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Title: How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon - A True Romance of Patriotic Heroism Christian Devotion and - Final Martyrdom
Author: Nixon, Oliver W.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
  been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  The quote starting on page 19 with "If, however," has no end quote.

  On page 177, "as he plead" should possibly be "as he pled."

  The quote starting on page 215 with "Marcus Whitman" has no end

  On page 287, "staid back" should possibly be "stayed back."


     How Marcus Whitman
     Saved Oregon.


     Life on the Plains and Mountains in Pioneer Days

     OLIVER W. NIXON, M.D., LL.D.,

     _For Seventeen Years President and Literary Editor
     of the Chicago Inter Ocean_.

     Rev. Frank W. Gunsaulus, D.D., LL.D.




     Copyrighted, 1895, by Oliver W. Nixon.
     (All rights reserved.)



Little Log School House on the Willamette,



This little volume is not intended to be a history of Oregon missions
or even a complete biography of Dr. Whitman. Its aim is simply to
bring out, prominently, in a series of sketches, the heroism and
Christian patriotism of the man who rendered great and distinguished
service to his country, which has never been fully appreciated or

In my historical facts I have tried to be correct and to give credit
to authorities where I could. I expect some of my critics will ask, as
they have in the past: "Who is your authority for this fact and that?"
I only answer, I don't know unless I am authority. In 1850 and 1851 I
was a teacher of the young men and maidens, and bright-eyed boys and
girls of the old pioneers of Oregon.

Many years ago I told the story of that school to Hezekiah
Butterworth, who made it famous in his idyllic romance, "The Log
School House on the Columbia." It was a time when history was being
made. The great tragedy at Waiilatpui was fresh in the minds of the
people. With such surroundings one comes in touch with the spirit of

Later on, I was purser upon the Lot Whitcomb, the first steamer ever
built in Oregon, and came in contact with all classes of people. If I
have failed to interpret the history correctly, it is because I failed
to understand it. The sketches have been written in hours snatched
from pressing duties, and no claim is made of high literary
excellence. But if they aid the public, even in a small degree, to
better understand and appreciate the grand man whose remains rest in
his martyr's grave at Waiilatpui, unhonored by any monument, I shall
be amply compensated.

     O. W. N.



     Introduction                                                11-14


     The Title of the United States to Oregon--The Hudson
     Bay Company--The Louisiana Purchase                         15-37


     English and American Opinion of the Value of the
     Northwest Territory--The Neglect of American
     Statesmen                                                   38-49


     The Romance of the Oregon Mission                           50-62


     The Wedding Journey Across the Plains                       63-82


     Mission Life at Waiilatpui                                  83-98


     The Ride to Save Oregon                                    99-123


     Whitman in the Presence of President Tyler and
     Secretary of State Daniel Webster--The Return to
     Oregon                                                    124-164


     A Backward Look at Results                                165-185


     Change in Public Sentiment                                186-200


     The Failure of Modern History to do Justice to Dr.
     Whitman                                                   201-216


     The Massacre at Waiilatpui                                217-237


     Biographical--Dr. Whitman--Dr. McLoughlin                 238-249


     Whitman Seminary and College                              250-262


     Oregon Then, and Oregon, Washington and Idaho Now         263-276


     Life on the Great Plains in Pioneer Days                  277-304

     Appendix                                                  305-339



     1. Whitman Leaving Home on His Ride to Save
     Oregon                                              Frontispiece.

     2. Falls of the Willamette                                     32

     3. Map of Early Oregon and the West, Showing Whitman's
     Route, etc.                                                    41

     4. Steamer Lot Whitcomb                                        56

     5. Dr. Marcus Whitman                                          72

     6. Mission Station at Waiilatpui                               88

     7. Mrs. Narcissa Prentice Whitman                             104

     8. Whitman Pleading for Oregon before President Tyler
     and Secretary Webster                                         128

     9. Rev. H. H. Spalding                                        144

     10. Rev. Cushing Eells, D.D.                                  160

     11. Whitman College                                           176

     12. Whitman's Grave                                           224

     13. Dr. John McLoughlin                                       248

     14. Dr. Daniel K. Pearsons                                    264

     15. Rev. S. B. L. Penrose, President of Whitman College       272

     16. The Log School House on the Willamette                    280

     17. A. J. Anderson, Ph.D.                                     296

     18. Rev. James F. Eaton, D.D.                                 296

     19. Portraits of Flathead Indians Who Visited St. Louis       313




Pastor of Plymouth Church, and President of Armour Institute, Chicago.

Among the efforts at description which will associate themselves with
either our ignorance or our intelligence as to our own country, the
following words by our greatest orator, will always have their place:

     "What do we want with the vast, worthless area, this
     region of savages and wild beasts, of deserts, of shifting
     sands and whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie dogs?
     To what use could we ever hope to put these great deserts,
     or these endless mountain ranges, impenetrable, and
     covered to their base with eternal snow? What can we ever
     hope to do with the Western coast, a coast of three
     thousand miles, rock-bound, cheerless, and uninviting, and
     not a harbor on it? What use have we for such a country?
     Mr. President, I will never vote one cent from the public
     treasury to place the Pacific coast one inch nearer to
     Boston than it is now."

Perhaps no words uttered in the United States Senate were ever more
certainly wide of their mark than these of Daniel Webster. In their
presence, the name of Marcus Whitman is a bright streak of light
penetrating a vague cloud-land. Washington, with finer prevision, had
said: "I shall not be contented until I have explored the Western
country." Even the Father of his Country did not understand the vast
realm to which he referred, nor had his mind any boundaries
sufficiently great to inclose that portion of the country which
Marcus Whitman preserved to the United States.

An interesting series of splendid happenings has united the ages of
history in heroic deeds, and this volume is a fitting testimonial of
the immense significance of one heroic deed in one heroic life. The
conservatism, which is always respectable and respected, had its
utterance in the copious eloquence of Daniel Webster; the radicalism,
which always goes to the root of every question, had its expression in
the answer which Whitman made to the great New Englander.

Even Daniel Webster, at a moment like this, seems less grand of
proportion than does the plain and poor missionary, with "a half pint
of seed wheat" in his hand, and words upon his lips which are an
enduring part of our history. Only a really illumined man, at that
hour, could fitly answer Senator McDuffie, when he said: "Do you think
your honest farmers in Pennsylvania, New York, or even Ohio and
Missouri, would abandon their farms and go upon any such enterprise as
this?" Whitman made answer by breaking the barrier of the Rockies with
his own courage and faith.

It may well be hoped that such a memorial as this may be adopted in
home and public library as a chapter in Americanism and its advance,
worthy to minister to the imagination and idealism of our whole
people. The heroism of the days to come, which we need, must grow out
of the heroism of the days that have been. The impulse to do and dare
noble things to-morrow, will grow strong from contemplating the memory
of such yesterdays.

This volume has suggested such a picture as will sometime be made as
a tribute to genius and the embodiment of highest art by some great
painter. The picture will represent the room in which the old heroic
missionary, having traveled over mountains and through deserts until
his clothing of fur was well-nigh worn from him, and his frame bowed
by anxiety and exposure, at that instant when the great Secretary and
orator said to him: "There cannot be made a wagon road over the
mountains; Sir George Simpson says so," whereat the intrepid pioneer
replied: "There is a wagon road, for I have made it."

What could be a more fitting memorial for such a man as this than a
Christian college called Whitman College? He was more to the ulterior
Northwest than John Harvard has ever been to the Northeast of our
common country. Nothing but such an institution may represent all the
ideas and inspirations which were the wealth of such a man's brain and
heart and his gift to the Republic. He was an _avant courier_ of the
truths on which alone republics and democracies may endure.

Whitman not only conducted the expedition of men and wagons to Oregon,
after President Tyler had made his promise that the bargain, which
Daniel Webster proposed, should not be made, but he led an expedition
of ideas and sentiments which have made the names Oregon, Washington
and Idaho synonymous with human progress, good government and
civilization. When the soldier-statesman of the Civil War, Col. Baker,
mentioned the name and memory of Marcus Whitman to Abraham Lincoln, he
did it with the utmost reverence for one of the founders of that
civilization which, in the far Northwest, has spread its influence
over so vast a territory to make the mines of California the resources
of freedom, and to bind the forests and plains with the destiny of the

When Thomas Starr King was most eloquent in his efforts to keep
California true to liberty and union, in that struggle of debate
before the Civil War opened, he worked upon the basis, made larger and
sounder by the fearless ambassador of Christian civilization. In an
hour when the mind of progress grows tired of the perpetual presence
of Napoleon, again clad in all his theatrical glamour before the eyes
of youth, we may well be grateful for this sketch of a sober
far-seeing man of loyal devotion to the great public ends; whose
unselfishness made him seem, even then, a startling figure at the
nation's capital; whose noble bearing, great faith, supreme courage,
and vision of the future, mark him as a genuine and typical American.

These hopes and inspirations are all enshrined in the educational
enterprise known as Whitman College. Every student of history must be
glad to recognize the fact that the history of which this book is the
chronicle, is also a prophecy, and that whatever may be the fate of
men's names or men's schemes in the flight of time, this college will
be a beacon, shining with the light of Marcus Whitman's heroism and




The home of civilization was originally in the far East, but its
journeys have forever been westward. The history of the world is a
great panorama, with its pictures constantly shifting and changing.
The desire for change and new fields early asserted itself. The human
family divided up under the law of selection and affinities, shaped
themselves into bands and nationalities, and started upon their
journey to people the world.

Two branches of the original stock remained as fixtures in Asia, while
half a dozen branches deployed and reached out for the then distant
and unexplored lands of the West. They reached Europe. The Gaul and
the Celt, the Teuton and Slav, ever onward in their march, reached and
were checked by the Atlantic that washed the present English, German
and Spanish coasts. The Latin, Greek and Illyrian were alike checked
by the Mediterranean. For a long period it seemed as if their journey
westward was ended; that they had reached their Ultima Thule; that the
western limit had been found.

For many centuries the millions rested in that belief, until the great
discoveries of 1492 awakened them to new dreams of western
possibilities. At once and under new incentives the westward march
began again. The States of the Atlantic were settled and the
wilderness subdued. No sooner was this but partially accomplished than
the same spirit, "the western fever," seized upon the people.

It seems to have been engrafted in the nature of man, as it is in the
nature of birds, to migrate. In caravan after caravan they pushed
their way over the Allegheny Mountains, invaded the rich valleys,
floated down the great rivers, gave battle to the savage inhabitants
and in perils many, and with discouragements sufficient to defeat less
heroic characters, they took possession of the now great States of the
Middle West. The country to be settled was so vast as to seem to our
fathers limitless. They had but little desire as a nation for further

Up to the date of 1792, the Far West was an unexplored region. The
United States made no claim to any lands bordering upon the Pacific,
and the discovery made in the year 1792 was more accidental than
intentional, as far as the nation was concerned.

Captain Robert Gray, who made the discovery, was born in Tiverton, R.
I., 1755, and died at Charleston, S. C., in 1806. He was a famous
sailor, and was the first citizen who ever carried the American flag
around the globe. His vessel, The Columbia, was fitted out by a
syndicate of Boston merchants, with articles for barter for the
natives in Pacific ports. In his second great voyage in 1792 he
discovered the mouth of the Columbia river. There had been rumors of
such a great river through Spanish sources, and the old American
captain probably, mainly for the sake of barter and to get fresh
supplies, had his nautical eyes open.

Men see through a glass darkly and a wiser, higher power than man may
have guided the old explorer in safety over the dangerous bar, into
the great river he discovered and named. He was struck by the grandeur
and magnificence of the river as well as by the beauty of the country.
He at once christened it "The Columbia," the name of his good ship
which had already carried the American flag around the globe. He
sailed several miles up the river, landed and took possession in the
name of the United States.

It is a singular coincidence that both Spain and England had vessels
just at this time on this coast, hunting for the same river, and so
near together as to be in hailing distance of each other. Captain Gray
only a few days before had met Captain Vancouver, the Englishman, and
had spoken to him. Captain Vancouver had sailed over the very ground
passed over soon after by Gray, but failed to find the river. He had
noted, too, a change in the color of the waters, but it did not
sufficiently impress him to cause an investigation.

After Captain Gray had finished his exploration and gone to sea, he
again fell in with Vancouver and reported the result of his
discoveries. Vancouver immediately turned about, found the mouth of
the river, sailed up the Columbia to the rapids and up the Willamette
to near the falls.

In the conference between the English and Americans in 1827, which
resulted in the renewal of the treaty of 1818, while the British
commissioners acknowledged that Gray was first to discover and enter
the Columbia river, yet they demanded that "he should equally share
the honor with Captain Vancouver." They claimed that while Gray
discovered the mouth of the river, he only sailed up it a few miles,
while "Captain Vancouver made a full and complete discovery." One of
the authorities stated concisely that, "Captain Gray's claim is
limited to the mouth of the river."

This limit was in plain violation of the rules regulating all such
events, and no country knew it better than England. Besides, it was
Captain Gray's discovery, told to the English commander Vancouver,
which made him turn back on his course to rediscover the same river.
The claim that the English made, that "Captain Gray made but a single
step in the progress of discovery," in the light of these facts, marks
their claims as remarkably weak. The right of discovery was then the
first claim made by the United States upon Oregon.

The second was by the Louisiana purchase from France in 1803. This was
the same territory ceded from France to Spain in 1762 and returned to
France in 1800, and sold to the United States for $15,000,000 in 1803,
"with all its rights and appurtenances, as fully and in the same
manner as they were acquired by the French Republic."

There has always been a dispute as to how far into the region of the
northwest this claim of the French extended. In the sale no parallels
were given; but it was claimed that their rights reached to the
Pacific Ocean. Dr. Barrows says, "If, however, the claims of France
failed to reach the Pacific on the parallel of 49 degrees, it must
have been because they encountered the old claims of Spain, that
preceded the Nootka treaty and were tacitly conceded by England.
Between the French claims and the Spanish claims there was left no
territory for England to base a claim on. If the United States did
not acquire through to the Pacific in the Louisiana purchase, it was
because Spain was owner of the territory prior to the first, second
and third transfers. It is difficult to perceive standing ground for
the English in either of the claims mentioned.

The claim of England that the Nootka treaty of 1790 abrogated the
rights of Spain to the territory of Oregon, which she then held, is
untenable, from the fact that no right of sovereignty or jurisdiction
was conveyed by that treaty. Whatever right Spain had prior to that
treaty was not disturbed, and all legal rights vested in Spain were
still in force when she ceded the territory to France in 1800, and
also when France ceded the same to the United States in 1803.

The third claim of the United States was by the commission sent out by
Jefferson in 1803, when Lewis and Clarke and their fellow voyagers
struck the headwaters of the Columbia and followed it to its mouth and
up its tributary rivers.

The fourth was the actual settlement of the Astor Fur Company at
Astoria in 1811. True it was a private enterprise, but was given the
sanction of the United States and a U. S. naval officer was allowed to
command the leading vessel in Astor's enterprise, thus placing the
seal of nationality upon it. True the town was captured and the
effects confiscated in 1812 by the British squadron of the Pacific,
commanded by Captain Hillyar, but the fact of actual settlement by
Americans at Astoria, even for a short time, had its value in the
later argument. In the treaty of Ghent with England in 1814, Astoria,
with all its rights, was ordered to be restored to its original
owners, but even this was not consummated until 1846.

America's fifth claim was in her treaty with Spain in 1818, when Spain
relinquished any and all claims to the territory in dispute to the
United States.

The sixth and last claim was from Mexico, by a treaty in 1828, by
which the United States acquired all interest Mexico claimed, formerly
in common with Spain, but now under her own government.

Such is a brief statement, but I trust a sufficient one, for an
intelligent understanding of the questions of ownership.

It will be seen that the United States was vested in all the rights
held over Oregon by every other power except one, that of Great
Britain. Her claim rested, as we have seen, in the fact that "Captain
Gray only discovered the mouth of the river," but did not survey it to
the extent that the English Captain Vancouver did, after being told by
Gray of his discovery. They also made claims of settlement by their
Fur Company, just as the United States did by the settlement made by
Astor and others. As the Hudson Bay Company and the Northwest Fur
Company of Montreal figure so extensively in the contest for English
ownership of Oregon, it is well to have a clear idea of their origin
and power.

The Hudson Bay Company was organized in 1670 by Charles II., with
Prince Rupert, the King's cousin, at its head, with other favorites of
his Court. They were invested with remarkable powers, such as had
never before, nor have since, been granted to a corporation. They were
granted absolute proprietorship, with subordinate sovereignty, over
all that country known by name of "Rupert's Land" including all
regions "discovered or undiscovered within the entrance to Hudson
Strait." It was by far the largest of all English dependencies at that

For more than a century the company confined its active operations to
a coast traffic.

The original stock of this company was $50,820. During the first fifty
years the capital stock was increased to $457,000 wholly out of the
profits, besides paying dividends.

During the last half of the 17th century the Northwest Fur Company
became a formidable opponent to the Hudson Bay Company, and the
rivalry and great wealth of both companies served to stimulate them
to reach out toward the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

After Canada had become an English dependency and the competition had
grown into such proportions as to interfere with the great monopoly,
in the year 1821, there was a coalition between the Northwest and the
Hudson Bay Companies on a basis of equal value, and the consolidated
stock was marked at $1,916,000, every dollar of which was profits, as
was shown at the time, except the original stock of both companies,
which amounted to about $135,000. And yet during all this period there
had been made an unusual dividend to stockholders of 10 per cent.

Single vessels from headquarters carried furs to London valued at from
three to four hundred thousand dollars. It is not at all strange that
a company which was so rolling in wealth and which was in supreme
control of a territory reaching through seventy-five degrees of
longitude, from Davis Strait to Mt. Saint Elias, and through
twenty-eight degrees of latitude, from the mouth of the Mackenzie to
the California border, should hold tenaciously to its privileges.

It was a grand monopoly, but it must be said of it that no kingly
power ever ruled over savage subjects with such wisdom and discretion.
Of necessity, they treated their savage workmen kindly, but they
managed to make them fill the coffers of the Hudson Bay Company with
a wealth of riches, as the years came and went. Their lives and safety
and profits all depended upon keeping their dependents in a good humor
and binding them to themselves. The leading men of the company were
men of great business tact and shrewdness, and one of their chief
requisites was to thoroughly understand Indian character.

They managed year by year so to gain control of the savage tribes that
the factor of a trading post had more power over a fractious band,
than could have been exerted by an army of men with guns and bayonets.
If, now and then, a chief grew sullen and belligerent, he was at once
quietly bought up by a judicious present, and the company got it all
back many times over from the tribe, when their furs were marketed.

It was the refusal of the missionaries of Oregon to condone crime and
wink at savage methods, as the Hudson Bay Company did, which first
brought about misunderstanding and unpleasantness, as we shall see in
another place.

It was this power and controlling influence which met the pioneer fur
traders and missionaries, upon entering Oregon. They controlled the
savage life and the white men there were wholly dependent upon them.

In 1811 an American fur company at Astoria undertook to open business
upon what they regarded as American soil. They had scarcely settled
down to work when the war of 1812 began and they were speedily routed.

In 1818 a treaty was made, which said, "It is agreed that any country
that may be claimed by either party on the Northwest coast of America
westward of the Stony Mountains shall, together with its harbors,
bays, creeks and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free
and open for ten years from the date of the signature of the present
convention, to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the two powers;
it being well understood that the agreement is not to be construed to
the prejudice of any claim which either of the two high contracting
parties may have to any part of said country; nor shall it be taken to
affect the claims of any other power or state to any of said country;
the only object of the high contracting parties in that respect being
to prevent disputes and differences among themselves."

That looked fair and friendly enough. But how did the Hudson Bay
Company carry it out? They went on just as they had done before,
governing to suit their own selfish interests. They froze out and
starved out every American fur company that dared to settle in any
portion of their territory. They fixed the price of every commodity,
and had such a hold on the various tribes that a foreign company had
no chance to live and prosper.

It so continued until the ten-year limit was nearly up, when in 1827
the commission representing the two powers met and re-enacted the
treaty of 1818, which went into effect in 1828. It was a giant
monopoly, but dealing as it did with savage life, and gathering its
wealth from sources which had never before contributed to the world's
commerce, it was allowed to run its course until it came in contact
with the advancing civilization of the United States, and was worsted
in the conflict.

With the adoption of the Ashburton treaty the Hudson Bay Company was
shorn of much of its kingly power and old time grandeur. But it
remained a money-making organization. Under the terms of the treaty
the great corporation was fully protected. This Ashburton treaty was
written in England and from English standpoints, and every property
and possessory right of this powerful company was strictly guarded.
The interests of the company were made English interests.

Under this treaty the United States agreed to pay all valuations upon
Hudson Bay Company property south of forty-nine degrees; while England
was to make a settlement for all above that line. The company promptly
sent in a bill to the United States for $3,882,036.27, while their
dependent company, the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, sent in a
more modest demand for $1,168,000. These bills were in a state of
liquidation until 1864, when the United States made a final
settlement, and paid the Hudson Bay Company $450,000 and the Puget
Sound Company $200,000.

They also, at the time of presenting bills to the United States,
presented one to England for $4,990,036.07. In 1869 the English
government settled the claim by paying $1,500,000. This amount was
paid from the treasury of the Dominion of Canada, and all the vast
territory north of 49 degrees came under the government of the
Dominion. It was, however, stipulated and agreed that the company
should retain all its forts, with ten acres of ground surrounding
each, together with one-twentieth of all the land from the Red river
to the Rocky Mountains, besides valuable blocks of land to which it
laid special claim.

The company goes on trading as of old; its organization is still
complete; it still makes large dividends of about $400,000 per year,
and has untold prospective wealth in its lands, which are the best in
the Dominion.

Among the most interesting facts connected with our title to Oregon
are those in connection with the Louisiana purchase by the United
States from France in 1803. Many readers of current history have
overlooked the fact, that it was wholly due to England, and her
overweening ambition, that the United States was enabled to buy this
great domain. Letters, which have recently been published, written by
those closest to the high contracting parties, have revealed the
romance, and the inside facts of this great deal, perhaps the most
important the United States ever made, and made so speedily as to
dazzle the Nation.

Few take in the fact that the "Louisiana Purchase" meant not only the
rich state at the mouth of our great river, but also, Arkansas,
Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon,
with probably the two Dakotas. Roughly estimated it was a claim by a
foreign power upon our continent to territory of over 900,000 square

At the time, but little was thought of its value save and except the
getting possession of the rich soil of Louisiana for the purposes of
the Southern planter, and being able to own and control the mouth of
our great river upon which, at that time, all the states of the North
and West were wholly dependent for their commerce.

While Napoleon and the French Government were upon the most friendly
terms with the United States, and conceded to our commerce the widest
facilities, yet there was a lurking fear that such conditions might at
any time change. The desirability of obtaining such possession had
often been canvassed, with scarcely a ray of hope for its
consummation. The United States was poor, and while the South and the
West were deeply interested, the East, which held the balance of
power, was determinedly set against it. The same narrow statesmanship
existed then, which later on undervalued all our possessions beyond
the Stony Mountains, and was willing and even anxious that they should
pass into the possession of a foreign power.

France acquired this vast property from Spain in 1800. In March, 1802,
there was a great treaty entered into between France on one side and
Great Britain, Spain and the Batavian Republic on the other. It was
known as "The Amiens Treaty." It was a short-lived treaty which was
hopelessly ruptured in 1803.

England, foreseeing the rupture, had not delayed to get ready for the
event. Then as now, she was, "Mistress upon the high seas," and set
about arranging to seize everything afloat that carried the French
flag. Her policy was soon made plain, and that was to first make war
upon all French dependencies.

No man knew better than Napoleon how powerless he would be to make any
successful defense. His treasury was well-nigh bankrupt and he must
have money for home defense as soon as the victorious army of the
enemy should return from the Mississippi campaign, which he foresaw.
While the treaty of Amiens was not really abrogated until May, 1803,
yet upon January 1, 1803, the whole matter was well understood by
Napoleon and his advisers.

Early in that month the government received disquieting news from
Admiral Villeneuve who was in command of the French fleet in West
India waters. It plainly stated that it was undoubtedly the fact that
the first blow of the English would be made at New Orleans.

This knowledge was promptly conveyed to the American Minister Monroe,
well knowing that the United States was almost as much interested in
the matter as France was, as it would stop all traffic from all the
States along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and be a death blow to
American prosperity for an indefinite period. The recently published
letters, already referred to, say of the conference between Minister
Monroe and Bonaparte:

"Unfortunately Mr. Monroe at this time did not understand the French
language well enough to follow a speaker who talked as rapidly as did
Bonaparte, and the intervention of an interpreter was necessary. 'We
are not able alone to defend the colony of Louisiana,' the First
Consul began. 'Your new regions of the southwest are nearly as deeply
interested in its remaining in friendly hands as we are in holding
it. Our fleet is not equal to the needs of the French Nation. Can you
not help us to defend the mouth of the Mississippi river?'

"'We could not take such a step without a treaty, offensive and
defensive,' the American answered. 'Our Senate really is the
treaty-making power. It is against us. The President, Mr. Jefferson,
is my friend, as well as my superior officer. Tell me, General, what
you have in your mind.'

"Bonaparte walked the room, a small private consulting cabinet
adjoining the Salles des Ambassadeurs. He had his hands clasped behind
him, his head bent forward--his usual position when in deep thought.
'I acquired the great territory to which the Mississippi mouth is the
entrance,' he finally began, 'and I have the right to dispose of my
own. France is not able now to hold it. Rather than see it in
England's hands, I donate it to America. Why will your country not buy
it from France?' There Bonaparte stopped. Mr. Monroe's face was like a
flame. What a diplomatic feat it would be for him! What a triumph for
the administration of Jefferson to add such a territory to the
national domain!

"No man living was a better judge of his fellows than Bonaparte. He
read the thoughts of the man before him as though they were on a
written scroll. He saw the emotions of his soul. 'Well, what do you
think of it?' said General Bonaparte.

"'The matter is so vast in its direct relations to my country and what
may result from it, that it dazes me,' the American answered. 'But the
idea is magnificent. It deserves to emanate from a mind like yours.'
The First Consul bowed low. Monroe never flattered, and the look of
truth was in his eyes, its ring in his voice. 'I must send a special
communication at once touching this matter to President Jefferson. My
messenger must take the first safe passage to America.'

"'The Blonde, the fastest ship in our navy, leaves Brest at once with
orders for the West Indian fleet, I will detain her thirty-six hours,
till your dispatches are ready,' the First Consul said. 'Your
messenger shall go on our ship.'

"'How much shall I say the territory will cost us?' The great
Corsican--who was just ending the audience, which had been full two
hours long--came up to the American Minister. After a moment he spoke
again. 'Between nations who are really friends there need be no
chaffering. Could I defend this territory, not all the gold in the
world would buy it. But I am giving to a friend what I am unable to
keep. I need 100,000,000 francs in coin or its equivalent. Whatever
action we take must be speedy. Above all, let there be absolute
silence and secrecy,' and Bonaparte bowed our minister out. The
audience was ended. The protracted audience between Napoleon and the
American Minister was such as to arouse gossip, but the secret was
safe in the hands of the two men, both of whom were statesmen and
diplomats who knew the value of secrecy in such an emergency.

"The profoundly astonishing dispatches reached President Jefferson
promptly. He kept it a secret until he could sound a majority of the
Senators and be assured of the standing of such a proposition.

"The main difficulty that was found would be in raising the 75,000,000
francs it was proposed to give. In those days, with a depleted
treasury, it was a large sum of money. The United States had millions
of unoccupied acres, but had few millions in cash in its treasury. But
our statesmen, to their great honor, proved equal to the emergency.
Through the agency of Stephen Girard as financier in chief, the loan
necessary was negotiated through the Dutch House of Hapes in
Amsterdam, and the money paid to France, and the United States entered
into possession of the vast estate."

  [Illustration: FALLS OF THE WILLAMETTE.]

This much of the well-nigh forgotten history we have thought
appropriate to note in this connection; first, because of the new
light given to it from the recent disclosures made; and, second, to
call attention to the fact that a second time, forty-three years
later, it served a valiant purpose in thwarting English ambition and
serving America's highest interests.

Estimated from the standpoint of money and material values, it was a
great transaction, especially notable in view of existing conditions,
but from the standpoint of State and National grandeur, carrying with
it peace and hope and happiness to millions, and continuous rule of
the Republic from ocean to ocean, it assumes a greatness never
surpassed in a single transaction, and not easily over-estimated, and
never in the history of the English people did a single transaction,
with dates so widely separated, arise, and so effectually check their
imperious demands.

The American Republic may well remember with deep gratitude President
Jefferson, and the far-seeing statesmen who rallied to his call and
consummated the grand work. They can at the same time see the
foresight and wisdom of Jefferson in, at once, the very next year,
sending the expedition of Lewis and Clarke to the headwaters of the
Columbia River, and causing a complete survey to be made to its mouth.
It was a complete refutation of the claim of the English
Commissioners, in 1837, that while "Captain Gray only discovered the
mouth of the river, Captain Vancouver made a complete survey." The
American mistake was, not in the purchase and active work then done,
but the lassitude and inexcusable neglect in the forty subsequent
years which imperiled every interest the Republic held in the
territory beyond the Rocky Mountains.

When the treaty of 1846 was signed, it was hoped that the questions at
issue were settled forever; but the Hudson Bay Company was slow to
surrender its grasp on any of the territory it could hold, and
especially one so rich in all materials that constituted its wealth
and power.

The treaty of 1846 between the United States and Great Britain read:

"From the point on the 49th parallel to the middle of the channel
which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island and thence
southerly through the middle of said channel and of the Fuca Straits,
to the Pacific Ocean, provided, however, that the navigation of such
channel and straits south of the latitude 49 degrees remain free and
open to both parties."

This led to after trouble and much ill feeling. The passage referred
to in the treaty is about seven miles wide, between the archipelago
and Vancouver Island. The archipelago is made up of half a dozen
principal islands, and many smaller ones. The largest island, San
Juan, contained about 50,000 acres, and the Hudson Bay Company,
knowing something of its value, had taken possession, and proposed to
hold it. The legislature of Oregon, however, included it in Island
County by an act of 1852, which passed to the Territory of Washington
in 1853 by the division of Oregon. In 1854 the Collector of Customs
for the Puget Sound came in conflict with the Hudson Bay authorities
and a lively row was raised.

The Hudson Bay Company raised the English flag and the collector as
promptly landed and raised the Stars and Stripes. There was a constant
contention between the United States and State authorities, and the
Hudson Bay people, in which the latter were worsted, until in 1856-7,
after much correspondence, both governments appointed a commission to
settle the difficulty. Then followed years of discussion which grew
from time to time warlike, but there was no settlement of the points
in dispute.

In December, 1860, the British Government tired of the contest,
proposed arbitration by one of the European powers and named either
the Swiss Republic, Denmark or Belgium. Then followed the war of the
Rebellion and America had no time to reach the case until 1868-9, when
the whole matter was referred to two commissioners from each
government and the boundary to be determined by the President of the
General Council of the Swiss Republic.

This proposition was defeated and afterward in 1871 the whole matter
was left to the decision of the Emperor of Germany. He made the award
to the United States on all points of dispute in October, 1872, and
thus ended the long contest over the boundary line between the two
countries, after more than half a century's bickering.



The history briefly recited in the previous chapter, fully reveals the
status of the United States as to ownership of Oregon. Prior to the
date to which our story more specifically relates, the United States
had gone on perfecting her titles by the various means already
described. For the Nation's interest, it was a great good fortune at
this early period that a broad-minded, far-seeing man like Thomas
Jefferson was President. It was his wisdom and discretion and
statesmanship that enabled the country to overcome all difficulties
and to make the Louisiana purchase.

Looking deeper into the years of the future than his contemporaries,
he organized the expedition of Lewis and Clarke and surveyed the
Columbia River from its source to its mouth. It was regarded by many
at the time as a needless and unjustifiable expense; and their report
did not create a ripple of applause, and it was an even nine years
after the completion of the expedition, and after the death of one of
the explorers, before the report was printed and given to the public.

But no reader of history will fail to see how important the expedition
was as a link in our chain of evidence. The great misfortune of that
time was, that there were not more Jeffersons. True, it did not people
Oregon, nor was it followed by any legislation protecting any interest
the United States held in the great territory.

There were Congressmen and Senators, who, from time to time, made
efforts to second the work of Jefferson. Floyd, of Virginia, as early
as 1820, made an eloquent plea for the occupation of the territory and
a formal recognition of our rights as rulers. In 1824 a bill passed
the lower house of Congress embodying the idea of Floyd stated four
years previously, but upon reaching the Senate it fell on dull ears.
When the question was before the Senate in 1828, renewing the treaty
of 1818 with England, Floyd again attempted to have a bill passed to
give land to actual settlers who would emigrate to Oregon, and as
usual, failed.

In February, 1838, Senator Linn, of Missouri, always the friend of
Oregon, introduced a bill with the main features of the House bill
which passed that body in 1824, but again failed in the Senate. The
Government, however, was moved to send a special commissioner to
Oregon to discover its real conditions and report. But nothing
practical resulted.

It is not a pleasant thing to turn the pages of history made by
American statesmen during the first third of the century, and even
nearly to the end of its first half. There is a lack of wisdom and
foresight and broad-mindedness, which shatters our ideals of the
mental grandeur of the builders of the Republic.

Diplomatically they had laid strong claim to the now known grand
country beyond "the Stony Mountains." They had never lost an
opportunity by treaty to hold their interests; and yet from year to
year and from decade to decade, they had seen a foreign power, led by
a great corporation, ruling all the territory with a mailed hand.
While they made but feeble protest in the way we have mentioned, they
did even worse, they turned their shafts of oratory and wit and
denunciation loose against the country itself and all its interests.


Turn for a brief review of the political record of that period. Among
the ablest men of that day was Senator Benton. He, in his speech of
1825, said, that "The ridge of the Rocky Mountains may be named as a
convenient, natural and everlasting boundary. Along this ridge the
western limits of the Republic should be drawn, and the statue of
the fabled God Terminus should be erected on its highest peak, never
to be thrown down." In quoting Senator Benton of 1825, it is always
but fair to say he had long before the day of Whitman's arrival in
Washington greatly modified his views.

But Senators equally intelligent and influential--such as Winthrop, of
Massachusetts, as late as 1844, quoted this sentence from Benton and
commended its wisdom and statesmanship. It was in this discussion and
while the treaty adopted in 1846 was being considered, that General
Jackson is on record as saying, that, "Our safety lay in a compact

One of the remarkable speeches in the discussion of the
Ashburton-Webster Treaty was that made by Senator McDuffie. Nothing
could better show the educating power of the Hudson Bay Company in the
United States, and the ignorance of our statesmen, as to extent and
value of the territory.

McDuffie said: "What is the character of this country?" (referring to
Oregon). "As I understand it there are seven hundred miles this side
of the Rocky Mountains that are uninhabitable; where rain never falls;
mountains wholly impassable, except through gaps and depressions, to
be reached only by going hundreds of miles out of the direct course.
Well, now, what are you going to do in such a case? How are you going
to apply steam? Have you made an estimate of the cost of a railroad to
the mouth of the Columbia? Why the wealth of the Indies would be
insufficient. Of what use would it be for agricultural purposes? I
would not, for that purpose, give a pinch of snuff for the whole
territory. I wish the Rocky Mountains were an impassable barrier. If
there was an embankment of even five feet to be removed I would not
consent to expend five dollars to remove it and enable our population
to go there. I thank God for his mercy in placing the Rocky Mountains

Will the reader please take notice that the speech was delivered on
the 25th day of January, 1843, just about the time that Whitman, in
the ever-memorable ride, was floundering through the snow drifts of
the Wasatch and Uintah Mountains, deserted by his guide and surrounded
by discouragements that would have appalled any man not inspired by
heroic purpose.

It was at this same session of 1843, prior to the visit of Whitman,
that Linn, of Missouri, had offered a bill which made specific legal
provisions for Oregon, and he succeeded in passing the bill, which
went to the House and as usual was defeated. The prevailing idea was
that which was expressed by General Jackson to President Monroe, and
before referred to, in which Jackson says, "It should be our policy to
concentrate our population and 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." That "interminable desert," those "arid plains,"
those "impassable mountains," and "the impossibility of a wagon road
from the United States," were the burdens of many speeches from the
statesmen of that time. And then they emphasized the whole with the
clincher that, after overcoming these terrible obstacles that
intervened, we reached a land that was "worthless," not even worth a
"pinch of snuff."

Senator Dayton, of New Jersey, in 1844, in the discussion of the
Oregon boundary question, said: "With the exception of land along the
Willamette and strips along other water courses, the whole country is
as irreclaimable and barren a waste as the Desert of Sahara. Nor is
this the worst; the climate is so unfriendly to human life that the
native population has dwindled away under the ravages of malaria."

The National Intelligencer, about the same date, republished from the
Louisville Journal and sanctioned the sentiments, as follows:

"Of all the countries upon the face of the earth Oregon is one of the
least favored by heaven. It is the mere riddlings of creation. It is
almost as barren as Sahara and quite as unhealthy as the Campagna of
Italy. Russia has her Siberia and England has her Botany Bay and if
the United States should ever need a country to which to banish her
rogues and scoundrels, the utility of such a region as Oregon would be
demonstrated. Until then, we are perfectly willing to leave this
magnificent country to the Indians, trappers and buffalo hunters that
roam over its sand banks."

In furtherance of the Jackson sentiment of "a dense population,"
Senator Dayton said: "I have no faith in the unlimited extensions of
this government. We have already conflicting interests, more than
enough, and God forbid that the time should ever come when a state on
the shores of the Pacific, with its interests and tendencies of trade
all looking toward Asiatic nations of the east, shall add its jarring
claims to our already distracted and over-burdened confederacy. We are
nearer to the remote nations of Europe than to Oregon."

The Hudson Bay Company had done its educating work well. If they had
graduated American statesmen in a full course of Hudson Bay training
and argument and literature, they could not have made them more
efficient. Our statesmen did not doubt that the honest title of the
property was vested in the United States; for they had gone on from
time to time perfecting this title; yet they had no idea of its value
and seemed to hold it only for diplomatic purposes or for prospective

The United States had no contestant for the property except England,
but in 1818 she was not ready to make any assertion of her rights. In
1828 she still postponed making any demand and renewed the treaty,
well knowing that the little island many thousands of miles across the
Atlantic, was the supreme ruler of all the vast territory.

Again, when the Ashburton Treaty was at issue, and the question of
boundary which had been for forty-eight years a bone of contention,
the government again ignored Oregon, and was satisfied with settling
the boundaries between a few farms up in Maine.

But it requires no argument in view of this long continued series of
acts, to reach the conclusion that American interests in Oregon were
endangered most of all from the apathy and ignorance of our own

That loyal old pioneer, Rev. Jason Lee, the chief of the Methodist
Mission in Oregon, visited Washington in 1838 and presented the
conditions of the country and its dangers forcibly. With funds
contributed by generous friends he succeeded in taking back with him
quite a delegation of actual settlers for Oregon. But neither
Congress nor the people were aroused.

For all practical purposes Oregon was treated as a "foreign land."
There was not even a show of a protectorate over the few American
immigrants who had gathered there. The "American Board," which sent
missionaries only to foreign lands, had charge of the mission fields,
and carefully secured passports for their missionaries before starting
them upon their long journey. The Rev. Myron Eells in his interesting
volume entitled "Father Eells," gives a copy of the passport issued to
his father. It records--

"The Rev. Cushing Eells, Missionary and Teacher of the American Board
of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the tribes west of the Rocky
Mountains, having signified to this department his desire to pass
through the Indian Country to the Columbia River, and requested the
permission required by law to enable him so to do, such permission is
hereby granted; and he is commended to the friendly attention of civil
and military agents and officers and of citizens, if at any time it
shall be necessary to his protection. Given under my hand and the seal
of the War Department this 27th day of February, 1838.

     "J. R. POINSETT,
           "Secretary of War."

It is a truth so plain as to need no argument, that during all these
earlier years the whole effort of the fur traders had been to deceive
all nationalities as to the value of the Northwestern country. In
their selfishness they had deceived England as well as America. Their
idea and hope was to keep out emigration. But England had been better
informed than the United States, for the reason that all the commerce
was with England, and English capitalists who had large interests in
the Hudson Bay Company, very naturally were better informed, but even
they were not anxious for English colonization and an interference
with their bonanza.

They controlled the English press, and so late as 1840 we read in the
"British and Foreign Review," that "upon the whole, therefore, the
Oregon country holds out no great promise as an agricultural field."

The London Examiner in 1843 wonders that "Ignorant Americans" were
"disposed to quarrel over a country, the whole in dispute not being
worth to either party twenty thousand pounds."

The Edinburgh Review, generally fair, said: "Only a very small portion
of the land is capable of cultivation. It is a case in which the
American people have been misled as to climate and soil. In a few
years all that gives life to the country, both the hunter and his prey
will be extinct, and their places will be supplied by a thin white
and half-breed population scattered along the fertile valleys
supported by pastures instead of the chase, and gradually degenerating
into barbarism, far more offensive than backwoodsmen." Our English
friends, it may be observed, had long had a poor opinion of

The Edinburgh Review, in 1843, says: "However the political question
between England and the United States as to their claim on Oregon
shall be determined, Oregon will never be colonized overland from the
United States. The world must assume a new phase before the American
wagons make a plain road to the Columbia River."

In this educating work of the English press, we can easily understand
how public opinion was molded, and how our statesmen were misinformed
and misdirected. It was, no doubt, largely due to the shrewd work of
the great monopoly in Oregon backed up by the English Government. Its
first object was to keep it unsettled as long as possible, for on that
depended the millions for the Hudson Bay Company's treasury, but
beyond that, the government plainly depended upon the powerful
organization to hold all the land as a British possession.

In the war of 1812, one of the first moves was to dispatch a fleet to
the Columbia, with orders, as the record shows, "to take and destroy
everything American on the northwest coast."

The prosperous people of Oregon, Washington and Idaho are in a
position now to enjoy such prophetic fulminations, but they can easily
see the dangers that were escaped. It was a double danger, danger from
abroad and at home, and of the latter most of all. The Nation had been
deceived. It must be undeceived.

The outlook was not hopeful. The year 1843 had been ushered in. The
long-looked-for and talked-of treaty had been signed, and Oregon again
ignored. There was scarcely a shadow cast of coming events to give
hope to the friends of far-away Oregon.

Suppose some watchman from the dome of the Capitol casting his eyes
westward in 1843, could have seen that little caravan winding through
valleys and over the hills and hurrying eastward, but who would dream
that its leader was "a man of destiny," bearing messages to a nation
soon to be aroused? Of how little or how much importance was this
messenger or his message, turn to "The Ride to Save Oregon" and judge.
But certain it is, a great change, bordering on revolution, was



These pages are mainly designed to show in brief the historical and
political environments of Oregon in pioneer days, and the patriotic
services rendered the nation by Dr. Marcus Whitman. But to attempt to
picture this life and omit the missionary, would be like reciting the
play of Hamlet and omitting Hamlet.

The mission work to the Oregon Indians began in a romance and ended in
a great tragedy. The city of St. Louis in that day was so near the
border of civilization that it was accustomed to see much of the
rugged and wild life of the plains; yet in 1832 the people beheld even
to them the odd sight of four Flathead Indians in Indian dress and
equipment parading their principal streets.

General Clarke, who commanded the military post of that city, was
promptly notified and took the strangers in charge. He had been an
Indian commissioner for many years in the far West, knew the tribe
well and could easily communicate with them. With it all he was a good
friend to the Indians and at once made arrangements at the fort to
make them comfortable. They informed him that they were all chiefs of
the tribe and had spent the entire Summer and Fall upon their long
journey. Their wearied manner and wasted appearance told the fact
impressively, even had the general not known the locality where they

For a while they were reticent regarding their mission, as is usual
with Indians; but in due time their story was fully revealed. They had
heard of "The White Man's Book of Life," and had come "to hunt for it"
and "to ask for teachers to be sent" to their tribe.

To Gen. Clarke this was a novel proposition to come in that way from
wild Indians. Gen. Clarke was a devoted Catholic and treated his
guests as a humane and hospitable man. After they were rested up he
piloted them to every place which he thought would entertain and
interest them. Frequent visits were made to Catholic churches, and to
theaters and shows of every kind. And so they spent the balance of the

During this time, two of the Indians, from the long journey and
possibly from over-eating rich food, to which they were unaccustomed,
were taken sick and died, and were given honored burial by the
soldiers. When the early Spring sun began to shine, the two remaining
Indians commenced their preparations for return home.

Gen. Clarke proposed to give them a banquet upon the last evening of
their sojourn, and start them upon their way loaded with all the
comforts he could give. At this banquet one of the Indians made a
speech. It was that speech, brimming over with Indian eloquence, which
fired the Christian hearts of the Nation into a new life. The speech
was translated into English and thus doubtless loses much of its

The chief said: "I come to you over the trail of many moons from the
setting sun. You were the friends of my fathers, who have all gone the
long way. I came with an eye partly open 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 lands that I might carry back much to them. I go
back with both arms broken and empty. Two fathers came with us, they
were the braves of many winters and wars. We leave them asleep here by
your great water and wigwams. 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 to where you allow your women to dance as we do not ours, and the
book was not there. You took me to where they worship the Great Spirit
with candles and the book was not there. You showed me images of the
good spirits and the pictures of the good land beyond, but the book
was not among them to tell us the way. I am going back the long and
sad trail to my people in the dark land. You make my feet heavy with
gifts and my moccasins will grow old in carrying them, yet 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 a long path to 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."

When this speech was translated and sent East it was published in the
Christian Advocate in March, 1833, with a ringing editorial from
President Fisk of Wilbraham College. "Who will respond to go beyond
the Rocky Mountains and carry the Book of Heaven?" It made a profound
impression. It was a Macedonian cry of "Come over and help us," not to
be resisted. Old men and women who read this call, and attended the
meetings at that time, are still living, and can attest to its power.
It stirred the church as it has seldom been stirred into activity.

This incident of the appearance in St. Louis and demand of the four
Flathead Indians has been so fully verified in history as to need no
additional proof to silence modern sceptics who have ridiculed it. All
the earlier histories such as "Gray's History of Oregon," "Reed's
Mission of the Methodist Church," Governor Simpson's narrative,
Barrow's "Oregon," Parkman's "Oregon Trail," with the correspondence
of the Lees, verified the truth of the occurrence.

Bancroft, in his thirty-eight-volume history, in volume 1, page 579,
says, "Hearing of the Christians and how heaven favors them, four
Flathead Indian chiefs, in 1832, went to St. Louis and asked for
teachers," etc. As this latter testimony is from a source which
discredited missionary work, as we shall show in another chapter, it
is good testimony upon the point. Some modern doubters have also
ridiculed the speech reported to have been made by the Indian chief.
Those who know Indians best will bear testimony to its genuineness.

Almost every tribe of Indians has its orator and story-teller, and
some of them as famous in their way as the Beechers and Phillipses and
Depews, among the whites, or the Douglasses and Langstons among the

In 1851 the writer of this book was purser upon the steamer Lot
Whitcomb, which ran between Milwaukee and Astoria, Oregon. One
beautiful morning I wandered a mile or more down the beach and was
seated upon the sand, watching the great combers as they rolled in
from the Pacific, which, after a storm, is an especially grand sight;
when suddenly, as if he had arisen from the ground, an Indian appeared
near by and accosted me. He was a fine specimen of a savage, clean and
well dressed. He evidently knew who I was and my position on the
steamer and had followed me to make his plea. With a toss of his arm
and a motion of his body he threw the fold of his blanket across his
left shoulder as gracefully as a Roman Senator could have done, and
began his speech. "Hy-iu hyas kloshe Boston, Boston hy-iu steamboat
hy-iu cuitan. Indian halo steamboat, halo cuitan." It was a rare
mixture of English words with the Chinook, which I easily understood.

The burthen of his speech was, the greatness and richness and goodness
of white men; (they called all white men Boston men); they owned all
the steamboats and horses; that the Indians were very poor; that his
squaw and pappoose were away up the Willamette river, so far away that
his moccasins would be worn out before he could reach their wigwam;
that he had no money and wanted to ride.

I have heard the great orators of the nation in the pulpit and halls
of legislation, but I never listened to a more eloquent plea, or saw
gestures more graceful than were those of that wild Wasco Indian, of
which I alone was the audience.

Another interesting historical scrap of the romantic history of these
Flathead chiefs is furnished in the fact that the celebrated Indian
artist, George Catlin, was on one of his tours in the West taking
sketches in the spring of 1833. Soon after their leaving St. Louis he
dropped in with the two Indians on their return journey and traveled
with them for some days, taking pictures of both, and they are now
numbers 207 and 208 in his great collection.

Upon his return east he read the Indian speech, and of the excitement
it had caused, and not having been told by the Indians of the cause of
their journey, and wishing to be assured that he had accidentally
struck a great historic prize in securing the pictures, he sat down
and wrote Gen. Clarke at St. Louis, asking him if the speech was true
and the story correct. Gen. Clarke promptly replied, "The story is
true; that was the only object of their visit." Taken in connection
with the after history, no two pictures in any collection have a
deeper or grander significance.

  [Illustration: THE LOT WHITCOMB.
   The first Steamboat built in Oregon.]

We may add here that within a month after leaving St. Louis, one of
the Indians was taken sick and died, and but one reached his home
in safety.

When I reached Oregon in 1850, the first tribe of Indians I visited in
their home was the Flatheads. But whether the story is true in all its
minutiae or not, it matters but little. It was believed true, and
produced grand results. It can hardly be said, from the standpoint of
the Christian missionary, that the work in Oregon was a grand success.
And yet, never were missionaries more heroic, or that labored in any
field with greater fidelity for the true interests of the Indian
savages to whom they were sent.

They were great, warm-hearted, intelligent, educated, earnest men and
women, who endured privation, isolation and discomfort with
cheerfulness, that they might teach Christianity and save souls. There
was no failure from any incompetency of the teachers, but from
complications and surroundings hopelessly beyond their power to

They brought with them over their long, weary journey the Bible,
Christianity and civilization, and the school. They were met at first
with a cordial reception by the Indians, but a great corporation,
dependent upon the steel trap and continuous savage life, soon showed
its hand. It was a foreign un-American opposition. It had met every
American company that had attempted to share in the business promoted
by savage life, and routed them. The missionaries were wide-awake men
and were quick to see the drift of affairs.

Dr. Whitman early foresaw what was to happen. He saw the possibilities
of the country and that the first battle was between the schoolhouse
and civilization, and the tepee and savagery. He resolved to do
everything possible for the Indian before it began. In a letter to his
father-in-law, dated May 16, 1844, from Waiilatpui, he says:

"It does not concern me so much what is to become of any particular
set of Indians, as to give them the offer of salvation through the
Gospel, and the opportunity of civilization, and then I am content to
do good to all men as I have opportunity. I have no doubt our greatest
work is to be to aid the white settlement of this country and help to
found its religious institutions. Providence has its full share in all
those events. Although the Indians have made, and are making rapid
advance in religious knowledge and civilization, yet it cannot be
hoped that time will be allowed to mature the work of Christianization
or civilization before white settlers will demand the soil and the
removal both of the Indians and the Missions.

"What Americans desire of this kind they always effect, and it is
useless to oppose or desire it otherwise. To guide as far as can be
done, and direct these tendencies for the best, is evidently the part
of wisdom. Indeed, I am fully convinced that when people refuse or
neglect to fill the design of Providence, they ought not to complain
at the results, and so it is equally useless for Christians to be
over-anxious on their account.

"The Indians have in no case obeyed the command to multiply and
replenish the earth, and they cannot stand in the way of others doing
so. A place will be left them to do this as fully as their ability to
obey will permit, and the more we do for them the more fully will this
be realized. No exclusiveness can be asked for any portion of the
human family. The exercise of his rights are all that can be desired.
In order for this to be understood to its proper extent, in regard to
the Indians, it is necessary that they seek to preserve their rights
by peaceable means only. Any violation of this rule will be visited
with only evil results to themselves."

This letter from Dr. Whitman to his wife's father, dated about seven
months after his return from his memorable "Ride to Save Oregon," is
for the first time made public in the published transactions of the
State Historical Society of Oregon in 1893. It is important from the
fact that it gives a complete key to the life and acts of this silent
man and his motives for the part he took in the great historic drama,
in which the statesmen of the two nations were to be the actors, with
millions of people the interested audience.

In another place we will show how Whitman has been misrepresented by
modern historians, and an attempt made to deprive him of all honor,
and call attention to the above record, all the more valuable because
never intended for the public eye when written.

In the same letter Whitman says, "As I hold the settlement of this
country by Americans, rather than by English colonists, most
important, I am happy to have been the means of landing so large an
immigration on the shores of the Columbia with their wagons, families
and stock, all in safety."

Such sentiments reveal only the broad-minded, far-seeing Christian
man, who, though many thousand miles away from its protecting
influence, still loved "The banner of beauty and glory." He had gone
to Oregon with only a desire to teach savages Christianity; but saw in
the near future the inevitable, and, without lessening his interest in
his savage pupils, he entered the broader field.

Who can doubt that both were calls from a power higher than man? Or
who can point to an instance upon historic pages where the great work
assigned was prosecuted with greater fidelity? Having accomplished a
feat unparalleled for its heroism and without a break in its grand
success, he makes no report of it to any state or national
organization, but while he talked freely with his friends of his work
it is only now, after he has rested for forty-seven and more years,
that this modest letter written to his wife's father at the time,
strongly reveals his motives.

Having accomplished his great undertaking, he was still the missionary
and friend of the Indians, and at once dropped back to his work, and
the drudgery of his Indian mission.

Again we find him enlarging his field of work, teaching his savage
friends, not only Christianity, but how to sow, and plant, and reap,
and build houses, and prepare for civilization. He took no part in the
new political life which he had made possible. He was a stranger to
all things except those which concerned the work he was called to do.
In his letter he speaks of earnestly desiring to return East and bring
out the second company of immigrants the coming Spring, but the needs
of his mission, his wasted fields, and his mill burned during his
absence, seemed to demand his presence at home.

The world speaks of this event and that, as "It so happened." They
will refer to the advent of the Flathead Indians in St. Louis in 1832,
as "It so happened." The more thoughtful readers of history find fewer
things "accidental." In this great historic romance the Flathead
Indians were not an accident. The American Board, the Methodist
Board, Dr. Whitman and Jason Lee, and their co-workers, were not
accidents. They were all men inspired to a specific work, and having
entered upon it, the field widened into dimensions of unforeseen
grandeur, whose benefits the Nation has never yet befittingly



The romance of the Oregon Mission did not end with the call of the
Flathead Indians. This was savage romance, that of civilization

The Methodists sent the Lees in 1834, and the American Board tried to
get the right men for the work to accompany them, but failed. But in
1835 they sent Dr. Marcus Whitman and the Rev. Samuel Parker to Oregon
upon a trip of discovery, to find out the real conditions, present and

They got an early start in 1835 and reached Green River, where they
met large bodies of Indians and Indian traders, and were made fully
acquainted with the situation. The Indians gave large promises, and
the field seemed wide and inviting. Upon consultation it was agreed
that Dr. Whitman should return to the States and report to the
American Board, while Dr. Parker should go on to the Columbia. Two
Indian boys from the Pacific Coast, Richard and John, volunteered to
return with Dr. Whitman and come back with him the following year.

The Doctor and his Indian boys reached his home in Rushville, New
York, late on Saturday night in November, and not making known the
event to his family, astonished the congregation in his church by
walking up the aisle with his Indians, and calling out an audible
exclamation from his good old mother, "Well, there is Marcus Whitman."

Upon the report of Dr. Whitman the American Board resolved to at once
occupy the field. Dr. Whitman had long been engaged to be married to
Miss Narcissa Prentice, the daughter of Judge Prentice, of Prattsburg,
New York, who was as much of an enthusiast in the Oregon Indian
Mission work as the Doctor himself. The American Board thought it
unwise to send the young couple alone on so distant a journey, and at
once began the search for company. The wedding day, which had been
fixed, was postponed, and valuable time was passing, and no suitable
parties would volunteer for the work, when its trials and dangers were

The Board had received word that the Rev. H. H. Spalding, who had
recently married, was then with his wife on his way to the Osage
Mission to enter upon a new field of work. It was in January and
Whitman took to the road in his sleigh in pursuit of the traveling
missionaries. He overtook them near the village of Hudson and hailed
them in his cheery way:

"Ship ahoy, you are wanted for the Oregon Mission."

After a short colloquy they drove on to the hotel of the little
village. There the subject was canvassed and none of its dangers
hidden. Mr. Spalding promptly made up his mind, and said:

"My dear, I do not think it your duty to go, but we will leave it to
you after we have prayed."

Mrs. Spalding asked to be left alone, and in ten minutes she appeared
with a beaming face and said: "I have made up my mind to go."

"But your health, my dear?"

"I like the command just as it stands," says Mrs. Spalding, "Go ye
into all the world and preach the Gospel, with no exceptions for poor

Others referred to the hardships and dangers and terrors of the
journey, but Dr. Spalding says: "They all did not move her an iota."

Such was the party for the wedding journey. It did look like a
dangerous journey for a woman who had been many months an invalid, but
events proved Mrs. Spalding a real heroine, with a courage and pluck
scarcely equaled, and under the circumstances never excelled. Having
turned her face toward Oregon she never looked back and never was
heard to murmur or regret her decision.

This difficulty being removed, the day was again set for the marriage
of Dr. Whitman and Miss Prentice, which took place in February, 1836.
All authorities mark Narcissa Prentice as a woman of great force of

She was the adored daughter of a refined Christian home and had the
love of a wide circle of friends. She was the soprano singer in the
choir of the village church of which she and her family were members.

In the volume of the magazine of American History for 1884, the
editor, the late Miss Martha J. Lamb, says:

"The voice of Miss Prentice was of remarkable sweetness. She was a
graceful blonde, stately and dignified in her bearing, without a
particle of affectation." Says Miss Lamb: "When preparing to leave for
Oregon the church held a farewell service and the minister gave out
the well-known hymn:

     'Yes, my native land I love thee,
       All thy scenes I love them well;
     Friends, connection, happy country,
       Can I bid you all farewell?'

"The whole congregation joined heartily in the singing, but before the
hymn was half through, one by one they ceased singing and audible sobs
were heard in every part of the great audience. The last stanza was
sung by the sweet voice of Mrs. Whitman alone, clear, musical and

One of the pleasant things since it was announced that these sketches
would be written, is the number of people, that before were unknown,
who have volunteered charming personal sketches of Dr. and Mrs.

A venerable friend who often, he fears, attended church more for the
songs of Miss Prentice than for the sermons, was also at their
wedding. The venerable J. S. Seeley, of Aurora, Illinois, writes: "It
was just fifty-nine years ago this March since I drove Dr. and Mrs.
Whitman from Elmira, N. Y., to Hollidaysburg, Pa., in my sleigh. This
place was at the foot of the Allegheny Mountains (east side) on the
Pennsylvania canal. The canal boats were built in two sections and
were taken over the mountains on a railroad.

"They expected to find the canal open on the west side and thus reach
the Ohio River on the way to Oregon. I was with them some seven days.
Dr. Whitman impressed me as a man of strong sterling character and
lots of push, but he was not a great talker. Mrs. Whitman was of
medium size and impressed me as a woman of great resolution."

A younger sister of the bride, Mrs. H. P. Jackson, of Oberlin, Ohio,
writes: "Mrs. Whitman was the mentor of her younger sisters in the
home. She joined the church when eleven years old, and from her early
years expressed a desire to be a missionary. The wedding occurred in
the church at Angelica, N. Y., to which place my father had removed,
and the ceremony was performed by the Rev. Everett Hull. I recollect
how deeply interested the two Indian boys were in the ceremony, and
how their faces brightened when the doctor told them that Mrs. Whitman
would go back with them to Oregon. We all had the greatest faith and
trust in Dr. Whitman, and in all our letters from our dear sister
there was never a word of regret or repining at the life she had

The two Indian boys were placed in school and learned to read and
speak English during the Winter.

The journey down the Ohio and up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers
was tedious, but uneventful.

Those who navigated the Missouri River, fifty years ago, have not
forgotten its snags and sand bars, which caused a constant chattering
of the bells in the engineer's room from morning until evening, and
all through the night, unless the prudent captain tied up to the
shore. The man and his "lead line" was constantly on the prow singing
out "twelve feet," "quarter past twain," then suddenly "six feet,"
when the bells would ring out as the boat's nose would bury in the
concealed sandbar.

But the party safely reached its destination, and was landed with all
its effects, wagons, stock and outfit.

The company was made up of Dr. and Mrs. Whitman, Rev. Mr. and Mrs.
Spalding, H. H. Gray, two teamsters and the two Indian boys.

The American Fur Company, which was sending out a convoy to their port
in Oregon, had promised to start from Council Bluffs upon a given
date, and make them welcome members of the company. It was a large
company made up of two hundred men and six hundred animals. On the
journey in from Oregon, in 1835, cholera had attacked the company, and
Dr. Whitman had rendered such faithful and efficient service that they
felt under obligations to him. But they had heard there were to be
women along and the old mountaineers did not want to be bothered with
women upon such a journey, and they moved out promptly without waiting
for the doctor's party, which had been delayed.

When Dr. Whitman reached Council Bluffs and found them gone, he was
greatly disturbed. There was nothing to do but make forced marches and
catch the train before it reached the more dangerous Indian country.
Dr. Spalding would have liked to have found it an excuse to return
home, but Mrs. Spalding remarked: "I have started to the Rocky
Mountains and I expect to go there."

Spalding in a dressing gown in his study, or in a city pulpit, would
have been in his element, but he was not especially marked for an
Indian missionary. Early in the campaign a Missouri cow kicked him off
the ferryboat into the river. The ague racked every bone in his body,
and a Kansas tornado at one time lifted both his tent and his blanket
and left him helpless. He seemed to catch every disaster that came
along. A man may have excellent points in his make-up, as Dr. Spalding
had, and yet not be a good pioneer.

He and his noble wife made a grand success, however, when they got
into the field of work. It was Mrs. Spalding who first translated
Bible truths and Christian songs into the Indian dialect.

It seemed a discouraging start for the little company when compelled
to pull out upon the boundless plains alone. But led by Whitman, they
persevered and caught the convoy late in May.

The doctor's boys now proved of good service. They were patient and
untiring and at home on the trail. They took charge of all the loose
stock. The cows they were taking along would be of great value upon
reaching their destination, and they proved to be of value along the
journey as well, as milk suppliers for the little party.

The first part of the journey Mrs. Whitman rode mainly in the wagon
with Mrs. Spalding, who was not strong enough for horseback riding.
But soon she took to her pony and liked it so much better, that she
rode nearly all the way on horseback. They were soon initiated into
the trials and dangers of the journey.

On May 9th Mrs. Whitman writes in her diary: "We had great difficulty
to-day. Husband became so completely exhausted with swimming the
river, that it was with difficulty he made the shore the last time. We
had but one canoe, made of skins, and that was partly eaten by the
dogs the night before."

She speaks of "meeting large bodies of Pawnee Indians," and says:

"They seemed very much surprised and pleased to see white women. They
were noble looking Indians.

"We attempted, by a hard march, to reach Loup Fork. The wagons got
there at eleven at night, but husband and I rode with the Indian boys
until nine o'clock, when Richard proposed that we go on and they would
stay with the loose cattle upon the prairie, and drive them in early
in the morning. We did not like to leave them and concluded to stay.
Husband had a cup tied to his saddle, and in this he milked what we
wanted to drink; this was our supper. Our saddle-blankets with our
rubber-cloaks were our beds. Having offered thanksgiving for the
blessings of the day, and seeking protection for the night, we
committed ourselves to rest. We awoke refreshed and rode into camp
before breakfast."

Here they caught up with the Fur Company caravan, after nearly a
month's traveling. These brave women, with their kindness and tact,
soon won the good-will and friendship of the old plainsmen, and every
vestige of opposition to having women in the train disappeared and
every possible civility and courtesy was extended to them. One
far-seeing old American trader, who had felt the iron heel of the
English Company beyond the Stony Mountains, pointing to the little
missionary band, prophetically remarked: "There is something that the
Honorable Hudson Bay Company cannot drive out of Oregon."

In her diary of the journey, Mrs. Whitman never expresses a fear, and
yet remembering my own sensations upon the same journey, I can
scarcely conceive that two delicately nurtured women would not be
subjected to great anxieties.

The Platte River, in that day, was but little understood and looked
much worse than it really was. Where forded it was a mile wide, and
not often more than breast deep to the horses. Two men, on the best
horses, rode fifty yards in advance of the wagons, zig-zagging up and
down, while the head-driver kept an eye open for the shallowest
water and kept upon the bar. In doing this a train would sometimes
have to travel nearly twice the distance of the width of the river to
get across. The bed of the river is made of shifting sand, and a team
is not allowed to stop for a moment, or it will steadily settle down
and go out of sight.

  [Illustration: DR. MARCUS WHITMAN.
   At the time of his marriage.]

A balky team or a break in the harness requires prompt relief or all
will be lost. But after all the Platte River is remembered by all old
plainsmen with a blessing. For three hundred miles it administered to
the comfort of the pioneers.

It is even doubtful whether they could have gone the journey had it
not been for the Platte, as it rolls its sands down into the Missouri.
The water is turbid with sand at all times, as the winds in their wide
sweep across sandy plains perpetually add to its supply. But the water
when dipped up over night and the sand allowed to settle, is clear and
pure and refreshing.

The pioneers, however, took the Platte water as it ran, often
remarking: "In this country a fellow needs sand and the Platte was
built to furnish it." In June Mrs. Whitman writes: "We are now in the
buffalo country and my husband and I relish it; he has a different way
of cooking every part of the animal."

Mrs. Whitman makes the following entry in her diary, for the benefit
of her young sisters:

"Now, H. and E., you must not think it very hard to have to get up so
early after sleeping on the soft ground, when you find it hard work to
open your eyes at seven o'clock. Just think of me every morning. At
the word 'Arise!' we all spring. While the horses are feeding we get
breakfast in a hurry and eat it. By that time the words 'Catch up,
catch up,' ring throughout the camp for moving. We are ready to start
usually at six, travel until eleven, encamp, rest and feed, and start
again at two and travel till six and if we come to a good tavern, camp
for the night."

A certain number of men were set apart for hunters each day and they
were expected to bring in four mule loads of meat to supply the daily
demands. While in the buffalo country this was an easy task; when it
came to deer, antelope and birds, it was much more difficult work.

The antelope is a great delicacy, but he is the fleetest footed runner
upon the plains and has to be captured, generally, by strategy. He has
an inordinate curiosity. The hunter lies down and waves a red
handkerchief on the end of his ramrod and the whole herd seems to have
the greatest desire to know what it is. They gallop around, trot high
and snort and keep coming nearer, until within gun shot they pay
dearly for their curiosity.

To avoid danger and failure of meat supplies before leaving the
buffalo country, the company stopped and laid in a good supply of
jerked buffalo meat. It was well they did, for it was about all they
had for a long distance. As Mrs. Whitman says in her diary:

"Dried buffalo meat and tea for breakfast, and tea and dried buffalo
meat for supper," but jokingly adds: "The doctor gives it variety by
cooking every part of the animal in a different way." But after all it
was a novel menu for a bridal trip.

By a strange miscalculation they ran out of flour before the journey
was half ended. But, says Mrs. Whitman, "My health continues good, but
sister Spalding has been made sick by the diet."

On July 22d, she writes:

"Had a tedious ride until four p. m. I thought of my mother's bread as
a child would, but did not find it. I should relish it extremely well.
But we feel that the good Father has blessed us beyond our most
sanguine expectations. It is good to feel that He is all I want and if
I had ten thousand lives I would give them all to Him."

The road discovered by the pioneers through the South Pass seems to
have been made by nature on purpose to unite the Pacific with the
Atlantic slope by an easy wagon road. The Wind River and Rocky
Mountains appear to have run out of material, or spread out to make it
an easy climb. So gentle is the ascent the bulk of the way that the
traveler is scarcely aware of the fact that he is climbing the great
"Stony Mountains."

Fremont discovered the pass in 1842 and went through it again in 1843,
and Stanbury in 1849, but it is well to remember that upon this
notable bridal tour, these Christian ladies passed over the same route
six years before "The Pathfinder," or the engineer corps of the United
States, ever saw it.

It is always an object of interest to know when the top has been
reached and to see the famous spring from which the water divides and
runs both ways. Our missionary band, accustomed to have regular
worship on the plains, when they reached the dividing of the waters
held an especially interesting service. The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Edwards
graphically describes it. He says:

"There is a scene connected with their journey which demands
extraordinary attention in view of its great significance. It is one
that arouses all that is good within us, and has been pronounced as
hardly paralleled in American records for historic grandeur and
far-reaching consequence. It is sublimely beautiful and inspiring in
its effects, and would baffle the genius of a true poet to describe it
with adequate fitness. They were yet high on the Rocky Mountains, with
the great expanse of the Pacific slope opening before them like a
magnificent panorama. Their hearts were profoundly moved as they
witnessed the landscape unfolding its delightful scenes, and as they
viewed the vast empire given them to win for King Emanuel.

"There we find the little group of five missionaries, and the two Nez
Perces boys that Whitman took with him to New York selecting a spot
where the bunch grass grows high and thick. Their hearts go out to God
in joyful adoration for His protecting care over them thus far,
especially so, because they felt the greatest difficulties had been
overcome and they now entered the country for the people of which they
had devoted their lives. The sky is bright above them, the sun shines
serenely and the atmosphere is light and invigorating. The sun
continues his course and illuminates the western horizon like a flame
of fire, as if striving to give them a temporary glimpse of the vast
domain between them and the Pacific Ocean. They spread their blankets
carefully on the grass, and lifted the American flag to wave
gracefully in the breeze, and with the Bible in the center, they
knelt, and with prayer and praise on their lips, they take possession
of the western side of the American continent in His name who
proclaimed "Peace on earth and good will toward men." How strongly it
evidences their faith in their mission and the conquering power of the
King of Peace. What a soul-inspiring scene."

Continuing her diary, Mrs. Whitman says: "I have been in a peaceful
state of mind all day."

July 25th she writes: "The ride has been very mountainous, paths only
winding along the sides of steep mountains, in many places so narrow
that the animal would scarcely find room to place his foot."

It is upon this date that she again mourns over the doctor's
persistence in hauling along his historic wagon. Even the good wife in
full sympathy with her husband failed to see it as he did; it was the
pioneer chariot, loaded with a richness that no wagon before or since

On July 25th: "Husband has had a tedious time with the wagon to-day.
It got stuck in the creek, and on the mountain side, so steep that the
horses could scarcely climb, it was upset twice. It was a wonder that
it was not turning somersaults continually. It is not grateful to my
feelings to see him wearing himself out with excessive fatigue. All
the most difficult portions of the way he has walked, in a laborious
attempt to take the wagon." Those who have gone over the same road and
remember the hard pulls at the end of long ropes, where there was
plenty of help, will wonder most that he succeeded.

The company arrived at Fort Hall on August 1st. Here they succeeded in
buying a little rice, which was regarded a valuable addition to their
slender stock of eatables. They had gone beyond the buffalo range and
had to live upon the dried meat, venison and wild ducks or fish, all
of which were scarce and in limited supply.

Speaking of crossing Snake River Mrs. Whitman says: "We put the packs
on the tallest horses, the highest being selected for Mrs. Spalding
and myself.

"The river where we crossed is divided into three branches, by
islands. The last branch is half a mile wide and so deep as to come up
to the horses' sides, and a very strong current. The wagon turned
upside down in the current, and the mules were entangled in the
harness. I once thought of the terrors of the rivers, but now I cross
the most difficult streams without a fear."

Among the novel ferries she speaks of was a dried elk skin with two
ropes attached. The party to be ferried lies flat down on the skin and
two Indian women swimming, holding the ropes in their mouths, pull it
across the stream.

One of the notable qualities of Dr. Whitman was his observance of the
small things in every-day life. Many a man who reaches after grand
results overlooks and neglects the little events. Mrs. Whitman says:

"For weeks and weeks our camping places have been upon open plains
with not a tree in sight, but even here we find rest and comfort. My
husband, the best the world ever produced, is always ready to provide
a comfortable shade from the noonday sun when we stop. With one of
our saddle-blankets stretched across the sage brush or upheld by
sticks, our saddle blankets and fishamores placed on the ground, our
resting is delightful."

Among the notable events of the journey was when the party reached
Green River, the place of annual meeting of the Indians and the
traders. It was this place that Dr. Whitman had reached the year
previous. The Green is one of the large branches of the Colorado,
which heads among the snow banks of Fremont's Peak, a thousand miles
away. In its picturesque rugged beauty few sections excel the scenery
along the river, and now the whole scene, alive with frontier and
savage life, was one to impress itself indelibly upon the memories of
our travelers.

There were about two hundred traders and two thousand Indians,
representatives of tribes located many hundreds of miles distant. The
Cayuse and Nez Perces, who expected Dr. Whitman and his delegation,
were present to honor the occasion, and meet the boys, John and
Richard, who had accompanied the doctor from this place the year
before. The Indians expressed great delight over the successful
journey; but most of all they were delighted with the noble white
squaws who had come over the long trail. They were demonstrative and
scoured the mountains for delicacies in game from the woods and
brought trout from the river, and seemed constantly to fear that they
were neglecting some courtesy expected of them.

They finally got up a war tournament, and six hundred armed and
mounted Indians, in their war paint, with savage yells bore down
toward the tents of the ladies, and it was almost too realistic of
savage life to be enjoyed.

Here the brides were permitted to rest for ten days, and until their
tired animals could recuperate. The scenery along the last three
hundred miles was most charming, and almost made the travelers forget
the precipitous climbs and the steep descents. The days sped past, and
the wagon being left behind to be sent for later on, the wedding party
marched more rapidly. They reached Walla Walla River, eight miles from
the fort, the last day of August, and on September 1st they made an
early start and galloped into the fort. The party was hospitably

Says Mrs. Whitman: "They were just eating breakfast when we arrived,
and soon we were seated at the table and treated to fresh salmon,
potatoes, tea, bread and butter. What a variety, thought I. You cannot
imagine what an appetite these rides in the mountains give a person."

We have preferred to let Mrs. Whitman tell in her own way the story of
this memorable wedding journey. The reader will look in vain for any
mourning or disquietude. Two noble women started in to be the
helpmeets of two good men, and what a grand success they made of it.
There is nowhere any spirit of grumbling, but on the contrary, a
joyousness and exhilaration. True womanhood of all time is honored in
the lives of such women. It was but the coming of the first white
women who ever crossed the Rocky Mountains and notable as an heroic
wedding journey, but to the world it was not only exalted heroism, but
a great historic event, the building of an empire whose wide-reaching
good cannot easily be overestimated.

It was an event unparalleled in real or romantic literature, and so
pure and exalted in its motives, and prosecuted so unostentatiously,
as to honor true womanhood for all time to come.



Most writers speak of the Mission at Waiilatpui, as "The Presbyterian
Mission." While it does not much matter whether it was Presbyterian or
Congregational, it is well to have the history correct. The two great
churches at that time were united in their foreign missionary work,
and their missionaries were taken from both denominations. A year or
more ago I asked the late Professor Marcus Whitman Montgomery, of the
Chicago Theological Seminary (a namesake of Dr. Whitman), to go over
Dr. Whitman's church record while in Boston. He sends me the
following, which may be regarded as authentic:

                                    Ravenswood, Chicago, Jan. 5, 1894.

     Dr. O. W. Nixon:

     Dear Sir--The record of Dr. Whitman's church membership is
     as follows: Converted during a revival in the
     Congregational Church at Plainfield, Mass., in 1819, Rev.
     Moses Hallock, pastor. His first joining of a church was
     at Rushville, Yates County, N. Y., where he joined the
     Congregational Church in 1824, Rev. David Page, pastor. He
     was a member of this church for nine years, then he
     removed to Wheeler Center, Steuben County, N. Y. There
     being no Congregational Church there he joined the
     Presbyterian Church of Wheeler Center, Rev. James T.
     Hotchkiss, pastor. He was a member of this Presbyterian
     Church for three years, then he went to the Pacific Coast.
     This mission church was Presbyterian in name and
     Congregational in practice, while Whitman and the other
     missionaries were supported by the American Board. The
     American Board was always Congregational, but, at that
     time, the Presbyterians were co-operating with the
     American Board.

     These are the bottom facts as I have every reason to
     believe. Very truly yours,


The Rev. H. H. Spalding was a Presbyterian, and the Mission Church was
Presbyterian in name, but was Congregational in practice, and had a
confession of faith and covenant of its own. While the record shows
Whitman to have been a Congregationalist, it also shows that he united
with the Presbyterian Church when he settled at Wheeler Center, N. Y.,
where there was no Congregational Church. But the fact remains that
his memory and the acts of his grand life are amply sufficient to
interest both these great denominations.

Mrs. Whitman joined the Presbyterian Church when a young girl of

Dr. Whitman was born at Rushville, N. Y., September 4, 1802, and was
thirty-three years old when he entered upon his work in Oregon. When
first converted he resolved to study for the ministry, but a chain of
circumstances changed his plans and he studied medicine. The early
hardships and privations educated him into an admirable fitness for
the chosen work of his life.

Picture that little missionary band as they stood together at Fort
Walla Walla in September, 1836, and consulted about the great problems
to solve. It was all new. There were no precedents to guide them. They
easily understood that the first thing to do was to consult the ruling
powers of Oregon--the Hudson Bay Company officials at Fort Vancouver.
This would require another journey of three hundred miles, but as it
could be made in boats, and the Indians were capital oarsmen, they
resolved to take their wives with them, and thus complete the wedding

The gallant Dr. McLoughlin, Chief Factor of the Hudson Bay Company,
was a keen judge of human nature, and read men and women as scholars
read books, and he was captivated with the open, manly ways of Dr.
Whitman and the womanly accomplishments of the fair young wife, who
had braved the perils of an overland journey with wholly unselfish
purposes. Whitman soon developed to Dr. McLoughlin all his plans and
his hopes. Perhaps there was a professional free masonry between the
men that brought them closer together, but, by nature, they were both
men endowed richly with the best manly characters.

Dr. McLoughlin resolved to do the best thing possible for them, while
he still protected the interests of his great monopoly. Dr. Whitman's
idea, was to build one mission at the Dalles so as to be convenient to
shipping; McLoughlin at once saw it would not do. He had already
pushed the Methodist Mission far up the Willamette out of the way of
the fort and its work, and argued with Whitman that it would be best
for him to go to the Walla Walla country, three hundred miles away,
and Spalding, one hundred and twenty-five miles farther on.

He argued that the river Indians were far less hopeful subjects to
deal with, and that the bunch grass Indians, the Cayuse and Nez
Perces, had expressed a great anxiety for teachers. This arrangement
had been partially agreed to by Mr. Parker the year before. After a
full canvass of the entire subject, Dr. McLoughlin promised all the
aid in his power to give them a comfortable start.

At his earnest petition, Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding remained at
Vancouver while their husbands went back to erect houses that would
shelter them from the coming winter. To make Mrs. Whitman feel at
ease, and that she was not taxing the generosity of their new friends,
Dr. McLoughlin placed his daughter under her instruction, both in her
class work and music. Every effort was made to interest and entertain
the guests; the afternoons were given to excursions on the water, or
on horseback, or in rambles through the great fir forests, still as
wild as nature made them.

There is a grandeur in the great forest beyond the Stony Mountains
unequaled in any portion of the world. In our Northern latitudes the
undergrowth is so thick as to make comfortable traveling impossible,
but in the fir woods and in the pine and redwood forests of Oregon,
there are comparatively few of such obstructions. The great giants ten
or twelve feet in diameter, two hundred and seventy feet high, and one
hundred feet without a limb, hide the sun, and upon a summer day make
jaunts through the forest delightful to a lover of nature.

It was a grand rest and a pleasing finale to the hardships of the
wedding journey for these heroic women, and Mrs. Whitman, in her
diary, never a day neglects to remember her kind benefactors. They
rested here for about one and a half months, when Mr. Spalding came
after them and reported the houses so far advanced as to give them
shelter. We read the following note in Mrs. Whitman's diary, 1836:

"December 26th. Where are we now, and who are we, that we should be
thus blessed of the Lord? I can scarcely realize that we are thus
comfortably fixed and keeping house so soon after our marriage, when
considering what was then before us.

"We arrived here on the 10th, distance twenty-five miles from Fort
Walla Walla. Found a house reared and the lean-to enclosed, a good
chimney and fireplace and the floor laid. No windows or doors, except
blankets. My heart truly leaped for joy as I lighted from my horse,
entered and seated myself before a pleasant fire (for it was now
night). It occurred to me that my dear parents had made a similar
beginning and perhaps a more difficult one than ours.

"We had neither straw, bedstead or table, nor anything to make them of
except green cottonwood. All our boards are sawed by hand. Here my
husband and his laborers (two Owyhees from Vancouver, and a man who
crossed the mountains with us), and Mr. Gray had been encamped in a
tent since the 19th of October, toiling excessively hard to
accomplish this much for our comfortable residence during the
remainder of the winter.

"It is, indeed, a lovely situation. We are on a beautiful level
peninsula formed by the branches of the Walla Walla River, upon the
base of which our house stands, on the southeast corner, near the
shore of the main river. To run a fence across to the opposite river
on the north from our house--this, with the river, would enclose three
hundred acres of good land for cultivation, all directly under the

"The rivers are barely skirted with timber. This is all the woodland
we can see. Beyond them, as far as the eye can reach, plains and
mountains appear. On the east, a few rods from the house, is a range
of small hills covered with bunch grass, very excellent food for
animals and upon which they subsist during winter, even digging it
from under the snow."


This section is now reported as among the most fertile and beautiful
places in Washington. Looking away in a southeasterly direction, the
scenic beauty is grandly impressive. The Indians named the place
Wai-i-lat-pui (the place of rye grass). For twenty miles there is a
level reach of fertile soil through which flows like a silver thread
the Walla Walla River, while in the distance loom up toward the clouds
as a background the picturesque Blue Mountains. The greatest drawback
was the long distance to any timber suitable for making boards, and
the almost entire lack of helpers.

The Cayuse Indians seemed delighted with the prospect of a Mission
church and school, but they thought it disgraceful for them to work.
The doctor had to go from nine to fifteen miles to get his timber for
boards, and then hew or saw them out by hand. It was not, therefore,
strange, as Mrs. Whitman writes in her diary, December 26th: "No doors
or windows." From the day he entered upon his work, Dr. Whitman was
well-nigh an incessant toiler. Every year he built an addition to his

T. J. Furnham, who wrote a book of "Travels Across the Great Western
Prairies and Rocky Mountains," visited the Whitman Mission in
September, 1839. He says: "I found 250 acres enclosed and 200 acres
under good cultivation. I found forty or fifty Indian children between
the ages of seven and eighteen years in school, and Mrs. Whitman an
indefatigable instructor. One building was in course of construction
and a small grist mill in running order."

He says again: "It appeared to me quite remarkable that the doctor
could have made so many improvements since the year 1836; but the
industry which crowded every hour of the day, his untiring energy of
character, and the very efficient aid of his wife in relieving him in
a great degree from the labors of the school, enabled him, without
funds for such purposes, and without other aid than that of a fellow
missionary for short intervals, to fence, plow, build, plant an
orchard, and do all the other laborious acts of opening a plantation
on the face of that distant wilderness, learn an Indian language, and
do the duties, meanwhile, of a physician to the associate stations on
the Clearwater and Spokane."

People who give their money for missionary work can easily see that in
the case in hand they received faithful service. This is no prejudiced
report, but facts based upon the knowledge of a stranger, who had no
reason to misrepresent or exaggerate.

One of the first efforts of Dr. Whitman was to induce his Indians to
build permanent homes, to plow, plant and sow. This the Hudson Bay
Company had always discouraged. They wanted their savage aids as
nomads and hunters, ready to move hundreds and hundreds of miles away
in search of furs. They had never been encouraged to raise either
grain or fruit, cattle or sheep.

Dr. Jonathan Edwards says, in speaking of The Whitman Mission in 1842:
"The Indians were cultivating from one-fourth to four acres of land,
had seventy head of cattle, and some of them a few sheep." The same
author gives a graphic description of the painstaking work of Dr. and
Mrs. Whitman, not only in the school room, but in the Indian home, to
show them the comforts and benefits of civilization. Every Indian who
will plant is furnished the seed.

He also describes the orderly Sunday at the Mission. Up to the year
1838 the principal meat used as food by the Mission was horse flesh.
The cattle were too few to be sacrificed in that way. In 1837 Mrs.
Whitman writes in her diary: "We have had but little venison furnished
by the Indians, but to supply our men and visitors we have bought of
the Indians and eaten ten wild horses."

In 1841 their stock of hogs and cattle had so increased that they were
able to make a partial change of diet.

Another witness to the value of Dr. Whitman's missionary work is
Joseph Drayton, of Commodore Wilkes' exploring expedition of 1841.

He says of the Mission: "All the premises looked comfortable, the
garden especially fine, vegetables and melons in great variety. The
wheat in the fields was seven feet high and nearly ripe, and the corn
nine feet in the tassel." He marks the drawbacks of the Mission: "The
roving of the Indians, rarely staying at home more than three months
at a time." "They are off after buffalo," and "again off after the
salmon," and "not more than fifty or sixty remain during the winter."

These Cayuse Indians were not a numerous band, but they were born
traders, were wealthy, and had a great influence over other tribes.
Their wealth consisted mainly in horses; a single Indian Chief owned
two thousand head. One of their good qualities Mrs. Whitman speaks of,
is, "there are no thieves among them." She has to keep nothing locked
out of fear from thieves; but they had one trying habit of which Mrs.
Whitman had great trouble to break them--that was, they thought they
had a right to go into every room in the house, and seemed to think
that something was wrong when deprived of visiting the bedrooms of the

In June, 1839, a great sorrow came to Dr. and Mrs. Whitman. They had
but one child, a little girl of two years and three months old. In
their isolated condition one can easily imagine what a large place a
bright and attractive child would have in the heart of father and
mother in such a home. In the pursuance of his duties the doctor was
absent night after night, and some of his more distant patients
occupied him frequently many days.

It was at such times that Mrs. Whitman found great comfort and
happiness in her little daughter. The child had learned the Indian
language and spoke it fluently, to the delight of the Indians, and
had learned all the songs sung in the Nez Perces dialect, having
inherited the musical talent of her mother. It was in September, 1839,
that she was accidentally drowned in the Walla Walla River. In her
diary Mrs. Whitman writes to her mother:

"I cannot describe what our feelings were when night came and our dear
child a corpse in the next room. We went to bed, but not to sleep, for
sleep had departed from our eyes. The morning came, we arose, but our
child slept on. I prepared a shroud for her during the day; we kept
her four days; it was a great blessing and comfort to me so long as
she looked natural and was so sweet I could caress her. But when her
visage began to change I felt it a great privilege that I could put
her in so safe a resting place as the grave, to see her no more until
the resurrection morning.

"Although her grave is in sight every time I step out of the door, my
thoughts seldom wander there to find her. I look above with
unspeakable delight, and contemplate her as enjoying the full delights
of that bright world where her joys are perfect."

One seldom reads a more pathetic story than this recorded by Mrs.
Whitman, and yet, the almost heartbroken mother in her anguish never
murmurs or rebels. On the morning of the day she was drowned, Mrs.
Whitman writes, the little daughter was permitted to select a hymn
for the family worship. She made a selection of the old-time favorite:


     "While I draw this fleeting breath,
     When my eyelids close in death;
     When I rise to worlds unknown,
     And behold Thee on Thy Throne;
     Rock of ages cleft for me,
     Let me hide myself in Thee."

When the Indians came in for the afternoon service Dr. Whitman turned
to the same hymn and the baby girl again with her sweet voice joined
in the singing. Says Mrs. Whitman:

"This was the last we heard her sing. Little did we think that her
young life was so fleeting or that those sparkling eyes would so soon
be closed in death, and her spirit rise to worlds unknown to behold on
His Throne of glory Him who said: 'I will be a God to thee and thy
seed after thee.'"

They got water for the household use from the running river, and the
two little tin cups were found on the edge of the water. An old Indian
dived in and soon brought out the body, but life was extinct.

The profoundly Christian character of the mother is revealed in every
note of the sad event.

She writes: "Lord, it is right; it is right. She is not mine, but
thine; she was only lent to me to comfort me for a little season, and
now, dear Savior, Thou hast the best right to her. Thy will, not mine,
be done." Perils and hardships had long been theirs, but this was
their great sorrow. But it only seemed to excite them to greater
achievements in the work before them. Not a single interest was

The sudden death of "The Little White Cayuse," as the Indians called
her, seemed to estrange the Indians from the Mission. They almost
worshiped her, and came almost daily to see her and hear her sing the
Cayuse songs. The old Chief had many times said: "When I die I give
everything I have to the 'Little White Cayuse.'" From this time on the
Indians frequently showed a bad spirit. They saw the flocks and herds
of the Mission increasing, and the fields of waving grain, and began
to grow jealous and make demands that would have overtaxed and caused
fear in almost any other man than a Whitman.

Both before and after his memorable ride to Washington, his good
friend, Dr. McLoughlin, many times begged him to leave the Mission for
a while, until the Indians got in a better frame of mind. No man knew
the Indians so well as McLoughlin, and he saw the impending danger;
but no entreaties moved Whitman. Here was his life work and here he
would remain.

In these sketches there is no effort to tell the complete Oregon
Mission story, but only so much of it as will make clear the heroic
and patriotic services of Dr. and Mrs. Whitman. The reader will find a
most careful study of the whole broad field of pioneer mission work
upon the Pacific Coast in the Rev. Myron Eells' two books, the
"History of Indian Missions," and the "Biography of Rev. Cushing

How much or how little the work of the Oregon Missionaries benefited
the Indians eternity alone will reveal. They simply obeyed the call
"to preach the gospel to every creature."

A train of circumstances, a series of evolutions in national history
which they neither originated nor could stop, were portending. But
that the Missionaries first of all saw the drift of coming events, and
wisely guided them to the peace and lasting good of the nation is as
plain as any page of written history.

With the light of that time, with the terrible massacre at Waiilatpui
in sight, it is not strange that good people felt that there had been
great sacrifice with small good results. All the years since have been
correcting such false estimates. The American Board and the Christian
people of the land have made their greatest mistake in not rallying to
the defense of their martyr heroes.

No "forty thousand dollars" ever spent by that organization before or
since has been so prolific in good. The argument to sustain this
assertion will be found in other sketches.

The United States Government could well afford to give a million
dollars every year to the American Board for fifty years to come, and
to endow Whitman College magnificently, and then not pay a moiety for
the benefit it has received as a nation, and never acknowledged.

The best possible answer of the church and of the friends of missions
to those who sneeringly ask, What good has resulted to the world for
all the millions spent on missions? is to point to that neglected
grave at Waiilatpui, and recite the story of heroism and patriotism of
Dr. Marcus Whitman.



The world loves a hero, and the pioneer history of our several States
furnishes as interesting characters as are anywhere recorded. In view
of the facts and conditions already recited, the old Missionaries were
anxious and restless, and yet felt in a measure powerless to avert the
danger threatened. They believed fully that under the terms of the
treaty of 1818, re-affirmed in 1828, whichever nationality settled and
organized the territory, that nation would hold it.

This was not directly affirmed in the terms of that treaty, but was so
interpreted by the Americans and English in Oregon, and was greatly
strengthened by the fact that leading statesmen in Congress had for
nearly half a century wholly neglected Oregon, and time and again gone
upon record as declaring it worthless and undesirable. In their
conferences the Missionaries from time to time had gone over the whole
question, and did everything in their power to encourage immigration.

Their glowing accounts of the fertility of the soil, the balmy
climate, the towering forests, the indications of richness in
minerals, had each year induced a limited number of more daring
Americans to immigrate.

In this work of the Missionaries Jason Lee, the chief of the Methodist
Missions, was, up to the date of the incident we are to narrate, the
most successful of all. He was a man of great strength of character.
Like Whitman, he was also a man of great physical strength, fearless,
and, with it all, wise and brainy. No other man among the pioneers,
for his untiring energy in courting immigration, can be so nearly
classed with Whitman.

They were all men, who, though in Oregon to convert Indian savages to
Christianity, yet were intensely American. They thought it no abuse of
their Christianity to carry the banner of the Cross in one hand and
the banner of their country in the other. Missionaries as they were,
thousands of miles from home, neglected by the Government, yet the
love of country seemed to shine with constantly increasing luster.

In addition to the Missionaries, at the time of which we write, there
was quite a population of agriculturists and traders in the near
vicinity of each mission. These heartily coöperated with the
Missionaries and shared their anxieties. In 1840-'41 many of them met
and canvassed the subject whether they should make an attempt to
organize a government under the Stars and Stripes; but they easily saw
that they were outnumbered by the English, who were already organized
and were the real autocrats of the country.

So the time passed until the fall of 1842, when Elijah White, an
Indian agent for the Government in the Northwest, brought a party of
Americans, men, women and children, numbering one hundred and twenty,
safely through to Waiilatpui. In this company was a more than usually
intelligent, well-informed Christian gentleman, destined to fill an
important place in our story, General Amos L. Lovejoy. He was
thoroughly posted in national affairs, and gave Dr. Whitman his first
intimation of the probability that the Ashburton Treaty would likely
come to a crisis before Congress adjourned in March, 1843. This
related, as it was supposed, to the entire boundary between the United
States and the English possessions.

The question had been raised in 1794, "Where is 'the angle of Nova
Scotia,' and where are the 'highlands between the angle and the
northwest head of the Connecticut River?'" Time and again it had been
before commissioners, and diplomats had many times grown eloquent in
explaining, but heretofore nothing had come of it. Much was made of
it, and yet it was only a dispute as to who owned some twelve thousand
and twenty acres of land, much of which was of little value.

Looking back now one wonders at the shortsightedness of statesmen who
quarreled for forty-eight years over this garden patch of rocky land
in Maine, when three great states were quietly slipping away with
scarcely a protest. But this arrival of recruits, and this knowledge
of the political situation revealed by General Lovejoy, at once
settled Dr. Whitman upon his line of duty.

To Mrs. Whitman he at once explained the situation, and said he felt
impelled to go to Washington. She was a missionary's wife, a
courageous, true-hearted, patriotic woman, who loved and believed in
her husband, and at once consented. Under the rules the local members
of the Mission had to be consulted, and runners were at once
dispatched to the several stations, and all responded promptly, as the
demand was for their immediate presence.

There was a second rule governing such cases of leave of absence, and
that was the sanction, from headquarters, of the American Board in
Boston. But in this emergency Dr. Whitman preferred to take all the
responsibility and cut the red tape. Dr. Eells, one of the noblest of
the old Missionaries, writes an account of that conference, and it is
all the more valuable from the fact that he was opposed to the

Dr. Eells says: "The purpose of Dr. Whitman was fixed. In his
estimation the saving of Oregon to the United Spates was of paramount
importance, and he would make the attempt to do so, even if he had to
withdraw from the Mission in order to accomplish his purpose. In reply
to considerations intended to hold Dr. Whitman to his assigned work,
he said: 'I am not expatriated by becoming a missionary.'

"The idea of his withdrawal could not be entertained. Therefore, to
retain him in the Mission, a vote to approve of his making this
perilous endeavor prevailed."

In addition to this the Doctor undoubtedly intended to visit the
American Board and explain the mission work and its needs, and protest
against some of its orders. But in this there was no need of such
haste as to cause the mid-winter journey. In this note of Dr. Eells
the explanation is doubtless correct.

Dr. Spalding says: "Dr. Whitman's last remarks were, as he mounted his
horse for the long journey: 'If the Board dismisses me, I will do what
I can to save Oregon to the country. My life is of but little worth
if I can save this country to the American people.'"

They all regarded it a most perilous undertaking. They knew well of
the hardships of such a journey in the summer season, when grass could
be found to feed the stock, and men live in comfort in the open air.
But to all their pleadings and specifications of danger, Dr. Whitman
had but one reply, "I must go." As Dr. Eells says:--"They finally all
yielded when he said, 'I will go, even if I have to break my
connection with the American Board.'" They all loved him, and he was
too valuable a man for them to allow that.

Besides, they became thoroughly convinced that the man and the
missionary had received a call from a higher source than an earthly
one, and a missionary board should not stand in the way. It was
resolved that he must not be allowed to make such a journey alone. A
call was at once made, "Who will volunteer to go with him?" Again the
unseen power was experienced when General Lovejoy said: "I will go
with Dr. Whitman."

The man seems to have been sent for just such a purpose. Aside from
the fact that he was tired out with the long five months' ride upon
the plains, and had not been fully rested, no better man could have
been chosen. He was an educated, Christian gentleman, full of
cheerfulness, brave, cautious, and a true friend.


Mrs. Whitman, in her diary, dwells upon this with loving
thoughtfulness, and her soul breaks forth in thanksgiving to the good
Father above, who has sent so good and true a companion for the long
and dangerous journey. She refers to it again and again that he will
have a friend in his hours of peril and danger, and not have to depend
entirely upon the savages for his society.

The conference passed a resolution, as stated, giving leave of absence
and fixed the time for his starting in "five days" from that day. It
was not often they had such an opportunity for letter-carriers, and
each began a voluminous correspondence.

The Doctor set about his active preparations, arranging his outfit and
seeing that everything was in order. The next day he had a call to see
a sick man at old Fort Walla Walla, and as he needed many articles for
his journey which could be had there, he went with this double
purpose. He found at the Fort a score or more of traders, clerks and
leading men of the Hudson Bay Company, assembled there. They were
nearly all Englishmen, and the discussion soon turned upon the treaty,
and the outlook, and as might be inferred, was not cheering to
Whitman. But his object was to gain information and not to argue.

The dinner was soon announced and the Doctor sat down to a royal
banquet with his jovial English friends. For no man was more highly
esteemed by all than was Whitman. The chief factor at Vancouver, Dr.
McLoughlin, from the very outset of their acquaintance, took a liking
to both the Doctor and Mrs. Whitman, and in hundreds of cases showed
them marked and fatherly kindness. Mrs. Whitman, in her diary,
recently published in the proceedings of the Oregon State Historical
Society, mainly in the years 1891 and 1893, often refers to the
fatherly kindness of the good old man whose home she shared for weeks
and months, and he begged her when first reaching Oregon to stop all
winter and wait until her own humble home could be made comfortable.

But while the company were enjoying their repast, an express messenger
of the company arrived from Fort Colville, three hundred and fifty
miles up the Columbia, and electrified his audience by the
announcement that a colony of one hundred and forty Englishmen and
Canadians were on the road.

In such a company it is easy to see such an announcement was exciting
news. One young priest threw his cap in the air and shouted, "Hurrah
for Oregon--America is too late, we have got the country."

Dr. Whitman carefully concealed all his intentions--in fact, this was
enjoined upon all the missionary band, as publicity would likely
defeat any hope of good results. Those who will take the pains to
read Mrs. Whitman's diary will notice how she avoids saying anything
to excite comment regarding the purposes of his winter visit to
Washington. In her letter to her father and mother she simply says: "I
expect my dear husband will be so full of his great work that he will
forget to tell you of our life in Oregon. He can explain what it is,"

It is said "Women cannot keep a secret," but here is an instance of
one that did. In his absence she visited Fort Vancouver, Astoria,
Oregon City, and other points. She is painstaking in keeping a regular
record of every-day events. But the secret of his mission to the
States was perfectly safe with the good wife.

As soon as the Doctor could with politeness excuse himself, he mounted
his pony and galloped away home, pondering the news he had received.
By the time he reached Waiilatpui he resolved there must be no
tarrying for "five days." On the morning of the third day after the
conference the spirit was upon him, and he took such messages as were
ready, and on October 3d, 1842, bade a long good-bye to his wife and
home, and the two men, their guide, and three pack mules, began that
ever memorable journey--escorted for a long distance by many Cayuse

Intelligent readers of all classes can easily mark the heroism of
such an undertaking under such circumstances, but the old plainsman
and the mountaineer who know the terrors of the journey, will point to
it as without a parallel in all history. It was surmised by most that
it was "A ride down to the valley of the shadow of death."

It is comforting and assuring of that power which sustains a believing
soul, to turn the pages of the diary of Mrs. Whitman, as day by day
she follows the little caravan with thought and prayer, and see with
what confidence she expresses the belief that an Almighty Arm is
guiding her loved one in safety through all perils.

It is easy to surmise the feelings of the Missionary band when they
sent in their letters and messages and learned that the Doctor was far
on his journey and had not waited the required limit of "five days."

The echo of dissatisfaction was heard even for years after, very much
to the disturbance of the good wife. And she in her diary expresses
profound thankfulness when, years after, the last vestige of criticism
ceased and the old cordiality was restored.

As for Dr. Whitman, with his whole being impressed with the importance
of his work and the need for haste, it is doubtful whether he even
remembered the "five days" limit.

The great thought with him was, I must reach Washington before
Congress adjourns, or all may be lost. The after disclosures convinced
the aggrieved Missionaries that Whitman was right, and they deeply
regretted some of the sharp criticisms they made and wrote East.

With horses fresh, the little company made a rapid ride, reaching Fort
Hall in eleven days. The road thus far was plain and familiar to every
member of the party. Prior to leaving home there had been rumors that
the Blackfoot Indians had suddenly grown hostile, and would make the
journey dangerous along the regular line of travel.

Upon reaching Fort Hall, Captain Grant, who seems to have been placed
at that point solely to discourage and defeat immigration, set about
his task in the usual way. Without knowing, he shrewdly suspected that
the old Missionary had business of importance on hand which it would
be well to thwart. He had before had many a tilt with Whitman and knew
something of his determination. It was Grant who had almost compelled
every incoming settler to forsake his wagon at Fort Hall, sacrifice
his goods, and force women and children to ride on horseback or go on
foot the balance of the journey.

Six years before he had plead with Whitman to do this, and had failed,
and Whitman had thus taken the first wagon into Oregon that ever
crossed the Rockies. Now he set about to defeat his journey to the
States. He told of the hopelessness of a journey over the Rocky
Mountains, with snow already twenty feet deep. He also informed him
that from recent advices the Sioux and Pawnee Indians were at war, and
it would be almost certain death to the party to undertake to pass
through their country.

This, all told for a single purpose, was partly true and partly false.
The writer, a few years after, when war broke out between the
Cheyennes and the Pawnees, passed entirely through the Cheyenne
country and was treated with the utmost courtesy and kindness by the
Cheyenne braves.

But Captain Grant's argument had more effect upon Whitman than upon a
former occasion. The Captain even began to hope that he had
effectually blocked the way. But he was dealing with a man of great
grit, not easily discouraged, and, we may say it reverently, an
inspired man. He had started to go to the States and he would continue
his journey.

Captain Grant was at his wits' end. He had no authority to stop
Whitman and his party; he carried with him a permit signed by "Lewis
Cass, Secretary of War," commanding all in authority to protect, aid,

The American Board was as careful in having all Oregon missionaries
armed with such credentials as if sending them to a foreign land,
and, in fact, there was no vestige of American government in Oregon in
that day. The Hudson Bay Company, wholly English, ruled over
everything, whether whites or Indians.

Much to Captain Grant's chagrin, Whitman, instead of turning backward,
set out southeast to discover a new route to the States. He knew in a
general way the lay of the mountain ranges, but he had never heard
that a white man's foot had passed that way. First east and south from
Fort Hall, in the direction of the now present site of Salt Lake City,
from thence to Fort Uintah and Fort Uncompahgra, then to Taos, Santa
Fe, to Bent's Fort, and St. Louis. This course led them over some very
rough mountainous country.

In his diary Gen. Lovejoy says: "From Fort Hall to Fort Uintah we met
with terribly severe weather. The deep snow caused us to lose much
time. Here we took a new guide to Fort Uncompahgra on Grand River in
Spanish country, which we safely reached and employed a new guide
there. Passing over a high mountain on our way to Taos we encountered
a terrible snow storm, which compelled us to seek shelter in a dark
defile, and although we made several attempts to press on, we were
detained some ten days. When we got upon the mountain again we met
with another violent snow storm, which almost blinded man and beast.
The pelting snow and cold made the dumb brutes well-nigh

Finally the guide stopped and acknowledged he was lost and would go no
farther, and they resolved to return to their camp in the sheltered
ravine. But the drifting snow had obliterated every sign of the path
by which they had come, and the guide acknowledged that he could not
direct the way. In this dire dilemma, says Gen. Lovejoy, "Dr. Whitman
dismounted and upon his knees in the snow commended himself, his
distant wife, his missionary companions and work, and his Oregon, to
the Infinite One for guidance and protection.

"The lead mule left to himself by the guide, turning his long ears
this way and that, finally started plunging through the snow drifts,
his Mexican guide and all the party following instead of guiding, the
old guide remarking: 'This mule will find the camp if he can live long
enough to reach it.' And he did." As woodsmen well know this knowledge
of directions in dumb brutes is far superior often to the wisest
judgment of men.

The writer well remembers a terrible experience when lost in the great
forests of Arkansas, covered with the back water from the Mississippi
River, which was rapidly rising. Two of us rode for hours. The water
would grow deeper in one direction; we would try another and find it
no better; we were hopelessly lost. My companion was an experienced
woodsman and claimed that he was going in the right direction, so I
followed until in despair I called to him, and showed him the high
water mark upon the trees ten feet above our heads as we sat upon our

I remarked: "I have followed you; now you follow me. I am going to let
my old horse find the way out." I gave him the rein; he seemed to
understand it. He raised his head, took an observation, turned at
right angles from the way we had insisted was our course, wound around
logs and past marshes, and in two hours brought us safely to camp.

This incident of Dr. Whitman's mule, as well as all such, educates one
in kindness to all dumb animal life.

Reaching camp the guide at once announced that, "I will go no farther;
the way is impossible." "This," says Gen. Lovejoy, "was a terrible
blow to Dr. Whitman. He had already lost more than ten days of
valuable time." But it would be impossible to move without a guide.
Whitman was a man who knew no such word as fail. His order was: "I
must go on."

There was but one thing to do. He said to Gen. Lovejoy: "You stay in
camp and recuperate and feed the stock, and I will return with the
guide to Fort Uncompahgra, and get a new man."

And so Lovejoy began "recuperation," and recuperated his dumb animals
by collecting the brush and inner bark of the willows upon which they
fed. It is astonishing how a mule or horse on the plains can find food
enough to live on, under such conditions.

The writer had a pet mule in one of his journeys over the great
plains, which he would tie to a sage bush near the tent when not a
vestige of grass was anywhere in sight, and yet waking up in the night
at any hour I would hear Ben pawing and chewing. He would paw up the
tender roots of the sage and in the morning look as plump and full as
if he had feasted on good No. 2 corn.

"The doctor," says Lovejoy, "was gone just one week, when he again
reached our camp in the ravine with a new guide."

The storm abated and they passed over the mountain and made good
progress toward Taos.

Their most severe experience was on reaching Grand River. People who
know, mark this as one of the most dangerous and treacherous rivers in
the West. Its rapid, deep, cold current, even in the Summer, is very
much dreaded. Hundreds of people have lost their lives in it. Where
they struck the Grand it was about six hundred feet wide. Two hundred
feet upon each shore was solid ice, while a rushing torrent two
hundred feet wide was between.

The guide studied it, and said: "It is too dangerous to attempt to
cross." "We must cross, and at once," said Whitman. He got down from
his horse, cut a willow pole eight feet long, put it upon his
shoulder, and after remounting, said: "Now you shove me off." Lovejoy
and the guide did as ordered, and the General says: "Both horse and
rider temporarily went out of sight, but soon appeared, swimming. The
horse struck the rocky bottom and waded toward the shore where the
doctor, dismounting, broke the ice with his pole and helped his horse
out. Wood was plentiful and he soon had a roaring fire. As readers
well know, in a wild country where the lead animal has gone ahead, the
rest are eager to follow, regardless of danger, and the General and
his guide, after breaking the ice, had no difficulty in persuading
their horses and pack-mules to make the plunge into the icy flood.
They all landed in safety and spent the day in thoroughly drying out.

"Is the route passable?" asked Napoleon of his engineer. "Barely
possible, sire," replied the engineer. "Then let the column move at
once," said the Great Commander. The reader, in the incident of the
Grand and on the mountains, sees the same hero who refused to believe
the "impossible" of Captain Grant, at Fort Hall, and took that
"historic wagon" to Oregon. It looked like a small event to take a
wagon to Oregon, shattered and battered by the rocks and besetments of
the long three thousand mile journey. The good wife many times mourned
that the doctor should "Wear himself out in getting that wagon
through." "Yesterday," she says, "it was overset in the river and he
was wet from head to foot getting it out; to-day it was upset on the
mountain side, and it was hard work to save it." The dear woman did
not know it was an inspired wagon, the very implement upon which the
fate of Oregon would turn. Small events are sometimes portentous, and
the wagon that Whitman wheeled into Oregon, as we shall soon see, was
of this character.

One of the Providential events was, that the little company had been
turned aside from the attempt to make the journey over the direct
route and sent over this unexplored course, fully one thousand miles
longer. The winter of 1842-43 was very cold, and the snow throughout
the West was heavy. From many of these storms they were protected by
the ranges of high mountains, and what was of great value, had plenty
of firewood; while on the other route for a thousand miles they would
have had to depend mainly upon buffalo chips for fire, which it would
have been impossible to find when the ground was covered with snow. To
the traveler good fires in camp are a great comfort.

Even as it was, they suffered from the cold, all of them being
severely frosted. Dr. Whitman, when he reached Washington, was
suffering from frozen feet, hands and ears, although he had taken
every precaution to protect himself and his companions.

The many vexatious delays had caused not only the loss of valuable
time, but they had run out of provisions. A dog had accompanied the
party and they ate him; a mule came next, and that kept them until
they came to Santa Fe, where there was plenty. Santa Fe is one of the
oldest cities upon the continent occupied by English-speaking people.
The doctor, anxious for news, could find little there, and only
stopped long enough to recruit his supplies. He was in no mood to
enjoy the antiquities of this favorite resort of all the heroes of the

Pushing on over the treeless prairies, they made good headway toward
Bent's Fort on the headwaters of the Arkansas. The grass for the
horses was plentiful. That is one of the prime requisites of the
campaigner upon the plains. Had there been time for hunting, all along
their route they could have captured any amount of wild game, but as
it was, they attempted nothing except it came directly in the way.
They even went hungry rather than lose an hour in the chase.

There was one little incident which may seem very small, but the old
campaigner will see that it was big with importance. They lost their
axe. It was after a long tedious day crossing a bleak prairie, when
they reached one of the tributaries of the Arkansas River. On the
opposite side was wood in great plenty. On their side there was none.
The river was frozen over with smooth, clear ice, scarcely thick
enough to bear a man. They must have wood.

The doctor seized the axe, lay down on the ice and snaked himself
across on the thin crust. He cut loads of wood and pushed it before
him or skated it across and returned in safety; but unfortunately
split the axe helve. This they soon remedied by binding it with a
fresh deer skin thong. But as it lay in the edge of the tent that
night, a thieving wolf wanting the deer skin, took the axe and all,
and they could find no trace of it. The great good fortune was, that
such a catastrophe did not occur a thousand miles back. It is barely
possible it might have defeated the enterprise.

"When within about four days' journey of Bent's Fort," says Gen.
Lovejoy, "we met George Bent, a brother of Gen. Bent, with a caravan
on his way to Taos. He told us that a party of mountain men would
leave Bent's Fort in a few days for St. Louis, but said we could not
reach the fort with our pack animals in time to join the party.

"The doctor being very anxious to join it, and push on to Washington,
concluded to leave myself and guide with the packs, and he himself
taking the best animal, with some bedding and a small allowance of
provisions, started on alone, hoping by rapid traveling to reach the
fort before the party left. But to do so he would have to travel upon
the Sabbath, something we had not done before.

"Myself and guide traveled slowly and reached the fort in four days,
but imagine my astonishment when told the doctor had not arrived nor
been heard from. As this portion of the journey was infested by gangs
of gray wolves, that had been half starved during the snows and cold
weather, our anxiety for the doctor's safety was greatly increased.
Every night our camp would be surrounded by them coming even to the
door of the tent, and everything eatable had to be carefully stored
and our animals picketed where we could defend them with our rifles;
when a wolf fell he would instantly be devoured by his fellows.

"If not killed we knew the doctor was lost. Being furnished by the
gentlemen of the fort with a good guide I started to search for him
and traveled up the river about one hundred miles. I learned by the
Indians that a man who was lost had been there and he was trying to
find Bent's Fort. They said they had directed him down the river and
how to find the fort. I knew from their description that it was the
doctor, and I returned as rapidly as possible; but he had not arrived.

"Late in the afternoon he came in much fatigued and almost desponding.
He said that God had hindered him for traveling on the Holy Sabbath."
Says General Lovejoy: "This was the only time I ever knew him to
travel on Sunday."

The party which the doctor was to accompany to St. Louis had already
started, but was kindly stopped by a runner, and it was in camp
waiting his coming. Tired as he was, he tarried but a single night at
Fort Bent, and again with a guide hurried on to overtake the caravan.
This was a dangerous part of the journey. Savage beasts and savage men
were both to be feared.

In pioneer days the borders of civilization were always infested by
the worst class of people, both whites and Indians. This made the
doctor more anxious for an escort. Gen. Lovejoy remained at the fort
until he entirely recovered from his fatigue, and went on with the
next caravan passing eastward to St. Louis. In a letter to Dr.
Atkinson, published in full in the appendix to this volume, Gen.
Lovejoy recites many interesting incidents of this journey. Before
reaching St. Louis, Gen. Lovejoy immediately began to advertise the
emigration for the following May.

Dr. Barrows, in his fine volume, "Oregon--the Struggle for
Possession," says: "Upon the arrival of Dr. Whitman 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. Those interested in the news
from the plains, the trappers and traders in furs and Indian goods,
gathered about him and beset him with a multitude of questions.
Answering them courteously he in turn asked about Congress. Whether
the Ashburton Treaty had been concluded? and whether it covered the
Northwest Territory? The treaty he learned had been signed August 9th,
long before he left Oregon, and had been confirmed by the Senate and
signed by the President on November 10th, while he was floundering in
the snow upon the mountains."

But the Oregon question was still open, and only the few acres up in
Maine had been fixed. The question he was eager to have answered was:
"Is the Oregon question still pending, and can I get there before
Congress adjourns?" The river was frozen, and he had to depend upon
the stage, and even from St. Louis a journey to Washington in
midwinter at that time, was no small matter. But to a man like Whitman
with muscles trained, and a brain which never seemed to tire, it was
counted as nothing.

Dr. Barrows says: "Marcus Whitman once seen, and in our family circle,
telling of his business, he had but one, was a 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 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 you as marking the man.

"He wore coarse fur garments with buckskin breeches. He had a buffalo
overcoat, with a head hood for emergencies, with fur leggins and boot
moccasins. His legs and feet fitted his Mexican stirrups. If my memory
is not at fault his entire dress when on the street did not show one
inch of woven fabric."

One can easily see that a dress of such kind and upon such a man would
attract attention at the National Capital. But the history of the
event nowhere hints that the old pioneer suffered in any quarter from
his lack of fashionable garments. It was before the day of
interviewing newspapers, but the men in authority in Washington soon
learned of his coming and showed him every courtesy and kindness. He
would have been lionized had he encouraged it. But he had not
imperiled life for any such purpose. He was, after a four thousand
miles ride, there upon a great mission and for business, and time was

Almost in despair he had prayed that he might be enabled to reach the
Capital of the Nation and make his plea for his land, Oregon, before
it was too late. And here he was. Would he be given an audience? Would
he be believed? Would he succeed? These were the questions uppermost
in his mind.



It has been an American boast that the President of the United States
is within the reach of the humblest subject. This was truer years ago
than now, and possibly with some reason for it. Unfortunately the
historian has no recorded account of the interview between the
President, his Secretary of State and Whitman. Whitman worked for
posterity, but did not write for it.

For his long journey over the plains in 1836 and the many entertaining
and exciting events we are wholly dependent upon Mrs. Whitman, and for
the narrative of the perilous ride to save Oregon, we are dependent
upon the brief notes made by Gen. Lovejoy, and from personal talks
with many friends. Whitman always seemed too busy to use pencil or
pen, and yet when he did write, as a few recorded specimens show, he
was remarkably clear, precise and forcible. But while we have no
written statement of the celebrated interview, Dr. Whitman, in many
private conversations with friends in Oregon said enough to give a
fair and clear account of it.

It will require no stretch of imagination in any intelligent reader to
suppose, that a man who had undergone the hardships and perils he had,
would be at a loss how to present his case in the most forcible and
best possible method. He was an educated man, a profound thinker; and
he knew every phase of the questions he had to present, and no man of
discernment could look into his honest eyes and upon his manly
bearing, without acknowledging that they were in the presence of the
very best specimen of American Christian manhood.

Both President Tyler and Secretary of State Daniel Webster, speedily
granted him an audience. Some time in the future some great artist
will paint a picture of this historic event. The old pioneer, in his
leather breeches and worn and torn fur garments, and with frozen
limbs, just in from a four thousand mile ride, is a picture by
himself, but standing in the presence of the President and his great
Secretary, to plead for Oregon and the old flag, the subject for a
painter is second to none in American history.

Some writers have said that Whitman "had a chilling reception from
Secretary Webster." Of this there is not a shadow of proof. It has
also been asserted that Whitman assailed the Ashburton-Webster Treaty.
This much only is true, that Whitman regarded the issues settled as
comparatively insignificant to those involved in the possession and
boundaries of Oregon; but he was profoundly grateful that in the
treaty, Oregon had in no way been sacrificed, as he had feared.

Gen. Lovejoy says: "Dr. Whitman often related to me during our
homeward journey the incidents of his reception by the President and
his Secretary. He had several interviews with both of them, as well as
with many of the leading senators and members of Congress." The burden
of his speech in all these, says Gen. Lovejoy, was to "immediately
terminate the treaty of 1818 and 1828, and extend the laws of the
United States over Oregon." It takes a most credulous reader to doubt

For months prior to Whitman's visit to Washington in diplomatic
circles it was well understood that there were negotiations on foot to
trade American interests in Oregon for the fisheries of Newfoundland.
Dr. Whitman soon heard of it, and heard it given as a reason why the
boundary line between Oregon and the British possessions had been
left open and only the little dispute in Maine adjusted.

According to all reports we can gather from the Doctor's
conversations, there was only one time in the several conferences in
which he and Secretary Webster got warm and crossed swords. Secretary
Webster had received castigation from political leaders, and sharp
criticism from his own party over the Ashburton Treaty, and was ready
to resent every remote allusion to it, as a give-away of American
interests. In defense of Secretary Webster it has been asserted that
"he had no intention of making such an exchange." But his well-known
previous views, held in common by the leading statesmen of the day,
already referred to, and openly expressed in Congress and upon the
rostrum, that "Oregon was a barren worthless country, fit only for
wild beasts and wild men, gave the air of truth to the reported
negotiation." This he emphasized by the interruption of Whitman in one
of his glowing descriptions of Oregon, by saying in effect that
"Oregon was shut off by impassable mountains and a great desert, which
made a wagon road impossible."

Then, says Whitman, I replied: "Mr. Secretary, that is the grand
mistake that has been made by listening to the enemies of American
interests in Oregon. Six years ago I was told there was no wagon road
to Oregon, and it was impossible to take a wagon there, and yet in
despite of pleadings and almost threats, I took a wagon over the road,
and have it now." This was the historic wagon. It knocked all the
argument out of the great Secretary. Facts are stubborn things to
meet, and when told by a man like Whitman it is not difficult to
imagine their effect.

He assured the Secretary that the possibilities of the territory
beyond the Rockies were boundless, that under the poorest cultivation
everything would grow; that he had tested a variety of crops and the
soil made a wonderful yield. That not only is the soil fertile, the
climate healthful and delightful, but there is every evidence of the
hills and mountains being rich in ores; while the great forests are
second to none in the world. But it was the battered old wagon that
was the clinching argument that could not be overcome. No four-wheeled
vehicle ever before in history performed such notable service. The
real fact was, the Doctor took it into Oregon on two wheels, but he
carefully hauled the other two wheels inside as precious treasures. He
seems to have had a prophetic view of the value of the first incoming
wagon from the United States. The events show his wisdom.

Proceeding with his argument, Dr. Whitman said: "Mr. Secretary, you
had better give all New England for the cod and mackerel fisheries
of New Foundland than to barter away Oregon."


From the outset, and at every audience granted, President Tyler
treated Dr. Whitman with the greatest deference. He was a new
character in the experience of both these polished and experienced
politicians. Never before had they listened to a man who so eloquently
plead for the cause of his country, with no selfish aim in sight. He
asked for no money, or bonds, or land, or office, or anything, except
that which would add to the nation's wealth, the glory and honor of
the flag, and the benefit of the hardy pioneer of that far-off land,
that the nation had for more than a third of the century wholly
neglected. It was a powerful appeal to the manly heart of President
Tyler, and as the facts show, was not lost on Secretary Webster.

The Rev. H. H. Spalding, Whitman's early associate in the Oregon work,
had many conferences with Whitman after his return to Oregon. Spalding
says, speaking of the conference: "Webster's interest lay too near to
Cape Cod to see things as Whitman did, while he conceded sincerity to
the missionary, but he was loth to admit that a six years' residence
there gave Whitman a wider knowledge of the country than that
possessed by Governor Simpson, who had explored every part of it and
represented it as a sandy desert, cut off from the United States by
impassable mountains, and fit only for wild animals and savage men."

With the light we now have upon the subject the greater wonder is that
a brainy man like Webster could be so over-reached by an interested
party such as Governor Simpson was; well knowing as he did, that he
was the chief of the greatest monopoly existing upon either
continent--the Hudson Bay Company. All Dr. Whitman demanded was that
if it were true, as asserted by Mr. Webster himself, in his
instructions to Edward Everett in 1840, then Minister to England, that
"The ownership of Oregon is very likely to follow the greater
settlement and larger amount of population;" then "All I ask is that
you won't barter away Oregon, or allow English interference until I
can lead a band of stalwart American settlers across the plains: for
this I will try to do."

President Tyler promptly and positively stated: "Dr. Whitman, your
long ride and frozen limbs speak for your courage and patriotism; your
missionary credentials are good vouchers for your character." And he
promptly granted his request. Such promise was all that Whitman
required. He firmly believed, as all the pioneers of Oregon at that
time believed, that the treaty of 1818, while not saying in direct
terms that the nationality settling the country should hold it, yet
that that was the real meaning. Both countries claimed the territory,
and England with the smallest rightful claim had, through the Hudson
Bay Company, been the supreme autocratic ruler for a full third of a

More than half a dozen fur companies, attracted to Oregon by the
wealth flowing into the coffers of the English company, had attempted,
as we have before shown, to open up business on what they claimed was
American soil; but, in every instance, they were starved out or bought
out by the English company. The Indians obeyed its orders, and even
the American missionaries settled in just the localities they were
ordered to by the English monopoly. In another connection we have more
fully explained this treaty of 1818, but, suffice it to say, these
conditions led Whitman to believe that the only hope of saving Oregon
was in American immigration. It was for this that he plead with
President Tyler and Secretary Webster and the members of Congress he

From the President he went to the Hon. James M. Porter, Secretary of
War, and by him was received with the greatest kindness, and he
eagerly heard the whole story. He promised Dr. Whitman all the aid in
his power in his scheme of immigration. He promised that Captain
Fremont, with a company of troops, should act as escort to the caravan
which Whitman was positive he could organize upon the frontier. The
Secretary of War also inquired in what way he and the Government
could aid the pioneers in the new country, and asked Dr. Whitman, at
his leisure, to write out his views, and forward them to him. Dr.
Whitman did this, and the State Historical Society of Oregon did
excellent service, recently, in publishing Whitman's proposed "Oregon
Organization," found among the official papers of the War Department,
a copy of which will be found in the appendix of this volume.

In a Senate document, December 31st, viz., the 41st Cong., February
9th, 1871, we read: "There is no doubt but that the arrival of Dr.
Whitman, in 1843, was opportune. The President was satisfied that the
territory was worth the effort to win it. The delay incident to a
transfer of negotiations to London was fortunate, for there is reason
to believe that if former negotiations had been renewed in Washington,
and that, for the sake of a settlement of the protracted controversy
and the only remaining unadjudicated cause of difference between the
two Governments, the offer had been renewed of the 49th parallel to
the Columbia and thence down the river to the Pacific Ocean, it would
have been accepted. The visit of Whitman committed the President
against any such action." This is a clear statement, summarizing the
great historic event, and forever silencing effectually the slanderous
tongues that have, in modern times, attempted to deprive the old Hero
of his great and deserving tribute.

We will do Secretary Webster the justice to say here, that in his
later years, he justly acknowledged the obligations of the nation to
Dr. Whitman. In the New York Independent, for January, 1870, it is
stated: "A personal friend of Mr. Webster, a legal gentleman, and with
whom he conversed on the subject several times, remarked to the writer
of this article: 'It is safe to assert that our country owes it to Dr.
Whitman and his associate missionaries that all the territory west of
the Rocky Mountains and south as far as the Columbia River, is not now
owned by England and held by the Hudson Bay Company.'"

Having transacted his business and succeeded even beyond his
expectations, Whitman hurried to Boston to report to the headquarters
of the American Board. His enemies have often made sport over their
version of his "cool reception by the American Board." If there was a
severe reprimand, as reported, both the officers of the Board and Dr.
Whitman failed to make record of it. But enough of the facts leaked
out in the years after to show that it was not altogether a harmonious
meeting. It is not to be wondered at.

The American Board was a religious organization working under fixed
rules, and expected every member in every field to obey those rules.
But here was a man, whose salary had been paid by the Board for
special work, away from his field of labor without the consent from
headquarters. It is not at all unlikely that he was severely
reprimanded. The officers of the American Board had no reason to know,
as Christian people can see now, that Whitman was an inspired man, and
a man about his Father's business. It is even reported, but not
vouched for, that they ordered him to promptly repair to his post of
duty, and dismissed him with his pockets so empty, that, when starting
upon his ever-memorable return journey across the plains, "He had but
money enough to buy only a single ham for his supplies."

One of his old associates who had frequent conferences with
Whitman--Dr. Gray--says: "Instead of being treated by the American
Board as his labors justly deserved, he met the cold, calculating
rebuke for unreasonable expenses, and for dangers incurred without
orders or instructions or permission from headquarters. Thus, for
economical, prudential reasons, the Board received him coldly, and
rebuked him for his presence before them, causing a chill in his warm
and generous heart, and a sense of unmerited rebuke from those who
should have been most willing to listen to all his statements, and
been most cordial and ready to sustain him in his herculean labors."
We leave intelligent readers to answer for themselves, whether this
attitude of this great and influential and excellent organization has
not been, in a measure, responsible for the neglect of this Hero, who
served it and the Christian world with all faithfulness and honesty,
until he and his noble wife dropped into their martyr graves? If they
say yea, we raise the question whether the time has not been reached
to make amends?

Dr. Barrows says, in his "Oregon and the Struggle for Possession," "It
should be said in apology for both parties at this late day that, at
that time, the Oregon Mission and its managing board were widely
asunder geographically, and as widely separated in knowledge of the
condition of affairs." Dr. Whitman seems to have assumed that his
seven years' residence on the Northwest Coast would gain him a
trustful hearing. But his knowledge gave him the disadvantage of a
position and plans too advanced--not an uncommon mishap to eminent
leaders. As said by Coleridge of Milton, "He strode so far before his
contemporaries as to dwarf himself by the distance."

He adds that:

"Years after only, it was discovered by one of the officers of the
American Board," that "It was not simply an American question then
settled, but at the same time a Protestant question." He also refers
to a recent work, "The Ely Volume," in which is discussed the
question, "Instances where the direct influence of missionaries has
controlled and hopefully shaped the destinies of communities and
states," and illustrates by saying, "Perhaps no event in the history
of missions will better illustrate this than the way in which Oregon
and our whole Northwest Pacific Coast was saved to the United States."

This covered directly the Whitman idea. It was, as he before stated, a
union of banners--the banner of the cross, and the banner of the
country he loved. It took the spirit and love of both to sustain a man
and to enable him to undergo the hardships and dangers and
discouragements that he met, from the beginning to the end.

From Boston, with an aching heart, and yet doubtless serene over an
accomplished duty, which he had faith to believe time would reveal in
its real light, Dr. Whitman passed on to make a flying visit to his
own and his wife's relations. From letters of Mrs. Whitman, it is easy
to see that her prophecy was true; "He would be too full of his great
work on hand, to tell much of the home in Oregon." His visit was
hurried over and seemed more the necessity of a great duty than a

But the Doctor's mind was westward. He had learned from Gen. Lovejoy
that already there was gathering upon the frontier a goodly number of
immigrants and the prospect was excellent for a large caravan. In the
absence of Dr. Whitman, Gen. Lovejoy had neglected no opportunity to
publish far and wide that Dr. Whitman and himself would, early in the
Spring, pilot across the plains to Oregon, a body of immigrants. A
rendezvous was appointed, not far from where Kansas City now stands,
at the little town of Weston. But they were in various camps at Fort
Leavenworth and other points, waiting both for their guide and for the
growing spring grass--a necessity for the emigrant.

Certain modern historians have undertaken to rob Whitman of his great
services in 1843, by gathering affidavits of people who emigrated to
Oregon in that year, declaring, "We never saw Marcus Whitman," and "We
were not persuaded to immigrate to Oregon by him," etc. Doubtless
there were such upon the wide plains, scattered as they may have been,
hundreds of miles apart. But it is just as certain that the large
immigration to Oregon that year was incited by the movements of
Whitman and Lovejoy, as any fact could be. There is no other method of
explaining it. That he directly influenced every immigrant of that
year, no one has claimed.

True, old Elijah White had paved the way, the year before, by leading
in the first large band of agriculturist settlers; but men of
families, undertaking a two thousand mile journey, with their families
and their stock, were certainly desirous of an experienced guide. They
may, as some of them say, never have met Whitman. He was not one of
the free and easy kind that made himself popular with the masses.

Then, besides all that, fifty years ago plains life was an odd life. I
have journeyed with men for weeks, and even after months of
acquaintance have not known their names, except that of Buckeye,
Sucker, Missouri, Cass County Bill, Bob, etc. Little bands would
travel by themselves for days and weeks and then, under the sense of
danger that would be passed along the line, and for defense against
depredations of some dangerous tribe of Indians, they would gather
into larger bands soon again to fall apart. Some of these would often
follow many days behind the head of the column, but always have the
benefit of its guidance.

That year grass was late, and they did not get fully under way until
the first week in June. Whitman remained behind and did not overtake
the advance of the column until it reached the Platte River. He knew
the way, he had three times been over it. He was ahead arranging for
camping places for those in his immediate company, or in the rear
looking after the sick and discouraged. If some failed to know him by
name, there were many who did, and all shared in all the knowledge of
the country and road which he, better than any other, knew.

In answer to historical critics of modern times we quote Dr. H. H.
Spalding, who says, in speaking of the immigration of 1843:

"And through that whole summer Dr. Whitman was everywhere present; the
ministering angel to the sick, helping the weary, encouraging the
wavering, cheering the tired mothers, setting broken bones and mending
wagons. He was in the front, in the center and in the rear. He was in
the river hunting out fords through the quicksand; in the desert
places looking for water and grass; among the mountains hunting for
passes, never before trodden by white men; at noontide and at midnight
he was on the alert as if the whole line was his own family, and as if
all the flocks and herds were his own. For all this he neither asked
nor expected a dollar from any source, and especially did he feel
repaid at the end, when, standing at his mission home, hundreds of his
fellow pilgrims took him by the hand and thanked him with tears in
their eyes for all that he had done."

The head of the column arrived at Fort Hall and there waited for the
stragglers to come up. Dr. Whitman knew that here he would meet
Captain Johnny Grant, and the old story, "You can't take a wagon into
Oregon," would be dinned into the ears of the head of every family. He
had heard it over and over again six years before. Fort Hall was
thirteen hundred and twenty-three miles from the Missouri River at
Kansas City. Here the Doctor expected trouble and found it. Johnny
Grant was at Fort Hall to make trouble and discourage immigration. He
was working under the pay of the Fur Company and earned his money. The
Fur Company did not desire farmers in settlements in Oregon.

Captain Grant at once began to tell them the terrors of the mountain
journey and the impossibility of hauling their wagons further. Then he
showed them, to prove it, a corral full of fine wagons, with
agricultural tools, and thousands of things greatly needed in Oregon,
that immigrants had been forced to leave when they took to their
pack-saddles. The men were ready, as had been others before, to give
up and sacrifice the comforts of their families and rob themselves at
the command of the oily advocate.

But here comes Whitman. Johnny Grant knows he now has his master. Dr.
Whitman says: "Men, I have guided you thus far in safety. Believe
nothing you hear about not being able to get your wagons through;
every one of you stick to your wagons and your goods. They will be
invaluable to you when you reach the end of your journey. I took a
wagon through to Oregon six years ago." (Again we see the historic
wagon.) The men believed him. They refused to obey Captain Grant's
touching appeal and almost a command to leave their wagons behind.
Never did an order, than the one Whitman made, add more to the comfort
and actual value of a band of travelers.

One of a former company tells of a packing experience, after
submitting to Captain Grant's orders. He says: "There were lively
times around old Fort Hall when the patient old oxen and mules were
taken from the wagons to be left behind and the loads of bedding, pots
and pans were tied on to their backs. They were unused to such
methods. There would first be a shying, then a fright and a stampede,
and bellowing oxen and braying mules and the air would be full of
flying kettles and camp fixtures, while women and children crying and
the men swearing, made up a picture to live in the memory."

No one better than Whitman knew the toil and danger attending the last
six hundred miles of the journey to Oregon. Col. George B. Curry, in
an address before the Pioneer Society of Oregon in 1887, gives a
graphic sketch, wonderfully realistic, of the immigrant train in 1853.
He says: "From the South Pass the nature of our journeying changed,
and assumed the character of a retreat, a disastrous, ruinous retreat.
Oxen and horses began to perish in large numbers; often falling dead
in their yokes in the road. The heat-dried wagon, striking on the
rocks or banks would fall to pieces. As the beasts of burden grew
weaker, and the wagon more rickety, teams began to be doubled and
wagons abandoned. The approaching storms of autumn, which, on the high
mountains at the last end of our journey, meant impassable snow,
admitted of no delay. Whatever of strength remained of the jaded
cattle must be forced out. Every thing of weight not absolutely
necessary must be abandoned.

"There was no time to pause and recruit the hungry stock, nor dare we
allow them much freedom to hunt the withered herbage, for a marauding
enemy hung upon the rear, hovering on either flank, and skulked in
ambuscade in the front, the horizon was a panorama of mountains, the
grandest and most desolate on the continent. The road was strewn with
dead cattle, abandoned wagons, discarded cooking utensils, ox-yokes,
harness, chairs, mess chests, log chains, books, heirlooms, and family
keepsakes. The inexorable surroundings of the struggling mass
permitted no hesitation or sentiment.

"The failing strength of the team was a demand that must be complied
with. Clothing not absolutely required at present was left on the bare
rocks of the rugged canyons. Wagons were coupled shorter that a few
extra pounds might be saved from the wagon beds. One set of wheels was
left and a cart constructed. Men, women and children walked beside
the enfeebled teams, ready to give an assisting push up a steep pitch.

"The fierce summer's heat beat upon this slow west rolling column. The
herbage was dry and crisp, the rivulets had become but lines in the
burning sand; the sun glared from a sky of brass; the stony mountain
sides glared with the garnered heat of a cloudless Summer. The dusky
brambles of the scraggy sage brush seemed to catch the fiery rays of
heat and shiver them into choking dust, that rose like a tormenting
plague and hung like a demon of destruction over the panting oxen and
thirsty people.

"Thus day after day, for weeks and months, the slow but urgent retreat
continued, each day demanding fresh sacrifices. An ox or a horse would
fall, brave men would lift the useless yoke from his limp and lifeless
neck in silence. If there was another to take his place he was brought
from the loose band, yoked up and the journey resumed. When the stock
of oxen became exhausted, cows were brought under the yoke, other
wagons left, and the lessening store once more inspected; if possible,
another pound would be dispensed with.

"Deeper and deeper into the flinty mountains the forlorn mass drives
its weary way. Each morning the weakened team has to commence a
struggle with yet greater difficulties. It is plain the journey will
not be completed within the anticipated time, and the dread of hunger
joins the ranks of the tormentors. The stench of carrion fills the air
in many places; a watering place is reached to find the putrid carcass
of a dead animal in the spring. The Indians hover in the rear,
impatiently waiting for the train to move on that the abandoned
trinkets may be gathered up. Whether these are gathering strength for
a general attack we cannot tell. There is but one thing to do--press
on. The retreat cannot hasten into rout, for the distance to safety is
too great. Slower and slower is daily progress.

"I do not pretend to be versed in all the horrors that have made men
groan on earth, but I have followed the "Flight of Tartar Tribes,"
under the focal light of DeQuincy's genius, the retreat of the ten
thousand under Xenophon, but as far as I am able to judge, in heroism,
endurance, patience, and suffering, the annual retreat of immigrants
from the Black Hills to the Dalles surpasses either. The theater of
their sufferings and success, for scenic grandeur, has no superior.

"The patient endurance of these men and women for sublime pathos may
challenge the world. Men were impoverished and women reduced to
beggary and absolute want, and no weakling's murmur of complaint
escaped their lips. It is true, when women saw their patient oxen or
faithful horses fall by the roadside and die, they wept piteously,
and men stood in all the 'silent manliness of grief' in the camp of
their desolation, for the immigrants were men and women with hearts to
feel and tears to flow."

  [Illustration: REV. H. H. SPALDING.]

This, it will be observed, was a train upon the road ten years later
than Dr. Whitman's memorable journey. He was a wise guide, and his
train met with fewer disasters. The Hon. S. A. Clarke in his address
tells how Whitman moved his train across Snake River.

He says: "When the immigrants reached the Snake, Dr. Whitman proceeded
to fasten wagons together in one long string, the strongest in the
lead. As soon as the teams were in position, Dr. Whitman tied a rope
around his waist and starting his horse into the current swam over. He
called to others to follow him, and when they had force enough to pull
at the rope the lead team was started in and all were drawn over in
safety. As soon as the leading teams were able to get foothold on the
bottom all was safe; as they, aided by the strong arms of the men
pulling at the rope, pulled the weaker ones along."

The Snake River at the ford is divided into three rivers by islands,
the last stream on the Oregon side is a deep and rapid current, and
fully half a mile wide. To get so many wagons, pulled by jaded teams,
and all the thousand men, women and children, and the loose stock
across in safety, showed wise generalship.

We here copy "A Day with the Cow Column in 1843," by the Hon. Jesse
Applegate, a late honored citizen of Oregon, who was one of Dr.
Whitman's company in 1843. It is a clear, graphic description of a
sample day's journey on the famous trip, and was an address published
in the transactions of the Pioneer Oregon Association in 1876.

The migration of a large body of men, women and children across the
Continent to Oregon was, in the year 1843, strictly an experiment, not
only in respect to the numbers, but to the outfit of the migrating

Before that date two or three missionaries had performed the journey
on horseback, driving a few cows with them. Three or four wagons drawn
by oxen had reached Fort Hall on Snake River, but it was the honest
opinion of most of those who had traveled the route down Snake River
that no large number of cattle could be subsisted on its scanty
pasturage, or wagons taken over a route so rugged and mountainous.

The emigrants were also assured that the Sioux would be much opposed
to the passage of so large a body through their country, and would
probably resist it on account of the emigrants destroying and
frightening away the buffaloes, which were then diminishing in
numbers. The migrating body numbered over one thousand souls, with
about one hundred and twenty wagons, drawn by ox teams, averaging
about six yokes to the team, and several thousand loose horses and

The emigrants first organized and attempted to travel in one body, but
it was soon found that no progress could be made with a body so
cumbrous, and as yet, so averse to all discipline. And at the crossing
of the "Big Blue," it divided into two columns, which traveled in
supporting distance of each other as far as Independence Rock, on the

From this point, all danger from Indians being over, the emigrants
separated into small parties better suited to the narrow mountain
paths and small pastures in their front.

Before the division on the Blue River there was some just cause for
discontent in respect to loose cattle. Some of the emigrants had only
their teams, while others had large herds in addition, which must
share the pastures and be driven by the whole body.

This discontent had its effect in the division on the Blue, those not
encumbered with or having but few loose cattle attached themselves to
the light column, those having more than four or five cows had of
necessity to join the heavy or cow column. Hence, the cow column,
being much larger than the other and encumbered with its large herds,
had to use greater exertion and observe a more rigid discipline to
keep pace with the more agile consort.

It is with the cow or more clumsy column that I propose to journey
with the reader for a single day.

It is four o'clock a. m., the sentinels on duty have discharged their
rifles, the signal that the hours of sleep are over; and every wagon
or tent is pouring forth its night tenants, and slow kindling smokes
begin to rise and float away on the morning air. Sixty men start from
the corral, spreading as they make through the vast herd of cattle and
horses that form a semi-circle around the encampment, the most
distant, perhaps, two miles away.

The herders pass to the extreme verge and carefully examine for trails
beyond, to see that none of the animals have been stolen or strayed
during the night. This morning no trails lead beyond the outside
animals in sight, and by five o'clock the herders begin to contract
the great moving circle, and the well-trained animals move slowly
toward camp, clipping here and there a thistle or tempting bunch of
grass on the way.

In about an hour 5,000 animals are close up to the encampment, and the
teamsters are busy selecting their teams, and driving them inside the
"corral" to be yoked. The corral is a circle one hundred yards deep,
formed with wagons connected strongly with each other, the wagon in
the rear being connected with the wagon in front by its tongue and ox
chains. It is a strong barrier that the most vicious ox cannot break,
and in case of an attack by the Sioux, would be no contemptible

From six to seven o'clock is a busy time; breakfast to be eaten, the
tents struck, the wagons loaded, and the teams yoked and brought up in
readiness to be attached to their respective wagons. All know, when at
seven o'clock the signal to march sounds, that those not ready to take
their proper places in the line of march must fall into the dusty rear
for the day.

There are sixty wagons. They have been divided into sixteen divisions,
or platoons of four wagons each, and each platoon is entitled to lead
in its turn. The leading platoon of to-day will be the rear one
to-morrow, and will bring up the rear, unless some teamster, through
indolence or negligence, has lost his place in the line, and is
condemned to that uncomfortable post. It is within ten minutes of
seven; the corral, but now a strong barricade, is everywhere broken,
the teams being attached to the wagons. The women and children have
taken their places in them. The pilot (a borderer who has passed his
life on the verge of civilization, and has been chosen to the post of
leader from his knowledge of the savage and his experience in travel
through roadless wastes) stands ready, in the midst of his pioneers
and aides, to mount and lead the way.

Ten or fifteen young men, not to lead to-day, form another cluster.
They are ready to start on a buffalo hunt, are well mounted and well
armed, as they need to be, for the unfriendly Sioux have driven the
buffalo out of the Platte, and the hunters must ride fifteen or twenty
miles to reach them. The cow-drivers are hastening, as they get ready,
to the rear of their charge, to collect and prepare them for the day's

It is on the stroke of seven; the rushing to and fro, the cracking of
whips, the loud command to oxen, and what seemed to be the
inextricable confusion of the last ten minutes has ceased.
Fortunately, every one has been found, and every teamster is at his
post. The clear notes of a trumpet sound in the front; the pilot and
his guards mount their horses; the leading division of wagons move out
of the encampment and take up the line of march; the rest fall into
their places with the precision of clock-work, until the post, so
lately full of life, sinks back into that solitude that seems to reign
over the broad plain and rushing river, as the caravan draws its lazy
length toward the distant El Dorado.

It is with the hunters we will briskly canter toward the bold but
smooth and grassy bluffs that bound the broad valley, for we are not
yet in sight of the grander, but less beautiful, scenery (of the
Chimney Rock, Court House, and other bluffs so nearly resembling giant
castles and palaces) made by the passage of the Platte through the
Highlands near Laramie. We have been traveling briskly for more than
an hour. We have reached the top of the bluff, and now have turned to
view the wonderful panorama spread before us.

To those who have not been on the Platte, my powers of description are
wholly inadequate to convey an idea of the vast extent and grandeur of
the picture, and the rare beauty and distinctness of its detail. No
haze or fog obscures objects in the pure and transparent atmosphere of
this lofty region. To those accustomed to only the murky air of the
sea-board, no correct judgment of distance can be formed by sight, and
objects which they think they can reach in a two hours' walk, may be a
day's travel away; and though the evening air is a better conductor of
sound, on the high plain during the day the report of the loudest
rifle sounds little louder than the bursting of a cap; and while the
report can be heard but a few hundred yards, the smoke of the
discharge may be seen for miles.

So extended is the view from the bluff on which the hunters stand,
that the broad river, glowing under the morning sun like a sheet of
silver, and the broader emerald valley that borders it, stretch away
in the distance until they narrow at almost two points in the horizon,
and when first seen, the vast pile of the Wind River mountains, though
hundreds of miles away, looks clear and distinct as a white cottage on
the plain.

We are full six miles away from the line of march; though everything
is dwarfed by distance, it is seen distinctly. The caravan has been
about two hours in motion, and is now extended as widely as a prudent
regard for safety will permit. First, near the bank of the shining
river, is a company of horsemen; they seem to have found an
obstruction, for the main body has halted, while three or four ride
rapidly along the bank of a creek or slough. They are hunting a
favorable crossing for the wagons; while we look they have succeeded;
it has apparently required no work to make it possible, while all but
one of the party have passed on, and he has raised a flag, no doubt a
signal to the wagons to steer their course to where he stands.

The leading teamster sees him, though he is yet two miles off, and
steers his course directly towards him, all the wagons following in
his track. They (the wagons) form a line three-quarters of a mile in
length; some of the teamsters ride upon the front of their wagons,
some march beside their teams; scattered along the line companies of
women and children are taking exercise on foot; they gather bouquets
of rare and beautiful flowers that line the way; near them stalks a
stately greyhound or an Irish wolf dog, apparently proud of keeping
watch and ward over his master's wife and children.

Next comes a band of horses; two or three men or boys follow them, the
docile and sagacious animals scarcely needing this attention, for they
have learned to follow in the rear of the wagons, and know that at
noon they will be allowed to graze and rest. Their knowledge of time
seems as accurate as of the place they are to occupy in the line, and
even a full-blown thistle will scarce tempt them to straggle or halt
until the dinner hour is arrived.

Not so with the large herd of horned beasts that bring up the rear;
lazy, selfish and unsocial, it has been a task to get them in motion,
the strong always ready to domineer over the weak, halt in the front
and forbid the weaker to pass them. They seem to move only in fear of
the driver's whip; though in the morning full to repletion, they have
not been driven an hour, before their hunger and thirst seem to
indicate a fast of days' duration. Through all the day long their
greed is never sated nor their thirst quenched, nor is there a moment
of relaxation of the tedious and vexatious labors of their drivers,
although to all others the march furnishes some reason of relaxation
or enjoyment. For the cow-drivers, there is none.

But from the standpoint of the hunters the vexations are not apparent;
the crack of whip and loud objurgations are lost in the distance.
Nothing of the moving panorama, smooth and orderly as it appears, has
more attraction for the eye than that vast square column in which all
colors are mingled, moving here slowly and there briskly as impelled
by horsemen riding furiously in front and rear.

But the picture, in its grandeur, its wonderful mingling of colors and
distinctness of detail, is forgotten in contemplation of the singular
people who give it life and animation. No other race of men, with the
means at their command, would undertake so great a journey; none save
these could successfully perform it, with no previous preparation,
relying only on the fertility of their invention to devise the means
to overcome each danger and difficulty as it arose.

They have undertaken to perform with slow-moving oxen, a journey of
two thousand miles. The way lies over trackless wastes, wide and deep
rivers, rugged and lofty mountains, and it is beset with hostile
savages. Yet, whether it were a deep river with no tree upon its
banks, a rugged defile where even a loose horse could not pass, a
hill too steep for him to climb, or a threatened attack of an enemy,
they are always found ready and equal to the occasion, and always
conquerors. May we not call them men of destiny? They are people
changed in no essential particulars from their ancestors, who have
followed closely on the footsteps of the receding savage, from the
Atlantic sea-board to the great valley of the Mississippi.

But while we have been gazing at the picture in the valley, the
hunters have been examining the high plain in the other direction.
Some dark moving objects have been discovered in the distance, and all
are closely watching them to discover what they are, for in the
atmosphere of the plains a flock of crows marching miles away, or a
band of buffaloes or Indians at ten times the distance look alike, and
many ludicrous mistakes occur. But these are buffaloes, for two have
struck their heads together, and are alternately pushing each other
back. The hunters mount and away in pursuit, and I, a poor cow-driver,
must hurry back to my daily toil, and take a scolding from my
fellow-herders for so long playing truant.

The pilot, by measuring the ground and timing the speed of the wagons
and the walk of his horses, has determined the rate of each, so as to
enable him to select the nooning place, as nearly as the requisite
grass and water can be had at the end of five hours' travel of the
wagons. To-day, the ground being favorable, little time has been lost
in preparing the road, so that he and his pioneers are at the nooning
place an hour in advance of the wagons, which time is spent in
preparing convenient watering places for the animals, and digging
little wells near the bank of the Platte.

As the teams are not unyoked, but simply turned loose from their
wagons, a corral is not formed at noon, but the wagons are drawn up in
columns, four abreast, the leading wagon of each platoon on the
left--the platoons being formed with that view. This brings friends
together at noon as well as at night.

To-day, an extra session of the Council is being held, to settle a
dispute that does not admit of delay, between a proprietor and a young
man who has undertaken to do a man's service on the journey for bed
and board. Many such engagements exist, and much interest is taken in
the manner this high court, from which there is no appeal, will define
the rights of each party in such engagements.

The Council was a high court in a most exalted sense. It was a Senate,
composed of the ablest and most respected fathers of the emigration.
It exercised both legislative and judicial powers, and its laws and
decisions proved it equal and worthy the high trust reposed in it. Its
sessions were usually held on days when the caravan was not moving.
It first took the state of the little commonwealth into consideration;
revised or repealed rules defective or obsolete, and enacted such
others as the exigencies seemed to require. The common weal being
cared for, it next resolved itself into a court to hear and settle
private disputes and grievances.

The offender and the aggrieved appeared before it; witnesses were
examined and the parties were heard by themselves and sometimes by
counsel. The judges thus being made fully acquainted with the case,
and being in no way influenced or cramped by technicalities, decided
all cases according to their merits. There was but little use for
lawyers before this court, for no plea was entertained which was
calculated to hinder or defeat the ends of justice.

Many of these Judges have since won honors in higher spheres. They
have aided to establish on the broad basis of right and universal
liberty two of the pillars of our Great Republic in the Occident. Some
of the young men who appeared before them as advocates have themselves
sat upon the highest judicial tribunal, commanded armies, been
Governors of States, and taken high positions in the Senate of the

It is now one o'clock; the bugle has sounded, and the caravan has
resumed its westward journey. It is in the same order, but the
evening is far less animated than the morning march; a drowsiness has
fallen apparently on man and beast; teamsters drop asleep on their
perches and even when walking by their teams, and the words of command
are now addressed to the slowly-creeping oxen in the softened tenor of
a woman or the piping treble of children, while the snores of
teamsters make a droning accompaniment.

But a little incident breaks the monotony of the march. An emigrant's
wife, whose state of health has caused Dr. Whitman to travel near the
wagon for the day, is now taken with violent illness. The Doctor has
had the wagon driven out of the line, a tent pitched and a fire
kindled. Many conjectures are hazarded in regard to this mysterious
proceeding, and as to why this lone wagon is to be left behind.

And we, too, must leave it, hasten to the front and note the
proceedings, for the sun is now getting low in the west, and at length
the painstaking pilot is standing ready to conduct the train in the
circle which he had previously measured and marked out, which is to
form the invariable fortification for the night.

The leading wagons follow him so nearly round the circle, that but a
wagon length separates them. Each wagon follows in its track, the rear
closing on the front until its tongue and ox-chains will perfectly
reach from one to the other, and so accurate the measurement and
perfect the practice, that the hindmost wagon of the train always
precisely closes the gateway. As each wagon is brought into position,
it is dropped from its team (the teams being inside the circle), the
team unyoked, and the yokes and chains are used to connect the wagon
strongly with that in its front.

Within ten minutes from the time the leading wagon halted the
barricade is formed, the teams unyoked and driven out to pasture.
Every one is busy preparing fires of buffalo chips to cook the evening
meal, pitching tents and otherwise preparing for the night.

There are anxious watchers for the absent wagon, for there are many
matrons who may be afflicted like its inmate before the journey is
over, and they fear the strange and startling practice of this Oregon
doctor will be dangerous. But as the sun goes down, the absent wagon
rolls into camp, the bright, speaking face and cheery look of the
doctor, who rides in advance, declare without words that all is well,
and that both mother and child are comfortable.

I would fain now and here pay a passing tribute to that noble and
devoted man, Dr. Whitman. I will obtrude no other name upon the
reader, nor would I his, were he of our party or even living, but his
stay with us was transient, though the good he did was permanent, and
he has long since died at his post.

From the time he joined us on the Platte, until he left us at Fort
Hall, his great experience and indomitable energy was of priceless
value to the migrating column. His constant advice, which we knew was
based upon a knowledge of the road before us, was "travel, travel,
travel--nothing else will take you to the end of your journey; nothing
is wise that does not help you along; nothing is good for you that
causes a moment's delay."

His great authority as a physician and complete success in the case
above referred to, saved us many prolonged and perhaps ruinous delays
from similar causes, and it is no disparagement to others to say that
to no other individual are the immigrants of 1843 so much indebted for
the successful conclusion of their journey, as to Dr. Marcus Whitman.

All able to bear arms in the party had been formed into three
companies, and each of these into four watches; every third night it
is the duty of one of these companies to keep watch and ward over the
camp, and it is so arranged that each watch takes its turn of guard
duty through the different watches of the night. Those forming the
first watch to-night, will be second on duty, then third and fourth,
which brings them all through the watches of the night. They begin
at eight o'clock p. m. and end at four o'clock a. m.

  [Illustration: REV. CUSHING EELLS, D.D.
   Founder of Whitman College.]

It is not yet eight o'clock when the first watch is to be set; the
evening meal is just over, and the corral now free from the intrusion
of horses or cattle, groups of children are scattered over it. The
larger are taking a game of romps; "the wee, toddling things" are
being taught that great achievement which distinguishes men from the
lower animals. Before a tent near the river, a violin makes lively
music and some youths and maidens have improvised a dance upon the
green; in another quarter a flute gives its mellow and melancholy
notes to the still night air, which, as they float away over the quiet
river, seem a lament for the past rather than for a hope of the

It has been a prosperous day; more than twenty miles have been
accomplished of the great journey. The encampment is a good one; one
of the causes that threatened much future delay has just been removed
by the skill and energy of "that good angel" of the emigrants, Dr.
Whitman, and it has lifted a load from the hearts of the elders. Many
of these are assembled around the good doctor at the tent of the pilot
(which is his home for the time being), and are giving grave attention
to his wise and energetic counsel. The care-worn pilot sits aloof
quietly smoking his pipe, for he knows the grave Doctor is "strength
in his hands."

But time passes, the watch is set for the night, the council of good
men has been broken up and each has returned to his own quarters. The
flute has whispered its last lament to the deepening night. The violin
is silent and the dancers have dispersed. Enamored youths have
whispered a tender "good night" in the ear of blushing maidens, or
stolen a kiss from the lips of some future bride; for Cupid, here as
elsewhere, has been busy bringing together congenial hearts, and among
these simple people, he alone is consulted in forming the marriage
tie. Even the Doctor and the pilot have finished their confidential
interview and have separated for the night. All is hushed and repose
from the fatigues of the day, save the vigilant guard, and the wakeful
leader who still has cares upon his mind that forbid sleep.

He hears the ten o'clock relief taking post, and the "all well" report
of the returned guard; the night deepens, yet he seeks not the needed
repose. At length a sentinel hurries to him with the welcome report
that a party is approaching, as yet too far away for its character to
be determined, and he instantly hurries out in the direction seen.

This he does both from inclination and duty, for, in times past, the
camp has been unnecessarily alarmed by timid or inexperienced
sentinels, causing much confusion and fright amongst women and
children, and it had been made a rule that all extraordinary
incidents of the night should be reported directly to the pilot, who
alone had authority to call out the military strength of the column,
or so much of it as was, in his judgment, necessary to prevent a
stampede or repel an enemy.

To-night he is at no loss to determine that the approaching party are
our missing hunters, and that they have met with success, and he only
waits until, by some further signal, he can know that no ill has
happened to them. This is not long wanting; he does not even wait
their arrival, but the last care of the day being removed and the last
duties performed, he, too, seeks the rest that will enable him to go
through the same routine to-morrow. But here I leave him, for my task
is also done, and, unlike his, it is to be repeated no more.

After passing through such trials and dangers, nothing could have been
more cheering to these tired immigrants than the band of Cayuse and
Nez Perces Indians, with pack mules loaded with supplies, meeting the
Doctor upon the mountains with a glad welcome. From them he learned
that in his absence his mill had been burned, but the Rev. H. H.
Spalding, anticipating the needs of the caravan, had furnished flour
from his mill, and nothing was ever more joyously received.

Dr. Whitman also received letters urging him to hurry on to his
mission. He selected one of his most trusty Cayuse Indian guides,
Istikus, and placed the company under his lead. He was no longer a
necessity for its comfort and safety. The most notable event in
pioneer history is reaching its culmination. That long train of
canvas-covered wagons moving across the plains, those two hundred
campfires at night, with shouts and laughter and singing of children,
were all new and strange to these solitudes. As simple facts in
history, to an American they are profoundly interesting, but to the
thoughtful student who views results, they assume proportions whose
grandeur is not easily over-estimated.

But the little band has come safely across the Rockies; has forded and
swam many intervening rivers; the dreary plains, with saleratus dust
and buffalo gnats, had been left behind, and here they stand upon a
slope of the farthest western range of mountains, with the fertile
foot hills and beautiful green meadows reaching as far away as the eye
can see. The wagons are well bunched. For weeks they have been eager
to see the land of promise. It is a goodly sight to see, as they file
down the mountain side, one hundred and twenty-five wagons, one
thousand head of loose stock, cattle, horses and sheep, and about one
thousand men, women and children, and Oregon is saved to the Union.

Who did it?

We leave every thoughtful, honest reader to answer the query.



The reader of history is often moved to admiration at the dash and
courage of some bold hero, even when he has failed in the work he set
out to accomplish. The genius to invent, with the courage to
prosecute, has often failed in reaching the hoped-for results. The
pages of history of all time are burdened with the plaintive cry, "Oh,
for night or Blucher." It is the timeliness of great events that marks
real genius, and the largest wisdom.

Of Whitman it was a leading characteristic. He did the right thing
just at the right time. His faith was equal to his courage and when
his duty was made clear to his mind, there was no impediment that he
would not attempt to overcome. Now we are to study the results of his
heroic ride, and will see how dangerous would have been any delay.

We have noted Webster's letter to the English Minister, dated in 1840,
in which he said, "The ownership of the whole country (referring to
Oregon) will likely follow the greater settlement and larger amount
of population," and this we may say was the common sentiment of our
early statesmen, and not peculiar to Mr. Webster. But Whitman had
started a new train of thought and given a new direction to the policy
of the administration.

The President believed in the truthful report of the hero with his
frozen limbs, who had ridden four thousand miles in midwinter without
pay or hope of reward, to plead for Oregon. Immediately upon the close
of the conference the record shows that Secretary Webster wrote to
Minister Everett and said: "The Government of the United States has
never offered any line south of forty-nine and never will, and England
must not expect anything south of the forty-ninth degree."

That is a wonderful change. Upon receipt of the news that Dr. Whitman,
in June, "Had started to Oregon with a great caravan numbering nearly
one thousand souls," another letter was sent to the English Minister,
still more pointed and impressive.

The President and his Secretary at once began to arrange terms for a
treaty with England regarding the boundary line, and negotiations were
speedily begun. It did not look to be a hopeful task when the
Ashburton-Webster Treaty, just signed in 1842, had been a bone of
contention for forty-eight years. Still more did it look discouraging
from the fact that diplomats the year before had resolved to leave
the Oregon boundary out of the case, as it was said, "Otherwise it
would likely defeat the whole treaty."

But suddenly new blood had been injected into American veins in and
about Washington. They saw a great fertile country, thirty times as
large as Massachusetts, which was rightfully theirs and yet claimed by
a power many thousand miles separated from it. The national blood was
aroused. A great political party, not satisfied with Secretary
Webster's modest "latitude of forty-nine degrees" emblazoned on its
banners, "Oregon and fifty-four forty or fight."

The spirit of '76 and 1812 seemed to have suddenly been aroused
throughout the Nation. People did not stop to ask, who has done it, or
how it all happened; but no intelligent or thoughtful student of
history can doubt how it all happened, or who was its author. It was
also easy to see that it was to be no forty-eight year campaign before
the question must be adjudicated.

The Hon. Elwood Evans, in a speech in 1871, well said: "The arrival of
Dr. Whitman in 1843 was opportune. The President was satisfied the
territory was worth preserving." He continues: "If the offer had been
made in the Ashburton Treaty of the forty-ninth parallel to the
Columbia River and thence down the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean, it
would have been accepted, but the visit of Whitman committed the
President against any such settlement."

The offer was not made by English diplomats, because they intended to
have a much larger slice. Captain Johnny Grant and the English Hudson
Bay officials made their greatest blunder in allowing Whitman to make
his perilous Winter ride. They were not prepared for the sudden change
in American sentiment. In any enthusiasm for our hero, we would not
willingly make any exaggerated claim for his services. Prior to the
arrival of Whitman, President Tyler had shown thoughtful interest in
the Oregon question, and in his message in 1842 he said: "In advance
of the acquirement of individual rights to those lands, sound policy
dictates that every effort should be resorted to by the two
Governments to settle their respective claims."

Fifteen days before the arrival of Whitman, Senator Linn, always a
firm friend of Oregon, in a resolution called for information, "Why
Oregon was not included in the Ashburton-Webster Treaty." This
resolution passed the Senate, but was defeated in the House. Neither
the President, Senators, or Congressmen had the data upon which to
base clear, intelligent action, and Whitman's arrival just when
Congress was closing up its business gave no opportunity for the wider
discussion which would have followed then and there. It was, however,
another evidence of timeliness, which we wish to keep well to the
front in all of Whitman's work.

All can see how fortunate it was that the Oregon boundary question was
not included in the Ashburton Treaty in 1842, and that it had waited
for later adjudication. During the summer of 1843 the people of the
entire country had heard of the great overland emigration to Oregon,
and on the 8th day of January, 1844, Congress was notified that the
Whitman immigration to Oregon was a grand success, and upon the very
day of the arrival of this news, a resolution was offered in the
Senate which called for the instructions to our Minister in England,
and all correspondence upon the subject. But the conservative Senate
was not quite ready for such a move, and the resolution was defeated
by a close vote. But two days after a similar resolution was passed by
the House.

Urged to do so by Whitman, the Lees, Lovejoy, Spalding, Eells and
others, scores of intelligent emigrants flooded their Congressmen with
letters giving glowing descriptions of the beauty of the country, the
fertility of the land, and the mildness and healthfulness of the
climate. Even Senator Winthrop, who at one time declared that "Neither
the West nor the country at large had any real interest in retaining
Oregon; that we would not be straitened for elbow room in the West for
a thousand years," was aroused to something of enthusiasm, and said
in his place in the Senate: "For myself, certainly, I believe that we
have a good title to the whole twelve degrees of latitude up to
fifty-four, forty."

Senator Benton had long since materially changed his views from those
he held when he had said that "The ridge of the Rocky Mountains may be
named as the convenient, natural and everlasting boundary." Fremont,
not Whitman, had converted him. Benton was aggressive and intelligent.
In the discussion of 1844, he said: "Let the emigrants go on and carry
their rifles. We want thirty thousand rifles in the valley of the
Oregon. The war, if it come, will not be topical; it will not be
confined to Oregon, but will embrace the possessions of the two powers
throughout the Globe."

In the discussion, which took a wide turn, many of the eminent
statesmen at that time took a part. Prominent among them was Calhoun,
Linn, Benton, Choate, Berrien and Rives. Many of them tried the most
persuasive words of peace, yet no one who reads the speeches and the
proceedings, but will perceive the wonderful changes in public
sentiment during a single year. The year 1844 ended with the struggle
growing every day more intense. The English people had awakened to the
fact that they had to meet the issue and there would not be any
repetition of the old dallying with the Maine boundary. They sent to
this country Minister Packenham as Minister Plenipotentiary to
negotiate the treaty. Mr. Buchanan acted for the United States.

It was talk and counter-talk. Buchanan was one of the leading spirits
in the demand for fifty-four forty, and his position was well
understood both by the people of the United States and by England.
President Tyler, in his final message, earnestly recommended the
extension of the United States laws over the Territory of Oregon.

In this connection it will be remembered that Dr. Whitman, only a few
months before the great massacre, in which he and his noble wife lost
their lives, rode all the way to Oregon City to urge Judge Thornton to
go to Washington and beg, on the part of the people of Oregon, for a
"Provisional Government." Judge Thornton believed in Dr. Whitman's
wisdom, and when the doctor declared that which seemed to be a
prophecy, "Unless this is done, nothing will save even my mission from
murder," the Judge said, "If Governor Abernethy will furnish me a
letter to the President, I will go." The Governor promptly furnished
the required letter and Judge Thornton resigned his position as
Supreme Judge. All know of the fatal events at the Whitman Mission in
less than two months after Judge Thornton's departure.

But the boundary question lapped over into Mr. Polk's administration
in 1845 with a promise of lively times. President Polk, in December,
1845, made it the leading question in his message. He covers the whole
question in dispute and says: "The proposition of compromise which has
been made and rejected, was by my order withdrawn, and our title to
the whole of Oregon asserted, and, as it is believed, maintained by
irrefragable facts and arguments." The President recommended that the
joint occupation treaty of 1818-1828 be terminated by the stipulated
notice, and that the civil and criminal laws of the United States be
extended over the whole of Oregon, and that a line of military posts
be established along the route from the States to the Pacific.

If the reader will take the pains to read the paper which Dr. Whitman
by request sent to the Secretary of War in 1843, republished in the
appendix of this volume, he will find in it just the recommendations
now two years later made by the President. The great misfortune was
that it was not complied with promptly. War upon a grand scale seemed
imminent. A leading Senator announced that "War may now be looked for
almost inevitably."

The whole tone of public sentiment, in Congress and out, was that the
United States owned Oregon, not only up to forty-nine degrees, but up
to 54 degrees, 40 minutes. It was thought that the resolution of
notice for the termination of the treaty would cause a declaration of
war. For forty days the question was pending before the House and
finally passed by the strong vote of 163 for to 54 against. In the
Senate the resolution covered a still wider range and a longer time.
But little else was thought or talked about. Business throughout the
land was at a standstill in the suspense, or was hurrying to prepare
for a great emergency. The wisest, coolest-headed Senators still
regarded the question at issue open for peaceful settlement. They
dwelt upon the horrors of a war, that would cost the Nation five
hundred millions in treasure, besides the loss of life.

Webster, who had been so soundly abused for his Ashburton Treaty, had
held aloof from this discussion. But there came a time when he could
no longer remain silent, and he put himself on the record in a single
sentence: "It is my opinion that it is not the judgment of this
country, or that of the Senate, that the Government of the United
States should run the hazard of a war for Oregon, by renouncing as no
longer fit for consideration, the proposition of adjustment made by
the Government thirty years ago, and repeated in the face of the

Calhoun, than whom no Senator was more influential, urged continued
peaceful methods. He said: "A question of greater moment never has
been presented to Congress." Others counseled a continuance of things
as they were and letting immigration after the bold Whitman plan
settle it.

Suffice it here to say that both Nations, after the wide discussion
and threats, saw war as a costly experiment. In the last of April the
terms of treaty were agreed upon, and on July 17th, 1846, both
Governments had signed a treaty fixing the boundary line at forty-nine

Now here again comes in the timeliness of Whitman's memorable ride. It
had taken every day of exciting contest in Congress since that event,
up to April, 1846, to agree upon the boundary and for America to get
her Oregon. On the 13th day of May, 1846, Congress declared war
against Mexico, and California was at stake. Suppose England could
have foreseen that event, would she not have declared in favor of a
longer wait? Who that knows England does not know that she would? With
England still holding to her rights in Oregon how easy it would have
been to take sides with Mexico and to have helped her hold California.

But we won not only California and New Mexico, but won riches. In the
year 1848 gold was discovered in California. And now suppose England
could have foreseen that, as she would have known it had she prolonged
the negotiations, would she ever have signed away any possessions like
that rolled in gold? When did the great and powerful Kingdom of Great
Britain ever do anything of the kind?

It would not have done for Whitman to have waited for next year and
warm weather as his friends demanded. "I must go," and "now," and at
this day it is easy to see from the light of history how God rules in
the minds and hearts of men, as he rules nations. They, as men and
nations, turn aside from His commands, but a man like Marcus Whitman

Go still farther. From the time gold was discovered in California up
to the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion, nine hundred millions of
gold were dug from the mines of California and Oregon. Where did it
go? The great bulk of it went into storehouses and manufactories and
vaults of the North. The South was sparsely represented in California
and Oregon in the early days. We repeat that when the war broke out,
the great bulk of the yellow metal was behind the Union army. Who
don't recognize that it was a great power? Even more than that, it was
a controlling power. The Nation was to be tried as never before. Human
slavery was the prize for which the South contended, while human
freedom soon asserted itself, despite all opposition, as a contending
force in the North. But the wisest were in doubt as to results. They
could not see how it was possible that "the sum of all villainies"
could be obliterated. In the East and the North and the West, the
boys in blue flocked to the standard, and bayonets gleamed everywhere.
The plow was left in the furrow, and the hum of the machine shop was
not heard. The fires in the furnaces and forges went out, and
multitudes were in despair over the mighty struggle at hand. The Union
might have been saved without the wealth of gold of California and
Oregon; it might have proved victorious, even if the two great loyal
States of the Pacific had been in the hands of strangers or enemies,
but they were behind the loyal Union army. And the men marched and
fought and sung--

     "In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,
     With a glory in his bosom, that transfigures you and me;
     As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
                     While God is marching on,"

as they marched, leaving graves upon every mountain side and in every
valley. Appomattox was reached, and lo, the chains dropped from the
limbs of six million slaves, and "The flag of beauty and glory"
floated from Lake to Gulf and from Ocean to Ocean, in truth as in

     "O'er the land of the free,
     And the home of the brave."


Again, older readers will remember with what fear and trembling they
opened their morning papers for many months, fearing to read that
England had accorded "belligerent rights" to the Confederacy. They
will have a vivid recollection of the eloquent orator, Henry Ward
Beecher, as he plead, as no other man could, the cause of the Union in
English cities. He was backed up by old John Bright, the descendants
of Penn, Gurney and Wilberforce, and the old-time enemies of human
slavery. But it took them all to stem the tide. At one time it even
seemed that they had won over Gladstone to their interests.

While the great masses of the English people were in sympathy with the
Union cause, the moneyed men and commerce sided with the Confederacy:
"Cotton was King." They had been struck in a tender place--their
pockets and bank accounts. But suppose England had owned Oregon and
its great interests, who don't see that all the danger would have been
multiplied, and our interests endangered? There is in this no
extravagant claim made that all this was done by Marcus Whitman. The
Ruler of the Universe uses men, not a man, for its direction and

Going back upon the pages of history, the student sees Whittier in his
study, and listens to his singing; he sees Mrs. Stowe educating with
Uncle Tom in his cabin; he notes Garrison forging thunderbolts in his
Liberator; he sees old Gamaliel Bailey with his National Era; he sees
Sumner fall by a bludgeon in the Senate; he hears the eloquent
thunderings of Hale and bluff old Ben Wade and Giddings and Julian and
Chase; he sees Lovejoy fall by the hands of his assassin; he hears the
guns of the old "fanatic" John Brown, as he began "marching on;" he
sees a great army marshaled for the contest which led up to the
election of the "Martyr President," and the crowning victories which
redeemed the grandest nation upon which the sun shines from the curse
of human slavery. Giving due credit to all, detracting no single honor
from any one in all the distinguished galaxy of honored names, and yet
the thoughtful student can reach but one conclusion, and that is, that
in the timeliness of his acts, in the heroism with which they were
carried out, in the unselfishness which marked every step of the way,
and in the wide-reaching effects of his work, Dr. Marcus Whitman, as a
man and patriot and national benefactor, was excelled by none.

Such unselfish devotion, such obedience to the call of duty, such love
of "the flag that makes you free," such heroism, which never even once
had an outcropping of personal benefit, will forever stand, when fully
understood, as among the brightest and most inspiring pages of
American history.

The young American loves to read of Paul Revere. He dwells with
thrilling interest upon the ride of the boy Archie Gillespie, who saw
the great dam breaking, and at the risk of his life rode down the
valley of the Conemaugh to Johnstown, shouting, "Flee for your lives,
the flood, the flood!" The people fled and two minutes behind the boy
rolled the mighty flood of annihilation. How painter, and poet, and
patriot, lingers over the ride of the gallant Sheridan "from
Winchester, twenty miles away." All the honor is deserved; he saved an
army and turned a defeat into victory.

But how do all these compare with the ride of Whitman? It, too, was a
ride for life or death. Over snow-capped mountains, along ravines,
traveled only by savage beasts and savage men. It was a plunge through
icy rivers, tired, hungry, cold, and yet he rode on and on, until he
stood before the President, four thousand miles away! Let us hope and
believe that the time will come when Whitman, standing before
President Tyler and Secretary Webster, in his buckskin breeches and a
dress as we have shown, which was never woven in loom, will be the
subject of some great painting. It would be grandly historical and
tell a story that a patriotic people should never forget.

Alice Wellington Rollins wrote the following poem, which was published
in the New York Independent, and widely copied. The Cassell Publishing
Company made it one of their gems in their elegant volume,
"Representative Poems of Living Poets," and kindly consent to its use
in this volume:


     Listen, my children, and you shall hear
     Of a hero's ride that saved a State.
     A midnight ride? Nay, child, for a year
     He rode with a message that could not wait.
     Eighteen hundred and forty-two;
     No railroad then had gone crashing through
     To the Western coast; not a telegraph wire
     Had guided there the electric fire;
     But a fire burned in one strong man's breast
     For a beacon light. You shall hear the rest.

     He said to his wife; "At the Fort to-day,
     At Walla Walla, I heard them say
     That a hundred British men had crossed
     The mountains; and one young, ardent priest
     Shouted, 'Hurrah for Oregon!
     The Yankees are late by a year at least!'
     They must know this at once at Washington.
     Another year, and all would be lost.
     Someone must ride, to give the alarm
     Across the Continent; untold harm
     In an hour's delay, and only I
     Can make them understand how or why
     The United States must keep Oregon!"

     Twenty-four hours he stopped to think,
     To think! Nay then, if he thought at all,
     He thought as he tightened his saddle-girth.
     One tried companion, who would not shrink
     From the worst to come, with a mule or two
     To carry arms and supplies, would do.
     With a guide as far as Fort Bent. And she,
     The woman of proud, heroic worth,
     Who must part from him, if she wept at all,
     Wept as she gathered whatever he
     Might need for the outfit on his way.
     Fame for the man who rode that day
     Into the wilds at his Country's call;
     And for her who waited for him a year
     On that wild Pacific coast, a tear!

     Then he said "Good-bye!" and with firm-set lips
     Silently rode from his cabin door
     Just as the sun rose over the tips
     Of the phantom mountain that loomed before
     The woman there in the cabin door,
     With a dread at her heart she had not known
     When she, with him, had dared to cross
     The Great Divide. None better than she
     Knew what the terrible ride would cost
     As he rode, and she waited, each alone.
     Whether all were gained or all were lost,
     No message of either gain or loss
     Could reach her; never a greeting stir
     Her heart with sorrow or gladness; he
     In another year would come back to her
     If all went well; and if all went ill--
     Ah, God! could even her courage still
     The pain at her heart? If the blinding snow
     Were his winding-sheet, she would never know;
     If the Indian arrow pierced his side,
     She would never know where he lay and died;
     If the icy mountain torrents drowned
     His cry for help, she would hear no sound!
     Nay, none would hear, save God, who knew
     What she had to bear, and he had to do.
     The clattering hoof-beats died away
     On the Walla Walla. Ah! had she known
     They would echo in history still to-day
     As they echoed then from her heart of stone!

     He had left the valley. The mountains mock
     His coming. Behind him, broad and deep,
     The Columbia meets the Pacific tides;
     Before him--four thousand miles before--
     Four thousand miles from his cabin door,
     The Potomac meets the Atlantic. On
     Over the trail grown rough and steep,
     Now soft on the snow, now loud on the rock,
     Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
     The United States must keep Oregon.

     It was October when he left
     The Walla Walla, though little heed
     Paid he to the season. Nay, indeed,
     In the lonely canyons just ahead,
     Little mattered it what the almanac said.
     He heard the coyotes bark; but they
     Are harmless creatures. No need to fear
     A deadly rattlesnake coiled too near.
     No rattlesnake ever was so bereft
     Of sense as to creep out such a day
     In the frost. Nay, scarce would a grizzly care
     For a sniff at him. Only a man would dare
     The bitter cold, in whose heart and brain
     Burned the quenchless flame of a great desire;
     A man with nothing himself to gain
     From success, but whose heart-blood kept its fire
     While with freezing face he rode on and on.
     The United States must keep Oregon.

     It was November when they came
     To the icy stream. Would he hesitate?
     Not he, the man who carried a State
     At his saddle bow. They have made the leap;
     Horse and rider have plunged below
     The icy current that could not tame
     Their proud life-current's fiercer flow.
     They swim for it, reach it, clutch the shore,
     Climb the river bank, cold and steep,
     Mount, and ride the rest of that day,
     Cased in an armor close and fine
     As ever an ancient warrior wore;
     Armor of ice that dared to shine
     Back at a sunbeam's dazzling ray,
     Fearless as plated steel of old
     Before that slender lance of gold.

     It is December as they ride
     Slowly across the Great Divide;
     The blinding storm turns day to night,
     And clogs their feet; the snowflakes roll
     The winding sheet about them; sight
     Is darkened; faint the despairing soul.
     No trail before or behind them. Spur
     His horse? Nay, child, it were death to stir!
     Motionless horse and rider stand,
     Turning to stone; till one poor mule,
     Pricking his ears as if to say
     If they gave him rein he would find the way,
     Found it and led them back, poor fool,
     To last night's camp in that lonely land.

     It was February when he rode
     Into St. Louis. The gaping crowd
     Gathered about him with questions loud
     And eager. He raised one frozen hand
     With a gesture of silent, proud command;
     "I am here to ask, not answer! Tell
     Me quick, is the Treaty signed?" "Why yes!
     In August, six months ago or less!"
     Six months ago! Two months before
     The gay young priest at the fortress showed
     The English hand! Two months before,
     Four months ago at his cabin door,
     He had saddled his horse! Too late then. "Well,
     But Oregon? Have they signed the State
     Away?" "Of course not. Nobody cares
     About Oregon." He in silence bares
     His head. "Thank God! I am not too late."

     It was March when he rode at last
     Into the streets of Washington.
     The warning questions came thick and fast;
     "Do you know that the British will colonize,
     If you wait another year, Oregon
     And the Northwest, thirty-six times the size
     Of Massachusetts?" A courteous stare,
     And the Government murmurs: "Ah, indeed!
     Pray, why do you think that we should care?
     With Indian arrows and mountain snow
     Between us, we never can colonize
     The wild Northwest from the East you know,
     If you doubt it, why, we will let you read
     The London Examiner; proofs enough
     The Northwest is worth just a pinch of snuff."
     And the Board of Missions that sent him out,
     Gazed at the worn and weary man
     With stern displeasure. "Pray, sir, who
     Gave you orders to undertake
     This journey hither, or to incur
     Without due cause, such great expense
     To the Board? Do you suppose we can
     Overlook so grave an offense?
     And the Indian converts? What about
     The little flock, for whose precious sake
     We sent you West? Can it be that you
     Left them without a shepherd? Most
     Extraordinary conduct, sir,
     Thus to desert your chosen post."

     Ah, well! What mattered it! He had dared
     A hundred deaths, in his eager pride,
     To bring to his Country at Washington
     A message, for which, then, no one cared!
     But Whitman could act as well as ride.
     The United States must keep the Northwest.
     He--whatever might say the rest--
     Cared, and would colonize Oregon!

     It was October, forty-two,
     When the clattering hoof-beats died away
     On the Walla Walla, that fateful day.
     It was September, forty-three--
     Little less than a year, you see--
     When the woman who waited thought she heard
     The clatter of foot-beats that she knew
     On the Walla Walla again. "What word
     From Whitman?" Whitman himself! And see!
     What do her glad eyes look upon?
     The first of two hundred wagons rolls
     Into the valley before her. He
     Who, a year ago, had left her side,
     Had brought them over the Great Divide--
     Men, women and children, a thousand souls--
     The army to occupy Oregon.

     You know the rest. In the books you have read
     That the British were not a year ahead.
     The United States have kept Oregon,
     Because of one Marcus Whitman. He
     Rode eight thousand miles, and was not too late!
     In a single hand, not a Nation's fate,
     Perhaps; but a gift for the Nation, she
     Would hardly part with it to-day, if we
     May believe what the papers say upon
     This great Northwest, that was Oregon.

            *       *       *       *       *

     And Whitman? Ah! my children, he
         And his wife sleep now in a martyr's grave!
     Murdered! Murdered, both he and she,
         By the Indian souls they went West to save!



The reader of history seldom sees a more notable instance of a changed
public sentiment, than he can find in the authentic records dating
from March, 1843, to July, 1846. If the epitome sketch made in another
chapter has been studied the conditions now to be observed are
phenomenal. Statesman after statesman puts himself on record. You hear
no more of "No wagon road to Oregon," "That weary, desert road," those
"Impassable mountains;" nor does Mr. McDuffie jump up to "Thank God
for His mercy, for the impassable barrier of the Rocky Mountains." No
Mr. Benton arises and asks that "The statue of the fabled God Terminus
should be erected on the highest peak, never to be thrown down." Nor
does Mr. Jackson appeal for "A compact Government."

Before the man clothed in buckskin left the National Capital, a
message was on the way to our Minister to England proclaiming "The
United States will consent to give nothing below the latitude of
forty-nine degrees." When it was known that a great caravan of two
hundred wagons and one thousand Americans had started for Oregon, a
second message went to Minister Everett still more pointed and
positive, "The United States will never consent that the boundary line
to the Pacific Ocean shall move one foot below the latitude of
forty-nine degrees." It is a historical fact that one hundred and
twenty-five of the wagons went through.

The whole people began to talk, as well as to think and act. They had
suddenly waked up to a great peril, and were casting about how to meet
it. A political party painted upon its banners, "Oregon, fifty-four
forty, or fight." Multitudes of those now living remember this great
uprising of the people. How was it done? Who did it? Was it a
spontaneous move without a reason? Intelligent readers can scan the
facts of history and judge for themselves. But it is an historical
fact there was a remarkably sudden change.

President Tyler, and his great Secretary, Webster, during the balance
of his administration, used all the arts of diplomacy, and seemed to
make but little progress, except a promise of a Minister
Plenipotentiary to treat with the United States. At any time prior to
the arrival of Marcus Whitman in Washington, or any time during the
conference upon the Ashburton Treaty, had the English diplomats
proposed to run the boundary line upon forty-nine degrees until it
struck the Columbia River, and down that river to the ocean, there is
multiplied evidence that the United States would have accepted it at

But England did not want a part, she wanted all. During the
negotiations in 1827 as to the renewal of the Treaty of 1818, her
commissioners stated the case diplomatically, thus: "Great Britain
claims no exclusive sovereignty over any portion of that territory.
Her present claim is not in respect to any part, but to the whole and
is limited to a right of joint occupancy in common with other States,
leaving the right of exclusive dominion in abeyance."

Some have urged that this was a give-away and a quit claim on the part
of England, but at most, it is only the language of diplomacy, to be
interpreted by the acts of the party in contest. Those who met and
know the men in power in Oregon in those pioneer days, can fully
attest the assertion of the Edinburgh Review in an article published
in 1843, after Whitman's visit to Washington. It says: "They are
chiefly Scotchmen, 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." They made their grand mistake, however, that
while being true Britons, they were Hudson Bay Company men first and
foremost, and were anxious to keep out all immigration. None better
knew the value of Oregon lands for the purposes of the agriculturist,
than those "shrewd old Scotchmen" did.

About every trading post they had cleared farms, planted orchards and
vineyards, and tested all kinds of grains. Mrs. Whitman, in her diary
of September 14th, 1836, speaking of her visit to Fort Vancouver,
says, "We were invited to see the farm. We rode for fifteen miles
during the afternoon and visited the farms and stock, etc. They
estimate their wheat crop this year at four thousand bushels, peas the
same, oats and barley fifteen and seventeen hundred bushels each. The
potato and turnip fields are large and fine. Their cattle are large
and fine and estimated at one thousand head. They have swine in
abundance, also sheep and goats, but the sheep are of an inferior
quality. We also find hens, turkeys and pigeons, but no geese. Every
day we have something new. The store-houses are filled from top to
bottom with unbroken bales of goods, made up of every article of

She tells of "A new and improved method of raising cream" for
butter-making, and "The abundant supply of the best cheese."

In another note she gives the menu for dinner. "First, we are treated
to soup, which is very good, made of all kinds of vegetables, with a
little rice. Tomatoes are a prominent vegetable. After soup the dishes
are removed and roast duck, pork, tripe, fish, salmon or sturgeon,
with other things too tedious to mention. When these are removed a
rice pudding or apple pie is served with musk melons, cheese, biscuits
and wine."

Shrewd Scotsmen! And yet this is the country which for years
thereafter American statesmen declared "A desert waste," "Unfit for
the habitation of civilized society," and from which our orators
thanked Heaven they were "separated by insurmountable barriers of
mountains," and "impassable deserts." We repeat, none better knew the
value of Oregon soil for the purposes of agriculture, than did these
princely retainers of England, and they well knew, that when
agriculture and civilization gained a foothold, both they and their
savage retainers would be compelled to move on. They held a bonanza of
wealth in their hands, in a land of Arcadia, which they ruled to suit

It is not at all strange that they made the fight they did; they had
in 1836 feared the advent of Dr. Whitman's old wagon, more than an
army with banners. They had tried in every way in their power, except
by absolute force, to arrest its progress. They foresaw that every
turn of its wheels upon Oregon soil endangered fur. Those in command
at Fort Hall and Fort Boise were warned to be more watchful. The
consequence was that not another wheel was permitted to go beyond
those forts, from 1836 to 1843. Dr. Edwards, however, reports that
"Dr. Robert Newell brought three wagons through to Walla Walla in

But the fact remains that wagon after wagon was abandoned at those
points and the things necessary for the comfort of the immigrant were
sacrificed, and men, women and children were compelled to take to the
pack-saddle, or journey the balance of the weary way on foot. Great
stress was laid at these points of entrance, upon the dangers of the
route to Oregon, and the comparative ease and comfort of the journey
to California. Hundreds were thus induced to give up the journey to
Oregon, in making which they would be forced to abandon their wagons
and goods, and they turned their faces toward California.

General Palmer, in speaking of this, says: "While at Fort Hall in
1842, the perils of the way to Oregon were so magnified as to make us
suppose the journey thither was impossible. They represented the
dangers in passing over Snake River and the Columbia as very great.
That but little stock had ever crossed those streams in safety. And
more and worst of all, they represented that three or four tribes of
Indians along the route had combined to resist all immigration." They
represented that, "Famine and the snows of Winter would overtake all
with destruction, before they could reach Oregon."

They did succeed in scaring this band of one hundred and thirty-seven
men, women and children in 1842 into leaving all their wagons behind,
but they went on to Oregon on pack-saddles.

In the meantime they ran a literary bureau for all it was worth, in
the disparagement of Oregon for all purposes except those of the fur
trader. The English press was mainly depended upon for this work, but
the best means in reach were used that all these statements should
reach the ruling powers and reading people of the United States.

The effect of this literary bureau upon American statesmen and the
most intelligent class of readers prior to the Spring of 1843, is
easily seen by the sentiments quoted, and by their published acts, in
refusing to legislate for Oregon. Modern historians have said that,
"The Hudson Bay Company and the English never at any time claimed
anything south of the Columbia River." Such a statement can nowhere be
proved from any official record; on the contrary, there are multiplied
expressions and acts proving the opposite.

As early as the year 1828, the Hudson Bay Company saw the value of the
Falls of the Willamette at Oregon City for manufacturing purposes,
and took possession of the same; as Governor Simpson in command of the
Company said, "To establish a British Colony of their retired
servants." "Governor Simpson," says Dr. Eells in his "History of
Indian Missions," "said in 1841 that the colonists in the Willamette
Valley were British subjects, and that the English had no rivals on
the coast but Russia, and that the United States will never possess
more than a nominal jurisdiction, nor will long possess even that, on
the west side of the Rocky Mountains." And he added, "Supposing the
country to be divided to-morrow to the entire satisfaction of the most
unscrupulous patriot in the Union, I challenge conquest to bring my
prediction and its own power to the test by imposing the Atlantic
tariff on the ports of the Pacific."

Such sentiments from the Governor, the man then in supreme power, who
moulded and directed English sentiments, is of deep significance. A
man only second in influence to Governor Simpson and even a much
broader and brainier man, Dr. John McLoughlin, Factor of the Company,
"said to me in 1842," says Dr. Eells, "that in fifty years the whole
country will be filled with the descendants of the Hudson Bay
Company." But while they believed, just as the American immigrants
did, that as a result of the Treaty of 1818-28, the country would
belong to the nationality settling it; yet they had so long held
supreme power that they were slow to think that such power was soon to
pass from them.

That the diplomacy of the home Government, the bold methods and "The
shrewdness, daring and commercial activity in the heads" of the
Rulers, that the Edinburgh Review pictures, were all to be thwarted
and that speedily, had not entered into their calculations, and they
did not awake to a sense of the real danger until those hundred and
twenty-five wagons, loaded with live Americans and their household
goods, rolled down the mountain sides and into the Valley of the
Willamette on that memorable October day, 1843.

It was America's protest, made in an American fashion. It settled the
question of American interests as far as Americans could settle it
under the terms of the Treaty of 1818, as they understood it.

Under the full belief that Whitman would bring with him a large
delegation, the Americans met and organized before he reached Oregon.
And when the Whitman caravan arrived, they outnumbered the English and
Canadian forces three to one; and the Stars and Stripes were run up,
never again to be hauled down by any foreign power in all the wide
domain of Oregon.

True, there was yet a battle to be fought. The interests at stake were
too grand for the party who held supreme power so long to yield
without a contest. But there were rugged, brave, intelligent American
citizens now in Oregon, and there to stay. They had flooded home
people with letters describing the salubrity of the climate and the
fertility of the soil. Statesmen heard of it.

Sudden conversions sometimes make unreasonable converts. The very men
who had rung the changes upon "worthless," "barren," "cut off by
impassable deserts," now turned and not only claimed the legitimate
territory up to forty-nine degrees, but made demands which were heard
across the Atlantic. We will have "Oregon and fifty-four forty, or

In a lengthy message in December, 1845, President Polk devotes nearly
one-fifth of his space to the discussion of the Oregon question, and
rehearses the discussion pro and con between the two governments and
acknowledges, that thus far there has been absolute failure. He tells
Congress that "The proposition of compromise, which was made and
rejected, was, by my order, subsequently withdrawn, and our title up
to 54 degrees 40 minutes asserted, and, as it is believed, maintained
by irrefragable facts and arguments." In that message, President Polk
argued in favor of terminating the joint occupancy by giving the
stipulated notice, and that the jurisdiction of the United States be
extended over the entire territory, with a line of military posts
along the entire frontier to the Pacific.

It all seemed warlike. The withdrawing of "the joint occupancy," many
statesmen believed would precipitate a war. Senator Crittenden and
others believed such to be the case. War seemed inevitable. Even
Senator McDuffie, whom we have before quoted, as unwilling to "Give a
pinch of snuff for all the territory beyond the Rockies," now is on
record saying, "Rather make that territory the grave of Americans, and
color the soil with their blood, than to surrender one inch." While it
was generally conceded that we would have a war, yet there were wise,
cool-headed men in the Halls of National Legislation, determined to
avert such disaster if possible, without sacrificing National honor.

The debate on giving legal notice to cancel the Treaty of 1818, as to
joint occupancy, was the absorbing theme of Congress, and lasted for
forty days before reaching a vote, and then passed by the great
majority of 109.

But the Senate was more conservative, and continued the debate after
the measure had passed the House by such an overwhelming majority.
They saw the whole Country already in a half paralyzed condition. Its
business had decreased, its capital was withdrawn from active
participation in business, and its vessels stood empty at the wharves
of ports of entry. Such statesmen as Crittenden and others who had not
hurried to get in front of the excited people, now saw the necessity
for decided action to avert war and secure peace. To brave public
opinion and antagonize the Lower House of Congress required the
largest courage.

Mr. Crittenden said, "I believe yet, a majority is still in favor of
preserving the peace, if it can be done without dishonor. They favor
the settling of the questions in dispute peaceably and honorably, to
compromise by negotiations and arbitration, or some other mode known
and recognized among nations as suitable and proper and honorable."

Mr. Webster had been too severely chastised by both friends and
enemies for his part in the Ashburton Treaty, to make him anxious to
be prominent in the discussion in the earlier weeks, but when he did
speak he pointed out the very road which the Nation would travel in
its way for peace, viz.: a compromise upon latitude forty-nine.

Webster said, "In my opinion it is not the judgment of this country,
nor the judgment of the Senate, that the Government of the United
States should run the hazard of a war for Oregon by renouncing, as no
longer fit for consideration, the proposition of adjustment made by
this Government thirty years ago and repeated in the face of the
world." His great speech, which extended through the sessions of two
days, was a masterly defense and explanation of the Ashburton-Webster
Treaty, which was signed three years before.

No American statesman of the time had so full and complete a knowledge
of the questions at issue as had Webster. He had canvassed every one
of them in all their bearings with the shrewdest English diplomats and
had nothing to learn. His great speech can be marked as the turning
point in the discussion, and the friends of peace took fresh courage.

The first and ablest aid Mr. Webster received was from Calhoun, then
second to none in his influence. In his speech he said, "What has
transpired here and in England within the last three months must, I
think, show that the public opinion in both countries is coming to a
conclusion that this controversy ought to be settled, and is not very
diverse in the one country or the other, as to the general basis of
such settlement. That basis is the offer made by the United States to
England in 1826."

It may here be observed that President Monroe offered to compromise on
forty-nine degrees. President Adams did the same in 1826, while
President Tyler, in the year of Whitman's visit (1843), again offered
the same compromise, and England had rejected each and all. She
expected a much larger slice.

Gen. Cass followed Calhoun in a fiery war speech, which called out the
applause of the multitude, in which he claimed that the United States
owned the territory up to the Russian line of 54 degrees 40 minutes
and he "Would press the claim at the peril of war."

Dayton and other Senators asked that present conditions be maintained,
and that "The people of the United States meet Great Britain by a
practical adoption of her own doctrine, that the title of the country
should pass to those who occupied it."

This latter view was the pioneer view of the situation, and which was
so fully believed as to cause the memorable ride of Whitman in
mid-winter from Oregon to Washington. The resolution of notice to the
English Government, as we have seen, passed the House Feb. 9, 1846,
and came to a vote and passed the Senate April 23d, by 42 to 10. It,
however, contained two important amendments to the House resolution,
both suggestive of compromise. And as the President was allowed "At
his discretion to serve the notice," the act was shorn of much of its
warlike meaning.

When it is remembered that the President's message and recommendations
were made on the 2d of December, 1845, and the question had absorbed
the attention of Congress until April 23, 1846, before final action,
it can be marked as one of the most memorable discussions that has
ever occurred in our Halls of National Legislation.

It had now been three years since Whitman had made his protest to
President Tyler and his Secretary; and while Congress had debated and
the whole Nation was at a white heat of interest, the old pioneers had
gone on settling the question in their own way by taking possession of
the land, building themselves homes, erecting a State House, and,
although four thousand miles distant from the National Capital,
enacting laws, in keeping with American teachings, and demeaning
themselves as became good citizens. Love of country, with sacrifices
made to do honor to the flag, has seldom had a more beautiful and
impressive illustration than that given by the old pioneers of Oregon
during the years of their neglect by the home Government, which even
seemed so far distant that it had lost all interest in their welfare.



Says an old author: "History is a river increasing in volume with
every mile of its length, and the tributaries that join it nearer and
nearer the sea are taken up and swept onward by a current that grows
ever mightier." Napoleon said: "History is a fable agreed upon." If
Napoleon could have looked downward to the closing years of this
century and seen the genius of the literary world striving to do him
honor, he would perhaps have modified the sentiment.

History, at its best, is a collection of biographies of the world's
great leaders, and is best studied in biography. To be of value, it
must be accurate. Scarcely has any great leader escaped from the
stings of history, but it is well to know and believe that time will
correct the wrong. The case of Dr. Whitman is peculiar in the fact
that all his contemporaries united in doing him honor, save and
except one, Bishop Brouillet. The men who knew the value of his work
and his eminent services, such as Gray, Reed, Simpson, Barrows, and
Parkman; the correspondence of Spalding, Lovejoy, Eells, and the Lees,
have made the record clear.

It has been reserved for modern historians of that class who have just
discovered the "Mistakes of Moses," and that Shakespeare never wrote
Shakespeare's plays, to indulge in sneers and scoffs and to falsify
the record. It is not the intention to attempt to reply to all these,
but we shall notice the fallacies of two or three. In a recent edition
of the history of the Lewis and Clarke Expedition, published by F. P.
Harper, New York, and edited by Dr. Elliott Coues, a most entertaining
volume, and yet wholly misleading as to the final issue which resulted
in Oregon becoming a part of the Republic, Dr. Coues in his dedication
of the volume says:

"To the people of the great West: Jefferson gave you the country.
Lewis and Clarke showed you the way. The rest is your own course of
empire. Honor the statesman who foresaw your West. Honor the brave men
who first saw your West. May the memory of their glorious achievement
be your precious heritage. Accept from my heart this undying record of
the beginning of all your greatness.


All honor to Jefferson, the far-sighted statesman; and a like honor to
the courageous explorers, Lewis and Clarke; but the writer of history
should be true to facts. Lewis and Clarke were not "The first men who
saw your West." They were not the discoverers of Oregon. Old Captain
Gray did that a dozen years prior to the visit of Lewis and Clarke. A
writer of true history should not have blinded his eyes to that fact
on his dedicatory page. Captain Gray sailed into the mouth of the
Columbia River on his good ship Columbia, from Boston, on May 7th,
1792. The great river was named for his vessel. This, together with
the title gained by the Louisiana purchase in 1803, and the treaty
with Spain and Mexico, more fully recited in another chapter, made the
claim of the United States to ownership in the soil of Oregon.

The mission of Lewis and Clarke was not that of discoverers, but to
spy out and report upon the value of the discovery already made. Their
work required rare courage, and was accomplished with such
intelligence as to make them heroes, and both were rewarded with fat
offices; one as the Governor of Louisiana, and the other as General
Commissioner of Indian Affairs; and both were given large land grants.
We have not been able to see in any of Dr. Coues' full notes any
explanation of such facts, but even if he has given such explanation,
he had no right, as a truthful chronicler of history, to mislead the
reader by his highly ornate dedicatory: "Jefferson gave you the
country, Lewis and Clarke showed you the way."

President Jefferson was much more of a seer and statesman than were
his compeers. The Louisiana purchase, to him, was much more than
gaining possession of the State at the mouth of the Mississippi River,
with its rich acres for the use of slave-owners of the South. In his
later years he said: "I looked forward with gratification to the time
when the descendants of the settlers of Oregon would spread themselves
through the whole length of the coast, covering it with free,
independent Americans, unconnected with us but by the ties of blood
and interest, and enjoying, like us, the rights of self-government."

If the old statesman could view the scene and the condition now, how
much grander would be the view! It would be unjust to question the
interest of President Jefferson in the Northwest Territory; the great
misfortune was, that the statesmen of his day were almost wholly
oblivious to his appeals. The report made by the Lewis and Clarke
expedition was stuffed into a pigeon hole, and was not even published
until eight years after the exploration, and after one of the
explorers was dead. It was not received with a single ripple of
enthusiasm by Congress or the people of the Nation. The Government,
on the contrary, fourteen years after the advent of Lewis and Clarke
in Oregon, entered into a treaty with England, which virtually gave
the English people the control of the entire country for more than the
first third of the century. The most that can be said of Lewis and
Clarke is that they were faithful explorers, who blazed the way which
Americans failed to travel, until, in the fullness of time, a man
appeared who led the way and millions followed.

Among the most pointed defamers of Dr. Whitman is Mrs. Frances F.
Victor, of Oregon, author of "The River of the West," who seldom loses
an opportunity to attempt to belittle the man and his work. In a
communication to the Chicago Inter Ocean, she openly charges that his
journey to Washington in the winter of 1842 and '43 was wholly for
selfish interests. She charges that he was about to be removed from
his Mission and wanted to present his case before the American Board.
That he wanted his Mission as "A stopping place for immigrants." In
other words, it was for personal and pecuniary gain that he made the
perilous ride. We quote her exact language:

"That there was considerable practical self-interest in his desire to
be left to manage the Mission as he thought best, there can be no
question. It was not for the Indians, altogether, he wished to
remain. He foresaw the wealth and importance of the country and that
his place must become a supply station to the annual emigrations.
Instead of making high-comedy speeches to the President and Secretary
of State, he talked with them about the Indians, and what would, in
his opinion, be the best thing to be done for them and for the white
settlers. His visit was owing to the necessity that existed of
explaining to the Board better than he could by letter, and more
quickly, his reasons for wishing to remain at his station, and to
convince them it was for the best." Says Mrs. Victor: "The
Missionaries all believed that the United States would finally secure
a title to at least that portion of Oregon south of the Columbia
River, out of whose rich lands they would be given large tracts by the
Government, and that was reason enough for the loyalty exhibited."

She openly charges that "Dr. Whitman acted deceitfully toward all the
other members of the Mission." If such were true, is it not strange
that in all the years that followed every man and woman among them
were his staunchest and truest friends and most valiant defenders? She
proceeds to call Whitman "Ignorant and conceited to believe that he
influenced Secretary Webster." That the story of his suffering,
frost-bitten condition was false. "He was not frost-bitten, or he
would have been incapacitated to travel," etc. Mrs. Victor makes a
grave charge against Whitman. She says: "He got well-to-do by selling
flour and grain and vegetables to immigrants at high prices." Now, let
us allow Dr. Spalding to answer this calumny. He knew Whitman and his
work as well, or better than any other man. Dr. Spalding says:

"Immigrants, by hundreds and thousands, reached the Mission, way-worn,
hungry, sick, and destitute, but he cared for all. Seven children of
one family were left upon the hands of Dr. and Mrs. Whitman--one a
babe four months old--and they cared for them all, giving food,
clothing, and medicine without pay. Frequently, the Doctor would give
away his entire food supply, and have to send to me for grain to get
through the Winter."

She pointedly denies that Dr. Whitman went to Washington or the States
with the expectation of bringing out settlers to Oregon.

The letters recently published by the State Historical Society of
Oregon, quoted in another chapter, were written by Dr. Whitman the
year following his famous journey. In them he clearly reveals the
reasons for the ride to Washington. The reader can believe Dr. Whitman
or believe Mrs. Victor, but both cannot be believed.

In addition to these letters, we have the clear testimony of General
Lovejoy, who went with him; of Rev. Mr. Spalding, of Elkanah Walker,
Dr. Gray, Rev. Cushing Eells, P. B. Whitman, who accompanied him on
his return trip; Mr. Hinman, Dr. S. J. Parker, of Ithaca, N. Y., and
the Rev. William Barrows, who had frequent conversations with him in
St. Louis. In an interview with Dr. William Geiger, published in the
New York Sun, January 17th, 1885, he says: "I was at Fort Walla Walla,
and associated directly with Dr. Whitman when he started East to save
Oregon. I was there when he returned, and I am, perhaps, the only
living person who distinctly recollects all the facts. He left, not to
go to St. Louis or to Boston, but for the distinct purpose of going to
Washington to save Oregon; and yet he had to be very discreet about

Will the honest reader of history reject such testimony as worthless,
and mark that of these modern skeptics valuable?

Mrs. Victor's charges, that selfishness and personal aggrandizement
accounted for all the sacrifices made by Whitman, are preposterous in
the light of testimony, and made utterly untenable by the environments
of the Missionary. There was no time in all the years that Dr. and
Mrs. Whitman lived in Oregon that they could not have packed all their
worldly goods upon the backs of two mules. The American Board made no
bribe of money to the men and women they sent out to Oregon and
elsewhere. If the great farm he opened at Waiilatpui, and the
buildings he erected by his patient toil, had grown to be worth a
million, it would not have added a single dollar to Whitman's wealth.
Even the physician's fees given him by grateful sufferers, under the
rules of the Board, were reported and counted as a part of his meager

The idea that a man should leave wife and home, and endure the perils
of a mid-winter journey to the States, to persuade Congress "To buy
sheep" and "make his Mission a stopping place," or the American Board
to allow him to work sixteen hours a day for the Cayuse Indians, is a
heavy task on credulity, and is so far-fetched as to make Whitman's
maligners only ridiculous.

But it is Hubert Howe Bancroft, the author of the thirty-eight volume
History of the Pacific States, who is the offender-in-chief. As a
collector and historian, Bancroft necessarily required many
co-workers. It was in his failure to get them into harmony and tell
the straight connected truth, in which he made his stupendous
blunders. Chapter is arrayed against chapter, and volume against
volume. One tells history, and another denies it. In Volume I, page
379, he refers to the incident, already fully recited in another
chapter, of the visit of the Flathead Indians to St. Louis, and does
not once doubt its historic accuracy; but in Volume XXIII, another of
his literary army works up the same historic incident, and says:

"The Presbyterians were never very expert in improvising Providences.
Therefore, when Gray, the great Untruthful, and whilom Christian
Mission builder, undertakes to appropriate to the Unseen Powers of his
sect the sending of four native delegates to St. Louis in 1832,
begging saviors for transmontain castaways, it is, as most of Gray's
affairs are, a failure. The Catholics manage such things better."

On page 584, Volume I, "Chronicles of the Builders," Mr. Bancroft
says: "The Missionaries and Pioneers of Oregon did much to assure the
country to the United States. Had there been no movement of the kind,
England would have extended her claim over the whole territory, with a
fair prospect of making it her own."

In another place says Mr. Bancroft: "The Missionary, Dr. Whitman, was
no ordinary man. I do not know which to admire most in him, his
coolness or his courage. His nerves were of steel, his patience was
excelled only by his fearlessness. In the mighty calm of his nature he
was a Caesar for Christ."

In the same volume another of his literary co-workers proceeds to
glorify John Jacob Astor, and to give him all the honors for saving
Oregon to the Union. Mr. Bancroft says:

"The American flag was raised none too soon at Fort Astoria to secure
the great Oregon country to the United States, for already the men of
Montreal were hastening thither to seize the prize; but they were too
late. It is safe to say that had not Mr. Astor moved in this matter as
he did, had his plans been frustrated or his purposes delayed, the
northern boundary of the United States might to-day be the 42d
parallel of latitude. Thus we see the momentous significance of the

The author proceeds to picture Astor and make him the hero in saving
Oregon. In another chapter we have given the full force and effect of
Mr. Astor's settlement at Astoria. A careful reading will only show
the exaggerated importance of the act, when compared with other acts
which the historian only passes with a sneer or in silence. John Jacob
Astor was in Oregon to make money and for no other purpose.

In Volume I, page 579, "Chronicle of the Builders," Mr. Bancroft
allows Mrs. Victor, his authority, to dip her pen deep in slander. He
refers to both the Methodist Missions on the Willamette and the
Congregational and Presbyterian Missions of the Walla Walla, and

"But missionary work did not pay, however, either with the white men
or the red, whereupon the apostles of this region began to attend more
to their own affairs than to the saving of savage souls. They broke
up their establishments in 1844, and thenceforth became a political
clique, whose chief aim was to acquire other men's property."

Please note the charges. Here are Christian men and women who have for
years deprived themselves of all the benefits of civilization, and
endured the hardships and dangers of frontier life, professedly that
they might preach the gospel to savage people, but says Mr. Bancroft:

"Missionary work did not pay." In the sense of money making, when did
Missionary work ever pay? This history of the Pacific States is a
history for the generations to come. It is to go into Christian homes
and upon the shelves of Christian libraries. If it is true,
Christianity stands disgraced and Christian Missionaries stand

Mr. Bancroft says: "They broke up their establishments in 1844 and
became a political clique, whose chief aim was to acquire other men's
property." As usual, another one of the historian's valuable aides
comes upon the stage in the succeeding volume, and gives a horrifying
account of "The great massacre at Dr. Whitman's Mission, on Nov. 29th,
1847." He tells us "There were at the time seventy souls at the
Mission" and "Fourteen persons were killed and forty-seven taken
captives." Does this prove the historian's truthfulness who had
before told his readers that "They broke up their establishments in
1844 and thenceforth became a political clique, whose aim was to
acquire other men's property?" There is no possible excuse for the
historian to allow his aides to lead him into such blunders as we have
pointed out.

The real facts were in reach. Here were men and women educated,
cultivated, exiles from home, engaged in the great work of civilizing
and Christianizing savages, and without a fact to sustain the charge,
it is openly asserted that they gave up their work and entered upon
the race for political power and for wealth. Instead of the Missions
of the American Board being "closed in 1844," they were at no time in
a more prosperous condition; as the record of Dr. Eells, Dr. Spalding
and Dr. Whitman all show.

There is not a particle of evidence that Dr. Whitman ever took any
part in any political movement in Oregon; save and except as his great
effort to bring in settlers to secure the country to the United States
may be called political. As soon as he could leave the emigrants, he
hurried home to his Mission, and at once took up his heavy work which
he had laid aside eleven months before. He went on building and
planting, and sowing and teaching; the busiest of busy men up to the
very date of the massacre. In his young manhood he sacrificed ease in
a civilized home, and he and his equally noble wife dedicated
themselves and their lives to the Missionary service. At all times
they were the same patient, quiet, uncomplaining toilers.

Why should the great historian of the Pacific States stand above their
martyr graves and attempt to discredit their lives and dishonor their
memories? Dr. Whitman exhibited as much patriotism and performed as
grand an act of heroism as any man of this century, and yet, Mr.
Bancroft devotes half a dozen volumes to "The Chronicle of the
Builders," in which he presents handsome photographs and clear,
well-written sketches of hundreds of men, but they are mainly
millionaires and politicians. The historian seems to have had no room
for a Missionary or a poor Doctor. They were only pretending "to save
savage souls." And that "did not pay," and "they broke up their
settlements in 1844 and thenceforth became a political clique" whose
"chief aim was to acquire other men's property."

It is a slander of the basest class, not backed up by a single
credible fact, wholly dishonorable to the author, and discredits his
entire history. An old poet says:

     "And ever the right comes uppermost,
     And ever is justice done!"

The Christian and patriotic people who believe in honest dealing will,
in the years to come, compel all such histories to be re-written and
their malice expunged, or they will cease to find an honored place in
the best libraries.

It is by such history that the modern public has been blinded, and the
real heroes relegated to the rear to make room for favorites. But
facts are stubborn things, "The truth is mighty and will prevail." The
great public is honest and loves justice and honesty; and it will not
permit such a record to stand. The awakening has already begun. The
time is coming when the martyred heroes in their unhonored graves at
Waiilatpui, will receive the reward due for their patriotic and heroic

It is also gratifying to be able to observe that this malevolence is
limited to narrow bounds. It has originated and has lived only in the
fertile brains of two or three boasters of historic knowledge, who
have made up in noise for all lack of principle and justice. They seem
to have desired to gain notoriety for themselves and imagined that the
world would admire their courage. It was Mr. Bancroft's great
misfortune that this little coterie in Oregon were entrusted with the
task of writing the most notable history of modern times, and his
great work and his honored name will have to bear the odium of it
until his volumes are called in and the grievous wrong is righted. It
will be done. Mr. E. C. Ross, of Prescott, says in the Oregonian in

"Time will vindicate Dr. Whitman, and when all calumnies, and their
inventors, shall have been forgotten, his name, and that of his
devoted, noble wife, will stand forth in history as martyrs to the
cause of God and their Country."

Let the loyal, patriotic men and women of America resolve that the
time to do this is now.



In all the years since the terrible tragedy at Waiilatpui, historians
have been seeking to find the cause of that great crime.

Some have traced it to religious jealousies, but have, in a great
measure, failed to back such charges with substantial facts. It seems
rather to have been a combination of causes working together for a
common purpose.

For nearly half a century, as we have seen in the history of Oregon,
the Indians and the Hudson Bay Company had been working harmoniously
together. It was a case in which civilization had accommodated itself
to the desires of savage life. The Company plainly showed the Indians
that they did not wish their lands, or to deprive them of their homes.
It only wanted their labor, and in return it would pay the Indians in
many luxuries and comforts. The Indians were averse to manual labor,
and the great Company had not seen fit to encourage it. They did not
desire to see them plant or sow, raise cattle, or build houses for
themselves and their families. That would directly interfere with
their work as fur gatherers, and break in upon the source of wealth to
the Company. To keep them at the steel trap, and in the chase, was the
aim of the Hudson Bay policy, and such was congenial to the Indian,
and just what he desired.

The Jesuit priests who were attached to the Hudson Bay Company,
seconded the interest of the Company, and attempted to teach religion
to the Indian and still leave him a savage. Upon the coming of the
Protestant Missionaries, the Indians welcomed them and expressed great
delight at the prospect of being taught. They gave their choice
locations to the Missions, and most solemn promise to co-operate in
the work. But neither they nor their fathers had used the hoe or the
plow, or built permanent houses in which to live. They were by nature
opposed to manual labor. Squaws were made to do all the work, while
Indian men hunted and did the fighting. The Missionaries could see but
little hope of Christianizing, unless they could induce them to adopt
civilized customs.

It was right there that the breach between the Indians and the
Missionaries began to widen. They were willing to accept a religion
which did not interfere with savage customs, which had become a part
of their lives. It was the custom of the Hudson Bay Company, by giving
modest bribes, to win over any unruly chief. It was the best way to
hold power; but the Missionaries held the tribes which they served up
to a higher standard of morals.

The Cayuse Indians made a foray upon a weaker tribe, and levied on
their stock in payment for some imaginary debt. Dr. Whitman gave the
Chiefs a reprimand, and called it thieving, and demanded that they
send back everything they had taken. The Indians grew very angry in
being thus reminded of their sins.

We mention these little incidents as illustrations of the strained
conditions which speedily made their appearance in the government of
the Indians, and made it easy work for the mischief-makers and
criminals, later on. It was the boast of English authors that "The
English people got along with Indians much better than Americans."
This seems to be true, and it comes from the fact that they did not
antagonize savage customs. As long as their savage subjects filled the
treasury of the Hudson Bay Company, they cared little for aught else.
As a matter of policy and self defense, they treated them honestly and
fairly in all business transactions. They were in full sympathy with
the Indians in their demand to keep out white immigration, and keep
the entire land for fur-bearing animals and savage life.

Dr. Whitman's famous ride to the States in the Winter of 1842-43, and
his piloting the large immigration of American settlers in 1843, made
him a marked man, both with the Indians and the Hudson Bay Company.
When the Treaty was signed in 1846, and England lost Oregon, Whitman
was doubtless from that hour a doomed man. Both the Hudson Bay Company
and the Indians well knew who was responsible.

First, "The great white-haired Chief," Dr. McLoughlin, was sacrificed
because he was a friend of Whitman and the Missionaries. There was no
other reason. If Dr. McLoughlin could have been induced to treat the
Protestant Missionaries as he treated the American fur traders, his
English Company would have been delighted to have retained him as
Chief Factor for life. But with them it was a crime to show kindness
to a Protestant Missionary, and thus foster American interests. If
McLoughlin had not resigned and got out of the way, he would doubtless
have lost his life by the hands of an assassin.

The Treaty was signed and proclaimed August 6th, 1846, and the
massacre did not occur until the 29th of November, 1847. In those days
the news moved slowly and the results, and the knowledge that England
and the Hudson Bay Company had lost all, did not reach the outposts
along the Columbia until late in the Spring of 1847. If the English
and Hudson Bay Company had nothing to do in fanning the flame of
Indian anger, it was because they had changed and reformed their
methods. How much or how little they worked through the cunning and
duplicity of Jesuit priests has never been demonstrated. After the
Revolutionary War, England never lost an opportunity to incite the
Indians upon our Northern frontier to make savage assaults. Her humane
statesmen denounced her work as uncivilized and unchristian.

General Washington, in a published letter to John Jay, in 1794, said:
"There does not remain a doubt in the mind of any well-informed person
in this country, not shut against conviction, that all the
difficulties we encounter with the Indians, their hostilities, the
murders of helpless women and children along our frontiers, result
from the conduct of the agents of Great Britain in this country."

At no time then had the English as much reason for anger at American
success and prosperity as in the case of Oregon, where a great
organization, which has been for well-nigh half a century in supreme
control, was now compelled to move on. To have shown no resentment
would have been unlike the representatives of England in the days of

Undoubtedly the sickness of the Indians, that year, and the charge
that the Americans had introduced the disease to kill the Indians off
and get their land, was a powerful agent in winning over to the
murderers many who were still friendly to the Missionaries. The
Indians had fallen from their high mark of honesty of which Mrs.
Whitman in her diary, years before, boasted, and had invaded the melon
patch and stolen melons, so that the Indians who ate them were
temporarily made sick. With their superstitious ideas they called it
"conjuring the melon," and the incident was used effectually to excite

There is no evidence that white men directly instigated the massacre
or took a part in its horrors. While there is evidence of a bitter
animosity existing among the Jesuit priests toward the Protestant
Missionaries, and their defense of the open charges made against them
is lame; yet the historical facts are not sufficient to lay the blame
upon them.

Nor is it necessary to hold the leading officials of the Hudson Bay
Company responsible for the crime as co-conspirators. There are always
hangers-on and irresponsible parties who stand ready to do the
villain's work.

The leader of the massacre was the half-breed, Joe Lewis, whose
greatest accomplishment was lying. He seems to have brought the
conspiracy up to the killing point by his falsehoods. He was a half
Canadian and came to Oregon in company with a band of priests, and
strangely enough, dropped down upon Dr. Whitman and by him was clothed
and fed for many months. The Doctor soon learned his real character
and how he was trying to breed distrust among the Indians. Dr. Whitman
got him the position of teamster in a wagon train for the Willamette,
and expressed a hope that he was clear of him. But Joe deserted his
post and returned to Waiilatpui, and as events showed, was guided by
some unseen power in the carrying out of the plans of the murderers.

To believe that he conceived it, or that the incentives to the
execution of the diabolism rested alone with the Indians, is to tax
even the credulous. They were simply the direct agents, and were,
doubtless, as has been said, wrought up to the crime through
superstitions in regard to Dr. Whitman's responsibility for the
prevailing sickness, which had caused many deaths among the Indians.
For all the years to come, the readers of history will weigh the facts
for themselves, and continue to place the responsibility upon this and
that cause; but, for a safe standing point, will always have to drop
back upon the fact that it was the "irrepressible conflict" between
civilization and savagery, between Christianity and heathenism,
backed up by national antagonisms, which had many times before
engendered bad spirit.

It has been the history of the first settlement of every State of the
Union, more or less, from the landing upon Plymouth Rock up to the
tragedy at Waiilatpui. Only it seems in the case of the massacre at
the Whitman Mission, to be more coldblooded and atrocious, in the fact
that those killed had spent the best years of their lives in the
service of the murderers.

Those who had received the largest favors and the most kindness from
the Doctor and his good wife, were active leaders in the great crime.
The Rev. H. H. Spalding, in a letter to the parents of Mrs. Whitman,
dated April 6, 1848, gives a clear, concise account of the great

He says: "They were inhumanly butchered by their own, up to the last
moment, beloved Indians, for whom their warm Christian hearts had
prayed for eleven years, and their unwearied hands had administered to
their every want in sickness and distress, and had bestowed unnumbered
blessings; who claimed to be, and were considered, in a high state of
civilization and Christianity. Some of them were members of our
Church; others, candidates for admission; some of them adherents of
the Catholic Church; all praying Indians.

"They were, doubtless, urged on to the dreadful deed by foreign
influences, which we have felt coming in upon us like a devastating
flood for the last three or four years; and we have begged the
authors, with tears in our eyes, to desist, not so much on account of
our own lives and property, but for the sake of those coming, and the
safety of those already in the country. But the authors thought none
would be injured but the hated Missionaries--the devoted heretics; and
the work of Hell was urged on, and has ended, not only in the death of
three Missionaries, the ruin of our Mission, but in a bloody war with
the settlements, which may end in the massacre of every adult.

"The massacre took place on the fatal 29th of November last,
commencing at half-past one. Fourteen persons were murdered first and
last; nine the first day. Five men escaped from the Station, three in
a most wonderful manner, one of whom was the trembling writer, with
whom, I know, you will unite in praising God for delivering even one.

"The names and places of the slain are as follows: The two precious
names already given--my hand refuses to write them again; Mr. Rogers,
young man, teacher of our Mission School in the Winter of '46, who
since then has been aiding us in our Mission work, and studying for
the ministry, with a view to be ordained and join our Mission; John
and Francis Sager, the two eldest of the orphan family, ages 17 and
15; Mr. Kimball, of Laporte, Indiana, killed the second day, left a
widow and five children; Mr. Saunders, of Oskaloosa, Iowa, left a
widow and five children; Mr. Hall, of Missouri, escaped to Fort Walla
Walla, was refused protection, put over the Columbia River, killed by
the Walla Wallas, left a widow and five children; Mr. Marsh, of
Missouri, left a son grown and young daughter; Mr. Hoffman, of Elmira,
New York; Mr. Gillan, of Oskaloosa, Iowa; Mr. Sails, of the latter
place; Mr. Bewley, of Missouri. The two last were dragged from their
sickbeds, eight days after the first massacre, and butchered; Mr.
Young, killed the second day. The last five were unmarried men.

"Forty women and children fell captives into the hands of the
murderers, among them my own beloved daughter, Eliza, ten years old.
Three of the captive children soon died, left without parental care,
two of them your dear Narcissa's adopted children. The young women
were dragged from the house by night, and beastly treated. Three of
them were forced to become wives of the murderers of their parents,
who often boasted of the deed, to taunt their victims."

  [Illustration: WHITMAN'S GRAVE.]

Continuing the narrative Mr. Spalding says:

"Monday morning the Doctor assisted in burying an Indian; returned to
the house and was reading; several Indians, as usual, were in the
house; one sat down by him to attract his attention by asking for
medicine; another came behind him with a tomahawk concealed under his
blanket and with two blows in the back of the head, brought him to the
floor senseless, probably, but not lifeless; soon after Telaukaikt, a
candidate for admission in our Church, and who was receiving
unnumbered favors every day from Brother and Sister Whitman, came in
and took particular pains to cut and beat his face and cut his throat;
but he still lingered till near night.

"As soon as the firing commenced at the different places, Mrs. Hayes
ran in and assisted Sister Whitman in taking the Doctor from the
kitchen to the sitting-room and placed him upon the settee. This was
before his face was cut. His dear wife bent over him and mingled her
flowing tears with his precious blood. It was all she could do. They
were her last tears. To whatever she said, he would reply 'no' in a
whisper, probably not sensible.

"John Sager, who was sitting by the Doctor when he received the first
blow, drew his pistol, but his arm was seized, the room filling with
Indians, and his head was cut to pieces. He lingered till near night.
Mr. Rogers, attacked at the water, escaped with a broken arm and wound
in the head, and rushing into the house, shut the door. The Indians
seemed to have left the house now to assist in murdering others. Mr.
Kimball, with a broken arm, rushed in; both secreted themselves

"Sister Whitman in anguish, now bending over her dying husband and now
over the sick; now comforting the flying, screaming children, was
passing by the window, when she received the first shot in her right
breast, and fell to the floor. She immediately arose and kneeled by
the settee on which lay her bleeding husband, and in humble prayer
commended her soul to God, and prayed for her dear children who were
about to be made a second time orphans and to fall into the hands of
her direct murderers. I am certain she prayed for her murderers, too.
She now went into the chamber with Mrs. Hayes, Miss Bewley, Catharine,
and the sick children. They remained till near night.

"In the meantime the doors and windows were broken in and the Indians
entered and commenced plundering, but they feared to go into the
chamber. They called for Sister Whitman and Brother Rogers to come
down and promised they should not be hurt. This promise was often
repeated, and they came down. Mrs. Whitman, faint with the loss of
blood, was carried on a settee to the door by Brother Rogers and Miss

"Every corner of the room was crowded with Indians having their guns
ready to fire. The children had been brought down and huddled
together to be shot. Eliza was one. Here they had stood for a long
time surrounded by guns pointed at their breasts. She often heard the
cry, "Shall we shoot?" and her blood became cold, she says, and she
fell upon the floor. But now the order was given, "Do not shoot the
children," as the settee passed by the children, over the bleeding,
dying body of John.

"Fatal moment! The settee advanced about its length from the door,
when the guns were discharged from without and within, the powder
actually burning the faces of the children. Brother Rogers raised his
hand and cried, "My God," and fell upon his face, pierced with many
balls. But he fell not alone. An equal number of the deadly weapons
were leveled at the settee and the discharge had been deadly. She
groaned, and lingered for some time in great agony.

"Two of the humane Indians threw their blankets over the little
children huddled together in the corner of the room, and shut out the
sight as they beat their dying victims with whips, and cut their faces
with knives. It was Joe Lewis, the Canadian half-breed, that first
shot Mrs. Whitman, but it was Tamtsaky who took her scalp as a

An old Oregon friend of the author, Samuel Campbell, now living in
Moscow, Idaho, spent the Winter of '46 and '47 at the Whitman Mission,
and never wearied in telling of the grandly Christian character of
Mrs. Whitman, of her kindness and patience to all, whites and Indians
alike. Every evening she delighted all with her singing. Her voice,
after all her hard life, had lost none of its sweetness, nor had her
environments in any sense soured her toward any of the little
pleasantries of every-day life.

Says Mr. Campbell, "You can imagine my horror in 1849, when at Grand
Ronde, old Tamtsaky acknowledged to me that he scalped Mrs. Whitman
and told of her long, beautiful, silky hair." Soon after the United
States Government, by order of General Lane, sent officers to arrest
the murderers. Old Tamtsaky was killed at the time of the arrest and
escaped the hangman's rope, which was given to five of the leaders,
after trial in Oregon City, May, 1850. The names of the murderers
hanged were Tilwkait, Tahamas, Quiahmarsum, Klvakamus and Siahsalucus.

The Rev. Cushing Eells says, "The day before the massacre, Istikus, a
firm friend of Dr. Whitman, told him of the threats against his life,
and advised him to 'go away until my people have better hearts.' He
reached home from the lodge of Istikus late in the night, but visited
his sick before retiring. Then he told Mrs. Whitman the words of
Istikus. Knowing how true a friend Istikus was, and his great courage,
the situation became more perilous in the estimation of both, than
ever before. Mrs. Whitman was so affected by it that she remained in
her room, and one of the children, who took her breakfast up to her
room, found her weeping. The Doctor went about his work as usual, but
told some of his associates that if it were possible to do so, he
would remove all the family to a place of safety. It is the first time
he ever seems to have been alarmed, or thought it possible that his
Indians would attempt such a crime."

Rev. Mr. Eells gives a detailed account of the massacre and its
horrors, but in this connection we only desire to give the reader a
clear view without dwelling upon its atrocities. "The tomahawk with
which Dr. Whitman was killed, was presented to the Cayuse Indians by
the Blackfeet upon some great occasion, and was preserved by the
Cayuse as a memorable relic long after the hanging of the Chiefs. In
the Yakima War it passed to another tribe, and the Chief who owned it
was killed; an Indian agent, Logan, got possession of it and presented
it to the Sanitary Society during the Civil War. A subscription of one
hundred dollars was raised and it was presented to the Legislature of
Oregon, and is preserved among the archives of the State."

This narrative would be incomplete without recording the prompt
action of the Hudson Bay Company officers in coming to the relief of
the captive women and children. As soon as Chief Factor Ogden heard of
it, he lost no time in repairing to the scene, reaching Walla Walla
December 12th. In about two weeks he succeeded in ransoming all the
captives for blankets, shirts, guns, ammunition and tobacco, and at an
expense of $500. No other man in the Territory, and no army that could
have been mustered could have done it.

The Americans in Oregon promptly mustered and attacked the Indians,
who retreated to the territory of a different tribe. But the murderers
and leaders among the Indians were not arrested until nearly two years
after the crime.

While some have charged that the officials of the Hudson Bay Company
could have averted the massacre, this is only an opinion. Their humane
and prompt act in releasing the captive women and children from worse
than death, was worthy of it, and has received the strongest words of

Thus was ended disastrously the work of the American Board which had
given such large promise for eleven years. While its greatest
achievement was not in saving savage souls, but in being largely
instrumental in peacefully saving three great States to the American
Union, yet there is good evidence, years after the massacre, that the
labors of the Missionaries had not been in vain. After the Treaty of
1855, seven years after the massacre, General Joel Palmer, who was one
of the Council, says, "Forty-five Cayuse and one thousand Nez Perces
have kept up regular family and public worship, singing from the Nez
Perces Hymn Book and reading the Gospel of Matthew, translated into
Nez Perces, the work of Dr. and Mrs. Spalding."

Says General Barloe, "Many of them showed surprising evidences of
piety, especially Timothy, who was their regular and faithful preacher
during all these years. Among the Cayuse, old Istikus, as long as he
lived, rang his bell every Sabbath and called his little band together
for worship."

Twelve years after leaving his Mission, Rev. Mr. Spalding returned to
his people and found the Tribe had kept up the form of worship all the
years since. Upon opening a school, it was at once crowded with
children, and even old men and women, with failing eyesight, insisted
upon being taught; and the interest did not flag until the failing
health of Mr. Spalding forced him to give up his work. The Rev. Dr.
Eells' experience was much the same; all going to prove that the early
work of the American Board was not fruitless in good, and emphasizing
the fact that good words and work are never wholly lost, and their
power only will be known when the final summing up is made.

There have been few great men that have not felt the stings of
criticism and misrepresentation. The wholly unselfish life of Dr.
Marcus Whitman, from his young manhood to the day of his death, it
would seem, ought to have shielded him from this class, but it did
not. In justice to his contemporaries, however, it is due to say,
every one of them, of all denominations except one, was his friend and

That one man was a French Jesuit priest, by the name of J. B. A.
Brouillett. He was Acting Bishop among the Indians, of a tribe near to
the Cayuse, where Dr. Whitman had labored for eleven years, and where
he perished in 1847. After the massacre, there were some grave charges
made against Brouillett, and in 1853 he wrote a pamphlet, entitled,
"Protestantism in Oregon," in which he made a vicious attack upon the
dead Whitman, and the living Dr. Spalding, and the other Protestant
Missionaries of the American Board.

It naturally called out some very pointed rejoinders, yet attracted
but little attention from the Christian world. Patriotic American
Catholics took but little stock in the clamor of the French priest,
and the matter was in a fair way to be forgotten, when interest was
suddenly renewed in the subject by the appearance of an executive
document, No. 38, 35th Congress, 1st Session, signed J. Ross Browne,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and dated at San Francisco, December
4, 1867, which contained a few sentences from J. Ross Browne and all
of the Brouillett pamphlet.

The idea of getting so slanderous a paper published as an official
public document by the United States Congress, was an unheard-of
challenge that called for a reply. And it came promptly and pointedly.
From all parts of the country, Members of Congress were flooded with
letters to find out how such a thing could be accomplished. None of
them seemed able to answer. But the mischief was done and many of them
expressed a willingness to help undo it.

The Old School and New School, and the United Presbyterians in their
Presbyteries, resented the outrage, both in the Far West and in the
East, and none more vigorously than did that of the Illinois
Presbytery at the meeting in Chicago in 1871. The Methodists and
Baptists and Congregational Conferences in Oregon and Washington,
cordially united in the work, and demanded that an address, defending
the Missionaries and the American Board, should be printed just as
conspicuously to the World as had been the falsehoods of Brouillett.

The Presbyterian General Assembly at Chicago, May 18, 1871, led by the
Rev. F. A. Noble, summed up the case under seven different counts of
falsehoods, and demanded that Congress should, in simple justice,
publish them in vindication of the Protestant Church. The Oregon
Presbytery was still more positive and aggressive and made their
specifications under twelve heads. The Congregationalists and the
Methodists in Oregon were equally pointed and positive. It resulted in
"A Committee on Protestantism in Oregon," drawing up a reply.

In this they say: "The object of Brouillett's pamphlet appears to be
to exculpate the real instigators of that terrible tragedy, the
massacre at Waiilatpui, and to cast the blame upon the Protestant
Missionaries who were the victims." They go on to declare that the
paper "Is full of glaring and infamous falsehoods," and give their
reasons concisely, and wholly exonerate Dr. Whitman from all blame.

They close their address thus: "With these facts before us, we would
unite with all lovers of truth and justice, in earnestly petitioning
Congress, as far as possible, to rectify the evils which have resulted
from the publication, as a Congressional Document, of the slanders of
J. Ross Browne, and thus lift the cloud of darkness that 'Hangs over
the memory of the righteous dead and extend equal justice to those who
survive.'" The Rev. Dr. Spalding prepared the matter and it was
introduced through Secretary Columbus Delano, and the Indian Agent, N.
B. Meacham, and passed Congress as "Ex-Document No. 37 of the 41st

Forty thousand copies were ordered printed, the same as of
Brouillett's pamphlet. It is reported that less than fifty copies ever
reached the public. They mysteriously disappeared, and no one ever
learned and made public the manner in which it was done.

But the incident developed the fact, that the whole patriotic
Christian people unitedly defended Whitman from the charges made.



Dr. Marcus Whitman was a direct descendant of John Whitman of
Weymouth, who came from England in the ship Confidence, December,
1638. Of him it is recorded that he feared God, hated covetousness and
did good continually all the days of a long life.

Of the parents of Dr. Whitman, but little has been written. His
father, Beza Whitman, was born in Bridgewater, Connecticut, May 13,
1775. In March, 1797, he married Alice Green, of Mumford, Connecticut.
Two years later, with all of their worldly goods packed in an ox-cart,
they moved to Rushville, New York, Mrs. Whitman making a large part of
the tedious journey on foot, carrying her one-year-old babe in her

Settled in their new home, with Indians for near neighbors and
wilderness all about them, they began the struggle for life, and
though no great success rewarded their efforts, it is known that
their doors always swung open to the needy and their hands ministered
to the sick.

Mr. Whitman died April 7, 1810, at the early age of 35 years, leaving
his young wife to rear their family of four sons and one daughter.
Mrs. Whitman, though not a professing Christian, was a woman of much
energy and great endurance which, combined with strong Christian
principle, enabled her to look well to the ways of her household. She
lived to see every member of it an active Christian. She died
September 6th, 1857, aged 79, and was buried beside her husband near
Rushville, New York.

Dr. Marcus was her second son, and inherited from her a strong frame
and great endurance. After his father's death he was sent to his
paternal grandfather, Samuel Whitman, of Plainfield, Massachusetts,
where he remained ten years for training and education. There he
received a liberal training in the best schools the place afforded,
supplemented by a thorough course in Latin, and more advanced studies
under the minister of the place.

We know little of the boyhood spent there, as we should know little of
the whole life of Whitman, had not others lived to tell it, for he
neither told or wrote of it; he was too modest and too busy for that.
But we know it was the usual life of the Yankee boy, to bring the cows
and milk them, to cut the wood, and later to plow and sow the fields,
as we afterward find he knew how to do all these things. The strong,
sturdy boy of ceaseless activity and indomitable will who loved
hunting and exploring, and a touch of wild life, must have sometimes
given his old grandfather a trial of his mettle, but on the whole, no
doubt, he was a great comfort and help to his declining years.

After the death of his grandfather, he returned to the home of his
mother in Rushville. There he became a member of the Congregational
Church at the age of nineteen, and it is said was very desirous of
studying for the ministry, but by a long illness, and the persuasion
of friends, was turned from his purpose to the study of medicine.

He took a three years' course, and graduated at Fairfield, in 1824. He
first went to Canada, where he practiced his profession for four
years, then came back to his home, determined again to take up the
study for the ministry, but was again frustrated in his design, and
practiced his profession four years more in Wheeler, N. Y., where he
was a member and an elder in the Presbyterian Church. He and a brother
also owned a saw-mill near there, where he assisted in his spare
hours, and so learned another trade that was most useful to him in
later life. In fact, as we see his environments in his Mission Station
in Oregon, these hard lessons of his earlier years seem to have been,
in the best sense of the word, educational.

With but little help, he opened up and cultivated a great farm, and
built a grist-mill and a saw-mill, and when his grist-mill was burned,
built another, and, at the same time, attended to his professional
duties that covered a wide district. It was the wonder of every
visitor to the Mission how one man, with so few helpers, accomplished
so much. At the time of the massacre, the main building of the Mission
was one hundred feet in the front, with an L running back seventy
feet, and part of it two stories high. Every visitor remarked on the
cleanliness and comfort and thrift which everywhere appeared.

There are men who, with great incentives, have accomplished great
things, but were utter failures when it came to practical, every-day
duties. Dr. Whitman, with a genius to conceive, and the will and
energy to carry out the most difficult and daring undertaking, was
just as faithful and efficient in the little things that made up the
comforts of his wilderness home. Seeing these grand results--the
commodious house, the increase in the herds and the stacks of
grain--seems to have only angered his lazy, thriftless Indians, and
they began to make demands for a division of his wealth.

Dr. Whitman has been accused of holding his Indians to a too strict
moral accountability; that it would have been wiser to have been more
lenient, and winked at, rather than denounced, some of their savage
ways. Those who have carefully studied the man, know how impossible it
would have been for him, in any seeming way, to condone a crime, or to
purchase peace with the criminal by a bribe. This was the method of
the Hudson Bay Company, and was doubtless the cheap way.

By a series of events and environments, he seems to have been trained
much as Moses was, but with wholly different surroundings from those
of the great Lawgiver, whose first training was in the Royal Court and
the schools of Egypt; then in its army; then an outcast, and as a
shepherd, guiding his flocks, and finding springs and pasturage in the
land where, one day, he was to lead his people.

King David is another man made strong in the school of preparation. As
he watched his flocks on the Judean hills, he fought the lion and the
bear, and so was not afraid to meet and fight a giant, who defied the
armies of the living God. It was there, under the stars, that he
practiced music to quiet a mad king, and was educated into a fitness
to organize the great choirs, and furnish the grand anthems for the
temple worship. After this, in self-defense, he became the commander
of lawless bands of men, and so was trained to command the armies of

So it has been in our own Nation, with Washington and Lincoln, and
Grant and Garfield; they had to pass through many hardships, and
receive a many-sided training before they were fitted for the greater
work to which they were called. So it was, this strong, conscientious,
somewhat restless young man was being trained for the life that was to
follow. The farmer boy, planting and reaping, the millwright planning
and building, the country doctor on his long, lonely rides, the
religious teacher who must oversee the physical and spiritual wants of
his fellow church members, all were needed in the larger life for
which he was longing and looking, when the sad appeal for the "Book of
Life" came from the Indian Chiefs who had come so far, and failed to
find it. His immediate and hearty response was, "Here am I, send me!"

Dr. Marcus Whitman, judged by his life as a Missionary, must ever be
given due credit; for no man ever gave evidence of greater devotion to
the work he found to do. He was doubtless excelled as a teacher of the
Indians by many of his co-laborers. He was not, perhaps, even eminent
as a teacher. His great reputation and the honor due him, does not
rest upon such a claim, but upon his wisdom in seeing the future of
the Great West, and his heroic rescue of the land from a foreign
rule. That he heard a call to the duty from a higher source than any
earthly potentate, none but the skeptic will doubt. The act stands out
clear and bold and strong, as one of the finest instances of unselfish
patriotism recorded in all history.


Any sketch of pioneer Oregon would be incomplete without an honorable
mention of Dr. John McLoughlin. He was the Chief Factor of the Hudson
Bay Company, an organization inimical to American interests, both for
pecuniary and political reasons, and like Whitman, has been maligned
and misunderstood. As the leading spirit, during all the stages of
pioneer life, his life and acts have an importance second to none.
Nothing could have been more important for the comfort and peace of
the Missionaries than to have had a man as Supreme Ruler of Oregon,
with so keen a sense of justice, as had Dr. McLoughlin.

Physically he was a fine specimen of a man. He was six feet, four
inches, and well-proportioned. His bushy white hair and massive beard,
caused the Indians everywhere to call him, the "Great White Head

He was born in 1784, and was eighteen years older than Dr. Whitman.
He entered the Northwestern Fur Company's service in 1800. He
afterward studied medicine, and for a time practiced his profession,
but his fine business abilities were so apparent, that in 1824 we find
him at the head of affairs in Oregon. His power over the rough men in
the employ of the Company, and the savage tribes who filled their
coffers with wealth, was so complete as to be phenomenal.

In many of the sketches we have shown that his kindness to the pioneer
Missionaries in another and a higher sense, proved his manhood. To
obey the orders of his company, and still remain a humane man, was
something that required tact that few men could have brought to bear
as well as Dr. McLoughlin. While he did slaughter, financially
speaking, traders and fur gatherers right and left, and did his best
to serve the pecuniary interests of his great monopoly, he drew the
line there, and was the friend and the helper of the missionaries.

If the reader could glance through Mrs. Whitman's diary upon the very
opening week of her arrival in Oregon, there would not be found
anything but words of kindness and gratitude to Dr. McLoughlin. In
justice to his company, to which he was always loyal, he pushed the
Methodist missions far up the Willamette, and those of the American
Board three hundred miles in another direction. But at the same time
he was a friend and brother and adviser, and anything he had was at
their service, whether they had money or not.

After the immigration in 1842, and the larger immigration led by
Whitman in 1843, the company in England became alarmed and sent out
spies--Messrs. Park, Vavasaur and Peel, who were enjoined to find out
whether McLoughlin was loyal to British interests. After many months
spent in studying the situation, their adverse report is easily
inferred from the fact that Dr. McLoughlin was ordered to report to
headquarters. The full history of that secret investigation has never
yet been revealed, but when it is, the whole blame will be found
resting upon Whitman and his missionary co-workers, who wrested the
land from English rule, and that Dr. McLoughlin aided them to success.

When the charge of "Friendship to the missionaries," was made, the old
doctor flared up and replied: "What would you have? Would you have me
turn the cold shoulder on the men of God who came to do that for the
Indians which this company has neglected to do? If we had not helped
the immigrants in '42 and '43 and '44, and relieved their necessities,
Fort Vancouver would have been destroyed and the world would have
treated us as our inhuman conduct deserved; every officer of the
Company, from Governor down, would have been covered with obloquy,
and the Company's business ruined!"

But it all resulted in the resignation of Dr. McLoughlin. The
injustice he received at the hands of Americans afterward, is deeply
to be regretted, and it is greatly to the credit of the thinking
people of the State of Oregon that they have done their best to remedy
the wrong. At many times, and in a multitude of ways, Dr. McLoughlin,
by his kindness to the missionaries, won for himself the gratitude of
thinking Americans in all the years to come. With a bad man in his
place as Chief Factor, the old missionaries would have found life in
Oregon well-nigh unbearable. While true to the exclusive and selfish
interests of the great monopoly he served, he yet refused to resort to
any form of unmanliness.

After his abuse by the English company and his severance of all
connection with it, he settled at Oregon City and lived and died an
American citizen. The tongue of slander was freely wagged against him,
and his declining years were made miserable by unthinking Americans
and revengeful Englishmen. His property, of which he had been
deprived, was returned to his heirs, and to-day his memory is
cherished as among Oregon's benefactors. A fine oil painting of Dr.
McLoughlin was secured and paid for by the old pioneers and presented
to the State.

The Hon. John Minto, in making the address at the hanging of the
picture, closed with these words:

"In this sad summary of such a life as Dr. McLoughlin's, there is a
statement that merits our attention, which, if ever proven true, and
no man who ever knew Dr. McLoughlin will doubt that he believed it
true, namely, that he prevented war between Great Britain and the
United States, will show that two of the greatest nations on this
earth owe him a debt of gratitude, and that Oregon, in particular, is
doubly bound to him as a public benefactor. British state papers may
some day prove all this.

"It is now twenty-six years since the Legislative Assembly of the
State of Oregon, so far as restoration of property to Dr. McLouglin's
family could undo the wrong of Oregon's Land Bill, gave gladness to
the heart of every Oregon pioneer worthy of the name. All of them yet
living, now know that, good man as they believed him, he was better
than they knew. They see him now, after the strife and jealousies of
race, national, business, and sectarian interests are allayed,
standing in the center of all these causes of contention--a position
in which to please all parties was impossible, to 'Maintain which,
only a good man could bear with patience'--and they have adopted this
means of conveying their appreciation of this great forbearance and
patient endurance, combined with his generous conduct.

"Looking, then, at this line of action in the light of the merest
glimpses of history, known to be true by witnesses living, can any
honest man wonder that the pioneers of Oregon, who have eaten the salt
of this man's hospitality, who have been the eye-witnesses to his
brave care for humanity, and participators in his generous aid, are
unwilling to go to their graves in silence--which would imply base
ingratitude--a silence which would be eloquent with falsehood?

"Governor and Representatives of Oregon: In recognition of the worthy
manner in which Dr. John McLoughlin filled his trying and responsible
position, in the heartfelt glow of a grateful remembrance of his
humane and noble conduct to them, the Oregon pioneers leave this
portrait with you, hoping that their descendants will not forget the
friend of their fathers, and trusting that this gift of the men and
women who led the advance which has planted thirty thousand rifles in
the Valley of the Columbia, and three hundred thousand, when needed,
in the National Domain facing the Pacific Ocean, will be deemed worthy
of a place in your halls."

  [Illustration: DR. JOHN MCLOUGHLIN,
   Chief Factor of Hudson Bay Co., at Fort Walla Walla.]



Many institutions of learning have been erected and endowed by the
generosity of the rich, but Whitman Seminary and College had its
foundation laid in faith and prayer. Viewed from a worldly standpoint,
backed only by a poor missionary, whose possessions could be packed
upon the back of a mule, the outlook did not seem promising. During
all the years of his missionary service in Oregon, none knew better
the value of the patriotic Christian service of Dr. and Mrs. Whitman,
than did the Rev. Dr. Cushing Eells and his good wife. After the
massacre, Dr. Eells, and all his co-workers were moved under military
escort to the Willamette, but he writes:

"My eyes were constantly turned east of the Cascade Range, a region I
have given the best years of my life to."

It was not until 1859 when the country was declared open, that he
visited Walla Walla, and stood at the "Great grave of Dr. Whitman and
his wife." Standing there upon the consecrated spot, he says:

"I believe that the power of the Highest came upon me." And there he
solemnly vowed that he would do something to honor the Christian
martyrs whose remains rested in that grave. He says: "I felt as though
if Dr. Whitman were alive, he would prefer a high school for the
benefit of both sexes, rather than a monument of marble."

He pondered the subject and upon reaching home, sought the advice of
the Congregational Association. The subject was carefully canvassed by
those who well knew all the sad history, and the following note was
entered upon the record:

"In the judgment of this association, the contemplated purpose of
Brother C. Eells to remove to Waiilatpui, to establish a Christian
school at that place, to be called the Whitman Seminary, in memory of
the noble deeds and great works and the fulfillment of the benevolent
plans of the late lamented Dr. Whitman and his wife: And his further
purpose to act as home missionary in the Walla Walla Valley, meets our
cordial approbation and shall receive our earnest support."

Dr. Eells at once resigned from the Tualitin Academy, where he was
then teaching, and in 1859 and '60 obtained the charter for the
Whitman Seminary. Dr. Eells had hoped to be employed by the Home
Missionary Society, but that organization declined, as its object was
not to build seminaries and colleges, but to establish churches. He
bought from the American Board for $1,000 the farm of 640 acres where
Dr. Whitman had toiled for eleven years.

It was Dr. Eells' idea to build a seminary directly upon this
consecrated ground, and gather a quiet settlement about the school.
But he soon found that it would be better to locate the seminary in
the village, at that time made up of five resident families and about
one hundred men. It, however, was in sight of the "Great grave."

Here the Eells family settled down upon the farm for hard work to
raise the funds necessary to erect the buildings necessary for the
seminary. He preached without compensation up and down the valley upon
the Sabbath, and like Paul, worked with his hands during the week. His
first Summer's work on the farm brought in $700; enough nearly to pay
three-fourths of its cost; thus year after year Dr. Eells and his
faithful wife labored on and on. He plowed and reaped, and cut cord
wood, while she made butter, and raised chickens and saved every
dollar for the one grand purpose of doing honor to their noble friends
in the "Great grave" always in sight.

Rarely in this world has there been a more beautiful demonstration of
loyalty and friendship, than of Dr. and Mrs. Eells. They lived and
labored on the farm for ten years, and endured all the privations and
isolations common to such a life. An article in the "Congregationalist"

"Mother Eells' churn with which she made four hundred pounds of butter
for sale, ought to be kept for an honored place in the cabinet of
Whitman College."

It was by such sacrifices that the first $4,000 were raised to begin
the buildings. Five years had passed after the charter was granted,
before the seminary was located, and then only on paper. And this was
seven years before the completion of the first school building; the
dedication of which occurred on October 13, 1866.

The first principal was the Rev. P. B. Chamberlain, who also organized
and was first pastor of the Congregational Church at Walla Walla. In
1880, under the new impulse given to the work by the Rev. Dr. G. H.
Atkinson, of Portland, Whitman Seminary developed into Whitman
College. This was finally accomplished in 1883. During that year,
College Hall was erected at a cost of $16,000. During 1883 and 1884,
in the same spirit he had at all times exhibited, Dr. Eells felt it
his duty to visit New England in the interest of the institution. He

"It was the hardest year's work I ever did, to raise that sixteen
thousand dollars."

The old pioneer would much rather have cut cord wood or plowed his
fields, if that would have brought in the money for his loved college.
The Christian who reads Dr. Eells' diary during the closing years of
his life, will easily see how devoted he was to the work of honoring
the memory of the occupants of the "Great grave." His diary of May 24,
1890, says:

"The needs of Whitman College cause serious thought. My convictions
have been that my efforts in its behalf were in obedience to Divine

June 11, 1890. "During intervals of the night I was exercised in
prayer for Whitman College. I am persuaded that my prayers are
prevailing. In agony I pray for Whitman College."

October 2d. "Dreamed of Whitman College and awoke with a prayer."

His last entry in his diary was: "I could die for Whitman College."

The grand old man went to his great reward in February, 1893. Will the
Christian people of the land allow such a prayer to go unanswered?

In 1884 Mrs. N. F. Cobleigh did some very effective work in canvassing
sections of New England in behalf of the college, succeeding in
raising $8,000.

Dr. Anderson, after his efficient labors of nine years, with many
discouragements, resigned the Presidency in 1891, and the Rev. James
F. Eaton, another scholarly earnest man, assumed its duties. In the
meantime the struggling village of Walla Walla had grown into the
"Garden City," and the demands upon such an institution had increased
a hundred fold in the rapid development of the country in every
direction. The people began to see the wisdom of the founder, and cast
about for means to make the college more efficient. The Union Journal
of Walla Walla, said:

"It is our pride. It is the cap sheaf of the educational institutions
of Walla Walla, and should be the pride and boast of every good Walla
Wallan. It has a corps of exceptionally good instructors, under the
guidance of a man possessing breadth of intellect, liberal education
and an enthusiastic desire to be successful in his chosen field of
labor, with students who rank in natural ability with the best product
of any land. But it is deficient in facilities. It lacks room in which
to grow. It lacks library and apparatus, the tools of education."

President Eaton and the faculty saw this need and the necessity of a
great effort. It was under this pressure, and the united desire of the
friends of the college that the Rev. Stephen B. L. Penrose, of the
"Yale band" assumed the duties of President in 1894, and began his
plans to raise an endowment fund and place the college upon a sound
financial basis, as well as to increase its educational facilities and

It was the misfortune of these educators to enter the field for money
at a time of great financial embarrassment, such as has not been
experienced in many decades; but it was at the same time their good
fortune to enlist the aid of Dr. D. K. Pearsons of Chicago in the
grand work with a generous gift of $50,000, provided that others could
be induced to add $150,000 to it.

With such a start and with such a man as Dr. Pearsons, there will be
no such word as fail. He is a man of faith like Dr. Eells and has long
been administering upon his own estate in wise and generous gifts to
deserving institutions. With such a man to encourage other liberal
givers, the endowment will not stop at $200,000. If Whitman College is
to be the Yale and Harvard and Chicago University of the Far West, it
must meet with a generous response from liberal givers. Its name alone
ought to be worth a million in money. When the people are educated in
Whitman history, the money will come and the prayers of Dr. Eells will
be answered.

The millions of people love fair play and honest dealing and can
appreciate solid work, and they will learn to love the memory of the
modest hero, and will be glad to do him honor in so practical a
method. It will soon be half a century since Dr. Whitman and his
noble wife fell at their post of duty at Waiilatpui. Had Dr. Whitman
been a millionaire, a man of noble birth, had he been a military man
or a statesman, his praise would have been sung upon historic pages as
the praise of others has. But he was only a poor missionary doctor,
who lost his life in the vain effort to civilize and Christianize
savages, and an army of modern historians seem to have thought, as we
have shown in another chapter, that the world would sit quietly by and
see and applaud while they robbed him of his richly won honors. In
that they have over-reached themselves. The name of Dr. Marcus Whitman
will be honored and revered long after the names of his traducers have
been obliterated and forgotten.

It is a name with a history, which will grow in honor and importance
as the great States he saved to the Union will grow into the grandeur
they naturally assume. There is not a clearer page of history in all
the books than that Dr. Whitman, under the leading of Providence,
saved the States of Oregon, Washington and Idaho to the Union. There
is a possibility that by a long and destructive war we might have held
them as against the claims of England. There were just two men who
prevented that war and those two men were Drs. Whitman and McLoughlin.
The latter indirectly by his humane and civilized treatment of the
missionaries when he might have crushed them, and the former by his
unparalleled heroism in his mid-winter ride to Washington, and his
wisdom in piloting the immigrations to Oregon just the year that he

History correctly written, will truthfully say, "When Whitman fell at
Waiilatpui, one of the grandest heroes of this century went to his
great reward." The State of Washington has done well to name a great
county to perpetuate his memory; Dr. Eells did a noble act in founding
Whitman Seminary, and the time is coming and is near at hand, when the
young men and women of the country will prize a diploma inscribed with
the magic name of Whitman. Endow the college and endow it generously.
Make it worthy of the man whose love of country felt that no task was
too difficult and no danger so great as to make him hesitate.

After the endowment is full and complete, a great College Hall should
be erected from a patriotic fund, and upon the central pillar should
be inscribed: "Sacred to the memory of Dr. Marcus and Narcissa
Whitman. While lifting up the banner of the cross in one hand to
redeem and save savage souls, they thought it no wrong to carry the
flag of the country they loved in the other."

There is no such thing as dividing the honors. They are simply
Whitman honors; they lived and labored and achieved together; the
bride upon the plains and in the mission home was a heroine scarcely
second to the hero who swam icy rivers and climbed the snow-covered
mountains in 1842 and 1843, upon his patriotic mission. It is a work
that may well engage the patriotic women of America; for true
womanhood has never had a more beautiful setting than in the life of
Narcissa Whitman. At the death, by drowning, of her only child, that
she almost idolized, she bowed humbly and said: "Thy Will be done!"
And upon the day of her death, she was mother to eleven helpless
adopted children, for whose safety she prayed in her expiring moments.

What an unselfish life she led. In her diary she says, but in no
complaining mood: "Situated as we are, our house is the Missionaries'
tavern, and we must accommodate more or less all the time. We have no
less than seven families in our two houses; we are in peculiar and
somewhat trying circumstances; we cannot sell to them because we are
missionaries and not traders."

And we see by the record that there were no less than seventy souls in
the Whitman family the day of the massacre.

Emerson says: "Heroism is an obedience to a secret impulse of
individual character, and the characteristics of genuine heroism is
its persistency."

Where was it ever more strongly marked than in Dr. Whitman? We are
told that "History repeats itself." Going back upon the historic
pages, one can find the best illustration of Dr. Whitman in faithful
old Caleb. Their lives seem to run along similar lines. Both were sent
to spy out the land. Both returned and made true and faithful reports.
Both were selected for their great physical fitness, and for their
fine mental and moral worth; and both proved among the finest
specimens of unselfish manhood ever recorded. Turning to the Sacred
Record we read that a great honor was ordered for Caleb; not only that
he was permitted to enter the promised land, but it was also
understood by all, that he should have the choice of all the fair
country they were to occupy. His associates sent with him forty years
before were terribly afraid of "the giants," and now they had reached
"The land of promise," and Joshua had assembled the leaders of Israel
to assign them their places. Just notice old Caleb. Standing in view
of the meadows and fields and orchards, loaded with their rich
clusters of purple grapes, everybody expected he would select the
best, for they knew that it was both promised and he deserved it; but
Caleb, lifting up his voice so that all could hear, said:

"Lo, I am this day four score and five years old. As yet I am as
strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me; as my strength
was then, even so is my strength now for war, both to go out and to
come in. Now, therefore, give me this mountain whereof the Lord spoke
in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there,
and that the cities were great and fenced. If so be, the Lord will be
with me, then I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said."

Noble, unselfish old Caleb! And how wonderfully like him was our hero
thirty-four and a half centuries later. It mattered not that he had
saved a great country, twice as large as New York, Pennsylvania and
Illinois combined, or thirty-two times as large as Massachusetts. It
mattered not that it was accomplished through great peril and trials
and sufferings that no man can over-estimate, he never once asked a
reward. "Give me this mountain," and he went back to his mission, and
resumed his heavy burden, and let others gather the harvest, and "the
clusters of purple grapes." There he was found at his post of duty,
and met death on that fatal November the 29th, 1847.

When a generous people have made the endowment complete, and built the
grand Memorial Hall, they should build a monument at the "Great Grave"
at Waiilatpui. Americans are patriotic. They build monuments to their
men of science, to their statesmen and to their soldiers. It is right
to do so. They are grand object lessons, educating the young in
patriotism and virtue and right living. The monument at no grave in
all the land will more surely teach all these, than will that at the
neglected grave at Waiilatpui. Build the monument and tell your
children's children to go and stand uncovered in its shadow, and
receive its lessons and breathe in its inspirations of patriotism.



The beginning of a People, a State or a Nation is always an
interesting study, and when the beginning has resulted in a grand
success, the interest increases. It is seldom that in the lifetime of
the multitudes of living actors, so great a transformation can be seen
as that to-day illustrated in the Pacific States. Fifty years ago, the
immigrant, after his long journey over arid plains, after swimming
rivers and climbing three ranges of mountains, stood upon the last
slope, and beheld primeval beauty spread out before him. The millions
of acres of green meadows had never been disturbed by a furrow, and in
the great forest the sound of the woodman's ax had never been heard.

Coming by way of the great river, as it meets the incoming waves of
the Pacific, the scene is still more one of grandeur. Astoria, at that
time, had a few straggling huts, and Portland was a village, with its
streets so full of stumps as to require a good driver to get through
with safety, and was referred to as a town twelve miles below Oregon

To the writer nothing has left such an impression of wilderness and
solitude as a journey up the Willamette, forty-five years ago, in a
birch-bark canoe, paddled by two Indian guides. The wild ducks were
scarcely disturbed, and dropped to the water a hundred yards away, and
the three-pronged buck, browsing among the lily pads, stopped to look
at the unusual invasion of his domain, and went on feeding.

The population of Oregon in that year, 1850, as shown by census, was
13,294, and that included all of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, with a
part of Wyoming and Montana.

After years of importunity, Congress had given Oregon a Territorial
Government in 1849. Prior to that--from 1843 to 1849--it was an
independent American government, for the people and by the people.
Notwithstanding the neglect of Oregon by the General Government, and
its entire failure to foster or protect, the old pioneers were true
and loyal American citizens, and for six years took such care of
themselves as they were able, and performed the task so well as to
merit the best words of commendation.

  [Illustration: REV. STEPHEN B. L. PENROSE,
   President of Whitman College.]

The commerce of the country, aside from its furs, was scarcely worth
mentioning. The author, in 1851, bought what few salted salmon
there were in the market, and shipped them to San Francisco, but wise
and prudent advisers regarded it as a risky venture. He would have
been considered a wild visionary, indeed, had he even hinted of the
shipments of fish now annually made to all parts of the civilized

It was then known that the rivers were filled with fish. In the spring
of the year, the smaller streams, leading away from the Columbia, were
literally blocked with almost solid masses of fish on their way to
their spawning grounds. The bears along the Columbia, as well as the
Indians, had an unlimited supply of the finest fish in the world, with
scarcely an effort to take them. An Indian on the Willamette, at the
foot of the falls, could fill his boat in an hour with salmon weighing
from twenty to forty pounds.

In the spring of the year, when the salmon are running up the
Willamette, they begin to jump from the water a quarter of a mile
before reaching the falls. One could sit in a boat and see hundreds of
the great fish in the air constantly. Multitudes of them maimed and
killed themselves jumping against the rocks at the falls.

The Indian did not wait for "a rise" or "a bite." He had a hook with
an eye socket, and a pole ten feet or more long. The hook he fastened
to a deer thong, about two feet long, attached to the lower end of
the pole. When ready for fishing the pole was inserted into the socket
of the hook, and he felt for his fish, and by a sudden jerk caught it
in the belly. The hook was pulled from the pole, and the fish had a
play of the two feet of deer thong. But the Indian never stops to
experiment; he hauled in his prize.

The great forests and prairies were a very paradise for the hunters of
large game. Up to the date of 1842-3, of Dr. Whitman's ride, but a
single hundred Americans had settled in Oregon, and they seemed to be
almost accidental guests. The immigration in 1842 swelled the list,
and the caravan of 1843 started the tide, so that in 1850, as we have
seen, the first census showed an American population of 13,294.

In 1890, in contrast, the population of Washington was 349,390;
Oregon, 313,707; Idaho, 84,385, and five counties in Southwestern
Montana and one in Wyoming, originally Oregon territory, had a
population of 65,862, making a total of 813,404. Considering the
difficulties of reaching these distant States for many years, this
change, in less than half a century, is a wonderful transformation.
The Indians had held undisputed possession of the land for
generations, and yet, as careful a census as could be made, placed
their number at below 75,000. In 1892 the Indian Commissioner marks
the number at 21,057.

The great changes are seen in the fact that in 1838 there were but
thirteen settlements by white men in Oregon, viz.: That at Waiilatpui,
at Lapwai, at the Dalles and near Salem, and the Hudson Bay Forts at
Walla Walla, Colville, Fort Hall, Boise, Vancouver, Nisqually, Umpqua,
Okanogan and the settlement at Astoria. The old missionaries felt
thankful when letters reached them within two years after they were

Mrs. Whitman's first letter from home was two years and six months
reaching the mission. The most sure and safe route was by way of New
York or Montreal to London, around the Horn to the Sandwich Islands,
from which place a vessel sailed every year for Columbia. The wildest
visionaries at that time had not dreamed of being bound to the East by
bands of steel, as Senator McDuffie said: "The wealth of the Indies
would be insufficient to connect by steam the Columbia River to the
States of the East." Uncle Sam seems to have been taking a very sound
and peaceful nap. He did not own California, and was even desirous of
trading Oregon for the cod fisheries of Newfoundland.

The debt of gratitude the Americans owe to the men and women who
endured the privations of that early day, and educated the Nation into
the knowledge of its future glory and greatness, has not been fully
appreciated. The settlers of no other States of the frontier
encountered such severe tests of courage and loyalty. The Middle
States of the Great West, while they had their hardships and trials,
were always within reach of the strong arm of the Government, and felt
its fostering care, and had many comforts which were wholly beyond the
reach of the Oregon pioneers.

Their window glass for years and years was dressed deer skin; their
parlor chairs were square blocks of wood; their center tables were
made by driving down four sticks and sawing boards by hand for top,
the nearest saw mill being four hundred miles off. A ten-penny nail
was prized as a jewel, and until Dr. Whitman built his mill, a barrel
of flour cost him twenty-four dollars, and in those days that amount
of money was equal to a hundred in our times of to-day.

The plows were all wood, and deer thongs took the place of iron in
binding the parts together. It was ten years after they began to raise
wheat before they had any other implement than the sickle, and for
threshing, the wooden flail. It was in the year 1839 the first
printing press reached Oregon. It may be marked as among the pioneer
civilizers of this now great and prosperous Christian land.

That press has a notable history and is to-day preserved at the State
Capital of Oregon as a relic of by-gone days in printing. Long before
the civilization of Oregon had begun in 1819, the Congregational
Missionaries to the Sandwich Islands had imported this press around
the Horn from New England, and from that time up to 1839 it had served
an excellent purpose in furnishing Christian literature to the
Kanakas. But the Sandwich Islanders had grown beyond it; and being
presented with a finer outfit, the First Native Church at Honolulu
made a present of the press, ink and paper to the Missions of
Waiilatpui, Lapwai and Walker's Plains.

The whole was valued at $450 at that time. The press was located at
Lapwai, and used to print portions of Scripture and hymn books in the
Nez Perces language, which books were used in all the missions of the
American Board. Visitors to these tribes of Indians twenty-five years
after the missions had been broken up, and the Indians had been
dispersed, found copies of those books still in use and prized as
great treasures.

Another interesting event was the building of the first steamer, the
Lot Whitcomb, in the Columbia River waters. This steamer was built of
Oregon fir and spruce, and was launched December 26th, 1850, at
Milwaukee, then a rival of Portland. It was a staunch, well-equipped
vessel, one hundred and sixty feet in length; beam, twenty-four feet;
depth of hold, six feet ten inches; breadth over all, forty-two feet
seven inches; diameter of wheel, nineteen feet; length of bucket,
seven feet; dip one foot eight inches, and draft three feet two
inches. It was a staunch and elegantly-equipped little vessel; did
good service in the early days, making three round trips each week,
from Milwaukee to Astoria, touching at Portland and Vancouver, then
the only stopping places. The Whitcomb was finally sent to California,
made over, named Annie Abernethy, and was used upon the Sacramento
River as a pleasure and passenger boat.

These two beginnings, of the printer's art and the steamer, are all
the more interesting when compared with the richness and show in the
same fields to-day. The palatial ocean traveling steamers and the
power presses and papers, scarcely second to any in editorial and
news-gathering ability, best tell the wonderful advance from
comparatively nothing at that time.

The taxable property of Oregon in 1893 was $168,088,095; in Washington
it was $283,110,032; in Idaho, $34,276,000. The manufactories of
Oregon in 1893 turned out products to the value of $245,100,267, and
Washington, on fisheries alone, yielded a product valued at $915,500.
There has been a great falling off, both in Oregon and Washington, in
this source of wealth, and the eager desire to make money will cause
the annihilation of this great traffic, unless there is better legal
protection. Washington, in 1893, reported 227 saw mills and 300
shingle mills and 73 sash and door mills, and a capital invested in
the lumber trade of $25,000,000. A wonderful change since Dr. Whitman
sawed his boards by hand as late as 1840.

The acres of forest yet undisturbed in Washington are put down at
23,588,512. During President Harrison's term a wooded tract in the
Cascade Mountains, thirty-five by forty miles, including Mount
Rainier, was withdrawn from entry, and it is expected that Congress
will reserve it for a National Park. The statistics relating to wheat,
wool and fruits of all kinds fully justify the claim made by Dr.
Whitman to President Tyler and Secretary Webster--that "The United
States had better by far give all New England for the cod fisheries of
Newfoundland than to sacrifice Oregon."

Reading the statistics of wealth of the States comprising the original
territory of Oregon, their fisheries, their farm products, their
lumber, their mines, yet scarcely begun to be developed, one wonders
at the blindness and ignorance of our statesmen fifty or more years
ago, who came so near losing the whole great territory. If Secretary
Daniel Webster could have stepped into the buildings of Washington,
Oregon and Idaho that contained the wonderful exhibit at the World's
Fair, he would doubtless have lifted his thoughts with profound
gratitude that Dr. Whitman made his winter ride and saved him from
making the blunder of all the century.

If old Senator McDuffie who averred that "The wealth of the Indies
could not pay for connecting by steam the Columbia River with the
States," could now take his place in a palace car of some one of the
four great transcontinental lines, and be whirled over "the
inaccessible mountains, and the intervening desert wastes," he, too,
might be willing to give more than "A pinch of snuff" for our Pacific

The original boundaries of Oregon contained over 300,000 square miles,
which included all the country above latitude 42 degrees and west of
the Rocky Mountains. Its climate is mild and delightful, and in great
variety, owing to the natural divisions of great ranges of mountains,
and the warm ocean currents which impinge upon its shores, with a
rapid current from the hot seas of Asia. This causes about seventy per
cent of the winds to blow from the southwest, bringing the warmth of
the tropics to a land many hundreds of miles north of New York and
Boston. It is felt even at Sitka, nearly 2,000 miles further north
than Boston, where ice cannot be gathered for summer use, and whose
harbor has never yet been obstructed by ice.

  [Illustration: DR. DANIEL K. PEARSONS.]

The typical features of the climate of Western Oregon are the rains
of Winter and a protracted rainless season in Summer. In other words,
there are two distinct seasons in Oregon--wet and dry. Snows in Winter
and rains in Summer are exceptional. In Eastern Oregon the climate
more nearly approaches conditions in Eastern States. There are not the
same extremes, but there are the same features of Winter snow, and, in
places, of Summer heat. Southern Oregon is more like Eastern than
Western Oregon.

In Eastern Oregon the temperature is lower in Winter and higher in
Summer than in Western. The annual rainfall varies from seven to
twenty inches.

The Springs in Oregon are delightful; the Summers very pleasant. They
are practically rainless, and almost always without great extremes of

Fall rains usually begin in October. It is a noteworthy feature of
Oregon Summers, that nights are always cool and refreshing.

The common valley soil of the State is a rich loam, with a subsoil of
clay. Along the streams it is alluvial. The "beaverdam lands" of this
class are wonderfully fertile. This soil is made through the work of
the beavers who dammed up streams and created lakes. When the water
was drained away, the detritus covered the ground. The soil of the
uplands is less fertile than that of the bottoms and valleys, and is a
red, brown and black loam. It produces an excellent quality of
natural grass, and under careful cultivation, produces good crops of
grain, fruits and vegetables. East of the Cascade Mountains the soil
is a dark loam of great depth, composed of alluvial deposits and
decomposed lava, overlying a clay subsoil. The constituents of this
soil adapt the land peculiarly to the production of wheat.

All the mineral salts which are necessary to the perfect development
of this cereal are abundant, reproducing themselves constantly as the
gradual processes of decomposition in this soil of volcanic origin
proceeds. The clods are easily broken by the plow, and the ground
quickly crumbles on exposure to the atmosphere.

In Northwestern Oregon, adjacent to the Columbia River, although the
dry season continues for months, this light porous land retains and
absorbs enough moisture from the atmosphere, after the particles have
been partly disintegrated, to insure perfect development and full

In Southeastern Oregon, especially in the vast areas of fertile lands
in Malheur and Snake River Valleys, the soils are much like those of
the Northeastern Oregon region, but there is less moisture. Except in
a very small portion of this region, irrigation is necessary to
successful agriculture. The water supply is abundant and easily

We have made no attempt to write a complete history of this great
section or its wealth, but only to outline such facts as will make
more impressive the value to the whole people of the distinguished
services of the pioneers who saved this garden spot of the world to
the people of the United States. "The Flag of Beauty and Glory" waves
over no fairer land, or over no more intelligent, prosperous and happy
people. All this too has been reached within the memory of multitudes
of living actors; in fact it can be said the glow of youth is yet upon
the brow of the young States.

The lover of romance in reality will scarcely repress a sigh of
regret, that with Oregon and Washington, the western limit of
pioneering has been reached, after the strides of six thousand years.

The circuit of the globe has been completed and the curtain dropped
upon the farther shores of Oregon and Washington, with a history as
profoundly interesting and dramatic as that written on any section of
the world. "The Stars and Stripes" now wave from ocean to ocean, and
from the Great Lakes to the Gulf. It is a nation of grand
possibilities, whose history would have been marred for all time to
come, had any foreign power, however good or great, held possession of
the Pacific States. With China open to the world's commerce; with the
young giant Japan inciting all the Far East to a new life and energy,
the Pacific States of the Republic stand in the very gateway of the
world's footsteps, and commerce and wealth. Only when measured in and
by the light of such facts, can we fully estimate the value to the
whole people of the Nation of the midwinter ride of our hero, and to
the brave pioneers of Oregon.



Nothing better shows the rapid advance of civilization in this
country, than the fact that multitudes of the actors of those eventful
years of pioneer life in Oregon and California yet live to see and
enjoy the wonderful transformation. In fact, the pioneer, most of all
others, can, in its greatest fullness, take in and grasp the luxuries
of modern life.

Taking his section in a palace car in luxurious ease, he travels in
six days over the same road which he wearily traveled, forty-five and
fifty years ago, in from one hundred and fifty to one hundred and
ninety days. The fact is not without interest to him that for more
than a thousand miles of the way on the great central routes, he can
throw a stone from the car window into his old camping grounds.

The old plainsmen were not bad surveyors. They may not have been
advanced in trigonometry or logarithms, but they had keen eyes and
ripe practical judgment, which enabled them to master the situation.
The trails marked and traveled by the old missionaries, nine times in
every ten, proved the best. Many a time did I, and others, by taking
what seemed to be inviting "cutoffs," find out to our sorrow that the
old trailers of ten years before us had been wiser.

I make this a chapter of personal experience, not for any personal
gratification, but because of the desire to make it real and true in
every particular, and because the data and incidents of travel of the
old missionaries are meager and incomplete.

The experiences in 1836, 1843 and 1850, were much the same, save and
except that in 1850 the way was more plainly marked than in 1836,
which then was nothing more than an Indian trail, and even that often
misleading. Besides that, the pioneer corps had made passable many
danger points, and had even left ferries over the most dangerous

From 1846 to 1856 were ten years of great activity upon the frontier.
The starting points for the journey across the plains were many and
scattered, from where Kansas City now stands to Fort Leavenworth.

The time of which I write was 1850. Our little company of seven chosen
friends, all young and inexperienced in any form of wild life,
resolved upon the journey, and began preparations in 1849 and were
ready in March, 1850, to take a steamer at Cincinnati for Fort
Leavenworth. We had consulted every authority within reach as to our
outfit, both for our safety and comfort, and few voyagers ever started
upon the long journey who had nearer the essential things, and so few
that proved useless.

In one thing we violated the recommendations of all experienced
plainsmen, and that was in the purchase of stock. We were advised to
buy only mustangs and Mexican mules, but chose to buy in Ohio the
largest and finest mules we could find. Our wagons were selected with
great care as to every piece of timber and steel in their make-up, and
every leather and buckle in the harness was scrutinized.

Instead of a trunk, each carried clothes and valuables in a two-bushel
rubber bag, which could be made water-tight or air-tight, if required.
Extra shoes were fitted to the feet of each mule and riding horse and
one of the number proved to be an expert shoer. The supply of
provisions was made a careful study, and we did not have the
uncomfortable experience of Dr. and Mrs. Whitman, and run out of flour
before the journey was half over.

There is nothing that develops the manhood of a man, or the lack of
it, more quickly than life on the plains. There is many a man
surrounded by the sustaining influence of the home and of refined
society, who seems very much of a man; and yet when these influences
are removed, he wilts and dwarfs. I have seen men who had been
religious leaders and exemplary in their lives, come from under all
such restraints, and, within two months, "swear like troopers."

Our little company was fortunate in being made up of a manly set of
young men, who resolved to stand by each other and each do his part.
We soon joined the Mt. Sterling Mining Company, led by Major Fellows
and Dr. C. P. Schlater, from Mt. Sterling, Ills. They were an
excellent set of men and our company was then large enough for
protection from any danger in the Indian country, and we kept together
without a jar of any kind.

In the year 1850, the Spring upon the frontier was backward. The
grass, a necessity for the campaigner upon the plains, was too slow
for us, so we bought an old Government wagon, in addition to our
regular wagons, filled it with corn, and upon May 1st, struck out
through Kansas. It was then unsettled by white people.

On the 5th day of May, we woke up to find the earth enveloped in five
inches of snow, and matters looked discouraging, but the sun soon
shone out and the snow disappeared and we began to enter into the
spirit and enjoyment of the wild life before us.


The Indians were plentiful and visited us frequently, but they were
all friendly that year with the whites throughout the border. A war
party of the Cheyenne Indians visited us on their way to fight their
enemy, the Pawnees. They were, physically, the finest body of men I
ever saw. We treated them hospitably and they would have given up
their fight and gone with us on a grand buffalo hunt, had we
consented. The chief would hardly take no for an answer.

One of the great comforts of the plains traveling in those days, was
order and system. Each man knew his duty each day and each night. One
day a man would drive; another he would cook; another he would ride on
horseback. When we reached the more dangerous Indian country, our camp
was arranged for defense in case of an attack, but we always left our
mules picketed out to grass all night, and never left them without a

About the most trying labor of that journey was picket duty over the
mules at night, especially when the grass was a long distance from the
camp, as it sometimes was. After a long day's travel it was a
lonesome, tiresome task to keep up all night, or even half of it. The
animals were tethered with a rope eighteen feet long buckled to the
fore leg, and the other end attached to an iron pin twelve to eighteen
inches long, securely driven into the ground. As the animals fed they
were moved so as to keep them upon the best pasture. In spite of the
best care they would occasionally cross and the mischief would be to
pay, unless promptly relieved.

Our greatest fear was from the danger of a stampede, either from
Indians or from wild animals. The Indian regards it as a great
accomplishment to steal a horse from a white man. One day a
well-dressed and very polite Indian came into camp where we were
laying by for a rest. He could talk broken English and mapped out the
country in the sand over the route we were to travel--told us all
about good water and plenty of grass. He informed us that for some
days we would go through the good Indian's country, but then we came
to the mountains; and then he began to paw the air with his arms and
snap an imaginary whip and shout, "Gee Buck--wo haw, damn ye!" Then
says our good Indian, "Look out for hoss thieves." Then he got down in
the grass and showed us how the Indian would wiggle along in the grass
until he found the picket pin and lead his horse out so slowly that
the guard would not notice the change, until he was outside the line,
when he would mount and ride away.

That very night two of the best horses of the Mt. Sterling Mining
Company were stolen in just that way, and to make the act more
grievous, they were picketed so near to the tents as to seem to the
guards to be perfectly safe. We may have misjudged our "good Indian"
who came into camp, but we have always believed that he was there to
see whether there were any horses worth stealing, and then did the
stealing himself.

We can bear testimony also, that he was a good geographer. His map
made in the sand and transferred to paper was perfect, and when we
came to the mountains, his "Gee Buck, wo haw, damn ye!" was heard all
up and down that mountain. The Indian had evidently been there and
knew what he was saying. They gave us but little trouble except to
watch our live stock, as the Indian never takes equal chances. He
wants always three chances to one, in his favor. To show you are
afraid, is to lose the contest with an Indian. I have many times, by
showing a brave front, saved my scalp.

Upon one occasion when I had several loose mules leading, I allowed
myself unthinkingly to lag for two miles behind the company through a
dangerous district. I was hurrying to amend the wrong by a fast trot,
when upon a turn in the road a vicious-looking Indian, with his bow
half bent and an arrow on the string, stepped from behind a sage bush
to the middle of the road and signaled me to stop when twenty feet

I was unarmed and made up my mind at once to show no fear. Upon coming
within six or eight feet of him, I drove the spurs into my horse and
gave such a yell that the Indian had all he could do to dodge my
horse's feet. He was evidently astonished and thought, from the
boldness of the move, that I had others near by. My horse and mules
went on a dead run and I expected, as I leaned forward, every moment
to feel his arrow.

I glanced back when fifty yards away and he was anxiously looking back
to see who else was coming and I was out of his reach before he had
made up his mind. I was never worse frightened.

Upon another occasion I bluffed an Indian just as effectively. With
two companions I went to a Sioux village to buy a pair of moccasins.
They were at peace and we felt no danger. Most of the men were absent
from the village, leaving only a small guard. I got separated from my
companions, but found an Indian making moccasins, and I stood in the
door and pointed to a new pair about the size I wanted, that hung on
the ridge pole, and showed him a pair of handsome suspenders that I
would give him for them. He assented by a nod and a grunt, came to the
door, took the suspenders and hung them up, deliberately sat down on
the floor and took off a dirty old pair he was wearing and threw them
to me. I immediately threw them back, and stepping into the tepee,
caught hold of the moccasins I had bought, but by a quick motion he
snatched them from me.

I then caught hold of the suspenders and bounded out of the door.
When fifty feet away I looked back and he had just emerged from his
tepee and began loading his rifle. I had emptied both barrels of my
shotgun at a plover just before reaching the village and my gun was
fortunately unloaded. It gave us equal chances: I stopped still, threw
my gun from the strap and began loading. In those days I was something
of an expert and before the Indian withdrew his ramrod, I was putting
caps on both barrels and he bounded inside his wigwam, and I lost no
time in putting a tepee between us, and finding my friends, when we
hastily took leave.

Our company took great comfort and pride in our big American mules,
trained in civilized Ohio. A pair of the largest, the wheelers in the
six-mule team, were as good as setter dogs at night. They neither
liked Indians, wolves nor grizzlies; and their scent was so keen they
could smell their enemies two hundred yards away, unless the wind was
too strong.

When on guard, and in a lonesome, dangerous place, we generally kept
close to our long-eared friends, and when they stopped eating and
raised their heads and pointed those ponderous ears in any direction,
we would drop in the grass and hold ourselves ready for any emergency.
They would never resume their feeding until assured that the danger
had passed.

And then what faithful fellows to pull! At a word they would plant
their feet on a mountain side and never allow the wagon to give back a
single foot, no matter how precipitous; and again at the word, they
would pull with the precision of a machine.

The off-leader, "Manda," was the handsomest mule ever harnessed. As
everybody remarked, "She was as beautiful as a picture." She would
pull and stand and hold the wagon as obedient to command as an animal
could be, but she was by nature wild and vicious. She was the worst
kicker I ever saw. She allowed herself to be shod, seeming to
understand that this was a necessity. But no man ever succeeded in
riding her. She beat the trick mules in any circus in jumping and

One night we had a stampede, and one of the flying picket pins struck
the mule between the bones of the hind leg, cutting a deep gash, four
inches or more long; the swelling of the limb causing the wound to
gape open fully two inches. She did not attempt to bear her weight
upon the limb, barely touching it to the ground. The flies were very
bad, and knowing the animal, and while prizing her so highly, we were
all convinced that we must leave her. The train pulled out. It was my
duty that morning to bring on the loose stock, and see that nothing of
value was overlooked in camp. I was ready to leave, when I went up to
the mule that had come with us all the way from home, nearly three
thousand miles, and had been a faithful servant, and began petting
her, expressing my pity and sorrow that we had to leave her here for
the Indians and the wolves. As I rubbed her head and talked to her,
the poor dumb brute seemed to understand every word said.

Never before in all the long journey had the famous six-mule team gone
without Manda prancing as off leader. She rubbed me with her nose and
laid it upon my shoulder, and seemed to beg as eloquently as a dumb
beast can, "Don't leave me behind." With it all, there was a kindly
look in her eye, I never before had seen. I stood stroking her head
for some time, then I patted her neck and walked a little back, but
constantly on guard. It was then the animal turned her head and looked
at me, and at the same time held up the wounded leg. My friend Moore,
who had staid back to assist, was a little distance off, and I called

As he came up, I said to him: "This mule has had a change of heart."
He put a bridle upon her so that he could hold up her head, and
rubbing her side, I finally ventured to take hold of the wounded leg.
I rubbed it and fondled it without her showing any symptom of

I got out instruments, sewed the wound up, and sewed bandages tight
about the leg, made a capital dressing and we started, leading Manda.
She soon began to bear weight upon the wounded limb, and had no
difficulty in keeping up with the train. When the bandages would get
misplaced, one could get down in the road with no one to assist, and
adjust them. We took Manda all the way, and no handsomer animal ever
journeyed across the plains. She was never known to kick afterward.

People call it "instinct in animals," but the more men know and study
dumb life, the more they are impressed with their reasoning
intelligence. Dr. Whitman's mule, finding camp in the blinding snow
storm on the mountains, when the shrewd guide was hopelessly lost; my
old horse leading me and my friend in safety through the Mississippi
River back water in the great forest of Arkansas, as well as this,
which I have told without an embellishment, all teach impressively the
duty of kindness that we owe to our dumb friends.

In Mrs. Whitman's diary we frequently find allusion to her faithful
pony, and her sympathy with him when the grass is scarce and the work
hard, is but an evidence of true nobility in the woman. In a long
journey like the one made from Ohio to the Pacific Coast, it is
wonderful what an affection grows up between man and his dumb helpers.
And there is no mistaking the fact that animals appreciate and
reciprocate such kindness. Even our dog was no exception.

As I have started in to introduce my dumb associates, it would be a
mistake, especially for my boy readers, to omit Rover. He was a young
dog when we started, but he was a dog of thorough education and large
experience before he reached the end of his journey. He was no dog
with a long pedigree of illustrious ancestors, but was a mixed St.
Bernard and Newfoundland, and grew up large, stately and dignified. He
was petted, but never spoiled. When he was tired and wanted to ride,
he knew how to tell the fact and was never told that he was nothing
but a dog.

He was no shirk as a walker, but the hot saleratus dust and sand wore
out his feet. We took the fresh skin of an antelope and made boots for
him, but when no one was looking at him he would gnaw them off. When
the company separated after reaching the coast, Rover, by unanimous
consent, went with his favorite master, J. S. Niswander, now a
gray-haired, honored citizen of Gilroy, Cal. A few years ago I visited
Niswander and Dr. J. Doan, who, with myself, are the only living
survivors of our company, and he gave me the history of Rover after I
left for Oregon.

Niswander was a famous grizzly bear hunter, and with Rover as a
companion, he made journeys prospecting for gold, and hunting, long
distances from civilization. When night came the pack mule was
picketed near by and a big fire built, with plenty of wood to keep it
replenished during the night. Rover laid himself against his master's
feet, and in case of danger he would always waken him with a low growl
close to his ear, and when this was done, he would lope off in the
dark and find out what it was, while Niswander held his gun and
revolver ready for use. If the dog came back and lay down he knew at
once it was a false alarm and dropped to sleep in perfect security.

At one time he brought among his provisions a small firkin of butter,
a great luxury at that time. He took the firkin and set it in the
shade of a great red-wood, tumbled off the rest of his goods, picketed
his mule, and went off prospecting for gold, telling Rover to take
care of the things until he returned. He was gone all day and returned
late in the evening, and looking around could not see his firkin of
butter. He told me he turned to the old dog and said: "Rover, I never
knew you to do such a trick before and I am ashamed of you." The old
fellow only hung his head upon being scolded. But soon after Mr. N.
noticed a suspicious pile of leaves about the roots of the tree, and
when he had turned them aside he found his firkin of butter untouched.

The high wind which had arisen had blown the paper cover from the
butter and the dog knew it ought to be covered, and with his feet and
nose had gathered the leaves for more than a rod around and covered
it up.

The Indians finally poisoned the old dog for the purpose of robbing
his master. Said he: "When Rover died I shed more tears than I had
shed for years."

While reading, as I have, Mrs. Whitman's daily diary of her journey in
1836, I am most astonished at the lack of all complaints and
murmurings. I know so well the perils and discomforts she met on the
way and see her every day, cheerful and smiling and happy, and filled
with thankfulness for blessings received, that she seems for the very
absence of any repining, to be a woman of the most exalted character.

I have traveled for days and weeks through saleratus dust that made
lips, face and eyes tormentingly sore, while the throat and air tubes
seemed to be raw. She barely mentions them. I have camped many a time,
as she doubtless did, where the water was poisonous with alkali, and
unfit for man or beast. I have been stung by buffalo flies until the
sting of a Jersey mosquito would be a positive luxury. She barely
mentions the pests. She does once mildly say: "The mosquitoes were so
thick that we could hardly breathe," and that "the fleas covered all
our garments" and made life a burden until she could get clear of

Then there were snakes. As far as I know she never once complained of
snakes. This makes it all the more necessary in giving a true picture
of pioneering upon the plains, to give a real experience. There is
nothing more hateful than a snake. We were introduced to the prairie
rattler very early in the journey and some had sport over it. We all
wore high, rattlesnake boots; they were heavy and hard on the feet
that had been accustomed to softer covering.

One of our gallant boys had received a present of a pair of beautiful
embroidered slippers from a loved friend, and after supper he threw
off those high snake boots and put on his slippers. Just then he was
reminded that it was his duty that night to assist in picketing the
mules in fresh pasture. He got hold of two lariats and started off
singing "The Girl I Left Behind Me." About one hundred and fifty yards
off he heard that ominous rattle near by and he dropped those lariats
and came into camp at a speed that elicited cheers from the entire

Early in the journey an old Indian told me how to keep the snakes from
our beds, and that was to get a lariat made from the hair of a
buffalo's neck and lay it entirely around the bed. I got the lariat
and seldom went to sleep without being inside of its coil. It is a
fact that a snake will not willingly crawl over such a rope. The
sharp prickly bristles are either uncomfortable to them, or they
expect there is danger.

One night of horrors never to be forgotten was when I did not have my
Indian lariat. Who of my readers ever had a rattlesnake attempt to
make a nest in his hair? The story may hardly be worth telling, but I
will relate it just as it occurred.

We had camped on the St. Mary's River and had gone four miles off the
road to find good grazing for our animals. Supper was over, our bugler
had sounded his last note, and we were preparing for bed when a man
came in from a camp a mile off and reported that they had found a man
on a small island, who was very sick and they wanted a doctor.

Dr. Schlater, of the Mt. Sterling Mining Company, at once got ready
and went with him. Dr. Schlater was one of the grand specimens of
manhood. He worked with the sick man all night and at daylight came
down and asked me to go up with him. While we were bathing him the
company of Michigan packers, who had found the stranger, moved off,
and left us alone with the sick man, who was delirious and could give
no account of himself.

We found from papers in his pockets that his name was West Williams of
Bloomington, Iowa, and he carried a card from the I. O. O. F. of that
place. We made him as comfortable as possible and went back to our
camp and reported his condition. We found the company all ready to
move out, only waiting for us. The man was too sick to travel and it
would not do to let him remain there alone, and it was decided that
Dr. S. and I should remain with him and try and find his friends or
hire some person to take care of him, and then, by forced marches, we
could follow on and catch the company.

We raised a purse of one hundred dollars and with such medicines as we
needed and other supplies, also kept back a light spring wagon, and
brought the sick man to our camp. I suggested to the Doctor that he
ride over to the road and put up some written notices, giving the
man's name, etc. He wrote out several and posted them on the trees
where they would attract attention from passers. While he was doing
this, a man with an ox-team came along and proved to be an old friend
of the sick man right from the same locality. His name was Van S.
Israel. He at once came with the Doctor and took charge of Williams,
greatly to our relief.

While the Doctor was upon the road he was called to prescribe for
another sick man by the name of Mahan, from Missouri. Learning where
we were located, the Mahans moved down to our camp. The sick man was
accompanied by his brother, and they had a splendid outfit. We
concluded to give the entire day to the sick men and ride across the
small desert just ahead during the night. A tent was erected for
Mahan, and he walked in and laid down.

An hour or so later I went to the tent door and looking in saw the man
lying dead. I spoke to his brother, who went into the tent convulsed
with grief. I had scarcely reached my tent before I heard a piercing
scream and rushed back, and upon opening the tent flap was horrified
to behold the largest rattlesnake I had ever seen, coiled on the
opposite side of the dead body and the living brother crowding as far
away as possible on the other side to be out of his reach.

As soon as I appeared the snake uncoiled and slipped under the edge of
the tent. I caught up a green cottonwood stick and ran around and he
at once coiled for a fight. I let him strike the stick. After striking
each time he would try to retreat, but a gentle tap with the stick
would arouse his anger and he would coil and strike again. At first a
full drop of the yellow fluid appeared upon the stick. This gradually
diminished, and with it the courage of the reptile, which seemed to
lose all fighting propensity. I then killed him.

Just before sunset we were ready to leave our sad associates, and we
rode down to the river to give our mules a drink. The St. Mary's is a
deep stream running through a level stretch with no banks. The mules
had often been caved into the deep water and learned to get down on
their knees to drink. For fear of an accident I got off and allowed my
mule to kneel and drink. As he got upon his feet I swung into the
saddle and started on. I had scarcely got firmly seated when, right
under the mule, a rattler sang out. My double-barrel gun was hanging
from my shoulder, muzzle down. As quick as a flash I slipped my arm
through the strap, cocked the gun at the same time, and the mule
shying, brought his snakeship in range, and just as he was in the act
of striking, I shot him dead. The only good thing about the rattler is
that he always gives the alarm before striking.

  [Illustration: A. J. ANDERSON, Ph.D.,
   First President of Whitman College.]

  [Illustration: REV. JAMES F. EATON, D.D.,
   Second President of Whitman College.]

It was about three o'clock in the morning when we got through the
desert and reached a cluster of trees, and resolved to stop and take a
little sleep, and give our mules the feed of grass we had tied behind
our saddles. We found a fallen tree and tied our animals to the boughs
and fed them. A small company of packers were there asleep with their
heads toward the fallen tree. We passed them to near the butt of the
tree, threw aside some rotten chunks, spread a blanket, and each
rolled up in another, lay down to rest. My snake-lariat was with the
wagon, but I was too tired to think much of it. The Doctor being up
all the night before, was asleep in two minutes. I was dozing off,
with rattlesnakes and all the horrors of the past day running
through my mind, when I was suddenly awakened by something pulling and
working in my long, bushy hair. Barbers were not plentiful on the
plains, and, besides, the plainsmen wear long hair as a protection. I
suppose it was only a few minutes of suspense, and yet it seemed an
hour, before I became wide awake, and reached at once the conclusion
that I had poked my head near the log where his snakeship was
sleeping, and the evening being cool, he was trying to secure warmer
quarters. I knew it would not do to move my head. I quietly slipped my
right arm from the blanket, and slowly moved my hand within six inches
of my head. I felt the raking of a harder material, which seemed like
a fang scraping the scalp. This made me almost frantic. Suddenly I
grasped the offender by the head, jerking hair and all, and, jumping
to my feet, yelled, so that every packer bounced to his feet, and
seized his gun, thinking we were attacked by Indians. This is a
round-about way to tell a snake story, but all the facts had to be
recited to reveal the real conditions.

It was forty-five years ago, and the sensations of the time are vivid
to this day; and it doesn't even matter that the offender was not a
rattler, but only an honest, little, cold-footed tree-toad, trying to
get warmed up. But he frightened me as badly as the biggest rattler on
the St. Mary's could, and I helped him to make a hop that beat the
record of Mark Twain's jumping-frog in his best days.

But life on the plains was not a continued succession of discomforts.
The dyspeptic could well afford to make such a journey to gain the
appetite and the good digestion. The absence of annoying insect life
during the night, and the pure, invigorating air, makes sleep
refreshing and health-giving. For a month at a time we have lain down
to sleep, looking up at the stars, without the fear of catching cold,
or feeling a drop of dew. There are long dreary reaches of plains to
pass that are wearisome to the eye and the body, but the mountain
scenery is nowhere more picturesquely beautiful.

At that time the sportsman could have a surfeit in all kinds of game,
by branching off from the lines of travel and taking the chances of
losing his scalp. Herds of antelope were seen every day feeding in the
valleys, while farther away there were buffalo by the hundred
thousand. The great butchery of these noble animals had then but
fairly begun. To-day, there still live but three small herds. Our
company did not call it sport to kill buffalo for amusement. It was
not sport, but butchery. A man could ride up by the side of his victim
and kill him with a pistol.

It was among our rules to allow no team animal to be used in the
chase. But I forgot myself once and violated the rule. We were resting
that day in camp. In the distance I saw two hunters after a huge
buffalo bull, coming toward our camp. I saw by the direction that one
could ride around the spur of a high hill about a mile distant and
intercept him. We had as a saddle horse of one team an old clay-bank,
which was one of the most solemn horses I have ever seen. His beauty
was in his great strength and his long mane and tail. But he carried
his head on a straight level with his back and never was known to put
on any airs. He stood picketed handy, and seizing a bridle and my gun
I mounted without a saddle and urged the old horse into a lope.

As I turned the spur of the hill, the bull came meeting me fifty yards
away. He was a monster; his tongue protruded, and he was frothing at
the mouth from his long run. He showed no signs of turning from his
road because of my appearance. Just then, when not more than thirty
yards away, my old horse saw him and turned so quickly as to nearly
unseat me. He threw up his head until that great mane of his enveloped
me; and he broke for the camp at a gait no one ever dreamed he
possessed. I did no shooting, but I did the fastest riding I ever
indulged in before or since. It is a fact, that a mad buffalo,
plunging toward you is only pleasant when you can get out of his way.

The slaughter and annihilation of the buffalo is the most atrocious
act ever classed under the head of sport. A few years ago, while
traveling over the Great Northern Railway, I saw at different stations
ricks of bones from a quarter to a third of a mile long, piled up as
high as the tops of the cars, awaiting shipment. I asked one of the
experienced and reliable railway officials of the traffic, and he
informed me that "Not less than 26,000 car loads of buffalo bones had
been shipped over the Great Northern Railroad to the bone factories;
and not one in a thousand of the remains had ever been touched." The
weight of a full-sized buffalo's bones is about sixty pounds. The
traffic is still enormous along these northern lines. If the Indian
had any sentiment it would likely be called out as he wanders over the
plains and gathers up the dry bones of these well-nigh extinct wild
herds, that fed and clothed his tribe through so many generations.

I have seen beautiful horses, but never saw any half so handsome as
the wild horses upon the plains. The tame horse, however well groomed,
is despoiled of his grandeur. He compares with his wild brother as the
plebeian compares with royalty. I saw a beautiful race between two
Greasers who were chasing a herd of wild horses. They were running
parallel with the road I was traveling, and I spurred up and ran by
their side some four hundred yards distant, and had a chance to study
them for many miles.

I afterward saw a handsome stallion that had just been caught. He was
tied and in a corral, but if one approached he would jump at him and
strike and kick as savagely as possible. His back showed saddle marks,
which proved that he had not always been the wild savage he had then
become. The mountains and hills where the wild horses were then most
numerous were covered with wild oats, which gave the country the
appearance of large cultivation.

Among the interesting facts which the traveler on the great plains
learns, and often to his discomfort, is the deception as to distance.
He sees something of interest and resolves "it is but two miles away,"
but the chances are that it will prove to be eight or ten miles. The
country is made up of great waves. Looking off you see the top of a
wave, and when you get there a valley that you did not see, stretches
away for miles.

We always tried to treat our Indian guests courteously, but they were
often voted a nuisance. While cooking our supper they would often form
a circle, twenty or thirty of them sitting on the ground, and they
looked so longingly at the bread and ham and coffee, that it almost
took one's appetite away. We could only afford to give the squaws what
was left. To fill up such a crowd would have soon ended our stock of

One of the things that made an Indian grunt, and even laugh, was to
see our cook baking pancakes in a long-handled frying pan. To turn the
cake over he tossed it in the air and caught it as it came down. A
cook on the plains that could not do that was not up in his business.

Except upon the mountains and rocky canyons, the roads were as good as
a turnpike; but some of the climbs and descents were fearful, while an
occasional canyon, miles long, looked wholly impassable without
breaking the legs of half the animals and smashing the wagons.

The old plainsmen had a way of setting tires upon a loose wheel that
was novel. Our tires became very loose from the long dry reaches. We
took off the tire, tacked a slip of fresh hide entirely around the
rim, heated the tire, dropped it on the wheel and quickly chucked it
into the water and had wheels as good as new.

Our company was three nights and two days and nearly a half in
crossing the widest desert. It was a beautiful firm road until we
struck deep sand, which extended out for eleven miles from Carson
River into the desert. Before starting we emptied our rubber clothes
sacks, filled them with water, hauled hay, which we had cured, to feed
our mules, and made the trip as pleasantly as if upon green sod. The
lack of water on this wide desert had left many thousand bones of dead
animals bleaching upon its wastes. Many wells had been dug in various
places and we tested the water in them and found it intensely salt.
The entire space is evidently the bed of a salt sea.

In the long reaches where no trees of any kind grow, the entire
dependence of the early pioneer for fire was upon buffalo chips, the
animal charcoal of the plains. It makes a good fire and is in no way
offensive. And if no iron horse had invaded the plains, buffalo chips
would be selling all along the route to-day at forty dollars per ton.

One of the pleasant historical events in which our company naturally
takes a pride is, that one night we camped upon a little mountain
stream near where the city of Denver now stands; the whole land as
wild as nature made it. Many years afterward one of the little band,
Frank Denver, was elected Lieutenant-Governor of Colorado, and Gen. J.
W. Denver was among the most prominent politicians of the coast, and
the city of Denver was named in honor of them. I have thus, as
concisely as I could, sketched life as it was in a wagon journey
across the plains forty-five and fifty years ago. It was a memorable
experience, and none who took it will fail to have of it a vivid
remembrance as long as life lasts. If its annoyances were many, its
novelties and pleasing remembrances were so numerous as to make it the
notable journey of even the most adventurous life.



                                           Oregon City, Feb. 14, 1876.

Dr. Atkinson--Dear Sir: In compliance with your request, I will
endeavor to give you some idea of the journey of the late Dr. Marcus
Whitman from Oregon to Washington, in the winter of 1842 and '43.
True, I was the Doctor's traveling companion in that arduous and
trying journey, but it would take volumes to describe the many
thrilling scenes and dangerous hair-breadth escapes we passed through,
traveling, as we did, almost the entire route through a hostile Indian
country, and enduring much suffering from the intense cold and snow we
had to encounter in passing over the Rocky Mountains in midwinter. I
crossed the plains in company with Dr. White and others, and arrived
at Waiilatpui the last of September, 1842. My party camped some two
miles below Dr. Whitman's place. The day after our arrival Dr. Whitman
called at our camp and asked me to accompany him to his house, as he
wished me to draw up a memorial to Congress to prohibit the sale of
ardent spirits in this country. The Doctor was alive to the interests
of this coast, and manifested a very warm desire to have it properly
represented at Washington; and after numerous conversations with the
Doctor touching the future prosperity of Oregon, he asked me one day
in a very anxious manner, if I thought it would be possible for him to
cross the mountains at that time of the year. I told him I thought he
could. He next asked: "Will you accompany me?" After a little
reflection, I told him I would. His arrangements were rapidly made.
Through the kindness of Mr. McKinly, then stationed at Fort Walla
Walla, Mrs. Whitman was provided with suitable escorts to the
Willamette Valley, where she was to remain with her missionary friends
until the Doctor's return. We left Waiilatpui, October 3, 1842,
traveled rapidly, reached Fort Hall in eleven days, remained two days
to recruit and make a few purchases. The Doctor engaged a guide and we
left for Fort Uintah. We changed from a direct route to one more
southern, through the Spanish country via Salt Lake, Taos and Santa
Fe. On our way from Fort Hall to Fort Uintah, we had terribly severe
weather. The snows retarded our progress and blinded the trail so we
lost much time. After arriving at Fort Uintah and making some
purchases for our trip, we took a new guide and started for Fort
Uncompahgra, situated on the waters of Grand River, in the Spanish
country. Here our stay was very short.

We took a new guide and started for Taos. After being out some four or
five days we encountered a terrible snow storm, which forced us to
seek shelter in a deep ravine, where we remained snowed in for four
days, at which time the storm had somewhat abated, and we attempted to
make our way out upon the high lands, but the snow was so deep and the
winds so piercing and cold we were compelled to return to camp and
wait a few days for a change of weather.

Our next effort to reach the high lands was more successful; but after
spending several days wandering around in the snow without making much
headway, our guide told us that the deep snow had so changed the face
of the country that he was completely lost and could take us no
farther. This was a terrible blow to the Doctor, but he was determined
not to give it up without another effort. We at once agreed that the
Doctor should take the guide and return to Fort Uncompahgra and get a
new guide, and I remain in camp with the animals until he could
return; which he did in seven days with our new guide, and we were now
on our route again. Nothing of much importance occurred but hard and
slow traveling through deep snow until we reached Grand River, which
was frozen on either side about one-third across. Although so
intensely cold, the current was so very rapid, about one-third of the
river in the center was not frozen. Our guide thought it would be
dangerous to attempt to cross the river in its present condition, but
the Doctor, nothing daunted, was the first to take the water. He
mounted his horse and the guide and myself shoved the Doctor and his
horse off the ice into the foaming stream. Away he went completely
under water, horse and all, but directly came up, and after buffeting
the rapid, foaming current he reached the ice on the opposite shore a
long way down the stream. He leaped from his horse upon the ice and
soon had his noble animal by his side. The guide and myself forced in
the pack animals and followed the Doctor's example, and were soon on
the opposite shore drying our frozen clothes by a comfortable fire. We
reached Taos in about thirty days, suffering greatly from cold and
scarcity of provisions. We were compelled to use mule meat, dogs and
such other animals as came in our reach. We remained at Taos a few
days only, and started for Bent's and Savery's Fort, on the headwaters
of the Arkansas River. When we had been out some fifteen or twenty
days, we met George Bent, a brother of Gov. Bent, on his way to Taos.
He told us that a party of mountain men would leave Bent's Fort in a
few days for St. Louis, but said we would not reach the fort with our
pack animals in time to join the party. The Doctor being very anxious
to join the party so he could push on as rapidly as possible to
Washington, concluded to leave myself and guide with the animals, and
he himself, taking the best animal, with some bedding and a small
allowance of provision, started alone, hoping by rapid travel to reach
the fort in time to join the St. Louis party, but to do so he would
have to travel on the Sabbath, something we had not done before.
Myself and guide traveled on slowly and reached the fort in four days,
but imagine our astonishment, when on making inquiry about the Doctor,
we were told that he had not arrived nor had he been heard of.

I learned that the party for St. Louis was camped at the Big
Cottonwood, forty miles from the fort, and at my request, Mr. Savery
sent an express telling the party not to proceed any further until we
learned something of Dr. Whitman's whereabouts, as he wished to
accompany them to St. Louis. Being furnished by the gentlemen of the
fort with a suitable guide, I started in search of the Doctor, and
traveled up the river about one hundred miles. I learned from the
Indians that a man had been there, who was lost, and was trying to
find Bent's Fort. They said they had directed him to go down the
river, and how to find the fort. I knew from their description it was
the Doctor. I returned to the fort as rapidly as possible, but the
Doctor had not arrived. We had all become very anxious about him.

Late in the afternoon he came in very much fatigued and desponding;
said that he knew that God had bewildered him to punish him for
traveling on the Sabbath. During the whole trip he was very regular in
his morning and evening devotions, and that was the only time I ever
knew him to travel on the Sabbath.

The Doctor remained all night at the fort, starting early on the
following morning to join the St. Louis party. Here we parted. The
Doctor proceeded to Washington. I remained at Bent's Fort until Spring,
and joined the Doctor the following July, near Fort Laramie, on his
way to Oregon, in company with a train of emigrants. He often
expressed himself to me about the remainder of his journey, and the
manner in which he was received at Washington, and by the Board for
Foreign Missions at Boston. He had several interviews with President
Tyler, Secretary Webster, and a good many members of Congress--Congress
being in session at that time. He urged the immediate termination of
the treaty with Great Britain relative to this country, and begged
them to extend the laws of the United States over Oregon, and asked
for liberal inducements to emigrants to come to this coast. He was
very cordially and kindly received by the President and members of
Congress, and, without doubt, the Doctor's interviews resulted greatly
to the benefit of Oregon and to this coast. But his reception at the
Board for Foreign Missions was not so cordial. The Board was inclined
to censure him for leaving his post. The Doctor came to the frontier
settlement, urging the citizens to emigrate to the Pacific. He left
Independence, Mo., in the month of May, 1843, with an emigrant train
of about one thousand souls for Oregon. With his energy and knowledge
of the country, he rendered them great assistance in fording the many
dangerous and rapid streams they had to cross, and in finding a wagon
road through many of the narrow rugged passes of the mountains. He
arrived at Waiilatpui about one year from the time he left, to find
his home sadly dilapidated, his flouring mill burned. The Indians
were very hostile to the Doctor for leaving them, and without doubt,
owing to his absence, the seeds of assassination were sown by those
haughty Cayuse Indians which resulted in his and Mrs. Whitman's death,
with many others, although it did not take place until four years

     I remain with great respect,
                   A. LAWRENCE LOVEJOY.

  [Illustration: HEE-OH-KS-TE-KIN.--The Rabbit's Skin Leggins.
   (Drawn by George Catlin.)

   The only one of five Nez Perces Chiefs (some say there were only
   four) who visited St. Louis in 1832, that lived to return to his
   people to tell the story.]

  [Illustration: HCO-A-HCO-A-HCOTES-MIN.--No Horns on His Head.

   This one died on his return journey near the mouth of Yellowstone

   This is what Catlin says himself: "These two men when I
   painted them, were in beautiful Sioux dresses, which had
   been presented to them in a talk with the Sioux, who treated
   them very kindly, while passing through the Sioux country.
   These two men were part of a delegation that came across the
   Rocky Mountains to St. Louis, a few years since, to inquire
   for the truth of a representation which they said some white
   man had made among them, "That our religion was better than
   theirs, and that they would be all lost if they did not
   embrace it." Two old and venerable men of this party died in
   St. Louis, and I traveled two thousand miles, companions
   with these two fellows, toward their own country, and became
   much pleased with their manners and dispositions. When I
   first heard the report of the object of this extraordinary
   mission across the mountains, I could scarcely believe it;
   but, on conversing with Gen. Clark, on a future occasion, I
   was fully convinced of the fact."

   See Catlin's Eight Years, and Smithsonian Report for 1885,
   2nd part.]



       *       *       *       *       *

The Rev. Myron Eells obtained from the original files of the office of
the Secretary of War two valuable papers. They bear this endorsement:

"Marcus Whitman inclosing synopsis of a bill, with his views in
reference to importance of the Oregon Territory, War. 382--rec. June
22, 1844.

To the Hon. James M. Porter, Secretary of War:

Sir--In compliance with the request you did me the honor to make last
Winter, while in Washington, I herewith transmit to you the synopsis
of a bill which, if it could be adopted, would, according to my
experience and observation, prove highly conducive to the best
interests of the United States, generally, to Oregon, where I have
resided for more than seven years as a missionary, and to the Indian
tribes that inhabit the immediate country. The Government will now
doubtless for the first time be apprised through you, or by means of
this communication, of the immense immigration of families to Oregon
which has taken place this year. I have, since our interview, been
instrumental in piloting across the route described in the
accompanying bill, and which is the only eligible wagon road, no less
than three hundred families, consisting of one thousand persons of
both sexes, with their wagons, amounting to one hundred and twenty,
six hundred and ninety-four oxen, and seven hundred and seventy-three
loose cattle.

The emigrants are from different States, but principally from
Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and New York. The majority of them are
farmers, lured by the prospect of bounty in lands, by the reported
fertility of the soil, and by the desire to be first among those who
are planting our institutions on the Pacific Coast. Among them are
artisans of every trade, comprising, with farmers, the very best
material for a new colony. As pioneers, these people have undergone
incredible hardships, and having now safely passed the Blue Mountain
Range with their wagons and effects, have established a durable road
from Missouri to Oregon, which will serve to mark permanently the
route for larger numbers, each succeeding year, while they have
practically demonstrated that wagons drawn by horses or oxen can cross
the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River, contrary to all the
sinister assertions of all those who pretended it to be impossible.

In their slow progress, these persons have encountered, as in all
former instances, and as all succeeding emigrants must, if this or
some similar bill be not passed by Congress, the continual fear of
Indian aggression, the actual loss through them of horses, cattle and
other property, and the great labor of transporting an adequate amount
of provisions for so long a journey. The bill herewith proposed would,
in a great measure, lessen these inconveniences by the establishment
of posts, which, while having the possessed power to keep the Indians
in check, thus doing away with the necessity of military vigilance on
the part of the traveler by day and night, would be able to furnish
them in transit with fresh supplies of provisions, diminishing the
original burdens of the emigrants, and finding thus a ready and
profitable market for their produce--a market that would, in my
opinion, more than suffice to defray all the current expenses of such
post. The present party is supposed to have expended no less than
$2,000 at Laramie's and Bridger's Forts, and as much more at Fort Hall
and Fort Boise, two of the Hudson Bay Company's stations. These are at
present the only stopping places in a journey of 2,200 miles, and the
only place where additional supplies can be obtained, even at the
enormous rate of charge, called mountain prices, i. e., $50 the
hundred for flour, and $50 the hundred for coffee; the same for sugar,
powder, etc.

Many cases of sickness and some deaths took place among those who
accomplished the journey this season, owing, in a great measure, to
the uninterrupted use of meat, salt and fresh, with flour, which
constitute the chief articles of food they are able to convey on their
wagons, and this could be obviated by the vegetable productions which
the posts in contemplation could very profitably afford them. Those
who rely on hunting as an auxiliary support, are at present unable to
have their arms repaired when out of order; horses and oxen become
tender-footed and require to be shod on this long journey, sometimes
repeatedly, and the wagons repaired in a variety of ways. I mention
these as valuable incidents to the proposed measure, as it will also
be found to tend in many other incidental ways to benefit the
migratory population of the United States choosing to take this
direction, and on these accounts, as well as for the immediate use of
the posts themselves, they ought to be provided with the necessary
shops and mechanics, which would at the same time exhibit the several
branches of civilized art to the Indians.

The outlay in the first instance would be but trifling. Forts like
those of the Hudson Bay Company's surrounded by walls enclosing all
the buildings, and constructed almost entirely of adobe, or sun-dried
bricks, with stone foundations only, can be easily and cheaply

There are very eligible places for as many of these as the Government
will find necessary, at suitable distances, not further than one or
two hundred miles apart, at the main crossing of the principal streams
that now form impediments to the journey, and consequently well
supplied with water, having alluvial bottom lands of a rich quality,
and generally well wooded. If I might be allowed to suggest, the best
sites for said posts, my personal knowledge and observation enable me
to recommend first, the main crossing of the Kansas River, where a
ferry would be very convenient to the traveler, and profitable to the
station having it in charge; next, and about eighty miles distant, the
crossing of the Blue River, where in times of unusual freshet, a ferry
would be in like manner useful; next and distant from one hundred to
one hundred and fifty miles from the last mentioned, the Little Blue,
or Republican Fork of the Kansas; next, and from sixty to one hundred
miles distant from the last mentioned, the point of intersection of
the Platte River; next, and from one hundred to one hundred and fifty
miles distant from the last mentioned, crossing of the South Fork of
the Platte River; next, and about one hundred and eighty or two
hundred miles distant from the last mentioned, Horseshoe Creek, which
is about forty miles west of Laramie's Fork in the Black Hills. Here
is a fine creek for mills and irrigation, good land for cultivation,
fine pasturage, timber and stone for building. Other locations may be
had along the Platte and Sweetwater, on the Green River, or Black's
Forks of the Bear River, near the great Soda Springs, near Fort Hall,
and at suitable places down to the Columbia. These localities are all
of the best description, so situated as to hold a ready intercourse
with the Indians in their passage to and from the ordinary buffalo
hunting grounds, and in themselves so well situated in all other
respects as to be desirable to private enterprise if the usual
advantage of trade existed. Any of the farms above indicated would be
deemed extremely valuable in the States.

The Government cannot long overlook the importance of superintending
the savages that endanger this line of travel, and that are not yet in
treaty with it. Some of these are already well known to be led by
desperate white men and mongrels, who form bandits in the most
difficult passes, and are at all times ready to cut off some lagging
emigrant in the rear of the party, or some adventurous one who may
proceed a few miles in advance, or at night to make a descent upon the
sleeping camp and carry away or kill horses and cattle. This is the
case even now in the commencement of our western immigration, and
when it comes to be more generally known that large quantities of
valuable property and considerable sums of money are yearly carried
over this desolate region, it is feared that an organized banditti
will be instituted. The posts in contemplation would effectually
counteract this. For the purpose they need not, or ought not, to be
military establishments. The trading posts in this country have never
been of such a character, and yet with very few men in them, have for
years kept the surrounding Indians in the most pacific disposition, so
that the traveler feels secure from molestation upon approaching Fort
Laramie, Bridger's Fort, Fort Hall, etc., etc. The same can be
obtained without any considerable expenditure by the Government, while
by investing the officers in charge with competent authority, all
evil-disposed white men, refugees from justice, or discharged
vagabonds from trading posts might be easily removed from among the
Indians and sent to the appropriate States for trial. The Hudson Bay
Company's system of rewards among the savages would soon enable the
posts to root out these desperadoes. A direct and friendly intercourse
with all the tribes, even to the Pacific, might be thus maintained;
the Government would become more intimately acquainted with them, and
they with the Government, and instead of sending to the State courts
a manifestly guilty Indian to be arraigned before a distant tribunal
and acquitted for the want of testimony, by the technicalities of
lawyers and of the law unknown to them, and sent back into the
wilderness loaded with presents as an inducement to further crime, the
post should be enabled to execute summary justice, as if the criminal
had been already condemned by his tribe, because the tribe will be
sure to deliver up none but the party whom they know to be guilty.
They will in that way receive the trial of their peers, and secure
within themselves to all intents and purposes, if not technically the
trial by jury, yet the spirit of that trial. There are many powers
which ought to reside in some person on this extended route for the
convenience and even necessity of the public.

In this the emigrant and the people of Oregon are no more interested
than the resident inhabitants of the States. At present no person is
authorized to administer an oath, or legally attest a fact, from the
western line of Missouri to the Pacific. The immigrant cannot dispose
of his property at home, although an opportunity ever so advantageous
to him should occur after he passes the western border of Missouri. No
one can here make a legal demand and protest of a promissory note or
bill of exchange. No one can secure the valuable testimony of a
mountaineer, or an immigrating witness after he has entered this, at
present, lawless country. Causes do exist and will continually arise,
in which the private rights of citizens are, and will be, seriously
prejudiced by such an utter absence of legal authority. A contraband
trade from Mexico, the introduction from that country of liquors to be
sold among the Indians west of the Kansas River, is already carried on
with the mountain trappers, and very soon the teas, silks, nankeens,
spices, camphor and opium of the East Indies will find their way, duty
free, through Oregon, across the mountains and into the States, unless
Custom House officers along this line find an interest in intercepting

Your familiarity with the Government policy, duties and interest
renders it unnecessary for me to more than hint at the several objects
intended by the enclosed bill, and any enlargement upon the topics
here suggested as inducements to its adoption would be quite
superfluous, if not impertinent. The very existence of such a system
as the one above recommended suggests the utility of postoffices and
mail arrangements, which it is the wish of all who now live in Oregon
to have granted them; and I need only add that contracts for this
purpose will be readily taken at reasonable rates for transporting the
mail across from Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia in forty days,
with fresh horses at each of the contemplated posts. The ruling
policy proposed regards the Indians as the police of the country, who
are to be relied upon to keep the peace, not only for themselves, but
to repel lawless white men and prevent banditti, under the solitary
guidance of the superintendents of the several posts, aided by a well
directed system to induce the punishment of crime. It will only be
after the failure of these means to procure the delivery or punishment
of violent, lawless and savage acts of aggression, that a band or
tribe should be regarded as conspirators against the peace, or
punished accordingly by force of arms.

Hoping that these suggestions may meet your approbation, and conduce
to the future interest of our growing country, I have the honor to be,
Honorable Sir,

     Your obedient servant,
           MARCUS WHITMAN.


A bill to promote safe intercourse with the Territory of Oregon, to
suppress violent acts of aggression on the part of certain Indian
tribes west of the Indian Territory, Neocho, better protect the
revenue, for the transportation of the mail and for other purposes.


Section 1.--To be enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, that from and
after the passage of this act, there shall be established at suitable
distances, and in convenient and proper places, to be selected by the
President, a chain of agricultural posts or farming stations,
extending at intervals from the present most usual crossing, of the
Kansas River, west of the western boundary of the State of Missouri,
thence ascending the Platte River on the southern border, thence
through the valley of the Sweetwater River to Fort Hall, and thence to
settlements of the Willamette in the Territory of Oregon. Which said
posts will have for their object to set examples of civilized
industry to the several Indian tribes, to keep them in proper
subjection to the laws of the United States, to suppress violent and
lawless acts along the said line of the frontier, to facilitate the
passage of troops and munitions of war into and out of the said
Territory of Oregon, and the transportation of the mail as hereinafter

Section 2.--And be it further enacted, that there shall reside at each
of said posts, one superintendent having charge thereof, with full
power to carry into effect the provisions of this act, subject always
to such instructions as the President may impose; one deputy
superintendent to act in like manner in case of death, removal or
absence of the superintendent, and such artificers and laborers, not
exceeding twenty in number, as the said superintendent may deem
necessary for the conduct and safety of said posts, all of whom shall
be subject to appointment and liable to removal.

Section 3.--And be it further enacted, that it shall be the duty of
the President to cause to be erected, at each of the said posts,
buildings suitable for the purpose herein contemplated, to-wit, one
main dwelling house, one storehouse, one blacksmith's and one
gunsmith's shop, one carpenter shop, with such and so many other
buildings, for storing the products and supplies of said posts as he
from time to time may deem expedient. To supply the same with all
necessary mechanical and agricultural implements, to perform the
labor incident thereto, and with all other articles he may judge
requisite and proper for the safety, comfort and defense thereof.

To cause said posts in his discretion to be visited by detachments of
troops stationed on the western frontier, to suppress through said
posts the sale of munitions of war to the Indian tribes in case of
hostilities, and annually to lay before Congress, at its general
session, full returns, verified by the oaths of the several
superintendents, of the several acts by them performed and of the
condition of said posts, with the income and expenditures growing out
of the same respectively.

Section 4.--And be it further enacted, that the said superintendents
shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent
of the Senate for the term of four years, with a salary of two hundred
dollars payable out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise
appropriated; that they shall respectively take an oath before the
District Judge of the United States for the Western District of
Missouri, faithfully to discharge the duties imposed on them in and by
the provisions of this act, and give a bond to the President of the
United States and to his successors in office and assigns, and with
sufficient security to be approved by the said judge in at least the
penalty of twenty-five thousand dollars, to indemnify the President
or his successors or assigns for any unlawful acts by them performed,
or injuries committed by virtue of their offices, which said bonds may
at any time be assigned for prosecution against the said respective
superintendents and their sureties upon application to the said judge
at the instance of the United States District Attorney or of any
private party aggrieved.

Section 5.--And be it further enacted, that it shall be the duty of
said superintendents to cause the soil adjacent to said posts, in
extent not exceeding 640 acres, to be cultivated in a farmer-like
manner and to produce such articles of culture as in their judgment
shall be deemed the most profitable and available for the maintenance
of said posts, for the supply of troops and other Government agents
which may from time to time resort thereto, and to render the products
aforesaid adequate to defraying all the expenses of labor in and about
said posts, and the salary of the said deputy superintendent, without
resort to the Treasury of the United States, remitting to the
Secretary of the Treasury yearly a sworn statement of the same, with
the surplus moneys, if any there shall be.

Section 6.--And be it further enacted, that the said several
superintendents of posts shall, ex-officia, be Superintendents of
Indian Affairs west of the Indian Territory, Neocho, subordinate to
and under the full control of the Commissioner-General of Indian
affairs at Washington. That they shall by virtue of their offices, be
conservators of the peace, with full powers to the extent hereinafter
prescribed, in all cases of crimes and misdemeanors, whether committed
by citizens of the United States or by Indians within the frontier
line aforesaid. That they shall have power to administer oaths, to be
valid in the several courts of the United States, to perpetuate
testimony to be used in said courts, to take acknowledgments of deeds
and other specialties in writing, to take probate of wills and the
testaments executed upon the said frontier, of which the testators
shall have died in transit between the State of Missouri and the
Territory of Oregon, and to do and certify all notarial acts, and to
perform the ceremony of marriage, with as legal effect as if the said
several acts above enumerated had been performed by the magistrates of
any of the States having power to perform the service. That they shall
have power to arrest and remove from the line aforesaid all disorderly
white persons, and all persons exciting the Indians to hostilities,
and to surrender up all fugitives from justice upon the requisition of
the Governor of any of the States; that they shall have power to
demand of the several tribes within the said frontier line, the
surrender of any Indian or Indians committing acts in contradiction of
the laws of the United States, and in case of such surrender, to
inflict punishment thereon according to the tenor and effect of said
laws, without further trial, presuming such offending Indian or
Indians to have received the trial and condemnation of the tribe to
which he or they may belong; to intercept and seize all articles of
contraband trade, whether introduced into their jurisdiction in
violation of the acts imposing duties on imports, or of the acts to
regulate trade and intercourse with the several Indian tribes, to
transmit the same to the Marshal of the Western District of Missouri,
together with the proofs necessary for the confiscation thereof, and
in every such case the Superintendent shall be entitled to receive
one-half the sale value of the said confiscated articles, and the
other half be disposed of as in like cases arising under the existing
revenue laws.

Section 7.--And be it further enacted, that the several
Superintendents shall have and keep at their several Posts, seals of
office for the legal authentication of their public acts herein
enumerated, and that the said seals shall have as a device the
spread-eagle, with the words, "U. S. Superintendency of the Frontier,"
engraved thereon.

Section 8.--And be it further enacted, that the said Superintendents
shall be entitled, in addition to the salary hereinbefore granted, the
following perquisites and fees of office, to-wit: For the
acknowledgment of all deeds and specialties, the sum of one dollar;
for the administration of all oaths, twenty-five cents; for the
authentication of all copies of written instruments, one dollar; for
the perpetuation of all testimony to be used in the United States
courts, by the folio, fifty cents; for the probate of all wills and
testaments, by the folio, fifty cents; for all other writing done, by
the folio, fifty cents; for solemnizing marriages, two dollars,
including the certificate to be given to the parties; for the
surrender of fugitives from justice, in addition to the necessary
costs and expenses of arrest and detention, which shall be verified to
the demanding Governor by the affidavit of the Superintendent, ten

Section 9.--And be it further enacted, that the said Superintendents
shall, by virtue of their offices, be postmasters at the several
stations for which they were appointed, and as such, shall be required
to facilitate the transportation of mail to and from the Territory of
Oregon and the nearest postoffice within the State of Missouri,
subject to all the regulations of the Postoffice Department, and with
all the immunities and privileges of the postmasters in the several
States, except that no additional compensation shall be allowed for
such services; and it is hereby made the duty of the Postmaster
General to cause proposals to be issued for the transportation of the
mail along the line of said Posts to and from said Territory within
six months after the passage of this Act.

Section 10.--And be it further enacted, that the sum of ---- thousand
dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated out of any moneys in
the treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the purpose of carrying
into effect the several provisions of this act.


Perhaps the last work or writing of a public character done by Dr.
Whitman, bears the date of Waiilatpui, October 16th, 1847. It was only
one month before the massacre, and addressed as follows:

To the Honorable the Secretary of War, to the Committees on Indian
Affairs and Oregon, in the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States, the following suggestions are respectfully submitted:

1st. That all Stations of the United States for troops be kept upon
the borders of some State or Territory, when designed for the
protection and regulation of Indian territory.

2nd. That a line of Posts be established along the traveled route to
Oregon, at a distance, so far as practicable, of not more than 50
miles. That these Posts be located so as to afford the best
opportunity for agriculture and grazing, to facilitate the production
of provisions, and the care of horses and cattle, for the use and
support of said Posts, and to furnish supplies to all passers through
Indian territory, especially to mail-carriers and troops.

These Posts should be placed wherever a bridge or ferry would be
required to facilitate the transport of the mail, and travel of troops
or immigrants through the country.

In all fertile places, these Posts would support themselves, and give
facilities for the several objects just named in transit. The other
Posts, situated where the soil would not admit of cultivation, would
still be useful, as they would afford the means of taking care of
horses, and other facilities of transporting the mails.

These Posts could be supplied with provisions from others in the
vicinity. A few large Posts in the more fertile regions could supply
those more in the mountains.

On the other hand, military Posts can only be well supplied when near
the settlements. In this way all transports for the supply of interior
military Posts would be superseded.

The number of men at these Posts might vary from five to twenty-five.

In the interior the buildings may be built with adobes, that is,
large, unburnt bricks; and in form and size should much resemble the
common Indian Trading Posts, with outer walls and bastions.

They would thus afford the same protection in any part of the
territory as the common Trading Posts.

If provided with a small amount of goods, such goods could be bartered
with the Indians for necessary supplies, as well as, on proper
occasions, given to chiefs as a reward for punishing those who disturb
or offend against the peace of the territory.

By these means the Indians would become the protectors of those

At the same time by being under one General Superintendent, subject to
the inspection of the Government, the Indians may be concentrated
under one general influence.

By such a superintendence the Indians would be prevented from fleeing
from one place to another to secrete themselves from justice. By this
simple arrangement all the need of troops in the interior would be
obviated, unless in some instance when the Indians fail to co-operate
with the Superintendent of the Post or Posts, for the promotion of

When troops shall be called for, to visit the interior, the farming
Posts will be able to furnish them with supplies in passing so as to
make their movements speedy and efficient.

A code of laws for the Indian territory might constitute as civil
magistrates the first, or second, in command of these Posts.

The same arrangement would be equally well adapted for the respective
routes to California and New Mexico.

Many reasons may be urged for the establishment of these Posts, among
which are the following:

1st. By means of such Posts, all acts of the Indians would be under a
full and complete inspection. All cases of murder, theft, or other
outrage would be brought to light and the proper punishment inflicted.

2nd. In most cases this may be done by giving the Chiefs a small fee
that they may either punish the offenders themselves, or deliver them
up to the commander of the Post. In such cases it should be held that
their peers have adjudged them guilty before punishment is inflicted.

3rd. By means of these Posts it will become safe and easy for the
smallest number to pass and repass from Oregon to the States; and with
a civil magistrate at each Station, all idle wandering white men
without passports can be sent out of the territory.

4th. In this way all banditti for robbing the mails or travelers would
be prevented, as well as all vagabonds removed from among the Indians.

5th. Immigrants now lose horses and other stock by the Indians,
commencing from the border of the States to the Willamette. It is much
to the praise of our countrymen that they bear so long with the
Indians when our Government has done so little to enable them to pass
in safety.

For one man to lose five or six horses is not a rare occurrence, which
loss is felt heavily, when most of the family are compelled to walk,
to favor a reduced and failing team.

6th. The Indians along the line take courage from the forbearance of
the immigrants. The timid Indians on the Columbia have this year in
open day attacked several parties of wagons, numbering from two to
seven, and robbed them, being armed with guns, bows and arrows, knives
and axes. Mr. Glenday from St. Charles, Mo., the bearer of this
communication to the States, with Mr. Bear, his companion, rescued
seven wagons from being plundered, and the people from gross insults,
rescuing one woman, when the Indians were in the act of taking all the
clothes from her person. The men were mostly stripped of their shirts
and pantaloons at the time.

7th. The occasional supplies to passing immigrants, as well as the aid
which may be afforded to the sick and needy, are not the least of the
important results to follow from these establishments.

A profitable exchange to the Posts and immigrants, as also to others
journeying through the country, can be made by exchanging worn-out
horses and cattle for fresh ones.

8th. It scarcely need be mentioned what advantage the Government will
derive by a similar exchange for the transport of the mail, as also
for the use of troops passing through.

9th. To suppress the use of ardent spirits among the Indians it will
be requisite to regard the giving or furnishing of it in any manner as
a breach of the laws and peace of the territory.

All Superintendents of Posts, traders, and responsible persons, should
be charged on oath, that they will not sell, give or furnish in any
manner, ardent spirits to the Indians.

10th. Traders should be regarded by reason of the license they have to
trade in the territory, as receiving a privilege, and therefore should
be required to give and maintain good credentials of character. For
this reason they may be required to send in the testimony of all their
clerks and assistants of all ranks, to show under the solemnity of an
oath, that the laws in this respect have not been violated or evaded.
If at any time it became apparent to the Superintendent of any Post
that the laws have been violated, he might be required to make full
inquiry of all in any way connected with or assisting in the trade, to
ascertain whether the laws were broken or their breach connived at.
This will avail for the regular licensed trader.

11th. For illicit traders and smugglers it will suffice to instruct
Commanders of Posts to offer a reward to the Indians for the safe
delivery of any and all such persons as bring liquors among them,
together with the liquors thus brought.

It is only on the borders of the respective States and Territories
that any interruption will be found in the operation of these

12th. Here also a modification of the same principle enacted by the
several States and Territories might produce equally happy results.

13th. The mail may, with a change of horses every fifty miles, be
carried at the rate of one hundred to one hundred and fifty miles in
twenty-four hours.

14th. The leading reason in favor of adopting the aforesaid
regulations would be, that by this means the Indians would become our
faithful allies. In fact, they will be the best possible police for
such a territory. This police can safely be relied upon when under a
good supervision. Troops will only be required to correct their faults
in cases of extreme misconduct.

15th. In closing, I would remark that I have conversed with many of
the principal fur-traders of the American and Hudson Bay Companies,
all of whom agree that the several regulations suggested in this
communication will accomplish the object proposed, were suitable men
appointed for its management and execution.

     Respectfully yours,
                  MARCUS WHITMAN.

     Waiilatpui, Oct. 16th, 1847.

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