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   Chapter 8 THE FAR WEST (1820-1830)

Rise of the New West, 1819-1829 By Frederick Jackson Turner Characters: 33199

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


In the decade of which we write, more than two-thirds of the present area of the United States was Indian country-a vast wilderness stretching from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean. East of the Mississippi, the pioneers had taken possession of the hardwoods of the Ohio, but over the prairies between them and the Great Lakes the wild flowers and grasses grew rank and undisturbed. To the north, across Michigan and Wisconsin, spread the somber, white-pine wilderness, interlaced with hardwoods, which swept in ample zone along the Great Lakes, and, in turn, faded into the treeless expanse of the prairies beyond the Mississippi. To the south, in the Gulf plains, Florida was, for the most part, a wilderness; and, as we have seen, great areas of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia were still unoccupied by civilization.

West of the Mississippi lay a huge new world-an ocean of grassy prairie that rolled far to the west, till it reached the zone where insufficient rainfall transformed it into the arid plains, which stretched away to the foot-hills of the Rocky Mountains. Over this vast waste, equal in area to France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Denmark, and Belgium combined, a land where now wheat and corn fields and grazing herds produce much of the food supply for the larger part of America and for great areas of Europe, roamed the bison and the Indian hunter. Beyond this, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas, enclosing high plateaus, heaved up their vast bulk through nearly a thousand miles from east to west, concealing untouched treasures of silver and gold. The great valleys of the Pacific coast in Oregon and California held but a sparse population of Indian traders, a few Spanish missions, and scattered herdsmen.

At the beginning of Monroe's presidency, the Pacific coast was still in dispute between England, Spain, Russia, and the United States. Holding to all of Texas, Spain also raised her flag over her colonists who spread from Mexico along the valley of the Rio Grande to Santa Fe, and she claimed the great unoccupied wilderness of mountain and desert comprising the larger portion of Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, as well as California. In the decade of 1820-1830, fur-traders threaded the dark and forbidding defiles of the mountains, unfolded the secrets of the Great Basin, and found their way across the Rockies to California and Oregon; the government undertook diplomatic negotiations to safeguard American rights on the Pacific, and extended a line of forts well into the Indian country; while far-seeing statesmen on the floor of Congress challenged the nation to fulfill its destiny by planting its settlements boldly beyond the Rocky Mountains on the shores of the Pacific. It was a call to the lodgment of American power on that ocean, the mastery of which is to determine the future relations of Asiatic and European civilizations. [Footnote: Cf. Babcock, Am. Nationality (Am. Nation, XIII.), chap. xv.]

A survey of the characteristics of the life of the far west shows that, over Wisconsin and the larger part of Michigan, the Indian trade was still carried on by methods introduced by the French. [Footnote: Masson, Le Bourgeois de Nordwest; Parkman. Old Regime.] Aster's American Fur Company practically controlled the trade of Wisconsin and Michigan. It shipped its guns and ammunition, blankets, gewgaws, and whiskey from Mackinac to some one of the principal posts, where they were placed in the light birch canoes, manned by French boatmen, and sent throughout the forests to the minor trading-posts. Practically all of the Indian villages of the tributaries of the Great Lakes and of the upper Mississippi were regularly visited by the trader. The trading-posts became the nuclei of later settlements; the traders' trails grew into the early roads, and their portages marked out the location for canals. Little by little the fur-trade was undermining the Indian society and paving the way for the entrance of civilization. [Footnote: Turner, Character and Influence of the Fur Trade in Wis., in Wis. Hist. Soc., Transactions, 1889.]

In the War of 1812, all along the frontier of Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, as well as in the southwest, the settlers had drawn back into forts, much as in the early days of the occupation of Kentucky and Tennessee, and the traders and the Indians had been entirely under the influence of Great Britain. In the negotiations at Ghent, that power, having captured the American forts at Mackinac, Prairie du Chien, and Chicago, tried to incorporate in the treaty a provision for a neutral belt, or buffer state, of Indian territory in the northwest, to separate Canada from the United States. [Footnote: Cf. Babcock, Am. Nationality (Am. Nation, XIII.), chap. x.] Taught by this experience, the United States, at the close of the war, passed laws excluding aliens from conducting the Indian trade, and erected forts at Green Bay, Prairie du Chien, Chicago, and Fort Snelling. By order of Secretary of War Calhoun, Governor Cass, of Michigan, made an expedition in 1820 along the south shore of Lake Superior into Minnesota, to compel the removal of English flags and to replace British by American influence. [Footnote: Schoolcraft, Hist, of Indian Tribes, VI., 422; ibid., Narrative Journal; "Doty's Journal," in Wis. Hist. Soc., Collections, XIII., 163.] At the same time, an expedition under Major Long visited the upper waters of the Minnesota River on a similar errand. [Footnote: Keating, Long's Expedition.] An agent who was sent by the government to investigate the Indian conditions of this region in 1820, recommended that the country now included in Wisconsin, northern Michigan, and part of Minnesota should be an Indian reservation, from which white settlements should be excluded, with the idea that ultimately the Indian population should be organized as a state of the Union. [Footnote: Morse, Report on Indian Affairs in 1820.]

The Creeks and Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws of the Gulf region were more advanced towards civilization than the Indians of the northwest. While the latter lived chiefly by hunting and trapping, the southwestern Indians had developed a considerable agriculture and a sedentary life. For that very reason, however, they were the more obnoxious to the pioneers who pressed upon their territory from all sides; and, as we shall see, strenuous efforts were made to remove them beyond the Mississippi.

Throughout the decade the problem of the future of the Indians east of this river was a pressing one, and the secretaries of war, to whose department the management of the tribes belonged, made many plans and recommendations for their civilization, improvement, and assimilation. But the advance of the frontier broke down the efforts to preserve and incorporate these primitive people in the dominant American society. [Footnote: Am. State Paps., Indian, II., 275, 542, et passim; J. Q. Adams, Memoirs, VII., 89, 90, 92; Richardson, Messages and Papers, II., 234, et seq.]

Across the Mississippi, settlement of the whites had, in the course of this decade, pushed up the Missouri well towards the western boundary of the state, and, as the map of the settlement shows, had made advances towards the interior in parts of Arkansas as well. But these were only narrow wedges of civilization thrust into the Indian country, the field of operations of the fur-traders. Successors to the French traders who had followed the rivers and lakes of Canada far towards the interior, the Hudson's Bay Company, and the Northwest Company under British charters had carried their operations from the Great Lakes to the Pacific long before Americans entered the west. As early as 1793, Alexander Mackenzie reached the Pacific from the Great Lakes by way of Canada. [Footnote: Mackenzie, Travels.] The year before, an English ship under Vancouver explored the northwestern coast in the hope of finding a passage by sea to the north and east. He missed the mouth of the Columbia, which in the following month was entered by an American, Captain Gray, who ascended the river twenty miles. The expedition of Lewis and Clark, 1804-1806, made the first crossing of the continent from territory of the United States, and strengthened the claims of that country to the region of the Columbia. [Footnote: Cf. Charming, Jeffersonian System (Am. Nation, XII.), chap vii.]

John Jacob Astor's attempt to plant a trading-post at Astoria [Footnote: Irving, Astoria.] had been defeated by the treachery of his men, who, at the opening of the War of 1812, turned the post over to the British Northwest fur-traders. The two great branches of the Columbia, the one reaching up into Canada, and the other pushing far into the Rocky Mountains, on the American side, constituted lines of advance for the rival forces of England and the United States in the struggle for the Oregon country. The British traders rapidly made themselves masters of the region. [Footnote: Coues (editor), Greater Northwest.] By 1825 the Hudson's Bay Company monopolized the English fur-trade and was established at Fort George (as Astoria was rechristened), Fort Walla-Walla, and Fort Vancouver, near the mouth of the Willamette. Here, for twenty-two years, its agent, Dr. John McLoughlin, one of the many Scotchmen who have built up England's dominion in the new countries of the globe, ruled like a benevolent monarch over the realms of the British traders. [Footnote: Schafer, Pacific Northwest, chap. viii.] From these Oregon posts as centers they passed as far south as the region of Great Salt Lake, in what was then Mexican territory.

While the British traders occupied the northwest coast the Spaniards held California. Although they established the settlement of San Francisco in the year of the declaration of American independence, settlement grew but slowly. The presidios, the missions, with their Indian neophytes, and the cattle ranches feebly occupied this imperial domain. Yankee trading-ships gathered hides and tallow at San Diego, Monterey, and San Francisco; Yankee whalers, seal- hunters, and fur-traders sought the northwest coast and passed on to China to bring back to Boston and Salem the products of the far east. [Footnote: R. H. Dana, Two Years before the Mast.] But Spain's possession was not secure. The genius for expansion which had already brought the Russians to Alaska drew them down the coast even to California, and in 1812 they established Fort Ross at Bodega Bay, a few miles below the mouth of Russian River, north of San Francisco. This settlement, as well as the lesser one in the Farallone Islands, endured for nearly a generation, a menace to Spain's ascendancy in California in the chaotic period when her colonies were in revolt. [Footnote: H. H. Bancroft, Hist. of California, II., 628; Hittel, Hist. of California.]

In the mean time, from St. Louis as a center, American fur-traders, the advance-guard of settlement, were penetrating into the heart of the vast wilderness between the Mississippi and the Pacific coast. [Footnote: Chittenden, Am. Fur Trade of the Far West] This was a more absolute Indian domain than was the region between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi at the end of the seventeenth century-an empire of mountains and prairies, where the men of the Stone Age watched with alarm the first crawling waves of that tide of civilization that was to sweep them away. The savage population of the far west has already been described in an earlier volume of this series.[Footnote: Farrand, Basis of Am. Hist. (Am. Nation, II.), chaps, viii., ix., xii.; see also chap. iv. On the location of the Indians, see map, p. 309; Chittenden, Am. Fur Trade, II., pt. v., chaps, viii., ix., x.; Bureau of Ethnology, Seventh Annual Report.]

With the development of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, the most flourishing period of the St. Louis trade in the far west began. The founder of this company was William H. Ashley, a Virginian. Between the autumn of 1823 and the spring of the next year, one of his agents erected a post at the mouth of the Bighorn, and sent out his trappers through the Green River valley, possibly even to Great Salt Lake. A detachment of this party found the gateway of the Rocky Mountains, through the famous South Pass by way of the Sweetwater branch of the north fork of the Platte. This pass commanded the routes to the great interior basin and to the Pacific Ocean. What Cumberland Gap was in the advance of settlement across the Alleghenies, South Pass was in the movement across the Rocky Mountains; through it passed the later Oregon and California trails to the Pacific coast.

On the lower Missouri and at various places in the interior,[Footnote: See map, p. 114; Chittenden, Am. Fur Trade, I., 44-51 (describes posts, etc.).] stockaded trading-posts were erected by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and its rival, the American Fur Company. In these posts the old fur-trade life of the past went on, with French half-breed packmen and boatmen, commanded by the bourgeois. But in some of the best trading-grounds, the savages declined to permit the erection of posts, and so, under Ashley's leadership, bands of mounted American trappers, chiefly Kentuckians, Tennesseeans, and Missourians, were sent out to hunt and trade in the rich beaver valleys of the mountains. The Rocky Mountain trappers were the successors to the Allegheny frontiersmen, carrying on in this new region, where nature wrought on a vaster plan, the old trapping life which their ancestors had carried on through Cumberland Gap in the "dark and bloody ground" of Kentucky.

Yearly, in June and July, a rendezvous was held in the mountains, to which the brigades of trappers returned with the products of their hunt, to receive the supplies for the coming year. Here, also, came Indian tribes to trade, and bands of free trappers, lone wanderers in the mountains, to sell their furs and secure supplies. [Footnote: Irving, Bonneville, chap. i.] The rendezvous was usually some verdure-clad valley or park set in the midst of snow-capped mountains, a paradise of game. Such places were Jackson's Hole, at the foot of the lofty Tetons, Pierre's Hole, not far away, and Ogden's Hole, near the present site of Ogden, in Utah. Great Salt Lake was probably first visited by Bridger in 1824, and the next year a party of Hudson Bay trappers were expelled by Americans who took possession of their furs. In 1826, Ashley carried a six-pounder cannon on wheels to Utah Lake for the defense of his post.

A new advance of the American fur-trader was made when Jedediah Smith succeeded Ashley as the leader in Rocky Mountain trade and exploration. In 1826 he left the Salt Lake rendezvous with a party of trappers to learn the secrets of the lands between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Proceeding to the southwest along the Virgin River, Smith descended it to the Colorado, and crossed the desert to San Diego, California. Here, by the intercession of a Yankee captain then in that port, he obtained supplies from the Spaniards, and turned to the northwest, traveling parallel to the coast for some three hundred miles to wintering grounds on the headwaters of the San Joaquin and the Merced. Leaving most of his party behind, he crossed the mountains, by a route south of the Humboldt, and returned to Great Salt Lake.

Almost immediately he set out again for California by the previous route, and in 1827 reached the San Jose mission. Here he was arrested by the Spanish authorities and sent under guard to Monterey, where another Yankee skipper secured his release. Wintering once more in California, this time on the American Fork, he reached the coast in the spring of 1828, and followed the Umpquah River towards the Oregon country. While he was absent, his camp was attacked by the Indians and fifteen of his men killed. Absolutely alone, Smith worked his way through the forest to Fort Vancouver, where he enjoyed the hospitality of Dr. McLoughlin through the winter. In the following spring he ascended the Columbia to the Hudson Bay posts among the Flatheads, and made his way in the summer of 1829 to the rendezvous of his company at the Tetons. In three years this daring trader, braving the horrors of the desert and passing unscathed from Indian attacks which carried off most of his companions, opened to knowledge much of the vast country between Great Salt Lake and the Pacific. [Footnote: H. H. Bancroft, California, III., 152-160, citing the sources.] In 1831, while

on the Santa Fe trail, Smith and his companions lost their way. Perishing with thirst, he finally reached the Cimaron, where, as he was digging for water in its sandy bed, he was shot by an Indian.

Thus the active men of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, in the decade between 1820 and 1830, revealed the sources of the Platte, the Green, the Yellowstone, and the Snake rivers, and the characteristics of the Great Salt Lake region; they pioneered the way to South Pass, descended Green River by boat, carried cannon into the interior basin; showed the practicability of a wagon route through the Rockies, reached California from Salt Lake, crossed the Sierras and the deserts of Utah and Nevada, and became intimately acquainted with the activity of the British traders of the northwest coast. [Footnote: Chittenden, Am. Fur Trade, I., 306.]

Already an interest in Oregon and the Rocky Mountain region was arising on the eastern seaboard. In 1832, Captain Bonneville, an officer in the United States army, on leave of absence, passed with a wagon-train into the Rocky Mountains, where for nearly three years he trapped and traded and explored. [Footnote: Irving, Bonneville.] Walker, one of his men, in 1833, reached California by the Humboldt River (a route afterwards followed by the emigrants to California), and made known much new country. A New England enthusiast, Hall Kelley, had for some years been lecturing on the riches of the Oregon country and the need of planting an agricultural colony there. It was natural that Boston should be interested in the Oregon country, which was visited by so many vessels from that port. In 1820, New England missionaries settled in the Hawaiian Islands, closely connected by trade with the coast. In 1832, Nathaniel Wyeth, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, led a party of New-Englanders west, with the plan of establishing a trading and fishing post on the waters of the Columbia. [Footnote: Chittenden, Am. Fur Trade, I., 435; Wyeth's "Journals" are published by the Oregon Hist. Soc.; cf. Irving, Bonneville, chap. vi.]

With Wyeth, on a second expedition in 1834, went the Reverend Jason Lee and four Methodist missionaries. Two years later came Dr. Marcus Whitman and another company of missionaries with their wives; they brought a wagon through South Pass and over the mountains to the Snake River, and began an agricultural colony. Thus the old story of the sequence of fur-trader, missionary, and settler was repeated. The possession of Oregon by the British fur-trader was challenged by the American farmer.

Contemporaneously with the development of the fur-trade in the Rocky Mountains, a trade was opened between St. Louis and the old Spanish settlements at Santa Fe. Although even in the days of Washington adventurous frontiersmen like George Rogers Clark had set their eyes on Santa Fe and the silver-mines of the southwest, it was not until the Mexican revolution (1821), when Spain's control was weakened throughout her whole domain, that systematic trade was possible. In 1822, Becknell, of Missouri, took a wagon-train to Santa Fe, to trade for horses and mules and to trap en route. Year after year thereafter, caravans of Missouri traders found their way across the desert, by the Santa Fe trail, with cottons and other dry-goods furnished from St. Louis, and brought back horses, mules, furs, and silver. The trade averaged about one hundred and thirty thousand dollars a year, and was an important source of supply of specie for the west; and it stimulated the interest of St. Louis in the Mexican provinces. The mode of handling the wagon-trains that passed between Missouri and Santa Fe furnished the model for the caravans that later were to cross the plains in the rush to the gold-fields of California.[Footnote: Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies; Chittenden, Am. Fur Trade, II., chap. xxix.] By 1833 the important western routes were clearly made known.[Footnote: Semple, Am. Hist. and its Geographic Conditions, chap, x.] The Oregon trail, the Santa Fe trail, the Spanish trail, and the Gila route [Footnote: Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie; H. H. Bancroft, Hist. of California, III., 162.] had been followed by frontiersmen into the promised land of the Pacific coast and the southwest. In the course of ten years, not only had the principal secrets of the topography of the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, the passes across the Sierra Nevadas been revealed, but also the characteristics of the Spanish-American settlements of California and the Rio Grande region. Already pioneers sought Texas, and American colonization was preparing for another and greater conquest of the wilderness.

The interest of the United States government in the far west in this period was shown in exploration and diplomacy. Calhoun projected an extension of the forts of the United States well up the Missouri into the Indian country, partly as protection to the traders and partly as a defense against English aggressions. Two Yellowstone expeditions [Footnote: Chittenden, Am. Fur Trade, II., 562; Long's Expedition (Early Western Travels, XIV.-XVII.).] were designed to promote these ends. The first of these, 1819-1820, was a joint military and scientific undertaking; but the military expedition, attempting to ascend the Missouri in steamboats, got no farther than Council Bluffs. Mismanagement, extravagance, and scandal attended the undertaking, and the enterprise was made an occasion for a political onslaught on Calhoun's management of the war department.

The scientific expedition, under Major Long, of the United States Engineering Corps, ascended the Missouri in the Western Engineer, the first steamboat which navigated those waters above St. Louis-a stern-wheeler, with serpent-mouthed figure-head, through which the steam escaped, bringing terror to the savages along the banks. The expedition advanced far up the South Platte, discovered Long's Peak, and camped near the site of Denver. Thence the party passed to La Junta, Colorado, whence it broke into two divisions, one of which descended the Arkansas; the other reached the Canadian River (which it mistook for the Red) and descended to its junction with the Arkansas. The effort to push the military power of the government to the mouth of the Yellowstone failed, and the net result, on the military side, was a temporary post near the present site of Omaha.

The most important effect of the expedition was to give currency to Long's description of the country through which he passed as the "Great American Desert," unfit for cultivation and uninhabitable by agricultural settlers. The whole of the region between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains seemed to him adapted as a range for buffalo, "calculated to serve as a barrier to prevent too great an extension of our population westward," and to secure us against the incursions of enemies in that quarter. [Footnote: Long's Expedition (Early Western Travels, XVII.), 147, 148.] A second expedition, in 1825, under General Atkinson and Major O'Fallon, reached the mouth of the Yellowstone, having made treaties with various Indian tribes on the way.

In the mean time, Congress and the president were busy with the question of Oregon. By the convention of 1818, with Great Britain, the northern boundary of the United States was carried from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains, along the forty-ninth parallel. Beyond the mountains, the Oregon country was left open, for a period of ten years, to joint occupation of both powers, without prejudice to the claims of either. Having thus postponed the Oregon question, the secretary of state, John Quincy Adams, turned to his Spanish relations. Obliged by Monroe to relinquish our claim to Texas in the treaty of 1819, by which we obtained Florida, he insisted on so drawing our boundary-line in the southwest as to acquire Spain's title to the Pacific north of the forty-second parallel, and to the lands that lay north and east of the irregular line from the intersection of this parallel with the Rocky Mountains to the Sabine. Adams was proud of securing this line to the Pacific Ocean, for it was the first recognition by an outside power of our rights in the Oregon country.[Footnote: Treaties and Conventions (ed. of 1889), 416, 1017; Babcock, Am. Nationality (Am. Nation, XIII.), chap, xvi.; J. Q. Adams, Memoirs, IV., 275.]

Although Russia put forward large and exclusive claims north of the fifty-first parallel, which we challenged, the contest for Oregon lay between England and the United States. At the close of 1820, Floyd, of Virginia, moved in the House of Representatives to inquire into the feasibility of the occupation of the Columbia River; and early the next year [Footnote: Annals of Cong., 16 Cong., 2 Sess., 945; J. Q. Adams, Memoirs, V., 238, 243-260.] a committee report was brought in, discussing the American rights. Floyd's bill provided for the military occupation of the Columbia River, donation of lands to actual settlers, and control of the Indians. No vote was reached, however, and it was not until the close of 1822 that the matter secured the attention of Congress.

Whatever may have been his motives, Floyd stated with vividness the significance of western advance in relation to the Pacific coast. He showed that, while in 1755, nearly a hundred and fifty years after the foundation of Jamestown, the population of Virginia had spread but three hundred miles into the interior of the country, during the last forty-three years population had spread westward more than a thousand miles. He recalled the days when more than a month was required to furnish Kentucky with eastern goods, by way of Pittsburgh, and when it required a voyage of over a month to pass from Louisville to New Orleans and nearly three months for the upward voyage. This had now been shortened by steamboat to seven days down and sixteen days up. From these considerations and the time from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia by steamboat and wagon, he argued that Oregon was no more distant from St. Louis in 1822 than St. Louis was twenty years before from Philadelphia. The fur-trade, the whale and seal fisheries, the trade with China, and the opportunity for agricultural occupation afforded by Oregon were all set forth.[Footnote: Annals of Cong., 17 Cong., 2 Sess., 397.]

Against the proposal, his opponents argued inexpediency rather than our treaties with Great Britain. Tracy, of New York, doubted the value of the Oregon country, and, influenced perhaps by Long's report, declared that "nature has fixed limits for our nation; she has kindly introduced as our Western barrier, mountains almost inaccessible, whose base she has skirted with irreclaimable deserts of sand."[Footnote: Ibid., 590.] In a later debate, Smyth, of Virginia, amplified this idea by a proposal to limit the boundaries of the United States, so that it should include but one or two tiers of states beyond the Mississippi. He would remove the Indians beyond this limit, and, if American settlements should cross it, they might be in alliance with, or under the protection of, the United States, but outside of its bounds. [Footnote: Register of Debates, 18 Cong., 2 Sess., I., 37.]

Baylies, of Massachusetts, declared that there were living witnesses "who have seen a population of scarcely six hundred thousand swelled into ten millions; a population which, in their youth, extended scarcely an hundred miles from the ocean, spreading beyond the mountains of the West, and sweeping down those mighty waters which open into regions of such matchless fertility and beauty." "Some now within these walls may, before they die, witness scenes more wonderful than these; and in aftertimes may cherish delightful recollections of this day, when America, almost shrinking from the 'shadows of coming events,' first placed her feet upon untrodden ground, scarcely daring to anticipate the grandeur which awaited her." Tucker, of Virginia, agreed that settlement "marches on, with the increasing rapidity of a fire, and nothing will stop it until it reaches the shores of the Pacific," which he estimated would be by 1872. But he was loath to see it accelerated, believing that the people on the east and the west side of the Rocky Mountains would have a permanent separation of interests. [Footnote: Annals of Cong., 17 Cong., 2 Sess., 422.] Nor were even western men sanguine that the nation could retain the Pacific coast as an integral part of its vast empire. Senator Benton, of Missouri, was the congressional champion of the far west. Born in interior North Carolina, he had followed the frontier to Tennessee, and then, after killing his man in a duel and exchanging pistol-shots in a free fight with Jackson, he removed to the new frontier at St. Louis. Pedantic and ponderous, deeply read in curious historical lore, in many ways he was not characteristic of the far west, but in the coarse vigor with which he bore down opposition by abuse, and in the far horizon line of the policies he advocated, he thoroughly represented its traits.

Familiar as he was with frontier needs and aspirations, he urged the United States to block England's control of the northwest, and to assert title to the Oregon territory, with the idea of ultimately founding a new and independent American nation there. It is true that he admitted that along the ridge of the Rocky Mountains "the western limit of this republic should be drawn, and the statue of the fabled god Terminus should be raised upon its highest peak, never to be thrown down." [Footnote: Register of Debates, I., 712.]

Nevertheless, in his utterances the ideal of expansion was not to be mistaken. He spoke bravely in favor of the protection and extension of the fur-trade, [Footnote: Annals of Cong., 17 Cong., 1 Sess., I., 416; cf. ibid., 18 Cong., I Sess., I., 456.] pointing out that inasmuch as England occupied Oregon, she would, under the law of nations, have the right of possession until the question of sovereignty were decided. He warned his countrymen, in 1823, that Great Britain would monopolize the Pacific Ocean, and by obtaining control of the Rocky Mountain fur-trade would be able to launch the Indians of the north and west against the frontiers of Missouri and Arkansas, Illinois and Michigan, upon the first renewal of hostilities between the United States of America and the king of Great Britain. [Footnote: Ibid., 17 Cong., 2 Sess., 246-251.]

Benton believed that, within a century, a population greater than that of the United States of 1820 would exist on the west side of the Rocky Mountains; and he saw in the occupation of the northwest coast the means of promoting a trade between the valley of the Mississippi, the Pacific Ocean, and Asia. Upon the people of eastern Asia, he thought, the establishment of a civilized power on the opposite coast of America would produce great benefits. "Science, liberal principles in government, and the true religion, might cast their lights across the intervening sea. The valley of the Columbia might become the granary of China and Japan, and an outlet to their imprisoned and exuberant population…. Russia and the legitimates menace Turkey, Persia, China, and Japan; they menace them for their riches and dominions; the same Powers menace the two Americas for the popular forms of their Governments. To my mind the proposition is clear, that Eastern Asia and the two Americas, as they have become neighbors, should become friends." [Footnote: Register of Debates, I., 712.]

With true western passion he denounced the relinquishment of Texas by the treaty of 1819. "The magnificent valley of the Mississippi is ours," he proclaimed, "with all its fountains, springs, and floods and woe to the statesman who shall undertake to surrender one drop of its water, one inch of its soil, to any foreign power." He was ready for a war with Spain, believing that it would give the United States the Floridas and Cuba, "the geographical appurtenance of the valley of the Mississippi"; that it would free the New from the Old World; and that it would create a cordon of republics across the two continents of North and South America. He pointed to the west as the route to the east-the long-sought way to India; and, in imagination, he outlined the states to be laid off "from the center of the valley of the Mississippi to the foot of the shining mountains." "It is time," he wrote, "that Western men had some share in the destinies of this republic." [Footnote: Meigs, Benton, 98, 99, cf. 91.]

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