Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/158

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Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

have been written by Theodore Roosevelt (1887) and by William M. Meigs (1904).

As the fourth decade of the nineteenth century opened, California was receiving many emigrants from the Eastern States, chiefly by the Oregon Trail. About this time appears on the scene a striking personality, John A. Sutter, independent, indefatigable, who immediately created a unique fortified settlement which, having been born in Switzerland, he called New Helvetia, but which was known generally as Sutter's Fort. It was begun in 1841 and completed in 1845, on the site of the present city of Sacramento. Although Sutter was Swiss he may be classed as an American in view of all the circumstances connected with his life. His fort mounted carronades and cannon and was garrisoned by about forty well armed, drilled, uniformed Indians. There were extra arms for more if needed. In his "Diary"[1] printed in the Argonaut (San Francisco, 26 Jan., 2, 9, 1 6 Feb., 1878) Sutter tells of his own doings, and in the Life and Times of John A . Sutter (1907) T. J. Schoonover relates the entire story of this remarkable pioneer, the good friend of everybody but "bankrupted by thieves."

By 1846 the dispute with Great Britain over Oregon was settled and the Americans there knew where they belonged. They had been warmly defended and assisted by the then head of Hudson Bay Company affairs in that region, John McLoughlin, who himself finally became an American. The story of his life is given by Frederick V. Holman, John McLoughlin, The Father of Oregon (1900), and in McLoughlin and Old Oregon (1900) by Mrs. Emery Dye.

Benton's son-in-law, John C. Frémont, had conducted an expedition in 1842 along the Oregon Trail to the Wind River Mountains, and he was selected to carry on a new reconnaissance, ostensibly to connect the survey of the Oregon Trail with survey work done on the Pacific Coast by Wilkes. But this 1843-44 expedition did not halt in Oregon. It headed southward into Mexican territory along the eastern edge of the Sierras, hunting for a mythical Buenaventura River that would have made a fine military base had it existed. Not discovering that entrancing Elysian valley, Frémont crossed the high Sierras in dead winter to Sutter s Fort, returning by the

  1. See also Reminiscences in MS., Bancroft Collection