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The Canoe and the Saddle

A Critical Edition

Theodore Winthrop

Publication Year: 2006

In 1853, with money in his pocket and elegant clothes in his saddlebags, a twenty-four-year-old New Englander of aristocratic Yankee stock toured the territories of California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. The Canoe and the Saddle recounts Theodore Winthrop’s Northwest tour. A novelized memoir of his travels, it became a bestseller when it was published shortly after the author’s untimely death in the Civil War.

This critical edition of Winthrop’s work, the first in over half a century, offers readers the original text with a narrative overview of the nature and culture of the Pacific Northwest and reflections on the ecological and racial turmoil that gripped the region at the time. It also provides a fresh perspective on the aesthetic, historical, cultural, anthropological, social, and environmental contexts in which Winthrop wrote his sometimes disturbing, sometimes enlightening, and always riveting account. Whether offering portraits of Native American culture—in particular, commenting on the Chinook Jargon—making keen and often prescient observations on nature, or deploying transcendental, animist, or Hudson River School aesthetics (likely learned from his friend Frederick Church), Winthrop develops a clear and compelling picture of a time and place still resonant and relevant today.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents / Illustrations

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Many colleagues and friends have made this project possible. Dr. Charles Mutschler, director of Archives and Special Collections at Eastern Washington University’s John F. Kennedy Library, scanned a copy of the book for me and chased down secondary materials. Lisa Scharnhorst of Special Collections ...

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pp. ix-xxvii

In 1853, carrying money in his pocket and elegant attire in his saddlebags, a twenty-four-year-old New Englander named Theodore Winthrop toured the territories of California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia after his job as a clerk in the Panama jungle proved too taxing for his delicate health. ...

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Note on the Text and Printing History

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pp. xxix-xxx

My copy text for this critical edition is a printing from 1863 in the Archives and Special Collections division of the John F. Kennedy Library at Eastern Washington University. I say “printing” because it is not an edition that differed from the 1862 version. A single edition or setting of this book served ...


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pp. xxxi-xxxii

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1. An Entrance

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pp. 1-2

Other mighty streams may swim feebly away seaward, may sink into foul marshes, may trickle through the ditches of an oozy delta, may scatter among sand-bars the currents that once moved majestic and united. But to this heroic flood was destined a short life and a glorious one,—a life all one strong, victorious struggle, ...

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2. A Klalam Grandee

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pp. 3-14

The Duke of York was ducally drunk.1 His brother, King George, was drunk—royally. Royalty may disdain public opinion, and fall as low as it pleases. But a brother of the throne, leader of the opposition, possible Regent, possible King, must retain at least a swaying perpendicular. King George had kept his chair of state ...

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3. Whulge

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pp. 15-35

According to the cosmical law that regulates the west ends of the world, Whulge is more interesting than any of the eastern waters of our country. Tame Albemarle and Pamlico, Chesapeake and Delaware, Long Island Sound, and even the Maine Archipelago and Frenchman’s Bay, cannot compare with it. ...

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4. Owhhigh

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pp. 36-54

It was harsh penance to a bootless man to tramp the natural Macadam1 of minced trap-rock on the plateau above the Sound. The little pebbles of the adust2 volcanic pavement cut my moccasined feet like unboiled peas of pilgrimage. I marched along under the oaks as stately as frequent limping permitted. ...

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5. Forests of the Cascades

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pp. 55-76

To have started with dawn is a proud and exhilarating recollection all the day long. The most godlike impersonality men know is the sun. To him the body should pay its matinal devotions, its ardent, worshipful greetings, when he comes, the joy of the world; then is the soul elated to loftier energies, and nerved ...

Image Plates

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6. ‘‘Boston Tilicum”

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pp. 77-85

Night was now coming,—twilight, dearest and tenderest of all the beautiful changes of circling day was upon us. But twilight, the period of repose, and night, of restful slumbers, are not welcome to campaigners, unless a camp, with water, fodder, and fuel, the three requisites of a camp, are provided. ...

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7. Tacoma

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pp. 86-108

Up and down go the fortunes of men, now benignant, now malignant. Ante meridiem1 of our lives, we are rising characters. Our full noon comes, and we are borne with plaudits on the shoulders of a grateful populace. Post meridiem, we are ostracized, if not more rudely mobbed. At twilight, we are perhaps recalled, ...

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8. Sowee House—Loolowcan

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pp. 109-123

I had not long, that noon of August, from the top of La Tete, to study Tacoma, scene of Hamitchou’s wild legend. Humanity forbade dalliance. While I fed my soul with sublimity, Klale and his comrades were wretched with starvation. But the summit of the pass is near. A few struggles more, Klale the plucky, ...

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9. Via Mala

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pp. 124-135

I was now to enter the world east of the Cascades, emerging from the dense forest of the mountain-side. Pacific winds sailing inland leave most of their moisture on the western slopes of the range. Few of the cloudy battalions that sweep across the sea, and come, not like an invading horde of ravagers, ...

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10. Treachery

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pp. 136-149

People cloddish, stagnant, and mundane, such as most of us are, pretend to prefer sunset to sunrise, just as we fancy the past greater than the present, and repose nobler than action. Few are radical enough in thought to perceive the great equalities of beauty and goodness in phenomena of nature or conditions of life. ...

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11. Kamaiakan

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pp. 150-171

Towing a horse on each side, by a rope turned about my saddlehorn, I moved but slowly. For a hundred yards I felt a premonitory itching in my spine, as if of arrow in the marrow. I would not deign to turn. If vis a tergo1 came, I should discover it soon enough. I felt no inclination to see anything more of any Indians, ...

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12. Lightning and Torchlight

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pp. 172-187

A little before noon we left the hut of blue mud, the mission of Atinam. We forded the shallow river, and Ferdinand cheerily led the way straight up the steep hill-side. From its summit I could overlook, for farewell, the parallel ranges, walls of my three valleys of adventure. There were no forests over those vast ...

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13. The Dalles—Their Legend

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pp. 188-210

Klale the ardent, Gubbins the punchy, Antipodes the lubberly, had not stampeded far in their panic when the great pine-tree torch fell crashing through the woods. Fudnun easily recovered them by the light of dawn,—three horses well fed and well rested, three sinewy nags, by no means likely to be scant of breath ...


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pp. 211-226


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pp. 227-230


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pp. 231-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780803205475
E-ISBN-10: 0803205473

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: Illus.
Publication Year: 2006