Oregon Historical Quarterly/Volume 3/Review
THE TRUE STORY OF LEWIS AND CLARK.
This book is more comprehensive than its subtitle would indicate. Part one gives the story of George Rogers Clark and the American conquest of the Old Northwest; part two is an account of the Lewis and Clark expedition; part three unfolds the work of William Clark, first as territorial governor of Missouri and then as United States Indian agent, in leading the Indian tribes westward before the advance of the white man.
The book gathers up, at different spots in Virginia, threads of adventure, romance, and war of certain national Ulyssean spirits, weaves them into our national history, carries them across the continent to the mouth of the Columbia, and bringing them back, with one main thread left, the author works a rosette with Saint Louis as the center. Or, to change the metaphor, she clears a highway from the Blue Ridge to the Mississippi and blazes a trail to the Pacific. It is a stupendous task that she essays, the story of the pressing back of the red race by the white, from the Alleghanies to beyond the Missouri, and the penetration of the white race to the Pacific.
Her style is admirably adapted to carry out such a work, but it is quite evident that a plan like that of Mrs. Dye's in "The Conquest" no more lends itself to art than did the lives of the successive generations of pioneers who carried the frontier from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific. Though the lone explorers and pathfinders led very plain lives, hardly conscious of the high purposes they were fulfilling, their work, nevertheless, was exceedingly useful as forerunners of civilization and heralds of national destiny. So with Mrs. Dye's book. Her coign of vantage in her home in the oldest American community on the Pacific Coast for the perspective of our national history, her spirit as an ardent hero-worshipper, her aptitude for biographical narrative, her keen zest for dramatic and historic conjunctions of time or place, her strongly feminine point of view so rarely applied to chapters of adventure, and above all her intense enthusiasm which fuses remotely related details into an integral whole these make "The Conquest "a book useful to the student of history. She was indefatigable in her search for the material for her book, and successful. Many a new clue promising information about some one of the Lewis and Clark party did she find and follow out. Her book represents a fine array of historical material, and not a little of it is new.
She took a large field. Of necessity she could point out only immediate relations of events. The deeper relations, the true proportions, could not be expected. It was natural, too, that salient and relevant facts should be overlooked. For all that the book is a genuine and an important contribution to the literature of American history.