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Oregon, the struggle for possession Barrows, W. (William), 1815-1891 1884

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       American Commonwealths. 
EDITED  BY 
HORACE E. SCUDDER.      American Commonwelaths 
OREGON 
THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION 
BY 
WILLIAM BARROWS 
BOSTON 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 
New York;  11 East Seventeenth Street 
The Riverside Press, Cambridge 
1884 The Riverside Press, Cambridge :
Electrotyped and Printed by H. 0. Houghton & Co. THE AUTHORITIES  ON THE   STRUGGLE OF FIVE
NATIONS FOR OREGON.
[It has seemed best to.name these in summary, in order to avoid burden"
ing the text with very many references, and to afford aid to any who may
wish to study this topic more at large.]
Astor, John Jacob, Letter of, to the Hon. J. Q. Adams: Agreement for the Sale of Astoria, and Account of the Capture of
Astoria, in Greenhow's History of Oregon and California.
Appendix G.
Bancroft, George.   History of the United States.
Barrow, Sir John. Chronological History of Voyages into the
Arctic Regions.   London, 1818.
Belcher, Edward, R. N., etc. Narrative of a Voyage Round the
World.    London, 1843.
Bent, Silas. Gateways to the Pole, or Thermal Paths to the
Pole.    1872.
Benton, T. H. Thirty Years' View. From 1820 to 1850.
1854.
Brougham, Lord. Speech on the Ashburton Treaty, or Treaty
of Washington, April 7, 1843.
Browne, Peter A., LL. D. Lecture on the Oregon Territory.
1843.
Butler, Capt. W. F., F. R. G. S. Great Lone Land. London,
1872.
Calhoun, John C, Speech of, on the Treaty of Washington, in
the Senate, August, 1842.
Carver, Jonathan. Travels throughout the Interior Parts of
North America, 1766-1768.    1813.
Congress.    Congressional Reports, House of Representatives;
Linn's, June 6, 1838; Poinsett's, Secretary War, 1840; Pendleton's, May 25, 1842 ; and Report of March 12, 1844.
Executive Document No. 37 of the 41st Congress, 3d Session,
Senate.   February 9, 1871. IV
AUTHORITIES.
House Document No. 38 of 35th Congress, 1859.
Journals of both Houses of Congress and the Abridgment of
Debates, for the years covered.
Message of President J. Q. Adams.   With accompanying Documents.   December 28, 1827.
Papers relating to the Treaty of Washington, Berlin Arbitration  Foreign Relations of the United States.   3d Session,
42d Congress, 1872-73.
Senate of the United States : Documents, 1837.   On the Transfer of the Louisiana to the United States.
Territory of Oregon.  25th Congress, 3d Session House of Representatives.    Report No. 101.    By Caleb Cushing.    February 16, 1839.
Cook, Capt. James, F. R. S. Voyage to the Pacific Ocean.
Third Voyage.    Dublin, 1784.
Coxe, William, A. M. Russian Discoveries between Asia and
America.    1780.
Curtis.   Life of Daniel Webster.    1870.
Cushing, Caleb.    Treaty of Washington.    1873.
De Smet.   Oregon Missions.
Dunn, John. History of the Oregon Territory and the British
North American Fur Trade.    1845.
Falconer, Thomas. The Oregon Question; or, A Statement of
the British Claims to the Oregon Territory, etc. London,
1845. Strictures on the Above. By Robert Greenhow. History of Oregon and California, pp. 1-7.
Farnham, Thomas J. Travels in the Great Western Prairies
and Anahuac, and Rocky Mountains, and in the Oregon Territory.   1843.
Fitzgerald. Examination of the Hudson Bay Company. London, 1849.
Fremont, J. O, Brevet-Captain. Report of the Exploring Expedition to Oregon and North California in the years 1843-44.
Washington, 1845.
Frobisher, Martin, Three Voyages of. Hakluyt Society. Voyages toward the Northwest.   London, 1849.
Gallatin, Albert, Letters of, on the Oregon Question. Washington, 1846.
Gayarre", Charles. History of Louisiana. The French Domination.   1854. AUTHORITIES.
Gray, W. H.   History of Oregon from 1792-1849.   1870.
Greenhow, Robert.   History of Oregon and California.    1845.
Harmon, D. W. Journal of Voyages and Travels in the Interior
of North America.   1820.
Hearne, Samuel. Journey to the Northern Ocean. London,
1795.
Hines, Rev. Gustavus. Oregon : Its History, Condition, and
Prospects.    1851.
Irving, Washington.   Astoria.   1836.   Rocky Mountains and
Adventures in the Far West.   From the Journal of Capt.
B. L. E. Bonneville.   1837.
Life of George Washington.   1857.
Jeffrey.    History of the French Dominion in North America.
Kelley, Hall J. Emigration to the Oregon Territory, A Society
for- Promoting.   Hall J. Kelley, General Agent.   1831.
Lewis and Clark, History of the Expedition of. By Paul Allen,
1814.
Long, S. H, Major. An Expedition from Pittsburgh to the
Rocky Mountains, 1819-20, by order of John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War.
Mackenzie, Alexander. Voyages from Montreal, through the
Continent of North America to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans.
London, 1801.
Martin, R. M. Hudson Bay Territories and Vancouver's Island.
London, 1849.
Monette, John W., M. D. History of the Discovery and Settlement of the Valley of the Mississippi.    1846.   Harpers.
Parkman, Francis. Pioneers of France in the New World; The
Jesuits in North America; The Discovery of the Great West;
The Old Regime in Canada ; Count Frontenac and New
France under Louis XIV. ; History of the Conspiracy of
Pontiac; The Oregon Trail; Prairie and Rocky Mountain
Life.    1865-1877.
Pike, Major Z. M. Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, and La Platte.   1807.
Pilcher. Narrative of Travels in the Missouri, Columbia, Assin-
niboin, etc., 1827-29. A Document accompanying the Message
of President Jackson, January 23, 1829.
Porter, Robert E.   The West: From the Census of 1880.
Robinson, H. M.   Great Fur Land.   1879. Yl
AUTHORITIES.
Selkirk, Lord.   British Fur-Trade in North America, A Sketch.
of.
Simpson, Sir George, Governor in Chief of the Hudson Bay
Company in North America.    Narrative of a journey Round
the World.    London, 1847.
Small, Hugh.    Oregon and Her Resources.    1872.
Townsend, J. K   Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky
Mountains to the Columbia.    1839.
Twiss, Travers, Professor of Political Economy, Oxford.    Oregon Question Examined.   London, 1846.
Victor, Mrs. F. F.   River of the West.    1871.
Walker, Charles M.    History of Athens County, Ohio.    2869.
Wallace, Edward J., M. A.    Oregon Question.    London, 1846.
Webster and Ashburton.    Correspondence between Mr. Webster
and Lord Ashburton, on the McLeod Case;  on the  Creole
Case ; On the Subject of Impressment.    1841-42.
Webster, Daniel, Private Correspondence of.   Edited by Fletcher
Webster.    1857.
Wilkeson, Samuel.   Notes on Puget Sound: A Reconnoissance.
1869.
Westminster Review.    The Last Great Monopoly.    July, 1867,
and in Littell, August 10, 1867, No. 1210.
Wyeth, J. B.   Oregon : or, A Short History of a Long Journey,
1833. CONTENTS.
PAGE
I. The European Powers in America      ...     1
H. Spain Enters the Struggle and Fails,   .       .        5
in. France Sells her Claims 17
IV. Russia Declines the Struggle ....       22
V. English Explorations and Ambitions .       .       .27
VI. The Hudson Bat Company 33
VII. English Monopoly op the Frontier    .       .       .48
Vni. Astoria ; Its Founding and Failure        .      .      57
IX. Face to Face; America and England .      .      .64
X. American Speeches, English Steel-traps, and
Diplomacy 71
XI. Western Men on the Oregon Tratl   .       .       .77
XH. The Great English Mistake      ....       87
Xni. Four Flat-Head Indians in St. Louis .      .      . 103
XIV. "A Quart op Seed Wheat"       ....     114
XV. A Bridal Tour of Thirty-five Hundred Miles . 121
XVI. Whitman's "Old Wagon" 140
XVII. Anxiety and   Strategy  of  the Hudson Bay
Company 147
XVin. Whitman's Ride 160
XIX. Oregon not in the Treaty of Webster and
Ashburton 179
XX. Is Oregon worth Saving? 189
XXI. Titles to Oregon 205
XXII. The Claims of the United States to Oregon     212
XXIH. History Vindicated 224  OREGON:
THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
CHAPTER I
THE  EUROPEAN  POWERS  IN  AMERICA.
In 1697, the year of the Treaty of Ryswick, Spain
claimed as her share of North America, on the Atlantic
coast, from Cape Romaine on the Carolina shore a few
miles north of Charleston, due west to the Mississippi
River, and all south of that line to the Gulf of Mexico.
That line, continued beyond the Mississippi, makes the
northern boundary of Louisiana. In the valley of the
lower Mississippi, Spain acknowledged no rival, though
France was then beginning to intrude. On the basis of
discovery by the heroic De Soto and others, she claimed
up to the heads of the Arkansas and the present famous
Leadville, and westward to the Pacific. On that ocean,
or the South Sea as it was then called, she set up the
pretensions of sovereignty from Panama to Nootka
Sound on Vancouver. These pretensions covered the
coasts, harbors, islands, and fisheries, and extended themselves indefinitely inland, and even over the whole Pacific
Ocean, as then limited. These stupendous claims Spain
based on discovery, under the papal bull of Alexander
VI. in 1493.    This bull or decree gave to the govern- 2       OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
ment of the discoverer all newly discovered lands and
waters. In 1513 Balboa, the Spaniard, discovered the
Pacific Ocean, as he came over the Isthmus of Panama,
and so Spain came into the ownership of that body of
water! Good old times those were, when kings thrust
their hands into the New World, as children do theirs
into a grab-bag at a fair, and drew out a river four
thousand miles long, or an ocean, or a tract of wild land
ten or fifteen times the size of England!
At the Ryswick partition of the world, France held
good positions in America for the mastery of the continent. Beginning on the Mississippi, where the Spanish line crossed it, that is, where Louisiana and Arkansas unite two of their corners on the Father of Waters,
the French claimed east on the Spanish boundary, and
north of it to the watershed between the head streams
dividing for the Atlantic and the Mississippi. Their
claim was bounded by this highland- line, continuing
north and east, and still separating Atlantic streams
from those flowing into the Great Lakes and the St.
Lawrence. Where this line reached the springs of the
Penobscot it followed its waters to the ocean. It was
the proud thought of France, that from the mouth of
the Penobscot along the entire seaboard to the unknown and frozen Arctic, no European power divided
that coast, and the wild interior back of it, with her.
So France claimed indefinitely north to the farther rim
of Hudson Bay, as now known, and all lands drained
into that Bay, and wildly west to the heads of the Mississippi and Missouri, and thence down to our two corners of Louisiana and Arkansas. This gave to France
even the western parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and
New York, and a large northern portion of New Eng- THE EUROPEAN POWERS IN AMERICA.
land, as we now name those sections. Certain vague
doubts hung over those French claims in the great north
land after the convention of Ryswick, but they were
claims of little worth.
Russia had no possessions in North America at the
date of this survey, 1697. But as Peter the Great, her
emperor, had at that time his plans matured for gaining
interests in the New World which afterwards resulted
in Russian America, and as that nation entered the list
of competitors for Oregon, it seems best here to outline
her position on the field of struggle.
The Russians came into possession on the northwest
coast of America through their ardor in the fur trade.
Within a few years after the- Treaty of Ryswick, the
Russians had subdued all Northern Asia in the interests
of this trade, and Siberia became the great game preserve
of the empire. When once on the Asiatic shores of the
Northern Pacific it was natural and not difficult, in the
chase for the sea-otter and other valuable furs, to push
off to the Aleutian Islands and then to the American
mainland of Alaska. So through the enterprise of his
widow, Queen Catharine, and of his daughter, Queen
Elizabeth, the wish and vision of Peter the Great were
realized in a commercial conflict with the Spanish and
French and English on that coast. Among the distin-
guished leaders in this Russian enterprise was Bering
the Dane, who, in his third voyage, gave up his life on
the desolate little granite island that bears his name and
his grave. In after years the narrow passage between
the two continents, through which he had twice sailed
without discovering the Straits, but supposing himself
to be in the broad Arctic, was honored with his name.
Having outlined the  claims of these three leading 4       OREGON: THE STR.UGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
powers in North America at the opening of this narrative, the English possessions are obvious as the small
remainder. They constituted the long, narrow Atlantic
slope, extending from the Spanish Cape Romaine, north
of Charleston, to the French bounds on the Penobscot,
and inland up that river and along the watershed of the
Alleghanies and of the French claim, down to the east
and west Spanish boundary, and on it to Cape Romaine
again.
Under these claims, France and Spain held much more
territory on this continent than the entire area of the
continent of Europe; an estimate of the Russian possessions has been given ; the narrow English belt, hugging the Atlantic, was hardly equal in area to Missouri.
Of course these outlines are stated only approximately, and somewhat guessingly, because of the dark geographical ignorance that shrouded North America at the
opening of the seventeenth century. The pretentious
claims of royalty, of the papacy, and of the rival favorites of the different courts, overlapped each other like
bogus mortgages, and they ran far and wide as liberally
as astronomical spaces.
Thus stood the foreign ownership of the New World
at the conclusion of the Treaty of Ryswick, 1697. At
this date and our starting point, England was at her
minimum and France at her maximum of claims in North
America, and Spain had come down from grandiloquent
assumptions to sensible pretensions.
Lv CHAPTER II.
SPAIN  ENTERS  THE  STRUGGLE  AND   PAILS.
The claims of Spain in North America have been
marked off. A notice of the vast shrinkage in her pretensions, prior to the Treaty of Ryswick, will prepare
one to trace, in this chapter, her weakening and final
departure from the contest for Oregon.
" To prevent collision between Christian princes, on
the 4th of May, 1493, Alexander VI. published a bull in
which he drew an imaginary line from the north pole to
the south, a hundred leagues west of the Azores, assigning to the Spanish all that lies west of that boundary,
while all to the east of it was confirmed to Portugal." 1
Since Spanish navigators had explored somewhat the
Atlantic Ocean and coasts as far as Newfoundland, Spain
claimed, by this papal authority, and under the name of
Florida, " the whole sea-coast as far as Newfoundland
and even to the remotest North. In Spanish geography
Canada was a part of Florida. Yet within that whole
extent not a Spanish fort was erected nor a harbor was
occupied nor one settlement was planned." And when
St. Augustine, Florida, was founded, the bigoted Philip
II. was proclaimed monarch of all North America.
More surprising it is to see such pretensions set forth
at a much later day.    The archbishop Lorenzana, in his
1 Bancroft's History of the United States, Author's Last Revision,
vol. i. p. 9.
1
i 6       OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
history of New Spain, published in 1770, at the City of
Mexico, says, " It is doubtful whether the country of New
Spain does not border on Tartary and Greenland, by the
way of California on the former, and by New Mexico
on the latter." The bishop was poor in geography, and
was in the error then still lingering, that America
was made up of big islands, extending west and ending
in the East India Islands, and that one could sail through,
somewhere, from Newfoundland to China.
When the French began their discoveries and settlements in Canada and the other northern provinces, the
Spanish gradually, but under bloody protests, withdrew
their claims toward the South. After the Jamestown
colony was established, and parts of New England occupied, they consented to make the southern boundary
of Virginia the northern boundary of their Florida.
This was about 1650, and when the royal province of
Virginia had about fifteen thousand white inhabitants
and three hundred negro slaves.
Then followed the English grant for the Carolina
plantations; and the Edict of Nantes, that expelled so
many Protestants from France, furnished many colonists
with other adventurers. The Spanish remonstrated
against the encroachments, but the English would not
acknowledge a claim both unwarranted and unused. At
length, about 1690, the Spanish quietly contracted the
limits of their shrinking Florida, and agreed to the line
already named, being a little north of Charleston, and
running exactly west from Cape Romaine to the Mississippi River.
Having set bounds, mutual and somewhat permanent,
on the seaboard between themselves and the English, the
Spanish already began to feel the encroachments of the SPAIN ENTERS THE STRUGGLE AND FAILS.
French, down the Mississippi from the St Lawrence and
the Great Lakes. Vague and fascinating rumors had
gone up from time to time, among the scattered and
frozen settlements of the St. Lawrence, about great
rivers that never froze over, and plains and warm valleys toward the South Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. As
early as 1658 French fur traders had wintered on Lake
Superior, and two years later the devout Me'nard had
gone up there, to a death that he knew must soon eome
from the Indians, that he might plant the Cross on the
barbarous border. More and more, trader and Jesuit,
forgetful of all toil and danger, threaded the Indian trails
to the head waters of rivers that disappeared in the mysterious southwest. The almost social waters, as if
talking of better homes in more sunny climes to which
they were hastening, tempted these Indian merchants
and preachers to the bold venture. So with only blankets
and food for'a few days they pushed their frail canoes
into the jolly waters, saying: Where shall we land ?
In the Sea of Virginia? In the South Sea? In the
Gulf of Mexico ?    In China ?    In Cathay ?
In 1670 the spirited La Salle, a Jesuit priest in France,
a fur trader and feudal colonist in Canada, and an ardent
dreamer of the Straits of Auian, opening somewhere
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, floated in his birch
canoe south as far as Louisville. In 1671 St. Lusson,
with his fifteen whites, and swarming red men of fourteen tribes, chanted the Vexilla Regis at the Sault Ste.
Marie, the outlet of Lake Superior, and took possession
for Louis XIV. of all the country bounded by the seas
of the north and of the west and of the south. It was
a wonderful occasion in that deep interior wilderness in
North America.    On that leafy morning in June, and 8       OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
on an eminence at the foot of the rapids, the civilians in
showy armor and the Jesuits in their robes surrounded
the wooden cross and chanted and offered prayers. The
Indians, crouching and gliding and gazing on all sides,
watched the pompous ceremonials while a large part of
North America was made over to Louis the Grand. A
volley of musketry, a Vive le Hoi, and the yelping of
the savages closed the marvellous scene. Mr. Parkman
in his " Discovery of the Great West," — a captivating
volume, where true and pure history makes the highest
romance, tells the story with fascination.1
Two years later we find Marquette and Joliet at the
mouth of the Arkansas ; and in 1682 La Salle appears
again, and now at the mouth of the Mississippi. With
what daring and romance and grand expectations these
early voyageurs and the first of white men must have
glided into and through those primeval solitudes !
Twenty-five hundred miles they pushed off into the unknown, among savages and wild beasts. Now they take
the broad stream midway, and now under its dark forest
banks. One timid deer is shot from the grazing herd,
and no sound like that has ever waked echoes in that
stillness of ages. The. calm evening comes over the
prairies, and then the cheery camp-fire, venison, vespers
and sweet sleep.
Shortly after the Treaty of Ryswick the French
began to occupy, and with energy, that portion of the
great valley that was recognized as their own. As early
as 1705 Kaskaskia had become a populous and happy
French post, and seven years later it was constituted the
capital of the Illinois country, having a population of
two thousand, a monastery and a college. It was a
1 Parkman's Discovery of the Great West, 40-42>
w SPAIN ENTERS THE STRUGGLE AND FAILS.
marked frontier town, and had the vicissitudes of Indian,
French, and English wars. In 1778 Colonel Clark, by
one of those heroic and romantic movements that have
so signalized our frontier and stored it with material for
an American Walter Scott, took possession of it for the
young republic.
In 1682 La Salle spread French claims over the lower
Mississippi, and three years after he annexed Texas to
the realm of his king, and established a trading post and
fort on Isle Dauphin, between which and Quebec a lively
trade sprang up. Thus early the active and progressive
French opened-a way into the very interior of indolent
New Spain, and were transporting not only peltries and
furs, buj; grain and flour and other agricultural .products
down that mysterious river.
The same persistent discoverers, the trader and the
Jesuit, also opened the Ohio, Illinois, Wabash, and Kas-
kaskia. The bold and far-reaching plan was adopted
to connect the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico by
a cordon of military posts. About 1720 the first of
them, Fort Chartres, was founded on the eastern bank
of the Mississippi, and about forty-five miles below St.
Louis. It became the French headquarters for Upper
Louisiana, and continued for a long time their western
centre of life and fashion, intrigue and ambition—the
Paris of the Great West. So active were the French
that in 1730 they had planted one hundred and forty
families and six hundred converted Indians on the Illinois alone, and five years later they founded Vincennes
on the Wabash, as a military and rallying centre.
Such was the colonizing activity of the French in
the'upper Mississippi, thus overshadowing and making
timid the Spanish below.    But in Lower Louisiana the 10    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
encroachments were still more annoying and alarming.
In 1699 D'Iberville made a settlement near Ship Island,
and proposed French control over the whole coast and
region from Pensacola to the Rio Grande. He surveyed
the Mississippi for about four hundred miles, to the
reoion of Natchez, and caused an exploration of Red
River for a thousand miles from its mouth, and the
Arkansas up to Little Rock, while the Washita and
Yazoo were not neglected. The Missouri he explored
up to the entrance of the KansasJ and the Mississippi to
the St. Peter's. Waters now made familiar by steamboats and crossed by railroads the light canoes and
pirogues of D'Iberville glided over, like waterfowl, shooting rapids, making " carries," and submitting ta no obstacles. No white man had ever before much disturbed
these hidden recesses of nature.
In 1710 the entire population of Lower Louisiana
amounted to only three hundred and eighty souls—a
small village to-day. The men were ignorant, indolent,
and vicious; negro slaves and Indian girls did the most
of the work, and the loose, arms-length government was
supported by a hundred and seventy-five soldiers.
The Spanish governor at Pensacola remonstrated
against these French intrusions, but as his remonstrance
was able to do no more it was in vain. On the east of
the Mississippi the Perdido had been accepted by. both
governments as the eastern line of the French and the
western one of Florida. But on the west of the Mississippi all claims to territory were in a contested uncertainty. While the Spanish claimed eastward, across
Texas, almost to the Mississippi, the French claimed
westward across the entire province to the Rio Grande.
Nor was the struggle between the two foreign crowns
W SPAIN ENTERS THE STRUGGLE AND FAILS.    11
confined in that Indian wilderness of the New World to
the Gulf coast and the deltas of the lower valley. Spanish adventurers from New Mexico and the Santa Fe
country had ranged north and east, across the upper
Arkansas, to the Missouri and Mississippi, and found
there also the intruding and irrepressible French. An
expedition was forwarded to expel these traders and
colonists, but the result was very disastrous to the Spanish. After this the French built Fort Orleans on an
island in the Missouri, above the mouth of the Osage.
In military connection and about the same time Fort
Chartres was built, as before mentioned. The wonderful changes in the bed and channels of the Mississippi are
seen in the fact that Fort Chartres, originally on the
bank of the river, was washed aWay and then rebuilt,
and of stone, far inland. The encroaching river followed and is undermining the new fort. For ten years,
ending about 1750, the French were active in establishing friendly relations with the Indians between the Al-
leghanies and the Missouri, and from the heads of the
Mississippi-to Texas. This was a deep stroke of policy
and involved vast labor.
By all these explorations and encroachments the
French crowded the Spanish to the south and west of
the following line: From the mouth of the Sabine up
that river to latitude thirty-two, then due north to the
Red River and by it to longitude twenty-three ; thence
north to the Arkansas and up it to latitude forty-two and
on it west to the Pacific. This was the boundary, practically, that the French forced on the Spanish, though
it was not then very formally or definitely agreed to.
Indeed, it was one of those singular treaty lines, sometimes appearing in  history, on which' much has been 12    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
settled, while they have never been run. The one in
question has had a peculiar history.
When, in 1762, France secretly conveyed her western
portion of Louisiana to Spain she made this its limit on
the southwest. But it was only descriptive, having
never been run or traversed by either party. When
Spain reconveyed the same to France in 1800, it was
limited by the same boundaries and in description only.
In 1803 France sold this territory, the Louisianas, to the
United States, " with all its rights and appurtenances as
fully and in the same manner as they have been acquired
by the French Republic." To this extent, and on a line
unrun, and not very definite, the United States were now
bounded on Spanish territory, and for sixteen years
there was negotiation, and at times unpleasant struggle,
to locate and run the line. Then, when, in 1819, the
United States purchased Florida, an article was inserted
in the treaty restating this line, but it was drawn only by
diplomats in sentences, and not by engineers on the
ground. The treaty called for a survey, but various delays prevented the setting of metes' and bounds, till we
acquired New Mexico in 1848, when the line became
unnecessary, because we became owners on both sides
of it, and so it has never been run. It is a singular fact
that this line of three august conferences and treaties,
one war, and much diplomatic intrigue and correspondence was never anything more than imaginary and declared.
We have thus grouped the facts, that it may be seen
in summary how France crowded Spain on the southwest, and compelled a continuance of the shrinkage in
her boastful claims on the New World.
Now, it is important to notice that the old Spanish
vs\ SPAIN ENTERS THE STRUGGLE AND FAILS.    13
claim extended from Panama, on the Pacific, to Prince
William's Sound; and of course covered the Oregon of
our narrative, that is, the Oregon, Washington Territory,
Idaho, and British Columbia of to-day, up to 54° 40'.
According to the decree of Pope Alexander VI., the
Spanish had granted to them exclusive privileges in all
lands and seas which they might discover in the Pacific.
On this basis they founded the audacious claims of sovereignty over the American shores of the Pacific.
When, therefore, the English, profiting by Cook's
discoveries, that ended with his death in 1778, and by
the enterprise of others, sought to open the fur, seal,
whale, and other traffic, on the northwest coast, the
Spanish government regarded the attempt as an intrusion, and in its anxiety as to the end sought by its
rival, entered strong objections. This arrogant claim
of Spain to all Pacific waters and coasts and islands near
to our continent is well illustrated in the case of the
American ship Columbia. In 1788 she left Boston for
trade in the Pacific, was damaged, and put into Juan
Fernandez for repairs, and having been refitted, was
allowed by the Spanish authorities there to proceed.
For this the Commandant was removed under severe rebuke, on the ground that every vessel found in seas beyond Cape Horn, without Spanish license, was to be
treated as an enemy, since no nation had a right to territory or trade that would require the doubling of that
Cape. Russia was already on .the northwest coast of
America, and Spain sought to make Prince William's
Sound, the southern limit of Russia.    This was in 1789.
At this time " no settlement, factory, or other establishment whatsoever had been founded or attempted, nor
had any jurisdiction been exercised by the authorities or 14     OREGON, THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
subjects of a civilized nation in any part of America
bordering on the Pacific, between San Francisco and
Prince William's Sound."1 It is true that Spain led off
in discoveries on those coasts, and afterward she had,
jointly with England, France, and Russia, landed here
and there, and taken possession ceremonially. But it
early came to an understanding among these nations
that no such pageant could constitute possession. That
could be proved and maintained only by habitations and
residence.
The issue between Spain and England as to sovereignty on the northwest coast was made at Nootka Sound in
1789. Each nation then attempted to form a settlement
there. The Spanish captured the English vessels, and
this threw the case into diplomacy between the two
courts. England informed the Spanish court that she
could "not accede to the pretensions of absolute sovereignty, commerce and navigation" that were claimed,
and secretly prepared to back her protest by two fleets.
The Spanish government was informed that " British
subjects have an indisputable right to the enjoyment of
a free and uninterrupted navigation, commerce, and fishing, and to the possession of such establishments as they
should form, with the consent of the natives of the
country, not previously occupied by any of the European
nations." The younger Pitt, then in his prime of power,
and with all his father's hatred and contempt of Spain,
shaped the policy that ended in the famous Nootka Treaty
of 1790.
The question opened so widely that France did not
think it best to remain quiet; and though she seemed to
maintain neutralityjshe took steps, at once, to increase
1 History of Oregon and California, by Robert Greenhow, p. 187. SPAIN ENTERS THE STRUGGLE AND FAILS.    15
her navy to unusual proportions. Under Louis XVI.
Mirabeau led this policy, and, by a semblance, assumed
to mediate between the two courts. The result was the
Nootka Treaty, by which England gained her full commercial demands. Five years later Spain, for various
reasons, informally and quietly, and without quitclaiming her rights, withdrew from Nootka Sound, and afterward fixed the northern limit of her claims at the present
northern boundary of California. When she withdrew
thus to the southern limits of Oregon she could well be
counted out as a competitor for the Oregon of our story,
though she had owned it from -1763 to 1800.
Here, therefore, we take leave of Spain in the grand
game of kings for that magnificent prize in the northwest. But we cannot do it without reflecting on the
weak ambition and papal folly that grasped for so much
while it could hold so little. Spain once claimed from
Panama, on the Atlantic side, to Newfoundland, and on
the Pacific to Prince William's Sound. At this date in
our narrative all her Atlantic claims were dwarfed to
eastern Florida, and at this date of writing all her vast
interior and Pacific claims have gone out of her hands.
As we look back on this amazing collapse of the
Spanish inflation in North America the view should not
surprise us. With a few noble colonial leaders the mass
of the colonists were of the lower grades, and many of
them from prisons, asylums, and the streets. Any
country would be benefited by the outgoing of such
classes, or damaged by their incoming. After landing
in the wilds of America they were more like " dumb,
driven cattle" than like citizens. The Jesuitism that
took charge of their education by no means crowded
on them the  printing-press   and  spelling-book;   and  CHAPTER III.
PRANCE   SELLS   HER  CLAIMS.
France was only second to Spain • in the extent of
her inflated claims in the New World. The treaty of
Ryswick conceded to her all the country whose waters
flowed into the Atlantic, from the Penobscot north to
Hudson Bay. This includes not only the basin of
which that bay is the reservoir, but also the basin of
the Great Lakes, emptying through the St. Lawrence.
Down the western slope of the Hudson Bay basin there
come the Red River waters of central Minnesota, and
those of Lake Winnipeg, fed by the Saskatchewan aud
Assiniboin, that spring from the melting snows Where
the Rocky Mountains look down on the Pacific. So far
west on the rim of that basin was the French claim
conceded, in the old Dutch palace of Ryswick. There
was also conceded to her all the great western valley
which lies between the Alleghanies and the Rocky
Mountains, and whose drainage .runs by New Orleans,
omitting so much as lies south of the thirty-third degree
of latitude on^the east of the Mississippi, and so much
as feeds the head-springs of the Arkansas and territory
south of it. This immense French domain in America
would more than cover all the map of Europe.
The peace of Ryswick was brief. Wars soon followed
between the parties in both the Old World and the New,
and matters soon came again to the council-table of
2 18     OREGON: TME STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
kings. This time it was in 1713, at Utrecht, another
Dutch town, and the prominent parties present, by their
ministers, were Anne, queen of Great Britain, and Louis
XIV. of France. France, once so imperious, had been
humbled by failure to absorb the Spanish in the French
crown, and by the adverse issues of war in North America. Moreover, Louis was now seventy-five years old,
and the shadows of age were falling across his brilliant
court of Versailles. He put his name to the Treaty of
Utrecht, but not with the bold, iron hand that had throttled kings and pushed thrones aside. The signature is
the unsteady scrawl of age, as when old men, nursed and
pillowed up on the dying bed, sign their last will and
testament.
That signature gave back to Great Britain the Hudson Bay basin," from rim to rim, Newfoundland, and
Nova Scotia — the poetic Acadia. There and then, in
the old halls of Utrecht, France began to give up her
chances on the Pacific by yielding those immense regions on the Atlantic. The tide had turned, and now
it went out as with the rapidity with which it is wont to
leave her former Bay of Fundy.
Struggles followed the concord at Utrecht, and they
were between courts and cabinets, prime ministers and
ambassadors, armies in'Europe and armies in the new
continent. The brilliant uniform of the European mingled with the feathers and paint and scalp-lock of the
Indian along the forests and rivers and lakes of our then
border land. More and more the destinies of battle
turned one way, till that fatal September day on the
Plains of Abraham, at Quebec, 1759. That was the
Waterloo for France in North America; and in the settlement afterward, by the Treaty of Paris, 1763, she FRANCE SELLS HER  CLAIMS.
19
was humiliated to yield all her possessions east of the
Mississippi. That is, she then lost the eastern slope of
the Mississippi Valley, the Canadas, and New Brunswick.
After much diplomatic delay — more than three years
— while from time to time the hostile negotiators felt
for their swords again, Great Britain allowed France to
retain three little islands off the coast of Newfoundland
— not the area of two Yankee townships — where she
might build fishermen's huts and dry her nets. Only the
assignment of St. Helena to Napoleon suggests so great
a fall or equals so great a humiliation.
About one hundred days before this painful transfer
France secretly made over to Spain all her territorial
claims on the west of the Mississippi. Under one of
those terrible pressures of war, when sometimes a strong
nation is no more capable of resistance than an iron ship
in an ice-pack, she parted with that half of a grand empire. She feared, and probably foresaw, that Great
Britain would finally take all, and so put this beyond
the reach of her grasping victor.
In her successive generations France never forgave
herself for losing the ancient Louisiana. She chafed
under the memories of the Plains of Abraham, and she
watched to recover herself from a step, forced and inevitable, in the fickle fortunes of war. All through and
following our Revolution, while she was friendly, her
leading statesmen were alert and hopeful for chances
that would reinstate her in that valley. The secret service of Vergennes, the bold and almost defiant intrigues
of Genet, and her gold freely used between Pittsburg
and New Orleans as bribes to bring about secession, are
evidences of her wishes and of her endeavors.
Therefore, it agreed well with national ambition, as 20     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
well as with the gigantic schemes of Napoleon, when he
recovered from Spain, in 1800, the western half of that
ancient Louisiana.
The king of Spain, who owned this part of old Louisiana, married his daughter to the poor Duke of Parma,
and he was not so rich in territory as his wife was proud
and ambitious. Adjoining their petty domain was the
kingdom of Tuscany, owned by France. To please,
therefore, his spirited daughter, now a duchess in the
small Duchy of Parma, the king of Spain exchanged
with Napoleon Louisiana for Tuscany, and then the
Duchy of Parma and Tuscany were combined into the
Kingdom of Etruria for the royal son-in-law and his
royal wife. So, as in so many great matters, there was
a woman in the case, an d half an empire in America was
sold off to buy for her a wedding present.
Thus the long cherished ambition of France was realized and she again had in the New World more than St.
Pierre and the Great and Little Miquelon —- her three
islands tethered off. the coast of the Continent. It was
the ambition of Napoleon to restore at grand New France
in the recovered Louisiana. It was to be for France her
empire of the West—the India of France, to balance
the India of Great Britain. Its area and natural resources, and its openness to the commercial world, "were
commensurate with the daring wish and plans of Napoleon.
He framed a government for it, appointed a board of
officers, and gathered an army and navy for its escort,
and then waited a year to evade the watchful eye of
England, and ship the whole to the mouth of the Mississippi. But the mistress of the seas was too strong
and too wary for him, and he did not dare to venture. FRANCE SELLS HER CLAIMS.
21
Impatient of delay, suffering severe reverses and many
anxieties, in the broadening wars of that most eventful
period, and solicitous how the young France of the West
might be able to keep her domains, and put on manly
years, especially if old France should come into adverse
emergencies, he sold the province to the United States.
In the Old World trade Tuscany and Louisiana were
reckoned equal, at one hundred thousand francs each,
but we paid seventy-five thousand — fifteen millions
of dollars, including two and a half millions of French
debt due to Americans which the United States assumed.
It was with reference to this and earlier ownerships of
Louisiana by France that De Tocqueville, in his " Democracy in America," made his lament — the old refrain of La Belle France: " There was a time when we
also might have created, a French nation in the American wilds, to counterbalance the influence of the English
upon the destinies of the New World. France formerly
possessed a territory in North America scarcely less extensive than the whole of Europe. The three greatest
rivers of that continent then flowed Within her dominions. . . . Louisburg, Montmorenci, Duquesne, St. Louis,
Vincennes, New Orleans, are words dear to France."
For two and a half years that magnificent region was
again nominally in the hands of its ancient owner, and
for so long a time France was the claimant of Oregon
under the old Spanish title. As will appear by and by,
the United States claimed Oregon under the old Franco-
Spanish title, while Great Britain denied the validity of
it, in the final settlement of the Oregon question. Here,
therefore, in our purchase of the Louisianas, France disappears from the list of competitors for that Pacific
prize. Only three now hold the course of struggle, —
Russia, England, and the United States. CHAPTER IV.
RUSSIA  DECLINES   THE  STRUGGLE.
Peter the Great, shortly before his death in 1725,
determined to look up the countries beyond the seas,
that made his eastern boundaries. He knew that the
Spanish and French and English had trading colonies
in those regions, and he proposed to enter there as a
rival, if not as an invader. His death came too soon for
the execution of his plan, but Catharine, his widow and
successor, attempted the enterprise, and so dispatched
that distinguished navigator, Bering, the Dane, on a
voyage of discovery, three years after Peter died.
Bering established the fact that Asia and America are
separated by the strait which now bears his name, and
yet, strange to say, he twice passed through it without
knowing it to be a strait, or that the American continent was near to him. His success led to a second voyage of discovery, 1741, in which the American shores
were brought to light, and the name of St. Elias given
to that eminent mountain. After this they ran about
among the Aleutian Islands. At length they sought a
return to Kamtschatka, and after head winds, sickness,
and many casualties, they took to winter quarters on a
small island eighty miles off that coast, where the vessel
was afterward wrecked. Here the gallant and daring
man made his grave with thirty of his men, and history
has affixed his name to the island, as if a monument; and
indeed it is but a pile of granite. RUSSIA DECLINES THE STRUGGLE.
23
The survivors of the unfortunate expedition carried
home with them choice furs, and made large profits on
their sale. This led to individual enterprises in those
hard seas, and in 1766 to the organization of companies
for the Russian fur trade. While, therefore, France had
been hastening through a series of reverses to quit North
America, Russia was preparing to take it, and she was
well established on the north-west coast by the time the
United States were a nation.
Two years before the century closed the Russian-
American Fur Company was formed, with exclusive
rights of trapping and trading for twenty years between
latitude fifty-five and Bering Strait. The Company soon
occupied the American coast for a thousand miles, up
and down, and also the Aleutian archipelago, with their
chief traders, sailors, and native helpers.
Meanwhile New Englanders worked into the same
region and lucrative trade, and ten years after the organization of the Russian Company the court of St.
Petersburg made formal remonstrance to the United
States, that Americans were furnishing the natives of
the northwest with firearms and ammunition. In the
diplomatic correspondence which followed, our minister
to that court, John Quincy Adams, drew out the fact
that this Russian Company set up claims to the entire
coast and islands between Bering Strait and the mouth
of the Columbia, and at the same time was extending its
trade and monopoly down the coast. In 1812 the Russians obtained permission of the Spanish governor of
California to found a trading post at Bodega Bay, a little
north of San Francisco. Their ostensible object and
real permission were to lay in beef there, from the wild
cattle, for their northern posts and traders.    In two or
1 24     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
three years they had so multiplied and fortified themselves, that the authorities of California remonstrated,
and finally ordered them to leave, when the Russians
coolly replied that they had concluded to remain. They
did so, and in.1820 established another fortified trading
house about forty miles farther north.
In the following year, the Russian government claimed,
bv public decree, all the northwest coast and islands
north of latitude fifty-one, and down the Asiatic coast as
low as forty-five degrees and fifty minutes, and forbade
all foreigners to come within one hundred miles of the
coasts, except in cases of extremity. To this bold claim
our Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, objected
most strenuously, as infringing on the usages and immemorial rights of Americans, and he denied, most emphatically, that Russia had any just claim on that coast
south of the fifty-fifth degree. As Russia had claims
on both the American and Asiatic coasts she claimed the
islands between as in a close sea. Mr. Adams replied
to Chevalier de Poletica, the Russian minister, that an
ocean four thousand miles wide could hardly be regarded
as a " close sea," and that the Americans would continue
to exercise their ancient privileges in those northern
waters.    There the correspondence closed.
Great Britain made similar protestations. The American protests were emphasized in 1823, by the proclamation of the Monroe doctrine, so called. The substance
of this noted doctrine was in these words: " That the
American Continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for colonization
by any European power."
After much correspondence it was agreed between RUSSIA DECLINES THE STRUGGLE.
25
Russia and the United States, in 1824, that the United
States should make no new claims north of 54° 40', and
the Russians none south of it. Russia also made a similar agreement with Great Britain the next year, and
the two were to be binding for ten years, but with the
privilege of continued navigation and trade where they
had been previously enjoyed. When the ten years expired Russia served notice on the United States and
Great Britain of the discontinuance of their navigation
and trade north of the agreed line of 54° 40'.
A compromise was effected between Russia and Great
Britain by a lease from Russia to the Hudson Bay Company of the coast and margin from 54° 40' to Cape Spenser, near 58°— that narrow strip of Alaska which now
lies between British Columbia and the Pacific. With
the United States matters were.finally adjusted to mutual satisfaction.
But England was ambitious to hold Oregon and California ; and therefore those two Russian colonies in the
latter were an annoyance and a check to her. The Russians had posted themselves strongly at Bodega, having
built a stockade, with block-houses, the two towers of
which mounted three guns each. It had only one gate,
and this was protected by a brass nine-pounder,. In
1836 it had three hundred men, besides sixty or more
Eodiack Indians.1 It will be noticed that, after the loose
and adventurous manner of those times, the Russians were
in possession both north and south of the Oregon of our
narrative. Of course, they were liable to gain a footing
in it, by trade with the natives, and by agriculture.
They had intimated to the United States that they had
1 Sir Edward Belcher's Voyages Round the Worldt 1836-42, vol.
i. 313-15. 26     OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
no rights in California, while they notified the Mexican
government that they had come to stay. ' The English
accused the Russians of infringing treaty obligations by
making and holding settlements south of 54° 40', and
asked Mexico to expel them. Mexico was willing but
not able, and therefore asked for the kindly offices of
the United States in the matter. At our request Russia withdrew from California, and relinquished all claims
and ambitions south of 54° 40'. Russia, therefore, was
counted out from among the competitors for Oregon.
We started in our story with seven European powers,
which might be regarded as fairly competitors for Oregon. We have seen them drop out, one by one, as in
some exciting boat-race. Now one near the prize, vigorous, and well posted on both sides of it, withdraws.
Only two remain for us to watch. *■
CHAPTER V.
ENGLISH  EXPLORATIONS  AND  AMBITIONS.
In the last chapter we carried one thread of our narrative ahead of time, in order to dispose of one of the
parties in the struggle — the Russians. Now we must return and bring up the English to the point where we
just now left them, as the only competitor with the
United States for Oregon.
In colony times Spain, France, and Great Britain,
each in turn, looked toward the Mississippi Valley, as a
new seat of empire. Soon after the eastern half had
been conveyed to Great Britain, after her victory of
immeasurable importance on the Plains of Abraham,
she began to explore her new possessions. Leading
and prominent among the explorers was Jonathan Carver, a hard soldier in the French and Indian wars, that
terminated at Quebec, a rugged and daring pioneer,
with a passion for forest life and all its wild adventures
and thrilling incidents. In the late wars he had become
inured to hardship, and he was enamored of the fascinations that lie along an unexplored border of wilderness.
Carver left Boston in 1766, under the geographical delusion of the day, that North America was an archipelago,
and that a sailing passage could be found, extending
through to the Pacific. The leading purpose with him in
his tour was to discover those mythical and always receding " Straits of Anian," as the channel was called.    His 28     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
head was fired with the vision of " the discovery of a
northwest passage, or a communication between Hudson Bay and the Pacific Ocean — an event so desirable
and which has been so often sought for, but without success." He returned in two years, having explored no
farther than the present limits of Wisconsin, Iowa, and
Minnesota. He claimed that he was the first white man,
after Hennepin, the French missionary, to explore the
Mississippi, as far up as the falls of St. Anthony. He
prophesied well of the region as " a country that promises in some future period to be an inexhaustible source of
riches to the people who shall be so fortunate as to possess
it." He thus anticipated Secretary Seward, by about a
century, in his prophecy in 1860, in his speech at St.
Paul: " I now believe that the ultimate, last seat of government on this great continent will be found somewhere
within a circle or radius not very far from the spot on
which I stand, at the head of navigation on the Mississippi
river." All this reads well of wheat fields and empire
states, but the fancy is rich and very enjoyable, that sees
Carver's merchantmen under full sail making their crosscut through these prairies from China to New England.
The Indians gave him much information concerning
precious metals in the " Shining Mountains," as they
called the Black Hills; and Carver is led to say that
"probably in future ages they may be found to contain
more riches in their bowels than those of Indostan and
Malabar, or than are produced on the golden coast of
Guinea; nor will I except even the Peruvian mines."
He made many trials to get farther west, and when he
asked the Indians to guide him to these mountains, they
replied that white men could not enter them and live.
So sadly true of poor General Custer and his men! ENGLISH EXPLORATIONS AND AMBITIONS.      29
Carver, in his narrative, drew somewhat from his observations, but much from his memory of French and
fanciful narrators. His book was published in London,
and had its effect, both in England and in this country ;
it fascinated Great Britain with the value of her conquest, and stimulated new explorations.1
At this time the Hudson Bay Company had stations
on that inland sea, and it had some belief, but more
doubt, of the existence of navigable waters between
Hudson Bay and the Pacific. Rumors had also reached
the Company of a metal river to the west of the Bay.
They therefore commissioned Samuel Hearne, one of
their agents, to explore from the western shores of the
Bay towards the Pacific, for the rumored channel and
river. This was the year following the return of Carver. Hearne made three of these excursions into the
northwest, west, and southwest — tours of a thousand
miles each. He discovered Great Slave Lake, and identified Metal River as the Coppermine, which be traced
to its mouth. So highly did the Lords Commissioners of
the British Admiralty esteem his discoveries, that they
kept them secret, as exceedingly important, from his return in 1772 to 1795.
Of course English statesmen, capitalists, and navigators
were greatly interested in northern North America by
these discoveries. Under this stimulus Cook was commissioned in 1776 to explore the north-west coast, and
look for any water openings inland that might lead to
Hudson Bay and, with the consent of the natives, or
in the absence of any inhabitants, take possession for
Great Britain of any country not already claimed by
1 Travels Throughout the Interior Parts of North America, 1766-8.
By Jonathan Carver.
II I
30     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
European powers. The plan was to make his discoveries by sea meet and close in with those of Hearne by
land. But the English Admiralty were then deeply ignorant of the vast spaces and distances in this country,
as many are, most amusingly, to-day. Hearne may well
have made those extensive tours, and yet Cook, on the
Pacific coast, not be within a thousand miles of the track
of the inland explorer.
Thus early after their expulsion of the French from
the northern portion of the Continent the English closed
in on it, by extending their line of trading posts, or
"factories," from Hudson Bay and the Canadas westward. The tragic death of Cook at the Sandwich Islands, in the third year of his enterprise, terminated, for
the present, the extension of English discoveries and
possessions on the north-west coast. Meanwhile the
English government was in.a desperate struggle to hold
her colonies on the Atlantic, and had little leisure or
surplus force, or perhaps heart, to plant new ones on
the Pacific, where they might repeat rebellion. Yet
she had obtained intimations enough of the value of the
region beyond the Great Lakes, and around the sources
of the Mississippi and Missouri, to make her ardent and
persistent for its possession.
The French had furnished much information of that
wild interior. It might be difficult to tell, sometimes,
whether the religious zeal of the Jesuit, or the mercantile spirit of the trader, led those earliest expeditions into
unexplored lands: but one thing was sure and fortunate,
the religious partners, under convoy of the voyageurs,
made good record of what they saw, and they were good
observers as well as recorders. Of course this information spread by rumor, if not by manuscript and print,
and English enterprise used it. ENGLISH EXPLORATIONS AND AMBITIONS.      31
There was also a most valuable territory between the
Ohio, the Mississippi, and the Lakes, which Great Britain
was quite unwilling to yield after the wager of battle
went against her, conclusively, at Yorktown. She reluctantly conceded independence to the young republic,
but first insisted that its domain should not extend beyond the Ohio and its head waters. During the negotiations for the treaty of peace, the British Commissioner, Oswald, pressed his demands, long and arbitrarily,
for this restricting boundary. The American Commissioners, Franklin, Adams, and Jay, resisted, and claimed
that, as the Colonies, when dependent, had been accustomed to have territorial sovereignty west to the Mississippi and north to the Great Lakes, they should have
the same domain by their acknowledged independence.
That grand section seemed too much for the mother
country to yield, but the commissioners were firm, and it
was finally agreed that the dividing line should be a central one, from a certain point, up the St. Lawrence, and
through to the Great Lakes, and the smaller ones, to the
Lake of the Woods, and thence to the head of the Mississippi, and down it to the Spanish possessions.
This was a great bar to the extension of English supremacy westward, and a sad rebuff to its ambition in that
direction. The report of Carver on the northwest —
published in London — was fresh and tantalizing, and
this treaty boundary would not only give over a part of
that tempting region to the young republic, but place
the republic directly before the grand remainder, with
an open door between, and no resident keepers.
The bar and the rebuff seemed to beget in Great Britain an unfriendliness, if not a lack of good faith, for she
persisted in holding the posts of Oswego, Niagara, and 32     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Detroit, and four more, that were within our lines, for
ten years after she signed the treaty that gave them up.
They stood within the territory that Oswald contended
for, and reluctantly yielded; and appearances were that
the English were waiting for some mishap to the republic, for some contingency of war, or for some adroit diplomacy that would enable her to recover that region to
the crown.
The Indian wars that harrassed the border after the
Revolution, and nearly to the end of the century, were
known to have been instigated by English agents and
emissaries in the retained posts, and on the Canadian
borders. The object, as confessed by both Indian and
Englishman, was to keep emigration from the States
from passing beyond the Ohio. These agents encouraged
the notion in the Indian mind, that the proper and permanent boundary between the whites and the Indians
was the Ohio, as laid down in 1768 by Sir William Johnson, in the treaty of Fort Stanwix. It was not strange
that England should be reluctant to yield the richer
southern country, but by the final partition it only remained for her to make the most of her Canadas and the
snow lands beyond, and press a broader and deeper extension of them into the dim and mysterious west —
the great fur land of America. With the frozen north
on one side and the United States on the other, the only
chance for English growth in America was to lengthen
her dominion into the west, and make it a long and very
narrow parallelogram.
Into this wild region of woodland, river, and lake, and
of treeless wolds, heaths, and downs, like South American pampas, or the steppes of Asiatic tablelands, we
must now plunge, if we would keep in hand the converging threads of our narrativo in their western leading. CHAPTER VI.
THE  HUDSON  BAT  COMPANY.
The Hudson Bay Company was chartered by Charles
II. on the 16th of May, 1670. The original corporators
were eighteen, headed by Prince Rupert, and hence the
old name of Rupert's Land once given to that region.
The first object of the Company, as named in the charter
was, " the discovery of a new passage into the South Sea "
—the Pacific Ocean. During its first century the Company had done something in the line of geographical
discoveries in the northwestern parts of North America,
and were growing hopeless of an inland channel to the
Pacific.
As early as 1778 the celebrated Frobisher and others
had established a trading-post or " factory" on Lake
Athabasca, about twelve hundred miles from Lake Superior. Ten years later it was abandoned and Fort
Chipewayan was built as its substitute, on the southwest
shore of the same water. From this fort Sir Alexander
Mackenzie made an expedition to the Arctic and back,
following the river which now bears his name. This was
in the warm season of 1789, and was accomplished in
one hundred and two days. Three years later, and in
the autumn, he started with a purpose to explore a route
to the South Sea, the Pacific. From Lake Athabasca
he went up Peace River, to its head in the Rocky
Mountains. In that dreary solitude, so far from this
3
in 34    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
live and warm world, he made his winter quarters,
where he lay with his ten men, snow-bound, till May.
How that great fur-trader must have revelled in some
of those mountain scenes! On'one occasion he says :
" In some places the beavers had cut down several acres
of large poplars." A few Indians were found on the
line of travel. " They had heard, indeed, of white men,
but this was the first time that they had ever seen a
human being of a complexion different from their own."
We could hope that these first white men did not begin
to " civilize " them as they did the poor natives whom
they found on the Mackenzie four years before. " We
made them smoke, though it was evident that they did
not know the use of tobacco. We likewise supplied them
with grog, but I am disposed to think that they accepted
our civilities rather from fear than inclination."
A memorable and unprecedented sight met their eyes
in June of this year, 1793. They came to the divide,
and saw the waters separating, some for the Atlantic
and some for the Pacific. Never before had white men
seen streams running from the crown of the Rocky
Mountains to the great western ocean. In July they
came in sight of the sea, and were soon on its shores.
There, on a bold rock looking off toward Asia, this daring explorer painted in vermilion these words : " Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada by land, the twenty-
second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-
three." This was the first expedition of white men
across the continent to the Pacific Ocean. If we connect this inscription, in a historical comprehensiveness,
with explorations for the Straits of Anian, and with the
British fur trade in North America, and with the discussions and conclusion of the Oregon question, it will be THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY.
35
found that few sentences written in America were more
significant and full of consequence, and Worthy to be
put in rock.
The dates of these expeditions of Mackenzie are significant. We have noticed that the treaty closing the
Revolution left to the English only the wild countries
north of the United States. This was in 1783. Now
within ten years they had pressed exploration and occupation to the Pacific in the latitude of their Atlantic
possessions.
This Mackenzie was a man of remarkable power, and
he had few equals, if even one, in shaping British interests in North America to their highest attainment. He
soon foresaw, in his Pacific and Arctic expeditions, what
advantages could be made to come from them, and he
at once recommended the union of the Hudson Bay
and Northwest fur companies — for a long time fierce
and even bloody rivals — a line of commerce between
Canada and the Pacific, overland, and a permit from
the East India Company for trade direct between both
India and China and the northwest coast of America.
That trade, he suggests, is now " left to the adventurers
of the United States, acting without regularity or capital,
or the desire of conciliating future confidence, and looking only to the interest of the moment."    These sugges-
1 In the return of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Clark divis-.
ion came down the Yellowstone.     Twenty miles or so above the
mouth of the Big Horn stands a mass of yellow sandstone an acre in
base and four hundred feet high, called Pompey's Pillar.   About half
way up is cut this inscription: —
WM. CLARK,
July 25,1806.
It has more to do with the Republic than Mackenzie's, and is closely
associated with the signatures on the Declaration of Independence. 36      OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
tions were generally and promptly adopted by the English government and by the Hudson Bay Company.
The point reached by Mackenzie on the Pacific is
within the present limits of British Columbia on that
coast (53° 21'), and it was the first real, though undesigned step toward the occupation of Oregon by Great
Britain. That government was feeling its way, daringly and blindly, for all territory it might obtain, and, in
1793, came thus near the outlying region which afterwards became the coveted prize of our narrative.
The Hudson Bay Company was the most formidable
obstacle which lay between the United States and the
final confirmation of her right to Oregon. It contested,
persistently, every advance of the Republic in that direction, and it was the undelegated agent and very embodiment of Great Britain in North America. It will, therefore, aid much to make a brief survey of this Company.
Its two objects, as set forth in its charter, were " for
the discovery of a new passage into the South Sea, and
for the finding of some trade for furs, minerals, and
other considerable commodities." It may well be suspected that the first was the face and the second the
soul of the charter, which grants to the Company the
exclusive right of the " trade and commerce of all those
seas, straits, and bays, rivers, lakes, creeks, and sounds,
in whatsoever latitude they shall be, that lie within the
entrance of the straits commonly called Hudson Straits,"
of all lands bordering them not under any other civilized
government. This covered all territory, within that immense basin from rim to rim, one edge dipping into the
Atlantic and the other looking into the Pacific. Through
this vast extent the Company was made, for " all time
hereafter, capable in law, to have, purchase, receive, THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY.
37
possess, enjoy, and retain lands, rents, privileges, liberties, jurisdiction, franchise, and hereditaments of what
kind, nature, or quality soever they be, to them and
their successors." The company held that region as a
man holds his farm, or as the great bulk of real estate
in England is now held. They could legislate over and
govern it, bound only by the tenor and spirit of English
law, and make war and peace within it; and all persons
outside the Company could be forbidden to " visit, haunt,
frequent, trade, traffic, or adventure " therein. For all
this, and as a confession of allegiance to the crown as a
dependent colony and province, they were to pay annually as rent" two elks and two black beavers." Cheap
rent that, especially since the king or his agent must collect it on the ground of the Company. To dwell in the
territory or even to go across it would be as really a trespass as if it were done on the lawn of a private gentleman in Middlesex county, England.
Such were the chartered rights of a monopoly that
growing bolder and more grasping became at last continental in sweep, irresistible in power, and inexorable in
spirit. In 1821 the crown granted to this and the
Northwest Company united, and for a term of twenty-
one years, the exclusive right to trade with all Indians
in British North America, north and west of the United
States, and not included in the first charter. This grant-'
ed only trade, not ownership in the soil. Thus, while
the chartered territory was imperial, it grew, by granted
monopoly of trade, to be continental. By degrees the
trappers and traders went over the rim of the Hudson
basin, till they reached the Arctic seas along the outlets
of the Coppermine and the Mackenzie. They set beaver
traps on the Yukon and Fraser rivers, around the Ath-
'i II 38      OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
abasca, Slave, and Bear Lakes, and on the heads of the
Columbia. From the adjacent Pacific shores they lined
their treasury with the soft coats of the fur seal and the
sea-otter. They were the pioneers of this traffic, and-
pressed this monopoly of fur on the sources, not only of
the Mississippi and Missouri, but down into the Salt
Lake basin of modern Utah. What minor and rival
companies stood in the way they bought in, or crushed
by underselling to the Indians. Individual enterprise
in the fur trade, from Newfoundland to Vancouver, and
from the head of the Yellowstone to the mouths of the
Mackenzie, was at their mercy. They practically controlled the introduction of supplies and the outgoing of
furs and peltries from all the immense region between
those four points.
Within the Canadas and the other Provinces they
held the Indian and the European equally at bay, while
within all this vast unorganized wilderness, their hand
over red and white man was absolute. At first the Company could govern as it pleased, and was autocratic and
irresponsible. By additional legislation in 1803, the
civil and criminal government of the Canadas was made
to follow the Company into lands outside their first
charter commonly called Indian Countries. The Governor of Lower Canada had the appointing power of officials within those countries. But he did not send in
special men ; he appointed those connected with the
Company and on the ground. The Company, therefore,
had the administration in those outside districts in its own
hands. Thus the commercial life of the Canadas was so
dependent on the Hudson Bay Company that the government could be counted on to promote the wishes of
the Company.     In  brief,   the  government of British THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY.
39
America was practically the Hudson Bay Company,
and for all tlie privilege and monopoly which it enjoyed
without seeming to demand it, there was an annual payment if called for of " two elks and two black beavers."
This Company thus became a powerful organization.
It had no rival to share the field, or waste the. profits in
litigation, or in bloody feuds beyond the region of law.
It extended its lines, multiplied its posts and agents,- systematized communication through the immense hunting
grounds, economized time and funds by increased expedition, made many of its factories really fortifications,
and so put the whole northern interior under British
rule, and yet without a soldier. Rivers, lakes, mountains, and prairies were covered by its agents and trappers. The white and the red man were on most friendly
terms, and the birch canoe, and the pirogue were seen
carrying, in mixed company, both races, and, what was
more, their mixed progeny.
The extent of territory under this Company seems
almost fabulous. It was one-third larger than all
Europe ; it was larger than the United States of to-day,
Alaska included, by half a million of square miles.
From the American headquarters at Montreal to the
post on Vancouver was a distance, of twenty-five hundred miles; to Fort Selkirk on the Yukon, or to the one
on Great Bear Lake, it was three thousand miles, and it
was still farther to the rich fur seal and sea-otter on the
tide waters of the Mackenzie. James Bay and the Red
River at Winnipeg seem near to Montreal in comparison. These distances would compare well with air-line
routes from Washington to Dublin, or Gibraltar, or
Quito. This power, so extensive and monopolizing the
American side of the British throne — was reaching out
and preparing to enfold Oregon. 40      OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
One contemplates this power with awe and fear, when
he regards the even motion and solemn silence and unvarying sameness with which it has done its work
through that dreary animal country. It has been said
that a hundred years has not changed its bills of goods
ordered from London. The Company wants the same
muskrat and beaver and seal; the Indian hunter, unimproved, and the half-breed European, deteriorating,
want the same cotton goods, and flint-lock guns, and tobacco and gew-gaws.
To-day, as a hundred years ago, the dog-sledge runs
out from Winnipeg for its solitary drive of five hundred,
or two thousand, or even three thousand miles. It glides,
silent as a spectre, over those snow-fields and through
the solemn, still forests, painfully wanting in animal life.
Fifty, seventy, an hundred days it speeds along, and as
many nights it camps without fire, and looks up to the
same cold stars. At the intervening posts the sledge
makes a pause, as a ship, having rounded Cape Horn,
heaves to before some lone Pacific island. It is the same
at the trader's hut or factory as when the sledge-man's
grandfather drove up, the same dogs, the same half-
breeds or voyageurs to welcome him, the same foul,
lounging Indians, and the same mink-skin in exchange
for the same trinket. The fur animal and its purchaser
and hunter, as the landscape, seem to be alike under
the same immutable, unprogressive law of nature: —
"Aland where all things always seemed the same,"
as among the lotus-eaters. Human progress and Indian
civilization have made scarcely more improvement than
that central, silent partner in the Hudson Bay Company — the beaver. THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY.
41
It is said, with an accusing comparison, that the English get along more peacefully than the Americans in
their Indian policy. Let the Jamestown colony leave
the Indians in perpetual quiet in their wigwams up the
James, and the Pilgrims their savage and pagan neighbors back of Plymouth woods ; pay them in finery and
cheap fabrics for tending steel-traps ; and give their emigrating sons to their tawny daughters, and you will have
no troublesome Indian question, and — no United States
of America. England has obtained peace in her Indian
territories, and what else ? Splendid dividends in Hudson Bay Company stock. The same wants and articles
of exchange on both sides at the end of a century, never
rising to the demand and supply of a plough as an article of usual shipment and use.
One feels toward the power of this Company, moving
thus with evenness and immutability through a hundred
years, much as one does toward a law of nature. At
Fort Selkirk, for example, the fifty-two numbers of the
weekly London " Times " came in on the last sledge arrival. The first number is already three years old, by its
tedious voyage from the Thames. Now one number only
a week is read that the lone trader there may have fresh
news weekly till the next annual dog-mail arrives, and
each successive number is three years behind time when
opened! In this day of steamers and telegraphs and
telephones, does it seem possible that any human, white
habitation can be so outside of the geography and chronology of this world ?
The goods of the Company, packed and shipped in
Fenchurch Street, leave London, and at the end of the
third year they are delivered at Fort Confidence on
Great Bear Lake, or at any other extreme" factory of 42     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
the Company; and at the end of three years more the
return furs go up the Thames and into Fenchurch Street
again. So in cycles of six years, and from age to age,
like a planet, the shares in the Hudson Bay Company
make their orbit and dividends. A run of three months
and the London ship drops anchor in Hudson Bay.
| For one year," says Butler, in his " Great Lone Land,"
" the stores that she has brought in lie in the warehouse
of York Factory; twelve months later they reach Red
River ; twelve months later they reach Fort Simpson on
the Mackenzie."
The original stock of this Company was $50,820. In
fifty years it was tripled twice by profits only, and went
up to $457,380, while not one new dollar was paid in.
In 1821 the Company absorbed the North-west Company
of Montreal, on a basis of value equal to its own. The
consolidated stock then was $1,916,000, of which $1,-
780,866 was from profits. Yet, meanwhile, there had
been an annual payment of ten per cent, to stockholders.
In 1836 one of the Company's ships left Fort George
for London, with a cargo of furs valued at $380,000.1
A further illustration of this rapid increase in value
should be mentioned here. Prior to 1837 men from
the United States had begun to promote agriculture in
Oregon by the planting of colonies. To offset this movement and hold the territory by colonies of its own, the
Company, with its surplus funds, organized and put into
operation the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, as
another department of their work. When the English
government, in 1846, conceded the claims of the United
States to Oregon, property of the Hudson Bay Company was found within Oregon for which that Company
claimed $4,990,036.67.    The lands, buildings, and im-
1 A History of Oregon, 1870.   By W. H. Gray, pp. 68, 69, 83. THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY.
43
provements, generally, of this Puget Sound Company,
made a large item in the total amount claimed as damages. To such an extent had this company of Hudson
Bay traders grown in territory, government, business,
capital, dividends, and presumed damages, when called
on to retire from their trespass in Oregon. In view
of such a competitor it is surprising that the United
States should have succeeded in recovering its original
and long alienated rights in that country. Nor would
it have succeeded but for its hardy frontiersmen. Our
vast border of wild land has furnished, and is still furnishing, a class of people peculiar to ourselves. They
disappear beyond the line of cabins and plowed fields
and courts and locks to be a community and a law
unto themselves. The constitution and statutes and
by-laws to which they own allegiance are in their rifle
and revolver and saddle. Organized law and order-
follow tardily under the flag, and much more tardily
the Bible and the spelling-book of benevolent societies.
While indispensable to our magnificent growth in settlements and American institutions, they are neglected,
as beyond reach, and unworthy of attention, and a
hopeless class. While we succeed, thousands of miles
off, in teaching cannibals to prefer beef, we reproach
these Americans three generations from a New England
or any other school-house for being rough and lawless
and unchristian.
One cannot but admire the foresight, compass, policy,
and ability with which those English fur-traders moved
to gain possession, and then keep in wilderness for fur-
breeding, so much of North America. Their agents
gained a kind of ubiquity, wherever there could be
found the beaver, the land and sea otter, the fisher and OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
mink, the muskrat, wolf, wolverine, and the many
foxes of commerce, the sable, raccoon, and rabbit, the
black, brown, and grizzly bear, and the lumbering buffalo. The sale of rabbit skins in London alone in one
year was ordinarily thirteen hundred thousand.
For these fur-bearing animals the hunters of this Company were almost everywhere in the wild half of North
America. One could seldom travel long and far without
crossing their trail or springing their steel-traps. Their
birch was on the lake, or headed up to it, silent and
graceful as the wild-duck; and around and over those
swampy acres flowed by the beaver-dam, they glided
stealthily. In that sunny nook, far up in the Rockies,
where the grass is last to go and first to come, and in more
north-western regions never fails, one may see the smoke
curling'up cliffs and blackening the snows around their
cosy huts. Where wide-awake Omaha and Council Bluffs
now bridge the Missouri, they were, as to-day they are
in the perpetual verdure of Vancouver. They are at
Fort McPherson and the mouths of the Mackenzie,
where icebergs come drifting in, perhaps across the track
of the lost Franklin, and they are basking, too, in a
six weeks' summer on the upper Yukon, after a pack of
ten months in snow and ice. When Lewis and Clark
were going through our new purchase to examine it, and
were fifteen hundred miles up the Missouri, they found
a McCraken of this Company trading with the Indians.
After they had gone into winter quarters in December,
1804, among the Mandans, one Henderson visited them.
He had a Hudson Bay trading-post eight days north.
It was as if that Company had picketed all the wild interior, and this watchful sentinel had challenged the
advance of intruders. THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY.
45
Travelers tell us of an oppressive, painful silence
through all that weird northland. Quadruped life, and
the scanty little that there is of bird life is not vocal,
much less musical. This Company has partaken of the
silence of its domain. It makes but little noise for so
great an organization. It says but few things and only
the necessary ones, and even those with an obscurity
often, that only the interested and initiated understand.
The statements of its works and results are mostly in
the passive voice.
It may be well to note here how far the Hudson Bay
Company hindered discoveries in North America. According to its charter its first object was " the discovery
of a new passage into the South Sea," but the Company
put various hindrances in the way of such enterprises,
as if success in this line would open a highway through
their monopoly, or plant rivals on their border.
In his history of Arctic Voyages Sir John Barrow
says that when the Company came into a prosperous
state of affairs " the north-west passage seems to have
been entirely forgotten, not only by the adventurers who
had obtained their exclusive charter under this pretext,
but also by the nation at large; at least nothing more appears to have been heard on the subject for more than
half a century."
When, in 1719, Mr. Knight, its governor, proposed
that two vessels be sent to look up a rumored copper
mine at the mouth of a river on the Arctic, the Company
refused the proposal. In 1741 one Dobbs secured such
an expedition from the Company, and yet they showed
such indifference and even hostility to it that he says in
his narrative: " The Company avoid all they can making discoveries to the northward of Churchill, or extend- OREGON: THE -STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
ing their trade that way, for fear they should discover" a
passage to the western ocean of America, and tempt by
that means the rest of the English merchants to lay open
their trade." Commenting on this passage, Sir John
says:" They not only discouraged all attempts at northern
discovery, but withheld what little information came to
their knowledge." The next year Captain Middleton
was commissioned by the Lords of the Admiralty to explore the northern and western waters of Hudson Bay,
for any connection with the Arctic. He was openly accused of taking a bribe of five thousand pounds from the
Company to make his expedition a failure, as it was.
Then the government, as if struggling against the Company, offered a reward of twenty thousand pounds to
any party who would make a success of it. When, in
1746, an exploring party were aground in the vicinity
of Fort York, the Governor of the Company cut down
the beacon, that the wreck might be made sure. In
1769 the Company, to keep up appearances, and the letter of their charter, sent one of their number, Mr. Hearne,
overland, with a party to discover a rumored copper
mine. He went out over twelve hundred miles, and yet
made but one observation to fix latitude, and added but
a trifle to the knowledge of those northern regions,
though he went as far as the Coppermine River. Twenty
years later they sent Mackenzie to the same vicinity,
and he brought back even less information. Though
the river seemed to have a tide he did not even taste the
water to see whether it were salt and he near the sea..
In 1790 a Mr. Duncan was sent out by the Governor to
make explorations in a certain vessel of the Company.
But when he arrived at the post the men there pretended that the vessel was unseaworthy, and he gave up the THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY.
47
expedition, though they used the vessel for twenty years
afterward. When he was carrying out his plan the
next year his crew mutinied, encouraged by his first officer, who was a servant of the Company.
Thus it appears that the Hudson Bay Company obstructed the progress of geographical and general discovery in North America; and we shall see that it did
the same as to the increase of English commerce and
the growth of English settlements and civilization in the
same vast regions. CHAPTER VII.
ENGLISH  MONOPOLY  OF THE  FRONTIER.
It required a second treaty, 1794, to bring the English to a surrender of the seven military posts within the
United States, which they agreed to surrender by the
Treaty of 1783. As we have already seen, they continued to hold these for Indian trade, to stimulate hostility
to immigration, and as good bases for working their own
interests in recovering territory beyond the Ohio, if
things should go unfavorably for the young Republic.
But the growing compactness of the Republic as a union
of states, and its natural increase in population and
general strength, held out but poor hopes for Great
Britain in this purpose.
In 1751 the English, through the Ohio Company,
planned to remove the French from the region of the
Ohio, and after much diplomacy and fighting, here and
there, they succeeded, on the Plains-of Abraham, in
wresting from them all their claims east of the Mississippi. " For the acquisition of this great and fertile region," says Monette, " Great Britain had contended with
France for more than sixty years, at an immense cost of
blood and treasure, expended in no less than five long
and expensive wars, and great human suffering by sea
and land."1
It is not surprising, therefore, that Great Britain
1 Monette's History of the Mississippi Valley, 1846, vol. i. 440. ENGLISH MONOPOLY OF THE FRONTIER.      49
strenuously urged the Ohio as the western limit of the
now independent colonies. When she reluctantly consented to carry the line to the Great Lakes and river, it
was in accordance with her previous policy that she did
not keep her promise promptly in vacating the strongholds in the ceded territory. England had adopted a
similar course, and successfully, when France gained the
Hudson Bay country»-by the Treaty of Ryswick. • At
that time she shuffled and hesitated over the stipulated
surrender, and held Fort Albany, on James Bay,, till her
reacquisition of the whole by the Treaty of Utrecht.
In 1779 the Spanish on the lower Mississippi being
in sympathy with the revolutionary colonies, moved to
expel the English from West Florida, and were successful, with the exception of Pensacola, the capital. To
avenge these Wrongs and divert the Spanish forces from
the south the English commander at Mackinaw, in 1780,
organized an attack on St. Louis, the capital of Upper
Louisiana — then a Spanish proviuce. His force consisted of about one hundred and fifty British and Canadian regulars and fourteen hundred Indians. The mixed
Spanish, French, and Indian town had a stockade defence with a few cannon and some light arms. The
Spanish governor was not free from suspicion of dealing
treacherously, and, but for the timely arrival, on express
call, of General George Rogers Clark from Kaskaskia,
the United States officer in charge of the Illinois country, the result must have been serious in the extreme.
As it was, about sixty citizens were killed, but the attack
was a failure. The year is registered in the annals of
that frontier and wilderness town as U Annee du Coup.
If the English had succeeded, their possession of St.
Louis would probably have given to them Upper Louis-
4 THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
iana in the capture of its capital. At least it would
have embarrassed, and perhaps prevented, the retrocession of it by Spain to France in 1800, and so its sale to the
United States in 1803. Thus, possibly, the old ambition of England might have obtained on the west bank
of the Mississippi a substitute for its painful loss on the
east of it.
This, very likely, would have *ade the Oregon question impossible ; and perhaps would have left that western slope of the great valley in hands that we have seen
were fast taking possession of it. If so, and the Hudson Bay Company had allowed no more settlement
and civilization there than in their original field, they
might now be skinning buffalo on the wheat farms of
Illinois, Minnesota, and Dakota, and catching beavers
and grizzlies where Americans have honeycombed the
mountains for gold and silver, and built factories and
cities, and stretched out railroads.
It was very clear that the fur-trade would be ruined
in the northwest if immigration poured into that region.
Hence the agents and servants of this traffic excited the
natives against the innovating settlements, from the independence of the colonies to the War of 1812. Our
entire domain beyond the Alleghanies, south to the
Gulf, and north to the Lakes, was in an uneasy and critical relation to the government in 1794 and thereabout.
It had no direct communication over the mountains with
the Atlantic, for the transportation of its productions,
and only fickle, expensive, and annoying permits from
the Spanish for passage down the valley to the Gulf.
It was not in easy and frequent communication with
the States, and with the national administration at
Philadelphia, and was both tempted to secession, and ENGLISH MONOPOLY OF THE FRONTIER.     51
provoked toward war with the Spanish in the southwest. Within a few years of the close of the last
century, and in the opening ones of this, there were
four tendencies among the Americans beyond the mountains, with a chance that one or more might develop into
a sectional faction: Secession and an independent government : Annexation to the Province of Louisiana:
War with Spain to gain the Mississippi River: Union
of the territory between the Ohio, Mississippi, and Gulf
with the Province of Louisiana under a foreign protectorate. Probably Washington never showed more of the
combination of the general and the statesman than when,
ten years before, he made the tour of the West,' and
then wrote to Governor Harrison of Virginia and the
father of the President: " I need not remark to you
that the flank and roar of the United States are possessed by other powers, and formidable ones too. . . .
How entirely unconnected with them shall, we be, and
what troubles may we not apprehend, if the Spaniards
onJJie right and Great Britain on the left, instead of
throwing stumbling-blocks in the way, as they now do,
should hold out lures for their trade and alliance ! When
they gain strength, which will be sooner than most people conceive. . . . The Western States hang upon
a pivot. The touch of a feather would turn them any
way." *
As early as 1787 the Spanish authorities in the southwest took active measues to seduce sections of our domain there into secession, and lead them to join the
Spanish Province of Louisiana. To this project General Wilkinson, our military head of the southwest, is
strongly suspected of having given not only ear, but aid,
1 Irving's Life of Washington, vol. iv. 454-459. 52     OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
and to have received heavy pecuniary bribes. This suspicion and almost assurance covered him from this date
to the exposure and suppression of Burr's conspiracy to
draw the southwest into a revolt, in the years 1805—7.
A bundle of private letters in my possession, written
about that time by one who was afterwards an eminent
citizen of Missouri, distinctly asserts this suspicion.
Quite lately Gayarre, the historian of Louisiana, is said
to have discovered in the archives at Seville the secret
correspondence of Wilkinson with the Spanish officials,
showing that he and others received bribes and entered
into negotiations, to annex Kentucky and Tennessee to
the then Spanish dominion of Louisiana. Indeed it was
with great peril that the United States maintained supremacy over her own territory in that region against
the schemes of the Spanish and French.
The most serious and obvious danger, however, was
English, since Great Britain, from the strongholds she
retained, fed and armed and incited the Indians", who, in
marauding parties, made raids upon the frontier and
held in check the growth of settlement. These annoyances and dangers continued with but little cessation, and
with other causes brought on the War of 1812. Te-
cumseh, a man of great native talent, activity, and per-
sistance, had opposed the treaties that gave to the whites
the lands beyond the Ohio. From the days of the Revolution he had stood forth as the great Indian statesman
and warrior of the west. The English used him, with his
brother, the Prophet, to rouse and combine the Indians
all along the frontier, from the Lakes to the Gulf. General Harrison, afterward president, met Tecumseh, with
a score or more of his chiefs, in council at Vincennes,
1811, for a friendly settlement of grievances.    The im- ENGLISH MONOPOLY OF THE FRONTIER.
53
perious and insolent sachem broke up the conference,
and Harrison soon after carried the questions to the
battle of Tippecanoe, where there was a total defeat of
the Indians. That battle opened the War of 1812, in
which, among other issues, the English made an effort
to recover the northwest, and so carry a monopoly to
the Pacific, but in this they failed.
But while Great Britain, the nation, was thus struggling and failing, the Hudson Bay Company, the corporation which, practically, was Great Britain in North
America, was silently coming into actual possession in
the deeper wilderness between the Mississippi and the
Pacific. The United States, it is true, had come into
legal possession of that magnificent country, but not into
occupation. The issue, therefore, between the mother
country, ambitious for territory, and the growing repub-'
lie was to be made in a farther west, and the national
title to Oregon was to be determined on its immediate
border, and within its limits.
After the Treaty of 1783, in the settlement of the
Revolution, the boundary was to be run, according to
agreement, between the United States and the British possessions. In attempting and at last completing
this work, the same old Saxon greed for land showed
itself. At first it might seem an easy and brief labor
to run the lines, yet before the work was done, eighty-
nine years passed by.
Both parties to the war were wearied of the strife,
and were willing to guess jointly on a river head, or
late point, or mountain height, and so fix bounds, and
thence run treaty lines on paper, through wild lands unknown to each. Thus the northwest point of the Lake
of the Woods was assumed for one bound from which 54    OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
the line was to run, to the north-western point of the
Lake, and thence " due west" to the Mississippi. The
clause in the treaty reads thus : " to the said Lake of the
Woods, thence through the said Lake to the most northwestern point thereof, and from thence on a due west
course to the river Mississippi." But the head of that
river proved to be a hundred miles or so to the south.
So that little prominence in our otherwise straight
boundary on the north is the bump of ignorance developed by two nations. The St. Croix was fixed by treaty
as the boundary on the northeast, but a special " Joint
Commission " was required in 1794 to determine " what
river is the St. Croix," and four years afterward this
Commission called for an addition to their instructions
since their original ones were not broad enough to enable them to determine the true St. Croix.
Still nothing was agreed to by actual lines and bounds,
and in 1814 another Joint Commission was appointed,
but in an entirely new field. At this time the work
was to determine what islands should belong to the
United States between Florida and Nova Scotia. In the
same year, however, another set of Commissioners began
the running of the boundary from the head of the St.
Croix, by the head of the Connecticut to the St. Lawrence, and thence through the middle of its channel and
the middle of the Lakes, to the outlet of. Lake Superior.
After a labor of seven and a half years in mapping, naming, and dividing about one hundred and eighty islands
along this middle channel, the Corps of Commissioners
and civil engineers arrived with their line at the Sault ^fe.
Marie. Still it remained to carry the line through Lake
Superior and to the Lake of the Woods, which in due time
was accomplished, and in 1818 it was agreed to by the ENGLISH MONOPOLY OF THE FRONTIER.      55
Commissioners, though not run on the forty-ninth parallel from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains.
Yet this was not without hindrances and anxieties.
The negotiations were carried on at London, and both
parties were still in ignorance of the location, in latitude
and longitude, of the old bound — the north-west point
of the Lake of the Woods. It was agreed, therefore, to
run north or south from it, as the case might require, till
the forty-ninth parallel should be struck, and then on
that parallel to the mountains. The English Commissioners, still painfully reluctant to part with the coveted
and long-struggled-for Mississippi Valley, endeavored to
secure for English subjects over the line, a right of way
to the Mississippi River, and free navigation of the
same.
It was probably a fair hundred miles across the country from the nearest British territory to the upper heads
of that river, where the Mississippi begins in some trout
brook. Thence its waters run more than three thousand
miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It was a bold, English
request, that they be permitted to traverse that belt and
avail themselves of that navigation, where they had no
foot of land. It was a vain endeavor of course, and with
a longing, lingering, and last look on that splendid valley, they turned away, and set their faces " due west"
on the latitude of forty-nine.
Therefore in the London negotiations of 1818 there
was a suspension of line running westward. A compromise followed, the joint occupation of Oregon for
ten years was the result, and in 1827 the compromise of
joint occupation was renewed, and was to run indefinitely, but terminable by a notice of one year given by either
party. 56     OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Meanwhile the line between the St. Croix and the
St. Lawrence remained undecided, and the Ashburton-
Webster Treaty of 1842 fixed it. Four years later
another Joint Commission was raised to run the northwestern boundary line from the mountains to the " middle of the channel" between the mainland and Vancouver Island. But when the Commission came to the
Pacific coast they could not agree on the " middle of the
Channel."
In 1871 the question was submitted to the Emperor
of Germany as final arbiter on the meaning of the
phrase," middle of the Channel," and which channel it
called for; and in 1872 he affirmed the claim of the
United States.
Thus, under eight treaties, with fifteen specifications
of work to be done, and running through eighty-nine
years, this boundary question was prolonged to its conclusion.
This summary of the boundary questions between the
United States and Great Britain will show with what
tenacity England held to her land claims, and land
chances too, and with what protesting reluctance she receded north and west before the United States. The
summary will aid, too, in showing how the two nations
slowly and earnestly closed in around the coveted Oregon. For fourscore years distance from the. prize had
kept them cool and steady in the straggle, but now the
two parties, standing together and looking down on that
prize from the crown of the Rocky Mountains, warmed
into an ardor which could only increase till one of them
should take it. CHAPTER VIII.
ASTORIA ;  ITS  FOUNDING  AND  FAILURE.
When, in 1818, the Joint Boundary Commission
agreed on the parallel of forty-nine, and carried it west
to the mountains, and would have continued it to the
Pacific, they were stopped by fur-traders, who Had, practically, set up two nationalities in the territory, each of
which was striving for the whole. It came about in this
way.
When the Commissioners were trying, in 1794, to determine " what river is the St. Croix," Mackenzie had
just returned from a tour from Montreal to the Arctic
and Pacific oceans. This tour was the first. .sign of
white.men, and of a new order of things in the wilds
beyond the mountains. The openings and possibilities
for trade made known by Mackenzie's tours were discussed, not only at Fort Chippewa, on Athabasca, but
at York Factory as well, and in London too. Unmeasured territory and untold wealth seemed to be
suddenly revealed to the English fur-trade, and one
company, the Northwest of Montreal, at once began
preparations to enter it.
The tour of Lewis and Clark, 1804-6, made the Eng-
lish jealous lest the Americans should gain the advance;
and in 1805, before the American explorers had returned,
the Northwest Company dispatched an expedition under one Laroque, to occupy the Columbia with trad- 58    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
ing-posts. They, however, did not proceed beyond the
Mandan village on the Missouri. But in the year following Mr. Fraser left Fort Chippewa, crossed the
mountains, and planted an establishment on Fraser Lake.
This was the first settlement made by the English west
of the mountains. Other posts were soon planted by the
same Company, and the region was called New Caledonia.
The return of Lewis and Clark, the next year, stimulated individual enterprise in occupying the new American purchase and magnificent fur lands. The struggles
of competitors were sharp and serious at times, but were
finally compromised in the organization of the American
Fur Company, in 1808, with head-quarters at St. Louis.
They started trading-posts on the sources of the Mississippi and Missouri, and some on the other side of the
mountains. Mr. Henry, one of their agents, established
Post Henry, on Lewis River, and, so far as appears, this
was the first trading factory of any white people in territory drained by the Columbia.
The long-deferred contest for Oregon was now fairly
opened, not by ministers of state, but by daring and
frontier business men, who it will be finally seen closed
the contest. They were the primaries of the two competing governments. Two overland expeditions to the
Pacific, led by Mackenzie, and by Lewis and Clark, had
challenged each other for the grand prize, and the two
primaries stood at Fraser Lake and Post Henry.
John Jacob Astor made the next prominent movement in the direction of Oregon. Mr. Astor was a man
of broad business vision and keen perception in financial
lines. He had such a passion for fur that his whole nervous organization seemed to thrill with the ruffling and ASTORIA: ITS FOUNDING AND FAILURE.      59
smoothing of some rare and choice skins. He probably
never looked on a prime black beaver or one of those
heavy, pulpy sea-otter skins without coveting it, and
never let one slide out of his sensitive hands without reluctance.
An incident will show his eye for business. He was
a German immigrant, and when first coming upon our
coast in Chesapeake Bay, a terrible storm and thin icefloes made the wreck of the ship in which he sailed almost a certainty. While thus in long and increasing
perils, young Astor came on deck, to the surprise of his
stricken and hopeless companions, in his best suit of
clothes. His explanation was that if he escaped with
life his clothes would be all he could save, and he would
save his best. That habit of forethought for the main
chance grew with his years, and finally placed him in
the first line of millionaires in America. When I used
to see him on the streets of New York he was supported between two stout men, much bowed over, so
that he could not look up to see even his own merchant
blocks, where every brick represented a beaver and
every faced stone a sea-otter.
At the age of forty Mr. Astor was well established
in his favorite business on the Great Lakes and their
rivers, where this western and Pacific opening was made
tempting to daring men. His quick eye saw the chances,
not only for his fascinating fur-trade, in the mountains
and on the shores beyond, but for a half-way house
on the Columbia between New York and China, for
his general Asiatic trade. The scope and verge of the
new field opened fairly to the compass of the man, who
had a continental grasp in his business hand. His general plan was to build a substantial and fortified trading-
II 60    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
post at the mouth of the Columbia, as a place of deposit
for goods and their exchanges with Indians, trappers,
and small traders. To this post he would, with the cooperation of government, open a comfortable and protected overland route to facilitate general traffic and settlements westward. From the post he would trade up
and down the Pacific, and thence to Canton and on the
old line of commerce to London and New York. It was
a plan of excellent strategy, even if designed only to
take possession of Oregon for the United States, and
such a government as patronizes an East India or Hudson Bay Company would have so regarded and used it.
But the old east of the United States has never measured and appreciated and anticipated the new west.
" When they gain strength, which will be sooner than
most people conceive." Washington said that of the
west, after his tour through the region, and its truth
holds yet. The growing strength of the new country
is surprising the expectations and surpassing the belief
of the old thirteen states every year. The centre of
population and of wealth and of voting and political
power has long since gone over the mountains, and into
the very region of which Washington spoke, and with
more rapid steps is going on to a farther west. The
east has always been slow to know this and own it, and
make the most and the best of it. Astor seemed to
see farther as a.foreigner than the native born, and an- .
ticipated the movement of the nation across the Mississippi, where so much of it is to-day.
He started an overland expedition from St. Louis for
the Columbia in 1810, consisting of about sixty persons. After a journey of fifteen months and much suffering, this company, reduced by death, arrived at As- ASTORIA: ITS FOUNDING AND FAILURE.
61
toria. A company of about the same number mado
shorter time and arrived earlier by the way of Cape
Horn. After building and properly fortifying Astoria,
the vessel, the Tonquin, in which this last company
came, ran up the coast on a trading cruise, where the
crew were all murdered by the Indians, with the exception of one, who managed to blow up the ship, when
crowded with plundering natives, and one hundred of
them, with himself, perished in the act.
In anticipation of possible mishaps, Astor sent out the
Beaver to follow the Tonquin, with a duplicate of her
cargo and freight. She supplied the needs of the young
post, after the sad fate of her associate, and then, loading with furs at Sitka, the Russian head-quarters, she
put out, homeward, and for trade by the way of Canton.
At this port the Beaver learned of the war between the
United States and Great Britain, and, not daring to put
out, lay by there till the war closed. Unfortunately
Mr. Hunt, the agent of Astor, had gone in the Beaver
as far as the Sandwich Islands. There he also was detained when news of the war arrived. In 1813 Astor
sent forward his third vessel, the Lark, which became a
total loss, by shipwreck, on the Sandwich Islands. The
Lark carried instructions to Mr. Hunt to protect Astoria, and Mr. Hunt, receiving these instructions, at once
sailed for that place with supplies.
Another in the series of misfortunes awaited him
here, for he learned, on arrival, that a majority of the
partners with Mr. Astor in this enterprise had sold out
to the Northwest Fur Company of Montreal — a British concern, and one in which some of those who sold
out Astoria were concerned. The sale was not free
from the suspicion that it was both dishonorable and dis- 62    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
honest. Mr. Astor valued the property at $200,000,
and received for it about $40,000. Before this sale, the
Astor company, called the Pacific Fur Company, had
established two other trading-posts in the interior, and
had there come into competition if not conflict with the
Northwest Company. These two were included in the
sale.1
We have already noticed the plan of the Northwest
Company to occupy the mouth of the Columbia, in advance of the return of Lewis and Clark, and thus to
hold the whole interior drained by that river. But
Laroque failed in the endeavor. In the summer of
1811, after Astoria was established, a party of the
Northwest Company came down to the spot, with the
hope of occupying it in advance of the Americans.
They had been dispatched from Canada in the preceding
year to do this. But they were delayed in finding a
passage through the mountains, and being compelled
to winter on their ridges they came down the Columbia
to find Astoria already founded.
The leading partner in it, and the one who afterward
led off in its sale, received them in a friendly and hospitable way, and not as rivals ; when they returned from
their vain expedition, he supplied them, not only with
provisions, but with goods for trading .purposes up the
river, where they established trading huts among, the
Indians, and became rivals of the Americans. Strange
to say, when the question of priority of occupation and
of national sovereignty was under discussion at London,
fifteen years afterward, the English put in these huts of
this returning company, as proof that the English were
as early as if not earlier in the Columbia than the Amer-
1 Irving's Astoria. ASTORIA: ITS FOUNDING AND FAILURE.      63
icans. In the following year two other agents of the
Northwest Company were received at Astoria in the
same genial way, though the existing war was known at
Astoria, and on their return they also were supplied
with provisions and goods for trade by the way. Private conference between the two parties was produced
afterward, as evidence of the treachery and dishonor
then maturing against Mr. Astor and his company and
the Americans generally.
Before the war Great Britain asked the United
States to favor the Northwest Company as against Mr.
Astor. This they declined to do, but immediately on
the opening of the war, the English government dispatched a naval force to the Columbia with orders " to
take and destroy everything American on the Northwest Coast." On arrival they were mortified and indignant that Astoria had already passed into English
hands, and therefore that no plunder or prize-money
awaited them. They had but the barren and ceremonial service to perform of running up the English flag,
to call the post St. George, and sail for home. This
was in 1813.
Therefore, to the great satisfaction of British interests in fur in North America, the American adventurers
were first dishonorably bought out and crowded out on
'the Pacific, and then the position which they occupied
was put under the British flag. By bad faith on the
part of his Canadian associates, and by the chances of
war, Mr. Astor was defeated in his broad plan. As a
consequence grave anxieties overshadowed the American interests on that coast. We wait and watch to see
how the rivals proceed, and who prospers. CHAPTER IX.
FACE  TO   FACE:   AMERICA  AND   ENGLAND.
iHM
II
War was declared by the United States against
Great Britain, June 12, 1812, and the treaty of peace
was signed at Ghent, December 14, 1814. By this
treaty it was agreed that " all territory, places, and possessions whatsoever, taken by either party from the
other during the war . . . shall be restored without
delay." This would seem to cover Astoria and call for
its immediate surrender by the English authority. The
next year, therefore, President Monroe informed the
British Charge at Washington that he should at once
reoccupy Astoria. Affairs lingered till 1817, when a
vessel was put in readiness for that object. Then Mr.
Bagot, the English plenipotentiary at Washington, opposed the step. He made two points of objection.
One was that the post of Astoria was sold by the
Pacific Company to the Northwest Company before
. the war, and therefore had never been captured. But
as such sale would convey only the use of the land with-
the property on it, and as a citizen cannot sell land so
as to give it over to another government, he made another point, that " the territory itself was early taken
possession of in his majesty's name, and had been since
considered as forming part of his majesty's dominions."
Under pressure of Mr. Rush,  our minister  at  the
Court of St. James, repossession was granted, but the FACE TO FACE: AMERICA AND ENGLAND.     65
questions of absolute title, as to the point which government should own Oregon, the English reserved for a
future settlement. So the English flag was hauled
down, the Stars and Stripes went up, and the name
. was changed back from St. George to Astoria. This
was in 1818.1
An incident will show with what tenacity England
held to Oregon, and with what adroitness and pretense
she struggled for its possession. When the question
came up again, in 1826, who should own that territory,
her ministry pleaded that Mr. Bagot was instructed,
privately and in conversation, to allow the Americans
to return to Astoria only as tenants at will, and that he
must assert the absolute claim of Great Britain, and
that an American settlement on the Columbia must be
regarded as an encroachment and trespass. What she
claimed to have then said, in private and unwritten instructions to her agent, no copy of which was made or
notice served on the United States, she now made a
basis of claim to sovereignty in the country, eight years
afterward. To make private and unwritten instructions
to an agent, held by him only in memory, a basis for a
claim to territorial title, has at least the merit of freshness and novelty in the records of diplomacy.
The Honorable Rufus Choate, that rare scholar and
jurist, had good reason for his words, spoken in his place
in the Senate, when, years afterward, the Oregon question was a very warm one in Congress.
" Keep your eye always open, like the eye of your
own eagle, upon the Oregon. Watch day and night.
If any new developments of policy break forth, meet
1 Message of President Monroe, April 17, 1822, and accompanying
Documents.
5 THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
them. If the times change, do you change. New things
in a new world. Eternal vigilance is the condition of
empire as well as of liberty."
Although Astoria was ceremonially restored, the
Northwest Company of fur-traders continued to occupy
it till 1845—twenty-seven years — so finely and tediously can the threads of diplomatic delays be spun out
and woven. Before it was surrendered they had made
it a formidable stronghold. It was a stockade fort, one
hundred and fifty by two hundred and fifty feet, with
post walls twelve feet high, and two bastions on diagonal corners. It was defended by two eighteen-poun-
ders, six six-pounders, four four-pound carronades, two
six-pound cohorns and seven swivels. It was manned
by twenty-three whites, sixteen half-breed Canadians,
and twenty-six Sandwich Islanders.
Such a military post was a threatening declaration of
intention to hold the Columbia and its basin, and it was
at the same time a fair index of the manner and spirit
with which the country in dispute was monopolized. Yet
at the same time the English were a party to the treaty
of joint occupation, in which neither should monopolize
to the damage of the other, or take steps toward a
permanent occupancy. Inland lines of trade, attached
to small centres and knotted together in little posts and
huts here and there, were embracing Oregon as with
a net. Not only were the Indians won over to the
English side, but they were made to feel that they had
no right to trade with the Americans, and the pernicious
idea was carried, wide and clear, through all the tribes,
that the Americans would take their lands, while the
English wished only to trade in furs.
To such an extent were the Indians thus prejudiced FACE  TO FACE: AMERICA AND ENGLAND.      67
and alienated, that the citizens of the United States
were obliged not only to renounce all ideas of renewing
their establishments in that part of America, but even
to withdraw their vessels from its coasts. For more
than ten years after Astoria was sold out, it would have
been difficult to find an American in the country. In
his " History of Oregon and California " Greenhow says
that when the Hudson Bay Company was before Parliament in 1837 for the renewal of its charter, they
| claimed and received the aid and consideration of
government for their energy and success in expelling
the Americans from the Columbia regions, and forming
settlements there, by means of which they were rapidly
converting Oregon into a British colony."
While the Treaty of Ghent, 1814, restored Astoria
to the United States, that place was not distinctly
named, but embraced in the general phrase, " all territory, place and possessions whatsoever, taken by either
party." There is no allusion in the treaty to the northwest coast, or to any territory west of the Lake of the
Woods. The American plenipotentiaries at Ghent were
under instructions to concede no lands to Great Britain
south of the forty-ninth parallel. The question of the
boundary line west of the Lake of the Woods was introduced by the American commissioners, and in the same
form in which it failed when the almost consummated
treaty of 1807 failed. That proposition was, to extend
the boundary west of the Lake on forty-nine " as far as
their said respective territories extend in that quarter,"
and yet not far enough to bound territory claimed by
either west of the mountains. Both governments
agreed then to this, but the English violence to the
American frigate Chesapeake stayed proceedings, and
the treaty was not ratified. 68     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
When this proposition was renewed in 1814 at Ghent,
the English commissioners agreed to accept it, provided
it be added that the subjects of Great Britain might
reach the Mississippi through American territory, and
navigate it to the sea. Of course this was declined, and
so the Treaty of Ghent has no reference to territory or
boundary west of the Lake of the Woods.
As often as occasion warranted, the English turned
with longing eyes toward that forbidden Mississippi.
Its majestic current tempted them, and its long arms,
thrown up into the interior of the continent and taking
tribute from the Alleghanies and the Rocky Mountains,
offered to carry their merchandise. When a steamer
has run up from its mouths below New Orleans as far as
from Liverpool to New York, it is still as far from high-
water navigation, above Fort Benton, as the Azores are
from New York. No wonder they coveted it, from
Yorktown onward, but they were compelled to go to
India and Egypt for their large rivers.
These diplomatic incidents are interesting, as showing the endeavors of the English in those early days
to secure the natural sources of power on the Pacific
slope. We note specially those covert efforts to regain
a footing in the Great Valley, which they controlled in
part for twenty years after battling with France for it
for sixty years. Many questions were left undecided by
the Treaty of Ghent, and in 1818 they were renewed before a joint commission at London, especially the boundary question from the Lake of the Woods west The
commission agreed to the forty-ninth parallel as the
boundary from the Lake to the mountains.
But the English commissioners finally, after mutual
and full discussion of prior rights on the Pacific, de- FACE TO FACE: AMERICA AND ENGLAND.     69
clared as an ultimatum that they would accede to no
boundary which did not give to England the mouth of
the Columbia. Then a joint occupation was agreed to
in these words: —
" It is agreed that any country that may be claimed
by either party on the northwestern coast of America,
westward of the Stony Mountains, shall, together with
its harbors, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all
rivers within the same, be free and open for the term of
ten years from the date of the signature of the present
convention to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the
two powers," etc.
That was a most unfortunate move for Great Britain.
Ultimately it lost her the prize at stake. In that signature she signed away any chance she had to that magnificent domain. True, the compromise on joint occupation gave to the Hudson Bay Company a practical
monopoly of the fur-trade. It was now in possession
of this, almost to the exclusion of all other parties and interests. But the policy of this company was really hostile
to English and national interests. It was to cultivate wilderness and not civilization, trading huts and not settlements, half-breeds and not English families. This was
the fatal mistake of the government. Those august negotiations were inspired and consummated in the interests of beaver and not of men. They secured to one corporation the monopoly to continue to introduce, as they
had for a century and a half, at York Factory, Athabasca, Fort Pelley, and Methey Portage, tea and raw spirits,
trade guns, fishing and trapping gear, calico, duffle, and
gewgaws. As we have shown before, the orders for
goods were scarcely varied for a century. Sometimes
the monotony of the clerkly work at both ends of the
11 70    OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
!
line was pleasantly broken by an order on the London
house for a wife. This was the only resort for the
bachelor, except the ordinary course of selecting from
the wilderness. Interests in the great fur land would
not allow an absence of from two to six years for a wife,
when one could be selected to order, like raw spirits or
calico, and be received and receipted for " in good condition." 1
The Fur Company would keep back the rude implements of an opening husbandry, and the humble, virtuous beginnings of domestic life and strong citizenship.
The English commissioners made a blunder when they
imagined that a steel-trap would possess and hold the
disputed territory better than a spade, and that a
beaver dam in North America was worth more to the
English crown than a factory dam. . When too late, as
we shall soon see, the English ministry attempted to recover from this fatal error.
1 Robinson's Great Fur Land, p. 67. CHAPTER X.
AMERICAN  SPEECHES,   ENGLISH   STEEL-TRAPS,  AND
DIPLOMACY.
In the Louisiana Purchase, the southwestern line between that territory and the Spanish possessions was left
not only poorly known, but quite indefinitely described.
The conferences of the powers bordering on that
line were protracted through years, and at times they
were not pleasant. The Florida Purchase gave a good opportunity to fix that boundary, as it did, on parchment.
The parallel of forty-two on the Pacific was fixed as
the dividing line running east from that Ocean to a point
due north or south, as the facts might require, to the
source of the Arkansas; down this river to longitude
one hundred; on that parallel south till it strikes the
Red River;. down the Red River to longitude ninety-
four ; due south on it to the Sabine River; and down the
Sabine to the Gulf of Mexico. This boundary affirmed
the southern limits of Oregon, and so aided to give outline and definiteness to the coveted land of our narrative.
In the attempts made by the coterminous nations to
survey and mark off this line with bounds, from the
mouth of the Sabine to Oregon tide-water, where it
washes the continent on precisely latitude forty-two,
there were various delays, as there had been from 1803,
in the attempt to outline the same on paper by verbal
description.    It was  well understood that Spain was v:
OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
greatly dissatisfied at the transfer of the Louisiana to a
republic, and was greatly displeased with France for making the transfer. Hence there was an apparent determination on her part not to agree to its southern boundary, while she waited and hoped for some contingencies
that might possibly recover it from republican hands.
These delays continued to the close of the Mexican war.
when, in 1848, the United States became owner on the
other side of the unrun line. Then, as the metes and
bounds were not needed, they were never run out and set.
Congressional discussions and negotiations between
the United States and Great Britain followed close and
continuous on the Florida Treaty of 1818, but with little
progress and less result. Only events made progress,
and as these could not be brought within the compass
and control of statesmen, the Oregon question moved on
silently to its-close.
In 1820 an inquiry was raised in the House of Representatives as to the condition of American interests on
the Pacific, and the .expediency of occupying, in a substantial way, the Columbia. " An able report was secured,
with a recommendation to establish " small trading
guards " on the Missouri. and Columbia, and to secure
immigration to Oregon from the United States and from
China. The papers went to the table for the remainder
of the session; were revised in 1821, and then slept again
for two years. In December, 1823, the announcement
of the Monroe Doctrine tended to quicken discussion on
Oregon in both Congress aud Parliament, and to retard
negotiations. A special committee was raised in Congress to consider the military occupation of the mouth
of the Columbia. The committee recommended that
two hundred men be dispatched immediately overland, SPEECHES, STEEL-TRAPS, AND DIPLOMACY.    73
and two vessels with military supplies and stores be sent
to fortify and hold that place. They also proposed that
four or five military posts be established at Council
Bluffs and on the Pacific.
Council Bluffs was then the most frontier military
post of the United States, but is now a thriving city
in the east, that is, in the eastern half of our country.
Lippincott's Gazetteer of 1856 locates it "in the Indian Territory, on the west bank of Missouri River, at
the highest point to which steamboats ascend." This
does very well for scholarship and business that confine travel and study to Colony times and the eastern
States. There are but two mistakes. Council Bluffs is
put on the wrong side of the Missouri, and about twenty-
eight hundred miles only short of " the highest point to
which steamboats ascend."
The papers were printed, and more action seems to
, have been had on them abroad than at home. In the
House nothing was done. The inaction left affairs to
assume the best possible shape for the United States,
and this came, yet not of the foresight and plans of statesmen. There appeared to be a lack of appreciation of
the case, and there was a'skepticism and lethargy concerning that half of the Union, which have by no means
yet disappeared.
The year following, negotiations were again opened
at London, and for a brief time Mr. Rush claimed for
the United States from the forty-second to the fifty-first
parallels, which section would embrace all the waters
feeding the Columbia. This was apparently on the
European theory that the discovery of the mouth of a
river carries its entire basin. The English plenipotentiaries replied that their government would never yield 74      OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
il
the northern half of that basin, and they proposed the
Columbia as the boundary, beginning on it where parallel forty-nine strikes it. Mr. Rush added the proposition of ten years' joint occupation, and that the Americans should found no posts north of the fifty-first parallel, or the English south of it. But there was a mutual
rejection of all propositions, and so this negotiation
closed. It was a gain, however, that each party had
defined its claims and made offers, and so the question
took on outlines, or limits, which was one good step
toward a settlement.
President Monroe in his last message —1824 — called
attention to the military occupation of the country in
dispute, and recommended a survey of the mouth of the
Columbia, and regions adjacent, by a board of civil engineers. President Adams did the same the next year.
These recommendations produced two elaborate reports,
setting forth the history, geography, climate, soil, furs
and other products of that region, and also the cost
of the proposed military establishments and the probable
expense for maintaining them. A bill favorable and
corresponding was introduced, and then Oregon slept
again in the halls of Congress till 1828.
Meanwhile the joint occupation for ten years was
drawing to a close, and events compelled action outside.
In 1821 the Hudson Bay Company and the Northwest
Company had united, and by the union expensive rivalry, over-paying and under-selling, litigation, and not infrequent bloody conflicts, came to an end. The enlarged
Hudson Bay Company could now cover the northern
parts of North America with great power and comprehensiveness and detail. Not only through the British
Provinces, but through the northern parts of the United SPEECHES, STEEL-TRAPS, AND DIPLOMACY.    75
States their trappers and boats and agents were scattered,
and their semi - military factories were near enough together to receive the furs, furnish goods in exchange
and guaranty defenses.
Of course, at the end of the ten years, Oregon was
mainly British in its occupants, business, and profits.
Indeed, when the question of joint occupation was forced
into notice by the near expiration of the first agreement,
the English plenipotentiaries say, in an elaborate statement of their side of the case : " In the interior of the
territory in question the subjects of Great Britain have
had, for many years, numerous settlements and trading-
posts — several of these posts on the tributary streams
of the Columbia, several upon the Columbia itself, some
to the northward, and others to the southward of that
river. ... In the whole of the territory in question
the citizens of the United States have not a single settlement or trading-post. They do not use that river,
either for the purpose of transmitting or receiving any
produce of their own to or from other parts of the
world."1
During this conference the old offer of each party
was made over again with variations, the English tenaciously adhering to the river boundary. To aid in
this they offered, additionally, a section lying on and
about the Straits of Fuca, from Bullfinch's Bay to
Hood's Canal. But no decision on boundaries could be
reached, and the negotiations ended in extending the
agreement of joint occupation indefinitely, terminable
by either on notice of one year.
1 For a full statement of the English and the American sides of the
Oregon question see President Adams' Message, December 12, 1827,
and Documents, and in Appendix to Greenhow's History, pp. 446-465. 76     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Ill
This renewal of the arrangement of 1818 was confirmed by Congress, but immediately a great and protracted debate arose in that body. A bill was reported
in the House authorizing the President to survey the
territory west of the mountains between the parallels of
forty-two, and fifty-four forty, occupy the same by military posts and garrisons, and extend the laws of the
United States over it. The bill was lost, and very little interest on the subject showed itself again in Congress for many years. CHAPTER XL
"WESTERN  MEN ON  THE  OREGON  TRAIL.
The Oregon question failed of sympathy in the
older States, and eastern interest did not keep pace
with western growth. When it was a journey of three
weeks from New England to any point on the Mississippi, it is not strange that the East should have but little knowledge of the immense domain beyond that river.
It required the locomotive to introduce the Atlantic to
the Father of Waters, and to convince the country east
of the Alleghanies, that two thirds of the Republic then
lay west of that stream. It is quite as difficult now to
satisfy the East that only about one fifth of our domain
lies between that river and the Atlantic. When " out
West," meant the Genesee country in | York State," or
the Western Reserve in " the Ohio," it was a hard thing
to appreciate Oregon. Our first railroad to the Mississippi did not arrive till 1854, — at Rock Island.
Prior to that it was a long way by saddle and wagon,
and a longer and harder way still across Missouri,
up the Platte, and toward the Yellowstone. Slowly
and tediously, therefore, Oregon gained a hearing on
the Atlantic slope, and its facts and possibilities sometimes had to crowd their way into place and power.
In truth the happy and well-regulated family of states
in the old half of the Union did not welcome the foundling. 78     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
In the great Congressional debate that defeated the
bill last mentioned, it was urged by its opponents, that
even if the United States had undisputed title, the occupation of the country would be of doubtful utility,
from its barrenness, dangerous coasts, distance and inaccessibility from the States by either land or sea. If
emigration should settle it, the defense of citizens
there would compel a much greater outlay than any
supposable income from it would warrant. This line
of reasoning showed but little sympathy with a growing frontier. The logic and statesmanship were more
provincial than national.
The conservative, satisfied, and untravelled East has
always had a skeptical turn of mind as to the extent,
growth of settlement, the political, and moral importance of the constantly receding border. Travel for
pleasure has usually been directed abroad, and not inland ; and the new towns and states, even as the rivers,
prairies, and mountains of the west have been measured by the home standards of childhood.
"When therefore a decision upon its interest took the
ballot form, the frontier has too often been voted as relatively unimportant. There was a very early exhibition
of the tendency to prefer old centres, and a finished state
of things, when the Colonial Legislature of Massachusetts put this on her Records in 1632 : "It is thought
by genal consent, that Boston is the fittest place for
publique meeteings of any place in the Bay."
When we measure the worth of the Oregon of 1828,
as it appears to-day for us — Oregon, Washington, and
Idaho Territories — we tremble to think how near the
old states were to alienating, and disowning, and losing
that magnificent region. WESTERN MEN ON THE OREGON TRAIL.
79
It was left for the west — often chided, and even yet,
for lack of effort to care for itself — to save the farther
west, by occupying it at great peril, and so compelling
attention to it. When bills in Congress for opening
and possessing Oregon went to the table for a final rest,
or over to the great mass of rejected papers, energetic
western men went to the upper waters of the Mississippi, Missouri, Platte, and Yellowstone, in the fur-trade.
Thus, by occupation and possession, they forced the discussion of this question. Having threaded the head
streams of those rivers on the eastern prairies and
slopes, they began to trace the gorges and canons of the
mountains. The North American and the Columbia
Companies, united in 1826, did the most of this, and
St. Louis became the centre of the fur trade for the
United States.
From the same city, and about these times, those great
caravans had begun to start off oh the Santa Fe trail
into New Mexico. Eminent in this foreign trade were
Bent and St. Vrain, while Ashley led the way into the
extreme west, and finally over the mountains into the
great central basin. It was in 1823 that Ashley scattered
his hardy, men on the Sweet Water, a branch of the
Platte, and on Green River, one of the heads of the
Colorado. In the year following he planted a trading-
post near Salt Lake. This was twelve hundred miles
from St. Louis — the equivalent of twelve thousand now
— and to it in 1826 be hauled a six-pound cannon—the
first to waken those mountain-slumbers of ages.    Wages a
ons followed in 1828. That was a significant year and
event, for then the Republic began to go over the mountains and at that time took one of its long and strong
steps toward the Pacific.    Perhaps the wagons, at sight
II
y iB 80     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
of which the spirit of Jacob revived, were not better
loaded for the human family.
When Ashley's company sent to St. Louis furs to the
value of $180,000 as the product of one year, it created
a profound impression, and the Rocky Mountain Company was one result, prominent in which was the early
St. Louis name of Sublette. This company traversed
and traded along the southern branches of the Columbia
and through the most of California.
The energy, daring, and service of the western men
of those times in hastening and aiding the Oregon question to settlement, are well illustrated in Mr. Pilcher.
He left Council Bluffs in 1827, with forty-five men and
one hundred horses; wintered in Colorado; in the summer following was on Lewis River and along the northwestern base of the mountains; in 1829 came down
Clark's River to Fort Colville, a Hudson Bay post,
thence by the heads of the Columbia, the Athabasca, and
Red Rivers to the upper Missouri, and so returned to
the States.?
Eminent among the western men who did so much to
diffuse information and stimulate interest concerning
Oregon was J. O. Pattie, of St. Louis. His adventures
in the fur-trade led him through the New Mexico of
those days, and Sonora and Chihuahua of old Mexico.
He went up and down the Colorado and along the Gulf
of California. His narrative was published in 1832,
and the knowledge of those unknown regions which it
revealed, the wild incidents which it detailed, and the
sources which it opened to adventurers, stirred quite an
excitement in the border states, and created a passion
to explore the wild west and engage in the fur and
Indian trades.
1 Documents with message of President Jackson, January 23,1829. WESTERN MEN ON THE OREGON TRAIL.
81
Captain Bonneville, of the army, may be mentioned
in this connection. He led his ono hundred men and
more, with their wagons and goods, from the Missouri
to the Colorado, and even to the Columbia. It was a
two years' romance in trapping and trading and exploring. Only experience can give one a tolerable idea of
the excitement and joy and intense feeling of liberty
which one feels, when roaming thus at one's own wild
will, beyond the borders of highways and fences, laws
and cabins, locks and keys, where dinner is ordered by
the rifle, tables are spread under the trees, and beds
under the stars.
It was not the west alone that pressed these individual
and company enterprises over the borders, and compelled
Oregon to come into sight and the east to see it. Under
the quiet, scholarly, and conservative elms of Old Cambridge in the extreme east, there sprang a passion for
Oregon, which took shape in an emigrating company
in 1832 under Nathaniel J. Wyeth. The writings of
Hall J. Kelly did much to stimulate and set forward
this enterprise. The company of twenty-two persons
was a novel affair, and had in it more of the Yankee
than was found useful out west. Near a college, and
books, where men on the streets spoke a dozen languages, and in the shops were very scientific mechanics,
the company got up a vehicle, half and half. Bottom
up it was a wagon, the other side up it was a boat; it
had oars ; it had wheels. It was a mechanical hybrid,
an amphibious vehicle, and took to land or water with
equal delight. Indeed, the men of those classic shades
called it the " Amphibium." The boys of those same
shades, who have a keen perception of novelties, and
who knew the oddities in the make-up of Mr. Wyeth,
6> 82     OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
u\\
I
called it the " Natwyetheum." There were three built,
and they put out from Old Cambridge for Oregon, with
all their motley freight of " notions " to match.
"O'er bog, or steep, thro' straight, rough, dense, or rare
With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies."
No wonder the company experienced some difficulties
in the German neighborhoods as they passed the Alle-
ghanies. Says the narrative : " Here we experienced a
degree of inhospitality not met with among the savages.
The innkeepers, when they found that we came from
New England, betrayed an unwillingness to accommodate Yankees." They refused refreshment and lodgings,
locked their bar-rooms, and even stood guard with rifles
in hand. What else could those Dutchmen do or think,
as they saw those machines climbing the mountains?
No wonder the Dutchmen were afraid. Two years before the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, over which the
company had come sixty miles, so far as complete then,
had been trying to run cars by sails, and now here were
these three vehicles — a cross between an omnibus and
a boat! Forty-nine days brought them to St. Louis and
to their senses, where the wise men of the east became
practical, and abandoned the "Amphibium" and the
most of its knickknackery.
It is said by those who have lived on both sides of the
Mississippi, that there are more Boston notions east of
that river than west of it. Father Wiggin's ferry used
to carry them over, in small quantities, in trunk or head,
more generally than does the present magnificent St.
Louis bridge.
By steamer Otter to Independence, two hundred and
sixty miles, and thence out upon the prairie, they pressed WESTERN MEN ON THE  OREGON TRAIL.
83
on, and our Cambridge friends were well on the way for
Oregon. Fortunately they then came under convoy of
William Sublette and company, a Rocky Mountain
trader, wise in wood-craft and aborigines. Mr. Wyeth
soon found himself among the Indians, and at once saw
the difference between the eastern and western Indian
— the one being a book Indian, full of sentiment and
high romance, and the other a live Indian, of dirt, paint,
and a tomahawk. Ere long this tramping for Oregon
became a plain matter of fact. The poetry was at Cambridge, and the reality on the prairies. On the Fourth
of July they drank the health of the nation in water
from Lewis' Fork of the Columbia. But they were a
sad company* and would have preferred the frog-pond
on Boston Common. The experienced Sublette and
his hardy mountain boys were soon to part with them
for their trading and trapping stations, and what with
sickness, disappointment, criticism, and insubordination,
they were nearly ready to break up and scatter.
As they went down Boston harbor to camp for ten
days, on one of the islands, and learn to endure hardship, they made quite a showy and attractive appearance, in uniform suits, with a broad belt carrying a
bayonet, knife, and axe. Now they were twenty-two
different persons, haggard, soiled, and dejected, with
many a Joseph's coat among them replacing the uniform, and not much coveted by envious brothers.
Here the company divided, and seven of them turned
their backs on Oregon, among whom were Jacob and
John, brothers of Captain Wyeth. The latter pushed
forward and, with other mountain men who joined him,
established Fort Hall on Snake River, about one hundred miles north of Salt Lake.    The reader should fix 84    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
this fort in his mind, for we shall have much to do with
it in our narrative. The Hudson Bay Company at once
established a rival post called Fort Boise, below Fort
Hall, and easily ruined the enterprise of Mr. Wyeth by
a sacrificing competition.
In a memoir of Mr. Wyeth x to a Congressional Committee he says that "experience has satisfied me that
the entire weight of this Company will be made to bear
on any trader who shall attempt to prosecute his business within its reach. . . . No sooner does an American concern start in this region than one of these trading parties is put in motion. A few years will make
the country west of the mountains as completely English as they can desire."
Another person long conversant with affairs in Oregon, and of the United States navy, William A. Slocum,
reported to the same Committee " that no individual enterprise can compete with this immense foreign monopoly established in our waters. . . . The Indians are
taught to believe that no vessels but the Company's ships
are allowed to trade in the river, and most of them are
afraid to sell their skins but at Vancouver or Fort
George."
Hence it came about that the Americans west of the
mountains at this time seldom exceeded two hundred,
and they were beyond all cover of United States laws.
No form of law, even the most prospective and shadowy,
followed them. Their protection against man as well
as brute was in their own hands. Yet around Vancouver alone the Hudson Bay Company had seven or eight
hundred men. These were European, Canadian, half-
breed, and Indian, but subject to the Fort. Over all the
1 Report.   House of Representatives, No. 101, February 16, 1839. WESTERN MEN ON THE OREGON TRAIL.
85
region covered by that Company, Canadian law was extended by act of Parliament. No post was beyond this
code of laws, and no individual in the employ of the
Company lacked it.
While, therefore, the terms of joint occupation provided
for equality between the two parties, the practical working was a monopoly by one. Not only was the government of the Hudson Bay Company vital and active at
every point where their employes were, but its magnitude made it formidable. Beginning at Astoria, it covered the heads of the Columbia, east to Salt Lake, north
to the Athabasca and Saskatchawan, and so on to York
Factory on Hudson Bay; and still later, in 1839, Mr.
Wyeth says that " the United States, as a nation, are
unknown west of the mountains." As early as 1834
the Hudson Bay Company had over two thousand men
in the various branches of their business. The most of
them had half-breed families ; and over all the Company
had full authority, always injurious and often disastrous
to all others who attempted to trade or settle in the country. Americans were not allowed to traffic within several hundred miles of a Hudson Bay post; and Simpson,
agent, and for a long time governor of the Company,
said they were " resolved, even at the cost of one hundred thousand pounds sterling, to expel the Americans
from traffic on that coast." At this time they had over
twenty posts.
Possibly an American company, consolidated out of
these we have mentioned, protected and patronized by
the government, could have become a successful rival of
the English one in Oregon. But it is not in the genius
of our government to do such things. A gigantic monopoly comes more naturally from a monarchical govern-  CHAPTER Xn.
THE  GREAT  ENGLISH  MISTAKE.
The I British and Foreign Review" of 1844 made this
frank and wide-reaching admission concerning the Hudson Bay Company: | The interests of the Company
are of course adverse to colonization. . . . The fur-
trade has been hitherto the only channel for the advantageous investments of capital in those regions." This is
an exact statement, by an English authority, of the fundamental mistake of Great Britain, in her endeavors to
secure Oregon. In the English view of the case, Ru-
pert's Land, originally, and all wild land contiguous,
and occupied by this Company, was reserved for fur, and
the fur was reserved by charter of 1670 for the Hudson
Bay Company. First and last and always, the end was
the skin of a wild animal, and this Company had the delegated sovereignty of Great Britain to control the country for raising this animal, and the only and absolute
right to catch and skin it. One outside the Company
had no legal right to catch, buy, or sell the article. Any
colony, cultivation, clearing, or residence was to be forbidden and abated as an encroachment and infringement.
The nature, extent, and absolutism of this monopoly
can hardly be overstated. No one unconnected with
the Company could " visit, haunt, frequent, trade, traffic, or adventure " in it.
The charter covered the grand basin of Hudson Bay,.. 88     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
ii>'Ut
111
and the. grant of exclusive trade finally extended from
the Canadas to the Arctic, and westward to the Pacific,
embracing what the Company called " Indian countries." Over so much of North America this monopoly
of trade and monarchy of government extended, and
everything was made subservient to the growth, capture,
and sale of fur. The extent of the monopoly granted
by Louis XIV. to Crozat was immense, embracing the
valleys of the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri. But this
grant of Charles 11. to Prince Rupert was immensely
more extensive.
It was the interest and policy of the Hudson Bay
Company to hold back all this country from settlement
and civilization, and continue it in wilderness as a grand
and private game preserve. Down the ages it was to be
kept for the raising of beaver and muskrat, mink, bear,
•and otter. Its primeval solitudes were not to be invaded by white men, nor its silence of thousands of years
to be broken, except as licensed men should go in quietly to bring out fur. At York Factory and the Norway
House, Moose Fort and Fort Simpson, Pelley, Vancouver, and Garry, a little bustle and a Canadian
boat-song were tolerated once or twice a year, by bat-
teaux brigades and dog-trains. But the coming and
going of these were as if by stealth, lest they scare the
game; and then silence settled down over those lone
lands again, with the stillness and shadow of an eclipse.
The call of herdsmen and the varied sounds of farm-
work, the echo of mechanics and the sweet voices of
village life, were withheld by royal charter from these
regions.
A missionary at Moose Factory writes: " A plan
which I had devised for educating and training to some THE GREAT ENGLISH MISTAKE.
acquaintance with agriculture native children, was disallowed. ... A proposal made for forming a small
Indian village near Moose Factory was not acceded to ;
and instead, permission only given to attempt the location of one or two old men, no longer fit for engaging
in the chase, it being carefully and distinctly stated, by
Sir George Simpson, that the Company .would not give
them even a spade toward commencing their new mode
of life."
Care was taken by the Company that local property
should not be acquired by individuals, so as to form
social and village centres and thus plant the germs of
civilization. Their employes were not allowed to acquire any property or income beyond their salary. As
agriculture and the gain of money by any private labor
were forbidden, the products-of the ground were scanty,
and were furnished only from the gardens and fields of
the officers, and for their tables. Up to the time when
American missionaries entered Oregon in 1834, there
was no extra supply of potatoes. It was a luxury for
head men and distinguished visitors. The Company did
not encourage the cultivation.
As late as 1836, they opposed the introduction of
cattle, because meat and beef tended to settlements and
civilization. They had for themselves about a thousand
head, but would not sell one to the Americans, of whom
there were then only fifteen men in the territory. They
would lend a cow, but required the calf to be returned.
The next year an arrangement was made, and ten men
with about sixteen hundred dollars went down to California to bring up a herd. The Hudson Bay men put
all possible obstacles in the way, but the Americans
brought up six hundred.    On the way the Indians stole 90     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
11
some, and suspicion was not wanting that they were
procured to do it.
In some instances, and after the Americans began to
introduce farming, the Company allowed a few of its
broken-down men to cultivate the ground about the
Wallamette, but they reserved the right to call these
men back at any time to their stations. The Company
under no circumstances released a man in the country,
but unless he would renew his engagement they returned him from whence he came — sent him out of
the country.
The plough and spade and milch cow, with a farm,
under warranty deed from Great Britain, would disturb fur-bearing animals. Such a farm would soon,
have a neighbor, and then a neighborhood. Thus the
beaver-dam might become a mill-dam, and mankind,
instead of corporators and stockholders, would take possession of a country larger by one third than all Europe,
and so the Hudson Bay Company be damaged.
When Dr. Whitman and his missionary party were
entering Oregon in 1836, they met at Walla Walla J.
K. Townsend, a naturalist, sent out by a society in Philadelphia to collect specimens of plants and birds. He
said to Dr. Whitman: " The Company will be glad to
have you in the country, and your influence to improve
their servants and their native wives and children. As
to the Indians you have come to teach, they do not
want them to be any more enlightened. The Company
now have absolute control over them, and that is all
they require."
Christian labors among the Indians, by different sects,
have been tolerated, and at times encouraged, when the
purpose was to bring them up from their pagan state to THE GREAT ENGLISH MISTAKE
a civilized condition, but they have been discouraged
whenever the result tended to elevate the Indians to
either principles or habits inconsistent with the labors
which the Company might require. A moral tone,
family ties, and local property, would damage the- dividends of the Hudson Bay stock, if developed very far,
and therefore Christianizing influences were not tolerated beyond certain points.
The " Colonial (English) Magazine" of 1843 puts
this matter with surprising simplicity and directness:
| By a strange and unpardonable oversight of. the local
officers of the Company, missionaries of the United
States were allowed to take religious charge of the
population, and these artful men lost no time," etc.
An illustration will show how necessary it was to
check the development of a moral and Christian toue
before it endangered the profits of the Company. Mr.
Slocum of the United States navy reported to Congress
on Indian slavery in Oregon: " The- price of a slave
varies from five to fifteen blankets. Women are valued
higher than men. If a slave dies, within six months of
the purchase, the selleE returns one half the purchase-
money. . . . Many instances have occurred where a
man has sold his own child. . . . The slaves are generally employed to cut wood, hunt and fish for the families
of the men employed by the Hudson Bay Company, and
are ready for any extra work. Each man of the trapping
parties has from two to three slaves, who assist to hunt
and take care of the horses and camp. They thereby
save the Company the expense of employing at least
double the number of men that would otherwise be
required on these excursions. . . . As long as the Hudson Bay Company permit their servants to hold slaves,
the institution of slavery will be perpetuated." V
92     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
The servants of the Company purchased Indian women,
and half-breed families were raised. The Company
found it for their profit to encourage their employes
thus to marry, as it attached them to localities, and made
them contented in a wilderness home, while the offspring, as the children of a slave-mother, were themselves slaves, and became both profitable and inexpensive to the Company. The mildest thing that can be
said of this is that the Company were slave-propagandist
by approbation and proxy.    But then
" Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free.
That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing."
In this struggle for Oregon the great English mistake
grows more and more obvious. To understand it more
plainly we must inquire as to the amount, quality, and
condition of the English blood introduced. Of course
foreign blood, either European or American, would
finally prevail. If British North America was to become a civilized and worthy part of the British Empire,
English blood must do the work. Here arises a great
surprise. After an occupation of its domain by the
Hudson Bay Company for nearly two centuries it was
found that the number of Europeans who had devoted
their lives to that country by residence in it was exceedingly small. It is doubtful whether, between the
date of charter, 1670, and 1840, as many Europeans
had gone in there, as have sometimes landed as immigrants, at New York, in a single twenty-four hours.
Those who go in for the Company are almost always
lads or young men, and they go for life. Older persons
could not enter thoroughly into the  interests   of the THE GREAT ENGLISH MISTAKE.
93
Company, and adapt themselves fully and happily to
the new and strange life. Invariably almost, they go
into the service unmarried, and then halve the blood of
their children with the native Indian races. Those who
reach prominent positions, do so when past middle life,
but find that they have no inclination to return to the
European or American life, which their birth and childhood, offered them. The domain of the Company has
not only given them a fortune, but frontier or wilderness tastes, character, and manhood. And the fortune
is ample only in the place where it has been gained.
The millionaire of the forest would be a poor man at
the Astor or London West End. For many reasons
the retired fur men remain in the country, and become
the noblesse of the forest — hyphens between the uncivilized and civilized world. The lowest grade imported
servant has netted probably his one hundred dollars a
year, the clerk his five hundred, the chief trader five
times as much, and the chief factor perhaps five thousand dollars, with the incidental support of his tawny
family.
While in active employment at forts, factories, and
posts, these isolated communities of full and half European stock present a very peculiar class of English subjects. The description of them by Washington Irving
is as good yet as it was faithful to fact a hundred years.
before he wrote it. " The French merchant at his trading post in those primitive days of Canada was a kind
of commercial patriarch. . . . He had his clerks, canoe-
men, and retainers of all kinds, who lived with him on
terms of perfect sociability, always calling him by his
Christian name. He had his harem of Indian beauties
and his troops of half-breed children;  nor was there 94     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
ever wanting a touting train of Indians, hanging about
the establishment, eating and drinking at his expense
in the intervals of their hunting expeditions."
Manitoba became a favorite residence for some of the
retired servants of the company. They long cherished
the desire and purpose to return to their native lands to
spend their closing days. But man grows old but once,
and cannot foretell his experiences and preferences.
Their desires and purposes withered with the lapse of
years, and the influence of family ties formed in the
country, and their long indulged habits in the unrestrained life of the border, finally prevailed, and they
constituted an aristocracy of the wilderness in Manitoba.
This is the famous Lord Selkirk grant, the scene of
bloody strife and legal straggles between the Hudson
Bay and Northwest Companies, prior to their union in
1821. Yet even there, in the only colony or settlement
proper, that seemed in 1840 to show personal ownership
in land, or hint toward a general colonization of the domain of the Company, there were but about six thousand persons, and the most of them were Indians and
half breeds ; very few of them were Europeans.
Three years before, when the Company was asking
for the renewal of its charter, it admitted frankly that
its efforts to settle the country embraced only a scanty
supply of aged and worn-out servants. Those of European blood in the country, all told, commissioned and
non-commissioned, from Hudson Bay to the Pacific,
and from the United States to the Arctic, would hardly
exceed three thousand. The others in the employ of
the Company were about one fourth Sandwich Islanders, one fourth Orkney men, and the rest Canadian,
Indian, and half-bloods — material scanty in its best
KM THE GREAT ENGLISH MISTAKE.
95
quality, European, and miserable in its worst quality,
for extending civilization. Yet it was as good and as
abundant as the desires and plans of the Company demanded.
Suppose we make an opening here and there, and
send glances in, that we may see to what extent the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have gone up into
that vast, weird land of fur animals. Two centuries, and
specially the last two, are supposed to do something
with a region larger than Europe. In the opening of
each June the Company's ships drop down the Thames,
and in August drop anchor at York Factory on Hudson Bay. Now they have two weeks, if plans work
well, for each to discharge their cargoes of goods, take
in furs, and leave that great inland sea before the Arctic winter closes it for another nine months. Waiting
then till summer returns, the goods then hurry on to
Lake Winnipeg, and down to the Arctic and over to the
Yukon and Pacific. Carts and batteaux make the tedious trips with the freight, and the agent follows on
the first hard winter snows, with dogs, almost as a telegram chases up an express bundle. At the end of six
years the bill of goods from London is responded to by
bales of furs. Over that dreary, inland line of two
years from York Factory, the outside world is hauled
in by dogs. Right and left from the sledge trail, as on
branch roads, the life and stir of mankind are reported
to lonely trading-posts — handfuls of hermits, eremites,
desert-men.
At the extremity of one of these antennas of a moving
world, the chief trader, says Robinson in his " Great Fur
Land," " has control of a district in many instances as
large  as  a  European kingdom.
He directs the IffF
m\
U\
96     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
course of trade, erects new establishments, orders the
necessary outfits for the year, suggests needed reforms
to the council, and in his capacity of chief magistrate of
his principality, rules supreme." What a life those head
traders must have — frontier pickets of an uncivilized
commerce ! They have no companionship", and little
that is congenial till they decivilize themselves, and
then have no neighbors but Indians ! A dog-train
leaves Fort Garry, and for one hundred and twenty
days it glides over the silent plains, and for as many
nights it sleeps under those northern stars — but little
less unchanging than the business that runs the sledge.
The trip ends at La Pierre's, on Methy Portage, three
thousand miles away! How those solitary outposts of
white men on the upper Yukon must-welcome the dogs
and news from the living, stirring, talking world of one
year more!
The home mail has been a year on the way to those
most northern posts, and the file of newspapers for the
year preceding the start is carefully laid away, and each
number broCigbt out and read two years from the date
of its printing! Formerly the Montreal " Gazette " was
the only paper forwarded, since the copy of a second
would add undue weight to the sledge. When the
sledge arrives from Pembina at old Fort Good Hope,
on the lower Mackenzie, the dogs have hauled it as far
as from London to Quebec; and when their howls
break the stillness of twelve months, by switching off
to the Rocky Mountain House, they have run about
twice the distance from New York to New Orleans.
How those Arctic inland St. Helenas of voluntary exiles welcome, and question, and feast, and enforce hospitality on the incoming man!    The joy is almost as THE  GREAT ENGLISH MISTAKE.
97
if Noah should speak a second ark on the wilderness of
waters.
The charter commits the government of that country
to the Company with the sole condition that the government shall not be " repugnant to the laws, statutes, and
customs of England." Robinson gives us an amusing illustration of one process of government: " When the
Indians proved refractory around one of the Company's
trading-posts, the trader in charge would wind up his
music-box, get his magic lantern ready, and take out his
galvanic battery. Placing the handle of the latter instrument in the grasp of some stalwart chief, he would
administer a terrific shock to his person and warn him
that far out upon the plains he could inflict the same
medicine upon him." This process of administration is
not supposed to be " repugnant" to any act of Parliament, or to any of the " customs " of the common law
of Great Britain. But it shows the process of civilization in that large portion of her Majesty's dominion.
It also indicates by what slips and mistakes Oregon was
lost to the Crown.
One species of amusement for the middle class shows
the same thing, as described by the same English author. It is a half-breed ball, when dancing, eating, drinking, sleeping, and general rough carousal run through
three days and nights without intermission. " From
time to time, as many as are requisite to keep up the
festivities are awakened, and being forthwith revived
with raw spirits, join in the dance with renewed vigor."
The hunting and trapping are done in the cold season,
and annually at the close of March or in early April,
when an occasional hour of softening air and snow gives
hint of coming spring, the Indians leave their winter IS i
1
98    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
trapping-grounds, and gather about the posts to trade
off their furs and obtain their scanty returns. This invasion of Indians even and their inroad on trading-
house life are welcomed because they break the dull
routine and solemn sameness of simply protracted existence. Through the narrow and angular passage to the
grated store-room window, admitting for trade but two
Indians at a time, the miserable aborigine passes in his
furs. It may be his fine silver fox skins, worth two
hundred dollars, for which he bargains in return the pair
of three point blankets worth fifteen dollars. Then
" the high contracting parties," mutually satisfied, separate for another year.
This great trade of the Company, in all its details,
has carried out of the country in two centuries, by
estimation, one hundred and twenty millions of dollars
in fur, reckoned on a gold basis. Yet they have so
protected the wilderness against civilization, and propagated the fur-bearing animals, and apprenticed the Indian generations in their succession to trapping and hunting, that the average yearly catch has not diminished.
This is a suggestive fact. The old-thirteen colonies
exterminated wild animals, under bounty, that they
might build up Albany and Bangor and Pittsburg,
Hartford and Buffalo. They gave men, women and
children preference and protection on the wild borders,
over bears and silver foxes. They discarded gins, traps,
and deadfalls where Manchester and Nashua and Low-
-ell and Paterson are. They esteemed an ox above a
buffalo and a sheep above a deer. Yet in the crucible
of this Company in their last analysis of half a continent for highest values, population, civilization, agriculture, mining, neighborhood and city building have been THE GREAT ENGLISH MISTAKE.
)9
thrown off as slag and dross, and only fur remains.
Six generations of " Adventurers of England trading
in Hudson Bay " and as many generations of trappers
have been on the grand North American hunt, and the
average yearly catch does not fall off.
In 1870 the posts of this Company on the Saskatchewan alone furnished thirty thousand buffalo robes, Indian-tanned. As an Indian woman can dress about ten
a year, polygamy is common in that valley. A tract
of country can be marked off through this valley, from
the Red River to the Pacific, as good for wheat as
Michigan, where a dozen starving Irelands could be
located without crowding each other, and where the
people could work their own land with comfort and eat
their own wheat to repletion. For two hundred years
Irish immigrants could not "visit, haunt, frequent,
trade, traffic, or adventure " in that, splendid domain of
Great Britain.    They would disturb the beaver.
It is due to the Hudson Bay Company that England was kept so long in ignorance of the extent and
worth to her subjects of that magnificent belt westward
from the Red River country. With natural advantages
vastly superior to those of Canada and equal to those of
the northwestern states of the Unit 3d States, the Company held the region in dark reserve, and the home government was robbed of a colonial growth, while she lost
her own emigrants by the hundreds of thousands when
they settled in the United States.
The great English mistake, by which Oregon was
lost to Great Britain, is shown at no time more clearly
than in the incidents and policies of the time now under
review. Let two pictures be here taken in contrast
and for illustration.    The great fall hunt for buffalo I-
100 OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
provided the almost entire living of many tribes for the
year, and much of the income to the Company from the
region west of Lake Winnipeg. Those annual hunts
were probably the most magnificent and picturesque
that were ever followed by any people, if we take into
account the majestic prairie hunting-fields, the dignity and multitude of the game, and the numbers of
men, women, and children who made up the camps.
Robinson's description in his " Great Fur Land " needs
no variation.
The rendezvous is usually on the borders of some
large river. " From two thousand to twenty-five hundred carts line the banks; three thousand animals graze
within sight upon the prairie; a thousand men, with
their following of women and children, find .shelter under carts and in the tents and tepees of the encampment ; the smoke of the camp almost obscures the sun ;
and the babel of sounds arising from the laughing,
neighing, barking multitude, resembles the rush of many
waters."
This vast throng keep Sabbath forenoon devoutly,
with priest and ceremonial, and the afternoon is given to
racing, gaming, sports and plays. In due time, under
trained leaders, and with the science and strategy of a
battle, the hunters steal on the vast herd of lumbering
buffalo and the slaughter begins. The earth trembles
in the rush of the animals and their pursuers, dust and
smoke cloud the air for miles, the roar of mingled
sounds is heard far off at the camp of women and carts,
and the bloody battle-field with struggling and dead
buffalo spreads out indefinitely on the prairie and
through the ravines.
After such a hunt, and mainly for robes, " the plain THE GREAT ENGLISH MISTAKE.
for miles is covered with the carcasses of buffalo, from
which nothing has been taken, save the hides and
tongues, and it may be, the more savory portions of the
hump."
The region of these slaughterings for robes, lying
about the prairie heads of the Missouri, over to the
Saskatchawan, and up its valleys, is magnificent wheat
land, and was monopolized and held back from cabin
and plow for this crop of buffalo.
This is one picture. At the same time American immigrants, with no monopoly, and individually carrying
civilization to a farther point, were hurrying the remnants of buffalo herds over the Mississippi, and planting
Indiana and Illinois and Wisconsin on the great eastern
pastures of that animal. Iowa and Minnesota soon followed, and the Northern Pacific railroad now heads the
march of civilization and empire to our extreme west.
So up to the Very boundary the United States began
to raise wheat and plant cities, while over the line the
Hudson Bay Company went on skinning buffalo for the
London market, thirty thousand a year. The emigrant
wagon, cultivation, mechanics, a various trade, and general civilization were kept on the American side of the
boundary. The two policies stand out in the two pictures, and the two forces press westward. Which will
win Oregon ?
When this fur policy came into competition with the
colonial policy of the Republic, the great English mistake became apparent. Trappers and Indian traders
could outrun immigrant wagons. Yet eventually the
plow would overtake them and finally obtain a warranty deed of the land. If the English government
saw the mistake, it was not till it was too late.   The 102   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Company could hold its policy and monopoly till 1870.
At this date the territory of the Company, or Rupert's
Land, merged in the Crown. The monopoly of trade
in lands outside, commonly called Indian Countries, and
granted in 1821, ended in 1859.
Perhaps never in history has there been a better illustration of the danger and damage to the public of a
chartered monopoly. When a corporation becomes too
powerful for the government, the design or end of that
government is a failure. In this case a private interest
was enabled to shut off from the Crown the settlement
and commerce and profits of millions of square miles.
It shut off the kingdom of Great Britain from efficient
growth in North America.' If the possession of the
Hudson Bay Company had reverted to the Crown at
the end of a hundred and fifty years, it would have been
returned, as received, a wilderness. To know, in comparison, what might, have been, one needs only to cross
the boundary line and notice the northern tier of states
lying just south of that line.
The great English mistake, therefore, was double. It
was a mistake in attempting to take and hold Oregon
by trapping, as against colonizing: and it was a mistake
to sacrifice so largely the English interests in America
to a corporate monopoly.
■^ mm
CHAPTER XIII.
FOUR  FLAT-HEAD  INDIANS  IN  ST.  LOUIS.
Four Flat-Head Indians had come in 1832 from
Oregon, three thousand miles, on a special mission of
their own devising. Indians were common visitors, almost common loungers in St. Louis at that time. They
glided about quite frequently and freely in moccasin and
blanket among the six thousand Americans, French Creoles, fur men, half-breeds, boatmen, and border adventur-
.ers of that frontier town. It was common to see wigwams
not far from the city, and almost the entire region above,
on the west bank of the river, was Indian ground, though
the river belt was shared in common by the most venturesome and irrepressible white pioneers. Even as late
as 1840,1 frequently met on the streets the stately, silent, touting red man, trailing his blanket and burdening
his squaw, or saw him crouching over his scanty fire of
kindlings and drift-wood, in the then still noted grounds
of the American Fur Company. For weeks together
Indians would have their squalid camps about Illinois
Town, and in the bottoms toward the Big Mound and
down to the romantic Cohokia Falls.
The four poor Flat-Heads, therefore, attracted no
special attention. Only the expert in Indian signs and
wood-craft could have marked their tribe and distant
home, specially as coming over the plains the Sioux had
tricked them out in gaudy and generous trappings of
that tribe. 104  OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Far up Clark's River, and central in what is now
Washington Territory, beyond mountain fastnesses, they
had heard from an American trapper of the white man's
God, and of a spirit home, better than the hunting-
grounds of the blessed, and of a Book that told truly of
the Great Spirit, and of that home and the trail to it.
The report is that the Iroquois had given to them some
of the Christian teachings which had become theirs in
Colonial New York; and very likely some of the mountain trappers who left the white frontier and rude clearing, and may be the Book and family altar long years
before, had done the same thing. The Indians, always
religiously inclined, listened, and then inquired, and then
talked it over.
It does not require much fancy to follow them in
their rude processes of investigation. In those ancient"
groves which no axe had mutilated, God's first temples,
or where solemn and sublime mountains shut them in
like grand old cathedrals, we see them sitting about
their dusky camp-fires. They think much and say but
little of the white man's God and Book — stealthy worshippers — feeling after the true God, if haply they may
find him.
Then they turn to the chase again, and feed on the red
deer and big-horn; and renew their scanty wardrobe
from the wolf, and the grizzly and silver-tipped bear,
and pile away the beaver for the Hudson Bay man, and
a new flint-lock, or three point blanket. The Rocky
Mountain winter threatens them, and they follow the
buffalo, whose instinct has led him north, for a warm
retreat on those plains and among the vast valleys that
the Pacific-trade-winds keep perpetually warm and.
green.    With the return of spring we see them coming
r** f OUR FLAT-HEAD INDIANS IN ST. LOUIS.   105
back to the old camping-grounds of the summer, laden
with furry spoils, and with a burden of thinking, too,
about the white man's God and Book. They stretch
their skinny hands over the light blaze and talk mysteriously, two or three of them, here and there. Now they
take up the theme more freely in the tepee, and at
length it comes into the high council of opinions and
plans and action. They must know about this thing.
Their dim hereafter needs lighting up. Perhaps it is
the God and the Book of the pale-faces that make them
great in their big canoes on the great waters of the
setting sun. They must know more. It was gravely
and anxiously settled that some of their number should
go on the long trail to the rising of the sun to find the
Book and bring back the light.
Two old braves were selected, one of them a sachem,
for their wisdom and prudence, and well proved love for
the tribe. Two young braves were added, for strength,
and endurance, and daring, in any perils along the unknown path of many moons. In the silence of true
heroism, that asks no trumpet at the opening, but only
the crown of success at the close, the four passed off
into the forest, and over the rivers, and out on the
prairies. This was an improvement on the Macedonian
call.    They went themselves to get what they wanted.
What route did they take ? Down Clark to Lewis
River, and then up to Fort Hall, and so on to the Missouri ? Or, avoiding the terrible Black-Feet of the
Upper Plains, did they go down the Great Basin of
Salt Lake, and strike the Santa Fe trail by the Gunnison region, and so to Bent's Fort on the Arkansas ?
No record of the route of the four Flat-Heads has
found a place in literature. 106     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
We think of the hostile tribes through whose territory
they went those thousand miles, traveling by night and
resting by day ; we note the many interviews they had
with doubtful bands, and the counsel and courses they
took from those whom they could trust. What little
fires they kindled in secluded glens, sleeping afterward,
while one kept watch as silently as the stars watched
the four ! Now they feasted on venison, or mountain
sheep, or antelope; and now, too prudent to hunt, it
was beaver or muskrat, no unsavory dish at a camp-fire,
when one has for sauce a backwoods appetite.
If they were captives, and afterward escaped prisoners, no record tells of it. Perhaps, with a mystic confidence in the white man's God whom they were seeking,
they avoided perils by daring them. They covered thew
track to foes, told their purpose to friends, made a light
burden of their hardships, and kept their fears behind
them, like true pilgrims of the Bunyan kind.
By whatever route of travel they journeyed, many
moons came and went, we know not how many, till they
arrived at St. Louis, the great tepee of white men. They
wondered over the big lodges of wood, and brick, and
stone; they marveled silently at the great fire-canoes,
that went up and down the river without paddles ; and
the abundance of fine things on the streets and in the
stores confused them. With very few words, and a step
that no one heard, they glided up and down and in and
out among streets and stores, and studied the whole.
But in this world of new sights, and in a tumult of
thoughts, their sacred errand was uppermost, and they
must deliver it to one man.
Twenty-seven years before General William Clark
had been over the mountains, and left his name on their FOUR FLAT-HEAD INDIANS IN ST. LOUIS.   107
river, and their old men had seen him or known of him.
Born in Virginia, and emigrating at a tender age to
Kentucky, he had much to do with Indians on " the
dark and bloody ground," and just at the close of the
century, while St. Louis was in Spanish dominions, he
took up his abode in that city. He was associated with
Captain Meriwether Lewis in the overland expedition
to Oregon, and then became known, by reputation, to
the Flat-Heads ; the success of that daring survey was
due much to his consummate knowledge of Indian
character. After his return he was made brigadier-general of the Upper Louisiana, and was active and efficient
in the Indian wars that harassed the western borders
through the early years of the present century. He was
territorial governor of Missouri till it became a state in
1821, from which time to his death, in 1838, he was
Indian Superintendent with headquarters at St. Louis.
An incident will introduce the man and his times to
us, and show what the early settlers in Ohio, Indiana,
and Illinois had to encounter in laying the foundations
of those three noble states. General Clark found himself, on one occasion, with few men and scanty supplies,
in a post surrounded by warlike and haughty savages.
They apparently knew his reduced condition and were
disposed to cut him and his men off by a treacherous
massacre. A council was called with the Indians in the
fort, and, contrary to all usage and good intention, they
came in fully armed, not only the leading ones, but the
young and fiery braves. The General was in no condition to resent it. At the long council-table the insolent chief occupied the end opposite to Clark, and the
whole air and manner of the savages made him and
his few white men feel that they were doomed.    The 108  OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
chief was silent and sullen, and at length drew from
under his blanket a rattlesnake's skin stuffed with powder and ball, and threw it toward the General. It was
a declaration of war, and every white man felt that he
might any moment hear the war-whoop and see the
brandished tomahawks. The Indians appeared to be
only waiting for a signal from their chief to commence
a butchery. General Clark had in his hand a kind of
ridmg-stick with which he turned the snake's skin over
and over, drawing it nearer, to him. All was still as
death, while they knew that their lives hung on daring.
By and by he succeeded in coiling it around his whip-
stick, when with a sudden motion he flirted it back
to the haughty chief, and said with dignity and boldness : " If the Indians want war, they can have war."
The confidence and prompt acceptance of the challenge led the Indians to think that recruits were at hand
to relieve their beleaguered victims, and they quietly
withdrew from the council and from the fort. This incident was related to me three years after the General's
death by the gentleman to whom he told it, and I think
has never before been in print.
This was the man to whom the four Flat-Heads must
open their business, as the great chief of the Missouris.
Very likely the General thought they had come to talk
of a war, or a treaty, or of lands, or of beaver. Their
religious purpose did not much interest him, for they
were only Indians, and beyond their furs and lands and
wars they had never had much to win the attention of
white men.
How long they were in St. Louis does not appear,
only that they were there long enough for the two old
men to die, and for one of the younger to contract dis- FOUR FLAT-HEAD INDIANS IN ST. LOUIS.   109
eases of which he died, on his return, at the mouth of
the Yellowstone. They made known distinctly the fact
that they had come their long journey to get the white
man's Book, which would tell them of the white man's
God and heaven.
In what was then a Roman Catholic city it was not
easy to do this, and officers only were met. It has
not been the policy or practice of that church to give
the Bible to the people, whether Christian or pagan.
They have not thought it wise or right. Probably no
Christian enterprises in all the centuries have shown more
self-sacrifice, heroism, foreseen suffering, and intense religious devotion than the laborers of that church, from
1520, to give its type of Christianity to the natives of
North America. But it was oral, ceremonial, and pictorial. In the best of their judgment, and in the depths
of their convictions, they did not think it best to reduce
native tongues to written languages, and the Scriptures
to the vernacular of any tribe. Survey three centuries,
from the first Indian missions in Florida to the Gulf of
St. Lawrence, around the Hudson Bay basin, and to the
Pacific, and on either side of the wild mountain ranges,
from the Arctic to Panama, it is doubtful whether the
Romanists ever put into an Indian tongue, and through a
tribe, an amount of Scripture equal to the shortest gospel.
We, of another branch of the church, honor the devotion, daring, and sacrifice, the expenditure of treasure
and human life which they have lavished in their continental fields. We as deeply mourn the mistake that
did not imbed Christianity in the language, and a voung
literature, for the poor Indians.
In that old Indian and papal city the poor Flat-Heads
could not find | the Book."    They were fed to feasting, ml
ii
111'
ill
l-v
UKf_!
110     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
they were provided with wigwam ground, they were
blanketed and ornamented. They were armed and entertained cordially and abundantly. St. Louis must always have the palm for that kindness to the red men.
Its traditions, earliest history, trade, growth, and some
of its blood, run that way. But the heart that had come
three thousand miles of toil and peril, to be filled with
better ideas of God and of the long trail into the hereafter, could not be satisfied with all this.
Their mission was a failure. Sad it is that it has so
commonly proved thus for the Indians where they have
sought the highest good from the whites, while we have
pressed the gospel successfully on pagan and even cannibal foreigners. They therefore prepared to go back to
their dark mountain home, and bear to their tribe the
burden of disappointment. Of course there must be a
ceremonial leave-taking, and the council lodge was the
house of the American Fur Company.
General Clark was then the great sachem of the whites,
a true and generous friend of the Indians. He received
the farewell address of the two surviving Flat-Heads.
It requires no fancy of mine, but only memory, to sketch
that audience room of furs and robes and the few hearers. As to the speech, it is apparently as hard for the
American language as for the American people to do an
Indian justice: —
" I came to you over a trail of many moons from the
setting sun. You were the friend of my fathers who
have all gone the long way. I came with one eye partly opened, for more light for my people, who sit in darkness. I go back with both eyes closed. How can I go
back blind, to my blind people ? I made my way-to you
with strong arms, through many enemies > and strange FOUR FLAT-HEAD INDIANS IN ST. LOUIS.
lands, that I might carry back much to them. I go back
with both arms broken and empty. The two fathers
who came with us — the braves of many winters and
wars — we leave asleep here by your great water and
wigwam. They were tired in many moons, and their
moccasins wore out. My people sent me to get the
white man's Book of Heaven. You took me where you
allow your women to dance, as we do not ours, and
the Book was not there. You took me where they worship the Great Spirit with candles, and the Book was
not there. You showed me the images of good spirits
and pictures of the good land beyond, but the Book was
not among them to tell us the way. I am going back
the long, sad trail to my people of the dark land. You
make my feet heavy with burdens of gifts, and my moccasins will grow old in carrying them, but the .Book is
not among them. When I tell my poor, blind people,
after one more snow, in the big council, that I did not
bring the Book, no word will be spoken by our old men
or by our young braves. One by one they will rise up
and go out in silence. My people will die in darkness,
and they will go on the long path to the other hunting-
grounds. No white man will go with them and no white
man's Book, to make the way plain. I have no more
words."
The grounds and rooms and furs of that scene are all
fresh in my memory, and it does not require much of a
fancy to see the group and hear the speeches and witness the sad and silent departure of the two remaining
Flat-Head Indians. A steamer of the American Fur
Company was just starting for the upper Missouri.
This was the first " fire-canoe " that ever made the long
trip of twenty-two hundred miles, past the Mandan and THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
other tribes and villages, to the Company's post at the
mouth of the Yellowstone. The two Indians took that
steamer, and with them there went, also, George Catlin
— the Indian historian, biographer, and painter, who in
due time returned and went up to Pittsburg.
As we follow this incident history becomes romance.
That speech, more impressive and sad than Logan's, because it takes hold of the world to come in its mournful
Terrain — "the Book was not there" — had a sympathetic hearer. A young clerk in the office witnessed
the interview and noted its painful end. With some
Christian sympathy for those benighted children of the
mountains, he detailed an account of the affair to his
friends at Pittsburg. When Catlin returned there they
showed the letter to him, and proposed to publish it to
the world in order to secure some missionary action in
behalf of the Flat-Head tribe. Catlin replied that there
must be a mistake as to the object of that Indian visit
to St. Louis, and its failure, for the two Flat-Heads went
up to the Yellowstone with him,, and they said nothing of
all this on the boat, so far as he heard. Let the publication of the letter be delayed till he could write to General Clark, and know the facts in the case. The reply
from the General came at' length : " It is true; that was
the only object of their visit and it failed." Then Catlin said : " Give the letter to the world."
In his "Indian Letters, Number Forty-Eight," Catlin
thus speaks of this matter: " When I first heard the report of this extraordinary mission across the mountains,
I could scarcely believe it; but on consulting with General Clark I was fully convinced of the fact. . . . They
had been told that our religion was better than theirs,
and that they would all be lost if they did not embrace
■■'"» - FOUR FLAT-HEAD INDIANS IN ST. LOUIS.    113
it." And afterward, in 1836, when the Rev. H. H.
Spalding and wife were on their way to Oregon as missionaries, they met Mr. Catlin in Pittsburg, who detailed
to them these incidents and many others. Especially
he assured them that white women could not be carried
over the mountains : " The hostile Indians, that hover
about the convoy, would fight against any odds, to capture them."
It may here be added that Catlin enriched his Indian
Gallery with the portraits of these two Indians. They
are numbers two hundred and seven and two hundred
and eight, in his collection. In form, features, and expression they are more attractive than most Indian portraits. They were of the Nez Perces branch of the Flat-
Head tribe, but do not show the flattened head, because
this band had abstained from that barbarous usage.
They stand forth, in the pictures, in the rich robes and
trappings which the friendly Sioux had bestowed, and
they show, too, as originators in a custom of modern
civilization, since their hair is so far " banged" as to
cover one third of the forehead.
But though only one lived to return and he carried
back a disappointment, the mission of the Four Flat-
Head Indians to St. Louis was not a failure. That people, it is true, sat in the gray dawn of a possible day.
But night shut in again for a time. The little captive
Jewess overheard the sad story of her leprous master Naa-
man, and the outcome was his healing. What that clerk
overheard between blanketed Indians and General Clark
was a divine pivot. The poor Indians did not see it,
nor the fur-trading white man, yet on it much Indian
destiny and all of Oregon's turned. The result was one
of the most romantic chapters in American History. 11
Hull i||
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III
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CHAPTER XIV.
"A   QUART   OF  SEED   -WHEAT."
The Americans struck Oregon just where the English
failed, in the line of settlements and civilization. One
carried in the single man and the other the family;
one, his traps and snares, the other, his seed wheat, oats
and potatoes; one counted his muskrat nests, and the
other his hills of corn ; one shot an Indian for killing a
wild animal out of season, and the other paid bounty on
the wolf and bear; one took his newspaper from the dog-
mail, twenty-four or thirty-six months from date, and the
other carried in the printing-press; one hunted and traded
for what he could carry out of the country, the other
planted and builded for what he could leave in it for his
children. In short, the English trader ran his-birch and
batteaux up the streams and around the lakes to bring
out furs and peltries, while the American immigrant
hauled in, with his rude wagon, the nineteenth century,
and came back loaded with Oregon for the American
Union.
It was the old European story over again. Spain,
France, and Great Britain did not make plantations in
America for the sake of America or for the colonists,
but for chartered monopolies and the home governments.
The colonists were as laborers on wages, or as hired
agents who must make regular returns. So the sic vos
non vobis of Virgil was the English Bucolic and Georgic "A  QUART OF SEED  WHEAT."
of North America. By such a policy Great Britain lost
her thirteen colonies, and afterward Oregon. Since the
United States became a nation we have added, from
what was under the Spanish flag, what would make
Spain of to-day five times, and from French dominion
what would equal France four and a half times. For
the loss of so much realm in the New World they are
indebted to their feudal system and chartered monopolies. The development of their possessions in this country was made an impossibility.
The Franco-Spanish Louisiana and the northern sections of New Spain felt the tendency imparted by the
United States, and when the home governments held
them back, as feudal retainers, they naturally gravitated
toward the young Republic. In pursuit of the same
policy England failed to take Oregon, since nothing
runs the boundaries of sovereignty in a wild country
like wagon wheels. The plough and fireside, hoe and-
bridge are more powerful than a corps of civil engineers
in determining metes and bounds.
In watching the international battle, "therefore, in
which the prize is that magnificent Pacific section, we
begin to see families and agriculture and a mixed trade
taking the field, with here and there a schoolhouse and
a church as permanent fortifications. It was in eastern
blood from time primeval thus to push into new lands
and keep at the front of a progressive race with the
leading and crowning qualities of a family home.
Few men did more to shape New England than John
Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts. While
yet in England, and wishing to leave his country home
for a residence in or near London, he wrote to his son,
1627, to find a house for him, saying:   "I would be 116    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
11   I
neere churche and some good schoole." After he arrived in America, in 1630, and till his death in 1649, he
aimed thus to locate all New England families. His
policy and life went to make the colonial law of Massachusetts in 1635: "Itis agreed that hereafter noe dwelling howse shalbe builte above halfe a myle from the
meeting-howse in any new plantacion, without leaue
from the Court.". The next year this law was extended
to all the towns in .the colony.
After serving in the old French war Rufus Putnam
retired to his farm in New Braintree, in his native state,
Massachusetts. After he had honorably aided his country through the perils of the Revolution, and had heard
the suggestions of Washington, that the headlands of
the Ohio must be guarded against the English, the Spanish, and the French, he proposed a colony for that remote region. The plan reserved thirty thousand and
forty acres in each township for school and church interests. This Ohio Company early voted " that the Directors be requested to pay as early attention as possible
to the education of youth, and the promotion of public
worship among the first settlers." In his three months'
trip out, the ox-cart and sled of Putnam carried that
resolution, and other eastern notions, over the Allegha-
nies, and founded Marietta in 1788. The forces that have
done so much to develop the magnificent delta between
the Ohio and the Mississippi were in that cart. By and
by, in our narrative, we shall come up with that cart
again, beyond the Missouri, and on the headlands of the
Columbia — another driver, but the same load. It will
lead in the grand army of occupation, and the steel-trap
brigades will retire.
The visit of the four Nez Percys to St. Louis was a 'A   QUART OF SEED  WHEAT."
sharp criticism on the methods of the Romanists in
planting Christianity in North America, and on the
Hudson Bay Company in restraining civilization. Their
failure to obtain " the Book " touched the heart of the
land. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and the Methodist Board of Missions, at
once took measures to send forward explorers and prepare the way for Christian missions in Oregon. The
latter sent forward the Revs. Jason and Daniel Lee,
and others. The Revs. Samuel Parker, and Marcus
Whitman, M. D., under the appointment of the American Board, were to have gone at the same time, but being too late for the convoy of the American Fur Company, they went the next year. This was not only the
introduction of Protestant 'missions into Oregon, but of
civilization among the natives. Morning in the north-
west dates from that time. The policy of utilizing the
northern half of this continent for fur and peltry, after
prevailing with marvelous exclusiveness, energy and severity for a century and a half, was finally broken.
In the seventeenth century two parallel columns of
the English race began to move across the continent
from east to west; one to perpetuate wilderness and propagate fur; the other to conquer the wilderness by civilization, and displace wild animals by human families.
At our present time in this current record of events the
invading force on the one side is about two thousand, and
on the other twelve millions. The one was a close corporation, strong in the bands of a feudal monopoly; the
other was one of those tidal waves of population, that,
from time to time in the ages, have swept into a new
country and made a nation. The one held territory —
Rupert's Land — one half as large as all Europe, under 118     OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
m\
warranty deed by Great Britain and in as absolute a fee
simple as any one holds land in London or Boston; or,
as Martin states it in his " Hudson Bay Territories," " as
truly a rightful property, as is the land or houses of an
Englishman's private estate." - The charter of that Company had the same power, and made the same conveyance as the Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or Virginia
charter. Moreover," the Company held on lease from
the crown as .much more territory between Rupert's
Land and the Arctic and Pacific, for exclusive trade, occupation, and government.
The other advancing force, invading the wilderness,
held a similar extent of territory and by similar charters,
originally ; and afterward in severalty in individual farms
and town- lots. The latter owners finally became the
United States. As these two parallel columns approached
Oregon, the question of prior and absolute right to
go in and possess was inevitably raised. This question
or issue was the right of the human race to occupation
and ownership in a vacant country as against three thousand trappers and traders, for the-increase of stock dividends.
Like the emigrant companies of earlier times that
entered the " Holland Purchase," and " the Ohio," and
the " Dark and Bloody Ground," those bands for Oregon went in with the purpose of carrying civilization
and ^Christianity westward jointly. When the Rev. Mr.
Spalding left Liberty, on the Missouri, for his long
prairie and mountain trail, he took, with " the Book,"
"a quart of seed wheat." Our type of Christianity
■means farms and flour-mills, and factories and bridges,
as well as school-houses and churches, and catechisms.
We do not forget what hard, bloody, animal pagans- our 'A  QUART OF SEED  WHEAT."
119
Celtic and Anglo-Saxon ancestors were, when Christianity planted " a quart of seed wheat" in the British
Islands, and Alfred gave them letters, and Bede portions of the Bible. Then began the English-speaking
Christianity of to-day.
This compound of settlements and missions was a
novelty in the realm of the Hudson Bay Company, as it
was a surprise, and annoyance, and anxiety. Prior to
this date, 1836, they had introduced some Christian ministrations, but only to a very limited extent. After
American settlers and missionaries went in, the Company saw the need of doing something in the same line
to hold the country. Years before, traders from the
States had urged their way westward to the Salt Lake
Basin, and Wyeth had founded Fort Hall on Snake or
Lewis' River, and, indeed, so much trade had arisen in
the mountains, that the American Rendezvous had become an annual trading-fair, on Green River, for parties
both sides of the mountains. Small emigrant companies were making their way through, some to Northern
California, and some to Oregon. It has always been the
happy fortune of the United States to have a border
population that was constantly uneasy to reach a farther
front, wilder land, and harder life.
From the days of the Four Flat-Heads in St. Louis
this class of population had been going west in small
bodies from the Missouri, and through the mountains,
prophetic of the future of Oregon, as first birds and
flowers herald the spring. Many of their little companies had been turned back or scattered in the mountains or diverted to California by the men of the Hudson
Bay Company, who presented all imaginable dangers,
and discouragements, and impossibilities, to  prevent 120    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
them from opening to the States the knowledge of any
pass or trail to Oregon.
Several of these companies had been thus turned back
before Messrs. Whitman and Spalding appeared at Fort
Hall with their wives, en route for Oregon. Seven emigrant trains that had reached that country were shrewdly
enforced to leave it. Eleven fur companies had sought
the trade of that country, but only the Hudson Bay
Company survived. It had kept back and crowded out
all others. Now the Methodist missionaries of the preceding year were followed by this company ; and that
| quart of seed wheat," suggestive of a plough, and
wife, and family, prophesied a Christian civilization for
Oregon.
UUR'l CHAPTER XV.
A  BRIDAL   TOUR  OF  THIRTY-FIVE  HUNDRED   MILES.
The exploring delegates of the American Board of
Missions had designed to go over the mountains with
the Lees in 1834, but they were detained till the next
year. With the usual experience of dangers and rough
incidents, common to the Indian country, these two men,
Messrs. Whitman and Parker, arrived at the American
Rendezvous on Green River, in the summer of J.835.
Here they met the mountain men, and obtained interior views of the opening fields of the great and almost
unknown northwest.
This meeting was of great importance to them, as
they could here obtain much information from old
traders and trappers concerning frontier and wild life.
Here, too, they would have a broad introduction to the
Indians, and could begin to study their proposed fields
and people. Among these, singularly and happily, they
met the Nez Perce Flat - Heads, whose Macedonian
agents we have already met on the streets of St. Louis.
The two delegates, like the spies of Israel sent up
from Kadesh, must have been burdened with the anxieties of their business. But being shrewd men, and
practical, they soon comprehended the situation, and
laid their plans. The Rev. Mr. Parker joined himself
to the Nez Perces, and under their leading and protection, threaded his way to Walla Walla and Vancouver. OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Studying his field for an instructive report to the Board
which sent him, and enlarging his commission somewhat
in the line of his tastes into scientific explorations, he
remained in the valley of the Columbia till June, 1836,
and then returned to the States by way of the Sandwich
Islands.
The practical eye and straight sense of Dr. Whitman
grasped at once his great life-work, and he returned that
autumn to the States to report the field, procure his
outfit, and go back to his labors. And as the delegates,
of Israel carried back the clusters of Eshcol, as evidences of the worth of the land they had explored, so
Dr. Whitman took back with him two Nez Perce' boys,
as specimens of the people whom he would win to a
Christian civilization.
Now there opens a chapter in American history, that
for heroes and heroines, boldness of enterprise, plots,
moral and physical daring, hardly has its equal in the
brightest visions of fiction. The American Board saw
their way clear to open a Christian mission in Oregon,
but the highest prudence could not entrust this opening
to less than two men, and they must take their wives
with them.
At no point in this long international struggle for
Oregon do the two policies, the English and the Ameri-.
ican, so radically diverge as at this point, where the
successful policy takes on the honorable family type.
It' was traditional in the early policies of fur-trading
England, and of France, and Spain, ordinarily in colonizing arid civilizing the New World, to esteem lightly
the institution of the family, and make but poor provisions for it.
Three persons, and no less, can carry agriculture, man- A LONG BRIDAL   TOUR.
123
ufactures, trade, and civil government into a wilderness,
and make it over into neighborhoods of good society; and
those three are the^usband, the wife, and the child. Only
the honorable and honored marriage tie can hold that
society from turning back into savage wilderness. Without the sacred alliance implied in those two noblest and
strongest words in language, husband and wife, there is
no civilization to man. These two wives whom we are
about to take over the prairies and the mountains were
not the first to enter Oregon, but they heralded the
great coming immigration of family life, and it was a
novelty on the northwest coast.
At just this point Spaniard, Frenchman, and Hudson
Bay man made a vast mistake in taking possession in
North America, and showed a vast weakness in holding
and developing the possessions first taken. Their very
idea of a colony had in it a radical and fatal defect. In
the early peopling of Canada the colonists were traders,
soldiers, priests, and nuns ; and husbands and wives were
the rare exception. To remedy this, single females were
sent out afterward. Girls of the poorer classes were
taken from the hospitals of Paris and Lyons. In 1665,
one hundred were thus sent and married at once. Two
years later one hundred and nine, mostly of a higher
grade, were sent on request of officials in Canada, and a
royal bonus was bestowed on officers who married them.
La Motte received fifteen hundred livres for marrying
in that country. The home government found it difficult to send over enough peasant girls, and many from
the cities were of indifferent virtue. Yet, after full
ships of them had arrived, not one would be without a
husband at the end of two weeks. Some of the more
notorious were reshipped to France.   On arrival at Que- 124    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
111
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bee and Montreal they were lodged in large houses, under matronly care, where the suitors visited and made
their selections, much as servant girls are now secured.
Bounties were paid on early marriages, as for the young
man under twenty and the girl under sixteen, twenty
livres each, and sometimes the king's gift added a house
and provisions for eight months. The father was punished who did not marry his sons and daughters at those
early years, and a bachelor had'little mercy shown him,
for he was forbidden to hunt, fish, or trade with the Indians, or partake of Indian life. When the annual importation of girls was nearly due, government orders
were issued that single men must be married within
a fortnight of their arrival. " Mother Mary " informs
us that " no sooner have the vessels arrived than the
young men go to get wives, and, by reason of the great
number, they are married off by thirties at a time."
The results were inevitable, from such an enforced
condition of society. The family did not become the
corner-stone of a prosperous civil state, and morals degenerated. In the absence of the real home, social
vices seized the communities. Says one author: " At
Three Rivers there are twenty-five houses, and liquor
may be had at eighteen or twenty of them." One Jean
Bourdon, a licensed innkeeper, " is required to establish
himself on the great square of Quebec, close to the
church, so that the parishioners may conveniently warm
and refresh themselves between the services."*
A similar policy, with a similar and natural misfortune
following, was adopted in colonizing Louisiana. In
1720, about six hundred immigrants arrived at Mobile,
but many of the females were from the Hospital Gene-
1 The Old Regime in Canada, Parkman, ch. 13.    See, also, chs.
20, 21. A LONG BRIDAL TOUR.
125
ral of Paris. This practice continued for years to the
great detriment of the province. After a foolish experiment the king forbade the exportation of convicts as
colonists, but continued to send girls of very mixed
qualities. At the same time many poor and virtuous women were sent to Louisiana, where they founded some
of the best families of the state. But this method of
founding the family, under government order, without
regard to affinities and choices, left that magnificent
province quite in a state of nature from the days of De
Soto to its annexation to the United States. Spanish
and French were alike in this theory and practice of
colonization, and hence failed to hold and develop their
possessions in North America.
Even the English made similar mistakes and failures.
When Florida belonged to Great Britain Lord Rolle, in
1764, attempted a colony on the St. John's River, " to
which he transported nearly three hundred miserable
females, who were picked up in the purlieus of London."
Of course his Charlotia was a failure. In the Virginia
colony, quite early, a wife was to be had at the cost of
importation, varying from -one hundred and twenty to
two hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco. Yet such were
maids of virtuous education and habit.
But this apparent yet not real wandering which we
have indulged must be turned again to our Oregon. As
I have shown all along, the Hudson Bay Company introduced into their possessions, as officers and servants,
almost uniformly single men, and young men, too. It
is simple history, therefore, and should be no matter of
surprise, when Martin, the friendly historian of the Company, says: " A large proportion of the Company's servants, and, with very few exceptions, the officers, are unit- OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
ed to native women." And this other statement he adds
naturally, and it should come without surprise. At Vancouver, and he writes this as late as 1849, " the residents
mess at several tables; one for the chief factor-and his
clerks; one for their wives, it being against the regula- •
tions of the Company for their officers and their wives to
take their meals together." With squaw wives and
half-breed children it might not be agreeable, but what
is to be said of the civilization, nearly two centuries old,
which interdicts the family table from Hudson Bay to
the Pacific Ocean ? The'two brides whom we are fol-
owing to the Columbia are the type of another social
order and will introduce another state of society.
Now and then one ordered a wife from his native land,
as already stated, and the books of the Hudson Bay
Company show that the order was honored, by the receipt entered: " Received, one wife in good condition."
But this was an imported luxury which few could enjoy.
As a general result the increase of population was half-
breed ; European civilization went down towards the Indian type of life in North America, meeting half way,
more or less, in the wigwam and shanty; the elevating;
refining, ennobling influence of woman, which makes the
larger part of the true home, was wanting, and society,
in the Hudson Bay country, became a dubious hyphen
between the savage and the civilized. The arrival of
those missionary families, as the forerunners of the ordinary immigration from the States, foretold a new era
on the north-west coast. They turned a tide that had
had an Arctic course for almost two centuries.
" Ton stream, whose courses run,
Turned by a pebble's edge,
Is Athabasca, rolling toward the sun,
Through the cleft mountain-ledge. A LONG BRIDAL TOUR.
127
The slender rill had strayed,
But for the slanting stone,
To evening's ocean, with the tangled braid
Of foam-flecked Oregon."
The betrothed of Dr. Whitman consented to the ar-.
duous mission, while more than a score of devoted men
declined the howling wilderness and savage inhabitants.
They preferred more inviting mission fields and easier
work beyond the sea.    It was a long search to find a
man who was willing
" To lose himself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
■  Save his own dashings."
Those prairie trails and mountain passes were strewn
with the wrecks of emigrant trains and the bones of rival
traders and trappers. Many Indians there had been so
outraged by the whites that a white face was the signal
for revenge. The wanton robbery or murder of unoffending natives had already cost the life of many innocent white men, and unavenged wrongs were still waiting for their chance for recompense.
Dr. Whitman deferred his marriage, and continued
the search into the early spring of 1836, for an associate
in his Oregon work. At length he struck the track of
his man, and found himself giving chase to a hybrid
vehicle, between wagon and sleigh — no uncommon
carriage in the backwoods, and mechanical cousin to
Wyeth's amphibium — which was cutting through the
crispy and crusty snows of western New York. It carried the Rev. H. H. Spalding and his fresh bride, on
their way as missionaries to the Osage Indians, then
holding a reservation in that section.
The American Board had put Dr. Whitman in pursuit
of this couple.    He overhauled them there on the win- 128   OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
1
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,;ir
1 [ ml
ter highway, and sent forward a hailing call that they
were wanted for Oregon- Question and answer between
the two carriages soon summed up the case: The
journey might require the summers of two years; they
could have the convoy of the American Fur Company
to the I divide ;" the Nez Perces, their future parishioners, would meet them as escort for the remainder of
the journey; the food would be buffalo, venison, and
other game meats; the conveyance would be the saddle
alternating with the feet; the rivers they would swim
on horseback; and their housing would be tents, blankets, and stars.
Mr. Spalding said to his wife, recently from a bed of
lingering sickness, " It is not your duty to go; your
health forbids, but it shall be left to you after we have
prayed together." Thus talking back and forth between
the sleighs, that were inverted wagons, and with each
other, they entered the little backwoods village of Howard and drew rein before the small tavern. They took
counsel together from on high, when the young bride
was left alone for her conclusion. Ten minutes and a
cheerful face brought the answer: " I have made up my
mind for Oregon."
At once her husband pleaded her weak state — the
fatigues and privations of so long a journey — three thousand miles at least—and two thousand of it in saddle
and canoe and on foot — the Indians frantic for captives
and revenge — distance from the old home and a white
man's neighborhood — and all that and all that. The
answer was ready; and probably man or woman never
came nearer, in giving it, to the spirit of its author:
" What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart ? For
I am ready not to be bound only but also to die on the
Rocky Mountains for the name of the Lord Jesus." A LONG BRIDAL TOUR.
129
When detailing these incidents thirty-four years afterward Mr. Spalding said, with charming simplicity:
" Then I had to come to it. I did not know anything."
We admire the heroism rather than the reasoning of the
feeble woman; but ardor not unfrequently does more
than logic in producing noble results.
It was all settled then at the little village of Howard.
Dr. Whitman sent a messenger to his betrothed to be
ready for a hasty wedding and a long bridal tour. He
started off for his two Nez Perce" boys. The wedding
came soon; there were " no cards," and the bride would
"receive " on the Columbia.
What a bridal tour for the two young wives! Travel
on the frontier, or even out west, was not what it is today. Only six years before the Baltimore and Ohio
railroad — the first for passengers in North America —
had had an august opening of fifteen miles on strap-rail
and with horse power. It even tried to run its cars by
sail! Not twelve months before the Boston and Lowell,
Boston and Worcester, and Boston and Providence railroads had opened. Only three years before the first
steamer had entered Chicago, and it must be fifteen yet
before the first locomotive can lead in a passenger train.
How young and small Cincinnati was when they
passed it! The first white born citizen of that city,
William Moody, was there to welcome them, only forty-
five years of age. At Pittsburg Catlin warned the gentlemen against the presumption of attempting to take
women over the plains, and through the mountains, and
the tragic fate of one company was detailed, where all
the men were murdered by the Indians that the one
woman might be carried into a horrid and unreported
captivity. Advice to turn back, warnings, prayers, and
9
iil 130 OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
benedictions followed them from city to city, till they
rounded to at the semi-American town of St. Louis, and,
mid a jargon of languages, and mixture of costumes,
and miscellany of merchandize on the levee, they were
taken by the hand and welcomed to hospitable homes.
The missionary party now consisted of five, Messrs.
Spalding and Whitman, with their wives, and W. H.
Gray, agent for the proposed mission.
The American Fur Company Was fitting out its annual
expedition up the Missouri, and to the mountains, but
to admit women as parties in the expedition was a questionable novelty. However, the Doctor on his return
trip the preceding year with this Company had so acted
the good Samaritan when the cholera struck them, that
they could not now refuse. They therefore promised
to take the missionary party under convoy when they
should leave Council Bluffs.
Four years before the two disheartened Nez Perces
had left those same streets with heavy hearts for their
dark land and benighted people, but now light and hope
followed them up the river. The party pressed on in
advance of the fur men, but by vexatious delays in the
purchase and driving of' stock a part of the way, and by
the failure of the boat to take on board the Doctor and
ladies at Liberty Landing, they found themselves six days
behind at Council Bluffs. The convoy had so much
the start out on the plains.
It was a hard chase to gain all this, and the seriocomic incidents of such a trip, in an inexperienced company, seemed inclined to concentrate on the clergyman.
Inanimate nature, circumstances, " things,". sometimes
appear to assume a personality and take a will to make
some selected one the object or butt of their rude and A LONG BRIDAL TOUR.
131
comic jests and practical jokes. Mr. Spalding was
kicked by a mule, shaken by the ague, stripped by a tornado, not only of his tent but his blankets, and crowded off
the ferryboat by an awkward, uncivilized frontier cow, to
which he made a caudal attachment as a life preserver.
While he had these freaks of nature played off on him,
he entertained some doubts of overtaking the canvoy,
and had questions about a return. Between these serial
mishaps and discouragements his feeble wife would
bring him to himself by the remark: "I have started
for the Rocky Mountains and I expect to go there."
Late in May, 1836, and at two o'clock in the morning,
they came to the Loup Fork of the Platte, and were
cheered to hear their signal gun answered from the opposite bank. They had almost won the chase. The
convoy started off early, but left a man to show them
over the river, and Mr. Spalding, lively with the memory of the incidents, says : " Late that night we missionaries filed into their camp, and took the place reserved
for us, two messes west of the Captain's tent, and so we
won by two lengths."
The caravan was now large, consisting of about two
hundred persons, and six hundred animals. They
marched and encamped with military carefulness. At
night the stock were placed in the centre of the encampment ; enclosing them were the tents and wagons; and encircling all a close cordon of sentinels. All this was
necessary because of the Indians, more or less hostile,
always thieving, and seldom far from the line of march.
The fur men were exceedingly kind to the ladies. A
sense of honor and a pride that they were thus entrusted
with them, and withal the homage that manhood always
pays to the true woman, led them to 'show favors and mm
I!
! 35 i.
132  OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
courtesies. The choice pieces of the game went to them,
and their comfort and ease were a kind of pilot to the
Company. No man, unless he be a sailor, carries a
warmer heart and stronger arm for those who need him,
and honorably trust him, than these rough mountain
men.
Four of the party had it as their business to bring
into camp each night four mule-loads of wild meat.
Yet sometimes there was a failure, as there was of
water, or sunshine. Of course the journey had its perpetual variations. There was the scenery of prairie,
timber, and stream, the buffalo, antelope, and coyote,
and a new style of Indian with a new trick at stealing.
More ravines to be filled, a more ugly ford, and more
upsets and broken wagons varied the monotony some
days. Sometimes the tempest of wind and rain and
thunder would come before night, which was a pleasing
variation. Yet as the days wore by, measuring the distance between them and loved ones, these relieving
changes dropped into the groove of sameness. Mental
as well as physical weariness came over them, and they
endured the passive state of being acted upon rather
than acting — a painful doom to an energetic nature.
June sixth they were at Laramie, but how their
nomad Arab-wandering contrasts with the activity and
industries in that. Platte valley to-day ! On the fourth
of July they entered the famous South Pass, where the
Rocky and Wind-river Mountains almost come together,
yet leave an opening for human tides to flow to and fro.
Here, on a high plateau, the head springs of the South
Platte, the Yellowstone, and the Columbia -show their
silver threads. This is the grand " divide " of the waters
of  the  Continent, and here the Atlantic and Pacific A LONG BRIDAL TOUR.
133
keep a perpetual agency and watch that each may take
its own waters in sight of the other. Sometimes it is a
by-play of the jaded travelers, while resting here for a
day or two, to rob each ocean by carrying a cup of the
young river half a mile and pouring it into the fountain
stream of the other.
It is a little amusing to trace through this pass the
routes of distinguished explorers, as " Fremont, 1842,"
" Fremont, 1843," | Stanbury, 1849." It may give
information and also divide honors with the Pathfinder
to add: "Mesdames Whitman and Spalding, 1836." A
United States corps of engineers discovering a pass in
the Rocky Mountains six years after two women had
gone through!
In the morning of that day Mrs. Spalding was quite
ill, fainted, and thought she was near the end of her life
journey. They lifted her tenderly from the saddle, and
gave her what repose and comfort they could on robes
and blankets. The long tour, with its always varying
but never ceasing fatigues, had steadily increased the
feebleness with which she left her New York home, and
her end seemed nigh. Rallying her remaining strength,
yet showing no loss of her womanly fortitude and heroism, she said: " Do not put me on that horse again.
Leave me here, and save yourselves for the great work.
Tell mother I am glad I came."
That column of caravan life marched on, as it does
everywhere in this world, while the feeble fall out of
rank and a few linger long enough to care for the dying.
When, however, the company made their usual camp at
evening Mrs. Spalding was brought in much revived.
Was it because they gave her to drink of the brook
trickling by, whose waters were to run through her great
parish to the Pacific ? 134 OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
When they were under way again, and had advanced
far enough to be on the Pacific slope of the country,
twenty-five hundred miles from home, the missionary
party stopped and dismounted. Then, spreading their
blankets and lifting the American flag, they all kneeled
around the Book, and, with prayer and praise, took
possession of the western side of the continent for Christ
and the Church.
There are few scenes in American records that surpass this one for historic grandeur. For a century and
a half those western sections of the New World had
been overrun by Europeans who left but faint traces of
Christianity and civilization. The abused, plundered,
and neglected natives had brought their request for
light and the Book three thousand miles to the nearest
Christian city, only to be disappointed. This little band
proposed to give the land to a Christian civilization
from sea to sea. They have now come the weary way
to the western half of it. Historic figures five of them,
they kneel to give half a continent to the better times
of " peace on earth, and good will toward men." The
two Nez Perce^ boys stand by, with eyes on the five, and
the flag, and the Book. That act went far toward the
settlement of the Oregon question, and in giving to the
United States six thousand miles of Pacific coast.
We have other grand historic scenes on canvas. Balboa at Panama, taking possession of the Pacific and all
its lands for the Crown of Spain; the landing of the
Pilgrims ; Washington assuming command of the American army; Washington surrendering that power after
the Republic was established; the First Prayer in Congress, and many other noble memorials. But in compass of background and foreground; the two halves of A LONG BRIDAL TOUR.
135
the continent; the parting rivers for the two oceans;
the moral exigency suggested by the two Indian figures;
the rounding out of the Republic on the sunset side, as
it came in the consequences; the kneeling men and
women around the Book, with the American flag floating over them, — the scene is worthy of any panel in
the Rotunda at Washington.
How well the picture harmonizes with that passage
in Washington's first inaugural address: "No people
can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible
hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the
people of the United States. Every step by which they
have advanced to the character of an independent nation
seems to have been distinguished by some token of
Providential agency."
A few more stages of weary travel, and our little
company, who are to do so much in adjusting the Oregon difficulties and enlarging the American Union, arrived at the great mountain rendezvous of trappers and
traders, and so to the end of protection under convoy. They tarried here ten days to recruit and prepare
for their separate march to the Columbia. Let us look
in on the grand encampment nestled among magnificent
mountains, and sketch a few scenes that disappeared
with the past generation, and that in this rush of frontier life are fast receding into antiquarian background.
Long since such gatherings ceased to be realities.
This annual fair of mountain men and Indians was
held midway between South Pass and Fort Hall. The
encampment was on the banks of Green River, a head
stream of the Colorado, whose cold waters begin their
long journey of twelve hundred miles by trickling down
the snowy canons of Fremont's Peak, and there rush 136  OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
by our motley multitude to frolic madly in the Black
Canon, five hundred miles from its mouth in the Gulf of
California. Probably this is the wildest scene in the
world. For twenty-five miles the river plunges down a
rocky defile between precipice banks, from a thousand
to fifteen hundred feet high, leaving the water unapproachable and only to be. looked down upon from
their giddy heights. The traders gathered here, American and English, bringing all the comforts and finery
that the red man so covets, while Indian tribes, by their
representatives, come in from the prairies this side the
mountains, and over the rocky ranges, beyond the Great
Basin, laden with the fur spoils of a year. It was their
annual holiday, too, in which to break the dull sameness
of their life.
The first dinner of our friends there is worthy of a
record. July 20, 1836, the table is spread. It is a
shaky oilcloth on the grass; the plates, tin when at
Council Bluffs, now battered flakes of sheet iron ; cups
the same, but not so flat; knives of the butcher species;
forks, sticks of local option and cut; venison, and buffalo, and mountain sheep, broiled or roasted; seasoning,
some salt, some ashes, and some sand. For second
course a scant service of mountain-made bread, some
tea and a very little sugar. Two Indian chiefs are at
the board, that is, the oilcloth, and an uncounted number of Indian waiters, — for remnants. The grounds
are covered by fifteen hundred people, of mixed blood,
language and costume ; about one hundred of these are
American traders and trappers; fifty are French of the
Canadian type, and twenty citizens, including the mission party.    The rest are Indians.
At the International Indian Fair at Mus-ko-gee, in A LONG BRIDAL TOUR.
137
1880, I found more Indians, about two thousand, but
much less Indian life, with about five hundred bronzed
whites intermixed. Civil and savage life meet here to
exchange goods. Similar gatherings are still observed
as great holidays.
The goods of the American Fur Company are in log-
pens, covered with canvas, poles, or brush, on a turf floor.
The equipage of the campaign is dumped near the store-
cabin, being pack-saddles and the miscellaneous whatnots
of wilderness life; encircling these are the white camps,
and outside of all the posted guards. Between the trading-hut and the river mules and horses are made safe
against stampedes and petty thefts by a double row of
tents. Adjoining on the west are the fires and screens
of the trappers and hunters; and for three miles farther
a miscellany of wigwams are spread along, continuous in
tribal sections, hugging Horse Creek above the junction
with Green River.
The red men, and the mountain men too, were not
unmindful of courtesy to their white lady visitors, and
so prepared an entertainment. It was an Indian tournament, quite enjoyable after it had been frightful. Six
hundred Indians, mounted, plumed, painted, and decked
with all the insignia of war, and with all the whooping
and yelling and noise-making that they only know how
to produce, with horses frantic and plunging, came rushing through the rendezvous. One needs a little Indian
blood in order to be nerveless on such an occasion,
even when he knows what is coming. As the parade
was partly to entertain and partly to gain a view of the
first two white women who had dared to enter the
mountains, the fine of rushing was laid by their tents.
They, therefore, had all the benefit of position at the
very front. 138   OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
But there were others to gaze on those women. Hardy
Rocky Mountain trappers, who had not seen white
women for twenty-five years, were carried back by the
sight to the^ays of a mother and sister and schoolmates, and a cottage home of childhood; and those rough
yet strong-hearted men wept like children. Their manhood came back to them when they saw a gown; and
all their civilization concentrated in the awkward doffing
of a greasy cap, when Mrs. Whitman or Mrs. Spalding
walked by. Years afterward one of these men said:
" From that day when I took again the hand of a civilized woman I was a better man." It would be difficult
to find a tribute to woman more hearty and noble than
that. The grand element that the Hudson Bay Company had so carefully kept back, while they were preserving wilderness and propagating beaver, was on the
way to add the northwest to Christendom.
The joy of the missionaries was much increased by
meeting here a large delegation of the Nez Perces.
When Dr. Whitman turned back from this place to the
States in the preceding autumn, it was exceedingly
gratifying to this tribe to be invited to meet the Doctor
and his company here at this time. They were there
on the arrival, and the pleasure of the meeting was.
mutual. The gratitude and gladness of the poor natives
was quite demonstrative, and specially towards the women. They almost monopolized the ladies as the subjects of their • peculiar care. Ordinary food, and such
delicacies as the mountains afforded, personal services,
their rude but tender and hearty kindnesses — all this
was without limit.
The ten days soon ran by, letters were written for
the States, goods reduced and repacked, first lessons in A LONG BRIDAL TOUR.
139
Indian companionship well conned, a Hudson Bay party
engaged as an escort, and finally the pioneer brigade
of civilization moved on westward. They reached the
English Fort Hall, run the gauntlet of its crafty impediments— of which more by and by — reduced luggage
a°ain and pressed on. In a few days they were at a log
pole, and brush enclosure, called Fort Boise. Here the
Doctor was compelled by Hudson Bay Company advice,
not highway difficulties, to leave his wagon.
By and by, after the incidents of ferries, and fords,
mountain sides and canons, overplus and half rations,
the party descended the Blue Mountains, and looked
into the valley of the long-sought Columbia. Mount
Hood, the tallest sentinel of the Cascade range, stood
up, ninety miles away, to give them welcome.
On the second of September, 1836, and four months
from the Missouri, and thirty-five hundred miles of
weary travel from their childhood home and marriage
group, the open, cordial gates of Fort Walla Walla received them. The bridal tour was ended, and the acquisition of Oregon begun. CHAPTER XVI.
WHITMAN S   " OLD   WAGON.
The Oregon question finally turned on wheels. Even
Webster and Ashburton, the high contracting parties to
settle the international boundary on the north from
ocean to ocean, could carry the line of division no farther west than the Rocky Mountains. Then diplomacy,
civil engineering, and the two nations — all concerned
— had to wait for the wagons. The taking of 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 Bay
Company. 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.
But we must go back a "little in the narrative.
When the fur-traders and the mission party arrived
at Fort Laramie, as we have seen, it was assumed, as a
matter of course, that all wagons and carts would, as WHITMAN'S "OLD  WAGON."
141
usual, be abandoned, as it was thought impracticable
to proceed farther with them. The Doctor had been
brought up where there is much natural antagonism between wheels and mountains, and he had been educated
to overcome it. He was not, therefore, disposed to give
up to the Rocky Mountains. He objected to the abandonment of the wagons.
He had purchased two at Liberty, on the Missouri,
and now it seemed very desirable, on account of the
ladies, to take along at least one of them. There was
much discussion over it between the missionaries and the
traders, and finally the latter consented to make the
experiment, and at the same time added one of their
carts to the mission wagon. Dr. Whitman was put in
charge of the carriages, and the first night out from
Fort Laramie he came into camp late, warm, puffing,
and cheery too, for he had had only one upset with the
wagon and two with the cart. So affairs progressed,
with various accidents and incidents to wagon and cart,
now a capsize and now a repair, now a man and now a
mule objecting and with equal Roman firmness, till they
arrived at the rendezvous or great fair grounds.
When they put out from the rendezvous, all parties
and persons, except the Flat-Heads, advised them
to leave the wagon. However, after camp was made
the Doctor came in, and to the general surprise, with
his four-wheeled companion. " He was totally alone,"
says Gray, the historian, one of his company, " in his
determination to get his old wagon through to the waters
of the Columbia, and to the mission station that might be
established, no one knew where."
There is no other sound like that made by a stout-
loaded wagon on a rough road; and now after six thou- 142  OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
sand years or so of stillness in those wild regions, those
sounds woke the echoes of the mountains. Perhaps out
of respect to the pre-historic Americans we ought to
double that six thousand. We can hear that Whitman
wagon now, in our mental ear, and it will help the hearing if one will pronounce aloud the name that the Indians gave to the " old wagon." They put into jerky
syllables the sounds it made as it rose and fell and stopped
in the soft grass and among the rocks, and called it:
chick-cMck-shani-le-kai-kash.
On the caravan moved, traders and preacher, and women, and Indian, mules, pack-saddles, and ponies; the
wagon far in the rear, now saying, on the grass land,
chick-chick, and now among the rocks, Jcai-kash. Mr.
Gray says, in his " History of Oregon " : " It is due to
Dr. Whitman to say, notwithstanding this was the most
difficult route we had to travel, yet he persevered with
his old wagon without any particular assistance. From
Soda Springs to Fort Hall his labor was immense, yet
he overcame every difficulty, and brought it safe through.
I have thrice since traveled the same route, and I confess I cannot see how he did it."
Arrived at Fort Hall, about one hundred miles north
of Salt Lake, all baggage and.luggage were reduced as
much as possible and repacked. Here all parties, mission and Hudson Bay and the Post men too, combined
to say that the wagon could be hauled no farther. The
terrible canons, and bottomless creeks in the Snake
Plains, made it impossible. But the iron Doctor was
immovable. Then they said that he must at least take
it apart and pack it, if it went on. 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. WHITMAN'S "OLD  WAGON."
143
True, when they came to the Snake River, both the
cart and its driver had to do some swimming, but they
both came out on the west bank, and so much nearer to
Oregon. So they entered Fort Boistj, two miles below
the old Boise City. This was so rude an inclosure that,
it would hardly pass for a cattle pen or mule corral.
Hero the cart took on a very serious look and so did
every man when he looked at it. The expressions of
opinion as to its farther advance became more decided,
and some of them tersely brief, and to missionary ears
more inelegant than to mountaineers. The escort of
Hudson Bay men had stopped at Fort Hall, and all but
the Doctor felt the need of moving on in a light and
compact and very defensible order. It was again suggested to take it apart, and pack it through, if the mules
carrying it would not slide from the precipices which
they would have to scale and descend. Finally another
compromise was effected. The wagon should be left at
Fort Bois£, till some one could come back and take it
on to the established mission. This was done and judgments harmonized, and soon after "the old wagon"
went through, the first to pass the plains and the mountain so far towards Oregon.
Thus the irrepressible energy of this man pioneered
for a carriage way to Oregon in 1836. The year before
the first house had been built in San Francisco, steam
cars had run out from Boston toward Lowell and Worcester and Providence, and this year twelve hundred and
seventy-three miles of rail had been laid in the country,
and the whistle and the rattle of locomotives were full
of the prophecy of the 104,813 miles of it that we had
at the close of 1881. So the chick-chick-shani-le-kai-kash
of the Doctor was not one of the minor prophets. 144   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
m\ I
This movement of the nation westward on wheels is
an interesting study. One of the earliest items in it may
be found in the Records of the City of Newton, Massachusetts, for the year 1687. "John Ward and Noah
Wis wall were joined to our selectmen to treat with the
selectmen of Cambridge to lay out a highway from our
meeting-house to the Falls." I cannot Ua.ce a current
tradition to any other board of highway commissioners,
which says, that being instructed to lay out a highway
into the wilderness, they in due time reported: " That
they had laid out said highway to a bluff in the wilderness, on the Charles River, between its upper and lower
Falls in Newton, and in the judgment of the commissioners that point was as far westward-as any public road
would ever be needed." This bluff was about ten miles
" out west" from the Boston meeting-house ! However, the " western fever" so prevailed that an extension of the public road more than ten miles from Boston was demanded, for in the Records of the Great and
General Court of Massachusetts for 1683 we find this
entry: —
"Whereas the way to Kenecticut now vsed being
very hazardous to travellers by reason of one deepe riuer
that is passed fower or fiue times ouer, which may be
avoyded, as is conceived, by a better and nearer way,
it is referred to Major Pynchon in order ye sajd way be
lajd out and well marked. He having hired two Indians
to guide him in the way, and contracted wtt them for
fiuty shillings, it is ordered that the Treasurer of the
County pay the same in country pay towards the effecting the worke."
One century and one year after the Newton survey,
Ruf us Putnam started, and, with ox-cart and sled, in a WHITMANS "OLD  WAGON.'
145
three months' journey went farther west. Now we hear
" the old wagon" of Marcus Whitman rattling along
among the head streams of the Columbia. This remarkable and now historic vehicle, that had been the centre
of so many doubts and hard sayings and anxieties, as a
moving treasury coveted by Indians, and the subject of
so many upsets and unneeded baths, and that had been
developed inversely and degradingly into a cart, finally
and later came out, all right, on the tower Columbia, at
Fort Walla Walla. When the company arrived there in
advance of " the old wagon" they had been out over
four months from the Missouri at Liberty Landing, having traveled about twenty-two hundred and fifty miles.
They had made an average of more than twenty-five
miles a day, which was a good rate for a caravan, since
the average of a Roman army was sixteen miles.
When I resided in St. Louis, the old family carriage
of General Clark, the first that ever crossed the Mississippi, was turned off at auction for five dollars. Probably to-day its remains rest in some spot as obscure and
covered over by drift in the stream of time as the grave
of De Soto in the lower Mississippi. It would be a rare
antiquity and treasure to head a procession celebrating
the first or second centennial of its L' Annee du Coup.
But " the old wagon " of Dr. Whitman would now be a
rarer treasure and relic. It carried more national destiny than the stately coach of the General. Very pleasant historical coincidences associate these two men and
the two carriages. In 1804 the General, then Lieutenant, went over to view the newly purchased Oregon,
and took the first look at the Pacific that an American
citizen ever had of it from American soil. Thirty-two
years afterward the Doctor followed with his wagon on
10 146  OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
the trail of the General. It would be difficult to find
two single acts in the lives of two men which have so
marked American history.
The work was done substantially. 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 Colum-
.bia. How many ten thousands have since been on that
trail with their long lines of white canvas-topped teams!
The first white women had crossed the continent, and
not only witnessed but achieved the victory. In our
great game of two nations, Oregon is already practically
won. In going through, Whitman's wagon had demonstrated that women and children and household goods
— the family — could be carried over the plains and
mountains to Oregon. If so, the United States wanted
Oregon, and afterward two hundred wagons went over
and took possession of it. CHAPTER XVII.
ANXIETY AND STRATEGY OF THE HUDSON BAY
COMPANY.
In the second year following this first party a company of missionaries passed Fort Hall, with wives, nine
persons in all, exclusive of the assistants. Impediments,
perils, and Indians do not seem to have been put before
their fancies there at that fur-traders' Gibraltar, for they
had no carriages. They had acted on the already well
established impressions in the east, that carriages could
not travel to Oregon. In 1839" a similar company went
through in the same way, without wagons, and so far as
appears, without warnings and intimidations.
"In 1840 three missionary ladies from New York,
Mrs. Smith, Clark, and Lit tie John, and their husbands,
and the first emigrant lady, Mrs. Walker and her husband
crossed the mountains and brought their wagons. But
on reaching Fort Hall they were compelled to abandon
their wagons by the representations of the Hudson Bay
Company, who declared that wagons never had passed,
and could not pass through the Snake country and the
Blue Mountains to the Columbia." The Rev. Mr.
Spalding, the companion of Dr. Whitman, tells us this,
and adds that Mr. and Mrs. Walker left Oregon for California in 1841, and that she was the first American
lady to settle in that territory.
In 1841 several emigrant families reached Fort Hall 148 OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Ill I
1 I
with their teams, and, like the most of their predecessors, they were shaken from their purpose and abandoned
wheels. During this period of struggle to stay the incoming tide, the Company offered to sell saddles to those
who would abandon their carriages. They also were
willing to furnish supplies, as flour, to General Palmer,
at twenty cents a pound, but they were quite unwilling
to receive, in payment, anything but money and cattle.
Four cows or two yoke of oxen they considered as only
a moderate price for one hundred pounds of flour.
" In 1842 considerable emigration moved forward
with ox-teams and wagons, but on reaching Fort 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."
The journal of General Palmer furnishes a good summary of the strategy of the Hudson Bay Company, and
of their temporary success.
" While we remained at this place great efforts were
made to induce the immigrati 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 crossing of the
Columbia, and other smaller streams, were represented
as being attended with great dangers. Also that no
company heretofore attempting the passage of those
streams succeeded, but with loss of men, from the
violence and rapidity of the currents, as also that they
had never succeeded in getting more than fifteen or
twenty head  of  cattle  into  the Wallamette  Valley." BRITISH STRATEGY AND ANXIETY.
149
" 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, a more fearful enemy—famine
— would attend our march, as the distance was so great
that winter would overtake us before reaching 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."
After the breach was fairly made through the mountains, and the first low waves of the coming eastern tide
were heard and then felt—
" The first low wash of waves where soon
Shall roll a human sea " —
the Company placed men at their posts all along the
Whitman trail to misrepresent facts, alarm the immigrants, delude them, turn them to California, or deprive
them of their teams.
In 1842 immigrants to the number of one hundred and
thirty-seven, 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.
This number was made up of twenty-one Protestant ministers, three Roman Catholic, fifteen church members,
thirty-four white women, thirty-two white children, and
thirty-five American settlers, twenty-five of whom had
native wives.
Meanwhile, by the published journals of travelers in ii
150   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
the regions of the Company, by English Review articles, and carefully arranged newspaper editorials and
correspondence in the United States, and by adroit deposit of material in the departments of State and War at
Washington, the impression was made popular and deep
in the American mind, that a comfortable overland transit for emigrants to Oregon was out of the question.
The managers of the Hudson Bay Company were men
of rare ability, and they succeeded in putting their case
ex parte and most successfully before the United States.
What the " Edinburgh Review" said of them in 1843
was already proving to be eminently true. " They are
chieflly Scotsmen, and a greater proportion of shrewdness, daring, and commercial activity is probably not to
be found in the same number of heads in the world."
Earlier than most men probably they saw the weakness of the absolute claims of either government to
Oregon on the ground of discovery or treaty or purchase,
or of wide and early occupation. They probably foresaw,
but too late, that the Oregon question would be disposed
of by settlers. They began, therefore, early, and from
points distant and wide asunder, to manufacture evidence
and manipulate public opinion, that Oregon could not be
reached by an immigrant wagon. Interested witnesses
filed the evidence into fair volumes and international
quarterlies, and so made up the case for the trial, which
they saw was hastening. The United States were thus
-provided with testimony against their own interests and
rights, and its power was imperceptible, and wide, and
deep, to hold back immigration. Probably thousands
were thus kept east of the mountains. Among those
who joined the large caravan of Dr. Whitman in 1843
was a family by the name of Zachrey, from Texas, one
II BRITISH STRATEGY AND ANXIETY.
151
of whom writes, twenty-five years later: " We had been
told that wagons could not be taken beyond Fort Hall.
But in this pamphlet the Doctor assured his countrymen
that wagons could be taken through from Fort Hall to
the Columbia River and to the Dalles, and from thence,
by boats, to the Willamette — that himself and missionary party had taken their families through to the Columbia six years before. It was this assurance of the
missionary that induced my father and several of his
neighbors to sell out and start at once for this country."
Mr. Zachrey speaks not only from the distant point of
Texas, but probably for very many who would have been
immigrants on the Oregon trail.
The Hudson Bay Company felt the emergency, and
had foreseen the impending crisis, ever since the discussion and struggle over " the old wagon" at Forts Hall
and Boise, in 1836. Though .laid away in quiet for a
little time at the latter place, they knew that • its broken
bones would have a resurrection and go on the trail again,
with more substance. than, a ghost, now muttering chick-
chick, and now.shouting kai-kash. Not that they could
lose the absolute ownership and sovereignty of the Hudson Bay lands proper, for they held those in the honor
and perpetuity of the Crown, but all else west and northwest and southwest to the Pacific they held on lease and
for use only, and the Oregon portion by joint occupation
with the United States. The discovery that those remote
regions were worth settling, or could be settled by overland immigrants, might, spoil'a renewal of their lease, or
terminate their joint occupation.
Moreover and specially, the Company must have
known the agricultural worth of that vast region between
Lake Winnipeg and the Pacific, and its natural worth '
152 OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
to Great Britain for immigration. What is said now so
abundantly and justly of that country, in the interests of
the Canadian Pacific railway — a line of about seventeen
hundred miles — if said in the time to which we have
now brought down our narrative, might have opened
that magnificent region to over-crowded Ireland and England too. It was not done, and the United States has
opened her wild frontier, and diverted the swarming immigrants from the Crown to the Republic. Now since
development by the United States has shown the value
of what has been both carelessly and designedly called-
the Great American Desert, the English are looking to
their part of it and to the saving of their own emigrants
to their own government. The policy of exclusion
and secrecy and silence maintained by the Hudson Bay
Company, lest the fur-bearing animals be scared, damaged English interests quite as much as it threatened
American.
It was a remarkable case of anxiety. This ablest corporation and highest monopoly in the world — the East
India Company excepted — was forced to grapple with
an exigency ! It had had for nearly two centuries the
ownership and regency of a country of fabulous extent,
and when, by lease from the Crown, they added to it the
"Indian countries," this domain was one third beyond
all European areas. Now such a Company was driven
into anxiety. It was confronted and troubled and forced
into strategy by an " old wagon." Under this fear they
fought all its kith and kin as they drove up to Fort 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.
J BRITISH STRATEGY AND ANXIETY.
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. While
their trappers and traders ferreted out the various paths
through the mountains, the popular ignorance in this
regard was surprising. When lying by at St. Vrain's
Fort in 1842, and on his first expedition, Fremont
could learn nothing of worth as to passes in that region
for emigrants through the mountains. St. Vrain's was
on the South Platte, near to the present city of Greeley
and not far north of Denver. The main thing that he
learned was that any possible trails would be impossible
for wagons. When in that vicinity the following year
he said: " I had been able to obtain no certain information in regard to the character of the passes in this
portion of the Rocky Mountains, which had always been
represented as impracticable for carriages."
If a carriage highway, of fair comfort for immigrants,
should be discovered to Oregon, and the fact became
generally known, settlements in that distant region
would be hastened and multiplied. The Hudson Bay
Company well knew this. From the days of the Revolution frontier life had been crowding the wilderness westward, daringly and often recklessly. If this tide should
force a crevasse through the mountains it would obviously spoil the Pacific game preserve of that Company.
Hence this crisis in their affairs, and great anxiety.
It is an interesting coincidence, if nothing more, that
at this time, 1842-3, Sir George Simpson, for many
years governor of the Company, made the tour of the
continent across their possessions, spent much time with
careful observations on the north-west coast, and is said
to have enjoyed (about that time) protracted social re- fi
154    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
lations at Washington with Daniel Webster, then Secretary of State.
From Montreal he was twelve weeks and five thousand miles distant from his starting-point in passing to
Fort Vancouver, ninety miles from the sea, on the Columbia. On the way, he says, at Bear Creek " we obtained tidings of a large body of emigrants, who had
left Red River for the Columbia a few days previous
to our arrival from Montreal." This could have been
no surprise to Sif George as governor, but it was a novelty in the policy of the Company. It was the first
band of immigrants that they had ever authorized within
their territory, and five years later than the Spalding
and Whitman band to the same destination.
The Governor visited the headquarters of Dr. Whitman, and was led to notice and make record that " from
the inhabited parts of the United States it is separated
by deserts of rock and sand on either side of the dividing
ridge of mountains — deserts with whose horrors every
reader of Washington Irving's' Astoria' is familiar. Or,
if the maritime route be preferred, the voyage from New
York to the Columbia occupies two hundred degrees of
latitude, and by the actual course, about one hundred
and fifty of longitude, while the navigation of the river
itself, up to the mouth of the Willamette, including the
detention before crossing the bar, amounts on an average
to far more than the run of a sailing packet across the Atlantic. ... In the direction of California ... the
country, if less barren than to the eastward, is far more
rugged. With respect, moreover, to the savage tribes,
the former track is more dangerous than the latter."
Surely this was discouraging enough for any pioneers, who were thinking of trying a farther front in the BRITISH STRATEGY AND ANXIETY.
155
western wilds, whether they would go by land or water.
And when arrived, the colony would seem to have found
only an oasis, with an unmeasured border of desert.
As to previous claims on Oregon and final possession
the Governor speaks almost like an oracle : " On behalf
of England, direct arguments are superfluous; for, until
some other power puts a good title on paper, actual
possession must be held to be conclusive in her favor."
And he has passed " a large body of emigrants " coming
in from the Red River, and, as we shall see, he has
planned for a larger one the year following. So, those
who are in possession must hold the country, and he has
provided that they shall be forthcoming.
Then Sir George warms up into prophecy, and utters
also challenging words: " The United States will never
possess more than a nominal jurisdiction, nor long possess even that on the west side of the Rocky Mountains.
And supposing the country to be divided to-morrow to
the entire satisfaction of the most unscrupulous patriot
in the Union, I challenge Congress to bring my prediction and its power to the test by imposing the Atlantic
tariff on the ports of the Pacific." Certainly such sentences, aptly quoted from the governor of a huge monopoly into periodicals on either side of the Atlantic, would
give a check to ardent emigrants from the States to Oregon. There is in this challenge the savor of long residence in a semi-civilized region, where the civil and
military and financial headship have been united in one
man, and made him necessarily more or less autocratic.
There is, moreover, what may be called a corporation
tone in the language: and it is wont to show itself,
when the magnitude, and absoluteness, and perpetuity
of the chartered interests, are so as to be able to keep
even the creating government-at a respectful distance. 156   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
In view of what took place in a few years following
concerning Oregon, and California, and Alaska, these
passages from the Governor are decidedly and pleasantly
breezy. He proceeds : " England and Russia, whether
as friends or as foes, cannot fail to control the destiny
of the human race, for good or for evil, to an extent
which, comparatively, confines every other nation within
the scanty limits of its own proper locality." This is
the language of one who has spent his life in trapping
beaver, and bears, and wolves, and foxes, forgetting that
men are another race of beings. Since this very English statement was made the United States have come
into recognized possession of six thousand four hundred
and eleven miles of Pacific coast, not reckoning the
shore indentations of Alaska, while England has about
four hundred and fifty, not reckoning the shore indentations of British Columbia.
It is sometimes thought that on and about the anniversary of her independence the United States indulges
in an exaggerated use of the English language concerning her domain ; and then sometimes it is remembered
that she inherited her mother's tongue and all its elasticity. Whether the United States has already grown to
fill " the scanty limits of its own proper locality " may he
a question. Another addition to her six growths would
probably be one of necessity rather than of preference.
She now embraces an area equal to seventy-eight Eng-
lands.
As to these vapors of Sir George Simpson concerning
United States ownership and government on the Pacific
coast, and growth of territory there or elsewhere, it will
be kindly to remember that when he said these things
he had recently emerged into this moving world from BRITISH STRATEGY AND ANXIETY.
157
his realm, as governor; in parts of which the mail is
delivered only annually, and the Canadian newspaper it
brings is two years old and the European three when
they read it.
Leaving Oregon he visited San Francisco, and then
thought that the only way to prevent its falling into
American hands was " by the previous occupation of the
post by Great Britain." And he proceeds to say that
England " has one road open to her by which she may
bring California under her sway, without either force
or fraud, without either the violence of marauders, or
the effrontery of diplomacy. Mexico owes to British
subjects a debt of more than fifty millions of dollars.
By assuming a share of this debt on condition of being
put in possession of California," etc.
The Macnamara scheme was a natural outcome of
these annexing meditations, the unsigned papers of which
fell into the hands of the United States, while California, by a kind of civil gravitation, was falling the same
way. So Sir George Simpson journeyed round the
world. A pleasing inaptness and almost amusing awkwardness, as to these prophecies about Oregon and the
United States, and policies about California, is, that
after the United States had peacefully reclaimed the
one, and taken possession of the other, Sir George published his narrative and opinions in 1847.
It is true the Governor had some warrant for his assumption and confident predictions. For about this
time the Hudson Bay Company had twenty-three posts
and five trading-stations in the northwest; it had absorbed ten rival companies, not leaving one, American
or Russian, to dispute its sway; and it had turned back
or broken up seven immigrant expeditions from the- 158 OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
States to Oregon. He had not, however, fully estimated the force, contents, and consequences of Dr.
Whitman's wagon.
Meanwhile, the Doctor was receiving at his station
the remnants of these broken bands, wasted and famished. They had sad stories to tell of the gauntlet they
had run through the cordon of English traders, and of
the high price of flour and the low price of cattle and
wagons at Forts Hall and Boise\ Like certain men of
old, they came to the Doctor's door with " old sacks
upon their asses, and with bottles, old, and rent, and
bound up, and old shoes, and clouted, upon their feet."
Immediately, those failures to get through comfortably
with teams were reported back to the States, and were
concentrated at Washington, and thence radiated all
along the western borders. The information concerning the difficulties, and dangers, and impossibilities of
passing the rivers, and mountains, and Indians, says the
Rev. Mr. Spalding, " purported to come from Secretary
Webster, but really from Governor Simpson, who, magnifying the statements of his chief trader, Grant, at Fort
Hall, declared the Americans must be going mad, from
their repeated, fruitless attempts to take wagons and
teams through the impassable regions to the Columbia,
and that the women and children of those wild fanatics
had been saved from a terrible death only by the repeated and philanthropic labors of Mr. Grant at Fort
Hall in furnishing them with horses."
These carefully prepared rumors and misrepresentations having seemed to obtain adroitly the endorsement
of Mr. Webster, held back, for a time, many men, afterward eminent in the history of Oregon, till Whitman
broke the spell and delusion by his immense caravan BRITISH STRATEGY AND ANXIETY.
159
of wagons, and families, and stock, in the summer of
1843.
The story that opens here has not its superior in
American history for high purpose, daring, romance, and
grand result. Revere and Sheridan had their rides for
the welfare of the nation. Marcus Whitman had his to
provide the Republic with a Pacific side. CHAPTER XVHJ.
WHITMAN S  RIDE.
The autumn days came, and russet October, 1842,
when the Oregon mission of the American Board was
holding a business session at Waiilatpu. While attending to affairs, Dr. Whitman was called to visit a patient
at Fort Walla Walla, the English trading-post, twenty-
five miles away. The company at the Fort were in excellent spirits at the arrival of fifteen bateaux, loaded
with Indian goods, and bound up stream to the Frazer
River "region. A score of chief factors had them in
charge, and these, with the traders and clerks, made a
jolly addition to the Fort's ordinary occupants. The
spirits of the company unexpectedly gathering ran high,
and it did seem to the Doctor as if the English already
had Oregon in possession. It was a rare occasion to
most on both sides, when their wilderness paths thus
crossed, and they could, for an hour, break the painful
monotony of their exile life, by catching a few ideas
from another little wilderness world outside of their own.
Then came the dinner-table, laden with the spoils of
forest and river, in the style of rude baronial halls. It
would be difficult to spread a game feast where nobler
dishes could be served, than that grand American preserve there offered. Post men and guests were jubilant ; the officers sustained well the dignity of Old England at the head, while traders and subordinates, graded WHITMAN'S RIDE.
161
down the table, gave way to easy and rough jollity.
Dr. Whitman alone represented the United States, in
such a "joint occupation" of Oregon.
It has been noticed that at the close of 1841 immigrants from the United States had entered Oregon to
the number of one hundred and thirty-seven, and at this
time about one hundred more had been added. We have
also marked the fact that in his overland trip to the Pacific, the preceding year, Sir George Simpson had passed
an emigrant company, bound out from the Red River to
the Columbia. The Hudson Bay Company had become
well persuaded that Oregon could be taken and held
only by the settlements of civilization, and their object
now was to secure an advance on the Americans in this
policy. They, therefore, were working, as we have
seen, the double scheme of keeping Americans back, and
bringing in their own people from the Red River country. The Selkirk settlement in the Red River valley
was made for like purpose by this Hudson Bay Company in 1811—12, to head off and break up the rival and
Canadian Northwest Company. In this they not only
succeeded, but absorbed that Company in 1821. Now
from the Selkirk settlement they were taking a colony
to the Columbia to head off the Americans.
The first brigade from the Red River consisted of about
forty families, English, Scotch, French, and half-breed,
and after some dissensions under the rigid government
of the Company, a part of them had made their way so
far as to arrive in the upper valley of the Columbia.
Their approach, already rumored, and the condition of
the Americans, broken and discouraged by the opposition at Fort Hall, attracted the attention of Dr. Whitman and his associates. Still the movements of the
11 162  OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
English did not alarm them as the year 1842 wore away,
and partly because during this year their own number
was nearly doubled.
While the interested dinner party were deep in their
wild-wood convivialities, a messenger arrived express
down the river announcing that the colony of one hundred and forty or more had succeeded in crossing the
mountains, and were near to Fort Colville — three hundred and fifty miles up the Columbia. The welcome
news sent a thrill of joy along the tables, and carried the
excitement of the hour to a climax. The company instantly took the import of the announcement and were
jubilant. Congratulations passed from man to man. A
young priest, more ardent than wise, sprang to his feet,
and with a twirl of his cap, and a shout, exclaimed:
" Hurrah for Oregon ! America is too late, and we have
got the country!" The more intelligent at the table
may have remembered that Mr. Canning, the English
minister, had expressed his determination to maintain,
as British property, any footing and position which the
Company might obtain in Oregon.
As by instinct Dr. Whitman seized the fact announced,
and measured its full import. He took it as an index to
a policy. At once he assumed that it should be known
at Washington, and a tide of immigration started for the
northwest from another direction. He fixed his purpose, laid his plans, excused a hasty departure, and in
two hours his Cayuse pony, white with foam, stood before the mission door at Waiilatpu. He could not wait
to dismount till he had told of the English plot, the peril
of Oregon, the need of making the fact known to his
government, his purpose to face the winter and the
mountains and plains and Indians, to carry the news, WHITMAN'S RIDE.
163
to start immediately, and to return the following season
with a long train of immigrant wagons.
Of course it was with opposition, reluctance, and anxiety that his associates came slowly into the plans of the
heroic man. And with reason. Few men could at once
grasp the full import of that English scheme, and resolve to thwart it in person. Dr. Whitman's associates
needed time to overtake his thoughts. As such national
exigencies are rare, so are the men to meet them. We
had another man on the Pacific coast, four years later,
who was adequate to such an exigency. He took oral
hints from a messenger, and the unwritten orders of circumstances, and turned pivoted California to the Union,
in the face of foreign fleets and agents, who were there
with well matured plans for other ends. The prompt
action of Fremont and the splendid results tangled some
military tape.
The winter was already on the mountains, and- while
a summer trip was hard enough, the cold and snows of
a winter journey would reduce the chances for success
and life to a minimum. He had no time for delay, for
he supposed that the Ashburton-Webster Treaty, which
would cover the Oregon question, was in progress, and
might be hastened through before Congress should rise
on the fourth of March. It was now opening October.
Five months would be short time enough to allow for
four thousand miles, mostly made on horseback. Allowance must be made for some terrible storms, when
they would be compelled to lose days in snow-bound
camps. Half frozen and winter-swollen streams were
to be crossed on extemporized floats, which it would
require much time to construct. Hostile Indians might
make it indispensable to take detours or to hide for
safety.
! ill
51
164 OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
For some or all of these reasons, it would be the part
of wisdom to avoid the direct route from Fort Hall to
the Missouri, as more dangerous, both from the severity
of the winter, and the hostile mood of the Blackfeet Indians. It would seem best to strike from Fort Hall
southerly through the Salt Lake Basin into New Mexico, and thence to the Santa Fo" trail and Bent's Fort on
the Arkansas, and so to St. Louis.
A slight recollection of the terrible experiences of
Fremont in those mountains, when the dangers and
means of resistance and of escape were much better
known, and a recollection also of the storms that have
blocked railroads in the mountain passes and on the
plains that lay before Dr. Whitman will prepare one to
estimate the daring of the man. No wonder his weeping wife entreated and his associates almost forbade his
rash enterprise. But it was in vain. All that was
patriotic in the noble man added itself to the Christian
in stirring a sense of duty, and he said to them that, for
the emergency, he did not belong so much to the American Board, as he did to his country, and if they pressed
opposition he would throw up his connection with the
mission.
The issue now centred in that mission house was the
possession of the present State of Oregon, and also the
territories of Idaho and Washington — an area equal to
thirty-two states as large as Massachusetts. After six
years of residence and travel there, Dr. Whitman knew
the natural magnificence and possibilities of the country, as probably no other American did. Then he realized how far off, and how little known or appreciated
Oregon was in the east, and how slow the old states and
settlements were to seize the grand issues involved in the WHITMAN'S RIDE.
165
new. The stoppage of immigrants at Fort Hall was
fully explained, when at the dinner table the English
shouted a welcome to the brigade from Red River. It
was a matter of actual knowledge and certainty that Dr.
Whitman could open the gates to an incoming American
tide. He knew that he held the key to those gateways,
and he felt a deep conviction of duty that he must use
it. Then the Secretary of State must be impressed by
United States evidence as well as by Hudson Bay Company's evidence, as to the accessibility of Oregon to emigrant wagons from the States. He must be enlightened
enough on the general question to save the Union from
an irreparable calamity.
The opposition to Dr. Whitman's purpose slowly gave
way as the mission conference realized that it had before
it the man who brought the wagon over the mountains
six years before. At first the wife yielded, that noble
woman, who had a broad American heroism. She finally
gave up her husband to her country, much as she had
given up herself to Christian missions among its Indians.
When she assented to the daring endeavor of her husband, it could not be manly or Christian for others longer
to dissent.
Now the preparations were hastened for the departure; and in twenty-four hours from the enthusiastic
scenes of the dinner table at Fort Walla Walla, and the
rash assertion of the ardent priest, Dr. Whitman was in
the saddle, and headed for Washington. The energy
and promptness of the man remind one of Xavier on a
memorable occasion. He was totally surprised by his
sudden appointment, by the Order, of Jesuits, to the
mission to Asia. When asked how soon he would be
ready to depart for his continental and life work, he
answered: " To-morrow." 166 OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Amos Lawrence Love joy, who had recently arrived
from the east with the last band of immigrants, consented
to accompany the Doctor on his perilous journey, so
full of issues, and, as the end proved, so full of splendid
ones for American history.
We may easily fancy the unsleeping mission, working
through twenty-four hours to make the outfit the safest
and lightest and most enduring possible; food, the inevitable axe, arms for defense and for game, medicines and
whatnot for various unimaginable emergencies — all
these must be anticipated, provided, and packed on horse
and mule. The two horses for the gentlemen, and two or
three pack-mules for a guide and supplies, were in readiness before a second sunset, and Marcus Whitman, with
his companion, took the stirrup for Washington and
Webster, and for a cavalcade of immigrant wagons to
possess Oregon.
" Into the valley of death they rode."
If Captain Grant and the Hudson Bay Company 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. But a man who carried a permit from the War
'Department, signed by Lewis Cass, Secretary, to travel,
reside, and work for Christianity in the northwest, could
not be meddled with in safety, as if he were a private
trapper from the States around beaver-dams. Eleven
days out and six hundred and forty miles brought him
face to face with Captain Grant at Fort Hall. The
party had left Waulatpu, Oct. 3,1842. This section of
their route had been one of "great peril and suffering to
some emigrant and trading parties, notably that of Astor, under Wilson P. Hunt, in 1811-12.    The interview WHITMAN'S RIDE.
167
between Captain Grant and his old friend the Doctor
must "have been an interesting one to witness, since each
was conscious of a purpose to take and hold Oregon, by
immigration, for the party he represented, and since
both jointly knew how many companies had been broken
up, or turned to California, or forwarded in saddles, after
being deprived of their wagons on that familiar spot.
For reasons already given Dr. Whitman struck southerly from Fort Hall to Taos and Santa Fe. At the
latter city he would come on the great Santa Fe" trail of
the St. Louis and New Mexican traders, and so find his
way the more easily to the frontier settlements. The
detour, however, in the sharp angle made at that old
Spanish capital would add hundreds of miles to the
journey, but it was hoped it would lessen proportionately the hardships and dangers of the terrible expedition.
No diary or narrative of the expedition was left by
Dr. Whitman, but in the five years remaining of his
eventful life he gave here and there, conversationally,
many of the thrilling incidents of that wonderful journey, and these aid much in drawing out and connecting
the thread of events. His companion as far as Bent's
Fort on the Arkansas, Mr. Lovejoy, has given a graphic
summary of the trip from Fort Hall to Fort Bent.
Before introducing some passages from Mr. Lovejoy's
account, it may be well to state that the course of the
expedition was due south from Fort Hall, and mainly in
the direction of the present Utah Southern railway, with
Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake on the right, passing
by the site, probably, of the coming Mormon city.
Thence their course was south and east, across Green
I River, and then the heads of Grand River in southwest-
— 168 OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
ern Colorado, then over the upper branches of the San
Juan, now so famous for its mines, and still south and
east to Taos, and thence about sixty miles south to
Santa Fe\
" From Fort Hall to Fort Wintee we met with terribly
severe weather. The deep snows caused us to lose much
time. Here we took a new guide for Fort Uncompah-
gre on Grand River, in Spanish country. Passing over
high mountains, we encountered a terrible snow-storm,
that compelled us to seek shelter in a dark defile; and
although we made several attempts, we were detained
some ten days, when we got upon the mountains, and
wandered for days, when the guide declared he was
lost, and would take us no farther. This was a terrible
blow to the Doctor,,
" But he determined not to give it up, and returned to
the Fort for another guide, I remaining with the horses,
feeding them on cotton-wood bark. The seventh day
he returned. We reached, as our guide informed us,
Grand River, six hundred yards wide, which was frozen
on either side about one third. The guide regarded
it as' too dangerous, but the Doctor, nothing daunted,
was the first to take to the water. He mounted his
horse, and the guide and myself pushed them off the ice
into the boiling, foaming stream. Away they went, completely under water, horse and all, but directly came up,
and after buffeting the waves and foaming current, he
made for the ice on the opposite side, a long way down
the stream,— leaped upon the ice, and soon had his
noble animal by his side. The guide and I forced in
the pack-mules and followed the Doctor's example, and
were soon drying our frozen clothes by a comfortable
fire. WHITMAN'S RIDE.
169
«We reached Taos in about thirty days. We suffered
from intense cold and from want of food, compelled to
use the flesh of dogs, mules, or such other animals as
came in our reach. We remained about fifteen days,
and left for Bent's Fort (via Santa Fe) which we reached
January 3,1843.    The Doctor left here on the seventh."
At this later day, when the perils of winter travel in
those mountains are better known, it seems more and
more a marvel that this party was ever heard from again.
When they put out from Fort Wintee for Fort Un-
compahgre they were most unfortunate in their guide as
well as in the weather. It was with difficulty that they
could travel through the deep snows even when they
knew the trail, and much time was consumed in floundering through defiles and over craggy heights. Then
that terrible storm struck them there in the wild mountains, darkening the air almost to a premature night,
and the ten days of enforced shelter and waiting in the
gorge left the Doctor with intense anxiety about what he
presumed was the progress of the treaty at Washington on
the boundary question. If would not be strange if he saw,
in fancy, the fatal signatures that would sacrifice Oregon.
Repeated attempts were made to force the snow blockade, but in vain. One attempt, barely suggested in Mr.
Lovejoy's letter, was critical, and came near being fatal
to the expedition. The energy and impatience of Dr.
Whitman had overruled the judgment of his guide, and
the party attempted to escape their prison of mountains
and snow by going over the divide. The intense cold
and the mad storm made the animals quite uncontrollable, and the freezing, lonely squad of men and beasts
were coming to be as immovable as a group of statuary.
The guide confessed that he was lost and gave up.   Then ! i
170   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
that one man, like another Napoleon struggling through
Russian snows to recover from a terrible defeat, assumed
the direction, and attempted to turn back for the camp-
fire of those wasted and impatient days — a camp they
had so unwisely left that morning. But the storm had
done its work, and no trace of their track could be found.
They wandered to and fro as men mazed or aimless.
Finally man and beast became chilled, and hopeless, and
stationary, and the snows were wrapping them in wind-
ing-shedts.
Then once and once only in his life, so far as appears,
the Doctor yielded to the inevitable, and gave up all as
lost. He dismounted and commended himself, his distant wife, his missionary companions and work, and his
Oregon, to the Infinite One, and so awaited the silent,
snowy burial of the party. By and by the guide, numb
and stiff on his mule, thought he saw significant movements in the head and ears of the animal. That strange
beast does sometimes appear to turn student and handle
a problem. At least, such was the appearance in this
case, as he turned his ears right and left, and then set
them with a projection forward, as if he would direct
attention. To his Mexican rider all this seemed to
declare knowledge and convictions. To those familiar
with that old Spanish country and people it will come
up, on recollection, that a Mexican and a mule have a
good deal in common which might be called mutual understanding. Therefore, the freezing and hopeless rider
remarked : " This mule will find the camp if he can live
to reach it." So saying, he dropped the bridle rein on
the saddle-bow and gave the animal his full liberty.
The stupid brute, yet so full of instinct, was master
of the situation.    He at once left the stormy divide, WHITMAN'S RIDE.
171
taming a canon here and a cliffy slope there, and still
downward plunging through snows, and sometimes sliding over half precipices. He was neither guided nor
spurred, but had his own will and gait, onward and
downward, till he came to thick timber and a dark ravine. The surroundings slowly put on a familiar look
to the party; then they snuffed smoke, and soon the
mule stopped by the smouldering logs of the morning
camp-fire, too rashly left. Here they warmed, and fed,
and rested, yet other days.
But the reassured life and returning spirits of the
Doctor chafed over lost time, and he was gone seven
days to Fort Wintee for a new guide. If the reader
will pause long enough on these pages to make that
seven days' trip his own, in fancy, he will have a better
measure of the peril of it, and of the man who made it.
Under the new guide the party arrived at Grand
River, six hundred feet of ice on each shore, with six
hundred of rapid water between the two icy borders.
The Doctor made the first plunge, went under, came up,
steered across, and was soon as thoroughly encased in
ice as ever was an old warrior in his coat of mail. His
horse scrambled on the ice and to the shore like a chased
deer. Soon there was the roaring camp-fire, encircled
by dripping men and animals. The same man this is
who made the Rocky Mountains give up to a wagon.
Again, after a hard day over a bald prairie in a wild
storm, our company reached one of the branches of the
Arkansas. The clean grass, without tree, shrub, or
any fuel, comes down to the river brink, and to the
smooth, thin ice that spreads across the stream. The
opposite shore was wooded, and a fire must be had, for
the wet storm had passed by, and a freezing night was 172   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
to follow. The ice was a thin pretext, impassable for a
horse, somewhat tempting and very doubtful for a man.
Like a daring boy, when skating is not yet, and the ice
will not support him on his feet, the Doctor lay flat and
wriggled himself over, and then pushed back fuel and
axe before him. A warm supper and a sweet sleep followed.
Alas, for the axe! The helve has been cracked and
then wound with raw hide. That night a wolf, for the
sake of the skin, stole it from its hiding-place under the
edge of the tenting, and the company never saw it again.
Nearer to Fort Hall the loss would probably have proved
very serious if not fatal to the expedition. But they
soon came into the vicinity of the lone cabins of daring
settlers on the extreme frontier, and the wolfish act
proved only an annoyance.
But we are ahead of our party on the trail. Santa
Fe welcomed and refreshed them — that oldest city of
European occupation on the continent. De Vaca and
Coronado, perhaps Cortez, the Duke of Albuquerque,
Pike, Kit Carson, and Charles Bent, its first United
States governor, had been there before him, and General Kearney three years later, when he took all New
Mexico for the Republic. Probably no public building
in North America is so old as its adobe palace, or has
witnessed so many civil and bloody changes. Its walls
could tell of intrigues, plots, revolutions, and assassinations, as none other in the United States.
It was a long but easier journey to Bent's Fort on the
Arkansas. This ample inclosure, somewhat fortified
after the rough needs of the frontier, has made many a
weary traveler glad by its hearty and abundant hospitalities.     The fort was a quadrangle, one  hundred WHITMAN'S RIDE.
173
feet on the sides. Its walls were of adobe, thirty feet
high, and its northeast and diagonal corner supported
bastions and a few cannon. The apartments were built
against the walls on the inside, after the Mexican manner. In the centre stood the robe-press, where furs and
peltries were deposited. Its genial founder, of Massachusetts parentage, Virginia birth, and Missouri home,
pioneer in the New Mexican trade, built the post in
1829. In 1880 I found it to be a rude and wild corral, deserted and decaying.
The Republic is much indebted to Charles Bent, and
his associate brothers of the border, and to St. Vrain,
their partner. Charles Bent was one of the first to introduce modern times into that dwarfed offspring of
Spain, of the sixteenth century. By a caravan commerce between St. Louis and the southwest, whose round
trip required a full summer, he led that region up to a
connection with the rest of the world. The draught-ox
of the Arkansas and Rio Grande is indebted to him for
its first iron shoe. A man of breadth, energy, and true
love of country, he was wisely appointed by General
Kearney as the first Governor of New Mexico in 1846\
But he was taken off mournfully by assassination at
Taos, within four months; and after a third interment
his remains rest under an honorable monument and epitaph in the Masonic cemetery at Santa Fe\
Mr. Lovejoy, exhausted and broken, was left at Bent's
Fort to recover himself, and in the July following he
joined the Doctor and his outgoing caravan, above Laramie. The Doctor himself rested in the good cheer of
the fort, and among fellow citizens, for only four days,
and on the seventh of January, 1843, he pressed on for
Washington and Webster. II!
174   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
On his arrival in St. Louis it was my good fortune
that he should be quartered, as a guest, under the same
roof, and at the same table with me. The announcement of the man, in the little city of twenty thousand,
as it was then, came as a surprise and a novelty. In
those times it was a rare possibility for one to come up
in midwinter from Bent's Fort or Santa Fe ; much more
from Fort Hall and the Columbia. The Rocky Mountain men, trappers, and traders, the adventurers in New
Mexico, and the contractors for our military posts, the
Indian men laying up vast fortunes, half from the government and half from the poor Indian — gathered about
Dr. Whitman for fresh news from those places of interest. Those who had friends on the plains, or in the mountains, or Spanish territory, sought opportunities to ply
him with questions. For none had come over since the
river closed, or crossed the frontier inward since the winter set in. What about furs and peltries ? How many
buffalo robes would come down by June on the spring
rise of the Missouri ? Were Indian goods at the posts
in flush, or fair, or scant supply ? What tribes were on
the war-path? What were the chances of breaking
Indian treaties, and for removals from old reservations ?
Who seemed to have the inside favor with the Indian
agents ?" What American fur-traders had the Hudson
Bay Company recently driven to the wall? What
could he say of the last emigrant company for Oregon
in which one Amos Lawrence Lovejoy went out?
What had become of so and so, who were in previous,
companies that broke up at Fort Hall ?
Many of their questions were as fresh and lively then
as they are to-day concerning the Indian country; and
as heavy fortunes lay back of them, at least it was hoped WHITMANS RIDE.
175
so. Our Indian field, however, has changed somewhat
as to product, and now yields- less fur and more greenbacks, owing to the modern use of different traps, and
gins, and snares, and to a change of places in setting
them — more on the Potomac and less on the Columbia
waters.
But the Doctor was in great haste, and could not
delay to talk of beaver, and Indian goods, and wars, and
reservations, and treaties. He had questions and not
answers. Was the Ashburton Treaty concluded ? Did
it cover the northwest ? Where, and what, and whose
did it leave Oregon ? He was soon answered. Webster
and Ashburton had signed that treaty on the ninth of
August preceding, on the twenty-sixth the Senate had
ratified it, and on the tenth of November, President
Tyler had proclaimed it as the law of the land. While
the Doctor, therefore, was floundering in the snows, or
hunting a lost camp-fire, or exchanging guides, or swimming frozen rivers, somewhere on the trail of Forts
Wintee and Uncompahgre, the Oregon question was
settled for the present by postponement.
Then, instantly, he had other questions for his St.
Louis visitors. Was the Oregon question under discussion in Congress ? What opinions, projects, or bills,
were being urged in Senate or House ? Would anything important be settled before the approaching adjournment on the fourth of March ? That might be a
critical and even a closing day for great American interests on the northwest coast. Could he reach Washing-
ton before the adjournment ? He must leave at once,
and he went.
Marcus Whitman once seen, and in our family circle,
telling of his one business — he had but one — was a
.■■ m 176   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
man not to be forgotten by the writer. He was of medium height, more compact than spare, a stout shoulder,
and large head not much above it, covered with stiff
iron-gray hair, while his face carried all the moustache
and whiskers that four months had been able to put on
it. He carried himself awkwardly, though perhaps courteously enough for trappers, Indians, mules, and grizzlies, his principal company for six years. He seemed
built as a man for whom more stock had been furnished
than worked in symmetrically and gracefully. There
was nothing peculiarly quick in his motion or speech,
and no trace of a fanatic; but under control of a thorough
knowledge of his business, and with deep, ardent convictions about it, he was a profound enthusiast. A willful resolution and a tenacious earnestness would impress
marking the man.
His dress would now appear much more peculiar than
in those days and in that city. For St. Louis was then
no stranger to blanket Indians, and Yellowstone trappers, in buckskin and buffalo. The Doctor was in coarse
fur garments and vesting, and buckskin breeches. He
wore a buffalo coat, with a head-hood for emergencies in
taking a storm, or a bivouac nap. What with heavy
fur leggings and boot-moccasins, his legs filled up well
his Mexican stirrups. If memory is not at fault with
me, his entire dress, when on the street, did not show
one square inch of woven fabric.
With all this warmth and almost burden of skin and
fur clothing, he bore the marks of the irresistible cold
and merciless storms of his journey. His fingers, ears,
nose, and feet had been frost-bitten, and were giving
him much trouble. When he came to the extreme
east, to speak officially of his mission among the Indians, WHITMAN'S RIDE.
177
it is recorded that some sensitive gentlemen suggested
that a certain suit of black — and a little w^rn — might
be more becoming. That was the time when some
American Geographical Society was needed to receive
him with publicity and formality in his full Rocky
Mountain suit, and afterward ■ decorate him with the
• badges and insignia of an eminent explorer and discoverer.
Are not we Americans slow to discover historic stepping-stones till they become foot-worn ?
Dr. Whitman, in St. Louis, was midway between Oregon and Washington, and he carried business of mighty
import, that must not be delayed by private interests
and courtesies. In the wilds and storms of the mountains he had fed on mules and dogs, yet now sumptuous
and complimentary dinners had no attractions for him.
He was happy to meet men of the army, of commerce,
aud of fur, but his urgent business was to see Daniel
Webster. A few days among the elegances of cheery
homes, and in the enjoyment of genial courtesies, might
make him too late at the seat of government, and render
worthless his four months of hardships and perils on the
long Oregon trail. Four months in the saddle, and
" The fate of a nation was riding that night."
So far the horse had carried Oregon; now the Doctor
must see it speedily and safely to the end of the four
thousand miles. Exchanging saddle for stage — for
the river was closed by ice — he pressed on, and arrived
at Washington March third, just five months from the
Columbia to the Potomac.
Our records are not without illustrations of heroic
action of this kind.    The midnight ride of Paul Revere,
made classic by one of our sweetest poets, constituted an
12 178   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
epoch in the life of the young Republic. Lieutenant
Gillespie, gfcjng by Vera Cruz, the city of Mexico and
California coast to Monterey, there took saddle to overhaul Lieutenant Fremont, in Oregon, with dispatches
from Washington. It was quite after the old Roman
order, that he look to it that the American Republic
receive no damage in California. Sheridan made his
marvelous ride to Winchester and turned a defeat and
rout into a victory. There have been eminent express
rides, full of import to families and states ; these have
carried messages for war and for peace, for trade and
towering ambition. It would be difficult, however, to
find one that for distance, time, heroic daring, peril,
suffering, and magnificent consequences, could equal
Whitman's Ride.
»
mi CHAPTER XIX.
OREGON  NOT  IN  THE  TREATY   OF  WEBSTER  AND
ASHBURTON.
Dr. Whitman arrived in Washington too late, and
yet not too late. When he left the Columbia for the
Potomac, his latest information from the States, brought
over by his returning companion, Mr. Lovejoy, was that
a treaty was under negotiation between Mr. Webster,
the Secretary of State, and Lord Ashburton, English
envoy, to settle the boundary question between the two
nations, and it was supposed that Oregon was included.
To have the northwestern boundary question covered
and settled in that treaty, the Doctor was too late ; for
while he was yet not forty days on his national and continental journey, the treaty was proclaimed as the law
of the land. Mr. Webster and Lord Ashburton had
completed and signed it nearly two months before he
started, and Oregon was left out. But he was not too
late to furnish new and much needed information, to expose scheming, to show the accessibility of Oregon to
the old east, to draw from his own residence and travel
and study there, for six years, leading facts concerning
its natural and national worth, and, by all this, to stay
a damaging foreclosure of the question, secure final
equity and save national honor — for all this he was just
in time. Let us see how the case stands when this Pacific man, in fur and buckskin, weather-beaten and frostbitten, enters the office of the Secretary of State. OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
ie boundary between  the United States and the
ish Possessions, described by the treaty of peace,
J, was either unfortunately worded or most unfor-
ately handled.    In interpreting phrases in the treaty
embarrassing questions as these were raised: Which
1 is the St. Croix?    Where is the north-west angle
ova Scotia ?    What are the highlands between this
and the northwest head of the Connecticut River ?
ch  stream is the northwest head of  that river ?
the rivers emptying into the Bay of Fundy be said
into the Atlantic Ocean ?    A joint commission of
inally agreed on what is the St. Croix, and fixed
nument at its source.    For forty-eight years the
ndary question lingered before joint commissions,
in delays such as only diplomacy can weave, and
ng more was settled.    In 1839 new impetus was
en to the subject, and Mr. Webster was urged as j
' al 'minister to England to hasten affairs.    He drew
memorandum of plan for settlement, which was
y approved by President Van Buren and others. ■
the proposed plan was not adopted, the envoy was j
sent, and fruitless negotiations went on.   Mr. Web- j
meanwhile spent a few months in a private and
1 way in England, and was much consulted on the
lary question.
. 1841 Mr. Webster passed from the Senate to the
net of President Harrison, as Secretary of State,
the painfully early death of the President, Web-
on tinued in the Cabinet when the Vice-President,
Tyler, succeeded to the presidency. In the sum-
of this year 1841 Mr. Webster informed Mr. Fox,
Snglish minister at Washington, that he was ready
tempt the  settlement of -the boundary question. OREGON NOT IN THE TREATY.
The antecedents of negotiation were not very encourag-
ing, and it required some confidence in a plan, and some
boldness, to renew the efforts. For it was now fifty-
eight years since the treaty of peace had stipulated a
boundary, and so far only the St. Croix River had been
identified, and a monument set at its source. When in
1803 a joint commission was just being completed to run
the line the Louisiana Purchase was made, which would
carry United States territory beyond the Mississippi, up
somewhere to British territory, and therefore, for prudential reasons, the United States delayed action. In
1814, by the Treaty of Ghent, another joint boundary
commission was secured, but could not agree, and it settled nothing. Then the question had rest, practically,
till 1827, when, through a convention, it was referred to
the King of the Netherlands as arbitrator, but his decision
was rejected by both parties in 1831. During his double
term of office President Jackson made five separate efforts to adjust the boundary, and as many failures. .His
successor, Mr. Van Buren, in his first message, spoke of
" abortive efforts made by the executive for a period of
more than half a century," and closed his administration,
leaving the question involved in greater " intricacies
and complexities and perplexities," among which was
the famous Aroostook war.
In view of this disheartening history of the question,
Secretary Webster proposed to undertake it anew, and
on the fourth of April, 1842, Lord Ashburton arrived at
Washington, as envoy, with full powers to negotiate
with him. Mr. Webster had not only the United States
to satisfy in this delicate business, and now sensitive by
the irritations of more than half a century, but Maine,
Massachusetts, New  Hampshire,  Vermont, and  New OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
York had state interests involved, and were alive to
the integrity of their territory, and to their honor. The
two ministers signed the treaty August ninth, 1842; the
Senate ratified it on the twenty-sixth; Lord Ashburton
sailed with the treaty for home October thirteenth; the
treaty was ratified by the Queen, returned from England, and proclaimed November tenth, 1842.
The long standing of the question, the perplexities
which had accumulated around it. the length of line settled, the magnitude of territory, and other issues involved,
and the prompt action in four brief months, make the
act a remarkable one in the history of diplomacy.
When Dr. Whitman was thirty-eight days out from the
Columbia, and somewhere in the snows, between Fort
Hall and Taos, the treaty became the law of the land.
But it contained no reference to Oregon. Neither the
treaty nor the official correspondence alludes to Oregon.
It determined the boundary, " beginning at'the Monument at the source of the river St. Croix," and ending
at the Rocky Mountains on the forty-ninth parallel.
In his annual message of December, following the
proclamation of the treaty, President Tyler thus refers
to the Oregon interests, and shows why they were put
by for the time. " It became evident, at an early hour
of the late negotiations, that any attempt for the time
being satisfactorily to determine those rights would
lead to a protracted discussion, which might embrace in
its failure other more pressing matters; and the executive did not regard it as proper to waive all the advantages of an honorable adjustment of other difficulties
of great magnitude and importance, because this, not so
immediately pressing, stood in the way."
Mr. Webster regarded the negotiation of this treafy OREGON NOT IN THE TREATY.
183
as one of the greatest and most important acts of his
eventful life. For this diplomatic success he was exposed to some criticism, grave and petty. Maine was a
party to the negotiations, by her commissioners, and
endorsed the result, yet some of her worthy citizens felt
that her "rights had not been well maintained, and that
portions of her territory had been sacrificed to peace
and compromise, though probably' nine tenths of her
people to-day approve the treaty. The total area in
dispute in Maine was twelve thousand and twenty-seven
acres. The west was disappointed that the Oregon
question was not included and settled. A little sectional
jealousy was stirred.
During the three or four following years, and till the
settlement of Oregon affairs in 1846, the eastern boundary treaty was frequently a subject of adverse criticism
in Congress. As Webster himself said, it was made
"the subject of disparaging, disapproving, sometimes
contumelious remarks." Perhaps this should not surprise us. There were men of lofty and worthy ambitions in Congress and out of it, but only one could carry
off the honor of this great achievement. Then there
were men who could not presume to pass around our
continent, and examine with a broad and international
view the boundary line at the Atlantic end and at the
Pacific end. At Jhat time, and more so now, our country was quite large for some men.
At one time the affair ran close to bloody conflict in
the Aroostook war, but General Scott went down and
stayed the rising passions, as afterward and for a similar purpose he visited the coasts of Oregon. Probably
it was this crisis, as well as some others, that Webster
covered in a remark to a leading merchant who had 184    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
congratulated him on the successful work : " There have
been periods when I could have kindled a war, but, sir,
I remembered that I was negotiating for a Christian
country with a Christian country, and that we were all
living in the nineteenth century of the Christian era.
My duty, sir, was clear and plain."
The mayor of Philadelphia recognized the same fact
gracefully, when introducing Mr. Webster at a dinner
which the city had given him: " In seasons of danger
he has been to us a living comforter; and more than
once has restored this nation to serenity, security, and
prosperity." This was soon after the popular frenzy of
" fifty-four forty, or fight," had calmed down on the
parallel of forty-nine — Webster's original line. Other
critical issues and irritating questions which hot blood
could have turned into war came up and went into
peaceable settlement, notably the Canadian burning of
the Caroline, the right of search for English citizens on
American vessels, and cooperation for the suppression
of the slave-trade on the African coasts.
And the more is the wonder that he peacefully carried the great issue through such grave danger of war,
since those were days of hot blood and foolishly high
spirit. About this time, John Quincy Adams said, referring to Wise, who shot Cilley in a duel: " Four or
five years ago, there came to this house a man with his
hands and face dripping with the blood of murder, the
blotches of which are yet hanging upon him." At the
spring horse-races, in 1842, and about the days of the
opening negotiations between Ashburton and Webster,
the horse of Stanley of North Carolina jostled this same
Wise in his saddle, and the fiery man resented the act
with his cane.    A duel was stayed-only by the police, OREGON NOT IN THE TREATY.
and the only physical harm was to the left eye of Rev-
erdy Johnson, which a rebounding ball destroyed, while
Johnson was teaching Stanley how to kill Wise. The
suppression of the war spirit, in such times, was a sublime conquest.
These were the relations of Mr. Webster in the popular mind, when Doctor Whitman, rough in fur and
buckskin, entered the office of the Secretary of State.
Wearied as Mr. Webster may well have been in settling so much of a difficulty which many others had
given half a century to, and failed; ungenerously criticised by a few, as having yielded all to England, while
Lord Ashburton suffered a similar condemnation for
having yielded all to the United States, we may well
suppose that Dr..Whitman would not find him enthusiastic over the northwestern boundary question. Indeed, the two negotiators had paused at the Rocky
Mountains, because, as the President stated, any attempts to carry the line farther would not offer hopeful results. It does not appear, moreover, that the
Secretary was under any executive instructions to go
into the Pacific side of the business, and certainly Lord
Ashburton was not.
A great disappointment was felt in Oregon that it
was not provided for in the treaty, as the people there,
without full reason, had presumed it would be, and the
heroic endeavor of Dr. Whitman had seemed to them
to guarantee it. The mistakes appear to have originated in Oregon, where expectations were highest, and
information most scanty, and disappointment was the
keenest.
I have devoted so much care to the analysis and correction of this error, not only to relieve the fame of OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
our great diplomat from an unfortunate and of course
undesigned shadow, but also to set forth in its historic,
and therefore noblest light, the achievement of Dr.
Whitman. Oregon was on the other side of the continent, with formidable wilderness I and deserts between,
and information from Washington traveled slowly and
scantily. The inner history of the Ashburton and
Webster negotiations rested long among the semi-secrets
of the Department of State. Webster himself says:
" The papers accompanying the treaty were voluminous.
Their publication was long delayed, waiting for the exchange of ratifications; and, when finally published, they
were not distributed to anv great extent, or in large
numbers. The treaty, meantime, got before the public
surreptitiously, and, with the documents, came out by
piecemeal. We know that it is unhappily true that,
away from the large commercial cities of the Atlantic
coast, there are few of the public prints of the country
which publish official papers on such an occasion at
length."
The pressure of Oregon into the Ashburton Treaty
would probably have done one of three things, prevented
the treaty altogether, excluded the United States from
Oregon, or produced a war. Delay and apparent defeat
were the basis of our real success, and the great work
of Marcus Whitman, by his timely presence at Washington, was in making that success sure.
The meeting of two such ministers of state for such
high ends, and with such high resolve, is a scene good
to be looked at by nations, and cabinets, and philanthropists. The scene is as much above the struggle of two
armies, or navies, as reason and moral right are above
muscle and steel.    Some delays consumed three months OREGON NOT IN THE TREATY.
amon°- more local commissioners, and on questions of
geography, compass, and chain. But, as men who are
conscious of right, and of having the end in their own
keeping can afford to wait, so the high contracting parties waited, in this case, till the time was ripe, and the
end came in an obvious fitness of things. The result
in the Ashburton Treaty gained the general assent.
Some Englishmen called the treaty the " Ashburton
Capitulation," and some Americans spoke quite as narrowly of it from the United States side.
There is no evidence that Doctor Whitman was dissatisfied with the policy which resulted in the Ashburton Treaty, as evidently the best possible in the circumstances. Nor is there reliable information to warrant
the assumption that he was annoyed by any opinions attributed to the Secretary that Oregon was " worthless
territory," and should be traded off for cod - fisheries.
All traditions to that effect have started in the assumption that on his arrival in Washington the Ashburton
Treaty was still pending, whereas it had been settled for
six months. But in a later chapter we will discuss this
fully.
The delay, therefore, constituted Whitman's opportunity, and enabled him to turn his perilous journey into
the salvation of his beloved northwest. If anyone could
be intelligently thankful that the Oregon question had
not been pressed into the treaty, that man must have
been Marcus Whitman.
Meanwhile the bow of Ulysses was relaxed. For the
very day when the Senate ratified the treaty, thirty-nine
to nine, we find Webster thus writing to his Marshfield
farmer: "lam against filling the floor of the barn with
salt hay.   It spoils the looks of things, besides being in OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
the way. You will do better to make a third cap, large,
and place it in a convenient spot near the piggery, as I
am not at all certain-but what you and I shall make a
barn the last two weeks in September and the first two
in October."
If Dr. Whitman could have created all the circumstances and ordained his own time, his arrival in Washington could not have been more apt for seizing the condition of things and saving Oregon. Its destiny he had
brought over on his own saddle, and now held it in his
solitary hand. His knowledge of the case was original,
personal, and experimental, and at Washington he made
it declarative. With his understanding of the whole
affair, and with his practical sense and energy, he was
anxious to venture the issue for Oregon on an experiment, and the Cabinet were willing he should do it.
Fremont was promised as an escort for the returning
caravan that was to constitute the experiment. ' The
settlement, therefore, of the Oregon question, and the
crowning of that wonderful ride, waited on that emigrant cavalcade that was about to move off into the
wild west from Westport, Missouri. CHAPTER XX.
IS  OREGON  "WORTH  SAVING?
When Dr. Whitman arrived in Washington it was a
common question there, and so poorly understood as to
be variously answered, whether Oregon were worth saving. It was several months distant from our national
capital, and had been but little examined and reported
by Americans, and occupied by settlers only about
twelve months. The information obtained from explorers, traders, and trappers from the United States had
been slight, mostly indefinite, and not very tempting to
emigration. The popular and prevailing impression
was that Oregon was wild, rough, and inhospitable, and
not inviting to immigrants and specially to family life.
It was thought to be no place for white women and their
children, nor even for business men in the ordinary pursuits of agriculture, mechanics, trade, and commerce.
Even if these things were otherwise, and the whole region were tempting to American life, it was not accessible by land; and to double Cape Horn in a voyage of
weary months was out of the question. Prior to the
arrival of the Doctor this ignorance made it impossible to settle the question in dispute. The emigrant
scheme contained the solution of doubts.
Was Oregon worth having by the United States ?
Doubtful, as the case then stood in evidence. The
northwest was opened and made known to the United 190    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
■\\\
States by the Hudson Bay Company, as it became in the
course of their progressive trade the natural extension
of their magnificent game preserve. Their policy, as a
grand mercantile monopoly, was to keep it in their own
hands. As already stated, that broad Scotchman and fur-
trader, Alexander Mackenzie, had gone across — first of
white men — to the northwest Pacific, and painted his
mark there upon rock. Thus his discoveries by land
closed in with those of Captain Cook by sea, made fifteen years before, and the English arm was stretched
across from sea to sea. A little later, 1806, Simon
Frazer made a settlement on a river there, with his name.
" The first made on the west of the Rocky Mountains
by civilized man."1
The publication of Cook's voyages, 1784-5, introduced
many rival and adventurous traders into those northwestern seas, and from that time the Hudson Bay Company urged, energetically, their monopoly there, as we
have before seen. The American purchase and the exploration by Lewis and Clark were not followed by colonies from the States for many years. The first independent emigrating party of men, women, and children
— one hundred and twenty — to that country was led
over in 1842 by Elijah White, Indian agent for the government in the northwest. This was the company that
informed Dr. Whitman of the negotiations for the Ashburton Treaty, and hastened him on his ride.2 Prior to
this a few missionary bands had gone over, but their information was mostly concerning their work.    The va-
1 The Oregon Question Examined.   By Travers Twiss, Professor of
Political Economy, Oxford, 1816, p. 13.
2 A Concise View of Oregon Territory.   By Elijah White, Indian
Agent for Oregon Territory, Washington, 1846>pp. 1, 65. IS OREGON WORTH SAVINGt
191
rious American trading parties had gained much knowledge of that country in the line of their business, but
they were not accessible as an organized fraternity, and
so could not impart much valuable information. No
doubt a watchful reporter, hanging about St. Louis from
the return of Lewis and Clark in 1806, to Whitman's
arrival there in 1843, could have picked up many valuable facts concerning that vast northwest. Old traders
and trappers, and Mississippi boatmen of the Mike Fink
stamp, a species long extinct, must have made many a
saloon, and verandah," and shanty on Water Street and
the Levee fascinating with their stories. The quarters
of the American Fur Company must have been full of
profitable information, but little literary ambition was
there, and only financial facts went into their huge folios.
We would sacrifice a portly alcove to-day for a few
hours with such pioneer traders as the Sublettes, and
Davenport, and Campbell, and the Bents, and Choteau,
and St. Vrain, and others. One may be pardoned for
coveting what those men carried with them to the grave.
An incident, with headline only, may hint at our loss.
About Christmas, 1830, William Sublette had cached
his furs on the Bighorn River, and having joined the
camp of his brother Milton, crossed over into the valley
of Wind River»to winter. When he had well quartered
his men, he put out for St. Louis, with Black Harris, traveling on snow-shoes, with a train of pack dogs.
What a story to be lost! .
At the time of the interview between Whitman and
Webster the most of the information received in the
States from the northwest had of necessity, therefore,
come in through English channels, and was moulded to
Hudson Bay interests.   While that country lay as an 192   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Mmi a I',fi!
obscure right between the two nations, and the Company saw an advance opening for their trade, it was
quite natural that they should diminish temptations to
visit it, and weave obstacles between it and a rival on
the border. This they did to a successful extent up
to the time when Whitman arrived on the Potomac.
They had made it quite obvious to the uninformed, says
Gray, " that the whole country was of little value to any
one. It would scarcely support the few Indians, much
less a large population of settlers."
English volumes of travel and scholarly Review articles were teaching the same delusion abroad. So the
| Edinburgh Review " said: " Only a very small proportion of the land is capable of cultivation." " West
of the Rocky Mountains the desert extends from the
Mexican (Californian) border to the Columbia," and it
endeavored to show that the country east of the mountains was " incapable, probably forever, of fixed settlements," where now are Kansas, Nebraska, and Dakota.
The "British and Foreign Review" preached to the
same application and conclusion : " Upon the whole,
therefore, the Oregon territory holds out no great promise as an agricultural field." The " London Examiner "
was quite pronounced, if not petulant, that the ignorant
Americans did not give up a country equal in area to
England eight times: " The whole territory in dispute
is not worth twenty thousand pounds to either power."1
This worthless region, as they wished to show it, they
nevertheless occupied eastward from the Pacific to the
heads of the Missouri and Mississippi.   When Lieutenant
UK'
1 Vol. lxxxii. p. 240. Also July, 1843, p. 184. British and Foreign Review, January, 1844, p. 21. London Examiner, quoted in
Webster's Works, i.: Introd. cxlix.
1411 IS OREGON WORTH SAVING*
193
Pike, in his expedition of 1805, found the Hudson Bay
Company flying the English flag within our territory, and
required it to be hauled down, he wrote to Captain Mc-
Gillis: " I find your establishments at every suitable place
along the whole extent of the south side of Lake Superior, to its head, from thence to the sources of the Mississippi, down Red River, and even extending to the centre of our newly acquired territory of Louisiana."
Their trappers and traders, in a gossipy way, were
undervaluing Oregon, as the stately quarterlies were
doing in a more dignified manner. This depreciating
view of that country came to possess our own literature
and popular speech. Captain William Sturgis, who had
trafficked on the northwest coast and at the English posts
there, uses this language in a lecture before the Mercantile Library Association of Boston, two years even after
the arrival of Whitman : " Rather than have new states
formed beyond the Rocky Mountains, to be added to our
present Union, it would be a lesser evil, as far as that
Union is concerned, if the unoccupied portion of the
Oregon territory should sink into Symme's Hole, leaving
the western base of those mountains and the borders of
the Pacific Ocean one and the same."1
A similar view of Oregon's value probably led Benton
to make that remarkable utterance, in 1825 ; " The ridge
of the Rocky Mountains may be named without offence
as presenting a convenient natural and everlasting boundary. Along the back of this ridge the western limits of
this Republic should be drawn, and the statue of the fabled god Terminus should be raised upon its highest
peak, never to be thrown down." As late as 1844 Mr.
Winthrop, calling attention in the Senate to this sentiment, remarked: " It was well said."
1 Boston, 1845, p. 24.
I; 194 OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
The same article from which we have quoted in the
" Edinburgh Review " thinks that the American colonists in Oregon have been " misled by the representations of the climate and soil of Oregon, which for party
purposes have been spread through the United States."
Then the " Review " becomes prophetic: " It seems probable that, in a few years, all that formerly gave life to
the country, both the hunter and his prey, will become
extinct, and that their place will be supplied by a thin
white and half-breed population, scattered aloug the few
fertile valleys, supported by pasture instead of the chase,
and gradually degenerating into barbarism, far more offensive than the backwoodsman." This defamation of
Oregon is naturally followed by the English writer with
the declaration that " No nation now possesses any title,
perfect or imperfect, by discovery, by settlement, by
treaty, or by prescription."
The Ashburton Treaty had been then ratified, Oregon
was omitted, and the next step must be anticipated. Evidently the " Review " was making and exporting opinions
for American use, and forty years ago it was no inferior
power in determining the affairs of this country. It is
right to add, however, that twenty-four years afterward,
the " Westminster Review " had the candor to confess:
" In spite of the disparaging estimates of Mr. Edward
Ellice and Sir George Simpson, and the unfavorable
impression of the territory, which has been so industriously propagated by the Hudson Bay Company, we are
compelled to believe, on overwhelming testimony, that
the Fur Company possess, or claim to possess, a grand
estate, larger than most kingdoms, and a great portion
of it of unequalled natural resources."
Mr. McDuffie, in a speech in the Senate, reflected, IS OREGON WORTH SAVING?
195
roughly and crudely, the English and Hudson Bay Company's teachings on the subject: —
" What is the character of this country ? Why, as I
understand it, that seven hundred miles this side of the
Rocky Mountains is uninhabitable, where rain scarcely
ever falls — a barren and sandy soil . . . mountains
totally impassable, except in certain parts, where there
were gaps or depressions, to be reached only by going
some hundreds of miles out of the direct course. Well,
now, what are we going to do in such a case as this ? How
are you going to apply steam ? Have you made anything like an estimate of the cost of a railroad running
from here to the mouth of the Columbia ? Why the
wealth of the Indies would be insufficient. You would
have to tunnel through mountains five or six hundred
miles in extent. ... Of what use will this be for agricultural purposes ? I would not, for that purpose, give
a pinch of snuff for the whole territory. ... I wish it
was an impassable barrier to secure us against the intrusion of others. ... If there was an embankment of
even five feet to be removed, I would not consent to expend five dollars to remove that embankment, to enable
our population to go there. ... I thank God for his
mercy in placing the Rocky Mountains there."
This speech in the Senate was delivered on the 25th
of January, 1843. An interesting coincidence comes
in here. On the 7th of this month Whitman had left
Bent's Fort for St. Louis and Washington ; on the
13th had encountered that terrible and memorable " cold
wave " of the interior, and in his lonely saddle was pressing on to the States, with a bundle of facts that would
reduce so many speeches, like that of McDuffie, and so
many English Review articles, to deceptive rhetoric. 1  •
lima
\\w'
196  OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Indeed, it was unfortunate for the American interests,
that outside, foreign, and rival parties furnished the basis
and tone of public opinion on the question. The Great
American Desert was made a standing intimidation to
the emigrant. " From the valley of the Mississippi to
the Rocky Mountains, the United States territory," says
the " Westminster Review," " consists of an arid tract
extending south nearly to Texas, which has been called
the Great American Desert." " The caravan of emigrants who undertake the passage," says Mr. Edward J.
Wallace, " take provisions for six months, and many of
them die of starvation on the way."1
That " Desert" still forms quite an African feature in
the visions of some eastern people, who have read only
" Pike's Expedition," and Long's, and Wilson P. Hunt's,
and who remember faithfully Morse's and Cumming's
geographies of their childhood. What a dreary Arabian
centre that Great American Desert gave then to the
map of the United States! Missouri, and Kansas, and
Nebraska, and Colorado, and Dakota, and other splendid
farming regions are now good substitutes for that Zahara.
But unfavorable impressions of the west, this side and
beyond the mountains, were not due to the English
alone. The east was jealous of the west, and consequently negligent of it. A question in McDuffie's speech
is a hint of this. " Do you think your honest farmers in
Pennsylvania, New York, or even Ohio or Missouri,
would abandon their farms to go upon any such enterprise as this ? " And Mr. Winthrop is appalled by the
same desert. " Whether that spirit [of emigration], indomitable as it is in an ordinary encounter, would not
1 Edward J. Wallace, Barrister-at-Law.' The Oregon Question Examined, London, 1846, p. 29.
!• IS OREGON WORTH SAVING f
197
be found stumbling upon the dark mountains, or fainting in the dreary valleys, or quenched beneath the perpetual snows, which nature has opposed to the passage
to this disputed territory, remains to be seen." In
1846 this veteran statesman is still speaking of "a
wagon-road eighteen hundred miles in length through
an arid and mountainous region " to the shores of the
Pacific.
The fact is constantly meeting us, in this historical inquiry concerning the origin, growth, and acquisition of
our Oregon, that the vastness of our territory, the great
distance of fascinating portions of it from the old east,
and the long trails of our daring emigrants, made it exceedingly difficult for the government to appreciate it
and provide for it.
The time is not far past when a tour to Illinois was
more tedious and even dangerous than one to-day to
China. Lieutenant Pike was not the only one who feared
the ruin of the Republic by the thin diffusion of its population by emigration.1 Similar lack of foresight and
knowledge, and practical, though unconscious indifference to our magnificent western growth, was shown when
efforts were made to withhold all public lands from sale
and settlement after the Louisiana purchase, beyond the
Mississippi, till wild lands east of that river were taken
up. And it is not to be concealed that the east bore it
ill that the old centres of wealth and voting and general
control were going " out west."
It is still difficult to persuade benevolent capitalists
and benevolent organizations that tneir most hopeful
fields are frontier fields.    The handful of grain, whose
1 Explorations on the Sources of the Mississippi, Missouri, Platte
and Arkansas, 1806, Appendix II. 198   OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
fruit is to shake like Lebanon, is prairie corn, and Pacific wheat. The old fields east of the Ohio, and specially east of the Hudson, have done raising these large
crops of prophecy. The benevolence is reverent and
filial and lovely that still decorates the old altars of re-
"ligion, and wreathes the monuments of the fathers, and
adds new turrets and alcoves and elms to the classic
shades and walks of our younger feet. But if, by and
by, we would rest in shrines, to which the godly and
the scholarly will make pilgrimage, and as reverently,
and filially, and lovingly as we do now to those of the
fathers, we must put our legacies, and sympathies, and
labors, as they did, into a growing frontier, and make
the wilderness bud and blossom.
Prior to 1843 discussions on Oregon were not infrequent in Congress, but no legislation was had anticipating its settlement and protection. The first movement
of this nature was in a resolution introduced into the
House, in 1820, by Mr. Floyd of Virginia, but only debate followed. In 1843 a bill by Mr. Lewis of Missouri passed the Senate, making some legal provisions
for Oregon, but it was lost in the House under an adverse report made by Mr. John Quincy Adams. In
those times western enterprise, in the form of Fur Companies, did the most to compel attention to that neglected
portion of our domain, notably, Ashley's, 1823, Jackson
and Sublette's, 1827, Pattie's, 1830, Bonneville's, 1832,
and some few others.
But the Hudson Bay Company did all they could to
bring failure upon these, and they were generally successful. Governor Pelley of that Company well says in
1838: " We have compelled the American adventurers
to withdraw from the contest, and are^now pressing the IS OREGON WORTH SAVING?
199
Russian Fur Company so closely, that we hope, at no
very distant period, to confine them to the trade of their
own proper territory." The Hudson Bay Company
finally leased from the Russians that long, narrow strip
of Alaska^between British Columbia and the ocean, in
no place more than thirty miles wide. The rental paid
was two thousand land otter skins a year. The American adventurers generally returned to the States dissatisfied, and they charged much to climate, long journeys,
and desert regions, which was really due to the harsli
monopoly of English rivals.
All this tended to defame and depreciate Oregon in
the popular mind, and congressional delays and inefficient action were the natural consequence. Feeble
and not very successful missionary efforts in 1834 and
the years following kept a kind of life in the Oregon
question, and, uniting with the trading interest, brought
it down to the times of the Ashburton Treaty. To one
who has traced these facts, it will not seem strange that
it did not gain recognition in that treaty. It had not
definiteness or vitality enough in the American mind,
which lay in ignorance of its true merits, and it could
not have been handled as a whole and with international equity.
Indeed, when Dr. Whitman arrived many still held
to the idea expressed, in his early career, by General"
Jackson to President Monroe: " Concentrate our population, confine our frontier to proper limits, until our
country, in those limits, is filled with a dense population. It is the denseness of our population that gives
strength and security to our frontier."
We have noticed Mr. Benton's rhetorical erection of
the god Terminus on the Rocky Mountains.   In a speech 200    OREGON:  THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Hit
made two years even after the arrival and the alarming
information of Dr. Whitman, Mr. Winthrop said : " Are
our western brethren straightened for elbow-room, or
likely to be for a thousand years ? Have they not too
much land for their own advantage already ? . . . I
doubt whether the west has a particle of real interest in
the possession of Oregon. . . . The west has no interest,
the country has no interest, in extending our territorial
possessions." Mr. Webster renews the declaration of
General Jackson and Mr. Winthrop, when opposing, in
1845, the admission of Texas : " The government is very
likely to be endangered, in my opinion, by a further enlargement of the territorial surface, already so vast, over
which it is extended."
Another question, traditional from colonial times, was
floating about Washington and affected the other, whether
Oregon was worth having, when Dr. Whitman appeared.
It was whether smaller domains and several independent
governments were not preferable, to one total and inclusive Union. When the colonies were feeling their way
toward independence, newspapers, pamphlets, and conventions handled this question, and among other plans
a northern .and middle and southern confederation or
separate government was proposed. Sectional feeling
and separation were high. After independence and the
Union were made sure, Washington discovered strong tendencies to a separate government in the southwest: | The
western states hang upon a pivot. The touch of a feather
would turn them any way." Jefferson carried along toward Whitman's day the colonial notion of separate governments for the Americans, and was therefore disappointed by the failure of the Astor colony and plan. " I
considered as a great public acquisition," he wrote to Mr. IS OREGON WORTH SAVING?
Astor after the failure, " the commencement oi a settlement on that point of the western coast of America, and
looked forward with gratification to the time when its
descendants should have spread themselves through the
whole length of that coast, covering it with free and independent Americans, unconnected with us but by the ties
of blood and interest, and enjoying, like us, the right of
self-government." ..." The germ of a great, free,
and independent empire on that side of our continent."
In 1829 an organization was formed in Boston to promote the American occupation of Oregon, and it asked
of Congress a colonial government, or an independent
one, as that body might advise.
The venerable Gallatin, in his very able letters on
the Oregon question, remarks: " The inhabitants of the
country, from whatever quarter they may have come, will
be, of right, as well as in fact, the sole legitimate owners
of Oregon. Whenever sufficiently numerous they will
decide whether it suits them best to be an independent
nation, or an integral part of our great Republic. . . .
Viewed as an abstract proposition, Mr. Jefferson's opinion appears correct, that it will be best for both the
Atlantic and the Pacific American nations, whilst entertaining the most friendly relations, to remain independent, rather than to be united under the same government." J
Such were the antecedents and surroundings of the
Oregon question when Dr. Whitman arrived in Washington, and neither Oregon, nor Webster, nor Whitman
can be made to stand in a true light if placed outside
this historical framework. Without making an extensive
study of the case, the special friends of Oregon have felt
1 Letter V. 202    OREGON: THE STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION.
Mm
II
lii
that it was at that time neglected, and some of the friends
of Dr. Whitman have felt that his perilous mission did
not gain a just attention in the office of the Secretary of
State. The facts in the case, so far as discovered, do
not show disappointment by the one or n