Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/169

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151
The Pacific Railway

ration and Survey of the Valley of Great Salt Lake, the valley where the Mormons already were proving by irrigation the accuracy of Fremont s statement as to its fertility.

Congress took up with energy the matter of a railway to the Pacific, and several exploration routes were planned. Fremont was to survey one, but the leadership was given instead to Captain Gunnison, who proceeded by the "Central Route" over the Sangre de Cristo Pass. Gunnison was killed by Indians at Sevier Lake. He had been stationed at Salt Lake when assisting Stansbury, and while there made a study of Mormonism, The Mormons, or the Latter Day Saints in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake (1852). Mrs. Gunnison believed that the Mormons had instigated the murder of her husband, and Judge Drummond, who tried the case, was of this opinion also, and so stated in a letter to Mrs. Gunnison printed in the edition of 1890. He believed that the murder was carried out by Bill Hickman and eight others. One Mormon was among those slain.

A series of large quarto volumes (thirteen in number, as the last or twelfth volume was issued in two parts) was published on railway surveys by the government: Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean (1855 to 1859). The explorers wrote with grace and facility, as a rule, and these reports form an indispensable library of information on the Far West of the fifties.

While these surveys were going on, an epoch-making link in the chain that was forging between Europe and Cathay was placed by Americans cruising in Asiatic waters: Commodore Perry visited Japan and negotiated the first treaty between a Western people and the Japanese. The record of this achievement is given in a Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan Performed in the Years 1852, 1853, and 1854. Compiled from the Original Notes and Journals of Commodore Perry and his Officers at his Request and under his Supervision by Francis L. Hawkes (1856).

A transcontinental railway became more and more a necessity from numerous points of view, not the least of which was the interchange of products across the Pacific. Preliminary wagon roads were surveyed, and for this purpose Lieutenant