Sunday, September 19, 2010

More About The Northwest

At long last I finished the biography of John McLoughlin. I mentioned previously, in a post that may have been too long and opinionated for anyone to read, that missionaries had been most ungrateful and holy men stole his land out from under him.
(in fairness, it should be noted that the Catholics played it straight with him)

That part is true, however the rest of the story restored my faith in America. The territorial legislature in Oregon could not override the federal land decree which had a specific clause robbing John of that which was his. However, they knew he was right and managed to avoid enforcing it. When they became a state they found ways to restore a good portion of it to him and his family. He was out of life before it was all settled but it was in the works.

Not only that but they issued some sort of thing naming him the father of the Oregon territory or something to that effect. He saved countless lives through his generosity and general ability to act in a crisis. They also have a statue of him in DC. Each state gets two. Oregon chose him and the missionary who was closest to being his loyal friend, although that guy wimped out when he should have really stood up. I guess that guy had some redeeming qualities. I'd have chosen someone else but I wasn't there and even now I do not live in Oregon or Washington--the two places whose beginnings he influenced.

If nothing else this man's life was one of pure perseverance. He definitely had a temper and that is what landed him with the fur trading companies. Long story but it involved a very just smacking down of an arrogant British officer who mistreated a woman. In that day, if you weren't in a higher station in life, knocking an officer down in the mud was trouble for you whatever the reason. In some ways life hasn't changed when you consider the M.O. of the El Cajon branch of California Highway Patrol.

Anyway, to some degree justice prevailed and to the benefit of surviving family, the man is remembered as a hero and cornerstone of settlement in the Northwest. It is also possible he prevented another war between the Brits and the USA. At the least he made it less likely at a highly tense time.

Good to see some recognition given a guy who did what was right even though he royally irked his employer, the Hudson's Bay Company, and at times local settlers, in the bargain.

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