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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/392

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384
Leslie M. Scott

shall that the Oregon question between the United States and Great Britain was one of diplomacy and not one of settlement and occupation. It is not probable, however, that Professor Marshall will be sustained in this view. Large influx of American settlers into Oregon, prior to 1846, undoubtedly alarmed Great Britain and finally induced its Government to accede to the American "ultimatum" of John Quincy Adams of 1826. But Marshall clearly shows that Whitman could have had no influence on the diplomacy of the question.

Important also is Professor Marshall's proof that the wagon road to Oregon was not Whitman's opening. Three wagons reached the Columbia River from Fort Hall in 1840—three years before the large wagon party which he is alleged to have guided through in 1843.

Besides, the route to the Columbia was really laid out by fur traders. Marshall finds that certainly 1000 Americans had crossed the Rocky Mountains before Whitman in 1836, probably 2000. On Whitman's first journey across in 1836 he was guided by American traders to Green River, and by Hudson's Bay men, thence to Fort Hall, and the. Columbia River. All the passes through the mountains to the Columbia, and the river routes, had been explored before Whitman's advent, and he followed the beaten path of the fur traders. The wagons of traders, explorers and settlers followed these trails of the fur traders. It was well known that wagons could go through to the Columbia before Whitman's journeys of 1836 and 1843, and that the only requisites were sufficient equipment and men for the enterprise. The wagons that did go through to the Columbia in 1840 and 1843 owed nothing to Whitman for the feat.

This review and criticism of the Marshall work, though somewhat extended, touches only briefly the main features of the book. The investigation is one long needed. The Whitman myth has distorted the truth during half a century, and it is time now to accord Dr. Whitman his due as patriot and hero of Oregon, but not as savior of this region.

Leslie M. Scott.