Open main menu

Page:History of Oregon volume 1.djvu/395

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
344
THE CATHOLIC MISSIONS—THE PRESBYTERIANS.

and he was left to get back to Oregon as best he could. First repairing to his former home in central New York, he settled up some private business affairs, and taking with him a young nephew, hastened to the frontier, where was being collected for a final start the emigration of 1843, of which he probably heard as he journeyed east two months before. He arrived at the rendezvous of the emigrants just as they were about to organize on the 18th of May, and was invited to attend their meeting and make suggestions.[1] After this he visited some relatives near Westport, and the Shawnee mission, and overtook the emigration on the Platte River, travelling with them and rendering professional and other services, as required, on the way.[2]

Whitman reached home after a year of incessant and arduous exertion, to find that his absence, and the information the savages had of his intention to bring other white men to settle among them,[3] had occasioned trouble at his station. Hardly had he turned his back upon Waiilatpu before Mrs Whitman

    across the plains; yet he was not properly provisioned, and seemed to have undertaken to get along by shooting game, which proved to be scarce. Daniel Waldo says that he had nothing but a boiled ham to start with, and that he fed him while they were in Kansas, and after they crossed Snake River. Critiques, MS., 17. J. B. McClane refers to his want of supplies after leaving Fort Hall, and his picking up a dropped calf, and putting in his (McClane's) wagon with the intention of eating it. McClane, however, threw it out, for which he was severely reproved by the doctor. First Wagon Train, MS., 4, 5.

  1. Burnett's Recollections of a Pioneer, 101. The Missionary Herald, last quoted, says that Whitman set out on his return 'about the 1st of June;' but as Burnett kept a journal, it is probable that he is correct as to date. The Herald may have made its statement from reference to a letter received from the doctor just before he quitted the Pawnee mission.
  2. Marginal notes to Grays Hist. Or., 289-90; Ford's Road-makers, MS., 7; Waldo's Critiques, MS., 1; Boston Miss. Herald, May 1844, 177; Nesmith, in Or. Pioneer Assoc, Trans., 1875, 47.
  3. When excited by the misconduct of the Cayuse chiefs, Whitman had so far lost his self-control as to threaten them with white settlers. Toupin says he told them he would bring ' many people to chastise them.' White says, that, though a most estimable man, Whitman was ' the most unfit person in the world to manage Indian affairs; ' because instead of treating them as children, he would become heated in an argument with them, as with his equals. Early Government of Oregon, MS., 12. This is confirmed by what is known of Whitman's dealings with the Cayuses, both before and subsequent to his visit to the States. Yet again he was a miracle of coolness and patience, which was his normal state, so contradictory is human nature.