« 上一頁繼續 »
mental, as we shall see, in adding to the area of the United States not less than 341,000 square miles—an area greater than that of the six States of Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin combined.
After a little rest and considerable prospecting, the spot was selected for Whitman's Station ; and friendly Indians rendered some slight assistance in erecting the first small house. It was the intention of the missionaries to show the natives how to obtain a livelihood from the soil, the
quality of which they examined with great care. Mr. Spalding, Dr. Whitman, Mr. Gray and Mr. Pambrun in charge of the English trading post, unanimously concluded that some ten acres in all, about the new station, could be cultivated. It was possible, too, in their judgment, that little patches of land along the streams and at the foot of the Blue Mountains of from half an acre to six acres might be made available for the use of the Indians. No white settlement, however, was at that time contemplated.
Six years passed by and the mission was fairly prosperous. One bright October morning, in 1842, Dr. Whitman was summoned to old Fort Walla Walla to see a sick patient, and dined with a party of chief factors (English) and, according to the account of Mr. Gray, some Catholic priests, who had just arrived on their way to the interior of the country. While at the dinner table an overland express came in bringing news that a party of colonists -some one hundred and forty in number-had safely reached Fort Colville. The shouts of delight opened wide Dr. Whitman's eyes. One of the young Britons cried out “Hurrah for Oregon ! America is too late; we have got the country!' Another exclaimed,
“Now the Americans may BUILT 1879.
whistle; the country is ours !” Dr. Whitman was not slow in making the discovery that this emigrant colony had been brought from the Red River settlement as a counter-influence to American emigration. Over these Red River settlers the Hudson Bay Company had unlimited control.
The American missionaries had gained a firm foothold, from which they could not be dislodged without war between Great Britain and the United States. But their influence could be neutralized by the planting of colonies hostile to American institutions and rule. The able and sagacious managers of the Hudson Bay Company, whose chief aim hitherto had been to perpetuate wilderness and propagate fur, had suddenly awakened to the necessity of a change of policy. Holding a lease of Pacific territory onehalf as large as Europe, for use only, and the Oregon portion of it by joint occupancy with the United States, many important questions hinged upon that of English supremacy. Thus the double scheme of peopling Oregon with English subjects, and frightening away all enterprising emigrants from
the United States; “for," as argued by Sir George Simpson, in behalf of England, “ until some other power puts a good title on paper, actual possession must be held to be conclusive in her favor." Dr. Whitman was
the only representative of the United States present; and when he heard the statement that an embassy would soon start for Washington to maintain Oregon as British property because of the founding of the largest settlement, he responded with warmth, “ It shall be prevented, if I have to go to Washington myself.” “But you cannot go there to do it," was the exasperating reply. “I will see," said Dr. Whitman.
As the energetic missionary rode his Cayuse pony back to the lonely mission station, his mind acted with phenomenal rapidity. He must start at once for Washington to induce the government to send a company of settlers over the mountains to possess Oregon. In just twenty-four hours he was on his perilous journey. His wife entreated, and his associates used every argument in the language to prevent the execution of his bold project. A sense of duty to his country prevailed, however, over every other consideration. He even threatened to throw off his connection with the mission if the opposition to his purpose was not abated. His brave wife was the first to yield, and her example was contagious. The narrative of this winter expedition over the mountains would fill our entire space, and we must refer our readers to Mr. Barrows's recently published work on Oregon for a spirited record of its principal and wonderful features. There have been other journeys of vast import to posterity, but none involving higher and broader and more magnificent consequences, or that could possibly equal Whitman's ride in true nobility of motive, in personal intrepidity, romantic persistence, and magnificent results. In Washington, after six years of residence in Oregon, he was prepared to picture with great force the possibilities of the country he had risked his life to save.
In the language of Mr. Barrows, “his knowledge of the case was original, personal and experimental, and at the national capital he made it declarative."
He was absent from his wife and the mission eleven months; and during that time not a line or message from him could be received. The joy when he again appeared, weary and worn, but leading a caravan of eight hundred and seventy-five persons, with two hundred wagons, and thirteen hundred head of cattle, can be more easily imagined than described. He had brought over the mountains many rough adventurers, but also some of the best elements of American society. He had been the life and soul of the whole party—the general in command. Every night a fortification had been made of wagons. Every day he was like an angel of mercy, everywhere present, cheering the weary, mending wagons and broken bones, hunting stray cattle and comfortable resting-places, and continually urging forward the train. “Travel, travel, travel,” was his motto; “nothing else will take you to the end of your journey ; nothing is good for you that causes a moment's delay.” And these families, pouring into the charming Walla Walla valley, scattered themselves here and there, and quickly constructed log-houses for present comfort. It was the army of occupation for Oregon. The fruit from that little mission-house had swollen into proportions equal—it has been estimated—“to thirty-two States as large as Massachusetts."
Although this movement practically settled the question as to which nation Oregon should ultimately belong, yet the Oregon treaty languished until 1846; and even then the boundaries were undefined. It was not a comfortable period for the dwellers in the disputed territory. The conflicting policies of the Hudson Bay Company and of the Americans turned the confused heads of the Indians. The former fostered the natural life of the savage by encouraging him to hunt wild animals; the Americans meant wheat-growing and factories and roads-in short, civilization of the broadest type. It took the Hudson Bay Company many months to close its affairs and retire from the joint occupation of Oregon. In the interim one of the most shocking of Indian massacres converted Walla Walla into a deluge of blood. It was a murderous assault upon the Whitman Mission, beginning on the 29th of November, 1847, and continuing through eight days. The first man slaughtered was the noble Dr. Whitman himself. “My death may do as much good to Oregon as my life can,” had been his prophetic words on a former occasion of great peril. The immediate cause of this succession of blood-thirsty and fiendish acts is supposed to have been the bringing of scarlet fever and measles into the country, which the Indians caught, and becoming restless from pain or fever, would jump into the water or indulge in other imprudences. Of course death followed. Many Indians died; and whisperings were industriously circulated to the effect that Dr. Whitman was poisoning them with his medicines, and would kill them off to secure their lands. They were superstitious to an extravagant degree, very much mixed in their ideas concerning the rival settlers and their differences, and thought the imported diseases were more or less the direct work of the kind doctor who administered to their needs. Thus perished the man who shaped the destiny of the Pacific coast. Mr. Spalding, Dr. Whitman's associate, wrote a detailed account of the tragedy, saying:
“There were connected with or stopping at the station at the time of the massacre seventy-two souls, mostly American emigrants, on their way from the States to the settlements in the Willamette Valley, compelled to stop to winter on account of sickness, give-out teams, or the lateness of