells, "Ind. Missions" (p. 79), have asserted that Whitman furnished the migration with a guide for this part of their journey, but all the evidence is to the contrary.
The Wilkes Narrative says (pp. 89-90): "While pausing at this place (Whitman's Mission), we were agitated and perplexed in the extreme what course to take in relation to the arrangements we should make for the successful conclusion of our expedition. We were assailed with various opinions from every one we met, and in the general indecision were for a time brought to a dead stand. Most of the residents of the mission agreed in advising us to leave our cattle and wagons at this point, or if we did take them to the Dalles or narrows (a point on the Columbia, 120 miles in advance) to send them back here to winter. Others told us that we could not reach the Dalles with our teams, as jaded as they were, as we would find no range along the course of the Columbia. All, however, seemed to think that it would be impossible for us to get our wagons or our cattle to the Willamette this fall. But we had already overcome too many difficulties to admit the word impossible as a part of our vocabulary. We could not remain where we were for a number of reasons. The pasturage in the immediate vicinity was too scanty; the width of range would not allow us to keep our stock together, and we suffered an additional danger of their loss from the dishonest practices of the Indians, who, if they did not steal them outright, led them off for the purpose of being paid to bring them in. Many of us were obliged to pay a shirt (the price uniformly charged by the Indians for every service) for three or four successive mornings, to get back the same animal, and this was a kind of tribute that if kept up would make fearful inroads upon our wardrobe. The majority of the emigrants therefore resolved to attempt the threatened dangers" (rather than continue subject) "to the actual evils that now beset us. Accordingly they set out in squads, on successive days, and before the end of the month all had reached the Dalles in safety. What surprised them most, after the representations which had been made, was the fine pasturage they met with all along the way, and especially at the Dalles, where, we had been led to believe, the cattle could not subsist at all during the winter. As the parties to which I now allude preceded me, I may as well continue this anticipatory account of the route as far as it concerns their progress. They struck off in a southwesterly direction, leaving the sterility of the river's bank, and instead of perishing for want of range, their cattle even improved all along the way. Some of them left their wagons at the Dalles and drove their cattle through the Cascade
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Mountains, conveying their baggage and families on pack horses through the mountain paths; and some went down the river by the boats. But the greatest portion of them constructed rafts of dead pine timber, a few miles below the Dalles, large enough to carry sis or eight wagons, and upon these floated safely down to the Cascades on the Columbia. Their cattle were driven down the river's bank about thirty miles, then swam across and were driven down the other bank to Vancouver. Here the party obtained boats from Dr. McLaughlin, the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Co.'s establishments in Oregon, and returned to the Cascades for suck of the families, wagons and baggage as had been left behind. This method was found to be of all the most successful. By the first of December, all the emigrants had arrived at Vancouver, but the greatest portion of them had reached there as early as the loth of the preceding month."
H. H. Bancroft's "Oregon," Vol. I. (p. 405), says: "Neither Whitman nor McKinlay at Fort Walla Walla knew anything of the country back from the Columbia River (This is McKinlay's own statement, given in a letter to Elwood Evans, which Evans has kindly sent me), or whether there could be found crossings for the wagons at the John Day and Des Chutes Rivers, and both advised the immigrants to leave their wagons and cattle in the Walla Walla Valley to be brought down in the spring, and to make themselves boats in which to descend the Columbia. One of the arguments used in favor of this plan was that no grass would be likely to be found on the route, as the natives were accustomed at this season of the year to burn it off--a statement which sufficiently proved the Doctor's ignorance of the country, and which was construed to his disadvantage by those who traveled through it. (Says Waldo, who did not take the advice offered: 'Whitman lied like hell. He wanted my cattle, and told me the grass was burnt off between his place and the Dalles. The first night out I found the finest grass I ever saw, and it was good every night.' Critiques, Ms., 16.)"
Idem (p. 406): "At the mission they received one fat bullock of Spanish stock for two poor emigrant oxen. Those who did not distinguish the difference between Spanish and American cattle consented willingly to pay this price for fat beef. Without any expense to the missionaries they had in the spring two fat American work-oxen for their one bullock."
This road, about 1,845 miles long, thus developed without a dollar of expenditure by either the national or any local government, or by any private corporation in either surveying or constructing it, continued to be used for many years with only such improvements in clearing out rocks, trees and stumps, and making
140 ACQUISITION OF OREGON
detours to avoid the worst hills, as successive yearly migrations made of their own volition. Over the Cascade Mountains a road was made to the Willamette Valley in the Spring and Summer of 1846 by Mr. S. K. Barlow, one of the 1845 migration, under a grant for a toll road made him by the provisional government of Oregon, at a total cost of $2,500; and after two years, when the amount it had cost for original construction and needful repairs had been repaid to Barlow in the tolls collected, he donated the road to the Territory of Oregon. (Cf. Elwood Evans' "History of the Pacific Northwest," Vol. II., p. 203.)
With the building of this road over the Cascades neither Whitman nor any other missionary had anything whatever to do.