Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Whitman, Marcus

WHITMAN, MARCUS, an American pioneer; born in Rushville, N. Y., Sept. 4, 1802. In 1836 he emigrated with a number of others to work as a missionary among the Indians of the Upper Columbia. Accompanied by his young wife he crossed the plains by wagon, being the first person to reach the Pacific by this means. He was soon followed by a large number of emigrants who settled in what was then known as Oregon, and which now forms the States of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. At this time the Hudson's Bay company were using every possible means to secure this territory to the English. When this plan became evident to Dr. Whitman he decided to take every precaution to forestall it. The Ashburton-Webster treaty was then before Congress and was expected to settle the Oregon question. Knowing that the Government should have full information as to the true state of affairs, Whitman rode over 3,000 miles on horseback, enduring all the hardships of a Western winter in the mountains, and reaching Washington on March 3, 1843, only to find that the treaty had been signed. Fortunately the Oregon question had not been included, Dr. Whitman at once went to work and taught the Government the value of the land it had deemed worthless, demonstrated to the people the fertility of the soil of Oregon, and the fact that it could be reached by wagon, and then returned at the head of 1,000 emigrants. By his daring ride and his earnest endeavors Dr. Whitman won this great section for the United States, and the results of his work were secured by the treaty of 1846. In 1847, with his wife and some others, he was massacred by the Cayuse Indians.