Weston Arthur Goodspeed.

The province and the states, a history of the province of Louisiana under France and Spain, and of the territories and states of the United States formed therefrom (Volume 4) online

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the present Omaha. This fiotilla carricfl Maj. Stephen IL
I.ong's exploring exi)edition. Cntil after 1830, however, the
steamboat was a rare sight beyond the mouth of the Kaw, where
the present Kansas Cily is built, and the earlier ])oals after that
year were almost all engaged in the fur trade.

In 1831, Astor's American Fur Ct)mpany, which had its west-
ern head(iuarters at St. Louis, sent its .steamboat, the Yellowstone,
uilh I'ierie l1u>uteau. one of its onicial>. aboard, up to I'^ort
Pierre (^named for him), near the present city of I'ierre, in South
Dala^ta. This was the first steamboat to ascend the Missouri
higher than old Council Rlufl's. In 1832 the Yellowstone went
from St. Louis up to Fort LTnion, the company's post at the
mouth of the Yellowstone, on the present North Dakota's west-
ern border. On this trip the boat bad among its jiassengers
tleorge Catlin, the painter and traveler, then making his first
visit to the Indian countr\-, in which he resiiled many years. The
next ste]) in liie navigation of the npi)er Missouri was made in
1S51J, when the first steamboat reached Fort l5enton, in the pres-
ent Montana, at the head of navigation on that river.

The steamboat did not immediately drive out the fiatboat (used
for going with the current only), the kerlbo.it aiul the barge, but
tluse gradually diminislu'd in mimbi'r relatively to their for-
midable rivals and virtually disappeared i)y the lime, at the


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o[)eninL;- of the civil war, steam navij^ation on the Mississippi and
its chief tributaries had reached its highwater mark. Fn)m the
atlveiil of tlie steanil:)oat, with the great rechiction in cost of trans-
portation and tlie increaseil speed, safety and comfort which it
brought, dated the beginning of the real expansion of St. Louis
and the rest of the important towns on the waterwa)s of the

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Missouri as a Builder of the West

..-..I of

WIII'N, on ^i;l^cIl .^ i8_'5. I'lvsidnit IMoiimc placed his
si-iialuiv on a bill pivpaivd by Sen. 'riioiiias II. Bcn-
Utii npi)ropriatiiit;- ten thonsand dollars for the survey
of a road from Missouri's western frontier into New Mexico,
and twenty thousand dollars to be given to the Indians on the
line for permission to use the road, the country learned that
Missouri was reachiuL;- out for commercial c(5n(iucsts beyond the
nation's borders. That was during the early days of Frederick
Hates' term as governor. The road indicated was that which
afterward became popularly known as the Santa Fe trail. It
was the highway over wiiich commerce between St. Louis and
New Mexico's cajMtal and adjoining IMexiean settlements was
carried on, the trail's eastern terminus being at a point on the
Missouri river — first at Franklin, then at Independence, and
afterward at Westport Landing, the site of the present Kansas

I'etitions had been sent to congress during the governorship
of ]>ates' predecessor, McNair, from leading citizens of St. Louis
and other points in the state, re-enforced by appeals from the
Missouri legislature, for the survey of a road into New Mexico,
for treaties with Indians on the route, and fur the establishment
i)f a military post at the point where the trail crossed the Arkan-
sas river. Benton, always intelligently alert for the welfare
of his state, and enthusiastically devoted to the cause of west-
ern expansion, ("luickly jiushed the project to enactment. By the
treaty of i<Si(; with Spain, the Arkansas river formed part of
the boundary between the United States and Spain's dominion
in the Southwest: Mexico and its ctjlonies. That domain gained

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its independence from Spain in 1822. Thus New Mexico and
all the rest of the territory south and southwebt of the Arkansas
river formed part of the Mexican repuhlic at the time that Ben-
ton's Santa Fe trail bill was enacted.

The opening of that highway had social and political conse-
quences for the United States which neither its projectors nor
anybody else in the United States or Mexico dreamed of at the
time that Monroe put his signature to the Benton bill.

Missouri's influence had been active in inciting western expan-
sion long before the United States government took a luuul in
the opening of the highway to Santa hV. It was against the
wishes of Wilson P. Hunt, a prominent St. Louis business man
then and afterward, and also against the wishc= of the rest of
thv. Missourians attached to Astor's colony at the mouth of the
Columbia, that the sale of Astor's post at Astoria to his old rival,
Canada's Northwest Vwv Ccimpauy, took place in 1813. Had
Hunt, who was the chief ofticer in the Faciiic Fur Com|)any,'next
to Astor himself, been present at the time, the transfer to the
Canadian company never would have been made, and the capt-
ure of the post by tlie British war ship shortly afterward would
have been prevented. Thus the British fur traders would have
been shut out of contact with the Pacific at that point, the dis-
pute with Fngland about the possession of the Oregon coun-
try would have ended in our fa\(>r earlier, and the territory on
the Pacific which we would have gained would have been nnich
larger than was that which came to us under the Anglo-American
treaty oi 1846 (the present slates .)f Oregon. \\'a^Ilington and
Idaho and ])arts of the states of Montana and Wyoming).

Moses Austin, for n.iany years a resident of j\iissi>uri, and a
large stockholder in the P.ank of St. Bonis for two years, con-
ceived in 181S the plan, subsequently carried out by his son,
Stephen F. Austin, also a resident oi St. Bonis, wherebv an Amer-
ican colony was established in Te\;is, then Si)anish territory,
and the series of events was started which culmin;ited in Texas'
indei)endence in 1836, her annexation to the United States in
1845, ''^"^1 the war of 1846-48 witii Mexico on account of the
Texas boundary dis])ute, by which the Ihiited States won the
present California, Nevada, Lhah, ])arts of Colorado and Wyo-
ming, and the Territories of y\rizona and New Mexico.

Thrust outward from the Mississippi toward the simset as
a )jromunlory of civilization into a st.i of savager\-, with vast
plains on three of its sides, dotte<l here and there with forests,
and backed by a mr^re formidable moimtain chain than any which

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white men liad )et encountered in the United States, extend-
nii,'- from the Rockies onward to tlie neighborhood of tlie Pacific,
much of tliis vast expanse being' peopled with as fierce and pow-
erful tribes of Indians as were found anywliere on the conti-
nent at any time, Missouri was the gateway to the wilder and
widiT \W"st. Its situation g'ave it a larger variety of people than
those who had been on the frontier's bring line on its march
from tile jMleghenies to the Mississip])i. I'l)ing- their trade on
the Ohio, the Mississipj)! and the Missouri, with their base of
operations at St. Louis, were gay and grimacing coureurs des
lK)is from Canada's lakes, with swaggering- and riotous tlatboat,
barge, keelboat and pircjgue men of American and t)ther nation-

Men of the old frontier met and mingled there with a new
siJecies of borderers. iJoone, of the advanced guard of pioneers
and commonwealth builders who wrested Kentucky and Ten-
nessee from the red men, was residing- at Cliarette, on the Mis-
souri, near St. Charles, when the trade from St. I.ouis to Santa
Fe was first projected. Around that time Roljert McLellan,
Wilson P. Hunt and other Missourians were puisbing their way
across the continent to assist in establishing Astor's colony on
the Pacific— the McPellan who had fougdit under Wayne at
l';dlen Timbers back in l/g.l, while the Pritish were still con-
temptuously holding- a line i;f United States posts from Michili-
mackinac and Detroit along the great lakes to Oswegatcliie, on
the St. Lawrence. Manuel Lisa, George Drouillard, Andrew
Henry and their companions of the newer order were up the
Yellowstone and off at tiie Three b'orks of the Missouri, in the
service of the Missouri Fur Company, trapping beaver, trading
with Omahas, Arickarees and Mandans, running the gauntlet
of the thieving Crows, and alternately treating with and fighting
the Sioux and Blackfeet. William H. Ashley, Jedediah S.
Smith, William L. Sublette, Robert Campbell, Ftieime Provost
and James Bridget (who died in Kansas City as recently as
1881), all of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, from their base
in St. Louis, were getting ready to open the i^aths to the Pacific
for the gold seekers and the settlers who came after them and
occupied the land. The Bents and the St. Vrains, of St. Louis,
famous in the Santa Fe trade and in the annals of the West and
the Southwest, were about to begin their work, and the boy Kit
Car.son, throwing aside his saddlers' tools and lleeing from
i'Yanklin, on tiie Missouri, was soon to join one of Charles iient's
Santa I'e carav.ms, and to begin the career, e.xtendbig liuough

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{ )' - ■ the Mexican war and the war of secession, wliich romancers of
),,.;■ I the past two generations have enibahned in wild western legend.
, ;i , The men of the latter class, jjeginning with Lisa, Henry and

i,. . \\, their associates — the plainsmen and the mountaineers who, with
canoes or on horsel)ack, traversed vast distances and met and
iu' . combated many varieties of Indians and many extremes of cli-
oiv)y.. mate and topography — necessarily developed traits which were
tiiu:cd absent from the make-u]) of the frontiersmen of Boone's and
,;,, ,' Kenton's days, who were impeded by the dense forests of the

c.i •' <• oUler states between the Alleghenies and the ]\Iississii)pi, and who
;,,; vv . could make little use of horses. The newer order were lighter
1 !,, hearted, and more alert, enterprising, audacicnis and resourceful.
\'. w . ^^f course a majority of Alissouri's 100,00 residents of i8_'5,

;i ( ,, the year in which Monroe signed llenton's Santa I'^e highway
,/j lu.u survey bill, did not differ materially in character and proclivi-
\i'Au\[ ties from the dwellers at that time in Kentucky, Illinois and the
jli-i,- I other Western states. Most of them were engaged in agricult-
ln 1 .1 , . ure, with a sprinkling in lead and iron mining, in a few varieties
\\-. of manufactures, and in general conunerce with the rest of the

\ United States. The elements, however, which are here singled

t, out for especial mention were, in a considerable degree, peculiar

to Missouri, and formed an iiuportant and rapidly increasing
ingredient of the slate's inhabitants. Obviously in such a soci-
f; ety there must have been many men ready for any sort of haz-

ardous enterprise, and eager to take desperate chances for the
sake of money, fame or adventure. Manifestly, too, there must
have been in such a communit) in that era many men who cared
little for the Indians' rights to the soil, and who, having con-
temjjt for the Spaniards and their successors the Mexicans, and
■coveting the rich territory — rich, reputedly, in gold and silver —
"from the Arkansas to Rio Grande, were ready, on slight provo-
cation, to act on the theory that the world's lands belong to those
capable of getting the most out of them.

Moreover, these elements injected a dash of adventurousncss
into the make-up of the more conservative ingredient of the state's
l)oi)nlation. A regiment of Missouri mounted volunteers, coni-
mande<I by Col. Uicbard Cenlrv, fought under Zaeliarv Taylor
in 1837, and aided materially in brinL;iiig the Semin(jle war to
an end. Missonrians died with I'.owie an<l Cnnla-tt at the
Ah'.iuo, and, with Sam Houston, helped to win Texas indepen-
dence at S.ui Jaeiiilo. Nearly a do/en .\ears later tlnir brollurb
were with 'i'aylor from I'alo Alto to I'.uena Vista, and marched
and foiudil will) ScoK fi,.iii \'ei;i ('111/ lo Santa Anna's rapi-


tal, while tlie dash of Doniphan's Missourians through New and
( )ld Mexico in the same war, was one of ihr century's most
Ijrilliant niiUtary achievements. Tlie warriors of I.yon, Price
and other Missouri commanders on each side were among- the
btnrihest of the fighters of 1861-65.

It is necessary to point out those conditions and characteris-
tics in Missouri's society at the time tlie trade with Mexico's
outlying territory hegan to be opened— which conditions con-
tinued for s"e\'eral decades afterward — in order that the domi-
nant part which Missouri played in the winning and building
of the greater West, stretching from Texas and New Mexico
onward to California and Oregon, may be grasped.

The story of the evolution of the trade between Missouri and
New Mexico and of the political effects which it brought can
now be readily tmderstood. At Santa Fe and other points on
or near the Rio Grande's u]:)per waters the S])aniards had estab-
lished pmiianriit colonies long Ixfore the earliest settlers erccte<l
their hjg cabins in the Mississippi \alli.-y. As the distance
between Santa I'V, the most important of these colonies, and
the nearest seaport of any conseciuence in Mexican territory,
Vera Cruz, was twice as far in miles and three times as far in
time as from Santa Fe to St. Louis, it was obvious that Missouri
could su|)ply tliost' colonies' wants in the wa)' oi merchandise
clieai)er than could be done by Mexico. There were chances,
therefore, for great profits in the trade with New Mexico, the
amount, of course, of the profits depending largely on the duties
and otiier rt'.strictioiis which the home authorities — Sjianiard-S
l)ie\ious to the revolution of i8j2 and Mexicans afterward —
\\c)uld impose on the commerce. The fact that St. Fonis had
water commimication with all parts of the outside world, and
that goods Could be transporteil along the Missouri to points
250 or 300 miles west of St. Fouis before beginning overland
transportation, would lU'cessarily decrease the cost of the traffic
and increase the j.rofils.

Spaniards and Frenchmen had occasionally traversed the
course between Santa Fe and the Missouri river before Jeffer-
son bouglit I,ouisiana, but the road \vas known only vaguely
until long after that amiexalion. In i.S(\| William Morrison,
of Kaskaskia, Ilk, wluj afterward figured iiromiiirntly in many
Missouri eiiterpiises, sent a French Creole, liaptiste Falande,
with a small sli^ck of merchandise, up the Platte, with instruc-
tions to pu^li his way to .Santa Fe and o])en trade with that
region. Falande reached there in safety, disposed of Morri-


V:iM AUi -VO

!•„ \:AV>0?.V'

56 '''"' Tllli PROl'lNCE AND TllLi STATES.

stJii's ^oods, krpt the money, and remained in the Wnv Mexican
cajiilal. I'ike, when eaplmx'd b)' tlie Mexicans in icSo/, while try-
inj^- lo rcarh the Minrees of the Red river, met Lalande in liis new
home. I'ike also met another American there, James ]\ircell
(Pike called him I'ursley), a trai)i)er from St. Lonis, who
reached Santa Fe in his new ca])acity as a trader in 1805, and
resided there for many years. The return of Pike from New
Mexico in 1807, and his report, jniblished a few years later,
revived interest, particularly in Missouri, in the trade with Spain's

I\'lorrison's ill luck in his Santa Fe exi)eriment was repeated
in other ways in the case of the Missourians Samuel Chambers,
Robert Knig-ht and James Baird in 1812, by AuL;uste P. Chou-
teau and Julius DeMnnni in 1815-17, and by others from the
same locality in the next few 3 cars. William liccknell in 1822,
the year in which Mexico gained its independence from Sf)aiii,
with a i)arty of seventy men, carrii'd a st<ick of j_;oo<ls to Santa
Fe, made a vi'ry i)ro(ilable trade there, and from this exi)edition
dates the beoiimino-, in a systematic way, of the commerce between
Missouri and New Mexico. This was two years bef(3re lienton's
survey bill was enacted.

Thou<:;h the route traced out by the United States engineers
under this statute was not followed throughout its entire length,
the traders' own experience evolving- a better one in some parts
of the course, the government's practical interest in the scheme,
the n:ilitary posts on or near the route which it provided, and
the mililary escorts which it occasionalI\- furnished, were of
great advantage to the trade. iKiilon receiveil high praise for
his work both in Missouri autl the rest of the United States, and
also in Santa Fe, whose jjcople were much benefited by the
cheaper and better goods which they obtained from the Ameri-
cans than they had been g-etting along to that time from their
own counlr\'men. The jealous\- of Mexico's traders, however,
incited the home authorities to increase duties and place f>tber
obstructions on American imi)ortations, but these ke])t on grow-
ing, nevertheless. It was at the time of the separation from
Sprun that the actual trade between Santa I'V and Missouri began.

In the few years following liccknell's Inst successful expedi-
tion, that of 1822, the men who figured i)rominently in the Santa
Fe trade included, among others, Jacob Fowder, Hug-h Glenn,
.several of the Chouteaus, P.raxton Cooper, James O. Pattie, Will-
iam L. Sublette, William Pent, Ceran .St. Vrain, Jedediah S.
Smith (killed on the Cimmaron rivt'r by the Comauches in 1831 ),

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Alcrcditli iM. Alarmadiike ( ckclcil lieutenant governor of
Missouri in 1840, wlio became acting go\'erni)r in 18-J4 through
the death of Thomas Reynolds, and father of John S. Marma-
duke, a noted confederate officer in 18G1-65, who was chosen
governor of Missouri in 1884), Charles P.ent (governor of
New Mexico in 1846-47, who was assassinated b)' Mexicans in
Taos in the latter year), and Josiah Gregg (author of the '"Com-
merce of the Prairies," published in New York in 1844, which
is the principal authority on the rise and development of the
Santa Fe trade), Gen. William Clark, the exjdorer, and super-
intendent of Indian affairs at St. Louis for many years, was also
interested in this commerce. Almost all the ])ersons mentioned
in this connecticjii were resiilents of Missouri, and most of them
lived in St. Louis.

The traders carried to Santa Fe calicoes, silks, cotton goods
of varit)us sorts, shirtings, hardware and oilier articles, and
brought hack gold and silver cliieny, and some furs. Until i8_'.|
the trade was carried on princiiially by pack horses or mules,
by pack animals and wagons from that time till i8j6, and by
wagons exclusively afterward, these being drawn mostly by
oxen in the latter days. This commerce ranged in value from
fifteen thousand dollars in 1822, and one hundred twenty thou-
sand d.)Ilars in 1830, to four hundred fifty thousand dollars in
1843, the latest year quoted by Gregg. After New Mexico's
annexation in 1848 it went to still higher figures, and was nearly
one million dollars a year just before the advent of the railroad.

lM-;mkliu, in Howard count}', Mo., which was swei)t awa\- by
the Missouri river afterward, and which was located opposite
the site of the present P.oonville, was the Santa Fe trail's east-
ern lenriinus until about 1831. Then the overland starting point
was shifted farther westward, to Inde[)endence. Subsequently
it was located at Westport Landing, at the mouth of the Kaw
river, the site of the present Kansas City, at Missouri's west-
ern border. The sharp swing to the northward which the Mis-
souri takes at that place made it the nearest river point to New
Mexico, and Westport Landing remained the fitting out station
until the railroad abolished the caravans. From Kansas City
southweslward to Santa Iv the distance was about 775 miles.
It was the scene of many battles with Pawiiet'S, kiowas,
Comanehes, y\paclies and oilier red raiders of the plains,
niiroughonl the greater p.arl of ils length Ihe Aleliison, Topek.i
and Santa I'e Railroad follows elosels (he Inu' of the old trail,
and when, in 1880, the locomotive first dashed into New Mcx-


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ico's ca|)it;il, the oldest ami most famous of /\mcrica's prairie
'■' lhorou^i;lifares passed into history.

'■'•''■' Politically, this overland commerce between Missouri and the

^'!'' settlements along the upper Rio Grande valley acted in this

" ;' way : It made the inhabitants of the most important part ol

''" New Mexico better acquainted with the United States than they

•'' were with their own country. INIissouri, nearer to them in dis-

''•;' tance, and far nearer to them in time, had much greater inter-

■''''- est for many of them than could be aroused by any of the

'' states ruled from the City of Mexico. Social and business rela-

' ' tions were established between the two peoples which proved

'^■'' more potent than the ties c^f language and blood. The trail frem

the Missouri through Kansas and down to Santa Fe and beyond,

'" which provided a broad and well marked high\va\' along which

■': marched Kearney's, ] )uuiphrin's, 1 'rice's and St. (leorge Cooke's

*'■' soldiers in the sumiiner of 1846, at the brealdug fiut of the war

''' with Mexico, led them to a people who hail become Ameri\;an-

izetl in sentiment in a considerable degree alreadx , and the con-

'• quest of New Mexico was spedly and permanent.

Westport Landing was also for man)' years the beginning of
all the other great overland thoroughfares — to Oregon, to Cali-
fornia, and to the Salt Lake basin. In the settlement of all
those localities, particularly Oregon, T\lissonri wielded an impor-
tant inlluence. From the ])egimiing it took a leading part in
the work by which Oregon was won. In the several 'decades

Online LibraryWeston Arthur GoodspeedThe province and the states, a history of the province of Louisiana under France and Spain, and of the territories and states of the United States formed therefrom (Volume 4) → online text (page 5 of 53)