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Themed by the story of the Whitmans, Marcus and Narcissa, this book tells the story of Oregon before 1850 and the men and women who helped form the state, fur-traders, explorers, Indians, and above all missionaries, who came there in the romantic movement of the 1830's and 40's, the most famous of them being the Whitmans. In 1836 the Whitmans, newly married, started West with another missionary couple, the critical and bigoted Spaldings, and a wagon. The wagon failed to reach Oregon but the two women did, the first white women to cross the continent, and Narcissa's delightful journal of the trip is one of the classics of Western travel. Settling at Waiilatpu on the Walla Walla River, the Whitmans built a mission and school, farm and dairy. In 1842 Marcus, tactless and dedicated, went East to plead for his mission (not, as legend now insists, to save Oregon from the English and the Jesuits), to return with the ""Great Migration"" of 1843, helping steer 1000 emigrants to his country. On November 29, 1847, the Cayuse Indians, a dangerous tribe against whom Whitman had been warned, fell on the mission, butchering the Whitmans and eight others, a massacre for which some missionaries blamed the innocent Jesuits whom they hated. Highly readable and written with humor and selectivity, this book will appeal chiefly to Oregonians, students of American history and the missionary movement, and to non-historians interested in historical biography and the story of western expansion.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1959
Publisher: Little, Brown