Open main menu

How Marcus Whitman saved Oregon

Marcus Whitman sets out.png

WHITMAN LEAVING HOME ON HIS WINTER RIDE TO SAVE OREGON.

How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon.

A TRUE ROMANCE OF PATRIOTIC HEROISM, CHRISTIAN DEVOTION AND FINAL MARTYRDOM ....


WITH SKETCHES OF

Life on the Plains and Mountains in Pioneer Days


BY

OLIVER W. NIXON, M.D., LLD.,

For Seventeen Years President and Literary Editor of the Chicago Inter Ocean.



INTRODUCTION BY

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


ILLUSTRATED.


STAR PUBLISHING COMPANY,

CHICAGO,

1895.

 

Copyrighted, 1895, by
Oliver W. Nixon
[All rights reserved.]


 

DEDICATION.

TO THE BOYS AND GIRLS OF THE

Little Log School House on the Willamette

NOW THE GRAY HAIRED MEN AND WOMEN OF OREGON,
WASHINGTON, IDAHO AND CALIFORNIA, TO WHOM I
AM INDEBTED FOR A MULTITUDE OF PLEASING
MEMORIES WHICH HAVE BEEN UNDIMMED BY
YEARS AND DISTANCE, I GRATEFULLY
DEDICATE THIS VOLUME.

PREFACE.


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 recognized.

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 185 1 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 history.
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.

CONTENTS.


Pages.

Introduction
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
1-14
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
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
63-32
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


....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
305-339

ILLUSTRATIONS.




  1. Whitman Leaving Home on His Ride to Save Oregon,
  2. Falls of the Willamette.
  3. Map of Early Oregon and the West, showing Whitman's Route, etc.
  4. Steamer, Lot Whitcomb.
  5. Dr. Marcus Whitman.
  6. Mission Station at Waiilatpui.
  7. Mrs. Narcissa Prentice Whitman.
  8. Whitman Pleading for Oregon before President Tyler and Secretary Webster.
  9. Rev. H. H. Spaulding.
  10. Rev. Cushing Eells, D. D.
  11. Whitman College.
  12. Whitman's Grave.
  13. Dr. John McLoughlin.
  14. Rev. S. B. L. Penrose, President of Whitman College.
  15. Dr. Daniel K. Pearsons.
  16. The Log School House on the Willamette.
  17. A. J. Anderson, Ph. D.
  18. Rev. James F. Eaton, D. D.
  19. Portraits of Flathead Indians who Visited St. Louis.

INTRODUCTION

BY

REV. FRANK W. GUNSAULUS, D.D.

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 12 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 tomorrow, will grow strong from contemplating the memory of such yesterdays.

This volume has suggested such a picture as 13 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 Union.

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 devotion.