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TheOldRepublicintheWest DanielFeller. The Public Lands in JacksonianPolitics. Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984. 264+ xvipp. DanL. Flores,ed. Jefferson and Southwestern Exploration: The Freeman and Custis Accounts of theRed River Expedition of 1806. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984.386 + xxpp. ThelmaS. Guild and Harvey L. Carter. Kit Carson: APatternfor Heroes. Lincoln and London: University ofNebraskaPress, 1984.367 + xiipp. PollyWeltsKaufman, ed. Women Teachers on the Frontier.NewHaven and London: YaleUniversity Press,1984.270 + xxiii pp. JamesP.Ronda. Lewis and Clark among the Indians.Lincoln and London: University of NebraskaPress, 1984.310 + xvpp. Craig Banyan Twodecades ago WilliamH. Goetzmann, inExploration and Empire, provided us with an examination of the reconnaissance of the American Far West. Early in that many-faced monograph, he briefly traced the rovings of Peter Skene Ogden through the distant mountain and basin regions of the United States.Ogden had been sent by the Hudson's Bay Company to create a "fur desert"that would seal out American traders. He failed to do that but, finding the Humboldt River and probing southward to the Gulf of California, he accomplished feats of trail blazing. Ogden had carried the frontier of British North America down to the region of the Gila River. For Goetzmann, Ogden's efforts pointed up the very different nature of American penetration. Commercial objectives were important to westering Americans, and even the most grubby mountain men dreamt of becoming prosperous merchants: the men on the far frontier of the United States were expectant Jacksonian capitalists. Yet Goetzmann found them also determined to see that their countrymen peopled the "vacant" area between the Missouri and the Pacific. Wilderness men therefore willingly and consciously served as pawns in the diplomatic game that would bring that vision of landed expansion to fulfillment. Ogden, while skilled and tenacious, was merely the fur trading employee of a semifeudal monopoly which sought only profits. HisAmerican counterparts were something more. They were advance agents of the Republic. 1 Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 17,Number 2, Summer 1986, 189-200 190 Craig Banyan Their hopes reflected the perspective of the Jeffersonian Republicans. Reasoning from a widely accepted viewof historical change, the Jeffersonians feared that rapid increase in the American population would be inevitable and that population growth would destroy the rough agrarian equality upon which American freedom rested. The multiplication of people meant that many would be denied land and would be thrust instead into swollen cities. In those places they would become the willing and subservient instruments of men with wealth and power enough to imprison their dependents in a livelihood that was as meager as it was servile. Westward expansion could halt the political and moral degeneration that came with population growth. New land guaranteed to each family a competence which made for the responsible and uncorrupted citizen. Granted there would be the problem of insuring markets for the agricultural produce of the U.S.,diplomacy and judicious support of commerce and manufacturing could, however, contribute to the solution of that problem. 2 On the other hand, statesmanship, no matter how skilled, could not create unoccupied land. The frontiersman and explorer provided the knowledge which made accessible that given of the North American continent. They were heroes who helped to freeze in time the purity and order of the Revolution. The problem faced by these men was not simply geographical, however; Indians were also a given of the continent, and they were an uncertain element in the equation of expansion. This uncertainty stemmed in part from the flux in Indian life. As Anglo-Americans began to penetrate the region, native power structures and trading systems were thrown into upheaval. Change in the lives of trans-Mississippi Indians was accelerated at the end of the eighteenth century by a number of factors. Contact with Europeans had long before brought the horse. Now there was an increase in guns, in disease, and in woodlands Indians displaced from the East. The fortunes of western Indians could vary disconcertingly. Generally, guns came from the northeast and horses from the southwest. Tribes situated at the intersection of these streams had an advantage. Such was the position of the horticultural and village dwelling Mandans...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 189-200
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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