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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/389

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381
Marshall's Acquisition of Oregon

ton, where he arrived on March 30, 1843, having left Wailatpu October 3, 1842.

This midwinter journey was a feat of rare courage and hardihood. But it had no political influence in affairs of Oregon. It had no political purpose. There is no evidence that Whitman interviewed President Tyler or Secretary Webster. Congress adjourned March 4, 1843, when Whitman was at or near St. Louis, eastbound, just emerging from the frontier, and he did not reach Washington for more than a month afterwards. There was no disposition to sacrifice Oregon either on the part of the President or of Congress then adjourned.

Congress at its session recently ended had received the report of Lieutenant Wilkes, more fully describing Oregon than Whitman could do, and was fully alive to the Oregon situation. Secretary Webster, through Senator Choate, had announced January 18, 1843, in the Senate that the Secretary of State never had made or entertained a proposition to admit of any boundary line south of the forty-ninth parallel (the present boundary fixed in 1846) in negotiations with Ashburton, British plenipotentiary, in 1842, with whom it was alleged Webster was negotiating to trade Oregon north of the Columbia River for a cod fishery.

Nor did Whitman make any speeches nor publish pamphlets to arouse the spirit of immigration to Oregon. That spirit was already fully aroused, and the 1843 party assembled near Independence, Mo., May 20, 1843, with little or no knowledge of Whitman's presence in the East, nor did Whitman join them until several days later. On the journey his counsel and services as physician were valuable, yet not indispensable, and his utility as guide was small.

At Fort Hall the Hudson's Bay Company men made no effort to stay the wagons nor, if its men had tried, would they have succeeded, since the party was fully equipped to go through. Besides, three wagons had gone through in 1840, those of J. L. Meek, Robert Newell, Caleb Wilkins and Fred-