THE YEAR OF DECISION: 1846 by Bernard DeVoto


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This volume presents the vast panorama of Westward expansion, with roots reaching back to Lewis and Clark and the Louisiana Purchase, and forward to the struggle to maintain the Union in the Civil War. The year 1846 is selected as a crucial and decisive point in which the Mexican and Texas troubles came to a head, the Mormon trek made history in its march from the Illinois settlements to the land no man then wanted on Great Salt Lake; when war with England threatened over the Oregon question, and westbound pioneers reached forward to the northwest, and to the coast; when California was still Mexican, and mountain men, substantial citizens, squatters, a heterogeneous crowd pressed forward by immigrant train, wagon, boat, and so on. Familiar names cross the pages, --Jim Bridger, Lansford, Hastings, Hitchcock, Clyman, Reed, Parkman, The Donner tragedy is recounted in full detail. Fremont's shifty plan, Kearny's conquest of Southern California, the Gadsden Purchase -- all telescoping into relief as 1846 marked ""the year of decision"" that gave us Texas, ultimately, New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Deseret -- later Utah. A scholar's book, packed with minute detail, and colored by the hopes and fears and pleasures and ambitions of the motley throng that stirred, and uprooted themselves, and moved westward. A significant facet of American history, of which we cannot be too proud today -- but which bore the earmarks of our ""manifest destiny.

ISBN: 0548444188
Publisher: Little, Brown