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Hall Jackson Kelley 

Prophet of Oregon 


This strange, eccentric man can almost be called the prophet 
of Oregon, the father of migration to Oregon, the man who 
hastened the fulfillment of Oregon's dieatiny .—Harvey W. Scott 

Reprinted from Oregon Historical Quarterly 
VOL. XVIII. No. 1-2-3-4, 1917 

Portland, Oregon 

The Ivy Press 



1790 - 1874 

Hall Jackson Kelley 

Prophet of Oregon 


This strange, eccentric man can almost be called the prophet 
of Oregon, the father of migration to Oregon, the man who 
hastened the fulfillment of Oregon's destiny. — Harvey W. Scott 

Reprinted from Oreeon Historical Quarterly 
VOL. XVIII. No. 1-2-3-4. 1917 

Portland. Oregon 

The Ivy Press 


Among a people prone to extremes the character of the in- 
dividual rarely receives its deserts. For this hero the laurel 
wreath is made so big as to slip over one of his ears and hang 
by the other ; then we laugh at him. For that hero there is no 
laurel wreath at all. And it is only to the great dead that we 
are steady in esteem. To spoil by a very insanity of hero- 
worship ; to embitter by the most ignorant and callous neglect : 
in these extremes is contained the whole critical faculty of the 
cleverest, the most chivalrous, the kindest, and the most 
thoughtless people in the world. — Gonverneur Morris. 

If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps 
it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to 
the music that he hears, however measured or far away. — 


In this monograph is presented the Hfe story of Hall Jack- 
son Kelley, a Boston school master who about 1817 became 
interested in Oregon, and from 1824 to 1844 was active in 
the movement for its settlement by American citizens. It 
tells of his success and of his failures, and of the service 
which justly entitles him to be known as the "prophet of 

So far as possible the narrative is given in Kelley's own 
words, but all available materials have been used which in 
any way supplement or amend his writings. At the most our 
information is fragmentary and unsatisfactory on many points ; 
but as Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge has said, "We can only deal 
with what we have, and from what we possess must infer the 
rest, for that alone is permitted to us. The inference thus 
drawn is history." Not that inferential judgments have been 
formed where investigation might have disclosed the fact. The 
search for facts has been pursued for ten years through a 
score of libraries in all parts of the country, with the results 
which appear in the pages that follow. 

To those who, in common with Mr. Lodge, require that 
history be "informed by imagination and presented with the 
finest skill of which literature is capable." this contribution 
may have little appeal. It is intended for those whose interest 
lies within the field of the great westward movement in Amer- 
ican history and the history of the Northwest Coast. Surely 
a record of fact is desirable concerning a man who has been 
mentioned so often and yet so seldom with accuracy. 

F. W. P. 
Glen Ridge, N. J. 


Chapter. Page 



III. THEAMERICANSOCIETY— Plans and Propaganda 25 

IV. THEAMERICANSOCIETY— Delay and Failure - 48 
V. EN ROUTE— Boston to Vera Cruz - - - - 55 

VI. EN ROUTE— Across Mexico ----- 63 

VII. EN ROUTE— San Bias to Fort Vancouver - - 79 

VIII. IN OREGON— An Unwelcome Guest - . . 93 




TORY - - - - 139 

Appendix. "MR. KELLEY'S MEMOIR" - - - - 161 

Hall Jackson Kelly 

Prophet of Oregon 

Youth and Early Manhood 

Any statement as to Kelley's early life must be pieced 
together from fragments now at hand over forty years after 
his death as a worn-out old man. That he was born at North- 
wood, New Hampshire, February 24, 1790, is set forth by the 
town records. He was a descendant of John Kelley, one of 
the settlers of Newbury, Massachusetts. His grandfather was 
Samuel Kelley of Salem, and his father was Benjamin Kelley, 
a native of Salem and a physician who practiced in the New 
Hampshire towns of Northwood, Loudon, and Gilmanton. His 
mother was Mary ("Polly") Gile of Nottingham. 

Kelley was a boy of ten when his family went to Gilmanton 
after four years' residence in Loudon. Fie attended Gilmanton 
academy, and at the age of sixteen taught school at Hallowell, 
Maine. ^ In 1813 he graduated from Middlebury college, Ver- 
mont, with the degree of A.B.^ From his own words it is 
possible to picture the sort of boy he was. 

"Blessed with intelligent and pious parents, who led me in 
early youth to fear God, I came into active life serious minded; 
and much inclined to consider my ways, and to seek to know 
what could make me useful and happy. Before the years of 
manhood, I resolved on a fearless obedience to the divine com- 
mands . . .^ Pious, maternal instructions, in early youth 

1 Lancaster, Hist, of Gilmanton, 229, 250, 274; Cogswell, Hist, of Nottingham, 
Deerfleld and Northwood, 584; Temple, Hist, of the Tozvn of Palmer, 265. 

2 The nature of his college environment is indicated by the fact that thirteen 
out of twenty-nine members of his class entered the ministry. 

3 Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon, 6. 

much inclined me to lead an active and useful life . . .■* 
It was a mother who taught me never to take the name ot 
God in vain — never to be guilty of the sin of insulting the 
Almighty with the breath he gives. She impressed my mind 
with a profound and pious reverence for Jehovah, and with a 
high and solemn veneration for the institutions of Christianity ; 
and so impressed it with the love of truth, that not a single 
doubt, as to the divine authenticity of the Scriptures, ever 
profaned the sanctuary of my heart. Her instructions and 
examples inclined me to be diligent and persevering in busi- 
ness, and faithful and patient in the discharge of duties ; to be 
hospitable and merciful, — when enemies hunger and thirst, to 
feed them, and give them drink; and to bless them that 
persecute . . . 

"Early in youth I acquired a fondness for reading. The 
post came along once a week and left at my father's house the 
newspaper. Besides accounts of events, accidents and remark- 
able occurrences, it contained bulletins concerning the terrible 
wars then raging in Europe, and thrilling accounts of Bona- 
parte's invading and devastating armies. They were new to 
me, and I read wth an intense desire to know about them. 
. . . I read them, and was led to read books and papers of 
every kind as they came to hand. They were calculated to 
inspire ambition and to interest my feelings. ... I did 
not then, so early in youth, understand the distinctions proper 
to be made as to the conductors in those wars. But afterwards, 
in riper years, reading, hearing and observations enabled me 
better to comprehend the meaning of what was read, and better 
to discriminate between lovers of their country and philan- 
thropists, and traitors and misanthropes. Hence, was my 
fondness for reading and itching ears for news. At 
once I left my juvenile plays and sports, and turned 
to books and papers. I read at times through the day, 
and more than once through the night. When taking up a 
book, treating on some subject I would wish to comprehend, 

4 Kelley, Hist, of the Colonisation of Oregon, s- 


it was not laid down until I understood all its pages could 
inform me. 'Neil's History of the Indians of New England,' 
the first ever published, and other histories of that benighted 
and oppressed people were read. While preparing for college 
I have more than once studied my Virgil lessons by moonlight ; 
in this way, often times I overstrained the optic nerves, the 
stress so often brought upon them caused near-sightedness 
and to be slow of apprehension. . . . 

"At the age of fourteen I first experienced a difficulty in 
utterance. For one or two years I suffered an impediment in 
my speech ; in the presence of superiors was unable readily to 
begin utterance. About the time of entering college I dis- 
covered myself to be 'slow of speech' (of apprehension). . . ,"^ 

Earnest, introspective, and diffident, he was also religious to 
the degree of fanaticism. "In my youth the Lord Jesus re- 
vealed to me in visions the lonely, laborious and eventful life 
I was to live; and gave at the time of the visions, and after- 
wards, unmistakable signs that the revelations were by Him."' 
In practical matters, however, he showed early in life a dis- 
position to get at the truth through actual experiment. Thus 
he said: 

"A year or two prior to my entering college, much was said 
in the papers in regard to a perpetual motion. I went into a 
workship determined on knowing the reality of such a motion, 
spent several days in an attempt to find out the truth about it. 
After several days of study and mechanical labor, I was en- 
abled to demonstrate its impossibility. . . ."'^ 

Of his college life little is known except that he enjoyed the 
respect of his fellow students as a young man who could be 
relied upon to meet the problems which presented themselves. 

"When 'in college,' my class was put to the study of astron- 
omy. For the purpose of illustrating, I constructed an 
Orrery — a machine showing the pathways of the moon round 

5 Settlement of Oregon, 6, 13-4. 

6 Ibid., 134. 

7 Ibid., 10. 

the earth, and the earth round the sun. Lead pencils fixed to 
the axes of those bodies, and the machine put in motion, their 
orbits were exactly delineated on paper. It was similar to a 
figure on one of the plates of Ferguson's Astronomy. My 
class-mates thought me to have some inventive power and 
mechanical ingenuity. In my Junior year, a Senior, whose 
class had been required to calculate and project a certain 
eclipse of the sun, which would happen far in the future, came 
to me, saying, if he could be furnished within twenty-four 
hours, with an accurate projection of that eclipse, he would 
give me $5.00. I promptly complied with his request, and the 
money was promptly paid, and was very acceptable, being, as 
I was at the time, in needy circumstances."^ 

Kelley sought his opportunity in Boston, where he again 
became a school teacher.^ On May 4, 1815, he married Mary 
Baldwin, a daughter of Rev. T. Baldwin, D.D.^^ On the 
records of the school committee of Boston Kelley's name first 
appears as master of the West reading school, a position to 
which he was appointed on September 29, 1818, after several 
weeks' service as a substitute during the last illness of his 
predecessor. On June 17, 1820, Kelley was appointed master 
of the Hawkins Street grammar school, and on March 20, 1821 
he became reading and grammar master of the Mayhew school. 
Here, it appears, he became involved in "difficulties" with the 
usher, whose dismissal was recommended by the sub-com- 
mittee of the Mayhew school. Further inquiry was made into 
the matter by a special committee headed by the mayor, Josiah 
Quincy, with the result that on July 18, 1823, the secretary 
was directed to inform Kelley that the school committee would 
dispense with his services, but that his salary would be con- 
tinued through the quarter. 

As to the results of his educational activities, he claimed, "I 
improved the system of coimnon school education in my adopted 

8 Ibid., 9-10. 

9 Ibid., 51-2. 

10 Middlebnry College, General Catalogue, 1800-1900, 46; Temple, 265. 

State. The Black Board and the Monitorial Desk were first 
introduced into the schools of Boston by me. The late dis- 
tinguished Joseph Lancaster was the first to use them."^^ Now 
that the blackboard has fallen into disfavor and the Lan- 
casterian monitorial system has been long since abandoned 
by educators, no one is likely to dispute the claim. He also 
interested himself in the subject of industrial education, "I 
attempted the founding of an institution, to be called, 'Massa- 
chusetts Mechanical and Agricultural College/ The subject 
was two years before the legislature. The Committee on Edu- 
cation said to me, that if I would raise a fund of $10,000, the 
State would give $10,000 more. A munificent individual of 
Charlestown proposed to subscribe $2,000 ; myself would give 
a portion of my estate in the town."^^ The project was aban- 
doned; but Kelley expressed satisfaction that "his zealous ef- 
forts . . . excited in others of abler talents, correspondent 
intentions and labors, which resulted, in some small benefit, to 
our literary institutions."^^ However active he may have been 
in promoting this movement, he was not its originator; nor 
does his name appear in any of the published documents relat- 
ing to the matter.^^ 

Kelley's interest in the welfare of youth also prompted him 
to take an active part in the organization of the Boston Young 
Men's Education Society, of which he was the first secretary, 
and in the founding of the Penitent Females' Refuge, which 
was organized in 1821 and incorporated in 1823.^^ His strong 

1 1 Settlement of Oregon, 8-9. 

12 Ibid., 4. 

13 Kelley, Geographical Sketch of Oregon, 5. 

14 In 1825 the legislature received a memorial from the town of Stock-bridge 
praying for the endowment of "an institution best calculated to afford instruction 
to laborious classes in practical arts and sciences." A brief report was made by a 
committee of the house of representatives within the year, and a joint committee 
was appointed to "prepare and digest a system" for such an institution. — Mass. 
Resolves, 1825, c. 88. This committee presented two reports in 1826 and a third 
in 1827 and also a bill "To establish the Mass. Seminary of Arts and Sciences." 
This bill provided for an appropriation of $20,000, not $10,000 as stated by 
Kelley, the grant being contingent upon the raising of $10,000 by subscriptions and 
donations. — Governor's Messages in Mass. Resolves, VI, 381, 579; also H. Doc. 5 
and S. Doc. 23 of 2 sess. 1826-7. \\'hi!e this matter was under discussion, the 
legislature was also considering the needs of the elementary schools, the result 
being a revised education law, passed in 1827. It was undoubtedly this act that 
Kelley had in mind when referring to the results of the labors of "others of 
abler talents." 

15 Settlement of Oregon, 74. 

religious bent naturally led him to attempt to promote the 
systematic study of the Bible. "The first Sunday School in 
Boston and perhaps New England was organized by me with 
the assistance of the late Rev. Daniel Chessman. In 1820, or 
the year following, I prepared for the use of the Sunday 
Schools in Boston, a small book called Sunday School In- 

As a writer of elementary school books, Kelley met with 
considerable favor, if we are to judge by the number and 
variety of editions. First came The Instructor's First Book.^^ 
Diligent search has failed to bring to light a single copy of this 
work, and its date of publication is unknown. It was doubtless 
the same as the First Spelling Book, Or Child's Instructor, the 
eighth edition of which was published in 1827. In 1825 ap- 
peared The American Instructor, Second Book, which accord- 
ing to the title page was "Designed for the common schools in 
America ; containing the elements of the English language ; 
lessons in orthography and reading, and the pronunciation of 
Walker's Critical Pronouncing Dictionary ; all made easy by 
the arrangement and division of words, and an improved use 
of figures and letters." A second edition was published in 
1826. A fifth edition, published in 1827, bore the title Kelley's 
Second Spelling Book. There was a further change of title 
in 1832, when The Western Spelling Book was published in 

The American Instructor contains selections for reading on 
geography, agriculture, architecture, mechanics, astronomy, and 
prosody, with special attention to Thomson's poetry. Its frontis- 
piece shows Minerva, book in hand, directing two boys to the 
"temple of fame" on a nearby height ; a globe, a compass, and 

i6 Kelley, Explanatory Remarks, Ms. attached to a copy of Kelley's Second 
Spelling Book, presented to the Amherst college library about 1869. 

"In 18 1 8 provision was made for the instruction of children from four to 
seven years of age. The primary schools established for this purpose seem to have 
originated in a general desire of our citizens to relieve the Sunday-schools from 
the great amount of secular instruction received there, which was fast crowding 
out the reli^ous training that should be the object of such institutions." — Dillaway, 
Education, in Winsor, Memorial Hist, of Boston, IV, 245. 

1 7 Stttiement of Oregon, 9. 

several books giving to the scene a scholarly setting. "De- 
lightful task to rear the tender thought ;" so runs the legend. 
This, of course, was Kelley's only by adoption. It was typical 
of that generation of school masters who forced our grand- 
mothers, while in their 'teens, to read and appreciate such 
ponderous books as Watts' Improvement of the Mind; and — 
it helps us to understand Kelley.^^ 

According to the minutes of the meeting of the corporation 
of Middlebury college held on August 16, 1820, Kelley was 
"admitted to the degree of Master of Arts." This was not an 
"honorary" degree, as we now understand the term, for ac- 
cording to the president of the college, "as it was quite cus- 
tomary at that period to confer that degree upon any graduate 
of more than three years' standing who applied for it, it could 
not be regarded as a distinguished honor." Within the year 
Harvard also conferred the same degree ad eundem gradum}^ 

Kelley was twice married. His second wife was Mary Perry, 
adopted daughter of T. D. Bradlee of Boston, to whom he 
was married on April 17, 1822 at Boston. They had three 
sons, Benjamin, John S., and Charles H. His first wife also 
left a son, Thomas B.-'^ 

After his second marriage, and probably after his dismissal 
from the Boston schools, Kelley took up his residence in 
Charlestown. Many years later, he gave a description of his 
property in Charlestown and Boston. There was an "estate 
in Milk Row, Charlestown," and four other "estates." "One 
comprised twelve acres of land ; and is situate near Craigie's 
Point, Charlestown. . . . The other three consisted of 
houses and lands, situate in Boston, where at this time [1854] 
are the Lowell, the Eastern and the Western railroad depots. 

i8 "Perhaps no spelling book while this was extant, and its author was about 
in the land looking to its interest, had a wider circulation and was more popular: 
and perhaps there was no book of the kind more perfect in orthography and 
laethod of showing the true vowel sound and correct pronunciations. Walker's 
orthography as far as it regards words ending with lick and our is now an objection 
to its use — tnet of Webster now being generally adopted in the schools." — Kelley, 
Explanatory Remarks, Ms. 

19 Harvard University, Quinquennial Catalogue, igiS: 817. 

30 Middlebury College, General Catalogue, 1800-1900: 46; Temple, 365. 

. . . They had been purchased in anticipation of improve- 
ments which it was supposed would much enhance their 
value."-^ This is evidence that early in life Kelley possessed 
a certain amount of business enterprise. His subsequent busi- 
ness ventures were of quite another sort. 

We do not know when Kelley took up the work of a sur- 
veyor. We do know that he was interested in higher mathe- 
matics, and he tells us that as early as 1815 he had conceived 
what he considered an improved system of geographical and 
topographical surveying. After declaring that the system in 
general use was unsatisfactory in both theory and practice, he 

"The system which I propose scarcely admits of an error. It 
points out an easy and correct mode of running the lines re- 
quired in the survey. My method has many advantages over 
that now in practice. 

"The numerous errors of the compass are entirely avoided. 
The interests of the land proprietor are better promoted, and 
the wide door so much open for litigation, which often costs 
him his freehold, is effectually closed. It is the only simple 
method by which right lines, having a given course, can be 
run with precision. It is attended with as much certainty as 
the high operation of trigonometrical surveys. "^^ His nearest 
approach to a definite description of his system appeared in 
the Manual of the Oregon Expedition, or General Circular, in 
which he set forth the manner in which divisions of lands 
should be made in Oregon. 

"All boundaries of towns, and lots of land, will be identified 
with meridian lines, and parallels of latitude, — not by the 
parallels as found on the surface of the earth, where they are 
crooked, as the hills and depressions make them uneven ; but 
by such, as they would be, provided the surface was smooth. 
. . . It is, however, true, that the divisions of land, as they 
lay south of each other, increase in quantity, in proportion to 

21 Kelley, harrative of Events and Difficulties, 6. 

22 Settlement of Oregon, ii. 

the divergence of the meridian lines ; nevertheless their bound- 
aries will be distinctly marked, and their contents exactly 
known. A country thus surveyed, gives the advantage of 
ascertaining, without admeasurement, the relative position or 
distance of any one place from another, consequently the lati- 
tude and longitude of the metropolis being determined, those of 
any other place are known. "^^ 

Confident that the principle he advocated would be of great 
public utility if generally adopted and practiced, he presented 
his system to the national government in the form of a petition 
to congress on April 10, 1830.-'* 

It was as a surveyor that Kelley in 1828 became interested 
in the affairs of the Three Rivers Manufacturing company, 
which had been incorporated in 1826 to build and operate a 
textile mill in the village of Three Rivers in the town of 
Palmer, Massachusetts. This village, which was then but a 
hamlet, lies at the point where the combined waters of the 
Ware and Swift rivers join the Quaboag and form the Chic- 
opee, which is one of the branches of the Connecticut. The 
company had met with unexpected difficulties in digging a 
canal, for its engineers were unable to make much progress 
on account of the solid granite rock near the dam which they 
had built. Kelley put his money as well as his efforts into the 
project. He made surveys and prepared a comprehensive plan, 
including the manufacturing plant, the water power, and the 
village itself. One of his hobbies was straight streets and 
rectangular blocks (a natural reaction in a Boston engineer), 

23 Kelley, General Circular, 13. 

24 "The [senate] committee [on naval affairs] to which the subject was referred, 
for a good and obvious reason, gave the investigation of the subject to General 
[Simon] Bernard, then at the he id of the corps of civil engineers. 

"This profound mathematician carefully examined the papers and the formula 
I had prepared for their illustration, reported an opinion highly creditable to his 
own talent, liberally estimating the talents of the memorialist. Notwithstanding the 
system was recommended as being worthy of public adoption, yet nothing was 
done to bring it into practice. President Jackson promised to adopt it, whenever 
a book, giving directions for its practice and a proper apparatus, should be pre- 
pared. I had described minutely the apparatus and the manner of using it, and had 
negun the table of deflections necessary for the book, and this was all my Oregon 
enterprise afforded me time to do. The tables might require for their preparation 
one or two yeirs of assiduous attention of some learned mathematician." — Settle- 
ment of Oregon, lo-i; 21 cong. i sess. S. jour., 236, 275. 

but the position of the rivers and the configuration of the land 
fortunately limited his efforts in that direction. True to his 
New England inheritance, he reserved land for a small com- 
mon in the center of the village. 

The company soon became bankrupt, however, and Kelley 
lost heavily. At the sale of the company's property, he pur- 
chased some land, having become enthusiastic about the ulti- 
mate prosperity of the village ; and early in 1829 he brought his 
family from Charlestown and established his home there.^' 

Kelley was now in his fortieth year; yet in the record of 
his life as here set forth, there is little that would seem to 
bear out his early vision of a "lonely, laborious and eventful 
life." It is a workaday record of a school master and a man 
of small affairs. We have now to consider the man of dreams — 
and his all-possessing dream of the settlement of Oregon. 

25 Settlement of Oregon, 23; Temple, 262-3: Alkn, The Town of Palmer, in 
Copeland, Hist, of Hampden County, II, 144. Temple is authority for the state- 
ment that Kelley projected a canal from Three Rivers to the Connecticut river for 
the transportation of the supplies and goods of the mill and village. This plan 
was not new, however. The citizens of nrookfield, at .1 public meeting held on 
May 23, 1825, had proposed the construction of a canal to Springfield, via the 
Quaboag and Chicopee rivers. — Springfield Republican, June i. 1825. The canal- 
fniilding spirit was at its height in Massachusetts in the twenties. 



Years of Agitation 

The Biddle version of the journals of Lewis and Clark was 
published in 1814.^ On December 24, 1814, the War of 1812 
between Great Britain and the United States was terminated 
by the Treaty of Ghent, which provided that "All territory, 
places, and possessions whatsoever, taken by either party from 
the other during the war . . . shall be restored without 
delay," and ratifications were exchanged early in 1815. At 
the end of the war, Astoria, John Jacob Astor's trading station 
and fort at the mouth of the Columbia river, was held by the 
British, by whom it had been renamed "Fort George." Under 
the terms of the treaty the United States announced its inten- 
tion of asserting sovereignty over this fort and the region of 
the Columbia, but no response came from Great Britain. Ac- 
cordingly a sloop of war was dispatched in September, 1817 
to take possession. This action compelled the British to declare 
themselves, which they did by asserting a claim to the territory 
upon the ground that it had been "early taken possession of in 
his majesty's name, and had been since considered as forming 
part of his majesty's dominions." 

These events served to arouse great interest in the Pacific 
Northwest. It was only natural, therefore, that Hall Jackson 
Kelley should have sought out the Lewis and Clark journals 
and read with avidity all that they had to tell of the far-off 
land. Here was a young man with boundless enthusiasm and 
ambition, and with energy which refused to be confined. Fate 
had placed him in Boston, the home port of Captain John 
Kendrick, Captain Robert Gray, and the Winships. There 
were men in Boston who could tell of their voyages and of 

I The History of the t.xpedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and 
Clark, to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky mountains and 
down'the River Columbia to the Pacific ocean. Philadelphia, 1814. 2 v. 


the nature of the disputed lands. Such an opportunity was not 
to be neglected. To Kelley it meant an objective which dwarfed 
all other interests and governed his thoughts and movements 
throughout the rest of his long life. Of his awakening, or 
"vision" as he termed it, he said : 

"In the year 1817 'the word came expressly to me' to go and 
labor in the fields of philanthropic enterprise and promote the 
propagation of Christianity in the dark and cruel places about 
the shores of the Pacific. . . ? The perusal of Lewis and 
Clark's journal, personal conference with intelligent navigators 
and hunters who had visited and explored the territory beyond 
the Rocky mountains, and facts derived from other sources 
entitled to credit . . . satisfied me that this region must, 
at no remote period, become of vast importance to our Gov- 
ernment, and of deep and general interest. ... I foresaw 
that Oregon must, eventually, become a favorite field of mod- 
ern enterprise, and the abode of civilization."^ 

In another place, writing in the third person, he declared : 
"He then conceived the plan of its colonization, and the 
founding of a new republic of civil and religious freedom, on 
the shores of the Pacific Ocean . . . and without con- 
ferring with flesh and blood, and in despite of entreaties of 
prudent, worldly-wise friends, he resolved on the devotion of 
his life in the realization of his plans, hoping to do something 
worthy the sacrifice, by planting, in the genial soil of those 
regions, the vine of Christianity and the germ of Civil Free- 

His plans developed slowly, however, for he needed first 
to inform himself as to the nature of the Oregon country ; its 
climate, its soil, its natural products, and its native inhab- 
itants. The possibilities of trade with the Atlantic states, 

2 Kelley, Htst. of the Settlement of Oregon, 124; see also Kelley, Petition. 
1866: I. Kelley himself was uncertain as to the exact date of the conception of 
his colonization idea. In pn earlier stateinent lie said it was "about the year 
1818." — Kelley, Memorial, 1844, in Palmer Sentinel, December 10, 1846. 

3 Kelley, Memoir, in Committee on Foreign Affairs, Territory of Oregon, 
supplemental report, 47, 25 cong. 3 sess. li. rep. loi. 

4 Petition, j866: 1. 

with Mexico and South America, and with the Asiatic peoples 
demanded investigation, and the possibihty of a practicable 
route overland invited attention. No less important was the 
question of title to the territory itself. Besides, there was 
the immediate, personal matter of a livelihood. As we have 
seen, Kelley became a master in the Boston public schools in 
1818 and continued in that employment until 1823, when he 
left it not at his own desire. The prudent man when he finds 
himself out of one position, looks for another; not so Kelley, 
who now took up the matter of Oregon to the practical exclu- 
sion of lesser interests. 

Meanwhile, events had been shaping themselves in such a 
manner as to emphasize the need for action. In 1818 by the 
joint-occupation treaty it was agreed that the disputed territory 
west of the Rocky mountains should be "free and open for 
the term of ten years" thereafter ; thus leaving the question of 
title unsettled while putting a premium upon early occupa- 
tion. By the Florida treaty, Spain in 1819 ceded to the United 
States all claims to the Northwest country. Russia, -/owever, 
in 1821 asserted a claim to lands in that territory as far south 
as the fifty-first parallel. Within the year, by act of parliament, 
the North-West company was merged with its great rival, the 
Hudson's Bay company, thus strengthening and consolidating 
British interests in that region. Already, December 19, 1820, 
the expediency of occupying the Columbia river had been 
brought to the attention of the house of representatives by John 
Floyd of Virginia, and a committee had been appointed to in- 
quire into the situation, but "more through courtesy to a 
respected member, than with any view to business results" f 
and the attitude of the succeeding congress was no more favor- 
able to positive action. 

We have no means of knowing as to how familiar Kelley 
was with contemporaneous developments on the Columbia, or 
even with the proceedings of congress, but we may safely 
assume that he knew of Floyd's activity and of the disposition 

5 Benton, Thirty Years' View, I, 13. 


of the national government to defer official action. To assume 
less would be to deny to Kelley that marked propensity for 
getting information which so distinguished him in all cases 
of which we have knowledge. 

"In the year 1824," he tells us, "I announced to the world 
my intention to settle Oregon, and to propagate in regions 
beyond the Rocky mountains, Christianity."^ In the same year 
Russia formally abandoned all claims to territory on the Amer- 
ican continent south of 54 degrees 40 minutes, thus removing 
another obstacle in the way of American occupation. Yet Kel- 
ley's first memorial to congress was not introduced until Febru- 
ary 11, 1828. His name was first mentioned in the deliberations 
upon the Floyd bill on December 24, 1828, and then it was 
obscured through the reporter's error. It is necessary, there- 
fore, to consider in some detail the activities of those persons, 
who like Kelley, but independently of him, sought to influence 
congress to act, particularly those who signified their desire 
to establish permanent settlements in the Oregon country. 

Most prominent among those who interested themselves in 
the Oregon question was that champion of the West, Thomas 
Hart Benton of Missouri. Although a practicing lawyer, Ben- 
ton edited the St. Louis Enquirer, perhaps as early as 1815, 
and used its editorial columns as a means of promoting West- 
ern interests and his own political advancement. Some of his 
articles he reprinted in 1844 in a booklet bearing the title, 
Selections of Editorial Articles from The St. Louis Enquirer 
On the Subject of Oregon and Texas As Originally Published 
in that Paper in the Years 1818-19 and Written by the Hon. 
Thomas H. Benton. According to the preface these articles 
were reprinted to arouse interest in the Oregon question at 
the State Democratic convention soon to be held, and to call 
attention to the "statesman-like foresight which those who now 
read them, for the first time, will duly appreciate." When a 
politician assumes to present historical materials tending to 

6 Settlement of Oregon 20. This was also the year in which Dr. John Mc- 
Loughlin was commissioned Chief factor of the Hudson's Bay company in the 
territory west of the Rocky mountains. 


show his "statesman-like foresight," the historian must exercise 
all possible caution. When that politician is Benton, the need 
for caution is imperative, for in him were combined the qual- 
ities of unquestioned personal integrity and of equally unques- 
tioned political agility. So this booklet with its selections bear- 
ing no dates more specific than those on the title page, could 
hardly be accepted in the absence of supporting evidence. 

Fortunately, we have such evidence and of a conclusive char- 
acter. There is nowhere a complete file of the St. Louis En- 
quirer, but from the numbers available it is possible to identify 
one of the selections.'^ Furthermore, if such evidence were 
lacking, it would be possible to prove that as early as 1819 
Benton's newspaper was giving space to the discussion of the 
settlement of Oregon. In the Independent Chronicle and Bos- 
ton Patriot of June 9, 1819, appeared an article "from the St. 
Louis Enquirer" under the head, "The Columbia River." This 
article is reproduced in part below : 

"The project of some citizens of Virginia to settle on the 
Columbia, revives the idea of a town or colony on that river. 

"Mr. John Jacob Astor of New York, made an establishment 
at its mouth just before the commencement of the last war, 
which was broken up soon after by British and Indian hostility. 

"The Virginians contemplate an establishment on the navig- 
able waters of the Columbia, but we should think that the place 
of its junction with the Multnomah would furnish the most 
eligible. — These rivers unite their streams, in tide water, one 
hundred and twenty miles from the Pacific Ocean, and a short 
distance below the range of mountains. From thence to Asia 
the navigation would be easy and direct, the distance not great, 
and the sea so peacable, as its name indicates, that no more 
mariners would be wanting to conduct a ship, than hands 
enough to set her sails at the outset of the voyage, and take 
them down at its termination. To the same point also (the 

7 The editorial, "Treaty of 1818 — Columbia River" (Selections, 8-q) appeared 
in the St. Louis Enquirer of March 17, 1819. The Enquirer on January 6, 1821, 
reprinted an article "from the Western Spy" on "Commerce with Asia," which 
declared "A series of essays on this subject was published in the St. Louis En- 


confluence of the rivers) would come the commerce, at pres- 
ent chiefly drained by the Multnomah and the Columbia; a 
region embracing fourteen degrees of longitude, and sixteen 
or eighteen of latitude, larger than all the Atlantic states put 
together, and possessing a climate as mild as that of Europe. 
An establishment formed at that place would doubtless receive 
many immigrants from Asia. . . . 

"Whatever may be the result of the Virginia company, the 
progress of the fur trade itself, will form a town at the point 
indicated. Its trade may at first be limited to furs; but in 
process of time it will become the emporium of that rich East 
India commerce which is destined to find its way into the valley 
of the Mississippi ; by the Columbia and Missouri rivers. And 
when this time arrives, a new Tyre will be seen in the west, 
of which the old, and although 'queen of cities,' will have fur- 
nished but a faint image of power and splendor." 

While this article does not appear among the Selections, the 
subject matter is the same and the style is the same. Both may 
be traced to a common source in the chapter on "View of the 
Country on the Columbia," in Brackenridge's Views of Louis- 
iana, from which Benton quoted with credit in the Selections.* 
Thus he quoted from Brackenridge the following paragraph: 

"The route taken by Lewis and Clarke across the mountains, 
was perhaps the very worst that could have been selected. 
Mr. Henry, a member of the Missouri company, and his hunt- 
ers, have discovered several passes, not only very practicable, 
but even in their present state, less difficult than those of the 
Allegany [sic] mountains. These are considerably south of 
the source of the Jefferson river. It is the opinion of the 
gentleman last mentioned, that loaded horses, or even wagons, 
might in its present state, go in the course of six or eight days, 
from a navigable point on the Columbia, to one on the waters 

8 Henry Marie Brackenridge, Views of Louisiana ; together with a journal of a 
voyage up the Missouri river in 1811. Pittsburgli, 1814; 304 pp. Thus, Benton 
said: "Look to the mip. See the Arkansas, the PIntte, and the Yellow Stone, all 
issuing together from the Rocky Mountains in the neighborhood of the sources of 
the Buenaventura and the Multnomah [Snake], which issue from the opposite side; 
the mountains between no more than gentle swells, over which loaded waggons 
may easily pass." — P. 7. 


of the Missouri. — Thus, rendering an intercourse with settle- 
ments which may be formed on the Columbia, more easy of 
access than between those on the heads of the Ohio, and the 
Atlantic States."* 

He quoted further from Brackenridge to emphasize that the 
soil in the vicinity of the Columbia is rich, the climate more 
temperate than in the same latitude in the United States, and 
the natives very numerous (although he omitted a sentence 
telling of the "almost continued fog, and drizzling showers 
of rain, which renders it extremely disagreeable near the sea"). 
From this he concluded: "This seems to indicate a capacity of 
supporting a dense population, practically exemplified by the 
number of inhabitants who live upon its spontaneous pro- 

He then proposed the establishment of a series of posts along 
the overland route from the Missouri to the Columbia, thus 
opening "A channel to Asia, short, direct, safe, cheap, and 
exclusively American, which invites the enterprise of American 
citizens, and promises to them a splendid participation in the 
commerce of the East. . . . Nothing is wanting, but a 
second Daniel Boone to lead the way, and thousands of ardent 
spirits would immediately flock to develop its vast means of 
agriculture and commerce, and to open a direct trade between 
Asia and America. . . . With the aid of the American 
government, the trade upon this route would immediately 
begin. That aid is not required in money, but in government 
protection ; in giving to an American fur company an act of 
incorporation, with leave to form a port of entry at the mouth 
of the Columbia, and to establish a chain of posts and trading 
stations from thence to the upper navigable waters of the 
Missouri river. With these aids the enterprising citizens of 
the West are now ready to commence this trade. In two years, 
they would have it in operation, and would begin a revolution 
in commerce which would check the drain of gold and silver 
from the United States, and revive upon the banks of the 

9 Pp. 1 1-2; Brackenridge, 96. 


Columbia and Missouri the wonders of Tyre and Palmyra, of 
Memphis and Ormus. Without that aid, and the same revolu- 
tion will be eventually accomplished,"^® 

While Benton was writing of the necessity of a transconti- 
nental route to the Columbia river country, another man was 
developing the same idea. This man (perhaps the editor, John 
S. Skinner) in an anonymous article, which appeared in the 
July 9, 1819 number of the American Farmer of Baltimore, 
proposed "The Bactrian camel as a beast of burthen for culti- 
vators, and for transportation across the continent, to the 
Pacific ocean." Under this head he presented a glowing pic- 
ture of the possibilities of the Northwest, its fertile soil, its 
great quantities of excellent timber, its productive fisheries, 
and its salubrious climate as indicated by its numerous and 
robust population of Indians. He continued : 

"Settlements, will, no doubt, very soon grow up, and spread 
along the shores of the Columbia river with astonishing rapid- 
ity ; — and the young athletic powers of our government will, 
ere long, launch into its waters a fleet to move along the coasts 
of the Pacific, and take under its protection the commerce, 
which the enterprise of our citizens will soon create and extend 
over those seas, to an incalculable amount. ... To enable 
the government to wield its potent energies with effect, and 
to give to the American people the means of exerting their 
enterprising commercial spirit to the greatest advantage, and 
to enable them to make due profit from the great resources 
of their country, it has become necessary, that a short, direct, 
and certain means of communication should be established into 
every quarter, to the most remote point, and particularly over 
the continent to the Pacific Ocean. 

"Steam Boats have effected much ; our improvements and 
facilities of intercourse, in that way, have justly attracted the 
admiration of the civilized world; but there are physical diffi- 
culties and obstacles which that masterly invention can neither 
surmount nor remove, with all its skill and power. . . . 

10 Pp. 12, i8, 22-3, -1- See also Brackenridge, 96-7. as to the practicability of 
an overbnd route as a means of developing the trade with the East Indies. 


Therefore, whatever advantage may be derived from steam boat 
transportation of heavy articles, by the way of the Missouri, 
into the interior, it must certainly be abandoned as. the mail 
route to the coast of the Pacific, and, also, I am inclined to 
believe, as the route for the transportation of any article across 
the continent, farther than the Yellow Stone River. . . ." 
He therefore proposed the establishment of communications by 
the most direct route and the use of the Bactrian camel, whose 
good qualities he proceeded to set forth at great length, and 
concluded with the question, "Why not add the majestic, long 
lived, placid, and valuable Bactrian Camel to the number of the 
auxiliary laborers & carriers for the active citizens of the 

This question was answered by Robert Mills, in a Treatise 
on Inland Navigation, published in Baltimore in 1820, in which 
he proposed the application of steam as the "moving power 
to carriages, upon rail roads across the mountains" between the 
Yellowstone and the Columbia. In this book Mills followed 
the article in the American Farmer so closely as to suggest 
common authorship, were it not for his reference to a "late 
writer" in connection with an extensive quotation from that 
article.^^ This book went through two editions. Like the 
article upon which it was based, it served to spread abroad 
the idea that at our very doors lay an undeveloped territory 
of great possibilities, and that means should be devised to 
make it more accessible to emigrants. 

When we come to inquire as to the source from which the 
unknown sponsor of the Bactrian camel obtained his informa- 
tion as to the Northwest, the name of Benton suggests itself. 
When we inquire as to the person responsible for arousing 
Floyd's interest in that country, we find that again it was 

At the opening of the second session of the sixteenth con- 

11 I, 113-5. Tlie descriptive part of this article was reprinted in the New 
England Palladium and Commercial Advertiser of Boston, July 14, 1820. 

12 Pp. 53-9. See also Cleveland and Powell, Railroad Promotion, 259-64. 


gress in December, 1820, Benton was in Washington as sen- 
ator-elect from the new state of Missouri, awaiting- formal ad- 
mission to his seat. There he had quarters at Brown's hotel 
with Congressman Floyd, Ramsay Crooks of New York, and 
Russell Farnham of Massachusetts. Crooks and Farnham 
had been in the service of John Jacob Astor on the Northwest 
Coast. Floyd had already become interested in Western af- 
fairs during his early residence in Kentucky, and he had read 
the articles which Benton had published in the St. Louis 
Enquirer. These circumstances led to earnest conversations 
among the four men ; and Floyd determined to bring the 
question of occupation to the attention of congress. ■'^ He re- 
newed his efforts in the following congress and continued his 
endeavors until 1829, when he became governor of Virginia. 
He died in 1837; and it does not appear that he was active in 
the movement after leaving congress. 

On February 22, 1823, Peter Little of Maryland presented 
to the house "a. memorial from eighty enterprising farmers 
and mechanics within his district, praying congress to pass 
the [Floyd] bill now on the clerk's table, for the occupation of 
the mouth of the Columbia river, intimating their wish to re- 
move thither, for the improvement of that country, and of their 
own condition."^'* 

Benton's first formal action in the matter was taken on 
January 10, 1825, when he reported to the senate the Floyd 
bill, which had already been passed by the house. ^^ 

Growing interest in the Oregon question is indicated by the 
proceedings of the twentieth congress. The terms of the joint- 
occupation agreement had been continued indefinitely in 1827, 
but made terminable upon a year's notice. On February 11, 
1828, Floyd presented a "memorial of citizens of the United 
States, praying for a grant of land, and the aid of Government 
in forming a colony on the Northwest coast of the United 

13 Benton, Thirty Years' View, I, 13; 16 cong. 2 sess. Annals of Congress, 
XXXVII, 679, 945-59; H. jour., 80, 171. 

14 17 cong. 2 sess., Annals of Congress, XL, 1077; H. jour., 250. 

15 18 cong. 2 sess. S. jour., 74. 


States." The speaker, Andrew Stevenson of Virginia, also 
presented a similar memorial "from Alfred Townes of Ken- 
tucky."^^ The memorial presented by Floyd declared that the 
"memorialists . . . are mostly engaged in agricultural 
and mechanical pursuits" and that "they for themselves, and 
three thousand others who will associate in solemn covenant 
with them" asked for a grant of land on the Oregon river 
between the forty-sixth and forty-ninth parallels of latitude 
and extending from the Pacific ocean to a longitudinal line 
one hundred miles from the mouth of the river." 

This memorial was the work of Kelley, as was explained by 
Edward Everett of Massachusetts during the following session 
on December 29, 1828. According to the record : 

"His attention had been turned to the subject by the circum- 
stance, that he had been called on by a constituent (at the 
head of an association which wished to emigrate to the region 
in question), to submit a memorial to congress, at the last 
session, which, in his own necessary absence, Mr. E. stated 
he had done, through the courtesy of the gentlemen from 
Virginia (Mr. Floyd). . . . His thoughts had been in this 
way directed to the subject and he confessed that he had formed 
a very favorable impression of the general nature of the pro- 
posed measure."^^ 

On December 10, 1828, Henry H. Gurley of Louisiana pre- 
sented "a petition of James M. Bradford, and twenty-four 
others, stating that they have associated together for the pur- 
pose of removing to, and permanently settling on, the waters 
of the Columbia or Oregon river, within the territorial limits 
of the United States, as a company to hunt, trap, and trade — 
praying for grants of land, and other encouragement."^® 

1620 cong. I sess. H. jour., 280. 

\7 Settlement on the Oregon River, 20 cong. i sess. H. doc. 139. 4 pp. 

18 20 cong. 2 sess. Register of Debates, V, 132. "As early as 1826, I began 
to communicate with members of Congress upon the subject of the settlement of 
Oregon; that year, I think, with the Hon. Timothy Fuller, member of the House 
[from Massachusetts], and with the Hon. Edward Everett in 1827." — Settlement of 
Oregon, 93. As Fuller's last term expired in March, 1825, Kelley was clearly in 
error; and if we are to accept his stritement, which is unquestionably true as to 
Everett, we must give him credit for a year earlier than he claimed. 

10 20 cong. 2 Bcss. H. jour., 44. 


The matter was taken up for discussion in the committee of 
the whole house on the state of the Union on December 23. 

1828. Gurley proposed an amendment to the Floyd bill, pro- 
viding for a grant of land forty miles square to Bradford's 
New Orleans company. Everett, however, "stated that, in 
that part of the country from which he came, there was an 
association of three thousand individuals, respectable fanners 
and artizans, who stood ready to embark in this enterprise, as 
soon as the permission and protection of the Government should 
be secured to them." He therefore raised the question whether 
an exclusive grant of land such as was proposed would be fair 
to other prospective settlers as enterprising and meritorious as 
those of the New Orleans company. 

The obnoxious provision was therefore stricken out on the 
following day, and the amendment was further modified "by 
inserting the names of Paul and J. Kelley [sic], and his asso- 
ciates (a similar company from Massachusetts), and Albert 
Town [sic] and his associates, (a company from Ohio), as 
entitled to the permission granted by the bill."^ 

Of Kelley's other activities during the years from 1824 to 

1829, we know little. That he engaged in little if any remuner- 
ative employment is certain,^^ though his engagement as a 
land surveyor by the Three Rivers Manufacturing company 
would suggest that he may have served others in like capacity. 
It would seem, however, that he neglected his personal affairs, 
and became involved in difficulties which threatened the loss of 
his property. These troubles he attributed to the efforts of 
the opponents of the settlement of Oregon. 

"To accomplish their designs, and to prevent mine, and to 
make an end of my project, they raised an army in the city of 
Boston, and afterwards in '27, enlisted troops in the cities of 
New York and Washington, and in '29 raised a more bloody 
troop in the village of Three Rivers, to which place I had just 
moved my family. ... As early as in the year '24 . . . 

20 20 cong. 2 sess. Register of Debates. V, 136. See also p. 146. 

21 Kelley, Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 7. 


my adversaries first devised my hurt ; and in the year '28, 
taking the advantage of the pecuniary embarrassments brought 
upon me by a heavy loss of property in the Three Rivers 
Manufacturing company, they planned to get from me my 
princely estate and comfortable home in Charlestown, Mass., 
believing that by so doing they would deprive me of the means 
which they supposed necessary for the accomplishment of the 
Oregon enterprise. . . . 

"In the spring of '29, to be at a greater distance from adver- 
saries who were coming daily to worry and impoverish me and 
to delay progress in my great and benevolent enterprise, I 
moved with my family to the village of Three Rivers . . 
taking with me what household stuff the plunderers of my 
property had left."^^ 

These words of a half-crazed man, written long after the 
events which they suggest rather than describe, are at least 
sufficient as evidence that during those years he was active 
in the cause of Oregon settlement, so active in fact that he 
merged his personality in it and regarded all men who came 
into opposition to him as opponents not of him but of the idea 
which possessed him. Despite opposition, however, men were 
found who were willing to listen to him, and to lend their 
names and their influence in his behalf. These men in 1829 
joined him in instituting the American Society for Encourag- 
ing the Settlement of the Oregon Territory. Individual agita- 
tion was now to be supplanted by organized propaganda. The 
"vision" was becoming more real and distinct. 

32 Settlement of Oregon, 21, 23. 


The American Society — Plans and Propaganda 

In the course of the discussion of the Oregon question in 
congress and elsewhere, much was said of companies — Brad- 
ford's company, Kelley's company, Towne's company. Kelley, 
however, had no desire to become the leader of a mere band of 
adventurers, still less of a partnership for profit like Astor's. 
The name of his organization was carefully chosen. It was to 
be a "society" of American citizens who were interested in 
promoting his plan to secure the American title to Oregon by 
establishing a settlement in the valley of the Columbia. 

At its organization in 1829, the American Society for En- 
couraging the Settlement of the Oregon Territory elected Gen- 
eral John McNeil president, Washington P. Gregg treasurer, 
and Kelley general agent.^ It was incorporated by special act 
of the Massachusetts legislature, approved June 22, 1831, 
McNeil and John L. Blake, D.D., being named as incorpora- 
tors.2 "This society was Hall J. Kelley. He was the body 
and brains, the fingers and tongue of it," said H. H. Bancroft,^ 
and the statement is true. The others were willing to "encour- 
age" ; Kelley was willing to sacrifice everything. The head- 
quarters of the society was in Boston, and Kelley made fre- 
quent trips from Three Rivers to attend to its affairs. His 
duties were those of a publicity agent. When his domestic 
concerns admitted of his absence, he "traveled New England, 
everywhere lecturing on Oregon," but according to his own 
statement he was an indifferent public speaker, due to his 
extreme diffidence.^ His lecture tours could not have been 
very extensive, for his expenses on this account were but $200.*^ 

1 Kelley. Memorial, 184S: 6-9. McNeil later became surveyor of the port of 
Boston, and' Gregg, secretary of the common council of Boston. 

2 L. Mass. 1831, c. 63; XII, 132-4. 

3 Bancroft, Hist, of the Northwest Coast. II, .';4S- 

4 Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon, 15, 24. 

5 Kelley, Narative of Events and Difficulties, 7- 


Probably the opposition which he encountered on these tours, 
and of which he complained most bitterly, led him to direct 
his efforts to writing and to conferences with men of affairs 
and influence. 

We have seen that he had convinced Edward Everett of the 
practicability of his plan as early as 1827. On January 25, 1830, 
upon motion of Everett, the petition of Kelley which had been 
presented to the house of representatives by Floyd on Febru- 
ary 11, 1828, was referred to the committee on foreign affairs.*^ 
On January 5, 1831, Benton presented to the senate a "mem- 
orial of the American Society for Encouraging the Settlement 
of the Oregon Country . . . praying that a military escort 
and transports, and convenient military posts, may be estab- 
lished for the encouragement and protection of emigration to 
that country," which was referred to the committee on military 

At the opening of the next congress Everett also presented 
to the house of representatives a memorial of the Society, 
"praying congress to aid them in carrying out the great pur- 
poses of their institution ; to grant them troops, artillery, mil- 
itary arms, and munitions of war; to incorporate the society, 
with power to extinguish the Indian title to lands ; and with 
such other powers, rights and immunities, as may be at least 
equal and concurrent to those given by Great Britain to the 
Hudson's Bay Company."^ 

This memorial appears in the Manual of the Oregon Expedi- 
tion, or General Circular. As it sets forth in brief the con- 
tentions of the memorialists as to the right of sovereignty over 
the territory and the national advantages to result from its 
settlement, it is reproduced at length. 

"They are convinced, that if that country should be settled 
under the auspices of the Government of the United States of 
America, from such of her worthy sons, who have drank of 

6 21 cong. I sess. H. jour., 19? 

7 21 cong. 2 sess. S. jour., 71. 
822 cong. I sess. H. jour.. 4 


the spirit of those civil and religious institutions, which con- 
stitute the living fountain, and the very perennial source of her 
national prosperity, great benefits must result to mankind. 
They believe, that there, the skillful and persevering hand of 
industry might be employed with unparalleled advantage ; that 
there, Science and the Arts, the invaluable privilege of a free 
and liberal government, and the refinements and ordinances of 
Christianity, diflfusing each its blessing, would harmoniously 
unite in meliorating the moral condition of the Indians, in 
promoting the comfort and happiness of the settlers, and in 
augmenting the wealth and power of the Republic. 

"The uniform testimony of an intelligent multitude have 
established the fact, that the country in question, is the most 
valuable of all the unoccupied parts of the earth. Its peculiar 
location and facilities, and physical resources for trade and com- 
merce ; its contiguous markets ; its salubrity of climate ; its 
fertility of soil ; its rich and abundant productions ; its extensive 
forests of valuable timber ; and its great water channel diversi- 
fying, by its numerous branches the whole country, and spread- 
ing canals through every part of it, are sure indications that 
Providence has designed this last reach of enlightened emigra- 
tion to be the residence of a people, whose singular advantages 
will give them unexampled power and prosperity. 

"These things have excited the admiration of every observer, 
and have settled in the policy of the British nation the deter- 
mined purpose of possessing and enjoying them, as their own; 
and have induced their Parliament to confer on the Hudson's 
Bay Company, chartered privileges for occupying with their 
settlements the fertile banks of the Columbia ; which settle- 
ments have been made ; and are flourishing, in rapid growth, 
under the culture secured by the provisions of a Colonial Gov- 

"The Society conceive it clearly deduced, from all the facts 
in the case, that the right of sovereignty over the Oregon 
territory is invested in the government of the United States 
of America, consequently, in her is the exclusive right of 


colonizing that country, and of introducing into it the various 
business and benefits of civilized life. 

"The expense and labor necessary to the accomplishment of 
this work, planned by Providence, made easy by nature, and 
urged and encouraged by the persuasive motives of philan- 
thropy, are in no degree, commensurate with the national bles- 
sings to be derived from it ; among which are enumerated the 
following ; viz. : 

"The moral condition of the Aborigines . . . will be 
improved. . . . Their unjust and unequal alliances with 
another nation may be broken, and their friendship secured to 

"By means, thus honorable, that valuable territory would be 
held from possession of an unfriendly power. 

"Ports of Entry, and Ship and Navy Yards, might be estab- 
lished with great advantage, on the waters of Oregon, and 
thereby, the trade and commerce of both the Pacific and At- 
lantic Oceans would become extended and enriched. Capital- 
ists and Mariners might pursue, with more profit and safety, 
the whale and other fisheries in the Western Seas, and the 
salmon trade in the Columbia. 

"A portion of the virtuous and enterprising but not least 
faithful population, whom misfortunes have thrown out of 
employment, and who throng our villages and sea-ports, and 
seek a better home, — might there find opportunities, under the 
paternal kindness of the government, to succeed to a happier 
condition, and to greater usefulness to themselves and to their 
country. . . . 

"These are objects so obvious, so vast and valuable, as need 
not be urged . . . and seem necessarily embraced within 
the scope of a wise policy. They are yet deemed practicable. 
Another season — their possession will be thought expedient — 
but not so easily wrested from the grasp of British power. 

"The Society view with alarm the progress, which the sub- 
jects of that nation have made, in the colonization of the Or- 
egon Territory. Already, have they, flourishing towns, strong 

fortifications, and cultivated farms. The domicile is made the 
abode of domestic comforts — the social circle is enlivened by 
the busy wife and the prattle and sport of children. In the 
convention of 1818, England secured for her subjects, the 
privileges of a free trade, that of buying" furs of the Indians ; 
but, at first, they practiced trapping and hunting; now, they 
practice buying and improving lands, and assiduously pursue 
the business of the farmer and mechanic. Their largest town 
is Vancouver, which is situated on a beautiful plain, in the 
region of tide water, on the northern bank of the Columbia. 
At this place, saw and grist mills are in operation. Three ves- 
sels have been built, one of about 300 tons, and are employed 
in the lumber trade. Numerous herds and flocks of horses, 
horned cattle, and sheep, of the best European breeds, are 
seen grazing in their ever verdant fields. Grain of all kinds, in 
abundant crops, are the production of the soil. 

"Everything, either in the organization of the government, 
or in the busy and various operations of the settlements, at this 
place, at V/alla Walla, at Fort Colville, and at DeFuca, in- 
dicate the intentions of the English to colonize the country. 
Now, therefore, your memorialists, in behalf of a large number 
of citizens of the United States, would respectfully ask Con- 
gress to aid them in carrying into operation the great purposes 
of their institution — to grant them troops, artillery, mihtary 
arms, and munitions of war, for the defense of the contemplated 
settlement — to incorporate their Society with power to ex- 
tinguish the Indian title, to such tracts and extent of territory, 
at the mouth of the Columbia, and at the junction of the Mult- 
nomah with the Columbia, as may be adequate to the laudable 
objects and pursuits of the settlers ; and with such other powers, 
rights and immunities, as may be, at least, equal and concur- 
rent to those given by Parliament to the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany ; and such as are not repugnant to the stipulations of the 
Convention, made between Great Britain and the United States, 
wherein it was agreed, that any country on the Northwest 
Coast of America, to the westward of the Rocky Mountains, 

should be free and open to the citizens and subjects of the 
two powers, for a term of years ; and to grant them such other 
rights and privileges, as may contribute to the means of estab- 
lishing a respectable and prosperous community."^ 

Everett was not prepared to give his unqualified endorse- 
ment to the memorial, and he took care to get into the record 
the following statement as to his attitude : 

"Lest his opinions on the matter involved should be mistaken 
from the fact of his having presented the petition, he con- 
sidered it a duty to state that he could not urge the granting 
of the prayer of the petition at this time; because it would 
be impossible to grant it, without violating the stipulations of 
the treaty on the subject with Great Britain. There was, how- 
ever, one view of the subject in which it required the considera- 
tion of the House. It is stated in the raemorial that flourishing 
settlements of British subjects existed in the Oregon terri- 
tory. If this were so, it was in violation of a stipulation agreed 
to between Great Britain and the United States, that, during 
the convention, no settlement should be authorized to be made 
on the debatable lands, by the citizens of either country. This 
was a matter that required to be looked to, and was an appro- 
priate subject of inquiry for the Committee on Foreign 

It was as a writer that Kelley was most effective in spread- 
ing broadcast information as to the Oregon country and arous- 
ing interest in its immediate settlement by Americans. In 
1830 he published A Geographical Sketch Of That Part Of 
North America Called Oregon.^^ In the preface he ascribed 
to Jefferson the honor of having been the first to suggest the 

9 Kelley, General Circular, 8-11. 

1022 cong. I sess. Register of Debates, VIII, 1433; A^tV^^' Register, XLI, 285; 
Settlement of Oregon, 93-6. 

II Kelley, A Geographical Sketch of That Part of North America Called Oregon: 
containing an account of the Indian title; the nature of a riglit of sovereignty; the 
first discoveries; climate and seasons; face of the country and mountains, natural 
divisions, physical appearance and soil of each; forests and vegetable productions; 
rivers, bays, &c. ; islands, &c.; animals; the disposition of the Indians, and the 
number and station of their tribes; together with an essay on the advantages result- 
ing from a settlement of the territory. To which is attached a new map of the 
country. Boston, 1830. 80 pp. 


M;ip of Oregon. J8::(). Cii\iy frimi Cico.yraiiliicil SUctc 

colonization of the Oregon country. The time had arrived, 
he beheved, for the carrying out of that suggestion, notwith- 
standing the opposition which had already attended his ef- 
forts. He boasted that he had "a mind invulnerable to the 
attacks of calumny," and declared "It is needful, that the 
friends of the Colony should possess a little of the active and 
vital principle of enthusiasm, that shields against disappoint- 
ments, and against the presumptive opinions and insults of 
others;" but it is evident from these very words that despite 
his enthusiasm, he was not the man to receive abuse without 
wincing, or to meet opposition or doubt without questioning 
the motives or the intelligence of those who would not be con- 

The nature of the contents of this pamphlet is sufficiently 
indicated by its sub-title. The geographical detail need not 
concern us, but there are two points which merit attention. 
As to the question of title, Kelley asserted "The rights,, which 
England set up to this country, are predicated on idle and 
arrogant pretentions ; nor is the claim made by America, to 
a right of soil founded on better tenure." With the exception 
of the land bought in 1791 by Captain John Kendrick, the title 
to all lands was in the hands of the Indians, whose rights to 
own lands were the same as those of the whites. Therefore, 
adequate compensation must be tendered before the Indian title 
could be extinguished.^- The advantages to result from set- 
tlement were presented under seven heads. 

"First. The occupancy of it, by three thousand of the active 
sons of American freedom, would secure it from the posses- 
sion of another nation, and from augmenting the power and 
physical resources of an enemy. . . . 

"It is not a doubtful hypothesis, that unless our legitimate 
rights on the waters and in the territory of Oregon, are pro- 
tected by planting a colony in it, or by other means no less 
effectual; they will in a few years more, become entirely lost 
to our merchants, or to the benefits of our country. 

12 Pp. 7-9. 


"England is desirous of possessing the whole country, with 
all its invaluable privileges. She has evinced this, by that bold 
and lawless spirit of enterprise, by which she has acquired 
so great a monopoly in the Indian trade ; by which, in the year 
1812, she took from American citizens, the town of Astoria 
(now called Fort George), and still retains it. . . . In 
this presumptuous way ; in defiance to treaties and obligations, 
to the paramount claims of this country, and by alliances with 
the Indians, she hopes to secure a hold upon it, which the phy- 
sical power of the American Republic, exerted in the plenitude 
of its energies, cannot break. . . . 

"Second. A free and exclusive trade with the Indians, and 
with a colony in Oregon, would very considerably increase 
the resources, and promote the commercial and manufacturing 
interests of our country. 

"The fur trade has been and still is found vastly lucrative 
to those who pursue it. The contemplated colony would find 
it productive of great pecuniary advantage, and a fruitful 
source of their prosperity. . . . English traders, at the 
present time possess the country. The zvill of the Hudson Bay 
Company, is the supreme law of the land. The natives are 
subservient to it, and American traders dare not resist it. 
Hence, the inland trade is fast on the wane, and has become 
disastrous, if not in most cases, ruinous. While it is so con- 
stantly exposed to the rapacity of treacherous Indians, and to 
the avarice of the English, it must remain utterly valueless. 
It might, however, be reclaimed, and forever protected by a 
colony occupying the shores of the Columbia. . . . 

"Third. The fisheries might be more extensively and profit- 
ably pursued. . . . 

"Fourth. A port of entry, and a naval station at the mouth 
of the Columbia, or in DeFuca straits, would be of immense 
importance to a protection of the whale and other fisheries, and 
of the fur trade ; and to a general control over the Pacific 
ocean, where millions of our property, are constantly 
afloat. . . . 

"Fifth. It is an object, worthy the attention of government, 
to secure the friendship of the Indians, and prevent alHances 
between them and other nations. , . 

"Sixth. The settlement of the Oregon country, would con- 
duce to a freer intercourse, and a more extensive and remuner- 
ative trade with the East Indies. . . . Such an extension 
and enjoyment of the East India Trade, would provoke the 
spirit of American enterprise, to open communications from the 
Mississippi valley, and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific 
ocean, and thus open nezv channels, through which the products 
of America and the Eastern world, will pass in mutual ex- 
change, saving in every voyage, a distance of ten thousand 
miles; nezv channels, which opening across the bosom of a 
widespread ocean; and intersecting islands, where health fills 
the breeze and comforts spread the shores, would conduct the 
full tide of a golden traffic into the reservoir of our national 

"Seventh. Many of our seaports would be considerably 

benefitted by taking emigrants from their redundant population. 
It is said, and truly so, that business of all kinds is overdone; 

that the whole population cannot derive a comfortable support 
from it ; hence the times are called hard ; which generally press 

the hardest upon those, who pursue the useful occupations of 

laborious industry. . . . 

"The learned profession might spare some of their wise and 

erudite votaries who, in Oregon, could find meeds of immortal 

honours. Many of industrious habits and honest lives, whose 

reputations have been blasted by the foul breath of calumny; 

these, with the unfortunate and oppressed, but virtuous of all 

orders, could there find an asylum, and succeed to a better 


"These hastily written observations must be concluded by 

the remark, that all nations, who have planted colonies, have 

been enriched by them."^^ 

The first date set for the starting of an expedition to the 

1.1 Pp. 7S-80. 

Oregon country does not appear in any of Kelley's writings that 
have been preserved. For a long time his plans were con- 
tingent upon the action of congress. Had success followed the 
presentation of his memorial to congress in 1828, it is likely 
that he would have lost no time in declaring himself. This 
much is certain; two land expeditions were originally con- 
templated, one of men only and a later one to be made up 
of families. The time of departure of the first expedition was 
finally set for January 1, 1832.^^ 

Kelley's plans were formally presented in the Manual Of The 
Oregon Expedition, or General Circular,^^ which begins with 
the announcement "OREGON SETTLEMENT, to be com- 
menced in the Spring of 1832, on the delightful and fertile 
banks of the Columbia River." In this pamphlet he again con- 
sidered the Indian title, and declared that since the British 
claim to jurisdiction over the territory south of the forty-ninth 
parallel was without foundation, and in view of the failure of 
congress to take positive action, there was no justly constituted 
jurisdiction in that country. Therefore, he argued, the emi- 
grants would violate no law or right of the United States by 
settling there. He laid particular emphasis upon the economic 
superiority of the Columbia valley over the Middle West. 

"The natural advantages of the country, for trade and com- 
merce, foreign, internal and coastwise, are paramount to those 
found in other parts of America. The confluence of the many 
navigable rivers, opening into, and beautifying every section 
of the country, forms the grand river Columbia, whose waters 
may be traversed by large vessels, two hundred miles from the 
sea ; whose either bank affords inlets safe and commodious for 
harbors. Nature furnishes many clear indications that the 
mouth of this far spreading and noble river is soon to become 
the commercial port of that hemisphere, the great business 

14 Young, Correspondence and Journals of Nathaniel J. Wyeth, 43; McMaster, 
United States, VI, iio, citing Boston Patriot, May 28, 1831, and United States 
Gazette, Octuber 22, i8ji. 

15 Kelley, Manual of the Oregon Expedition. A general circular to all persons 
of good character, who wish to etiigrate to the Oregon territory, embracing some 
account of the character and advant -.ges of the country; the right and the means 
and operations by which it is to be settled, and ali necessary directions for becoming 
an emigrant. Charlestown, 1831. 28 pp. 


place of nations, interchanging the commodities and produc- 
tions of western America and the East Indies. 

"Much of the country within tw^o hundred miles of the Ocean, 
is favorable to cultivation. The valley of the Multnomah is 
particularly so, being extremely fertile. The advantages, gen- 
erally, for acquiring property are paramount to those on the 
prairies of the West, or in any other part of the world. . . . 
The Oregon is covered with heavy forests of timber. . . . 
The production of vegetables, grain, and cattle will require 
comparatively but little labor; these articles, together with the 
spontaneous growth of the soil, and the fruits of laborious 
industry, in general, will find a market, at home, and thereby 
comfort and enrich the settlers. Surplus staple articles may 
be shipped from their doors to distant ports, and return a 
vast profit in trade. Lumber, ship timber, &c. may be sent 
to the western coast of South America, the islands in the 
Pacific ; bread stuffs, furs, salmon, and many other articles 
of domestic manufactures, to the East Indies. 

"It is the circumstance of a good home market, that gives 
any country its greatest value, and must give the Oregon coun- 
try immense advantages for settlement; advantages unknown 
in the Western States, whose markets are as remote as the 
shores of the Atlantic. . . . 

"The want of value to the farmer's surplus produce, is his 
poverty ; and has made shipwreck of the fortunes of thousands, 
who have settled in Ohio, Indiana, &c."^® 

Having thus described the resources of the country, he pro- 
ceeded to unfold his plans more in detail, taking up in order 
the survey and division of lands, the civil government, and 
provisions for the organization of churches and schools. Then 
came the direct appeal to emigrants and the terms on which 
they might be enrolled, the route to be taken, the expedition 
itself, and finally the question of funds. The order of presenta- 
tion is significant ; first a general picture of the economic ad- 
vantages, then a more detailed description designed to appeal 
to those who would shrink from the idea of "roughing it," 

16 Pp. 6-7. 


next an appeal to the Puritan type of emigrants, and finally 
the practical questions of emigration and funds. Those who 
are interested in the psychology of prospectus literature will 
find the pamphlet worth reading. 

Two towns were contemplated ; a seaport town on Gray's 
Bay, eleven miles north of the mouth of the Columbia, and a 
trading town on the peninsula at the confluence of the Columbia 
and the Willamette. A five-mile square of territory was to be 
laid out as a site for the seaport town, according to the follow- 
ing plan : 

"Of the streets, one, 200 feet wide, will run from the water, 
in a N. W. direction, bisecting at the distance of six squares, 
an area of ten acres of parade or pleasure ground, which area 
is forever to remain open and unoccupied with buildings. The 
centre of this street, for the width of 100 feet, will be devoted 
to the purposes of a market. Streets crossing this, at right 
angles, are intended to be 100 feet wide; those parallel to it, 
50 feet. The squares are to be 400 feet on a side, each includ- 
ing 18 [16] lots, 50 by 100 feet each. From the 100 ft. streets 
and the public lands, no plant or tree is to be removed or 
destroyed without consent of the municipal authority."^"^ 

Similarly, the trading town was to be two miles square. A 
tract of land near this town was to be divided into parcels 
40 by 160 rods or forty acres each, and the number of lots was 
to equal the number of emigrants over fourteen years of age, 
not including married women. Next to these lots would be 
others of 160 acres, making up the complement of two hundred 
acres to each emigrant.^^ 

17 p. 12. 

i8 p. 13. "Possibly our real estate men, who are now so vigorously adver- 
tizing 'peninsula' additions, will take note of the fnct that Kelley was ahead of 
them with a map and plat and advertizement of that same ground by sixty-one years." 
— Harvey W. Scott, Address, Oregon Pioneer Association, Transactions, 1890: 34. 

"One is reminded of Kelley's instrumentality in the settlement of Oregon bv 
the improvements at present being made on 'the peninsula,' where stands the mill 
town of Saint Tohn, tlie terminus of the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Com- 
pany's road, and the Portland (Catholic) University, as well as by the long line of 
warehouses between Saint John and East Portland proper. Kelley particularly 
honored the peninsula by adding to his writings a line plan of the town which 
he designed for that point. As a site for a city it has some excellent features, one 
of which is space to grow. IJltimately it will become a part of Greater Portland, 
but before it becomes absorbed in Portland, it would be a gracious suggestion to 
let it come in under the mme of its intending colonizer. Hall J. Kelley." — Frances 
F. Victor, Hall J. Kelley, One of the fathers of Oregon, Oregon Historical Society, 
Quarterly, II, 398 (tgoi). 



400 rods, to 1 inch 


40 Acres, -10 bv lO^rods. 
160 Acres, 80 bV 320 rods 

Plan of Trading Town. 

In discussing the question of civil g-overnment Kelley knew 
that he was on uncertain ground. As the Oregon country 
lay beyond the jurisdiction of the United States, the relation 
which the settlers would bear to that government involved 
perplexing questions. The form of government was also rec- 
ognized as a matter worthy of serious thought. He looked to 
congress for action which would solve these problems, but in 
default of such action he was prepared to set up a provisional 
government. On this point he said : 

"Whatever may be the frame of government, it should be 
built upon the most finished improvements of others. Whether 
the settlers are to be considered children of mature age, made 
free, and setting up for themselves, constituting in some de- 
gree, an independent Province, the friend and ally of the 
mother country ; sharing in her generous and maternal solici- 
tude; or whether they are to be a Colony, planted, cherished, 
and protected by her, depends entirely on Congress. That the 
latter should be the case, is the prayer of a memorial, at the 
present time, before that august assemblage of talents, virtue 
and wisdom. 

"Should the emigrants fail of that Charter, which reason and 
justice dictate, and humanity calls for, they will attempt to 
make for themselves, just and equal laws, under the provisions 
of a form of government, so far made a free democratic rep- 
resentative, as will be consistent with an unequivocal recogni- 
tion of the sovereignty of the American Republic, It will be 
in most respects, a transcript of the government of the Michi- 
gan Territory. The Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, and Board 
of Land Commissioners, being the Appointments of the So- 
ciety. It will continue two years, unless Congress, before the 
expiration of this time prescribes a substitute. . . ."^^ 

Religious himself, he took care to emphasize the religious 
aspects of his plan. "The settlers will lose none of their re- 
ligious privileges and comforts," he promised. "Churches of 
different denominations will be organized before emigration." 

19 P. 14. 


He also sought to encourage "pious and well educated young 
men ... to engage in the great work of imparting moral 
and religious instruction to the Indians." Upon the subject 
of education Kelley's plans were broad in scope but limited as 
to details. "Some efficient and appropriate system" was to be 
adopted, and in it would be included "whatever will best civil- 
ize the manners, reform the morals, enlighten, and free it from 
the grasp of superstition ;" certainly an ambitious program. 
Schools of every grade were to be opened. "Agricultural and 
classical institutions, and colleges succeeding common and pri- 
mary schools . . . will be established; and in them, red 
as well as white children taught the rudiments of learning." 
A special appeal was made to persons of good education to 
emigrate in order that there might be properly qualified can- 
didates for positions in the schools and in the offices of gov- 

As emigrants Kelley wanted only "men of steady habits," 
and it was provided that all who proposed to emigrate should 
be required to give satisfactory evidence as to their "good 
moral character and industrious habits." He wanted particu- 
larly "properly educated persons, to fill the civil, military and 
literary roles," clergymen and physicians, men "possessing a 
scientific knowledge of the different branches of mathematics 
and natural philosophy, to constitute corps on engineering, 
surveying, astronomy, geology and botany," farmers, and me- 
chanics. His appeal was also directed to capitalists who would 
take with them vessels suitable for the lumber trade and the 
whale and salmon fisheries, and the iron parts of grist mills, 
saw mills, and nail-making machinery, and establish a paper 
mill, a printing press, a window-glass factory, and an iron 

To such men his inducement was "most of the expenses of 
emigration and a landed estate, valued from $2,000 to 10,000, 
situated, where the healthfulness of climate, the good market 
for every product of the earth or of labor, and the enjoyment 

20 Pp. 1 5-6. 


of a free and liberal government will conspire to make life 
easy." More concretely, "each emigrant, over fourteen years 
of age, not including married women ; and each child that is 
an orphan, or without parent in that country, will receive a lot 
of seaport land ... or two farming lots in the valley." 
Poor children and children in charitable institutions were 

On the other hand the requirements were not burdensome. 
Each prospective emigrant was to pay twenty dollars as a 
pledge of faithful performance of obligations to be stipulated 
by covenant between him and the Society ; namely, to give oath 
to obey the laws of the Society and to be a peaceable and 
worthy member, and to agree that all common property should 
be liable for debts on account of the settlement ; the Society 
in turn to agree to defray all expenses of the first expedition 
from St. Louis except for clothing, guns, and knapsacks, to 
give each settler a parcel of seaport land or two hundred acres 
of farm land chosen by lot, title to pass after two years' occu- 
pation, and to guarantee religious and civil freedom.^^ 

At this point Kelley interpolated answers to objections which 
had been made to his project, reaffirming the healthfulness of 
the Oregon country, and declaring that there was no ground 
for fear of violence from the Indians. "The Agent of the 
Society has given these subjects many years of patient investi- 
gation," said he, "and does not hesitate to avow a greater con- 
fidence in the faith and friendship of those 7'ed men, than of the 
white savages who infest our communities ;" confidence which 
subsequent events in the Northwest showed to have been un- 
warranted. Nor did he anticipate trouble with the Indians 
along the proposed route, which was from St. Louis up the 
Platte, through the South Pass and down the Willamette. 
That the South Pass was feasible he affirmed upon the author- 
ity of Major Joshua Pilcher, Indian agent of the war depart- 

21 pp. t6-9. 

22 Pp. 19-22. It is significant that he made no reference to the statements 
of Brackenridge and Benton on this point. 

Kelley looked to congress to pay a part or the whole of the 
expenses of the expedition in view of the national benefits to 
accrue from the settlement ; but he declared "it will not concern 
the settlers, whence comes protection, or the means of accom- 
plishing the objects of the enterprise, whether from congress 
or private munificence." As to the detailed preparations for 
the expedition, he said: 

"Emigrants are required to defray their own expenses to St. 
Louis ; and after that, to provide with all necessary arms, 
knapsacks, blankets, and private carriages. Females and chil- 
dren must be provided, at the time of starting, with covered 
horse wagons, containing each a bed and two or more blankets. 
From St. Louis they will be subject to no other expense than 
the above named, and in Oregon will receive gratuitously, a 
landed estate of great value. 

"Orders will be given in due time for assembling in Port- 
land, Me. ; Portsmouth, and Concord, N. H. ; Boston, Worces- 
ter, and Springfield, Mass. ; Bennington, Vt. ; Albany, Bufifalo, 
Detroit [ !] and New York, N. Y. ; Philadelphia, Pa.; Balti- 
more, Md. ; Washington City, &c. ... At these, and other 
places, companies will be formed ; Captains being appointed 
to the command of every fifty male adult persons, the emigra- 
tion will then commence, by the most practicable route to the 
aforesaid place of general rendezvous. . . . The cost, from 
Boston . . . will, probably, not exceed fifteen dollars." 

Captains and other officers were to be chosen by elections 
to be held after general orders had been given for assembling. 
Shareholders of merit and of good education only were to be 
eligible to offices of rank. At St. Louis a drove of cattle was 
to be purchased, and fly tents each large enough to cover six 
wagons were to be provided. No private property other than 
wearing apparel, military equipment, and provisions was to 
be taken in the public baggage wagons. All merchandise, 
machinery, and other property was to go by sea. From St. 
Louis the expedition was to be under a military form of gov- 

23 Pp. 22-4. The sea expedition was also "for persons who might be unwilling 
or unable to sustain the fatigue of the land." — Colonisation of Oregon, 20. 


As to the financial arrangements, the Circular set forth that: 
the funds of the Society should be made up of $200,000 of 
stock and certificate money and all such donations as benevc'- 
lent and public spirited individuals might make. It presented 
an extract from the report of a committee charged with devia- 
ing a plan of financing the enterprise, which contained the fol- 
lowing suggestions : 

"Let a portion of the funds of the society constitute a capita* 
stock of Two Hundred Thousand Dollars, to be divided into 
shares of $100 each, and to be raised by loans. Each share 
entitling the owner thereof to 160 acres of land, as set forth 
in the certificate of stock, — the lots are to be numbered and 
determined according to the rules and plan of division ex- 
pressed by the By-Laws of the Society. This stock shall be 
secured on the pledge of all the public and common property 
and revenues of the settlement — the emigrants covenanting 
with the Society before embarkation, that all debts incurred 
directly or indirectly, for the benefit of the settlement, to the 
full amount of said stock, shall be paid in the manner aforesaid. 

"Your Committee would also suggest the propriety of rais- 
ing funds by donations and subscriptions, to meet more specific 
purposes in the Oregon Country. Let one be called the Edu- 
cation or Indian Fund; and another called the Religious 
Fund. . 

"[The] par value [of the stock] cannot be depreciated by the 
contingency of ill success of the enterprise ; for, in that possible 
event, every dollar of the stock will be refunded, the same 
being on hand either in money, or in public property. . . ."^* 

The details of the financial plan were also presented in an- 
other pamphlet which was also issued in 1831. This was a 
stock book which bore the legend "This book of stock, sub- 
scriptions, &c., in which shall be enrolled, the names of all 
persons contributing to the success of founding a settlement 
in Oregon, either by subscriptions, donations or investments in 
the Society's stock, shall be preserved, in perpetuum, by the 

24 Pp. 25-6. 


settlement ; and a true copy of the same shall be deposited in 
the archives of the government of the United States of Amer- 
ica." In the four pages of this pamphlet there is nothing of 
interest that was not included in the General Circular except 
a facsimile of a share of "Oregon Settlement Stock." This 
"stock" was really a short term bond, secured by a pledge of 
the common property of the Society. It was to bear interest 
at the rate of six per cent after May 1, 1832, and the principal 
was to be payable in either five or ten years, at the option of 
the holder. The right to 160 acres of farming land on the 
Columbia was to be given to the holder of each "share," or 
bond, as a bonus. 

Kelley took care that his pamphlets should be put into the 
hands of men of influence at Washington. He sent copies of 
both the Geographical Sketch and the General Circular to the 
heads of departments and to members of congress. A second 
edition of the Geographical Sketch appeared in 1831, with the 
General Circular as an appendix. Scattered about the country 
were agents of the Society, thirty-seven in number, whose 
duty it was to distribute literature, give information, and 
enroll members. Some of these agents were booksellers, how- 
ever, who obviously had only a qualified interest in the pro- 
posed expedition. Two names are significant. One is James 
M. Bradford of St. Francisville, Louisiana, leader of the pro- 
posed New Orleans company of 1828 ; the other is Nathaniel 
Jarvis Wyeth of Cambridge, Massachusetts, of whom more 
will be said in the chapters that follow.^^ 

25 Settlement of Oregon, 77-8. 


The American Society — Delay and Failure 

As stated on the first page of the General Circular, the 
expedition was to start in the spring of 1832, or three months 
after the time originally set. Furthermore it appears that 
Kelley's original plans had undergone a change,^ for he now 
proposed to take women and children on the first land expedi- 
tion. There is no evidence in the General Circular that more 
than a single expedition had ever been contemplated. 

Kelley spent the winters of 1830 and 1831 in Washington 
attempting to influence congress to take positive action,^ and 
his necessary absence from his headquarters at Boston and the 
tendency of congress to delay easily accounts for the postpone- 
ment of the date set for departure. 

The number of persons enrolled upon the books of the 
Society is nowhere stated except in general terms. It is cer- 
tain, however, that the statement of Kelley in his first memorial 
to congress in 1828 that three thousand men stood willing to 
emigrate was based largely on anticipations. His highest 
claim was to the effect that he had "enlisted four or five hun- 
dred emigrants" by 1832.^ Speaking of the prospective emi- 
grants he said : 

"Many were those in all parts of the Union, and in some 
parts of Europe, who would engage in it. Companies were 
formed, in dififerent parts of the States, and many men of dis- 
tinction and of high standing in society, all desiring their names 
to be enrolled in the expedition. The Hon, Samuel Houston, 
in conversation said: *I have almost made up my mind to 
go with you to Oregon, and engage in the East India trade,' 
A company in Paris was formed, and another, a more numer- 

: Young, Correspondence and Journals of Nathaniel J. Wyeth. 2-3, 8-g. 

2 Kelley, Petition, 1866: 3. 

3 Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon, 80. 


ous one, in Germany. The former corresponded with me 
through Mr. Everett ; the latter through a German gentleman 
in the government service at Washington."'* 

From the point of view of results, Nathaniel J. Wyeth was 
the most important person who came under Kelley's influence. 
Of him Kelley said : "Some time in the year 1829, he came to 
me for the loan of my books, and documents concerning the 
far west, and the programme of the expedition in which he 
would enlist, and he enrolled his name among the names of 
several hundred others in the emigrants' book."" Wyeth, who 
was engaged in the ice business on Fresh Pond near Charles- 
town, was "surrounded with apparent advantages, and even 
enviable circumstances." according to the statement of his 
cousin ; yet "Mr. Hall J. Kelly's writings operated like a match 
applied to the combustible matter accumulated in the mind of 
the energetic Nathaniel J. Wyeth, which reflected and multi- 
phed the flattering glass held up to view by the ingenious and 
well-disposed school master. Mr. Nathaniel J. Wyeth had 
listened with peculiar delight to all the flattering accounts from 
the Western regions."^ But while Kelley was actuated by 
motives of patriotism and philanthropy, the practical-minded 
Wyeth was moved by considerations of personal gain. Ac- 
cording to his own statement, he "had no view farther than 
trade at any time.""^ To his mind the settlement of the Oregon 
country was a matter that could be left to follow its natural 

From contemporary accounts we may learn something as 

4 Ibid., 11J-3. "Nathaniel Wyeth, of Cambridge, and Captain Bonneville, of 
the U. S. Army, were both, I believe, enrolled in the emigration books, and were 
both to have command in the expedition." — Affidavit of Washington P. Gregg 
(■1843) in Ibid., ii6. Thornton (Oregon and California, II, i6.) also declared that 
Captain Bonneville was among those enrolled. Lyman (Hist, of Oregon, III, 73) 
said that Bonneville's expedition was "perhaps but remotely connected with 
Kelley's effort"; but it does not appear that Kelley made any such claim. He 
did claim that Thomas Shaw, supercargo on the ship Lagoda of Boston, met Cap* 
tain John A. Suiter in San Francisco and told him of his exploration of the 
interior of California and of his plan to extend his colonizing activities into that 
region, and that it was upon Shaw's advice that Sutter se<^*'ed -» Sacramento. — 
Settlement of Oregon, 53, 60; Petition, j866: 7. 

5 Settlement of Oregon, 64. 

6 John B. Wyeth, Oregon, 4-5. 

7 Young, 90. 

to the effect of Kelley's writings upon the popular mind. John 
B. Wyeth said that "there were circles of people, chiefly among 
young farmers and journeymen mechanics, who were so thor- 
oughly imbued with these extravagant notions of making a 
fortune by only going over land to the other side of the globe, 
to the Pacific Ocean, that a person who expressed a doubt of 
it was in danger of being either affronted, or, at least, accused 
of being moved by envious feelings. After a score of people 
had been enlisted in this Oregon expedition, they met together 
to feed and to magnify each other's hopes and visionary no- 
tions, which were brought up to a high degree of extravagance, 
so that it was hardly safe to advise or give an opinion adverse 
to the scheme."^ And Mr. John Bach McMaster tells us that 
in the debate in the Massachusetts legislature in 1830 on the 
question of building a railroad from Boston to Albany, "a 
member declared that the road ought to be constructed in order 
to keep the people from going to Oregon ; that an association 
of active, enterprising men had been formed to colonize that 
country, and that four thousand [ !] families had engaged to 
go."^ Nevertheless, he expresses the belief that "the circulars 
and notices of Kelley and the overland journey of Wyeth 
aroused but little public interest in the Oregon country."^'' 

As already stated, Kelley's plans, as set forth in the General 
Circular, included provisions for schools to which Indian chil- 
dren would be admitted, and for an "education or Indian fund" 
and a "religious fund." In 1831 he pubUshed in Zion's Her- 
ald, "a series of letters addressed to a member of congress," 
presenting his plans for the settlement of Oregon. These were 
followed by other articles in 1832 calling for missionaries to 
accompany the expedition. The New England Conference of 
the Methodist Episcopal church thereupon appointed "two 
pious men," Spalding and Wilson, as missionaries to the 

8 Wyeth. 58. 

9 McMaster, United States, VI, 109. 

10 Ibid., 112. See Niles' Register, XL, 407 (1831), quoting from the St. Louis 
Republican as to the proposed expedition. 


Indians of Oregon.^^ It is possible, however, that Lyman was 
right when he said of Kelley: 

"He expressed himself in a manner not easily understood 
by the religious people of America. His colony schemes and 
bills for appropriations of land, and numerous secular arrange- 
ments ; and his incessant political agitations struck the churches 
as the main object held in his view, and that his call upon the 
churches was rather a second thought. The religion of that 
period was intensely unworldly and sought a most conven- 
tional, or traditional, expression. Reformation, with demands 
for which the country was being belabored, was not recognized 
as of a religious nature."^^ 

To Kelley there was little difference between honest doubt 
and active opposition, and the stupendous nature of his plans 
and his earnest manner of presenting them alike put obstacles 
in his way. The very nature of the man aroused antagonism 
on the part of the indifferent, and led those who would have 
listened to a less vehement prophet to withhold their confidence. 
Platform presentation by a man of convincing manner is an 
effective sort of propaganda. But Kelley was not the man 
for such a task, for he was temperamentally incapable of de- 
scribing his plans without vigorous and general denunciation 
of all who disagreed with him. At times his manner became 
hysterical, and in after years he admitted that his mental con- 
dition had been a "near approximation to insanity. "^^ Of his ex- 
periences while on lecture tour, he said : "My adversaries 
were everywhere on the alert. They watched every move- 
ment of mine, pursuing me from city to city, laying every 
plan to vex and worry me, to alienate friends and turn them 
from and against me, and to discourage those who had enlisted 
for Oregon . . . and to turn them from their purpose."" 

Why was the enterprise opposed, and who opposed it? 

11 Affidavit of William C. Brown, former editor of Zion's Herald (.1843), in 
Kelley, Memorial, 1848: 8; Settlement of Oregon, 63-4. 

12 Lyman, III, 132. 

13 Settlement of Oregon, 15. 

14 Ibid., 24. 


Kelley supplied the answer, which to his mind at least was 
convincing. "Its interest conflicted with those of certain fur 
companies, British and American, and of persons concerned in 
the commerce of the N. Pacific."^^ Then there was "the hire- 
ling press." 

"It was represented in the leading newspapers and periodi- 
cals that Kelley was deceiving the people — his plans were 
chimerical — was an idle schemer — a mad man ; that hardship 
and privations would attend at every step the expedition ; 
and that perpetual suffering would be the lot of young and 
old through the first generation. By such falsehoods and 
calumnies as these, I was made the object of scorn and con- 
tempt of persons of every age and rank — the derision of youth 
whose fathers I would have 'disdained to have sit with the 
dogs of my flocks.' "^* 

This abuse was not confined to the ephemeral newspapers. 
It extended even to the dignified New England Magazine, 
which in February and April, 1832, published two articles^"^ 
from the pen of a writer who chose to hide behind the initials 
"W. J. S." To find the equal of this writer in bitter denuncia- 
tion coupled with smug confidence in his own point of view, 
we must go back to Jeffrey and the Edinburgh Review. In 
one particular, however, the caustic Scot differed from his 
Yankee contemporary ; he had vision. To the mind of our 
new-world tory, civilization had arrived at its apogee about 
1832. It remained for all comfortable New Englanders to be 
content with their lot, and for all others to rest assured that 
whatever they might lack at home among their own people, 
they were unlikely to find elsewhere. There have been such 

1$ Petition, iS66: 2. "The literary bureau of the Hudson's Biy Company, 
moreover, took especial pains to collect and republish everytliing derogatory to 
Oregon which was said on either side of the Atlantic, but particularly on the 
American side. From 1800 to 1846 it pursued the same policy in Oregon which 
it hid practiced in Csnada for two centuries. I'or the protection of the beaver 
it used all its power to keep settlers out." — Harvey, On the Road to Oregon, 
Atlantic Monthly, C V, 634. 

16 Kelley, Hist, of the Colonization of Oregon, 20; Wyeth, 12. 

17 Kelley also referred to an article published in February, 1831. — Settlement 
of Ore.gon, 24. But the first number of the magazine was not issued until July, 


preachers since the beginning of time, and yet man has con- 
tinued to migrate and to benefit thereby. 

In the first of these articles, it was questioned whether the 
Oregon emigrants would ever get as far as St. Louis ; for 
they must first pass through a much finer country than Ore- 
gon, where they could buy two hundred acres of fertile land 
and establish themselves among a kindred people for less than 
the further expenses of their journey. From St. Louis to the 
Columbia the proposed route was traced in detail, and if any- 
thing was omitted from the list of horrible contingencies, it 
has escaped notice. Starvation, torrential rivers, hostile In- 
dians, wild animals, and winter in the mountains were to con- 
tribute to the hazards and hardships of the expedition. Doubt 
was expressed as to the existence of the South Pass as stated 
upon the authority of Major Pilcher. Should any of the emi- 
grants finally reach their destination, how were they to dis- 
possess the Indians, how would they be governed, how would 
they sustain themselves until the harvest of their first crop? 
Should they succeed in raising a surplus of grain, where would 
they find a market? In Japan? "J^P^^- quotha." Did they 
not know that there was only one Japanese port open, and 
that to the Dutch? In India? No; in India the lower classes 
lived on about a penny a day, and the soil was unexcelled. As 
to the market for lumber in the Spanish-American countries, 
was there not lumber in Peru and Chili? On the other hand 
there was New England. Said the oracle : 

"We had thought that in New England, especially, sickness 
and unavoidable accidents were the only causes for fear. Here 
education is more encouraged than anywhere else. The help- 
less poor, even those whom vice has rendered so, are not suf- 
fered to starve. All this is well ; very well ; but it seems we 
can do better. At least, so say, and perhaps think, the pro- 
jectors of the intended expedition to the mouth of the Columbia 

"A gentleman, for whose talents and ambition his native 
land does not afford sufficient scope, has been employing his 


leisure in devising schemes to better the condition of his fellow 
countrymen. His studies have not been in vain ; if his plans 
should prove practicable, nations yet to be will bless him as 
their father and benefactor, . . . 

"We can see no advantage in Oregon which the emigrant 
may not secure in the state of Maine. The sea washes the 
shore of both. The soil is good in both. There are fisheries 
pertaining to both. If the climate of Oregon is milder, it is 
not proved that it is better. There is waste land in both. There 
is plenty of timber in both. Maine has these advantages. Her 
inhabitants are under the protection of the laws. They are 
numerous enough to protect each other. They have free com- 
munication with every part of the world. There is no art or 
science of which she does not possess at least the rudiments. 
All that can be done in Oregon, within a hundred years, is 
already done in Maine. . , }^ We do not know that the 
prime mover of this folly is actuated by any evil motive ; we 
do not believe it. We look upon him as an unfortunate man, 
who, deluded himself, is deluding others, and conceive it our 
duty to warn those who are about to follow him on the road 
to ruin." 

Nor was logic the only means adopted to convince the pros- 
pective emigrant of his folly. There was the appeal to au- 
thority, so convincing to those who are already convinced. 
"The project of a settlement on the Columbia river has been 
repeatedly before Congress, and has been pronounced visionary 
by the wisdom of the nation. At this present session, such an 
opinion has been expressed by one of the best and greatest 
men in the country. "^^ 

In the second article the critic devoted his attention to the 
Geographical Sketch and the General Circular, which it would 

i8 — Twelve years after this was written, two New Englanders, one from 
Boston and the other from Portland, Maine, established themselves on the west 
bank of the Willamette. Each wanted to name the new town after his old 
home, and the dispute was settled by flipping a coin. One can only wonder if 
"W. J. S." lived long enough to learn of this fact. 

TO W. T. S., Oregon Territory, New England Magasine, 123-32; Settlement of 
Oregon. 103-6. 


seem he had not read before writing the first one. There is a 
running comment on the text, with sweeping denials of state- 
ments of fact and sarcastic flings at Kelley as one whose 
hallucination was "so strong as totally to obnubiate his facul- 

"Mr. Kelley assures us that he is not mad, as has generally 
been supposed, and that he speaks what he believes to be the 
truth. Our opinion is hereby improved in two particulars, 
though we can only reconcile them by two suppositions, — that 
a man may repeat a tale of his own invention till he believes it 
to be true, — and that what is not truth to one man, may be 
truth to another. . . . 

"We suppose that Mr. Kelley is to be governor of the new 
territory, or one of the head chiefs and beloved men, or at 
least, that he will be allowed to pocket as much of the before- 
mentioned stock as will remunerate him for his disinterested 
efforts in favor of the good people of New England, and natives 
of Oregon. . . . 'Falsehood flies half round the globe, 
while Truth is putting on her sandals.' The fallacies of Mr. 
Kelley have been received as truth, by the whole country, and 
there is reason to fear that interference may come too late."^ 

The interference not only did not come too late; it was not 
even necessary, for Kelley 's project never had in it the germ of 
life. The date of departure was again postponed ; this time 
to June 1, for congress still deferred action. Hostile criticism 
in the press continued and increased in bitterness. 

"Such vile sayings as these, and the reports of my wicked 
adversaries in high places, whose influence in the way of 
whisper spread like contagion over the length and breadth of 
the land, panic-struck my followers and turned them back, 
every one of them, and turned the few who had promised 

20 VV. J. S., Geographical Sketch of Oregon, Neiv England Magazine, II, 320-6. 
Cf. memoirs of Wyeth and Kelley and the report of Slacum, all based upon per- 
sonal observition, in Committee on Foreign Affairs, supplemental report, 6-22, 29-61. 
25 cong. 3 sess. H. rep. loi. 


contributions to my funds, from their benevolent purpose ; but 
not the projector of the Oregon enterprise from his."^^ 

The underlying cause for the failure has been well stated 
by Mr. Frederic G. Young, who says "Kelley . . . wished 
to transplant a Massachusetts town to Oregon and make it the 
nucleus of a new state. He hoped to repeat with appropriate 
variations the history of the Puritan colony of Massachusetts 
Bay. The New Englander of the nineteenth century, however, 
was not so ready to sacrifice himself for an idea as had been 
his progenitors of the seventeenth. Unless Kelley could or- 
ganize conditions so that success seemed certain, he could not 
expect the enthusiasm of his followers to bear them on. Such 
conditions he could not organize."^^ 

As early as November 12, 1831, Wyeth began to doubt the 
success of the expedition, for in a letter to his brother he said, 
"In case the contemplated colonization project should fail it is 
still our intention to go to the new country, in which case we 
shall form ourselves into a Trading Company in furs."^^ Again 
on December 5, 1831, he declared that the plan to join the two 
expeditions was ill-advised, for with women and children in 
the party, progress would be slower, and winter would come 
on before the mountains could be crossed. He accordingly 
decided to cut loose from Kelley and with a party of fifty men 
leave St. Ixiuis in the spring. By December 19, he had en- 
rolled thirty-one men for his expedition. In a ietter of Feb- 
ruary 10, 1832, to John Ball, he declared, "I see no probability 
that Mr. Kelley's party will move at present. They have made 
no preparation as yet, nor do I believe they can ever make 
provision for moving such a mass as they propose."-^ In the 
meantime Kelley, under date of February 7, had written telling 

21 Settlement of Oregon, 106. "The benevolent purposes of the munificent 
were changed. The p-ersons enlisted and most of my friends and patrons were 
panic-struck, and deserted the cause." — Colonisation of Oregon, 20. Kelley had al- 
ready invested $300 in the brig John Q. Adams in connection with the sea expedi- 
tion, an amount which he never recovered. — Ibid., 21; Narrative of Events and 
Difficulties, 7; Petition, 1866: 3. 

22 Young, xvii-xviii. 

23 Ibid. s. 

24 Ibid., 8-9, 13, 36. 


him of his hopes of congressional action. Wyeth's reply, dated 
February 13, was: 

"However well aflfairs are going- at Washington matters 
little to me. Anything they can do will come too late for my 
purposes. My arrangements are made to leave here 1st March 
and I shall not alter them, neither can I delay on my route. 

"I wish you well in your undertaking but regret that you 
could not have moved at the time and in the manner first 
proposed. When you adopted the plan of taking across the 
continent in the 1st expedition women and children I gave up 
all hope that you would go at all and all intention of going 
with you if you did. The delays inseparable from a convoy 
of this kind are so great that you could not keep the mass 
together and if you could the delay would ruin my projects."^^ 

To this Kelley responded on February 24, and Wyeth replied 
under date of March 3 : 

"I am perfectly well aware of the importance of cooperation 
of all the Americans who may go to that country but I am 
well convinced that this thing has been delayed too long already 
and that further delay will defeat my enterprise besides not 
being in the habit of setting two times to do one thing. I am 
quite willing to join your emigration but will not delay here 
or at St. Louis. You very much mistake if you think I wish 
to desert your party, but you must recollect that last 1st Jany 
was set at first as the time of starting. "2« 

Here was a man of decision and force of character; one 
who had the qualities of leadership which Kelley lacked. Had 
Kelley possessed flexibility enough and judgment enough to 
put Wyeth at the head of his expedition and to follow his 
advice, the result would not have been different as far as the 
settlement of Oregon was concerned, but it would have been 
far different as to Kelley's acknowledged place in that move- 
ment. On March 29 Kelley wrote to ask Wyeth to take with 

2$ Ibid., 39. 
26 Ibid., 43. 

him some of the men enrolled on the books of the Society. To 
this Wyeth answered on April 8: 

"I will in conformity with my first assurance given in my 
letter of the 23rd ulto. take charge of ten of your emigrants. 
Any further arrangement must be with the persons who are 
disposed to go out. My reason for this is that I am bound 
by my engagements to my Company and must consult them 
in regard to any arrangements on the subject but you need 
not by this understand me positively to refuse it as I do not 
know how the Co. will be disposed to act. 

"I shall at all times be disposed to further an emigration to 
the Columbia as far as I deem, in actual knowledge of the 
country, that it will be for the advantage of the emigrants, 
but before I am better acquainted with the facts I will not 
lend my aid in inducing ignorant persons to render their situ- 
ation worse rather than better."^'^ 

Wyeth set out for Oregon in the spring of 1832. With him 
went his brother Dr. Jacob Wyeth, of Howell Furnace, New 
Jersey; John Ball, a native of New Hampshire and a practic- 
ing lawyer of New York ; Calvin Tibbetts, a native of Maine 
and a stone-cutter, and J. Sinclair, of New York, all of whom 
had planned to go with Kelley. Sinclair left the party at Inde- 
pendence, Missouri, and Dr. Wyeth turned back at Pierre's 
Hole.^® Wyeth returned late in 1833, and led a second ex- 
pedition to Oregon in 1834. With him went a party of mis- 
sionaries led by Rev. Jason Lee and his nephew, Rev. Daniel 
Lee, who had been induced by the principal of Wesleyan 
academy, at Wilbraham, Massachusetts, to respond to the call 
made by the Methodists for missionaries to the Indians in 

27 Ibid., 51. It would seem that Kelley did not acknowledge failure until the 
very last; for while this correspondence was going on, he continued to advertise. 
As late as March 19 he announced in the National Intelligencer: "Those persons 
desirous of emigrating to Oregon in the first expedition, are notified that the com- 
mittee appointed for the purpose of making arrangements, have determined upon 
leaving on Monday, 2nd of April, for St. Louis. The expedition will leave St. 
Louis on the loth of May." 

28 Wyeth, 51, 57; Settlement of Oregon, 64-5; Colonization of Oregon, 6-7. 
Upon their arrival at Fort Vancouver, Ball opened the iirst school in that country. 
Later he and Tibbetts engaged in farming on a tract above the falls of the Wil- 
lamette, but gave up the attempt after the first year. Ball then returned to the 
East, but Tibbetts remained and taught school in the Canadian settlement. 


Oregon.^^ This was the whole measurable result of Kelley's 
efforts through the American Society for Encouraging a Set- 
tlement of the Oregon Territory. 

29 Thornton, II, 21-2. The immediate cause of this call was the report, widely 
circulated in the religious press, of the Nez Perce and Flathead Indians who 
visited St. Louis in 1831, ostensibly to learn of the white men's religion. — McMaster, 
VI, 1 12-3. Kelley's version of this incident was: "The late Major Pilcher, an 
Indian a^ent in the Platte country, gave, while at Washington, in 1839, the follow- 
ing version of the story of the .\ez Perce Indian delegation. Four thoughtless and 
sottish Indians, accompanied Capt. Sublette's party of hunters to his ( Pilcher's) 
agency. They seemed to have no particular object in traveling. Sublette refused 
to let them proceed further in his company unless they would there obtiin a 
passport, showing a good reason for a 7'isit into the States. Such a passport would 
be of prev.-.i'ing advr.ntage to him. Mr. Pilcher, wishing to favor the Captain's 
interest, furnished the Indians with a reason and excuse for their visit to St. Louis." 
— Settlement of Oregon, 63; Narrative of Events and Difficulties, sup. appx. A. 
P>ut wlietlier true or false, this story had in it the element of dramatic appeal th-".t 
was necessary to make effective the movement started by Kelley for the betterment 
and Christianizing of the Indians of the Northwest. The two missionaries who had 
been chosen to accompany Kelley went instead to Liberia. — Settlement of Oregon, 
112. See also Marshall, Acquisition of Oregon, II, 8-io. 


En Route — Boston to Vera Cruz 

Failure only seemed to strengthen Kelley's determination 
to effect his purpose. "I planned anew, enlisting a small party, 
chiefly with a view of having travelling companions. I now 
lay my route through Mexico, via Acapulco and the Sandwich 

"That circuitous route, instead of a direct one across the 
Rocky Mountains, was wholly induced by a desire of effecting 
some arrangements with officers of the Mexican government 
and distinguished individuals in that country, relative to the 
lumber and fish trade between the Columbia River and the 
Mexican western ports, and for extending, in proper time, my 
colonising operations into High California; and, also, by a 
desire of turning the attention of the people in the cities of 
Mexico to some better system of education than had ever been 
adopted by them ; and generally, to such internal improvements, 
moral and physical, as w^ould most likely lay a better founda- 
tion for freedom, and multiply in their land the conveniences 
and comforts of life."^ 

His troubles continued, and there were further delays. This 
part of the narrative can be best stated in his own words : 

"Late in the spring [of 1832] I left [Washington] for N. 
E. to complete arrangements for my final departure for the 
other side of the continent. 

"On my arrival at Palmer, and within sight of home, where 
my loved family dwelt, I was arrested by an officer, who 
served upon me a precept which had no foundation in justice, 

1 Kelley, Hist, of the Colonieation of Oregon, 20-1. 

2 Kelley, Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 69-70. Hist, of the Settlement 
of Oregon, 42. As early as February 12, 1832, however, Kelley, wrote to Edward 
Livingston, secretary of state, setting forth the impracticability of conducting an 
expedition including women and children overland via St. Louis later than the 
rnonth of June, and inquiring as to a feasible route across Mexico. 


and was only designed to detain my person and plunder my 
property. I was manacled, and taken to the village, to the 
door next to my liome, where my companion and children 
came to greet me ; yet did they grieve at my afflictions, and 
their hearts were sorrowful at what was being done unto me. 
This attack was from an unscrupulous hireling, in the shape 
of a lawyer, living in a dark alley in the city of Boston. . . . 
Unwilling to tarry, to contend in law, and delay the enterprise, 
I ansv/ered the demand, unjust as it was, and so freed myself 
from the clutches of my cruel pursuers. 

"A few days later I was threatened with another suit, which 
had the same design. 

"To avoid the delays and vexations which these proceedings 
would necessarily cause me, I left the place for Boston, from 
whence I sent for my family and effects. Before the latter 
could be removed, they were plundered to the amount of sev- 
eral hundred dollars. 

"These brutal acts were not instigated by my townsmen, but 
by brutish men from Boston whose object was to prevent 
progress in my undertaking. In view of a contemplated long 
absence, I did not forget to provide sufficiently for the support 
of the dear ones of my household, making arrangements with 
friends who had this 'world's goods' in abundance, and who 
were accustomed to show kindness and to give good cheer. 

"The time for my departure drawing near, I went to Brad- 
ford, where my family resided, to take the painful leave. The 
moment of parting arrived. My companion looked sober ; and 
probably felt sad, though her affectionate regards had been 
somewhat alienated by deceiving monsters, who had ill advised 
her. My children, young, unconscious of the nature of the 
parting, were cheerful about the room. My heart was bur- 
dened, and I could scarcely speak a sorrowing good-by. Tak- 
ing my valise, I left ; and, when beyond hearing, grief 
burst forth, and I wept aloud.^ I proceeded to Boston. 

3 According to Temple (Hist, of the Town of Palmer, 266), Mrs. Kelley went 
to Gilmanton with her children to live with Dr. Kelley. 


"The journey was a lonely one, and tiresome. My days 
now were all eventful, and every moment seemed to bring 
increased cares and anxieties. Just before my final departure 
for Oregon, I took a few days to go about Boston, and solicit 
from the munificent contributions to my funds, which I feared 
would be inadequate for my purposes, since my enemies, by 
their cunning and cruelty, had made so frequent drafts upon 
them. I called upon a wealthy merchant in Beacon street. 
It was in the afternoon of Thanksgiving day, when I hoped to 
find him in good spirits, and disposed to make me a donation. 
But I was disappointed. He replied to me as follows : T am 
interested in the commerce of the Pacific, being part owner 
in two ships now on tliat ocean. The merchants have had a 
meeting, and are determined to prevent your breaking up their 
trade about the Pacific' 

"Left Boston for Oregon the first of November, 1832. 
Having provided a vessel for the party and the transportation 
of my effects to New York, I joined the party in that city ;^ 
there tarried two or three weeks, occupying what was called 
the parsonage house, in Stuyvesant street, with the party. 
After a few days a band of desperadoes at midnight, beset the 
house, and attempted to force an entrance ; first, at the win- 
dows, and then at the door, but not succeeding, they soon 
hastened away. 

"A short time after, two men came to my quarters, one call- 
ing his name Foster, the other giving his as Lovett. They 
said they wished to emigrate to Oregon; and would like to 
accompany me thither; that they were printers by trade, and 
had money which could be immediately collected to procure 
outfits, and to meet expenses ; and, with a view of giving me 
proof of their sincerity, took me to a printing office, which 
they represented as their place of business. They were well 
dressed, and of insinuating manners. But the sequel showed 
them to be accomplished and adroit villains, ready to perform 

4 Having gone by land in order that he might "secure some household effects," 
which he had left at Three Rivers. — Colonization of Oregon, 21. 


any act affecting my person, plans, or property, however 
atrocious or hazardous. . . . 

"Learning that a vessel was about to sail for the Sandwich 
Islands, I applied to the benevolent owner for a passage thither, 
for a son of mine belonging to the party. A free passage was 
at once generously offered him. As he was of tender years, 
and fearing that he would not well endure the fatigues of the 
land route, I was glad of the chance to provide for him a sea 
voyage. He was to wait at the Islands, until my arrival with 
the party from Acapulco. 

"The party with my effects embarked for New Orleans. 
Myself proceeded to Washington."'^ 

While in New York he obtained on credit money for ex- 
penses and presents for the Indians. Religious societies gave 
him Bibles and books and tracts ; and individuals also contrib- 
uted.*' Upon his arrival at Washington he communicated with 
the state department, asking for authority to explore Oregon 
and setting forth the plans of his expedition,'^ although he had 
already been informed by the secretary of war that the decision 
in the matter lay with congress and not with the executive.^ 
From William S. Archer of Virginia, chairman of the house 
committee on foreign affairs, he received assurance that public 
protection would be given to any settlement which he might 
make in the Oregon territory. From the house committee on 

5 Settlement of Oregon, 24-7; also Colonisation of Oregon, 21-2; IMcMaster, 
United States, VI, 112, citing United States Gazette, January 4 and February 8, 
1833. Kelley says nothing further about his son. 

6 Settlement of Oregon, 113. 

7 Letter to Secretary Livingston, February 23, 1833. In this letter Kelley 
said: "The prevailing motive I have for settling on the Columbia river is to aid 
in carrying the principles of civilisation into that uncultivated part of the earth. 
For this object. I have shipped many enterprising persons, and my own effects — 
I have sent before me my own son of inexperienced and tender years. For this 
object 1 have left to the care of friends an affectionate wife and three small chil- 
dren. I have denyed myself, for a season all social and domestic enjoyments", and 
am the subject of suffering privitions and great hardships; and, finally, for this 
object. I now live, or if its accomplishment requires the sacrifice, I am ready to give 
myself a martyr." 

Under date of February 27, he transmitted a copy of the "emigrants' cove- 
nant" to Livingston. 

8 "The executive can give no aid to individuals in their efforts to establish a 
colony upon the Oregon river. Our laws make no provision for the occupition 
of the country, nor for any negotiations with the Indians for that purpose. Con- 
gress alone can authorize the measure proposed." — Letter of Lewis Cass to Kelley. 
fJiles' Register, XLII, 388 (1832) from the Boston Courier. 

library he obtained a set of United States statutes. Edward 
Everett was a member of both committees, and his cooperation 
was probably the cause of these favors. 

Kelley also made formal application to the Mexican govern- 
ment through Jose M. Montoya, charge d'affaires at Wash- 
ington, for permission to enter the port of Vera Cruz with a 
vessel free from port charges, to land his effects, and to trans- 
port them across the country to Acapulco without liability of 
any kind to the revenue laws. Montoya agreed to forward the 
letter, and he also countersigned the passport which Kelley 
obtained from the state department. Thus equipped Kelley 
left Washington for New Orleans on March i, 1833, proceed- 
ing by the Cumberland road and the Ohio and Mississippi 
rivers under a grant of free passage from the post office 
department.^ To continue from his narrative : 

"At New Orleans I again met the party provided with good 
quarters at my expense. . . . 

"Two of the party, who a few days before leaving New 
York were known to be destitute of money, and poorly clad, 
whose passage I had paid, were now found dressed in new and 
costly apparel, and had plenty of money. Without the remotest 
cause of action, they brought, one after another, suits at law 
against me, until I was harrassed with five such cases. The 
Foster and Lovett who joined the party in New York, resorted 
to acts of felony, forging several papers ; one, a draft of fifteen 
hundred dollars in my favor on J. Ogden, a wealthy merchant 
of New Orleans, purporting to have been drawn by a friend 
of mine in Wall street. New York. . . . 

"Getting access to my property in storage, they stole over 
a thousand dollars of it, and started with it for Texas. For- 
tunately, they were on the same day overtaken, brought back, 
examined before Judge Perval, and with the crime of larceny 
labeled to their character, were committed to prison, where, 
doubtless, it was the divine purpose they should realize a por- 
tion of the reward of evil doers. After a day and a night 

9 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 70; Colonisation of Oregon, 23; Petition, 
1866:3; Settlement of Oregon, 113. 


imprisonment, they sent for me. My ears ever being- open to 
the cries of distress, whether of the human or the brute race, 
I hastened to the window looking into the place of their 'tor- 
ment.' They besought me with tears to intercede in their 
behalf, and obtain their release. I did so, importuning the 
public authority which had committed them, and they were 
released . . . . I . . . required from them a written con- 
fession of their guilt. They gave it, though reluctantly, sol- 
emnly pledging never again to trouble me, then left, but not 
to keep their pledge. Straightway, using the freedom which 
humanity had just given them, they proceeded to carry out new 
plans and plots of treachery and revenge. 

"By anonymous letter and other ways I was threatened with 
assassination, did I not hasten from New Orleans.^^ 

"Those two blood-thirsty pursuers finding a vessel ready to 
sail for Vera Cruz, in conformity, doubtless, to the counsel 
of others in connivance, embarked for that port ; there to lie 
in wait, and destroy me if they could. Before sailing, having 
had permission to enter the store house where my effects were 
deposited, and receive a chest belonging to one of them, not- 
withstanding their solemn pledge to cease from troubling, they 
managed to abstract from my packages a chest similar to theirs, 
packed with articles designed for Indian presents, of the value 
of over $200, leaving their own, which contained nothing of 
value, in its stead. I was present, but being near-sighted, and 
my mind filled with anxieties, I did not. at the hurried moment, 
notice the difference between them. 

"I was surprised, but not frightened at this threatening 
aspect of the enemy's power. Finding a spirit to vex and to 
destroy me infected most of the party, T gladly dismissed them 

10 "New Orleans, March, 27th, iS.^.i. 

"Dear Sir:— I accidentaly overheard yesterday, some of your Orison company 
forming a conspiricy against you, and are determined to take your life either by 
some means or other, others thought it would be most too rash an act and had 
better take you up for swindling, and that they considered a very easy matter 
according to the lawyers account. 

"I am realy afraid that your life is very much at stake, and now take my 
advise, and leave the country as soon as possible if you wint to come off with a 
sound head. "I remain, 

"A frnd." 
—p. 39. 

all, and, having adjusted my business as best I could, I secured 
a passage to Vera Cruz in the schooner Gen. Lafayette, Capt. 
Hoyt. . . . 

"The Capt. had suddenly changed the day for putting to 
sea, having determined to sail earlier than the time appointed 
for that purpose. Although my goods were brought to the 
levee, agreeable to a previous understanding, and the freight 
had already been paid, he refused to receive them. I was not 
to be foiled in that way. Being cramped for time, a few half 
dollars from my pocket, brought aid from the bystanders, and 
my effects were rushed on board, with the exception of about 
two hundred dollars' worth, including the body and hind 
wheels of a wagon, which were left and lost. 

"As the vessel was leaving her moorings, seizing the last 
opportunity, I leaped on deck, there to endure still greater 
indignities and sufferings than had been experienced on shore. 

"I will not stop to mention all that I suffered on that passage. 
During most of the voyage the sea was boisterous, and the 
heavens were darkened with clouds and storms. Although 
I had purchased as good accommodations as the schooner 
afforded, yet was I denied a retreat to any place not open to 
the angry heavens. No reasoning, no appeals to justice or 
mercy could abate the rigor of this brutal treatment. Four- 
teen days and nights I lay on the quarterdeck, terribly sea- 
sick, and exposed to the worst of weather, sometimes drenched 
in salt water, and again in fresh. A portion of my freight 
remained on deck by the side of the bulwarks, exposed to the 
breach-making sea. This much was greatly injured, so that 
a part having lost its value was thrown overboard, and a part 
less injured was given to the poor at Vera Cruz. The lan- 
guage of the Capt. was uniformly abusive, and his whole con- 
duct unfeeling towards me. . . . 

"Something more should be said of the captain. He was 
illiterate, ill-bred, ill-tempered, and intemperate, also. . 

"An occurrence happening on the 2d of May nearly proved 
fatal to the vessel and the lives of all on board. At early dawn 


a Spanish gentleman coming on deck, cried out, 'Land! land!' 
Our frail bark was fast nearing the rocky shore, which was 
not more than 50 or 75 rods distant. Fortunately, the fog, 
which had enveloped it, was now rising. The helmsman had 
just time to wear ship, and save being dashed upon the rocks. 
A similar occurrence happened on the loth. In the eveninj^, 
returning from a trip to or near the bay of Campeche, while 
the captain was in one of his stupefactions, we heard the 
breakers roar and could see their foaming crests. They were 
close by on the lee bow. The mate wears about and goes to 
sea. The captain, who was in his berth, being informed, raised 
himself partly up and said, T can't help it.' 

"On the 11th [of May] the schooner entered the bay of 

Vera Cruz, and anchored under the guns of Fort St. Juan de 

Ulloa. I now left the captain, but he was not quite ready to 

leave me, nor to leave the object of wasting my property. 


11 Settlement of Oregon, 27-3>; Colonisation of Oreson, 23-6. 

En Route — Across Mexico 

Even to-day a trip across Mexico is attended with delays and 
difficulties. The foreigner is met with suspicion, and, if he be 
an American, with positive dislike. Nothing but a fanatical 
belief in his mission could have led Kelley to disregard or at 
least underestimate the obstacles to be encountered in passing 
through that country before the day of railroads, in the midst 
of pestilence, brigands, and civil war. Yet this is what he 
undertook to do in 1833, alone, encumbered with baggage, and 
ignorant of the language of the people. His account of his 
experiences in Mexico is especially complete, and it will be 
given here in his own words as far as possible. 

''Landing at the port of Vera Cruz, Lovett, the treacerous 
actor at New Orleans, called on me to offer his greetings, and 
to tender his services in repacking my effects, and preparing 
for my early departure from that place of pestilence and death. 
. . . His cunning and insinuating manner drew to him some 
friends, and there were some about him, friends to nobody. 
To have suggested to others my bad opinion of him would have 
exposed myself at that time to the assassin's power. Indeed, 
being privately reminded of ingratitude at the time of embark- 
ation at New Orleans, his jealousy was aroused, and he told 
me with great emphasis, if I named any circumstance exposing 
his character in that place, I must do all my repenting at Vera 
Cruz, and be prepared for the worst results. However, not 
intimidated, I gave him wholesome advice, forbade his taking 
a step with me into the interior, or traveling the same road 
the same day. ... In view of this threatening aspect of 
things, I was not wanting in circumspection and civilities, both 
in regard to this villain, the captain, and their accompHces. 

"Soon after my arrival, a snare was laid by him, which he 
and a colored man, his associate, were unable to spring upon 

me ; artfully attempting to draw me into a dark hole in the 
city, unquestionably with the design of taking my life. . . . 

"The following transactions seemed to indicate that the cap- 
tain and the officers of the customs were each to share in the 
plunder of my property. Some days after the cargo of the 
vessel was discharged, one of the sailors informed me that a 
package of my stuff was found concealed under old rigging in 
the hold. It consisted of such pieces and remnants of cotton 
and woolen fabrics as would be useful to me in Oregon, and 
was worth from $ioo to $150. My anxiety was to know how 
to get possession of the goods without prejudice to my char- 
acter. I had no disposition to smuggle, or to do a dishonorable 
act. To bring it publicly on shore, it was said, would endanger 
the vessel ; or to bring it clandestinely, would afford a plausible 
reason for supposing it merchandise for that market, which 
was far from being the fact. I was told that, for a reward, a 
custom house officer would bring the package to me. An en- 
gagement was made. The property was brought between two 
suns, and left at the place appointed, and twenty silver dollars 
were paid for doing the business. It appeared like a fair and 
legal transaction, but, with the officer, it was smuggling, under 
revenue laws made and provided for that purpose. . . . 

'^On landing, having engaged boarding quarters, and got my 
passports endorsed by proper authorities, I turned my thoughts 
to my baggage, which was of much value, a portion of it 
needful for present use. Some of it was in loose packages. 
Most of it was placed in the custom house for safe keeping, 
until my departure thence, agreeable to the advice of the Amer- 
ican consul. In view of my ill health, lonely condition and the 
distracted state of public affairs in that country, he thought 
it would be unsafe at the hotel. Unskilled at that time in the 
Spanish language, I had no direct communication with the 
revenue officers, but it was understood on my part, and also, 
I supposed, on the part of the consul, that it would be readily 
and freely given up when called for. . . . With the hope of 
obtaining some indemnity from the captain for my losses, 


which he had carelessly or wantonly caused me, I delayed my 
departure over two weeks. . . . 

"I hastened arrangements for resuming the journey, and 
called for the property deposited in the custom house. To my 
surprise, it was refused, on the ground of a requisition of cus- 
tom house duties. I had never, at home or abroad, declined 
to render 'unto Caesar tlie things that were Caesar's,' but to 
pay a tax in Mexico on property not dutiable, I unhesitatingly 
declined to do. A bond would have been given, if requested, 
guarding against the sale of so much as a single article in that 
country. ... 

"After several days of entreaty, through the consul, explain- 
ing the object of my journey, giving my reasons for taking 
that circuitous route to Oregon, and presenting the passport 
from the State Department of the United States, the cupidity 
of the revenue officers relaxed a little, and I was permitted 
to select four packages from the eight. The amount of duties 
demanded was nearly the invoice value of the property. By 
what rule of calculation, or principle of right they had fixed 
upon any specific amount of tax, or had taxed at all, I could 
not understand. . . . 

"In the proper construction of the passport furnished me 
by the State Department of the U. S. A., protection should 
have been given both to my person and property. But pro- 
tection was given to neither."^ 

On May 27, 1833, Kelley left Vera Cruz by stage and arrived 
the following day at Jalapa,^ where he remaine 1 eighteen days, 
familiarizing himself with the country round about. From' 
Jalapa he wrote to Anthony Butler, the American charge 
d'affaires at the city of Mexico, complaining of the detention of 
his property at Vera Cruz. He proceeded on foot to Puebia, 
and after three days left by stage for the City of Mexico. 

Almost the first man he met upon his arrival was Foster, 

I Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon, 31-6. 

.- Lovett, the "pollster villain." remained at Vera Cruz, where he soon died 
of yellow fever.— Ibid., Z2. 


-.vho was boarding- at his expense, having some of his papers 
upon which an arrangement to that effect had been made with 
the proprietor of the stage house. This charge was paid upon 
threat of seizure of baggage ; but Kelley refused to pay for 
Foster's passage from Vera Cruz or for his lodgings. His 
baggage was attached, and the irrepressible Foster laid claim 
to some of it, but the magistrate decided the matter in Kelley 's 

Kelley then transferred his quarters from the stage house 
to the Washington hotel, which was the only other public 
house open to foreigners. The proprietor was an American, 
and "among the guests there were Col. Austin, the founder 
of the first settlement of the Americans in Texas, Col. Hodg- 
kiss and Gen. Mason from Virginia, and several other distin- 
guished Americans. Their purpose in that country was to 
bring about the annexation of Texas to the United States." 
Upon invitation of the American consul, James S. Wilcox, 
Kelley spent several weeks as his guest at his residence on 
Lake Chalco, a short distance from the city.^ 

At the American legation Kelley renewed his appeal for the 
release of his goods, but was told that there was little likelihood 
of favorable action by the Mexican government, a prediction 
which was in accord with the fact.'* 

Unlike most zealots, Kelley seems to have been incapable of 
giving his whole attention to his main project. When he left 
New England the enthusiasm for railroads was at its height. 

3 Settlement of Oregon, 36-9. 

4 Letter of Anthony Butler to Carlos Garcia, secretary of state, July ii, 1833, 
and reply of Garcia, September 17, 1833, in 25 cong. 2 sess. H. ex. doc. 351:481-2, 
487. Butler decl .red that the action of the customs officers was not only in vio- 
lation of the laws and usages of nations, but also in contravention of positive treaty 
stipulations. "I use the e.Kpression of being contrary to treaty stipulations, be- 
cause, even ad-^iitting that t'^e articles detained were intended for commercial 
purposes, insterd of being designed solely for the personal use of the individuals 
forming the expedition, yet. in such event, the object being merely to land the 
goods at one port, and, passing through the country, to trans-ship them at another, 
the treaty provides that such merch-andise would be entitled to drawback: that is 
to say, that the bond given for duties, if the goods were sold within the republic, 
shall be cancelled- and delivered up to the owner, upon the reshipment of the 
merch .ndise. If, however, the articles landed by Mr. Kelly be examined, they 
will he found to consist of implements of agriculture, tools for different branches 
of the mechanical profession, and rennants of coarse goods, such as are indis- 
pensably necessary for persons forming a new settlement in a wilderness entirely 
removed beyond the limits of civilization." According to Kelley. his loss at Vera 
Cruz amounted to $1150. — Kelley, Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 7. 


If railroads were good for New England, why not for Mexico 

"While exploring the country between Vera Cruz and the 
City of Mexico, I became satisfied of the feasibility of a rail- 
road route between one and the other of those places. Desir- 
ous of seeing Mexico benefited with the same kind of institu- 
tions and improvements as those effecting such great things 
for my native New England, I planned and advised that im- 
provement—especially would I have internal improvements 
commenced without the least possible delay, in a country, 
where the common people were but little in advance of the 
heathen; where most of the roads were in a state of nature, 
and the earth bore but few marks and evidence of civilization 
dwelling there. 

"The improvement suggested by me was a topic of frequent 
conversation with Wilcox . . . and with other enterprising 
foreigners. It was one of the subjects of a communication 
to President Santa Anna, describing, according to my appre- 
hension, what would be the utility of railroads."^ 

In the midst of all his troubles, this strangest of mortals 
was open-eyed and active in studying the natural phenomena 
about him. The plants, animals and minerals received his 
careful attention, and his curiosity as to the heights of moun- 
tains must be served. He also interested himself in the welfare 
of the natives, and vaccinated some of them. "I lost no time, 
neglected no opportunity, relaxed no effort to do the good 
I had proposed to do in that country." He even indulged in 
recreational activities, a fact for which he half apologized. 

"I engaged in no idle amusements, expended not so much 
as a dollar 'for that v^hich is naught,' yet occasionally I took 
a game at checkers with my distinguished fellow-boarders at 
the hotel, and once did I attend the theatre to witness a bull- 
fight, and learn concerning that ancient, barbarous custom. 

S Kelley, Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 74-5, 89-92. "Shortly after mv 
return to Massachusetts [in 1836], I had the satisfaction to learn, that the road 
had been_ commenced. It does not follow, as a thing in course, that the under- 
taking origin -.ted from anything I had said; but, there is a possibility yes a orob- 
abiluy, and some strong indications of such being the fact." — Ibid.,' 76. ' 


Neither the games nor the visit to the theatre were without 
some benefit to me."® 

His more important business, however, was not forgotten. 
With singular lack of understanding of the attitude of the 
Mexican government toward the intrusion of Americans upon 
its domain, "While in the City of Mexico he made arrange- 
ments to become an empresarias for settling the interior of 
Alta California with emigrants from his own and other civil- 
ized lands, intending to commence the work, when the tide 
of emigration to those western shores should set high, and it 
should be practicable to take that position."^ These arrange- 
ments, he admitted, were made only "in part," and while they 
were made with "public authority," we are not told as to the 
officer who was approached or his reply.* His health having 
become impaired, he made no attempt to enter into any arrange- 
ment with the Mexican government to encourage trading rela- 
tions with the settlers on the Columbia.^ 

His observations on the instability of the government and 
needs of the people are quite as applicable to the conditions of 
to-day. In a letter written on August 24, 1833, to J. B. Thorn- 
ton, he said, "The civil outbreaks and com.motions constantly 
occurring in Mexico are not likely to result in any beneficial 
effects to the people. The fundamental principles of govern- 
ment must be different, more in harmony with the principles 
of Christianity. The policy of the governing power must be 
changed. Under present circumstances, while the whole nation 
is living in sottish ignorance, without schools for the youth, 
and without a heaven-taught ministry, unenlightened and inex- 
perienced, as to practical freedom and the blessings of Chris- 
tian civilization, that policy should be more arbitrary, and the 
government less republican. . . . 

"Mexico should have more light, and the sympathy of 
neighbors. Other nations should help her. It would be right, 

6 Settlement of Oregon, 36, 39, 41. 

7 Kelley, Petition, 1854:3; Narrative of Events and Difficulties, Appx. A, 8(5-93. 

8 Settlement of Oregon, 66; Petition, 1866:4. 

9 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 70. 


that her elder sister repubhc, the powerful and opulent United 
States, should help her, and make her a loan of a few millions 
of money, to be applied exclusively in laying the foundations 
of freedom just described. Unless such a foundation is laid, 
and the monsters, ignorance and superstition, are driven from 
the land, political delusions, clandestine disorders, war and 
bloodshed and human sufferings will continue. "^^ 

Unforeseen delays having made it impossible for him to be 
at Acapulco at the appointed time, he now decided to go instead 
to San Bias via Gaudalajara. 

"Just before leaving the city, and proceeding onward. Col. 
Hodgkiss, a countryman distinguished in the war of 1812, 
presented me with an elegant sword, a testimonial of his respect 
for me ; and perhaps partly in view of the perilous journey to 
be pursued along the roads at that time known to be infested 
with banditti. . . . The consul presented me with two noble 
mules, and a theodolite. . . . 

"My personal arms were a light gun, a brace of pistols, and 
the sword just presented me. In the baggage were three guns 
and other weapons such as are usually used in human slaugh- 
ter. Thus was I accoutred in complete Cossack panoply. . . . 

"Just before resuming the journey, two strangers, a French 
gentleman and a countryman from Philadelphia, Giredot and 
Keyser, came and proposed to accompany me to Gaudalajara. 
Their company was very acceptable, and proved to be of much 
benefit to me. I was now ready to go forward. 

"Just as I was leaving, when outside the gate, Foster intro- 
duced to me a savage looking man whom he called Frederick, 
and who was going, he said, to San Bias, and desired to travel 
with me ; said he would assist in driving the burthened ani- 
mals, I consented, believing a refusal would be of no avail ; 
that Foster had picked him up for an accomplice in carrying 
out his bloody purpose. I learned afterwards by the French 
gentleman that he was a foot-pad, and associate with the high- 
waymen in that portion of the country. 

10 Settlement of Oregon, *o-i. 


"My servant engaged in the city to take charge of the mules, 
and to serve as a guide, at the end of two days refused to go 
farther. I settled with him, paid him his price, and for a 
further compensation he plundered my baggage of some small 
articles, not, however, of much value. After four days, Gire- 
dot and Keyser, finding it too tiresome to travel in a slow walk, 
and impatient to go forward, left me. They had travelled with 
me two or three hours in the morning, and then hastened to 
their night quarters. Foster and Frederick were now my only 
servants and guide. At eight o'clock in the evening, after a 
hard day's journey, having missed the road, I stopped, pitched 
my tent by the side of the path and unburdened the mules. 
Early the next morning I started in search of some populated 
place for food and provender for the beasts, and also for infor- 
mation as to the right road. After traveling nearly a league 
I entered a village, went from house to house, but the doors 
were kept closed ; none cared to give me answer — not so much 
as a cup of water. Returning to the encampment, I ordered 
the animals to be got ready to leave. While in the tent mak- 
ing ready the baggage, Foster, outside, called out, 'Robbers 
are coming.' Looking out, I saw ten or fifteen men, variously 
armed, near approaching. To show non-resistance, I grounded 
my gun at the tent door. The supposed robbers came up in 
front, their captain advanced, and with trembling hands 
stooped down and picked up the gun. Then, full of courage, 
called out Batnos, bamos. On my coming out, he demanded 
my side-arms. They were now silent for a while, as though 
waiting for a reinforcement. Soon I saw, under a cloud of 
dust, a crowd of women and children. They came and seated 
themselves in a line on the ground. All fears of their having 
bad intentions were now dispelled. They were silent. Four 
men, on horseback arrived ; one was the Elcelde of the village 
where I had just been so unsuccessful in finding friends. He 
addressed to me a few words, all of which I did not under- 
stand. I then exhibited the traveling passport given me by the 
chief executive of the United States, and a letter from a dis- 


ting-uished countryman, stating the objects of my sojourn in 
Mexico. These papers were translated into his own language. 
He read them and bowed. I bowed also, and we shook hands. 
Among the women was a fair and thoughtful looking okl lady, 
who had come prepared with tortillis and fruit to relieve our 
hunger. She uncovered a basket, and, looking kindly at me, 
said, 'Senora, toma.' We partook of her bounty ; though I 
had fasted twenty-four hours, was not hungry, but Foster ate 
much, and ate like a dog on the point of starvation. This lady 
I supposed to be the mother of the Elcelde. ... I thought 
I could see an excellent spirit in her. . . . After opening a 
package of Indian presents, I addressed her, 'Senora. toma 
(take),' and gave her in return, lace and ribbons, with which 
she seemed pleased, ten times the value of what had been 
received. The Elcelde and his suite having conducted me to 
the right road, bade me good-by, and returned to their village, 
and I proceeded on my route. 

"After two days reached Yula, where I found my two fellow 
travelers awaiting my arrival. Here I passed two or three 
days in exploring the region about the city, most of the time 
in the market place, studying human nature, observing the 
manners and customs of the people, and seeking knov/ledge, 
and picking up memorials of antiquity. History informs us 
that the Annuhac tribe, the earliest aborigines of Mexico, in 
their migration southward from the place of their landing on 
the American shores, made Yula their first stopping place. 
After two or three days, with my companions in company, I 
again moved forward. . . . 

"In Curetero I delayed one day, bought a horse, and there 
were stolen from my effects articles of six or eight dollars 
value. The baser sort of the natives are much given to thiev- 
ing, and practice with wonderful skill the sleight of hand, and 
can steal before the eyes of another without his knowledge. 
Though I kept a constant watch over my property, yet I was 
constantly losing. My fellow travelers have again left me and 
gone ahead to hunt rabbits, I passed through Salais, and put up 


for the night in a puebia, three leagues beyond that place. The 
hunters were with me, and we made a good supper on rabbits. 
"About the middle of the next day reached Salamanca. Out- 
side of the town a man on horseback met me and said he would 
conduct me to a mason [meson] and to the Custom House. At 
the latter place my passports and papers were examined. The 
custom house officer said I was unlawfully carrying four guns. 
I replied that the passports gave me a right to carry them. He 
said, however, I might sell one of them to his son, then stand- 
ing at the door, and proceed on with the three. Accordingly, 
one was offered to the lad at half its value. But this was not 
the thing; the gun he wanted without price. I took back the 
passport and walked out, returned to the inn and ordered the 
servant to make ready to leave. The marshal now brought 
forward a large horse, which he offered to exchange for a gun. 
The animal, on examination, was discovered to be blind in one 
eye and to be badly foundered. It was more than two hours 
before I could get rid of these insolent officers of the govern- 
ment. I finally got out of the city, but had not proceeded half 
a league when a man came in great speed, offering to sell his 
horse for a gun. I assured him I had no wish to buy, and 
desired him to leave. At length, with much difficulty, 1 
induced him to wheel about and leave me. He hastened back 
to report, no doubt, to the officer of the customs. I began to 
think I had now escaped the heathen city ; but alas ! in less 
than an hour afterwards, whom should I see following but 
him who was a few hours before so courteous and attentive 
to me in the city. He comes to renew his attempt to rob me 
of the gun. He first said he must have the gun and $4.00 for 
the horse offered me. He demanded it — demanded me to stop 
and turn back ; seized hold of my bridle, flourished his sword 
and discharged his pistol, crossing the path ahead of my horse, 
and again, the third time, discharged the pistol. 
' "To get rid of his troubling, I proposed to submit the matter 
to the Elcelde of the next village. It was nearly dark before 
we reached one. Providentially, I met there my two friends. 


Giredot, conversant in the Spanish language, and serving me 
as an interpreter, stated the case to the magistrate, and the 
robber was ordered to turn back and pursue me no further. 
In the morning the Padre, whom I beheved to be an honest 
man and disposed to deal justly with me, proposed to buy the 
gun, offering me for it a large and powerful looking horse, 
apparentlv without a blemish. His price was fifty dollars; 
mine the same. An exchange was at once made, and I pro- 
ceeded on my way. 

"The new steed proved to be but partly domesticated— wild 
and difficult to manage. About noon, meeting three armed 
men on horseback, whom I supposed to be robbers, I dis- 
mounted, holding my gun in the right hand and the bridle 
reins in the left. They passed on the off side, and pricked the 
animal with a sword, causing him to jump; and he escaped, 
leaving me with a dislocated little finger. Making a circuit 
of a few rods, he set his head towards the place of his former 
master, taking along with him a valise mailed back of the 
saddle, containing a small amount of money, some jewelry and 
valuable papers. I was now in trouble, and feared I should 
not easily get out of it. I was alone— my two friends had gone 
ahead, and neither Foster nor Frederick, having charge of the 
mules, and unacquainted with the roads, were suitable persons 
to hunt for the horse. looking about, I saw at no great dis- 
tance an Indian standing in front of his habitation. I called 
to him and offered him a dollar (three or four were in my 
pocket) to find and bring back the runaway animal. He was 
at once upon the track, and in two hours returned with the 
horse, but without the valuables. He reported that the valise 
was hanging on one side of the animal with one end cut open, 
emptied ^of its contents. I proceeded on several leagues to a 
large town, where I stopped for a day to give rest to the lame 
and wearied animals. My friends, G. and K., were overtaken 
at this place, and rode in company with me, as they had pre- 
viously done, one or two hours in the morning, and then took 
their final leave of me. I again, however, met them on my 


arrival at Gaudalajara. Foster and Frederick, while ascend- 
ing a hill, cut each of them a stick and hastened forward with 
one of the mules and a horse, laden with my tent, a gun and 
some other light articles, leaving me to drive the other, which 
was lame, and traveled slow. Having passed the summit of 
the hill, and out of sight, they also took their final leave. They 
probably believed they had already betrayed me into the merci- 
less hands of robbers in the mountains just ahead, who would 
make an end of me. Frederick doulitless had so planned, being 
acquainted, as I had been given to understand, with the banditti 
infesting that portion of the country, and having had in the 
cities through which we passed communication vv^ith some of 
the highwaymen, looking after such wayfaring travelers as 
they would like to make their victims. I was now alone, unac- 
quainted with the road, and it seemed almost impossible for 
me to go forward. I proceeded on a m.ile or more, hoping to 
find some habitation. Leaving the packed animals, I rode to 
the summit of a swell of land. I saw in the distance a cabin, 
and approached near it. A man came out, seized a stone and 
advanced towards me. I made enquiries of him concerning the 
way to Gaudalajara and for some person to guide me thither. 
He pointed out the right road, but thought it unsafe for me to 
travel. It led over a mountain, the same in which I had been 
told were a band of robbers. I left him, and on my way to the 
mules, another man was seen coming from the direction of the 
mountain. He rode up to me, and inquired as to my condition, 
spoke kindly, as though he v/ould have me believe him a friend ; 
had a crucifix in his bosom as though a Christian man. I 
asked him if he would conduct me to Gaudalajara ; said he 
would for two dollars a day. I consented to give it. Taking 
charge of the mules, he led on the way. . . . On the summit, 
at the distance of a few rods, were seen five armed men on 
horses, looking steadfastly at me. The guide said, 'Lahombres 
malos.' Among their weapons was the lasso, the most effectual 
one used in their line of business. I raised my gun as though 
about to make demonstration. Thev seemed as motionless as 


though they had no power of action. A gun in the hands of a 
foreigner appears terrible to IMexican robbers, and they may 
have been intimidated by mine, and have thought it a less risk 
of life to capture me in some other place. I was not much 
frightened, but, thinking myself in an unsafe place, hastened to 
get out of it. I soon reached the foot of the mountain and a 
cluster of cabins (three I recollect), and there saw the five 
identical men whom I had just passed, still on their horses. I 
was ordered to dismount. The animals were stripped of their 
burdens and led to some place where I supposed they were 
supplied with provender. There were four women, but no 
children or young persons. With a good deal of presence of 
mind I made my conversation agreeable to them, spoke of my 
lonely travels, of robberies and of the loss of my money ; and 
made them presents, hair combs and scissors, which they 
seemed to think of great value. In return they gave me food — 
a bountiful supply of tortilles. Early in the evening they con- 
ducted me to the place of my lodging. ... I was comfort- 
able, and slept quietly and safely through the night. The 
women had doubtless induced the men to change their pro- 
gramme of proceedings from a merciless to a more humane 
one — to go on with me, and on the way, at some place of 
ambush, take possession of the mules and their cargoes, and let 
me go. In the morning I saw the men again on their horses 
leave the place. Soon after, the treacherous guide brought for- 
ward and made ready the animals and left with me. At the 
end of three or four leagues, in a lonely place, the conductor, 
who had appeared so honest and so much a friend, stopped the 
largest of the mules, the leading one of them, the one laden 
with the most valuable and bulky portion of the property, 
under pretense of adjusting the fastenings of the load, and said 
to me, 'Go on.' I did so, driving the other mule, then before 
me. After proceeding a few rods, and looking back, lo, both 
the mule and driver were missing. They had gone back behind 
some clumps of bushes near the roadside. Moving on some 
hundred or more rods, and leaving the mule near a lonely 


house, I turned about with the determination to rescue the 
captured mule, even at the peril of life, if so it needs be. 
On the way I met the same five men in whose hands and power 
I had been the previous day and night. When opposite the 
homes where the mule driven forward was left, they discharged 
a pistol, which was a signal for the conductor to bring forward 
the mule and again join me. In a few minutes he was on the 
road hastening towards me, and now, with both mules, we 
proceeded on the way, and at the distance of a league, reaching 
a fording place at the head waters of the Rio Grande, empty- 
ing into the ocean near San Bias. It was a dark and solitary 
place, and near nightfall ; the path was narrow, flanked with 
thick bushes leading oblique to the river, and the men propos- 
ing to take my life lay concealed among them. No one could 
be seen crossing until quite on the hither bank of the stream. 
When the mules had come to the water's edge, the conductor, 
back of them, wheeled about and said, with an air of triumph, 
and, to me, a ghastly smile, 'I am going no further; are you 
going on ?' Instantly two men were seen on horseback, close 
at hand. One of them said, 'Turn, and go with us,' and com- 
manded the conductor (speaking with authority) to drive along 
the animals. They had been apprised of the m.ovements of 
the robbers, and had come to my help. . . . They belonged 
to the village called Argua Cahente, situate near the house 
where the mule had been left. It was not seen by me at the 
time of passing, owing to a swell of land which intervened, 
or I should there have stopped and freed myself from the 
company of my bloody pursuers. One of them was the Elcelde 
of the village. On the way I spoke of my enterprise — the rea- 
son of the sojourn in that country and the cause of my lone- 
hness. I tarried in that village two days, at the house of the 
Elcelde, by whom I was made the participant of the most gen- 
erous hospitality. I have not time to speak of the respect there 
paid me, or of the dance (Fandango) given in honor to the 
stranger so providentially in the village. Leaving the mules, 
fatigued and worn down by hardships, to rest, I proceeded on 


to Gaudalajara, accompanied by one of the sons of my hos- 
pitable friend, where, after giving myself and horse a few 
days' rest, returned for them. 

"The first thing after my arrival at Gaudalajara was to find 
my two runaway companions, and make search for the two 
villains who had robbed me of the horse and his valuable bur- 
den. Among the foreigners residing and doing business in 
that city were Terry and Sullivan, two of my countrymen. My 
first call was upon them. . . . Mr. Terry . . . said that 
a foreigner but a few days in the place had sold him a gun. 
He brought it forward, and it was the identical gun stolen. 
'We will go,' said he, 'and see the man ; I know where he quar- 
ters.' Foster, at the first sight of me, seemed agitated and 
turned pale. Terry demanded of him the return of the twenty 
dollars paid for the gun. Foster replied, 'It is mostly gone to 
meet expenses.' He was told if he did not return it, he should 
be put where the dogs would not bite him. He handed Terry 
twelve dollars, saying, 'This is all I have.' I then said to Fos- 
ter, 'You must immediately leave the place, and leave me for- 
ever, or I will commit you to the hands of the public authority 
as being a felon, a robber and the chief of rascals.' 'I will 
leave,' replied he, 'for San Bias, and there go on board the 
first vessel for the Sandwich Islands.' And he did leave, and 
so also did Frederick, but not until he had taken the tongue 
from the mouth of my best mule and ruined that noble and 
valuable animal. The gun and tent were restored to me ; but 
a cane, a present by Mr. Jewett, a countryman and friend 
residing at Jalapa, was lost." From Gaudalajara Kelley went 
to San Bias on the Pacific coast.^^ 

Before leaving Gaudalajara, however, he called upon Rich- 
ard M. Jones, a son-in-law of Joseph Lancaster, who was 
principal of the state institute in which the instruction was 
conducted according to the Lancasterian method. Having ob- 
served the workings of this system in Philadelphia, Kelley 

1 1 Settlement of Oregon, 42-50. Foster went on to the Sandwich Islands and 
thence to Monterey, where be was drowned. "Here was an end of another of my 
mad pursuers," observed Kelley. — Ibid., 52-3. 

Keiley's "Yula" was Tula; his "Curetaro," Quer€taro; and his "Salais," 


urged upon Jones the adoption of the Philadelphia plan. He 
had already communicated with President Santa Anna upon 
the subject while at the capital. But while we are told that 
Jones promised to exert his influence in favor of the plan in 
operation at the Manual Labor Academy of Pennsylvania, and 
while we know that the Lancasterian system was receive 1 with 
considerable favor in Mexico, there is no evidence that Kelley's 
influence counted for anything more than encouragement.^^ 

12 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 75, Appx. A. 87-9; Petition, i8';6:4; 
Settlement of Oregon, 52. The system was established by law in the Philadelphia 
public schools in 1818 but abandoned in 1836. 


En Route — San Blas to Fort Vancouver. 

From San Bias Kelley continued his journey by water to La 
Paz on the gulf coast of Lower California and thence to Loreto. 
His course then lay northward by land to San Diego, where 
he arrived with a single guide on April 14, 1834.^ Of his 
experiences on this part of the journey, much of it through a 
country that to-day is wild and forbidding, there is unfor- 
tunately little in the writings of Kelley to inform us.^ That 
he collected "specimens of some of the precious metals of 
Lower California, which he put into the hands of that eminent 
geologist. Dr. [Charles T.] Jackson, of Boston," he declared 
in one of his petitions to congress.^ 

While at La Paz he shipped his theodolite and some of his 
baggage to the Sandwich Islands. He also seems to have lost 
his "elegant sword." While in the wilderness of Lower Cali- 
fornia, he devised "an instrument for making astronomical 
observations," notwithstanding the imperative need of direct- 
ing his attention to matters terrestrial in a country whose thiev- 
ing natives almost aroused his admiration. "About the same 
time," he continued, "the breech of my gun was broken short 
off near the lock, and stolen by an Indian for its silver orna- 
ments. A new one was soon provided, by substituting, in part, 
a section of a wild bull's horn. It is a curious repair, and an 
obvious improvement in the gun stock — it has better shape and 
is more convenient for use."^ 

At Pueblo, near San Diego, Kelley met the man whose name 
Vi'as to be associated with his own in the history of the settle- 

1 Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon, 53-4. 

2 "That portion of the narrative from the time of leaving Gaudlaxara to that 
of arriving at San Diego, owing either to mistake or inadvertence, or loss of 
manuscript ... is vifanting." — Ibid., xi n. 

3 Kelley, Petition, 1866:4. "I found gold, silver and copper and other of 
the precious metals, in Lower California." — Settlement of Oregon, 118. 

4 Kellev, Memorial. 1848:14. This gun he presented to the Amherst college 
museum a few years before his death. 


ment of Oregon. This was Ewing Young, "a native of Ten- 
nessee, a man remarkable for sagacity, enterprise, and courage," 
according to Kelley. Young "had been twelve years a hunter 
about the wilds of Oregon, California and New Mexico ; and 
had lost, perhaps, some of the refinements of manners once 
possessed ; and had missed some of those moral improvements 
peculiar to Christian civilization." With him was a small party 
of hunters. "This was the man to accompany me; because, 
like myself, he had an iron constitution, and was inured to 
hardships. He was almost persuaded."^' 

From San Diego Kelley took passage to San Pedro on the 
ship Lagoda out of Boston, and continued by land to Monte- 
rey, the seat of government.^ His chief aim was to get some- 
one to accompany him. "The country between the 38th and 
44th parallels appeared dark and threatening, no civilized men 
save hunters, as I could learn, had roamed there. To penetrate 
that trackless region alone seemed too hazardous. In hopes, 
thiCrefore, of collecting a party of emigrants to travel with me, 
in whatever place countrymen could be found for hearers, I 
preached Oregon." His appeal was soon to be answered, for 
Young was then on his way to join him. "The last of June, 
1834, he arrived at my encampment on the prairie, five miles 
eastward of Monterey, and consented to go and settle in Ore- 
gon, with, however, this express understanding — that if I had 
deceived him, woe be to me."^ 

There was much to be done, however, before the journey 
could be resumed. The matter of trading relations demanded 
attention, and arrangements had to be made for supplies both 
for the long trip northward and for the settlers after their 
arrival on the Columbia. It was also necessary to obtain all 
available information as to the country yet to be traversed. 
As was his custom, Kelley sought out the leading men and 
laid his plans before them. "The Catholic priests in California 

5 Memorial, 1848: 13; Hist, of the Colonisation of Oregon, 7; Settlement of 
Oregon, 56-9. 

6 Settlement of Oregon, 54. 

7 Memorial, 1848:13; Settlement of Oregon, 59. 


were a learned and hospitable class of men. I received from 
them not only facilities for traveling, but much valuable infor- 
mation concerning- that country and its aboriginal inhabitants. 
I held a correspondence with the Rev. Fr. Felipe Ayroyo de 
la Cuesta of St. Miguel ; and Don Matias Montaner of Ogedo ; 
and with Gen. Jose Figueroa, the political governor."^ Both 
by letter and in person he sought to obtain Figueroa's patron- 
age and cooperation. He informed him of his ultimate pur- 
pose of founding a colony in the northern part of California, 
and asked that he might explore that country and prepare a 
map for the guidance of those who would wish to settle there. 
But the governor, while professing to be favorable to the pro- 
posal, declared that he was without authority to grant a license 
to prepare a map or funds for the proposed undertaking, and 
offered to send Kelley's letter with his endorsement to the 
Mexican government.-' There had been delays enough already, 
however, and Kelley determined to push on. 

"With a party of nine men, I set off on the 8th of July for 
the land of my hopes. Young had fifty horses, each of his 
men had one or more, and myself had six, with a mule. My 
personal arms were a light gun, which was always in my hands, 
and always ready for action ; a brace of pistols, and a Spanish 
dirk. . . Included in the mules' cargo were articles for 

Indian presents, such as cotton cloth, scarlet velvet sashes, 
beads, etc., stationery, my journals and papers, a Nautical 
Almanac, thermometer, a compass, and an instrument . . . 
for making astronomical observations. . . .^^ In a trunk 
made of a wild bull's hide were deeds, charts, historical 
accounts and other papers, showing myself to be in possession 
of a good title, which certain Americans, myself among them, 
had to the largest and fairest portions of Quadra's [Vancouver] 
Island, and also showing myself to be the attorney and advo- 
cate of the claimants."" 

8 Memorial, 1848: 13. 

9 Petition, 1866: 4-5; Settlement of Oregon, 67-8. 

10 Memorial, 1848:13-4. 

11 Seitltmtnt of Oregon, 30. 


The number of men in the party is variously stated in the 
different accounts of this part of the journey. The same is 
true of the number of horses. This is not at all strange, for 
the numbers varied at different stages. It would seem also 
that the word "party" as used by Kelley included both himself 
and Young, while Young used it to define those who were 
subordinate to him. Young's account, as quoted by Kelley, 
follows : 

"We set out from Monterey with seven men and forty or 
fifty horses, and on our way through the settlements^^ bought 
some more. When we arrived at the last settlement, St. 
Joseph, we encamped there five days to get some supplies 
of provisions. I left the camp and went to the bay of San 
Francisco, to receive some horses that I had bought before 
leaving Monterey. . . . When we set out from the last set- 
tlement, I had seventy-seven horses and mules. Kelley and 
the other five men had twenty-one, which made ninety-eight 
animals which I knew were fairly bought. The last nine men 
that joined the party had fifty-six horses. Whether they 
bought them, or stole them, I do not know."'-"* 

On the second day out from San Jose, a small band of men 
overtook the party. These were the men referred to in Young's 
statement. They were unwelcome, but there was no way to 
get rid of thm. Kelley declared, "I neither gave consent or 
dissent to their traveling with the party ; for I could not pre- 
vent it; and Capt. Young did not object." Both Kelley and 
Young gave the number of newcomers as nine, but four evi- 
dently dropped out. for Kelley's later references to them give 
the number as five. These men Kelley characterized as ''ma- 
rauders," and the term was aptly chosen, as is evident from his 
account of what followed. 

"After a few days, those men, finding that I was not dis- 

12 Santa Cruz was one of the settlements visited. — Kelley, Memoir, Committee 
on Foreign .\ffairs, Territory of Oregon, supplementary report, so, 25 conR. 3 sess. 

H. rep. 1 01 

\i Settlement of Oregon, 567; also Bancroft, Hist, of the Northwest Coast, II, 
548 n. The latter is probably based upon Kelley's account. Kelley said that 
there were "120 valuable horses and mules which mostly belonged to Young. — 
Colonisation of Oregon, 7. But he failed to say when they had that number. 


posed to connive at their villainy, sought an opportunity to 
destroy me. One of them discharged his rifle at me, and very 
nearly hit the mark; and at a subsequent time the rifle was 
again leveled at me, but at the moment a word from Young 
staid the death-charged bullet. . . . ^^ 

"Two of them had belonged to the party of twenty-five, 
under [Joseph] Walker [of the American Fur company], of 
whom Capt. Bonneville speaks in his 'Adventures Beyond 
the Rocky Mountains.' Walker's chief object had been, for 
more than a year, to hunt and destroy Indians. Those two 
persons themselves informed me about it, and spoke often of 
the black flag, and the rifle, and the arsenic. The other three 
were runaway sailors — may have been pirates ; they were now 
marauders and Indian assassins. I will illustrate. Some days 
after, crossing the [San] J[o]aquin river towards evening, 
we passed an Indian village ; three of the monster men, find- 
ing the males absent, entered their dwellings, ravished the 
women, and took away some of their most valuable effects, and 
overtook the party at the place of encampment. I saw in their 
possession some of the articles of their plunder. The next 
day, after proceeding two or three miles over the prairie, one 
of the party cried out, 'Indians are coming,' and there were 
fifty or more Indians advancing towards us. I turned and 
advanced towards them ; the men in the rear of the animals 
were with me. The Indians halted and I halted, at the distance 
of perhaps two rods from the chief. He was tall, good-looking, 
stood firm and seemed undaunted before us. A red card was 
pendant from his plumed cap, he held in the right hand his 
bow, and in the left a quiver. He addressed me as though he 
would explain what brought him and his men to that place. 
He spoke in the language of nature, and I thought I under- 
stood what he said. I addressed him, also, in the language of 
nature, by gestures and significant motions ; tried to induce 
a retreat, and save the lives of his young warriors ; pointed to 
our rifles and to their bows, and to the ground ; and I tried to 

14 Sfiti»m0n$ of Ortgon, if. 


have him understand that I was his friend and the friend of 
his people ; and that my men had given him occasion to pursue 
us, and provocation for revenge. My party seemed fierce for 
fight ; but were persuaded to let the pursuers retreat unharmed. 
The chief gave a word of command, and they turned about and 
hastened from us ; and he himself stood awhile, looking toward 
us as though he feared not death. Turning slowly upon his 
heel, he walked away. Two of the party started to follow, 
I begged they would not ; they persisted, saying they would 
do him no harm. In fifteen or twenty minutes after this, 1 
heard the reports of their rifles. On their return I inquired 
if they had shot the chief. The reply was, 'No, we fired a 
salute' ; but, alas ! I saw among their effects the identical card, 
the bow, and the quiver, and I wept. After a few days I saw, 
on the opposite side of the Sacramento, ten or a dozen Indians. 
Young said 'they were hostile Indians.' They were the same 
Indians that had just escaped the bloody hands of the party, 
and were pursuing us to avenge the wrongs done them. Some 
days after this we crossed the river called American, and 
encamped on its banks, and the animals put to feed near by. 
"Nearly opposite the encampment was an Indian village, 
and till late in the evening was heard a doleful noise, and beat- 
ing on hollow logs In the morning it was found that seven 
of our animals had been killed, doubtless by those provoked to 
pursue us. When the party were about to leave, seven Indians 
crossed the river twenty or thirty rods from us. Five of them 
ventured to come up to the camp ; the other two stood upon the 
bank, as though they were afraid to come. They were as 
naked as when born, and bore with them presents — a bag of 
pinions, and salmon, just caught and nicely dressed. Standing 
in a semi-circle not more than ten feet distant from me, their 
orator began to speak and explain as to their innocence ; and 
probably as to those who had killed the animals. Immediately 
one of the party (of the five marauders) said, 'These are the 
damned villains, and they ought to be shot.' 'Yes,' said Young. 
No sooner said than they seized their rifles and shot down those 

five innocent, and to all appearances, upright and manly men, 
and perforated their bodies with balls, while weltering in their 
blood. I heard but a single groan. Two or three of the party, 
mounting their horses, hastened to murder in like manner the 
other two, and they were shot while fording the stream. 

"Now my conductor, looking sharply at me, said, 'Mr. Kel- 
ley, what do you think of this?' I felt it my duty to give an 
evasive answer : 'We must protect ourselves in the wilderness 
among hostile Indians.' Doubtless, if my answer had not been 
that way, I should have been also shot."^'' 

Although Kelley had failed to obtain official permission to 
survey the country through which he passed, he made as 
thorough an examination as possible and recorded the results 
of his observations. Upon the basis of these notes and of the 
information subsequently obtained in Oregon, he prepared a 
"Map of Upper California and Oregon," which in 1839 he put 
into the hands of Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts, chairman 
of the house committee on foreign affairs. According to his 
statement, this map "was examined by Col. Fremont, who 
explored the same country in 1837 or '40 [1843-4], and was 
pronounced remarkably correct. It was the first ever made by 
an American of the valley of the Sacramento."^® From the 
confusion of dates and from the fact that Fremont did not 
refer to this map in any of his reports, it may be inferred that 
the examination of the map was made after Fremont's return 
and not before. 

This map, together with a reproduction on a smaller scale, 
is now in the bureau of indexes and archives of the department 
of state, having been recovered by Kelley and transmitted to 
Joel R. Poinsett, secretary of war, under date of June 12, 1839. 
It is a rough draft, but as Kelley said in his letter. "It is the 
knozviedge imparted by the map that gives it value, and not 
the mere mechanical execution of it." Upon it a dotted line 
indicates Kelley's route through California and Oregon. 

In California as in Mexico, the possibilities of development 

15 Ibid., 108-10; see also Clarke, Pioneer Days of Oregon, I, 296-7. 

16 Settlement of Oregon, 78. 


through the construction of railroads engaged Kelley's atten- 
tion, if we are to credit a statement first made eighteen or 
twenty years afterwards : 

"While in California, in 1834, exploring the valley of the 
Sacramento, where, at that time, none, but wild men dwelt; 
and none but savage hunters roamed ; cogitating upon internal 
improvements, I planned a branch to extend from some point 
in the route, after the transit of the Rocky Mountains, to the 
Bay of San Francisco."" 

Meanwhile the "iron constitution" of Kelley, which had sus- 
tained him through pestilence-ridden Mexico and borne up 
under innumerable hardships, had become weakened, and he 
fell a victim to malaria. 

"When exploring the low and pestilential tracts in the 
Southern region of the Sacramento valley,'^ I contracted the 
fever and ague. It rapidly increased and soon became terrible. 
Just after . . . entering Oregon . . . my party was 
providentially made to halt at the very moment when the ende- 
mic was having its worst effects upon me, and when I could 
no longer be borne on horseback. My strength had rapidly 
wasted, and at times I fainted and fell from the saddle. 

"While in a thickly wooded mountain, it suddenly came on 
dark, and we were obliged to stop for the night in the midst 
of woods and thick darkness. Lowering partly down from the 
animal, I fell, the stones and leaves on which I fell composed 
my bed. In the morning it was found that some of the horses 
and pack mules had strayed away. We, however, proceeded on 
two or three miles, and encamped on an open stretch of ground. 
Capt. Young, my conductor, and the men who had been of his 
hunting party, returned to the mountains to search after the 
lost animals. This caused a delay. The five marauders, who 
had attached themselves to my party, two days after leaving 

17 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 71-2; Settlement of Oregon, 8. "This," 
he continued, "coincides with the views of the Hon. T. H. Benton, expressed in a 
speech made by him in Congress, upon the subject of a railroad to the Pacific." 

18 "I crossed the rapids of the Sacramento at what was said to be its lowest 
ford, in latitude 39 deg. 35 min. Several of our horses were borne away by the 
torrent." — Memoir, 51. Kelley's map would seem to indicate that this river was the 
Feather, not the Sacramento. 


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the Bay of San Francisco, remained in camp, and were jocose 
and profane about the fire. I was now shaking- like an aspen 
leaf, prostrate and helpless in my tent. 

"The place of this encampment was upon the high land near 
the sources of the principal rivers watering the two countries, 
to settle which I had spent my best days, my fortune, and all 
my earthly comforts. Death appeared inevitable ; earth seemed 
at an end, and the portal of glory to be opening. Conversation 
in the camp paused. . . . Then, suddenly, another voice was 
heard. A stranger coming into the camp inquired, 'Where is 
Capt. Kelley?' He came to my tent and said he was Capt. 
La Flambois [Michel La Framboise], from the Columbia 
River; and had been with his trappers to the Bay of San 
Francisco, where he had heard of me ; and that he had hastened 
to overtake my party, having had nothing more for his guide 
than the traces of our encampments. He kindly took charge 
of my effects, and removed me to his camp. This good Sa- 
maritan first administered a dish of venison broth ; and then, 
in proper time, a portion [sic] of quinine. The third portion, 
taken on the second day, dismissed the endemic monster. After 
two days at that place I was able to stand upon my legs, but 
unable to walk. Before leaving . . . the Captain engaged 
an Indian chief to take me in a canoe forty or fifty miles down 
the Umpqua. At first the chief declined, saying, that the upper 
part of the river was not navigable. Finally, in view of a 
bountiful reward, he consented to try. In the morning I was 
placed on my mule, and borne six miles to the place of embark- 
ation. The chief at one end, his son at the other, and myself 
sitting upright in the centre of the boat, we floated swiftly 
along the current. The hoary-headed chief, with wonderful 
skill, descended the rapids. Often was he in the foaming 
stream, holding on to the bow to save the boat from pitching 
or sinking into the angry flood. The voyage was made in a 
day and a half, and there was much, in that time, to cheer my 
spirits, and give me strength. The heavens were serene, the 
air salubrious, and the country on both sides was charming. 


At the landing, the faithful Indian received of my property a 
fine horse, saddle and bridle, a salmon knife and a scarlet 
velvet sash, and was satisfied.^^ Rondeau, whom the Captain 
had appointed to be my attendant and guide, was ready at the 
bank to conduct me, a few miles distant, to the camp of my new 
party. I mounted with a little help, and rode off, feeling like 
a new man. 

"My journeying in that wilderness was full of interesting 
incidents and things terrible."^'* 

"On the 27th of October, I reached the end of a perilous 
journey of over 6000 miles — most of the distance without trav- 
eling companions ; and more than half, in wilderness or savage 
countries. Hardships had almost worn me out. Landed in 
front of Fort Vancouver. Capt. La Framboise assisted me out 
of the boat. With the help of his arm, I walked slowly and 
feebly to the fort, and entered a room at one end of the man- 
sion-house, opening from the court. After a few minutes, the 
chief factor, Mr. McLaughlin, came in — made a few inquiries 
about my health and business, and, ordering some refreshments, 
retired. None of his household, none of his American guests 
called, nor had any of them been seen at the river, or on the 
way to the fort. No countryman, though many were in the 
house, came to sympathize in my afflictions or to greet my 

"After I had taken an hour of repose on a bed which was 
in the room, the Captain entered with compliments of Mr. 
McLaughlin, saying it would be inconvenient to accommodate 
with a room inside the fort, as they were all occupied, but T 
could have a room outside, and a man to attend upon me. 
Again, sustained by the arm of my friend, I was led to the 
place assigned me outside the stockade ; and so was cast out 
from the fort, as though unworthy to breathe the same air, 
or to tread the same ground with its proud and cowardly in- 
mates. The house had one room, with a shed adjoining. The 

19 "Which shows that he did not know how to trade with the Indians." — -Ran- 
cioft. Northwest Coast, II, 549 n. 

20 Settlement of Oregon, 17-9; Memorial, 1848:14-5. 

latter having been long occupied for dressing fish and wild 
game, was extremely filthy. The black mud about the door 
was abundantly mixed with animal putrescence. It was not a 
place that would conduce much to the recovery of health. It 
was, however, the habitation of a Canadian, a respectable and 
intelligent man, a tinner by trade. "^ 

The immediate reason for this inhospitable reception at the 
fort where all comers had been made welcome, at least osten- 
sibly, may be best stated in the words of Dr. McLoughlin : 

"As Gen. Fiqueroa [sic], Governor of Cahfornia, had writ- 
ten me that Ewing Young and Kelley had stolen horses from 
the settlers of that place. I would have no dealings with them, 
and told them my reasons. Young maintained he stole no 
horses, but admitted the others had. I told him that might 
be the case, but as the charge was made I could have no deal- 
ings with him till he cleared it up. But he maintained to his 
countrymen, and they believed it, that as he was a leader among 
them, I acted as I did from a desire to oppose American inter- 
ests. I treated all of the party in the same manner as Young, 
except Kelley, who was very sick. Out of humanity I placed 
him in a house, attended on him and had his victuals sent him 
at every meal."^'^ 

Figueroa's letter had been brought from Monterey on the 
company's schooner Cadboro. which had made better time 
than Kelley's party, and so enabled McLoughlin to take the 
necessary steps to protect the interests of his company and of 
those dependent upon it. Warning notices were posted, and 
the Canadians were forbidden to trade with the members of 
the party .^^ But Kelley declared that the accusing letter did 
not implicate him with the unwelcome marauders, and he main- 
tained that McLoughlin's action was based wholly upon the 

^i Memorial, 1848:15-6. '"I arrived at Vancouver unwell, and was hospitably 
welcomed by Mr. McLaughlin, the chief factor. Medical aid was rendered me; a 
house in the village was furnished for my use, and all my physical wants were 
supplied; but I was forbidden to enter the fort!" — Memoir, 60. 

22 McLoughlin. Defence, addressed to parties in London, Oregon Historical 
Society Quarterly, I, 195; also Bancroft, Northwest Coast, II, 550. 

23 Bancroft, Northwest Coast, II, 552; Hist, of Oregon, I, 91-2. Young 
demanded and received a retraction from Figueroa. — Walker, Sketch of Ewing 
Young, Oregon Pioneer Association, Transactions. 1880:57. 


desire to prevent the settlement of Americans on the Columbia. 
He claimed that Captain Dominis of the brig Owyhee of Bos- 
ton, who was in the Columbia in 1829, had communicated to 
McLoughlin information as to Kelley's purpose to colonize 
Oregon, and that the chief factor at once prepared to protect 
the monopoly of his company by discouraging trade with 
Americans and by preempting the most desirable sites.^^ 

Again it is necessary to record the defeat of Kelley; but 
again it must be said that while the result of his efforts was 
personal failure, the actual result was success. Through the 
American Society he had started the movement which led to 
the coming of Wyeth and demonstrated the practicability of 
the overland route ; he had aroused the churches to the oppor- 
tunity for work among the Indians, which led to the coming 
of the Lees and other missionaries. Now he had brought into 
the Oregon country nine men, most of them American citi- 
zens, who with Calvin Tibbetts were to remain as settlers, thus 
establishing American occupation and ultimate domination in 
that territory .^'^ All this was not apparent at the time ; least of 
all to Kelley. To those at Fort Vancouver he appeared as a 
strange, almost pathetic figure ; the wreck of a man in his 
prime, whose race was about run. In his Recollections of the 
Hudson's Bay Company, George B. Roberts said : 'T remember 
the visit of Mr. Hall J. Kelley — he was penniless and ill clad — 
and considered rather too rough for close companionship and 
not invited to mess — he may have thought this hard — our 

2\ Settlement of Oregon, 86-7; Colonization of Oregon, 6. He also said that 
Dominis gave McLoughlin a copy of the General Circular; but that pamphlet was 
not issued until 1831. We may well believe, however, that the Hudson's Bay 
authorities were informed of the movement for Oregon settlement in congress in 
1828, for they were men of sagacity, and it is unlikely that they failed to keep 
in touch with the British legation at Washington. It is possible also that Dr. 
McLoughlin may have learned of the movement for emigration from the American 
trapper and fur trader, Jedediah Smith, who was at Fort Vancouver from August, 
1828 to Marcli 1829. — Elliott, Dr. John McLoughlin and his guests, Washington 
Historical Society, Quarterly, III, 67-8. 

25 The members of the party, in addition to Kelley and Young, were: Brandy- 
wine, Lawrence Carmichael, Elisha Ezekiel, Joseph Gale, Webley John Hawkhurst, 
lohn Howard, Kilborn, John McCarty, and George Winslow. Ezekiel was a 
wheelright: Hawkhurst, a native of Long Island, was a carpenter; Gale was a 
native of the District of Columbia; Winslow was colored. The names are given 
iu Bancroft, Oregon. I, 76-7n, upon the authority of Gray, Oregon, 191, supple- 
mented by Lee and Frost, Ten Years in Oregon, 129. Gray made no mention of 


people didn't know or care for the equality he had perhaps been 
accustomed to — It should be borne in mind that discipline in 
those days was rather severe and a general commingling would 
not do." Again, "Hall J. Kelly was about 5 feet 9 inches, 
wore a white slouched hat Blanket Capot, Leather pants 
with a red stripe down the seam — rather outre for even 
Vancouver. We little understood such chaps as he and his. 
and our notions of equality were different — for Kelly to have 
been treated otherwise than he was would have been detrimental 
to the discipline of the plan by admitting him as an equal — 
dignity had to be preserved in those days — how much depended 
on it. The doctor could not afford it as we say to get down to 
Kelley's standing. "^^ To such straits had our dreamer come! 
But his "vision" had at last become a reality, and the lordly 
chief factor himself was soon to face it and to be overcome by 
it.-"^ Somewhere it is written. "Sometimes we are inclined to 
class those who are once-and-a-half witted with the half-witted, 
because we appreciate only a third part of their wit." 

26 Roberts, Recollections, Ms. 12, 3o (1878). 

27 "I early foresaw that the march of civilization and progress of peopling the 
.\merican Territories, was westward and onward, and that but a few years would 
pass away before the whole valuable country between the Rocky Mountains and 
the Pacific, then used as hunting and trapping grounds, and as the resting place 
of native tribes, must become the abode of another race — American. This could 
neither be successfully resisted, nor did I deem it politic or desirable to attempt 
it. In this spirit I prepared myself to encourage, hasten, and further what I 
thought would be not only attended with good, but inevitable .... 

"From 1824 to the present hour, I have spared neither time nor means, but 
liberally used both, to facilitate the settling of Oregon by whites; and that it 
has been my good fortune to do much in years gone by to relieve distress and 
promote the comfort and happiness of immigrants, I may fearlessly assert, and for 
proof need only to refer to the candid and just Americans who first came to the 
country." — McLoughlin, letter to Oregon Statesman. June 8. i8f;2, OreRon His- 
torical Society, Quarterly, VIII. 295-9. 


In Oregon — An Unwelcome Guest 

It is difficult to account for Kelley's surprise at finding him- 
self unwelcome at Fort Vancouver. For ten years he had lost 
no opportunity to assail the Hudson's Bay company, and he 
had every reason to believe that Dr. McLoughlin was fully 
informed as to his past activities and his plans for the future. 
The success of those plans would work irreparable loss to the 
company and the nation for which it exercised civil jurisdic- 
tion over the Northwest Coast. Yet he seems to have expected 
the chief factor to treat all differences between them in a lofty 
and impersonal manner, and to accord to him all the courtesies 
due to an accredited diplomatic agent. Indeed he was not 
without credentials of a kind. In his baggage were papers 
showing him to be the attorney of the claimants to the lands 
on Vancouver Island Ixjught of the Indians by Captain John 
Kendrick in 1791, but his immediate plan was to form a set- 
tlement on the Columbia. These papers were not presented to 
Dr. McLoughlin, but Kelley believed that they were examined 
and the rest of his baggage overhauled during his illness.' At 
the worst he fared better than any of the others of his party, 
for while he was given food and shelter, such as it was, his 
follovvers received no favors whatever. 

His resentment at the attitude of his countrymen is more 
easily understood. At the time of his arrival, there were at 
Fort Vancouver seven men who had accompanied Wyeth on 
his second expedition, and their presence in that country was 
the result, direct or indirect, of his efforts. These men were 
the Lees and their three lay associates, Thomas Xuttall, the 
celebrated botanist who had served as lecturer and curator at 
Harvard, and John K. Townsend, a young naturalist. Jason 
Lee was born in Canada of American parentage, and Nuttall 

1 Kelley. Hist, of the Settlement of Orezon, ao; Petition. i866:6; Bulfinch, 
Uefturrial, i>-ii, 26 cong. i *e«s H. doc. 43. 

was an Englishman, but their associations had been with Amer- 
ican interests. Like Kelley, Nuttall held the degree of A. M. 
from Harvard. Of these men Kelley said, "There were some 
of my countrymen at that time at Vancouver, the recipients 
of the generous hospitality and favors of Mr. McLaughlin. 
Though for several months within five or six minutes of my 
sick room, yet none of them had the humanity to visit me."^ 
The first person who visited him was Young, but "his call 
was not so much to sympathize as to speak of the personal 
abuse just received from Dr. McLaughlin." To Kelley the 
absence of active sympathy in Young was the result of the 
misrepresentations of slanderous tongues, but Young may have 
had in mind the difference between the real Oregon and the 
place so glowingly pictured to him by Kelley at Pueblo and 
Monterey.^ That the man was not taken at his own rating is 
undoubtedly true, for who could understand him, least of all 
those who were his adversaries? "Before I had been long in 
the country," he declared, "I learned that the factor and his 
agents were preparing in every artful way to render my abode 
there uncomfortable and unsafe. The most preposterous cal- 
umnies and slanders were set on foot in regard to my character, 
conduct and designs.^ . . . Seeing that falsehood was mak- 
ing such sad work with my character, and that calumny and 
mockery were the order of the day, I addressed to John Mc- 
Laughlin, Esq., a manifesto, prepared, of course, with a feeble 
hand, declaring myself not to be a public agent acting by 
authority from the United States, as represented at Vancouver ; 
but to be a private and humble citizen of a great nation- 
moved by a spirit of freedom, and animated with the hope of 
being useful among my fellow men." Just how this communi- 
cation was calculated to effect a reconciliation does not appear. 
That it did not soften the heart of the chief factor is certain ; 
for when in the latter part of November Kelley requested a 

2 Kelley, Memorial, 1848:16. 

3 Settlement of Oregon, 58-9. 

4 Kelley, Memoir, Committee on Foreign Affaiis, supplemental report. 
tory of Oregon, 60, 2<i <-ing. 3 sess. H. rep. loi. 



passage to the Sandwich Islands in one of the company's ves- 
sels, he met with a refusal, although he was willing to pay 
whatever might be reasonably required. Nor would Dr. Mc- 
Loughlin have any business transactions with him. When a 
silver dollar was sent to the company storehouse for certain 
necessary articles desired by Kelley, the articles were not forth- 
coming under the pretense that the money was not genuine. 
"The dollar was current, and the metal pure," naively remarked 

When he was able to get about, some of his party visited 
him and asked him to plat out the land on the site which he 
had chosen for a settlement. "A day for that service, two or 
three weeks off, was appointed ; but, prior to its coming, other 
visits were made of an unfriendly nature. . . . Also two let- 
ters were received from the party, threatening my life, if seen 
on the Wallamet. All things considered, I thought it prudent 
to keep from that quarter."® One of these letters was from 

Yet there were those whose attitude was not unfriendly. 
"Those who treated me with respect were the Indians and the 
common people. The Rev. Jason Lee privily called, at times, 
and talked freely of obligations of himself and the public to 
me, always expressing his haste. Mr. Stuart, now in the 
British ParHament, whose mind differed from other minds at 
Vancouver, something as light differs from darkness, honored 
me with his society and expressions of his kind regards — not 
fearing the displeasure of Mr. McLaughlin."^ 

About the first of February, his health being improved, Kel- 
ley began to make exploring excursions about the Columbia 
and to collect all available information as to the geography 
and economic characteristics of the country, with particular 
reference to the activities of the Hudson's Bay company and 
to the possibilities of blocking those efforts through an influx 

5 Kelley, Narrative of Events and Difficulties, S7-8. 

6 Ibid., s6. 

7 Settlement of Oregon, s8. 

8 Memorial 1848:16. 


of American settlers and traders. He later made a survey of 
the Columbia river from Fort Vancouver to its mouth and 
recorded the results upon his map of Upper California and 
Oregon, to which reference has been made in the preceding 
chapter.^ This was not an instrumental survey, however, for 
his theodolite was then at the Sandwich Islands. The results 
of his observations were later presented to congress in a me- 
moir, which will receive attention in later chapters. ^"^ 

Dr. McLoughlin naturally kept himself informed as to all of 
Kelley's movements, for here was a man who openly chal- 
lenged his authority. Said Kelley : "All my movements were 
watched. . . . Had I been wilHng to place myself under the 
control and direction of the Company, all would have been 
peace; but sq long as I was disposed to act independently, as 
an American on American soil, seeking authentic information, 
for general diffusion, and pursuing the avowed purpose of 
opening the trade of the territory to general competition, and 
the wealth of the country to general participation and enjoy- 
ment, so long was I an object of dread and dislike to the grasp- 
ing monoix)lists of the Hudson's Bay Company. My abode 
in Oregon was thus rendered very disagreeable."^^ 

It is interesting at this point to note the interpretation of 
Dr. McLoughlin's attitude as given by Mrs. Frances Fuller 
Victor : 

"It was not altogether Kelley's Mexican costume that 
excluded Kelley from Vancouver society. Other travelers who 
had arrived in unpresentable apparel had been made present- 
able by the loan of articles from the wardrobes of the factors 
and partisans resident there at the time. It could not be said 
either that Kelley was uninteresting or uneducated. Quite 
the contrary, indeed. What he had to tell of his adventures in 
Mexico and California must have been just the sort of tales to 
while away winter evenings in Bachelors' Hall. 

"I fancv the situation was about this: McLoughlin was pre- 

9 Memoir, 55; Memorial. 1848:16; Petition. 1866: 

10 See Appendix. 

1 1 Memoir, 60. 


pared to dislike Kelley even without Governor Figueroa's con- 
demnation, on account of his published denunciation of the 
Hudson's Bay Company. He was under no obligation to admit 
him to the society of the fort, although he would not have 
him suffer sickness and hunger under the shadow of its walls. 
The fact that he was an American while giving him a patriotic 
excuse, if not motive, for ignoring claims on his compassion, 
also, on the other hand, furnished a politic motive for indulg- 
ing his natural humanity. For at that time there were several 
Americans being entertained at Vancouver. . . . The treaty 
rights of Wyeth were not disputed, nor were the scientific 
observations of the scholars opposed. It was Kelley, as colon- 
izer and defamer of the company, who was unwelcome, even 
after it was evident that there was no stain upon his character. 

"This was perfectly understood by Kelley, and it was not 
McLoughlin's disapproval of him which wounded his sensitive 
pride. It was the conduct of his own countrymen. . . . 
Nuttall, who was a Cambridge man, was well acquainted with 
Kelley's writings, owing to them, Kelley believed, his idea of 
studying the botany of Oregon. But Nuttall, as well as the 
Lees, thought too highly of his privileges at Vancouver to risk 
them by acknowledging this fact. And Wyeth, who was not 
like himself, an educated man, never having learned to spell 
correctly, or to introduce in his writings capitals and punctua- 
tion points where they belonged, and who had led as far as 
Vancouver as many free Americans as had Young and himself 
— Wyeth, who when in Massachusetts was one of his prospec- 
tive colonists — was on the Columbia River utterly indifferent 
to him. 

"This treatment of Kelley by his countrymen must have 
been construed at Vancouver as condemnatory, although its 
shrewd and magnanimous chief may have guessed a little at its 
meaning and sought to make amends by unremitting care of 
the sick and neglected man.'^^ 

This statement may be somewhat unfair as to Nuttall, whose 

12 V'ictor, Hall J. Kelley, one of the fathers of Oregon, Oregon Historical 
Society, Quarterly, II,, 393-6. 


interest in his surroundings were wholly scientific, and whose 
shyness was proverbial. As to the Lees, Daniel, the younger, 
seems to have occupied a secondary position, while the abler 
Jason was wrapt up in plans of a singularly material nature 
for one whose sole errand in that country was the Christian- 
izing of the natives. Certainly he does not appear to have 
had that disinterestedness which should distinguish those 
who would assume to lead others to a higher spiritual level. 
As far as the available records show, Wyeth, who had first 
arrived at Fort Vancouver on September 23, 1834, did not 
come into contact with Kelley until several months later. The 
circumstances of their meeting are thus set forth by Kelley : 

"About the middle of February, I went into the fort to in- 
quire after an acquaintance who had just come from the upper 
parts of the Columbia; and was met by McLaughlin himself, 
and told that the person whom I wished to see was engaged. 
The door was then insultingly closed upon me. The next 
day, the acquaintance with a countenance sadly changed from 
former days, came into my cabin and strode across the floor. 
Sternly looking towards me, he uttered these words, viz., 
'Well, Kelley, how did you get here?' After making some 
abusive remarks, he walked out. His only object seemed to 
be to afflict, and to fill my soul with sorrow.^^ 

Social ostracism, embargo, and espionage at length turned 
Kelley's thoughts toward departure, and when he had remained 
long enough to collect sufficient information he decided to 
return home. "The loss of my property on the route had 
obliged me to vary my original plans, and limit my enterprise 
to such an examination of the country as would enable me 
to enlighten the American public on my return to the United 
States. I remained, therefore, in Oregon no longer than was 

13 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 58. "One man, however, called to 
abuse me — to say that he was against me — I should find no friends in that country, 
and I had bette'r hasten out of it." — Memorial. 1848:16. Wycth's sole reference 
to Kelley, in his journal, reads under date of February 12, 1835: "12th. In the 
morning made to Vancouver and found there a polite reception and to my great 
astonishment Mr. Ilall J. Kelly. He came in co. with Mr. Young from Monte 
El Rey and it is said stole between them a bunch of horses. Kelly is not received 
at the Fort on this account as a gentleman a house is given him and food sent 
him from the Gov. tabl but he is not suiTered to mess here." — Young, Correspond- 
ence and Journals of Nathaniel J. Wyeth. 250. 

needful to satisfy myself on the desired points of inquiry ; and 
so long as I did remain, I was treated very much like a pris- 
oner of war, although not subject to actual confinement. . . . 
I ought, in justice to myself, to state that it was not disap- 
pointment, in regard to the natural advantages of Oregon, 
which prevented my forming a permanent connexion with 
that region; but I was impelled by a determination to do all 
in my power, by constant effort in the United States, to lead 
our Government to extend over Oregon that paternal care 
which alone is needed to render it the very nucleus of emigra- 
tion, and the most attractive portion of our national domain. 


"While yet in Oregon, about the time of embarkation for 
home, I planned to return to that country, and form a settle- 
ment at New Dergeness [Dungeness] ... on the south 
side of De Fuca's Sea, and on the westerly side of Port Dis- 

Arrangements were finally made, how is nowhere stated, 
that Kelley should be given a passage on the Hudson's Bay 
brig Dryade, Captain Keplin, to the Sandwich Islands. This 
was not the only favor that was received. "The chief factor 
of the company presented me with a draft of seven pounds 
sterling, payable at the Sandwich Islands. A part, however 
was paid at Vancouver, in articles of comfort." Thus the 
embargo had been removed. "This was kind, and I felt grate- 
ful for it."i« 

Fortunately it is possible to reproduce here a fragment from 
Kelley's journal, in which he recorded in characteristic fashion 
his experiences at the outset of the voyage : 

"March 15, went on board the Dryade, about to sail for 
the Sandwich Islands, was promised a berth in the cabin, but 
received one in the steerage — thankful to receive one any- 

"The cabin boy informed me that breakfast was ready in the 

14 Memoir, 60-1. 

I $ Settlement of Oregon, 124- 

16 Narrative of Events and Difficulties. 59; also Memoir, 6«. 


steerage. I went down. Oiie of the sailors filled a tea kettle 
with boiling water, into which he put some tea, and offered 
me the use of a tin pot which was really too dirty for any 
animal but a pig to eat from. The tea being sweetened with 
molasses, was too unpalatable for my drinking. Some coarse 
ship bread, and cold boiled beef served in a small wooden tub, 
was all I saw, and more than I tasted of. 

''Dinner — the cold beef and coarse bread returned, and a 
pudding composed of flour and mashed potatoes, half baked, 
clammy and heavy, without plate, knife or fork. . . . Had 
a wakeful night — suffered much — attributable to the miser- 
able accommodations and grub. 

"Breakfast — Tea sweetened with molasses, and cold salt 
beef without vegetables. 

"Went on shore, built a fire, and sat down by it — reflected 
on past adventures and present ills of life. I do not despair. 
The rectitude of my conduct, and an ever approving conscience 
sustains the heart and keeps the courage up. How disagree- 
able it is to be made the companions of ignorant and sordid- 
minded men ! To me it is misery indeed ; but I must suffer 
their insolence, and accommodate myself to circumstances."^^ 

In one of his petitions to congress, additional details were 
given : 

"Head wind retarded, for several days, the descent of the 
vessel to the ocean ; which circumstances gave him an oppor- 
tunity to make particular examinations of the river, and col- 
lect materials for a correct map of the same. He had pre- 
viously made examinations. . . . He was terribly seasick 
through the voyage. The food furnished him was scant, and 
unsavory. The sailors at times spat upon his bed and wearing 
apparel, and in diverse ways injured, or destroyed, the exposed 
articles of his effects. To render his situation in the highest 
degree distressing, after having retired to rest, the sailors in 
the steerage were in the practice of filling the place with 
tobacco smoke, raising high the wicks of the lamps, bringing 

17 Memorial, 1848:16-7. 


down the scuttle door, and keeping the room close. It was 
a suffocating time. The condition of him, who had never 
used a particle of tobacco, and was reduced to great physical 
debility, is hardly conceivable to any but himself. . 
Inquiries were often made of the captain. Why all this abuse? 
The uniform reply was, T must obey orders'. "^^ 

Of his experiences at the Sandwich Islands, we know but 
little. That he was at Towaihai, Hawaii, on June 26, 1835, 
is evident from an affidavit relating to Kendrick's land pur- 
chases which he obtained from John Young, an old resident, 
and upon which his name appears as one of the witnesses.^" 
Kelley's own account is confined to the following: 

"At the Islands he was favored, by his noble-hearted coun- 
trymen resident there, with every facility for examining that 
group, and making historical and philosophical inquiries. In 
the month of October, he embarked on board the whale ship 
Canton Packet for his native land."^^ 

Little is told of the homeward voyage, but that little is 
enough to show that Kelley was ever alert to gain information. 
"During the sea voyage of six months on board the ship Can- 
ton Packet every fair day and moonlight night, my attention 
was turned to explorations of the starry heavens, and the 
abtruse regions of science ; and all the while continued to 
study the book of nature, and that interesting little book ever 
in my hand, open and read with intense desire to know God 
and his handiworks."^' 

18 Petition. 1866:5-6; Memorial. 1848:17- We are told by competent medical 
authority that "there is a physical as well as intellectual memory." 

19 Bulfinch, Memorial, 7-8. 

20 Petition, 1866:6. "I, also, cursorily, explored some of the Sandwich Islands, 
particularly Owyhee, of which I constructed a map." — Settlement of Oregon, 119. 

31 Settlement of Oregon, 119. 


Four Years of Futile Effort 

Kelley was a changed man when he arrived at Boston in 
1836 after his long voyage from the Sandwich Islands. Only 
three years before "his physical nature was iron-like, posses- 
sing great power of endurance," but exposure and hardships 
had enfeebled his body and shattered his nervous system. Yet 
this gaunt shadow of a man had no thought of giving up his 
long cherished idea of awakening his countrymen to the great 
advantages, national and individual, which must inevitably fol- 
low the settlement of the Northwest Coast under the patronage 
and protection of the American government. He had already 
done much to spread broadcast information which he had 
obtained at second hand ; now he could speak with authority, 
having seen the promised land and found it good 

But there were personal matters which required his imme- 
diate attention. His family "every soul of them turned against 
me," had to be reconciled to him. He went to Gilmanton and 
spent some time with his father and his wife and children, but 
his efforts to reestabHsh his household resulted in failure.^ 

His expenses had been heavy, and most of his property had 
been lost or taken from him, so that now he was a poor man. 
worried by his debts. It was not so much the amount of his 
indebtedness that concerned him ; it was the fact that it was 
a debt of honor, and that he was unable to pay the small sum 
of three hundred dollars on account of outstanding obligations 
of the American Society which he had issued as general agent. 
These were two shares of stock, each of one hundred dollars, 
and five twenty-dollar certificates. Concerning them he ex- 
plained, "Immediately after the Oregon expedition was broken 
up, the amount received for stock and certificates was re- 

I Temple, Hisl. of the Town of Palmer, 266. 


funded, ail but the above, which circumstances rendered incon- 
venient and improper then to restore."^ 

In an attempt to raise money, therefore, he again worked 
as a surveyor. "In the year 1837, I surveyed three railroad 
routes in the State of Maine, each, however, of short extent, 
having the assistance, only, of two or three men unacquainted 
with engineering, and employed on the outdoor work. I 
planned, figured, drafted, and performed the office-work ; be- 
sides, the entire labor with the field instruments.""'' The report 
of one of these surveys was published ;■* but whether the project 
was carried out is not stated. 

In September, 1837, William A. Slacum, purser in the United 
States navy, went to Boston and conferred with Charles Bul- 
finch, who had long been interested in trading ventures on the 
Northwest Coast. He asked for a meeting with Kelley, and 
Kelley visited him at the Tremont House, where the matter of 
Oregon and its settlement was discussed. 

Slacum had recently returned from Oregon, having been 
commissioned by the secretary of state, under date of Novem- 
ber 11, 1835, "to stop at the different settlements of whites 
on the coast of the United States, and on the banks of the 
[Columbia] river, and also at the various Indian villages on 
the banks, or in the immediate neighborhood of that river ; 
ascertain, as nearly as possible, the population of each ; the 
relative number of whites (distinguishing the nation to which 
they belong) and aborigines; the jurisdiction the whites ac- 
knowledge; the sentiments entertained by all in respect to 
the United States, and to the two European powers having 
possessions in that region ; and, generally, to obtain all such 
information, political, physical, statistical, and geographical, as 
may prove useful or interesting to this Government." 

This mission had been undertaken at the suggestion of Presi- 
dent Jackson, who may have been prompted by Kelley 's activ- 
ities during several winters at Washington, and by the knowl- 

2 Kelley, Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 7n. 

3 Ibid., 72-3. 

4 Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon, 8. 


edge that Kelley had proceeded to Oregon with the purpose 
of establishing a settlement on the Columbia. The immediate 
suggestion, however, was due to no word or act of Kelley, who 
was then on the high seas en route for Boston, but to the fact 
that Slacum was "about to visit the Pacific ocean," thus pre- 
senting to the president an opportunity to obtain specific and 
authentic information upon a matter concerning which the 
government must soon take a definite stand. ^ 

In the course of an investigation which extended from De- 
cember 22, 1836, to February 10, 1837, Slacum conferred with 
Dr. McLoughlin, Jason Lee, Ewing Young, and others, and 
collected much information which he submitted upon his re- 
turn. Some of this information appears in a memorial praymg 
compensation for his services, which he presented to congress 
on December 18, 1837.^ 

In this memorial there is no mention of Kelley, though the 
names of several of the members of his party are given. The 
reason for this omission is unknown. Kelley believed that it 
was due to the desire of Robert Greenhow, librarian of the de- 
partment of state, to deprive him of the credit for having 
induced the first American settlers to locate in Oregon. Ac- 
cording to his statement Slacum declared that he had seen a 
copy of Kelley's General Circular in the hands of one of the 
settlers, and he "seemed satisfied" that Kelley was the founder 
of the first American settlement, and said that he would so 
report. He had brought from that settlement the copy of the 
General Circular and also a statement of Ewing Young declar- 

5 "The investigations or Dr. J. R. Wilson led him to look upon this effort 
•jf President Jackson to get light on the situation in Oregon ss bound up with 
his larger scheme of 'acquisition of territory in the southwest, stretching from 
Texas to and including the harbor of San Francisco. Doctor Wilson came to this 
conclusion because Jackson's interest in this direction had in the first instance 
been aroused bv letters from Slacum. The scope and character of the report 
suggest that the author had a pretty clear and full appreciation of all the vital 
.•\merican interests in the Oregon situation in the thirties." — Young, Introductory 
note to re-^rint ot Slacum's report. Oregon Historical Society. Quarterly, 
-XIII, 1-5. 

6 Slacum. Memorial Praying Compensation for His Services in Obtaining 
Information in Relation to the Settlements on the Oregon River. 2$ cong. 2 
sess. S. doc. 24. The material accompanying this memorial was reprinted as 
appendix "N" in Committee on Foreign Affairs, supplemental report. Territory of 
Oregon, 29-47. 25 cong. 3 sess. H, rep. 10:. 


ing that it was duo to Kelley that he had settled in that ter- 

While in Washington in 1838 Kelley examined the manu- 
script of Slaciun's report, which was on file in the department 
of state. There he found Young's statement, which had been 
omitted from the printeil copy. "The paper marked E in the 
report is tiiat identical statement ; and it was evidently, at first, 
intended to be printed, with the matters included in the report : 
but it was not printed, nor to be seen by members of Congress ; 
nor was any allusion made to the petitioner [Kelley], or to any 
of his meritorious acts in Oregon." The facts in the case can- 
not be determined, and the report in question cannot now be 
found in the archives. It does not appear, however, how 
Greenhow could have had anything to do with the papers which 
Slacum chose to append to his memorial. 

Kelley took advantage of his opportunity to copy Young's 
statement, in which he acknowledged his indebtedness to 
Kelley, but referred to him in terms which indicated that he 
had "mistaken views" about Kelley and "unfriendly feelings" 
toward him. "There never was, I affirm it, the least personal 
misunderstanding between me and Capt. Young," Kelley de- 
clared. "His inimical feelings were wholly owing to the lying 
spirit going out from Fort Vancouver, and going about to 
deceive those who were most likely to be friends and to stand 
by me."'^ 

As has been said in the preceding chapter Kelley left the 
Northwest Coast with the idea of returning to establish a 
settlement at New Dungeness on the strait of Juan de Fuca. 
west of Port Discovery, but he was unable to arouse interest 
in the project. Of this movement he said: 

"Soon after my return to New England, I announced to the 
public through the medium of the newspapers, my purpose 
and programme ; and many enterprising and intelligent men 
of New England, some with families, a sufficient number for a 
settlement, enlisted for the expedition. But the war of perse- 

7 Settlenictit of Oregon, 55-S, 80; Sarrativc cf Events and Difficuttic.'!. 62-8. 


cution continuing to rage, and the troops about me making 
daily attacks, and the hireling press again being turned against 
me, I was forced to abandon that enterprise. It was my in- 
tention to take my family to the place of settlement, and to 
be myself a settler, believing that should my abode be on tha' 
side of the continent, far away from persecuting enemies on 
this side, I could better, I supposed, promote the extension of 
the Redeemer's Kingdom. But I am now [1868] satisfied that 
it was ordered in Divine Providence, and for my good that 
that settlement should not be made by me ; that, although the 
ideal 'Puget's Sound Agricultural Association' could do noth- 
ing, yet the Hudson Bay Company could do much to break up 
the establishment, and drive me and my friends from the 
coast .... 

"To bring me into the lowest possible disrepute, and under 
universal contempt, and to break up that expedition, also, the 
following abusive notice was taken of me and my enterprise 
by the publishers of the Old American Comic Almanac of 1837. 
On one of its queer cuts was a geographical caricature of a 
portion of Oregon. On the banks of the Columbia was written 
'Rowed up Salt River' ; and in the country north, between the 
Cowlitz and the ocean, 'Kelley's Folly.' Twenty thousand 
copies were said to have been sold. To apprise my cruel 
enemies that I was yet alive, and had yet some power left to 
defend my bleeding character, I published the following in 
the Boston Post : . . ."^ 

The reader will be spared this communication, which was 
entitled "Unprovoked Cruelty." By his ill-advised outburst 
Kelley naturally brought a harmless bit of foolery to the at- 
tention of many who would have never known of it, and so 
added to his reputation as a man whose mind was singularly 
out of tune with his fellows. Nor did he ever fail to mention 
the insult when setting forth the long list of his tribulations." 

In 1837 he again took to writing on Oregon, but instead of 

8 Settlement of Oregon, 125-8. 

9 Kelley, Hist, of the Colonisation of Oregon, appx. G; Narrative of Events 
and Difficulties, appx. I. 


presenting the results of his observations he chose to waste 
his efforts on the question of the American title, concerning 
which he had little if any information that was not already 
available to the authorities at Washington. Thus, in the year 
mentioned, he published a series of articles in the Bunker Hill 
Aurora, giving an account of the discoveries and examinations 
made on the Northwest Coast by the early Spanish, American, 
and British navigators. These articles, together with docu- 
ments relating to the claims of Bulfinch and other Americans to 
the land on Vancouver Island purchased by Captain Kendrick, 
he presented in 1838 to Lewis F. Linn, senator from Missouri. 
Linn was chairman of a "select committee to which was re- 
ferred a bill to authorize the President of the United States to 
occupy the Oregon Territory." In his report he quoted at 
length from Slacum's memorial, and used some of Kelley's 
data on the discovery and occupation of the Columbia, but he 
does not appear to have set a high value upon this material, 
for he failed to mention Kelley's name.^^ 

During 1838 and 1839 Kelley contributed another series of 
articles to the American Traveller of Boston, dealing with the 
question of title. In 1839 came an opportunity for service of 
a more practical nature. Caleb Cushing, chairman of the house 
committee on foreign affairs, asked him to contribute a memoir 
on Oregon and California, based on personal observations. To 
this request he gladly responded. The result appears in the 
appendix to Cushing's supplemental report on the "Territory 
of Oregon."" 

In 1839 also, Kelley presented through John Davis, senator 
from Massachusetts, a memorial to congress "praying a grant 
of land in the Oregon Territory for the purpose of establishing 
a colony thereon," which was referred to a select committee. 
In this document, he made a clear statement of his efforts to 
promote the settlement of Oregon, and declared that since 
"many of the individuals whose attention had been directed 
by his exertions towards Oregon, and who originally enlisted 

:o 25 cong. 2 sess. S. doc. 470; Settlem-ent of Oregon, 77. 
II 25 cong. 3 sess. H. rep. loi: 47-61. See appendix. 


In his scheme of emigration, have subsequently settled in that 
Territory . . . your petitioner has thus been the author of 
the first permanent American settlements west of the Rocky 
Mountains." He also called attention to his services after his 
return in communicating the results of his journey to the 
public. Upon these grounds he based his claim,^' which he 
summarized in the following terms : 

"Having thus sacrificed his time, property, and health, being 
now reduced to poverty, and yet remaining desirous of carry- 
ing the institutions of his country to the Oregon, he most 
earnestly and respectfully prays of this honorable body, the 
grant of so much land in that Territory as may enable him at 
once to establish a prosperous colony, and regain some portion 
of the property which he expended as before described."^^ 

That this memorial was based on little more than a forlorn 
hope is probable ; for Kelley had already turned his attention 
to the opening of a direct means of communication with the 
Pacific Coast. For information as to his activities in this 
direction we are compelled to rely upon the unsupported state- 
ments in his own writings, which are themselves contradictory 
and in some particulars clearly erroneous. In after years he 
declared that after the failure of his second attempt to found 
a settlement, and after a physical breakdown following his 
surveying work in Maine, 

"I, therefore, determined to continue in some field of useful 
enterprise; and turned to a project then on foot, from another 
quarter ; that of a canal or railroad across the Isthmus of 
Panama. That choice was made, partly to prepare for memori- 

12 "While in the prosecution of the enterprise, it did not so much as 
enter mv mind ever to apply to Congress for relief, or a reward for any services 
or sacrifices which I might render the country; but, after its achievement, and 
mv return home, in 1836, — finding my health greatly impaired, my pronerty, 
and the very means of acquiring property, gone; and considering the nature of 
the circumstances which prevented the selection and occupancy of a lot of 
land in tlie Valley of the Wallamet, and also the circumstances which deprived 
me of a participation in the abundant harvest of the fields I had sown, I thought 
it my duty to apply for help; and accordingly in 1839, did apply." — Narrative 
of Events and Difficulties, postscript. 

13 26 cong. I sess. S. doc. 20; S. jour. 45, 76. According to Kelley a 
petition in support of his memorial was presented to congress by a number 
of citizens of Boston, among whom was the historian, George Bancroft, but no 
reference to such a document has been found in the official records. — Kelley, 
Memorial, 1848: 11; Colonisation of Oregon, appx. F; Narrative of Events and 
Difficulties, appx. F. ; Settlement of Oregon, 118. 


alizing Congress on the subjects of the railroad, and the civil- 
ization of the Indians in the United States' territories. It was 
thought, that working in the conspicuous position of a chief 
engineer, two or three years, in a southern climate, would lim- 
ber the limbs for operations in a northern ; and the work itself 
would render honorable testimony to my capabilities; and be 
commendatory letters to men in the council of our nation. 

"Accordingly I went to Washington, in the close of 1838, 
hoping, under the government auspices, to make myself useful, 
in opening to the world a railroad thoroughfare between the 
two great oceans. I conferred with Mr. [Charles F.] Mercer 
[of Virginia], Chairman of the Committee of the Senate [house 
of representatives] on Roads and Canals, who said, a report 
would be made favorable to the enterprise. Such a report was 
submitted and accepted ; but no appropriation was made, and 
nothing further done by Congress upon the subject."^* 

The matter of a transcontinental railroad also engaged his 

"Reference to that project is made in my Geographical 
Sketch of Oregon, printed [written] in 1829;^^ and in the 
Memoir to Congress, in 1839, relative to the statistics and 
topography of that territory. ^^ It has often been mentioned to 

14 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 74; Settlement of Oregon, 8. No 
record of such a report has been found. As to Kelley's ciualifications as an 
engineer, we have the following testimonial of George B. Emerson of Boston, 
who?e judgment was endorsed by Rdward Everett: "Erom natural taste and 
adaptation; from the most extraordinary experience of the work, in every 
form and variety; from practical skill and acquaintance of all kinds of ground 
and all modes of operation, Mr. Kelley is singularly well qualified to under- 
stand, superintend, and execute the work of a survey for any railroad or other 
improvement, public or private." — Ibid., 75. See also Kelley, "Beloved Brehren, 
Jan. 14, 1870. }kls. 

15 "The settlement of the Oregon country, would conduce to a freer inter- 
course, and a more extensive and remunerative trade with the East Indies. 

Such an extension and enjoyment of the East India trade, would provoke the 
spirit of American enterprise, to open communications from the Mississippi v.-jllev, 
and from the gulf of Atexico to the Pacific ocean, and thus open new channels. 
through wliich the products of America and the Eastern world, will pass in 
mutual exchange, saving in every voyage, a distance of ten tliousand miles: 
neiv clwnncis, which opening across the bosorn of a wide spread ocean: and 
intersecting islands, where health fills the breeze and comforts spread the shores 
would conduct tlie full tide of a golden traffic, into the reservoir of our 
national finance." — Pp. 79-80. In "Beloved Brethren," Dec. 4, 1869, Kelley said 
that he projected such a railroad in 183T, and that in 1836 he and P. P. F. Degrand 
were associated in the movement. 

16 "These were the objects to whose accomplishment f looked forward, and 
from which 1 confidently anticipated many benefits: . . .a certain and 
speedy line of communication overland from the Mississippi to the Oregon, by 
means of which the Eastern and Western worlds should be united, and their 
wealth interchanged and increased."— P. 48. 


scientific and enterprising men, and described in my journals 
and papers .... 

"'The route begins on the bank- of the Missouri near the 
mouth of the Kansas, crosses the back-bone of the continent 
through a depression near the 43d parallel, lays along the 
valley of the Snake River, and crosses the Columbia at Walla- 
walla ; and, again, it makes a mountainous transit on the west- 
erly side of the valley of Clark's River, where, intelligent 
hunters suppose no formidable difficulties exist to be encoun- 
tered ; and terminates in a delightful and fertile tract of coun- 
try near the southern extermity of Puget's Sound, there to 
connect with the interminable tracks of the ships of the great 
deep. The eligibility of that place, for a terminus, and for an 
entreport and depot, can be fully conceived of, only by those 
who understand the natural advantages of that portion of 
Oregon for commerce and agriculture ; and know the chart 
and all about De Fuca's Straits .... 

"My plans differ in some respects, from those by Mr. Whit- 
ney, now before the public. His, I think, are well devised and 
matured. His ideas, as, in 1848 I understood them from the 
projector himself, in regard to the routes, to the execution of 
the work, and to the benefits to accrue to the world, especially, 
to our nation, seem consistent and sound ; in my apprehension, 
there can be none better. 

"He would have one-half of a strip of territory sixty miles 
in breadth. The United States to retain the other half, — 
every alternate section. Mine propose just half of that breadth ; 
and looking to a portion of the lands for a possession, and ap- 
propriate a portion for their Christianization, and for improve- 
ments in their aflfairs and fortune."^'^ 

The evidence presented by Kelley is not sufficient to give 
him a distinguished rank among the many men whose activities 
brought about the construction of a transcontinental railroad. 
In neither of the passages to which he referred is there any 
specific mention of a railroad, and we know that in the ten 

17 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 70-1; Settlement of Oregon, 123. 


years from 1829 to 1839 the railroad was a subject of great 
f)opular interest and general discussion. Moreover, it was 
Kelley's habit to be specific in his prophecies ; it was only in the 
matter of practical detail that he made use of general phrases. 
Asa Whitney's agitation began in 1844, and his first petition 
was presented to congress in 1845. At the earliest, Kelley's 
claim was not advanced until 1852, the year in which Whitney's 
plan was definitely abandoned by congress. By that time the 
movement for a railroad to the Pacific had become national, 
and Kelley's suggestion as to possible route and method of 
financing was only one of many, and contributed little if any- 
thing to the final result.^^ 

i8 Cleveland and Powell, Railroad Promotion, 2i(j-7'S. 


The Hermit of Three Rivers 

In 1839 Kelley reestablished himself at Three Rivers. He 
had acted for many years as agent for Octavius Pickering of 
Boston, who owned land in the village and also the unoccupied 
mill privilege which had once been the property of the Three 
Rivers Manufacturing company.^ He was not yet fifty years 
old, but his active life was already done; and broken in body 
and in spirit, he passed the remaining thirty-five years of his 
life in poverty and isolation. 

His house was at the edge of a grove on the side of a hill 
overlooking the village which he had come to regard with 
singular affection. The site was well chosen, but the house 
was hardly a fit abode for a man whose ideas were all in the 
superlative. It was a composite structure of a story and a 
half, built of odds and ends of lumber with regard rather to 
the limitations of the material than to any architectural design. 
The rooms were of unequal height, and the stairs approached 
the vertical. In the upper story there were three floor levels, 
two in a single room. There were half a dozen sizes of win- 
dows. By the door stood a clump of lilacs, and a large wild 
cherry tree shaded the yard. Below the house was a small 
orchard of apple trees, many of which defy identification. Pro- 
truding glacial boulders and tangled poison ivy gave evidence 
that the occupant of the place was concerned with other matters 
than appearances. 

Here his wife and children visited him occasionally down 
to 1843, but he was never able to effect a complete reconcilia- 
tion. Of his domestic troubles he said "My bosom friend with 
whom I never had a moment of misunderstanding was enticed 
from me; and my beloved sons were carried away captive by 

I Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon, 21-2. Pickering was reporter 
of the Massachvisetts supreme judicial court, 1822-40. He was a son of the 
famous Colonel Timothy Pickering of Salem, who was quartermaster-general 
in the Revolution, postmaster-general, secretary of war, and secretary of state 
under Washington, and senator from Massachusetts. 


the enemy." The enemy, it appears, was Mrs. Bradlee, Mrs. 
Kelley's aunt and foster mother. "That woman," said Kelley, 
"exerted, terribly against me, the influence which a kindred 
relation to an adopted daughter, and an annual income of 
$12,000, gave her." He attempted, however, to win his wife 
back to him through correspondence which he published in 
1851 under the title Letters From An Afflicted Husband To An 
Astranged Wife.^ 

One of the matters which engaged his attention was his 
claim against the Mexican government for indemnity for the 
seizure of his property at Vera Cruz in 1833. "My claim for 
indemnity was preferred against Mexico in 1840; and a more 
just claim could not be. I think it probable, the minds of the 
American and Mexican commissioners were so darkened by 
my enemies, about them, as to see no merits in the claimant, 
and not to care to open his case."^ This statement he made in 
obvious disregard of the strained relations then existing between 
the two nations over the matter of Texas. 

His interest in the Kendrick lands continued ; and he pre- 
pared for Charles Bulfinch and other claimants, a "memorial 
praying that their title to certain lands in the Territory of 
Oregon may be confirmed." This memorial which was pre- 
sented in 1840 by Abbott Lawrence, congressman from Massa- 
chusetts, was referred to the committee on foreign affairs.^ It 
was followed in 1843 by a similar memorial which was presented 
by Robert C. Winthrop, congressman from Massachusetts, in 
the name of Kelley as agent of Charles Bulfinch and others, 
"praying that their purchases of Indian lands in Oregon Terri- 
tory be recognized." This also was referred to the committee 
on foreign affairs.^ 

He also made a serious effort to put into shape for publica- 
tion his narrative on Oregon and the Sandwich Islands and 

2 Kelley, Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 2, 14; Temple, Hist, of the 
Town of Palmer, 266, 260. An appendix appeared the same year under the title 
•'Hard Usage in Three Rivers." Both pamphlets are said to have been printed in 
Palmer. — Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 76. 

3 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 73. 

4 26 cong. I sess. H, doc. 43; H. jour., 202; Settlement of Oregon, 79. 

5 27 cong. 3 sess. H. jour., 350. 

on the Indians. In 1840 he issued a prospectus of a book, then 
"in near readiness for the press" to be called "Travels And 
Voyages Through Many Of The Indian And Unexplored 
Countries of North America; And Over The Atlantic And 
Pacific Oceans Made In The Years 1832, '33, '34 and '35." 
The book was never published, however ; for "a. nervous affec- 
tion in the head deranged the thoughts and enfeebling the pen, 
disenabled him for the task." What became of this unfinished 
manuscript is unknown. But his literary efforts were not at 
an end. "He planned, however, for a less difficult work; a 
book which would be a printed record of his manner of life ; 
of the part he had acted in making Oregon and one of the 
Californias the possession of the United States; of the facts 
relative to his claim on Mexico for indemnification on account 
of the plunder of his property while passing through that coun- 
try ; and relative to a claim of certain of his countrymen to lands 
on Quadra's [Vancouver] Island, in which he was so largely 
interested, and which has been so very obnoxious to the power- 
ful men of the Hudson's Bay Company ; and of the interesting 
things concerning the ancients, and the geography and sta- 
tistics of the countries examined by him."^ This, too, he 

In 1843 he made another attempt to obtain action of congress 
in favor of his colonization project. Having failed to receive 
a grant of land as requested in 1839, he now presented through 
Rufus Choate, senator from Massachusetts, a "petition praying 
permission to purchase from the Indians in the Oregon Terri- 
tory a tract of land for the purpose of forming a permanent 
settlement thereon." This petition was referred to the com- 
mittee on private land claims.''' It was followed in 1844 by a 
petition "praying for a grant of land in the Territory of Ore- 
gon," which was presented through Robert C. Winthrop and 
referred to the committee on foreign affairs.^ 

The grant sought in 1844 was desired not as an aid to settle- 

6 Setttement of Oregon, iv n; Narrative of Events and Difficulties, preface. 

7 27 cong. 3 sess. S. jour., 192; Cong. Globe, XI, 311. 

8 28 cong. I sess. H. jour., 237-8. This memorial appeared in the Palmer 
StntingI of December 10, 1846. 


ment, but as compensation for services. The year in which 
Kelley finally abandoned his colonization scheme, therefore, can 
be stated definitely as 1844. With but unimportant exceptions, 
his published writings thereafter were confined to memorials 
and petitions to congress and pamphlets designed to support 
his claim for compensation or reward for his services in bring- 
ing about the settlement of Oregon by American citizens, thus 
preparing the way for the assertion of jurisdiction over that 
territory by the national government.^ 

After an interval of four years he presented through John 
A. Dix, senator from New York, a memorial "praying a grant 
of land in the Territory of Oregon, in consideration of import- 
ant services rendered by him in exploring and developing the 
resources of that country," which was referred to the com- 
mittee on public lands.^^ This memorial was privately printed 
as an eighteen-page pamphlet entitled Memorial Of Hall J. 
Kelley ; Praying For A Donation Of Land, And Testimonials 
Concerning The Colonization Of The Oregon Territory. The 
memorial itself occupied but four pages, and six pages were 
given over to notes from Kelley 's journal covering that part 
of his journey from Monterey to the Columbia. Some of the 
testimonials were written in 1843 to accompany the memorial 
of 1844 ; the others were obtained in 1847. Among those who 
contributed testimonials were: John P. Bigelow, secretary of 
the commonwealth of Massachusetts, who was soon to become 
mayor of Boston ; William Wheildon, friend of Edward Everett 
and editor of the Bunker Hill Aurora, whose name had ap- 
peared on the list of agents of the American Society for En- 
couraging the Settlement of the Oregon Territory ; Wash- 
ington P. Gregg, secretary of the common council of Boston 
and former treasurer of the American Society; William G. 
Brown, former editor of Zion's Herald ; John McNeil, surveyor 
of the port of Boston and former president of the American 
Society ; Isaac O. Barnes, United States marshal at Boston ; 

9 In 1846 and 1847 lie published two series of articles in the Palmer 
Sentinel, one on "Oregon; the other on "Colonization Of The Oregon Territory." 

10 30 cong, I sess. S. jour., 245; Cong. Globe, XVIII, 567. 


p. p. F. Degrand, well known for his public activities, partic- 
ularly in connection with the movement for a transcontinental 
railroad ; and David F. Green, secretary of the American Board 
of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.^^ 

A similar memorial was presented the following year, 1849, 
through Senator John Davis of Massachusetts, "praying to be 
allowed a grant of land in the Territory of Oregon, in con- 
sideration of his services and sacrifices in aiding in the explora- 
tion and settlement of that country." This also was referred 
to the committee on public lands.^^ The report of this com- 
mittee, as submitted on February 5, 1850 by Alpheus Felch of 
Michigan, was as follows : 

"The petitioner asks a grant of land from the government, 
in consideration of his services and sacrifices in the exploration 
of the Oregon Territory. That Mr. Kelley is one among the 
many enterprising citizens who, within the last thirty years, 
have directed their attention to the exploration and eflforts to 
settle our possessions on the Pacific, and has, in common with 
others, suffered loss from the failure of his efforts, the com- 
mittee have no doubt. They are, however, of opinion, from 
an examination of the whole case, that the prayer of the peti- 
tioner cannot, under just and safe principles, be granted. The 
case does not, in their opinion, present those distinctive features 
which ought to single it out from others, and make it the 
subject of special legislative action. 

"They therefore recommend the adoption of the following 
resolution : 

"Resolved, That the prayer of the petitioner be not granted. "^^ 

With the adoption of this report by the senate on February 
21, Kelley's claim was formally disallowed.^^ It would seem 

11 This memorial in abridged form appears in the Hist, of the Settlement of 
Oregon, 91-2. The testimonials were also reprinted in that pamphlet. 

12 31 cong. I sess. S. jour., 38, 51; Cong. Globe, XXI. 92, 99; This 
memorial, most of it from the forms used in printing that of 1848, was reprinted 
in the Hist, of the Colonisation of Oregon, i-8 [9-16], 17-18. 

13 31 cong. I sess. S. rep. 42; S. jour., i3i; Cong. Globe, XXI, 292-3. It 
is perhaps significant that only one of the members of this committee wa« 
from New England. 

14 31 cong. I sess. S. rep. 42; S. jour., 172-3; Cong. Globe. XXI, pt. 
I, 411. 


that Senator Davis had been neghgent, for under date of July 
25, 1850, he wrote to Kelley : 

"I now enclose the report which you ask for. It had some- 
how escaped my attention that such a report had been made. 
It can however do you little harm. I had conferred with Judge 
Underwood, who formerly had charge of the business, and he 
promised me to give every attention to it ; but it seems without 
my knowledge, Gov. Felch took charge of it." 

The failure to obtain either recognition or reward was a 
crushing blow to Kelley, who said : "That report went to con- 
firm the false perceptions of me of not a few public men, and 
to strengthen the prejudices of friends and to give general 
currency to the vile reports of adversaries : that he is 'stupid 
and crazy,' and to the sayings every where rife, 'that he came 
to this country without mind or means to do anything and 
went away' .... It was a strange report ; though it did 
me monstrous injustice and tends to deepen and perpetuate my 
sorrows, and though all the gold ever taken from the mines of 
California could not sufficiently make amends for the injustice 
done me and my near kindred ; yet I impute no wrong motive 
to them that made it. It denies me the merit of having taken 
any part as a pioneer in the colonization of Oregon, or in 
bringing about the events which led to the government acquisi- 
tion of Alta California. It was a great mistake — I cannot 
account for it."^^ 

To Kelley defeat was only an incentive to further effort. In 
1854, therefore, he presented another petition, this time through 
Charles Sumner, senator from Massachusetts, "praying a dona- 
tion of land, or gratuity in money, for his services and sacri- 
fices in attempts to colonize and explore the Oregon territory, 
and for the public benefits that resulted from his efforts." After 
this petition had been referred to the committee on territories, 
the senate upon Sumner's motion ordered that Kelley have 
leave to withdraw it.^^ 

15 Settlement of Oregon, 89-go. 

j6 33 cong. I sess. S. jour., 196, 346, 391; Cong. Globe. XXVIII, 447. 989- 
1 186. This "petition asking for a grant of land or pecuniary relief" appears 
as an appendix to the Narrative of Events and Difficulties, having been bound 
in that pamphlet two years after its original publication. I1 differs but little 
from th* memorials of 1848 and 1840. 


Again in 1866 the appeal was renewed. In that year Henry 
L. Dawes, representative from Massachusetts, presented a peti- 
tion "relative to a land grant," which was referred to the com- 
mittee on private land claims. This also sought pecuniary re- 
lief as an alternative, as is evident from the title of the reprint, 
which reads Petition Of Hall J. Kelley, Praying For A Grant 
Of Land, Or A Donation Of Money.^'^ The result was another 

With the double purpose of creating a favorable public senti- 
ment and of supplementing his applications for congressional 
bounty, Kelley published several pamphlets. The first was 
History Of The Colonization Of The Oregon Territory, which 
was published in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1849. The 
edition must have been small, for but a single copy is known 
to be in existence. On the title page, appears Kelley's name as 
"the pioneer and chief projector." The "prefatory remarks" 
thus set forth the purpose of the pamphlet : 

"The writer claims to have been the chief pioneer to plan and 
execute the work of colonizing the Oregon Territory ; and has 
prepared the following pages to show the identity of his name 
with the history of that magnificent and meritorious achieve- 
ment; and also to explain the causes and events which gave 
direction and impetus to public enterprise, and led to the ac- 
quisition and settlement of California." 

Another pamphlet with the same title was published in Wor- 
cester in 1850. In 1852 appeared A Narrative Of Events And 
Difficulties In The Colonization Of Oregon And The Settle- 
ment of California ; and also a history of the claim of American 
citizens to lands on Quadra's Island ; together with an account 
of the troubles and tribulations endured between the years 1824 
and 1852 by the writer. This was published in Boston, and 
we are told in the appendix that "but few copies of this book 
have been printed." A half dozen copies only have been lo- 
cated. While the preface declares that "The present book aims 

17 ;j8 cong. j sess. H. jour., 93; Cong. Globe, XLVII, 181. The reprint 
appearea as a seven-page pamphlet, which was also incorporated in the Hist, 
of the Settlement of Oregon. It was a revised and enlarged version of the 
earlier memorials and petitions. 


to correct the falsities in the various histories of Oregon hither- 
to in vogue ;" liberal space is given to the "troubles and tribu- 
lations" of the writer. 

Kelley's final^® word was published in 1868 in Springfield, 
Massachusetts, under the title, A History Of The Settlement 
Of Oregon And The Interior Of Upper California ; and of 
persecutions and afflictions of forty years' continuance endured 
by the author. This is a pamphlet of 128 pages. In the preface 
Kelley thus set forth its purpose : 

"This Book is an appeal to the justice and humanity of tht- 
Christian public for help to put an end to persecutions endured 
for more than forty years, as terrible as were ever known ; and 
to bring back to my bleeding bosom by beloved household, which 
more than fifteen years ago, were torn from it and carried 
away from me, by the merciless hands of bloody men ; and to 
bring back kindred and friends long ago turned from and 
against me. 

"It has in view other objects : — to verify and illustrate the 
statements of the Petition now before Congress ; to correct the 
belied histories of the American and British domains beyond 
the Rocky Mountains — countries, which, until after the public 
announcement of my Oregon enterprise, were marked on maps, 
unknoivn; and to remove unreasonable prejudices, and the false 
perception which frierTds everywhere have of me, and the 
obstacles which enemies in all places have thrown in the path- 
way of my usefulness." 

Over two years were spent in the preparation of this pam- 
phlet. The delay is easily accounted for when we consider 
that it was not written but dictated by a half-crazed man oi 
nearly eighty, who was almost blind and suffering from malaria 
and the infirmities incident to age as well as hardship and priva- 
tion, and suffering too from his obsession that all his troubles 
and all the pranks of mischievous boys in the neighborhood were 

1 8 In 1869 and 1870 Kelley prepared a series of eight letters addressed "Be- 
loved Brethren," and designed as the appendix to his History of the Settlement of 
Oregon. These letters were not printed, however, because the printer declared 
that the manuscript was "incomprehensible." Hence Kelley's statement: "The 
printing press everywhere in my state is turned against me." — Letter to J. Q. 
Thornton, Oct. 3'. 1870. 


due to the desire of the Hudson's Bay company to persecute 
him. He concluded the preface with the following paragraph, 
with its naive prediction of the millennial dawn certain to follow 
from an awakened public confidence in him : 

"When the nefarious plans and plottings and murderous pur- 
pose of the conspiracy at Three Rivers — one as diabolical as 
was ever known in Christendom — conspiracy, I say ; diabolical. 
with emphasis I repeat, have been described, and the public 
understand about them, then will persecutions cease, and the 
deep-rooted prejudices on the minds of men will be removed, 
public confidence in my statements and character be restored, 
my household and my kindred so long gone from me, will 
return, and all, I trust, will treat me with respect and visit me 
in my 'afflictions'." 

The nature of these afflictions is set forth in detail in all of 
these pamphlets. The selections that follow will serve as illus- 
trations. They do not make pleasant reading, but they are es- 
sential to an understanding of the man and his environment. 

"Causes and effects alternately changing are traceable from 
the widely separated places, London, Vancouver and Boston, 
to the little village of Three Rivers ; even to my humble and 
lonely cottage .... 

"The Appendix shows how cruelly certain persons in the 
neighborhood of my desolated residence — hirelings under the 
powerful men above described, have used me. It particularizes 
many ways by which I have been made to suffer, but not all. 
Within the last twelve years, they have dragged me into fifteen 
lawsuits ; and brought great pecuniary embarrassments upon 
me. In a single transaction* I have been defrauded of $1,500. 
of property and caused a further loss of more than $1,000, — 
partly expenses incurred in a suit of nine years' pending."*^ 

* 'W contract was made in 1842, with three certain men to cut from my 
forest wood and timber sufficient to pay a debt of $i,5;oo. which they had 
assumed. By the last of 184.3. they had cut enough to pay the debt, and $i,soo 
more. As they refused to settle or to account for any considerable part of 
the property; an action in Chancery, in 1845, wts brought against them, a 
hearing was had in 1853: and an award rendered for the plaintiff. Exceptions 
were taken by the defendants. This is the state of the case. March, i8.!;4." 

19 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, preface, 2-3. See also pp. 78-9. 


"The last two years, adversaries, at and about the place of my 
abode, have very much troubled me. The troops at this place 
have come daily to vex and to torture, hoping speedily to make 
an end of me ; guerillas, headed by one of my bitterest enemies — 
at times, another with him — both were, as it regarded their con- 
duct toward me, much like despots and demons. Within the 
last thirty years, until the two last, since beginning to write 
histories of countries explored by me, and to prepare accounts 
of my scientific researches in the far west, and of my efforts 
to propagate Christianity about the shores of the Pacific, and 
of the war of persecutions so long ago waged against me, they 
have often come to plunder my property — have plundered, and 
carried ofT, the value of several thousand dollars; and to de- 
vastate my estate; and have so done; and have desolated the 
village of Three Rivers, so that it now is, and has been for 
several years, a desolation, 'a heap'. They at times break into 
my house, and take away documents and manuscripts and 
papers of great value to me, such as furnish the best material 
for the book ; perhaps, within this period, what of the last would 
make a 4to. volume of a thousand pages.^^ 

"In telling about the conspiracy, it is not my intention to 
designate persons, unless hard provoked to it, nor specify as 
to conduct, cruel as it has been, further than it shall be duty in 
the vindication of myself. . . ." 

"To confuse my head and delay my writings, I am everywhere 
represented as stupid, an idler, and prodigal of my means of 
living. But I am certain that neither my great calamity, nor 
the persecutions and afflictions I am made to endure, have in 
the slightest degree impaired my understanding; it was never 
better than at the present day. And diligent search of the 
Scriptures, the last thirty years . . . has much enlarged 
my comprehension of things human and divine. I consider also 

20 Settlement of Oregon, iii-iv. "The author has recently lost from his 
house all the copies of a pamphlet called 'History of the Colonization of Ore- 
gon;' which was to comprise portions of the svipplemental appendix of thi.s 
book; and also, manuscripts and papers of great value to him. He has good 
reason to believe, it was the felonious service of some hireling or sub-affent 
of the friends of the H. B. Co., to vex and trouble him." — Narrative of Events 
and Difficulties, appx. insert. 


that industry, frugality, temperance, benevolence, intense pur- 
pose, brotherly kindness and charity have all along marked my 
career. I do not thus speak of myself to glorify self; but to 
glorify Him whose servant I am."^* 

"The shattered and morbid-smitten nervous system is never 
so bad as in the hot season of the year, and has never been so 
terrible as in the present season. Am all the while faint, and 
suffering a slow fever. As I have heretofore said, am forced 
to live alone. I am fond of society, and delight in communion 
with the virtuous and intelligent. Am forced to do my indoor 
and outdoor work. There are none disposed to help me. Help, 
both male and female, are turned from me. My beloved house- 
hold, and all in the circle of kindred, every soul of them de- 
ceived, have gone from me and are turned against me, and all 
in the circle of friends and acquaintances, deceived, have turned 
to treat me with contempt, some with shameful abuse. . . ."^- 

There are middle-aged men to-day in Three Rivers who would 
be surprised to learn that their boyish practical jokes upon the 
strange old man were charged against the account of the Hud- 
son's Bay company, and that when they robbed his orchard they 
were interfering with the preparation of works for which future 
historians would search in libraries and collectors would pay 
extravagant sums in the auction rooms. When in the thought- 
less cruelty of youth they called out "Old Kelley" as he passed 
along the street, they did not know that they were acting as 
"guerillas." The boy who put pepper on the stove after offer- 
ing to help Kelley about his housework could hardly have 
known of the Hudson's Bay company, yet he was classed as 
one of its "troops." 

There are also men in Three Rivers who can testify that 
Kelley's interests were cared for by his neighbors, and that 
food was regularly reserved from their tables for the old man, 
who came daily to their door, pail in hand. Yet of these acts 
of kindness the pamphlets tell nothing. Nbr do they tell of 
the efforts of his brother to induce him to leave his hermitage 

2 1 Settlement of Oreeou, v. 
22 Ibid., 16-7. 


on the hill and to share his home in East Gilmanton. "Te- 
naciously he would cling- to his little home," wrote a contem- 
porary, "believing" that if he stayed there his fortune would ulti- 
mately turn, and the little tract of land which his friends allowed 
him to remain upon and which he finally believed was his own, 
would become of untold value, and again he would be a wealthy 
man. Feeble and almost blind for a year or two, he has tottered 
about the village, leaning upon his cane, an object of pity, 
believing that in the development and building up of the village 
the golden time was approaching. "^^'^ 

The question naturally arises as to what he would have done 
had his prayers to cong^ress been granted. This question Kelley 
himself answered : 

"He asks for a donation of land, that he may be able to repay, 
in lands or money, those who have contributed to the means of 
prosecuting his enterprise ; and to make some suitable provision 
for support now in the decline of life. Could he be placed in a 
state of freedom from nervous irritation, and have things 
convenient and comfortable ; and could his mind rest from 
anxiety and excitement caused by his persecuting enemies, and 
his hands be untied and his feet unfettered, he could again, 
he thinks be measurably useful to his country ; and with a good 
degree of vigor, and effect, engage in laborious and philan- 

23 Springfield Daily Union, January 23, 1874. 

"I will now speak as to my usefulness to the people of Three Rivers; what 1 
have done to promote the growth and good appearance of the village. 

"To encourage the lay of the New London and Amherst railroad, through the 
village and promote the interest of the company, I freely gave to the company 
land . . . and also took several shares of the stock at par, and also did my 
friend Pickering of Boston take fifteen or twenty shares, and in other ways en- 
couraged the building of the road. 

"Built three houses and parts of two others and that by my own hands. 

"Mr. Pickering, for whom I acted as agent, sold at a reduced price the site 
of the school house called Pickering Hall, and gave a bell for that spacious 
and beautiful building, this he freely did, though at my suggestion. . . . 

"To make myself further useful to the people, I prepared a circular giving a 
description of the plac-e, which was sent to the manufacturers abroad, and to such 
capitalists and enterprising men, as would be likely to come and contribute to its 
growth and prosperity. 

"For several years after coming into the place, I practiced hauling and tilting 
[sic] wood at the door of poor families and in other ways did I consider the poor. 
On the occasion of a Thanksgiving day I made a feast, it would well compare with 
any of the feasts the rich prepare for the rich and invited widows and orphans to 
it. My house was filled, and their hearts were made glad. The next day the 
fragments were distributed to the poor not present." — Kelley, "Beloved Brethren," 
Jan. 14, 1870. Ms. 


thropic undertaking, as when he was strong 'as a lion and swift 
as an eagle'."^ 

"The petitioner has objects in view. He would appropriate 
a part of what Congress would allow him, for educational pur- 
poses in the land of the freedmen, and a part for the founding 
of a benevolent institution in the manufacturing village of Three 
Rivers, to be called 'The Widows' and Orphans' Home'."^^ 

Thus to the last his spirit of altruism persisted, and he died 
as he had lived, a philanthropist at heart. One day his accus- 
tomed round of visits was not made ; and he was found lying 
on the floor of his little house, stricken with paralysis. He 
soon became unconscious, and on the following evening, Janu- 
ary 20, 1874, his troubled life came to an end.^^ 

24 Colonization of Oregon, 4. 

25 Settlement of Oregon, 1. 

26 Springfield Daily Union and Springfield Daily Republican. January 23, 1874. 


The Writings of Kelley ^ 

Kelley's literary efforts began early and continued until a 
few years before his death. His output was therefore volumin- 
ous, though his longest single work was of but 128 pages. Of 
his school books enough has already been said. Had he written 
nothing else his name would now be known only to the anti- 
quarian. We are here concerned with what he wrote about 
Oregon and about himself. 

Both the Geographical Sketch and the General Circular have 
been denounced as grossly inaccurate and poorly written, and 
both have been praised as remarkably accurate and well written 
statements of fact. As was shown in an earlier chapter, "W. 
J. S." outdid himself in an attempt to convince the readers of 
the New England Magazine that Kelley had nothing but sec- 
ond-hand information about Oregon to present, and that his 
statements were unworthy of acceptance. Nor did he stop 
at that. "Some one ought to send Mr. Kelley a copy . . . 
of Guthrie's Gramrnar," he declared in one article;^ and in 
another place he singled out for ridicule a sentence in which 
Kelley said that the proposed settlement would be ef- 
fected as soon "it has consummated their title to the Indian 
lands. "^ But no one was better aware of those defects than 
Kelley himself. In his History Of The Settlement Of Oregon, 
after giving a brief paraphrase of the General Circular, he con- 
tinued, "Here I leave the manual. This document is not given 
in the exact language in which it was couched. It would be 
mortifying to do it. It does not furnish a fair specimen of my 
composition. The productions of my pen in 1829 and several 
after years, were abundantly marked with faults. At times 
of mental excitement and nervous irritation, I almost lost the 

1 See Powell, Bibliography of Hall J. Kelley, Oregon Historical Society, 
Quarterly, VIII, 375-86 (1907). 

2 W. J. S., Oregon territory, New England Magazine, II, 131. 

3 W. J. S., Geographical sketch of Oregon territory. New England Mag- 
azine, II, 324. 


physical ability of speech, and was scarcely able to converse or 
write upon any subject, however familiar. At every effort my 
language was broken and full of errors. One of the hireUng 
writers of my adversaries, in a Boston periodical in 1832, says 
'he murders the King's English.' It was too true."^ 

Equally severe were the criticisms in that joint product of 
youth and age, Wyeth's Oregon, where Kelley is described as 
a man "who had read all the books he could get on the voyages 
and travels in Asia, Africa, Europe, and America, until he 
had heated his mind to a degree little short of the valorous 
Knight of La Mancha, that is to say, he believed all he read."^ 
Although young Wyeth himself had turned back at a point 
several hundred miles east of the mouth of the Columbia, he 
boldly declared: 

"I have since been well-informed that in the valley of Ore- 
gon, so much extolled for its fertility and pleasantness, wood 
to cook with is one among their scarcest and very dear articles 
of necessity. From all accounts, except those given to the 
public by Mr. Kelly, there is not a district at the mouth of any 
large river more unproductive than that of the Columbia, and 
it seems that this is pretty much the case from tide water 
of that river to where it empties into the ocean. . . . Mr. 
Hall J. Kelly published about two years since a most inflated 
and extravagant account of that western tract which extends 
from The Rocky Mountains to the shore of the Pacific Ocean. 
He says of it that no portion of the globe presents a more fruit- 
ful soil, or a milder climate, or equal facilities for carrying 
into effect the great purposes of a free and enlightened na- 
tion .... Lewis and Clarke's history of their expedition 
had been published and very generally read; yet this extrava- 
gant and fallacious account of the Oregon was read by some 
people not destitute of a general information, nor unused 
to reading .... But all the world exaggerates ; not even 
were we of the Oregon expedition entirely free from it, 

4 Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon, 107. 

5 J. B. Wveth, Oregon, .^. The book was written by Dr. Benjamin Water- 
house "from notes and information" of Wyeth to discourage what was thought 
to be the wild scheme of Westward migration. 


although not to be compared with Hall Jackson Kelly, who 
never stops short of superlatives, if we may judge by his pub- 

Commenting upon this attack, Reuben Gold Thwaites said 
"Subsequent information has justified most of Kelley's state- 
ments, here derided by Wyeth" :'^ and Mrs. Victor declared 
"So completely was he sustained in his general views that we 
feel surprised at this day to notice how closely they agree with 
what is now known of this region,"^ and again "Regarding 
settlement his writings contain some practical suggestions; 
indeed, without clear discrimination between design and neces- 
sity, and read by the light of subsequent events, some of them 
might be pronounced prophetic."^ Equally favorable was the 
opinion of S. A. Clarke, who said "Whatever were the sources 
of Kelley's facts they were wonderfully correct. His critics 
concede that he was a terse and vigorous writer who did much 
to make Oregon known ; that his ideas were broad and for the 
nation's best interests. "^^ The judgment of Major Hiram H. 
Chittenden, however, is not without an element of truth: "He 
read everything that he could find relating to Oregon, believed 
it all, however extravagant, and retailed it to the public with 
whatever addition his own over-wrought imagination might 
suggest .... What he wrote was for the most part grossly 
inaccurate ; but with a public quite as ignorant as he, this was 
no drawback, but rather a positive advantage. Everything 
came from his pen clothed with the beauty of a western sun- 

It will be observed that no one has questioned Kelley's sin- 
cerity in the presentation of information. It should be borne 
in mind, also, that he belonged to a generation which was ac- 
customed to rely upon hearsay and secondary authorities to a 

6 Ibid., 53-3, 57-8, 6o. 

7 Thwaites, Early IVesteni Travels, XXI, 7911. 

8 Victor. Hall J. Kelley, one of the fathers of Oregon, Oregon Historical 
Society, Quarterly, II, 398. 

9 Bancroft, Hist, of Oregon, I, 68. As to the authorship of what Mr. 
Charles F. Lumnns has aptly characterized as "that gigantic historical haystack 
the Bancroft histories," see Morris, The origin and authorship of the Bancroft 
Pacific states publications, Oregon Historical Society, Quarterly, IV, 287-364. 

10 Clarke, Pioneer Days of Oregon History, I, 269. 

11 Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West, I. 435. 


degree that is intolerable to the historian trained in modern 
scientific methods of research. If his two early pamphlets be 
compared with contemporary writings on the great West, they 
will be found quite as reliable and quite as readable. If Kelley's 
early style be found defective, what is to be said of the flam- 
boyant sentences of Benton, that other sponsor of the West? 
It must be confessed, however, that in his effort to be con- 
vincing, Kelley sometimes defeated his own end by references 
to obscure sources of information. His pamphlet, Discoveries, 
Purchases Of Lands, &c. On The Northwest Coast, published 
in 1839, was criticised by a friendly Boston editor, who said, 
"We do not altogether rely upon Mr. Kelley's account of the 
old Spanish voyages .... He tells us of *Mss in the Marine 
Archives at Madrid.' We believe no such archives are in exist- 
ence."^^ To this Kelley answered "that he had the authority 
of Mr. Slacum . . . for the quotation," and that he had 
"also other reasons for believing it correct,"^^ but neither state- 
ment is particularly convincing, and it is significant that when 
the substance of the pamphlet was presented to congress in 
Bulfinch's memorial of 1840, the reference was omitted.^^ 

However accurate or inaccurate Kelley's accounts of the early 
navigators may have been, it is certain that through his pam- 
phlets and his articles in various periodicals he contributed to 
the general information about Oregon, and aroused popular 
interest in the question of the American claim to that territory. 
We have already seen that Senator Linn was indebted to him 
for materials on the subject, but it is a question how much 
effect the information thus presented had upon the action of 
congress. For the settlement of the Oregon question was not 
delayed so much for want of information as from political and 
diplomatic considerations, concerning which Kelley had little 
information or interest. 

12 Mr. Kelley's pamphlet, The Oregonian and Indians' Advocate, I, i8o. 
"Our object the elevation of the Indian race — our means a Christian settlement 
in Oregon. Published under the direction of the Committee of the OreRon 
Provisional Emigration Society." Lack of confidence in the statements in this 
pamphlet is also expressed in Bancroft, Hist, of the Northwest Coast, I, zosn. 

1 3 Ibid., I, 22. 

14 26 cong. I sess. H. doc. 43. 


The only one of his writings in which Kelley took pride wa'^ 
the Memoir on Oregon prepared for Caleb Gushing- in 1839. 
Unh'ke his early accounts this was based upon observation, and 
it is marred by comparatively few of the unfortunate manner- 
isms that characterized so much of what he wrote. The writers 
of the Bancroft histories were most favorably impressed with 
it, "He certainly gives in his memoir to congress in 1839, a 
very correct account of the topography, soil, and climate of 
both California and Oregon .... He .... furnished 
information to the government that should have been of value ; 
and which should have been more properly appreciated, had it 
been presented disconnected from the recital of his personal suf- 
ferings and wrongs, with which all his writings after his visit 
to Oregon were rendered turgid .... It seems the most 
sober and intelligent of all his writings .... This present 
paper is a temperate description of the country and what the 
writer saw and did there. Though not without its author's 
constitutional wail and his usual fling at the Hudson's Bay 
Company, it is a well written document."^*'' 

In this judgment Kelley would have concurred; for in de- 
fending himself against the criticisms of his writings on Ore- 
gon, he referred to the Memoir with no little satisfaction : 
"Nothing very extravagant is found in it; nothing but plain 
truths can be found in that document ; nothing but such, in all 
the mass of publications from my pen, which between the 
years 1825 and 1832, were so freely spread over the States, to 
enlighten about Oregon, and to induce emigration thither ; and 
to open that remote region to missionary enterprise."^" 

Of the half dozen memorials and petitions through which 
Kelley sought to obtain the aid of congress during the years 
1839-66, something has already been said. There was in ef- 
fect but a single document of this sort, which took different 
form as it was revised and amplified from time to time to 

15 Bancroft, Northwest Coast, II, 556, ssSn. There is no reason to question 
:curacy." — Bancroft, Hist, of California, III, _4iin. "Not very inaccurate, con- 
ing Kelley's limited opportunities of observation." — Ibid., IV, 147. 

Its accu 

16" Settlement of Oregon, 61 


strengthen its appeal. Some of the materials thus presented do 
not appear in Kelley's other writings. 

It is no easy task to characterize Kelley's three formal pam- 
phlets, the History Of The Colonization Of Oregon, the Nar- 
rative Of Events And Difficulties, and the History Of The 
Settlement Of Oregon. All were written after he had passed 
middle age, and after physical and mental suffering had un- 
manned him. They were addressed to that understanding and 
sympathetic public which Kelley's faith in humanity assured 
him would grant him the recognition and the material reward 
he craved. It was a generation which knew little of those 
early years in which he had attempted so much and accom- 
plished so little ; a generation that was witness of that great 
movement that so rapidly peopled the valleys of the West. 

When the History Of The Colonization Of Oregon appeared, 
Oregon was a regularly constituted territory and the "gold 
rush" was turning the minds of the whole country toward the 
Pacific Coast, which was better known because of Kelley and 
the men whom he had influenced. When the Narrative Of 
Events And Difficulties appeared, the tide of emigration to 
the Northwest was at its height, Oregon was looking forward 
to .statehood, and Washington was at the beginning of its 
territorial stage. Both pamphlets were exceedingly well timed. 
To Kelley all that was needed was to get the facts before the 
public. With the idea of presenting the truth as he saw it, 
he bared his very soul to the reader, telling of his great plans, 
his high hopes, and the obstacles that had been too much for 
his powers. In the History Of The Settlement Of Oregon, 
"he poured himself out on paper," as Bancroft has it,^''^ in a 
final attempt to convince a generation to which the settled 
West had become an accepted fact. "Quite half a century has 
elapsed since the conception of my Oregon enterprise" ; he said 
in the preface, "although thirty years have rolled away since 
its achievement, and yet my countrymen seem to know nothing 
abou it — and why? This question I shall shortly answer . . . . 

17 Bancroft, Northwest Coast, II, 55611. 


"I desire my countrymen should know how much I have 
expended in time and property ; and what I have suffered to 
settle Oregon, and to make it an integral part of my country'-^ 
domain. I have truly paid from my substance, and from the 
comforts and endearments of life, a great price for that land, 
though a goodly one it is, and have freely possessed the nation 
of it. Were my country duely apprised of the facts in the 
case, they would no longer turn a deaf ear to the wrongs I 
have suffered, and the rights of which I have been defrauded, 
as they have done for the last thirty years ; but, would at 
once return to me all, and even more than I claim ; both as a 
recompense for my services, and as a testimonial of their 
gratitude for the countless blessings those services have ren- 
dered and are rendering to the country .... 

"With the explanations I will be able to make, the reader 
can more understandingly form opinions of my capabilities 
and usefulness, and of the contempt so universally cast upon 
me ; and can better judge of the suffering condition to which 
persecutions and afflictions, endured for nearly half a century 
have reduced me — such as are, probably, without parallel in 
the present age of the world. "^^ 

Naturally self-centered, his style was egotistical to the ex- 
treme. "I am Hall J. Kelley ; that is my name; am what edu- 
cation, habits, and the grace of God have made me."^^ Did 
Walt Whitman ever sound his "barbaric yawp" louder than 
this? "I am not 'distressed' — have never been 'distressed;' "^^ 
he protested after telling of "persecutions and afflictions" of 
nearly half a century, thereby unconsciously giving testimony 
to the fact. He wrote much of himself because he was the 
only human being he ever really knew. "I have said much 
concerning self, and now find it indispensable to say more 
With as little self-esteem as self-respect, I shall be able, to 
describe the powers and qualities of my mind ; and to satisfy, 
that it is not strictly true that I am 'without mind to do any- 

18 Pp. 1-3. 

19 Ibid., 7. 

20 Ibid., 3. 


thing.' For natural endowment, I have nothing to boast of, yet, 
the operations of my mind, I think indicate sanity, and such 
gifts as elevate character, as high above the characters of my 
groveling enemies, as the clouds are above the ground. "^^ 

"Being an educated man and an enthusiast, writing was 
easy," said Bancroft ; and again, "Indeed, all of Kelley's works 
are well written. His command of language was far above 
the average."^^ But on these points Kelley's word is quite to 
the contrary and much nearer the truth. "I never had skill 
at composition ; my thoughts being always occupied in other 
business. My aspiration has been, more to the attainment of 
preeminence as an architect than as a painter. For the busi- 
ness of the former, I think I have been measurably qualified 
with science and skill ; while in that of the latter, have been an 
ordinary performer. "^^ He introduced his Geographical 
Sketch with a statement that he was fully conscious of his 
literary limitations, and declared that he attempted only "to 
impress the public mind with simple and unadorned facts." 
since he was not "possessed of that free and imperial com- 
mand of words, which is the peculiar felicity of a few."^* Upon 
several occasions he expressed regret that he was unable to 
adorn his composition "with the ordinary embellishments of 
rhetoric." Thus in his old age, he said, "My head is confused, 
and that continually ; and I cannot help it. Thoughts, at times, 
enter the mind disorderly. That which should come first 
comes last, and the last first ; and they are a long while in 
coming. Utterance is stammering. Language is broken and 
diffuse, without imagery or beauty, or any rhetorical embellish- 
ment. It is impossible for me to condense it and render it 
concise and perspicuous. My compositions abound with errors. 
I copy and copy, again and again, and sometimes the last copy 
is worse than the first." 

He therefore took to dictation ; and his last work. The 
History Of The Settlement Of Oregon, was prepared in this 

21 Ibid., 5-6. 

22 Bancroft, Northwest Coast. II, 5S6n, SS8n. 

23 Narrative of Events and Difficulties, postscript. 
34 Pp. 3-4 


manner. The result was hardly more satisfactory, for we 
are told of "the inattention and carelessness of youthful 
amanuenses." On account of his extreme debility and nervous 
irritation he was able to dictate "only in the fore part of the 
day, not every day, and not more than two or three hours 
in any day."~^ In the preface he attempted "to explain con- 
cerning inadvertent expressions, digressions, curtailed state- 
ments, sayings, and the abrigment of the book, and errors of 
composition with which it abounds. It is seldom that I can 
find a person able and ready to write ; at times the amanuensis 
is turned from me. For weeks, or months, no one can be 
found to serve me ; and I am left without help. Portions of 
the manuscript prepared for the press, and supposed to have 
been sent to it, are wanting in the book. This mistake is 
owing in part, I think, to the inattention of the young and in- 
experienced amanuenses. These things have caused delay,"^^' 
a delay of two years. In the body of the text is this interpella- 

"I am in haste to finish the dictation of this book, and to 
have it in print and before Congress the present session. . . . 
It was commenced more than a year and a half ago, and yet 
not 80 pages of it are in print. Constant vexations, 'troubles 
on every side' cause the delay ; they enfeeble the pen and 
unfit my mouth for speech, of course for the dictating of the 
composition of the book. Persecutions and afflictions of forty 
years' continuance have nearly worn me out, and I may not 
last to see, in print, the Appendix, the most instructive as it 
regards my biography, and perhaps the most interesting por- 
tion of the book."27 

Yet he continued his labors through fifty more pages, con- 
cluding with the following paragraph : 

"Here is the end of the book for the present. When it is 
in the hands of the Congressional Committee, to whom was 
referred the petition, should my life be spared, and should I 

25 Settlement of Oregon, i6. 

26 P. iv. 

27 Pp. 76-7- 


remain qualified for the task of further dictation, I shall pro- 
ceed to prepare the appendix, which, I think, is calculated to 
be as instructive and interesting- to readers as the other por- 
tions of the book. "2^ 

The appendix was never printed. It does not matter, 
particularly, for Kelley had already written himself out. The 
foregoing quotations show how difficult a task it was for 
him to prepare his manuscript, and how confused was his 
mind. Further evidence on this point appears in the Narrative 
Of Events And Difficulties. This pamphlet bears the date 
1852 on the title page, yet the preface was written in March. 
1854, and the memorial of 1854 appears in the appendix. 
In this appendix also appears all the matter originally ap- 
pended to the History Of The Colonization Of Oregon, with 
the original pagination, and a "supplemental index" or rather 
table of contents containing several references to materials 
which do not appear in the supplemental appendix. The sup- 
plemental appendix is concluded with an unpaged postscript, 
and pasted on the inside of the cover is a "Notice" which 
reads : 

"Intense anxieties about affairs at Washington, about claims 
on the country, and about enemies opposing these claims : and 
severe exercise with the pen for the last two or three months, 
have so amazed the brain of the author as to require im- 
mediate rest of his eyes and mind, and a suspension of the 
enlarging of the Supplemental Appendix of this book, until 
some better state of his health." 

This, he went on to explain, cut off matter on the history 
of the Sandwich Islands, remarks on the North American 
Indians, and a "dissertation on Christianity," all of which, 
perhaps, we may well spare. 

Considering the circumstances under which they were writ- 
ten, these pamphlets of Kelley's, while without semblance of 
order and of a most uneven style, are surprisingly informing 
and accurate. Typographically they are wretched. Thus 

28 P. 128. 


Slacum's name usually appears as "Slocum," and McLoughlin's 
as "McLaughlin," — this is the text of a man who resented 
reference to himself as "Kelly." Again, the date of Kelley's 
transcontinental railroad project appears "as early as 1849," 
when it is obvious that 1829 was meant. As to their au- 
thenticity, it may be said that they compare favorably with 
much that has been written of Oregon and the Northwest. 
Of one thing we may be sure, Kelley based his writings upon 
materials which he believed authentic, and when he relied upon 
his memory he said so, as he also did when his memory 
failed him. 

Everything that he wrote, however, was encumbered with 
denunciations of the Hudson's Bay company and with religious 
phraseology ad nauseam. Eliminate these, and his writings 
have real value. But to Kelley, the infamy of the company 
was as real as the basis of his religious faith, and his denuncia- 
tion of the one was as fervent as his worship of the other. 
He did not consider it necessary to apologize for either. In- 
deed, upon the latter point, he naively said : 

"Some of my skeptical friends, who never examined my 
works, nor the 'fruit of the Spirit,' say to me, — 'you talk too 
much in your book about religion. You will expose yourself 
to public ridicule.' My reply to them is, You think too little 
about religion. 'I am not ashamed to own my Lord.' 'I glory 
in this, that I know God,' and 'know Christ Jesus and him 
crucified,' and am a 'servant of Christ according to the will 
of God.' "29 

This was not the sort of statement with which to impress 
the authorities at Washington, but Kelley's religion was a 
very real thing to him, a part of his very self. His whole 
life was based on faith, — faith in God, faith in Oregon, and 
faith in his fellow men. 

29 Settlement of Oregon, 124. 


The Man Kellev and His Place in History 

"How inexpressibly comfortable to know our fellow-crea- 
ture;" wrote Carlyle, '"to see into him, understand his goings 
forth, decipher the whole heart of his mystery: nay, not only 
to see into him, but even to see out of him, to view the world 
altogether as he views it . . . !" If we cannot understand 
what manner of man Kelley was, it is through no fault of his, 
for in his voluminous writings his personality is reflected with 
all the clear outlines of reality. We see him first as a serious- 
minded boy of studious and pious habits of thought ; then as 
a school teacher while still in his 'teens. The sports of boy- 
hood were not for him ; instead, he read and studied, — even 
by moonlight ! There was so much to learn ; so much good 
to do ! To him, life was indeed earnest. We are told nothing 
of his father's influence ; his character seems to have been 
built upon his mother's teachings. Oh, Polly Kelley, why did 
you not implant in your son a sense of humor, — a sense of 
relative values? One wonders if he ever laughed, or even 
smiled. To him the world was a formal place, peopled with 
good men, with a scattering few "through whom evil must 
come." The former were either "distinguished," "enterpris- 
ing," "understanding," or "learned," while the latter were 
characterized in terms that were of another order. Rarely 
did he mention a person without employing an adjective, 
complimentary or otherwise. He was a master in the use 
of epithets. 

It is not surprising that this self-centered and serious- 
minded man was involved in personal difficulties with his im- 
mediate associates; for he was as obstinate as George III, 
as ponderous and immovable as his own New Hampshire 
hills. In his mind there was no room for doubt as to the side 
upon which the right lay, or as to his position on that side. 
But if he was elephantine in his intellectual processes, he was 


far from pachydermatous in his feehngs ; and his hurts were 
faithfully recorded, whether it was an injured little finger or 
a plan that was unjustly assailed. The only exception seems 
to be his dismissal from the Boston schools. His domestic 
relations were clearly reflected in the title chosen for his letters 
to Mrs. Kelley : "Letters From An Afflicted Husband To 
An Astranged Wife." He was the afiflicted one, he would 
have us believe ! But there are those who will have little 
difficulty in aligning themselves upon the side of that un- 
fortunate woman. Who can read of that farewell scene at 
Bradford without sympathizing with her? She "looked sober." 
it appears, "and probably felt sad," and well she might : for 
her home had been broken up because of a vision. 

Late in life Kelley undertook to analyze his character and 
his conduct, and we find in his writings many such statements 
as these : 

"I have testified against the powerful worldlings belonging 
to the British and American Fur Companies, and the East 
India Merchants doing business on the N. W. Coast: and so 
testifying, have incurred the implacable hatred of those men. 
Their policy, then, as now, was to represent me as stupid, 
ignorant and crazy. The friends of my late bosom companion, 
prior to my visit to Oregon — to turn from, and against me. 
the loved ones of my household, called me an idler and a 
spendthrift ; as one spending his time foolishly, and his money 
for that which is naught, and as having neither mind nor 
means to do anything. 

"I do not believe these evil sayings of my enemies. I am 
not, nor have I ever been, an ignorant or crazy man, an idler 
or an idle schemer. My works, and the fruit of the spirit, tes- 
tify to what I am. I do believe that I have as much as an 
ordinary understanding. I have at the present, now in old 
age, when 'waxen in decay,' as much as when fifty years ago, I 
conceived and planned the settlement of Oregon, as when, 
thirty-five or forty years ago, I planned so largely for internal 
improvements and the founding of benevolent institutions, and. 


as when the wise and prudent about me were wont to say of 
me, 'He is Hving thirty years in advance of the times' .... 

"Persecuting enemies take every advantage of my physical 
infirmities to bring me into low repute with friends and coun- 
trymen ; which circumstance renders it highly needful I should 
explain concerning them. My infirmities are what render my 
external appearance unfavorable to right perceptions of me. I 
will now proceed to explain as to the cause and nature of 
the great calamity I have so long suffered .... 

"Besides the calamity and other evils contributing to ugly 
external appearances, I am, as has been already explained, slow 
of apprehension, much slower, probably, than was Moses, who 
found a like difficulty with me, in expressing his thoughts, 
much slower than Goldsmith .... At times of high ner- 
vous irritation I lose the physical ability of expressing my 
thoughts .... As a legitimate result of this evil, I am also 
diffident. This adds very much to unfavorable outward ap- 
pearances. Sad, very sad, were these appearances between the 
years 1829 and about 1852 .... I became terribly per- 
plexed, and was driven, at times, to high mental excitement, 
doubtless to a near approximation to insanity. Was then more 
than in previous years, liable to foibles, inadvertences, and im- 
proprieties of conduct. In those years, at every attempt to 
perform before the public, to lead in devotional exercises at 
public gatherings, was a failure ; diffidence at such times was 
more humbling and mortifying than ever. Often was I put 
to shame. After the last mentioned year, the outward appear- 
ances began to wear a more favorable aspect. I recovered 
from perplexity .... I think my head and heart are full 
of thoughts, original, great and good .... 

"A word further as to the condition and evils to which I 
am now reduced. Having nearly lost my eyesight, I am unable 
at the present time to distinguish by the features one person 
from another at six feet distant from me ; and am unable to 
read manuscript or even print, unless it be in large type, and 
not that without distress in the optic nerves, and a degree of 


pain in the head. In every instance, if the reading is ever so 
short, even a dozen pages, the eyes tire, and the head becomes 
confused, and I am slower of speech and tongue, and utterance 
is more stammering."^ 

"The ways of a righteous Providence are inscrutable to 
mortals. In all my past career they have seemed particularly 
and wonderfully merciful, yet mysterious. I talk of great 
achievements, yet am I one of the least of the instrumentalities 
employed in the spreading of knowledge, and the advancing of 
the work of the Redeemer's kingdom. When feeling the 
strongest, I am made sensible of zveakncss; when proud, am 
made humble. Once, I increased in riches, 'grew fat and kicked 
against the Lord,' and my adversaries came, and took away 
my possessions. Confident in my abilities to declaim and, other- 
wise, to hold forth before the public on the side of philan- 
thropy ; and, great diffidence came upon me. After some mor- 
tifying failures, I learned to be silent, was more wise, cared 
less to make an outside show, and more to make faith and 
works my ivorth. I began to boast of what my communica- 
tions with intelligent and public-spirited men, and my books 
and tracts, spread about the land, were effecting in the field of 
benevolent enterprise, withholding from the mighty and 
Beneficent God too much of the praise due him ; and I was 
smitten by the hand of the Lord; and came, comparatively, 
dumb before the people . . . ."^ 

"I live on, like some aged oak, lonely, on some bleak summit, 
withstanding storms and tempests, and smitten by thunder- 
bolts, a branchless trunk. By the help of God I live ; suffering 
poverty, the loss of health, and the bereavement of companion 
and children, and a persecution, terrible, and, in respect to dura- 
tion and the number of powerful and cruel perpetrators, doubt- 
less unparalleled in this age and country. "•'' 

Enough, perhaps more than enough, has been presented to 
show Kelley's attitude toward himself, with all its variations. 

1 Kelley, Hist, of the Settlement of Oregon. 4, 13, 15-6. 

2 Kelley, Narrative of Events and Difficulties, postscript. 

3 Ibid., 86. 


What of the attitude of historians? Naturally the estimates 
differ widely. The least sympathetic is that of Bancroft : 

"The Boston school-master is a character the historian is not 
particularly proud of. He is neither a great hero nor a great 
rascal. He is great at nothing, and is remarkable rather for 
his lack of strength, and in staggering for fifty years under 
an idea too big for his brain. He was a bom enthusiast and 
partisan, one of a class of projectors more capable of forming 
grand schemes than of carrying them to a successful issue. . . 

"Had the school-master possessed an evenly balanced, prac- 
tical mind, or had his early training been more of the counting- 
room, and less of the school-room, he might have made his 
mark, high and ineffaceable. To one who had the means, and 
knew how to employ them, it was then no difficult task to 
colonize Oregon, lay the foundations of a prosperous com- 
monwealth, amass wealth, and convert the savages swiftly to 
heaven all at once. But there must be means and skill to handle 

Despite their objectionable tone these statements are worthy 
of attention, though one may well question whether the coloni- 
zation of Oregon could have been accomplished so easily. The 
words of Clarke, Lyman, and Temple, as quoted below, give a 
much truer picture of the man : 

"Let us concede in advance that the man had radical faults 
of character, that he was conceited as to the value of his labors 
and to some extent unreasonable in his pretentions, but, when 
this is all said, he must have been a man of force and definite 
purpose to expend twenty years of the prime of life in the 
attempt to preserve the American title to the territory of Ore- 
gon at that early day, and to entertain schemes for the settle- 
ment and development of that vast region .... He was 
both an enthusiast and a zealot, and — to his misfortune — was 
not a clear-sighted business man."^ 

"Kelley was undoubtedly one of those minds ideal rather 
than practical, who give suggestions which more executive per- 

4 Bancroft, Hist, of the Northwest Coast, II, S44-S. SS8n. 

5 Clarke, Pioneer Days of Oregon History, I, 268-9. 


sons readily pick up and carry out without even thanks to 
the giver .... All these [educational and benevolent] 
efforts, requiring the confidence of the public, and of educated 
persons, show a mind of fine order, highly progressive and 
probably erratic ; but still neither unsound nor impractical. 
That he gradually withdrew his efforts from these valuable 
and congenial labors to take up the study of Oregon, and pro- 
mulgate what proved to be the only practical way to maintain 
the interests of .Americans here, is a work for which Oregon 
at this late day, and all the Union, should feel grateful, 
although in his actual movements he shows the more or less 
hesitating grasp of a man born a thinker rather than an actor."** 

"Of the character of Mr. Kelley it is not easy to form a 
satisfactory estimate. He was a many-sided man. In certain 
directions, he was a learned, but in whole, was not an edu- 
cated man. His mind was active, but appears not to have 
been well balanced. His sympathies were large, but liable to 
be misdirected for want of cool judgment. He saw things in 
their individuality, not in their relations. What appeared to 
him to be desirable and philanthropic he pursued with en- 
thusiasm, and without counting the cost. The goodness of his 
motives were never called in question, but his zeal was often 
'without knowledge.' In a word, he was the creature, not the 
creator of circumstances .... The incidents narrated, 
show a natural tendency to depend on dreams and impulses, 
rather than on sober judgment, and calm forethought. Perhaps 
his main defects were lack of knowledge of men, and lack of 
financial ability, which two lacks account for his ill-success in 

These appraisals of the man agree with his own statement 
that his head and heart were full of thoughts, great and good ; 
but they say nothing as to his originality. From the record of 
his whole life, it is difficult to single out an instance in which 
he exhibited originality. As a^school teacher he developed not 

6 H. S. Lyman, Hist, of Oregon III, 72-3- 

7 Temple, Hist, of the To-um of Palmer. 2689. 


his own system but Lancaster's ; in proposing- the settlement of 
Oregon, he acknowledged his indebtedness to Jefferson ; in the 
movement for industrial education, he was an advocate, not 
an originator ; his plan for the form of government of Oregon 
was based not on any ideas of his own, but on the laws estab- 
lishing the territory of Michigan; as a scientist he dabbled in 
many fields and made shrewd and more or less accurate ob- 
servations, but he originated nothing. His attempt to devise 
an improved system of land surveying was never carried far 
enough to entitled him to credit as an originator. 

All agree that Kelley was a man with a distorted perspective, 
who was singularly out of touch with his fellows. To such 
men as Foster and Lovett, he was an easy victim ; and to the 
sailors on the Dryade as well as the boys in Three Rivers he 
must have appeared as one who invited annoying attacks. Suf- 
fering arrest, entangled in frequent law suits, and losing prop- 
erty at every turn, he blundered his lonely way through life. 
He came into contact with many men of prominence, — Bul- 
finch, Everett, Webster, Linn, Gushing, Lancaster, to mention 
only a few ; yet he seems to have had no real friends. Every- 
where he seems to have been regarded as a bore, even by those 
who sympathized with him. Wyeth's letters show that he lost 
respect for Kelley upon close contact, and his attitude at Fort 
Vancouver can be explained only by the fact that he was en- 
tirely out of patience with the man. Indeed, it is difficult to 
read Kelley's narrative of his long journey to Oregon without 
impatience. Why did he encumber himself with so much bag- 
gage, — tracts, scarlet velvet sashes, combs, etc. ? Why did he 
allow himself to be left alone in the wilds of Mexico on account 
of a lame mule and a load of worthless trinkets? His route 
from New Orleans to San Diego was marked wltn his be- 
longings, lost, abandoned, stolen, or given away ; and yet he 
arrived on the Columbia with enough baggage to worry about. 
Whenever he lost anything, whether it was the hind wheels of 
a wagon or a cane, the fact was duly set down and often with 
a statement of the amount in terms of money. These items he 


finally consolidated in a statement of his account against the 
public under the head "Expenditures and Losses in Time and 
Property — The Public To Enterprise, Dr.", the total being 

If we attempt to state Kelley's account in terms of public 
service we must enter some items at merely nominal values 
for lack of information; but with all necessary qualifications, 
there would seem to be a considerable balance on the side of 
Kelley, whose claim to distinction may be set forth as follows : 

The American Claim to Oregon. — From a wide range of 
sources Kelley collected materials on the question of title to 
the lands on the Northwest Coast and presented the facts in 
pamphlets, in newspaper articles, in memorials to congress, in 
public lectures, and in private conferences. Many of his state- 
ments of fact have been properly challenged, and his emphasis 
upon the matter of the Kendrick land purchase may have 
weakened his argument; yet his constant agitation served to 
keep the issue alive until the national government found it 
expedient to take final action. Whether Kelley's efforts di- 
rectly influenced congress in any way is doubtful. 

The Occupation of Oregon Proposed. — For many years 
Kelley claimed that he had been the first to propose the occu- 
pation of the Oregon territory by American citizens, and this 
claim has been generally accepted by historians, with the 
exception of Bourne, who said : 

"Mr. Kelley's claims for himself seem greatly exaggerated, 

8 Eleven years, up to 1836, at $2,000 per year $22,000 

Fifteen years, up to 1852, at $1,500 per year 22,500 

Publishing books and tracts soo 

Travelling for the purpose of lecturing 200 

Expenses at Washington 500 

Two shares of the Oregon stock, and five certificates 300 

Loss on the brig "John Q. Adams" 300 

Loss at Three Rivers 300 

Loss at New Orleans 300 

Loss at Vera Cruz i.iso 

Loss by robbers, near Salamanca 200 

Interest ... to 1852, about 84,000 

Amount, $132,250 

— Narrative of Events and Difficulties, 7. 


and the dates of his pubHshed writings on the Oregon ques- 
tion indicate, I think, that instead of influencing Floyd to 
champion Oregon he himself reflected the movement initiated 
by Floyd .... To one freshly approaching the subject the 
work of Floyd for Oregon seems immensely more important 
than Hall J. Kelley's to whom more space is usually allotted 
in Oregon histories .... It is sufficiently clear, I think, 
that a man of such antecedents and connections was not de- 
pendent upon the Massachusetts schoolmaster either for in- 
formation or stimulus."^ 

Kelley, however, did not claim that he had influenced Floyd, 
and he yielded to Benton the distinction of having been the 
first to propose the occupation of Oregon. In 1849 he said: 

"I was not aware that any person in existence entertained 
thoughts of occupyhig the banks of the Columbia with an 
American population, till 1822 [1820?], when the subject was 
discussed in Congress. Afterwards, I came to the knowledge, 
that the Hon. T. H. Benton had previously, perhaps earlier 
than myself, conceived plans for that purpose ; that he had 
written upon the subject, and conversed much upon it, and 
moved Governor Floyd to bring it into the National Legisla- 

The Occupation of Oregon Accomplished. — "The Oregon 
enterprise was one of my own getting up and carrying through. 
The wise confessed it to be magnificent and benevolent. The 
best part of my life was exclusively devoted to it ; and the 
whole of my substance and earthly comforts were sacrificed 
to consummate its accomplishment ; and, it resulted as at its con- 
ception I supposed it would, in making Oregon and California 
the abode of Civilization ; and both integral parts of the United 
States' domain; and in extending more widely the blessings 
of Christianity."" This was Kelley's claim. 

The reference to California was probably based upon the 

9 Bourne, Aspects of Oregon history before 1840, Oregon Historical Society, 
Quarterly, VI, 260-3. 

10 Kelley, Hist, of the Colonization of Oregon, 5. See also Thornton, Ore- 
ton and CaUfornia, II, m-S"- , „.,. , . 

1 1 Narrative of Events and Dtrftcumes, 68-9. 


shadowy claim to having indirectly influenced Sutter to locate 
at Sacramento. As to Oregon, however, the claim is better 
grounded. That Wyeth went to Oregon because of Kelley's 
efforts is an established fact ; that the Lees went as a result of 
his agitation is almost certain; and Kelley himself induced 
Ewing Young to accompany him to Oregon, where he re- 
mained as a settler. Calvin Tibbetts was the only man whose 
enrollment on the books of the American Society was fol- 
lowed by emigration and settlement ; but some of the men who 
went out with Wyeth on his second expedition became settlers, 
as did those who were members of Young's party. It was 
Young's death in 1841 that led to the first movement for an 
organized government among the American settlers. The 
name of Webley Hauxhurst, one of Young's party, with that 
of Calvin Tibbetts appears on the list of those who voted in 
favor of organizing a provisional government in 1843 ; and 
Joseph Gale, also of Young's party, served on the first execu- 
tive committee, 1843-4, which was elected to enforce the laws 
before the organization of the provisional government.^^ 

The settlement of Oregon was not accomplished by New 
Englanders,^^ as Kelley had planned, but it was accomplished 
as the result of the movement which he started. 

The Origin Of The Word Oregon And Its Application To 
The Pacific Northwest. — "Who first accounted for the Indian 
name of the 'Great River of the West,' (Oregon) and applied 
the same to the country watered by that river? Who ac- 
counted for the name both of the Indian tribe and the river 
called Kihnookf Who accounted for the name of Mexico? 
Humboldt did not. Who accounted for the name of many of 

12 Himes, Organization of Oregon provisional government, Oregon Blue Book, 
191S-6: 14-6. 

13 "Mr. Himes finds that of Oregon's pioneer population, 6 per cent, came 
from New Eiigland, go per cent, from the Middle West, .^3 per cent, from South 
of Mason's and Dixon's line and 11 per cent, from 22 foreign countries, the 
great majority of the latter from the British Isles, Canada and Germnny."— 
Woodward, The rise and history of politcal parties in Oregon, Oregon Historical 
Society, Quarterly, XI, 328n. "Wyeth as a New Englander is hardly to be 
blamed for not having foreseen the impending pioneer movcTnent. It came from 
the western frontier. — Young, Correspondence and Journals of Nathaniel J. 
Wyeth, xviii. 


the places, tribes, of rivers, and animals, on the western side 
of North America? ... I claim to have been him who 
has accounted for them. I have alone done them."^* 

We need not concern ourselves with the whole of this claim. 
Our interest is in the word Oregon, "whose origin has baffled 
modern investigation,"^^ and upon this point neither of Kel- 
ley's statements are convincing. 

In the matter of the application of the name of the river to 
the territory, Kelley's claim rests upon somewhat better 
grounds. "The country, in those days [before 1830], was 
known as the 'North-West Territory,' 'Columbia River,' and 
as the 'River Oregon.' His first step was, therefore, to en- 
lighten the public concerning a country marked on all maps as 
'unknown,' without a distinctive appellation, till the one it now 
wears was made familiar to the public mind by his writings 
and correspondence."^^ Upon this point there is sufficient 
evidence upon which to deny Kelley's claim to priority, and 
also to determine beyond question the person to whom the 
honor belongs. Upon the evidence of Floyd's second Oregon 
bill, which was introduced on January 18, 1822, we must give 
to Floyd the distinction of having first proposed that "all that 
portion of the territory of the United States north of the 
forty-second degree of latitude, and west of the Rocky Moun- 

14 Settlement of Oregon. 12. "Oregon, the Indian name of this river, was 
traced by me to a large river called Orjon in Chinese Tartary, whose latitude 
corresponds with that of Oregon, in America. The word Killamucks, the name 
of a tribe a little south of the mouth of the Oregon, was, also, traced to a 
people called Killmuchs, who anciently lived near the mouth of the Orjon in 
Asia. It is evident that the Oregon Killmucks were among the early settlers 
of North America, and brought with them many of the proper names used by 
our Indians. The word Mexico (Mecaco) is identified with the name of the 
ancient capital of Japan. Identifications of both proper and common names are 
numerous." — Ibid., 88n. Another guess was: "The name of Oregon is derived 
from or-gano the Spanish word tor wild marjoram, the oreganum vulgare of 
Linnaeus, which grows abundantly in the western part of the disputed territory." — 
Kelley, Oregon. Palmer Sentinel, April 23, 1846. This subject, which lies within 
the neld of geography rather than history, is discussed in detail in Bancroft, 
Hist, of Oregon, I, 17-25- 

15 Bourne, The travels of Jonathan Carver, American Historical Review. 
XI. 288. 

16 Kelley, Petition, 1866; a. 

17 17 cong. 1 sess, H. bill 47. »ec. 4. 

tains, shall constitute a territory of Oregon."" This was first 
emphasized by Bourne.^^ 

But if Kelley was not the first to apply the name, he was 
the most active in making it known to the people, which in 
itself was a real public service, although not of major im- 

The Presidents' Range. — In his Memoir of 1839 Kelley said 
"The eastern portion of the district referred to [southwestern 
Oregon] is bordered by a mountain range [the Cascades], 
running nearly parallel to the spine of the Rocky mountains 
and to the coast, and which, from the number of its elevated 
peaks, I am inclined to call the Presidents' range. These iso- 
lated and remarkable cones, which are now called among the 
hunters of the Hudson's Bay Company by other names, I have 
christened after our ex-Presidents, viz.: 1. Washington [St. 
Helens], latitude 46 deg. 15 min. ; 2. Adams [Hood], latitude 
45 deg. 10 min. ; 3. Jefferson, latitude 44 deg. 30 min. ; 4. 
Madison [Three Sisters], latitude 43 deg. 50 min.; 5. Monroe 
[Diamond or Thielsen] , latitude 43 deg. 20 min. ; 6. J. Q. Adams 
[Pitt or McLoughlin], latitude 42 deg. 10 min.: and 7. Jack- 
son [Shasta], latitude 41 deg. 40 min.^^ 

Some contemporary writers, notably Farnham and Green- 
how, were inclined to favor this suggestion ; but Mount Jef- 
ferson alone has retained its name, and Mount Jefferson was 
originally named not by Kelley but by Captain William Clark. 
Thus it is possible to determine the source of Kelley's idea of 
a Presidents' range.^^ There is a Mount Adams in southern 
Washington, and its name may be the indirect result of Kel- 

i8 Bourne, The travels of Jonathan Carver, ul supra, ;^88n ; Aspects of 
Oregon history before 1840, ut supra, 265-6. On January 13. .1823, Mallary of 
Vermont proposed an amendment to the Floyd bill which provided ainonK other 
things that tlie "tracts of country, in the section described is hereby declared 
to be the Territory of Oregon," and on January 24 when W^alker of North 
Carolina moved to amend Mallary's amendment by substitutine Columbia for 
Oregon, FJoyd objected and the motion was lost. Floyd then proposed and 
Mallary accepted a substitute which differs only in a few unimportant particulars 
from the original wording. — 17 cong. 2 sess. Annals of Congress. XL, 601, 678-1). 
In the course of the debates on his bill Floyd used the t-ernis "the Oregon" 
and "Oregon" interchangeably to describe the territory. See Ibid., 408-0. 

19 Pp. 53-4- 

20 There is a "President's range'' in Kelley's native state, New Hampshire. 


ley's suggestion, but Kelley's Mount Adams was south of the 

Internal Improvements Proposed. — That Kelley had little 
if any influence in the movement for a transcontinental rail- 
road, is the conclusion to which one is forced after an exami- 
nation of all available materials. When we consider the diffi- 
culties that attended the accomplishment of that great work, the 
words of Kelley, as quoted below, are interesting only as they 
tend to show how little he appreciated the magnitude of the 
task and the sort of men needed to engage in it : 

"Had enemies let me alone, the road would have been graded 
from one end to the other before this [1854] ; and Oregon be- 
fore the year 1840, would have teemed with a population from 
our own blest country ; and Alta California would have become 
the possession of the United States earlier than it did ; and have 
cost less money and no blood ; and that whole country, dark as 
it was, ere this day, would have been changed to shining fields 
and flowery gardens ; and society there, would have been 
dressed in lovely attire, and robed in charms of moral beauty. . . 

"My thoughts are still on the execution of these desirable 
and heaven-suggested improvements, and on the resources 
which the road would open to the people of this country for 
wealth and knowledge and national superiority. Should health 
and strength ever again be equal to so great a labor, and my 
enemies lessen the cords that bind me hand and foot, the two 
projects, Indian and railroad, remaining unaccomplished, I 
shall engage in them with what science and skill I possess, and 
with my accustomed zeal and perseveran "e, hoping to add 
them to the list of my achievements."^^ 

This is Kelley at his worst. Nor was his claim on this ac- 
count limited to railroads. "I planned for Internal Improve- 
ments — a canal from Charles River (Boston), to the Connecti- 
cut River, as surveyed by L. Baldwin, and a ship-canal from 
Barnstable to Buzzard's Bay."^- The Massachusetts canal was 

21 Narrative of Events and DifFiculties, 70-72. 

22 Settlement of Oregon, 7. As to the former Kelley said that he "Made a 
cursory survey of eight or ten miles of the route, this ... at my own ex- 
pense," and that he presented a petition to the legislature. As to the latter he 
declared that "about the year 1825" he made a cursory survy of the route for the 
ship canal, also at his own expense. — Kelley, "Beloved Brethren," Nov. 14, i86g. 


projected in 1791 by General Henry Knox, who obtained a 
charter in 1792. The project was revived by Governor Eustis 
in 1825, and a special commission was appointed to make an 
examination of the practicable routes through to the Hudson 
river at the terminus of the Erie canal. The Cape Cod canal was 
first proposed in colonial times, and it was everybody's project. 
It would seem that Kelley's contribution, such as it was, was 

It remains to consider the various estimates which have 
been placed upon Kelley's public services by the writers of 
history. The laudatory accounts which appeared in the news- 
papers of Boston from time to time after 1839, like the testi- 
monials which were appended to Kelley's memorials and pe- 
titions, may be safely ignored, for most of them were probably 
written at his solicitation. It must be borne in mind in con- 
nection with the excerpts which follow that many of them were 
written in the belief that to Kelley belonged the distinction of 
having been first in the field to suggest the settlement of Ore- 
gon — an honor which he specifically disclaimed. 

"Though Mr. Kelley did not succeed in his object of the 
direct establishment of a colony on the Columbia, either for 
want of adequate personal influence and resources, or because 
his project was in advance of the time, or in consequence of 
the obstacles thrown in his way by interested individuals, still 
he is entitled to honorable mention for the exertions he made 
and long persisted in; and perhaps the American settlement, 
actually effected on the Wallamet, by Mr. Lee ... may 
owe its conception to the publications and suggestions of Mr. 
Kelley .... These and other advantages of the settlement 
of Oregon were as clearly seen by Mr. Kelley then [1830], as 
they are now by the country at large. But he suffered the too 
common fate of those who conceive a great idea, and dedicate 
themselves to a great object, in anticipation of the progress of 
knowledge and opinion around them. Their discoveries or 
plans conflict with existing interests; their just views are met 
with misconstruction, and often with ridicule ; their zeal is 


wrecked on petty obstacles, thrown up by the ignorance or 
injustice of their misjudging contemporaries; and it is not un- 
til later times, or it may be another generation, that full justice 
can be done to the enthusiasm, and due allowance made for the 
exaggerated feeling, which the contemplation of an elevated 
purpose kindles in their breasts."^^ 

"And yet the occupation of Oregon was not without its 
knights of La Mancha, whose brains became somewhat turned, 
and that by difficulties more imaginary than real .... A 
fanatic in religion, he became fanatic in his scheme of settle- 
ment. All the powers of piety and avarice were employed by 
him in the attempted execution of plans which grew more 
wildly dear to him as the years went by and failure became 
more apparent .... 

"If we measure his merits by his claims we must make him 
at once owner and king of Oregon. Nevertheless his writings 
did exercise influence, not as great as if they had been moder- 
ate, yet exceedingly weighty in those momentous questions so 
shortly to arise .... 

"With regard to the services which Kelley rendered the 
United States, or Oregon, it would be difficult to estimate the 
value. That his published articles and public lectures were 
the first to call attention to the feasibility of settling the Pa- 
cific coast by an overland emigration there can be no dis- 
pute .... 

"There are more than one in California like Vallejo and AI- 
varado, prominent in the affairs of the nation, who have seen 
cities rise from under the chaparal of sand-hills, and palpitat- 
ing civilization fill the valleys where once they lassoed grizzly 
bears and chased wild men and women into the mission con- 
version pens ; there are among the fur-traders those who have 
seen the rise of settlement and the wonders of progress in the 
Northwest ; but there has been none like poor Kelley who laid 
upon the altar of his enthusiasm more than half a century of 

23 Gushing, Discovery beyond the Rocky mountains, North American Rt- 
view,U t22-,i| (i840)- 


life, who among the first to start the cry, never ceased halloo- 
ing until his wilderness was a state .... 

"All his influence to a very fair extent I am disposed to ac- 
cord him. Had I been congress I would have given the old 
schoolmaster something to, sweeten his second childhood's cup 
withal, and I would have praised and petted him somewhat in 
an official way, for he did more than many a well paid officer 
of the government. But when a human being breaks forth in 
insensate twaddle like this, 'Let me then be known by the work 
divinely appointed unto me to do, by the manner of life which 
the Lord Jesus revealed unto me in visions in my youth, by 
the eventful, extraordinary, and useful life, which God, ac- 
cording to his foreknowledge, did predestinate,' I do not much 
blame the republic for giving the poor fellow the cold shoul- 

"The history of human progress shows that great move- 
ments frequently receive their initial impulse from the most 
visionary and impractical of men. Perhaps the very quality 
of being visionary — prone to see visions — makes possible a 
forecast of results which lack of practical ability in the indi- 
vidual could never accomplish. John Brown did as much as 
any man to give direction to public thought in favor of the 
emancipation movement of the United States ; but a man less 
qualified than he to bring that movement to a successful issue 
could scarcely have been found. So with the vital question 
of the Northwest — the long-disputed Oregon question — it was 
preached, published, and kept before the pubhc for many years 
by a man who proved himself wholly unfit to carry out his own 
schemes. This was a Boston schoolmaster, Hall J. Kelley . . . 

"His crusade was a successful one in helping to turn men's 
minds to a subject of far-reaching importance, and in this 
respect the American people owe to his memory a debt of grati- 
tude. Although he never achieved the distinction of martyr- 
dom in the cause which he so boldly and persistently cham- 
pioned, he will stand in history as the John Brown of the 

24 Bancroft, Northtcest Coast. II, 543, 554-.'i. S59n. 


movement which saved to the United States a part of its right- 
ful domain upon the Pacific.""'' 

"Hall J. Kelley may properly be called the father of the 
Oregon emigration movement. "^^ 

"Sharing the fate of all idealists, he was a generation in 
advance of his day. All that he hoped for Oregon was des- 
tined to come to pass, and largely through his mad propa- 
ganda. His pamphlets and his newspaper [articles] generated 
a romantic enthusiasm for the vast realm beyond the Rockies 
so rapidly slipping from American control. His suggestion 
that every colonist should receive a grant of two hundred 
acres of arable land appealed with irresistible force to the 
homeless and unemployed of the eastern cities, and furnished 
the foundation for the Donation Act."[?]^^ 

"It is impossible to show any other American at so early a 
period not only devoting himself to the intellectual labor of 
discussing the Oregon question, and to promoting colonization 
societies, but who undertook and overcame without support, 
the cost and perils of immigration with the sole object of 
verifying his teachings to the country . . . . It is only jus- 
tice to agree with him that he set on foot by his writings the 
immigration movement to the shores of the Pacific in all its 
forms, whether missionary, commercial, or colonizing .... 

"If we compare the unprotected services of a Kelley with 
the paid and protected services of Lewis and Clark, we have 
to acknowledge that a debt of appreciation and public recog- 
nition, at least, is due to the Yankee schoolmaster who spent 
the best years of his life in teaching the United States govern- 
ment and people the value of the Oregon territory."^* 

"I consider that the real contest for Oregon was between the ' 

25 Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West, I. 434-5. 

26 Thwaites, Early Western Travels, XXI, 24n. 

27 Coman, Economic Beginnings of the Far West, II, I32-3- 

38 Victor, Hall J. Kelley, one of the fathers of Oregon, Oregon Historical 
Society, Quarterly, II, 39. 


date of arrival of Hall J. Kelley, Ewing Young, and the free- 
men who came with them, or near their date and 1846."^^ 

"Hall Jackson Kelley, a school teacher of Boston, began a 
work in behalf of Oregon that Oregon has never yet acknowl- 
edged or recognized. Kelley was an eccentric man, an en- 
thusiast, one of those who seize a single idea and devote their 
lives to it ... . He it was, beyond all question, who first 
urged the settlement of Oregon, insisted upon its practicability 
and set forth the importance and value of the Oregon country 
to the United States. Many with whom he came in contact re- 
garded him merely as a bore or troublesome fellow, and this 
impression was deepened by a tone in his speech and writings 
which was regarded as a religious cant .... 

"This strange eccentric man can almost be called the prophet 
of Oregon, the father of migration to Oregon, the man who 
hastened the fulfillment of Oregon's destiny."^^ 

"The largest results of Wyeth's enterprise are rather to be 
looked for in the contribution he made in various ways to 
the furtherance of other enterprises than his own. 

"Substantially the same may be said of the enterprise of 
Hall J. Kelley, the leading promoter of one or more of the 
emigration societies already mentioned. He contributed ma- 
terially to the ultimate settlement of the territory by his per- 
sistent and widespread agitation in the East, and later in some 
measure by bringing into the Willamette Valley a small band 
of men, some of whose number became permanent settlers. "^^ 

"We envy none who can look on the story of Hall J. Kelley 
with contempt. . . . Continually, as I study the features 
of that early time, I trace the primal influences to Hall J. 
Kelley as having given them birth. Oregon can afford to 
kindly remember him for the good he tried to do — and really 

29 Minto, The young homeseeker, Oregon Historical Society, Proceedings, 
1900: 120-1. 

30 Scott, Annual address, Oregon Pioneer Association, Transactions, 1890; 
33, 35. 

31 Wilson, The Oregon question, Oregon Historical Society, Quarterly, I, 


accGmplished as results have shown. He alone was stirring the 
cauldron of Fate, and did and said what had momentous re- 
sults. It is more kindly to place a stone upon his cairn than 
to throw any slur on one who suffered and lost so much. 

"Hall J. Kelley had wonderful prescience and judgment in 
discerning facts and drawing conclusions .... This vis- 
ionary, whose life was a disappointment, because he attempted 
too much, laid the foundation for all that as finally accom- 
plished. It was surprising that he accomplished so much and 
was so reliable. 

"Kelley's work was far reaching. His life work was as the 
finger of fate pointing the way, and his labors reached fruition 
while he was neglected and his services forgotten .... 

"I have been struck with the fact that Kelley was the special 
providence inspired at the earliest time to appreciate the value 
of this region, when Congress ignored it and the nation was 
ignorant of its value. Eliminate from that period this single 
feature and it is doubtful when American occupancy could 
have been effective. The very man who discovered gold in 
California was one who came from Oregon, drawn there by 
the facts stated. Before the century shall have passed, through 
which he so ardently labored and so bitterly suffered, it will 
not be too late to accord to him the merit he deserved and 
plant this modest laurel on his forgotten grave."^^ 

"To him, more than any other one person, in my judgment, 
may be justly attributed the subsequent occupation of the 
country by emigrants from the United States — and Oregon 
should in some way worthy of the subject and herself yet 
acknowledge and commemorate that fact."^ 

"To him, without doubt, is to be attributed much of the 
subsequent wave of interest which swept on toward American 
immigration. At first, a New England college man, educator, 
and social theorizer, and then a leader of the pioneer movement 

32 Clarke, I, 274-6. 

33 Deady, Annual address, Oregon Pioneer Association, Transactions, 1875:24. 


to Oregon, Hall J. Kelley is worthy of permanent remem- 

"Some of the Oregon historians have been disposed to be- 
little Kelley's work for Oregon ; but they only expose their own 
want of knowledge of the subject .... There is not a 
church history or a church document that has ever been printed 
that had the justice to give Kelley what was due to him .... 
Unappreciated and misunderstood, by some called a fanatic, by 
others a crank, and by the Hudson's Bay Company treated as 
a horse-thief, the ghost of Hall J. Kelley appears and disap- 
pears through the shifting scenery of Oregon's strenuous his- 
tory with such kaleidoscopic presentment as almost baffles de- 
scription .... Hall J. Kelley is justly entitled to have his 
name enrolled among those who saved Oregon to the people 
of the United States."^^ 

"He gained a place in history and his name is gratefully 
mentioned as the earliest and one of the truest friends of the 
'Americanization of Oregon.' No history of Oregon can be 
written that does not thus record the name of Hall J. Kelley."^^ 

Kelley complained that his name had been suppressed in the 
books and reports on Oregon written by Lee and Frost, Green- 
how, Slacum, Howison, and others. Had he lived to read the 
estimates here reproduced, he might have been satisfied ; for 
it is now acknowledged that his figure bulks large among those 
who have lived and labored for Oregon. A number of sugges- 
tions have been made as to a proper memorial to his name. So 
far as is known Kelley street in Three Rivers is his sole memo- 
rial, and this is no small distinction in a village which has given 
to its streets such singularly unimaginative appellations as 
Main, Front, and High. The map of the Northwest Coast is 
sprinkled with the names of Lewis, Clark, Jefferson, Astor, 
Benton, Linn, Polk, Whitman, McLoughlin, and others vi^ho 
figured in the early history of the Oregon country. Oregon 

34 W. D. Lvman, The Cohimbia River, i6i. 

35 Gaston, Hist, of Oregon I, 1 15-6, 268, 272. 

36 H. K. Hines, Hist, of Washington, 105. 

has recently dedicated the McLoughlin Home at Oregon City 
and reinterred the body of Jason Lee at Salem. The body of 
Kelley lies in his boyhood home in Gilmanton, and there it 
should remain. Above it might well be placed these words of 
Stevenson, which read as if they were written with Kelley in 

"Here lies one who meant well, tried a little, failed much : — 
surely that may be his epitaph, of which he need not be 
ashamed. Nor will he complain at the summons which calls 
a defeated soldier from the field ; defeated, ay, if he were Paul 
or Marcus Aurelius : — but if there is still one inch of fight in 
his old spirit, undishonoured. The faith which sustained him 
in his life-long blindness and life-long disappointment will 
scarce even be required in this last formality of laying down 
his arms. Give him a march with his old bones ; there, out of 
the glorious sun-colored earth, out of the day and the dust and 
the ecstasy — there goes another Faithful Failure !" 


Mr. Kelley's Memoir ^ 

Boston, January 31. 1839. 

Sir : In compliance with your request, I shall willingly 
communicate to you a brief account of my connexion with the 
Oregon country-, and of such facts in regard to that valuable 
portion of our national domain, and of adjoining regions, as 
have come within my observation and are of public interest. 

The perusal of Lewis and Clark's journal, personal confer- 
ence with intelligent navigators and hunters who had visited 
and explored the territory beyond the Rocky mountains, and 
facts derived from other sources entitled to credit, many years 
ago, satisfied me that this region must, at no remote period, 
become of vast importance to our Government, and of deep 
and general interest. Possessing, so far as I could learn, a 
salubrious climate, a productive soil, and all the other natural 
elements of wealth, and by its position in reference to divers 
most important channels of traffic, as well as its configura- 
tion of coast, and variety of native productions, being admir- 
ably adapted to become a great commercial country, I foresaw 
that Oregon must, eventually, become a favorite field of mod- 
ern enterprise, and the abode of civilization. 

With these views constantly and vividly before me. I could 
but desire most earnestly to communicate them to the public, 
and impress them upon the Government. And, to accomplish 
these objects, I have done and suffered much ; having been 
particularly attentive to it for many years, and wholly devoted 
to it a large part of my time. 

One great object of my labors has been to induce Congress, 
in the exercise of a sound discretion and foresight, and in 

I Committee On Foreign Affairs, Supplemental report, Territory of Oregon, 
Appendix O; 47-61. 25 cong. 3 sess. H. rep. 101. 


conformity with good faith towards Great Britain, to extend 
the active jurisdiction and guardianship of the General Gov- 
ernment over this territory, so that it might be brought under 
the restraints and protection of poHtical organization and of 
law, by the country to which it justly belongs. 

Another of my objects has been to give my fellow-citizens 
correct information, and thus induce a full and free emigration 
to this territory, of temperate, orderly, and industrious men ; 
such men as might most certainly carry thither all the ad- 
vantages of civilization, and lay the foundations of a virtuous 
community; and thus to convert the wilderness into a [47] 
garden, the wild retreats of Indians and roving hunters into 
the smiling abodes of knowledge and Christianity. 

/ longed and labored, also, for the highest interests of the 
native owners of the great West ; for their social, intellectual, 
and moral culture; and my objects were not less benevolent 
than commercial, and looked as much to the elevation and 
melioration of the red race as to the benefit of the white. 

And, finally, I desired most earnestly that the United States 
should secure to their western frontier the ocean as its de- 
fense, and thus remove from one of our borders, at least, 
the dangers arising from the vicinity of foreign states — an 
object which I deemed of vast importance, and upon which 
I need not enlarge. 

These were the objects to whose accomplishment I looked 
forward, and from which I confidently anticipated many bene- 
fits: such as a more friendly and profitable intercourse be- 
tween our people and the various Indian tribes ; the immediate 
occupation of the harbors and havens of the Oregon, and the 
use of its abundant ship timber ; great profit from the whale 
and salmon fisheries of the northwest coast ; a free and grow- 
ing commerce with the islands and coasts of the Pacific, with 
worlds should be united, and their wealth interchanged and 
speedy line of communication over land from the Mississippi 
to the Oregon, by means of which the Eastern and Western 
China, and India, and the Southern America ; a certain and 


increased; and many other particular benefits, which I need 
not enumerate. 

It is not necessary for me to enter, on this occasion, into 
a narrative of the obstacles which I encountered in the prosecu- 
tion of my views, and of the many sacrifices which I incurred 
in order to accomplish objects which I considered as of the 
highest public utility. Suffice it to say here, that, induced 
by the considerations I have stated, in 1833 I started from 
New Orleans for Vera Cruz and Mexico, and after remain- 
ing some time in Mexico, I proceeded through Upper Cali- 
fornia to Oregon. 

I shall confine myself, in this communication, to the results 
of my study and inspection within the Oregon territory, and 
the adjoining province of High California. 

I extend my remarks to this part of California, because it 
has been, and may agam be. made the subject of conference 
and negotiation between Mexico and the United States ; and 
because its future addition to our western possessions is, most 
unqu^itionably, a matter to be desired. 


Commencing my remarks, therefore, at Monterey, a sea- 
port town situated in latitude 36 deg. 37 min. north, where 
I spent the months of June and July, 1834, I intend to pro- 
ceed with these, in the route of my travels, northward, to 
the Columbia river. During my route, I was accompanied by 
Captain Young, a veteran hunter, who had repeatedly tra- 
versed this country, and was familiar with most of its features. 

Adopting such an arrangement of facts as will, I trust, 
prove convenient to the committee, I will now call their atten- 
tion to a brief geographical account of the northern portion 
of High California. 

This tract of country extends from the 37th to the 42nd 
parallel north latitude, and forms a portion of the Mexican 
territories, except some few patches on the coast ; it has never 


been improved by the hand of civiliza-[48]tion. A, lofty 
range, called the Snowy mountains, divides it from Oregon. 
This range extends from the Pacific ocean, eastwardly, to 
the Rocky mountains, is broken into a great number of sub- 
ordinate ranges, spurs, and detached peaks. It is bounded 
by the valley of the Colorado, and by rugged walls of rocky 
highlands on the east, and its surface is diversified by groups 
of wooded hills, extensive prairies and marshes, and a multi- 
tude of streams, some of which are rapid and others sluggish 
in their currents. The Colorado drains this district on the 
east, and empties its waters into the gulf of California. Sev- 
eral rivers on the west flow into the bay of San Francisco. 

The prairies, which form perhaps one half of the surface of 
this region, differ widely in character, extent, in formation, 
and fertility ; but in general they are covered with a deep 
and rich soil, and with an exuberant vegetation. Their uni- 
formity is broken by numerous well-wooded hills and hillocks, 
and by those belts of forest which stretch along all the water- 

The mountainous regions are, in general, heavily timbered ; 
but occasionally, instead of forests, we find tracts of utter 
barrenness, bearing the strongest marks of volcanic action, 
and destitute of all appearance of vegetable life. 

There is one continuous line of prairie extending from the 
gulf of California to the 39th parallel, sometimes a hundred 
miles wide, and seldom less than ten, opening to the ocean 
only at the bay of San Francisco, its surface so diversified 
by fringes of trees along the borders of its streams, and by 
the wooded capes and peninsulas which break the uniformity 
of its outline, as to present the appearance of a chain ul prairies 
of every conceivable size and form. Here, amidst the luxuriant 
grasses and native oats which cover its surface, immense 
herds of cattle, and wild game, and droves of horses, find 
abundant pasturage. 

Although most of these prairies are very fertile, my observa- 
tion led me to doubt whether they could all be readily and 

profitably cultivated. The soil is in many places strongly 
impregnated with the muriate of soda, and in others it abounds 
with asphaltum, by which it is rendered too compact, especially 
during the excessive heats of the dry season, for tillage. The 
experiment has been tried on these soils, with fruit trees and 
esculent roots, and has repeatedly failed. Thus the apple and 
the potato have both been introduced, and to both the prairie 
has been found uncongenial, although they both flourish in 
the hilly region, and near the seashore. My belief is that 
these prairies are the results of ancient volcanic action, in 
which respect they do not differ from all the rest of that 
territory. But while the conformation of the hilly country, has 
aided the efforts of nature, by rains, and dews, and streams 
of water, to carry off these salts and other elements which 
are unfriendly to vegetation, and hasten the return of fertility 
and productiveness, the level pranrie has advanced much more 
slowly in the same direction, retaining for ages, in defiance 
of the tardy process of leaching and infiltration, vast quantities 
of mineral substance, destructive to vegetable life. Without 
the aids of agricultural science, centuries more must elapse 
before the pure waters of the skies shall wash out from the 
soil of the prairie these poisonous relics of that awful con- 
vulsion of nature which, in ages far beyond human tradition, 
overwhelmed the western shores of our continent. Immediately 
along the banks of the rivers by which the prairie is inter- 
sected, as if to [49] demonstrate the correctness of my 
hypothesis, there is always found a strip of the choicest 

The seasons of this country are two — the wet and the dry. 
The wet or winter season extends from November to March, 
covering about five months of the year. During this period 
it rains without cessation for many days or weeks together; 
and during the rest of the year the rain seldom or never falls, 
and nothing but the heavy dews of the short summer nights 
relieves the fiery monotony of those seven long months. By 
the abundant waters of the rainy season, immense tracts of 


low prairie land are submerged, and thus for awhile con- 
verted into lakes, which gradually subside as the summer 
advances, contributing by their stagnant pools and putrid 
exhalations to render those lowlands exceedingly unhealthy. 
Some travellers, misled by these temporary floods, have spoken 
of vast lakes and ponds in the interior of California, instead 
of which their astonished successors of the following summer 
have discovered only arid plains or sedgy pools and marshes. 

I was told that about once in every ten years it happens that 
little or no rain falls during the winter season ; and that, in 
consequence of this drought, the whole country is dried up, 
vegetable life is almost annihilated, and the beasts of the field 
perish of thirst and starvation. 

Along the coast, where the seabreezes have easy and con- 
stant access, the climate throughout the year is salubrious 
and delightful, differing in temperature many degrees, during 
the dry season, from the prairie lands, which lie beyond 
the first range of hills, where the ardor of the sun is mitigated 
by no cooling wind. The range of hills shuts out the western 
breezes, and the surrounding masses of forest exclude all 
other winds, and render ventilation impossible on the prairies, 
so that, while the inhabitants of the coast are enjoying all 
the delights of a serene and benignant climate, the panting 
traveller upon these burning plains is suffering all the dis- 
comforts of the torrid zone. In crossing from the prairies 
in the latitude of v38 deg. 30 min., during the month of August. 
I found that for several successive days the mercury ranged 
at 110 deg. (Fahrenheit) in the shade; and sealing wax de- 
posited in one of my boxes was converted into an almost 
semi-fluid state. At the same time, and in the same parallel, 
on the borders of the Pacific, the thermometer seldom ex- 
hibited a greater temperature than 75 deg., and in the evening 
a fire was frequently essential to comfort. 

This difference of temperature is accompanied by a corre- 
sponding diversity of healthfulness. The coast is always 
healthy; but during the heat of summer the prairies of the 
interior are pestilential, and diseases abound. 

The principal harbors which I visited on the Pacific coast 
of this province (and I speak only of what I actually saw) 
are Santa Cruz and San Francisco. The former, about lat. 
V deg. north, is open to the sea, and exposed at times to 
a tremendous surf. On the northern side of the harbor lies 
the small town of Santa Cruz. 

San Francisco bay or harbor is very spacious, and furnishes 
several safe and convenient havens and roadsteads. It lies 
some forty miles north of Santa Cruz. Its entrance, latitude 
37 deg. 49 min., is two miles wide, and admits ships of the 
largest draught and burden. From its entrance it stretches 
twenty miles towards the north, and thirty miles [50] south- 
easterly, the southern branch of the bay being sheltered by 
a range of high hills. Throughout the bay the anchorage is 
safe, so that a more commodious harbor could not be desired. 
Excepting one in De Fuca straits, it is considered the best in 
Northwestern America. A number of important streams find 
an outlet in the harbors above named. Of these, the St. 
Joaquin may be particularized. It rises in a large lake near 
the 36th deg. north, moves with a deep, slow, and tranquil 
current through several hundred miles of prairie, receiving 
the tribute of many lesser streams from the mountains on 
the east, and at last discharges its transparent waters into the 
northerly part of the bay of San Francisco. This tranquil 
river must eventually become productive of vast benefit to 
California, not merely as a convenient and ready inlet for 
commercial purpose, but as a great outlet through which shall 
be drained those superfluous waters by which so much of the 
prairie is converted into a marsh, and rendered fruitful only 
of disease and death. It is indeed a vast canal, constructed by 
an Almighty Architect, and destined, I doubt not, in future 
ages, to transport the countless products of a mighty empire. 

Another river of note is called the Sacrament. Next to the 
Columbia it is the largest stream on the western side of the 
continent. Its head waters are in the Snowy mountains (of 
which I have already spoken), and almost mingle with those 


of three other mighty rivers — the Colorado, the Rio Del 
Norte, and the Columbia. Its tributaries flow also from the 
range of mountains which flank the valley of the Colorado. 
It empties into the bay of San Francisco, and is navigable 
for vessels of small burden to its first fork, about eighty miles 
from its mouth. The branches which unite at that point are 
both rapid mountain streams ; too rapid for easy navigation, 
but admirably adapted to float down to the waters of the 
Pacific the valuable timber which covers the mountains where 
they rise. The Sacrament, in the rainy season, rises fifteen 
or twenty feet, overflows its banks, assumes the appearance 
of a succession of lakes, and fertilizes with its alluvion im- 
mense tracts of champagne country. Of its numerous branches, 
and their countless tributary rivers and rivulets. I need not 
here make mention. 

I crossed the rapids of the Scarament at what was said to 
be its lowest ford, in latitude 39 deg. 35 min. Several of our 
horses were borne away by the torrent. The width of the 
river at that point exceeded 100 yards, and its depth varied 
from two to four feet. The streams west of this crossing 
place are said to be full of rapids. The western branch of 
the river is nearly equal in size to the eastern; but its tribu- 
taries are, however, less copious. 

It may be advisable to say something more of the aspect 
of this territory. 

The Snowy mountains (Sierras Nevadas, as Vasquez named 
them in 1540), extending from the Rocky mountains to the 
Pacific, are drained by the largest rivers of North America. 
From these mountains a spur of rugged hills extends south- 
wardly, between the principal branches of the Sacrament, to 
that fork of the river of which I have spoken. These hills 
are manifestly of volcanic origin, and they might well be named 
the "Volcanic ridge." They abound in basaltic and vitrified 
stones, scoria, and many other products of volcanic action. 
Along their base stretches [51] a beautiful chain of prairies, 
for 70 or 80 miles, watered by numerous streams and rivulets. 


North of the 39th deg. of latitude, the whole character and 
aspect of the country changes suddenly, and decidedly for 
the better. At this latitude commences the southerly slope 
of the Snowy mountains. The soil upon most of the hills 
seems admirably adapted to the growth of forest trees, and 
the prairies and pleasant valleys which there abound furnish 
the best possible land for farming purposes. Now and then, 
however, occurs a hill destitute of vegetation, scattered over 
which are to be found dark-colored iron stones, of all shapes, 
with sharp edges, resembling clinkers in the arches of a 
brick kiln ; and reddish clay and gravel, like pulverized brick. 

In this volcanic ridge I found a stratum of earth which 
the Mexicans called tepetate, and which forms a sort of cement. 
When covered by water, or buried so far below the earth as 
to retain moisture, it is so soft as to be easily penetrated by 
an iron bar, but it becomes as solid and impenetrable as a 
rock on being exposed to the sun or wind. 

The prairies in this hilly region are narrow vales, which 
stretch like beautiful ribbons along the basis of the high- 
lands and the margins of rivers. They are variegated with 
an infinite variety, and abundance of vegetable productions, gay 
with a thousand blossoms, and fragrant with countless per- 
fumes. Among the grasses which, in the month of September, 
were in full growth and vigor, I noticed the red clover, wild 
rye, wild oats, and a peculiar species of coarse grass, whose 
seed furnished the native with their most common article 
of food. 

The timber trees of this region are numerous and valuable 
and deserve some notice. 

About the highlands of the Sacrament, I discovered abun- 
dance of the ivhite pine. But this species, though of great 
size and value, does not compare with the prodigious size and 
towering height of the Lambert pine; (pinus Lambertiana) or 
pino Colorado. Cabrillo, in 1542, gave the name of "Bahia de 
los Pinos" to the harbor of Monterey, undoubtedly with ref- 
erence to this splendid species of the coniferee. The dimensions 

of the Lambert pine may be inferred from the fact that I 
found near Santa Cruz an extensive forest, the full-grown 
trees of which, at the height of twenty feet from the ground, 
in their diameter, would average from five to six feet. Their 
trunks run up like the spars of a ship, without branches, to 
a prodigious height. The wood of this pine has the color of 
red cedar, as might be inferred from the Spanish name. 
(Colorado,) and the rift and softness of white pine. I ex- 
amined one of the trees which had been felled, and by its 
concentric laminae ascertained its age to be 510 years. 

These majestic towers of evergreen continue as far north- 
ward as 40 degrees. 

There are several kinds of oak. Of these, the most common 
is in California called white oak, (encina blanca.) rising to 
the average height of forty feet, its trunk measuring from 
six to eight feet in girth, with numerous branches, which 
grow together with such compactness as to furnish an im- 
penetrable retreat to those who seek concealment therein, and 
in perfect symmetry of form, like the rounded tops of an 
apple orchard ; these oaks present a very pleasing appearance 
to the eye. 

The live oak (querau virens) is likewise found in great 
abundance. [52] It is said to grow only on the highlands; 
in this respect differing from the live oak of Florida. It has 
a diameter of three or four feet, and an altitude of sixty 
or seventy. For solidity, strength, and durability, judging 
from specimens in my possession, I deem it equal to any in 
the world. This invaluable timber extends northward beyond 
the 40th parallel. 

But the most lordly species of oak here found is the white 
oak, {q. iiavalis.) It abounds on the river banks, and covers 
the low hills on the prairies. It not infrequently gives a 
diameter of five feet, measured at a height of ten or twelve 
feet above the ground, and its branches attain to corresponding 
dimensions, and extend a prodigious distance horizontally from 
the stem. 


I mig-ht pursue to much greater length my statements in 
regard to this interesting region ; so as to speak of its towns, 
villages, missions, population, and of all its natural features 
and productions, more fully and minutely. But while I felt 
bound to allude, as I have, to the most remarkable facts which 
I observed during my travels in High California, I have 
avoided going into details, or making statements which my 
own inspection has not enabled me to verify. A few words 
more concerning the native tribes of California, and I will 
pass northward to the Oregon. 

Most of the native Indians have perished, or have gone into 
the missions about the bay of San Francisco. Many tribes 
are utterly extinct ; in places where I was told that, in 1832, 
there was a population of a thousand or fifteen hundred souls. 
T found sometimes but one hundred, sometimes not more than 
fifty, and sometimes none ; and not a vestige of their habita- 
tions, save a pile of discolored stones, or a slight depression of 
the soil. Pestilence and the wrath of man have combined in 
the work of extermination, until, of the ancient owners of this 
most interesting territory, very few now occupy its fertile 
fields. T do not believe, and I speak after due investigation, 
that the whole Indian population between the Colorado and 
the Pacific, in 1834, exceeded three thousand souls. But along 
the Sacrament and elsewhere, there is abundant evidence that, 
in former times, a teeming and crowded population was spread 
over that now desolate region. 

When I remember the exuberant fertility, tiie exhaustless 
natural wealth, the abundant streams and admirable harbors, 
and the advantageous shape and position of High California. 
I cannot but believe that at no very distant day a swarming 
multitude of human beings will again people the solitude, and 
that the monuments of civilization will throng along those 
streams whose waters now murmur to the desert, and cover 
those fertile vales — whose tumuli now record the idolatrous 
worship and commemorate the former existence of innumerable 
savage generations. 



I will now present to the committee, in brief, the facts which 
I gathered during a residence of five months in the Oregon 
territory, and which relate to the aspect, mountains, rivers and 
other waters, climate, soil, productions, trade and population 
of that country. My inspection having been confined to the 
southwesterly portion of Oregon, I shall limit my statements 

The eastern section of the district referred to is bordered by 
a mountain range, running nearly parallel to the spine of the 
Rocky mountains [53] and to the coast, and which, from 
the number of its elevated peaks. I am inclined to call the 
President's range* 

There is a great uniformity of aspect among these peaks. 
They all resemble the frustum of a cone, the declivity forming 
an angle of from thirty to thirty-five degrees with the hori- 
zon. They lift their bold summits several thousand feet from 
their mountain bases, are thinly wooded near the bottom, but 
from mid-distance upward present their barren sides in the 
naked deformity of rock, lava, cinders, or whatever else might 
have come glowing, at some former period, from the deep- 
caverned volcanic cauldrons below. I did not ascend them ; 
but if it be safe to reason on the analogy furnished by the 
Mexican peaks, whose summits I did explore, and whose forms 
are precisely similar, these elevated summits are the chimneys 
of extinct volcanoes, and retain the vestiges of those craters 
from which the fiery discharges and eruptions were wont to be 

I encamped for some time at the base of Mount Jackson, 
and was equally moved by the sublime spectacle of its abrupt 
ascent and towering grandeur, and by the beautiful diversity 
of its aspect and colors, engirdled as it was below with suc- 

*These isolated and remarkable cones, which are now called aniong the hunters 
of the Hudson's Bay Company by other names. I have christened after our ex- 
Presidents, viz: I. Washington', latitude 46 deg. 15 min.; 2. Adams, latitude 4.S 
deg. 10 minutes: 3. Jefferson, latitude 44 deg., 30 min.: 4. Madison, latitude 4.3 
deg. 50 min.; 5. Monroe, latitude 43 deg. 20 min.; 6. T. Q. Adams, latitude 4,: 
deg. 10 min.; and 7. Jackson, latitude 41 deg. 40 min. 


cessive belts of forest, shrub and hardy plant, and terminating 
aloft in perpetual frost and unbroken desolation. It was my 
misfortune at this time to be disabled by ill health, so far as to 
be- prevented both from ascending this peak, and from meas- 
uring its altitude and fixing its exact latitude. 

From the Presidents' range there are two chains of hills 
extending to the Pacific ocean; one of them branching off 
from the base of J. Q. Adams peak, flanked on the north by 
the Umpqua river, and on the south by the Clamet, and ter- 
minating on the coast, in latitude , in high bluffs ; and 

the other chain running from Adams peak nearly parallel 
with the Columbia river, until it reaches the ocean in a lofty 
summit, called by Lewis and Clark "Clark's Point of View." 

In all these chains of hills, and conical peaks, and isolated 
piles, whether springing from the heart of the prairie or clus- 
tering amongst the highlands, I feel confident that we dis- 
cover unquestionable proof that in former ages this western 
portion of our continent was convulsed, rent asunder, and 
thrown into wild disorder, by earthquakes and the operation of 
subterranean fires. 

The first important river in Oregon, on the northerly side 
of the Snowy mountains, is the Clamet. It is formed of two 
branches, one of which rises in a lake of the same name, 
measuring some fifteen or twenty miles over ; the other in 
Mount Monroe. 

Both these branches are mountain torrents, rushing furiously 
over rocky beds to their confluence. After breaking through 
a ridge of low rocky hills, some thirty miles from the coast, 
the Clamet proceeds in a northwesterly direction, and with a 
moderated current to the Pacific. 

Next northwardly from the Clamet is the river Umpqua, 
very similar in size, character and direction, rapid during 
most of its course, but passing through the level country near 
its embouchure with slackened speed. [54] 

These two rivers are divided, as I have before stated, by 
one of the spurs of the Presidents' range. Their margins 


are finely wooded and timbered, broken into an agreeable 
variety of hill and dale, and covered with an excellent soil. 
The pine, oak and other timber is very abundant and very 
heavy, not only along the main stream of these rivers, but 
among all the highlands where they and their tributaries 


The Wallamette, an important branch of the Columbia river, 
has its headwaters near the sources of the Umpqua, receives 
numerous tributary streams from the Presidents' range, to 
which its course runs nearly parallel, and pours its floods into 
the Columbia, about eighty miles from the ocean. On its 
upper course it is said to be broken into several beautiful cat- 
aracts. For the last hundred miles above its junction it tra- 
verses a comparatively level and open country ; and. with the 
exception of one short portage, is navigable for this whole 
distance by boats drawing three or four feet of water. It 
penetrates the ridge of hills bordering the southern shore 
of the Columbia, and at that place falls over three several 
terraces of basaltic rock, making in all a descent of twenty- 
five feet. These falls are twenty miles from the Columbia. 
Below this point its banks are low, are subject to inundation 
in the season of the "freshets" or vernal floods. It has two 
mouths, formed by the position of a group of three islands 
whose longitudinal extent is sixteen miles, and which, though 
lying chiefly in the Columbia, project into the current of the 
Wallamette, and divide its waters in the manner described. 
This river has been sometimes misnamed the "Multnomah," 
with reference to a tribe of Indians, now extinct, who formerly 
occupied the land lying around its northern entrance into the 

In beauty of scenery, fertility of .soil, and other natural 
advantages, no portion of our country surpasses that which is 
found upon the Wallamette. The whole valley of this river 
abounds in white oak and other valuable timber. Fringes of 
trees grow along the margin of the stream, and back of these 
are rich bottom lands or prairie ground of inexhaustible fer- 


tility, and adorned with all the wealth of vegetation. From 
these prairies, which are sometimes a few rods and sometimes 
several miles wide, often rise round isolated hills, heavily 
wooded, and presenting a lovely contrast to the sea of grass 
and flowers from which they spring. 

I have now reached the Columbia river. The few statements 
which I propose to make concerning this noble stream will 
refer to matters which may not come within the knowledge 
of the committee from other sources. 

I made surveys of the Columbia from the Wallamette to the 
ocean, the results of which appear upon the map which I had 
the honor to transmit to the committee. 

For about 100 miles above its mouth the banks of the Colum- 
bia are generally above the reach of inundation. The period- 
ical floods begin about the first of May, and subside about 
the middle of June ; and of the distance of which I have spoken, 
it may be that one-tenth part is reached by the waters. 

During all seasons of the year the entrance into the Colum- 
bia is both difficult and dangerous. Flats and sand bars 
stretch nearly the whole distance between its two headlands, 
Point Adams and Cape Hancock ("Disappointment") leaving 
only a narrow channel near the point last named. This chan- 
nel, however, furnishes at all times more than twenty feet of 
water. [55] 

From October to April, the prevalence of strong westerly 
winds increases the difficulty of threading this channel. The 
waves are driven landward with great violence, and break 
upon the shoals and bars with tremendous force and deafening- 
roar. It sometimes happens, therefore, that vessels are driven 
by the force of the waves from the channel, and dashed hope- 
lessly upon those treacherous sands. 

There are several harbors, formed by the cufvature of the 
river banks, which deserve mention. 

Of these, Chenook harbor, on the northerly shore, is a spa- 
cious bay, directly back of Cape Hancock, having deep sound- 
ings and a good bottom, the outer part of which is somewhat 
exposed, but within it is sheltered by the cape. 


Gray's harbor, on the same side of the river, about ten miles 
from the cape, is better protected than Chenook, but it is com- 
paratively shallow, except for a short distance, where the water 
measures three and four fathoms. It must become a great 
place for shipbuilding, in consequence of the vicinity of im- 
mense quantities of ship timber. 

Nearly opposite is Astor harbor, lying a little south of 
"Tongue point." Though not wholly defended from the 
westerly winds, it is the best of the harbors yet mentioned, 
having soundings of from four to seven fathoms, and a muddy 
bottom. From Astor harbor to Cape Hancock the direct dis- 
tance is eleven miles ; but by the channel it is increased to 
something over fourteen. 

Directly over against Chenook harbor is Merhcether bay, a 
deep opening behind Point Adams, inaccessible to vessels of 
large size, by reason of sand bars, but furnishing a secure 
anchorage to the smaller craft. 

It would be easy to improve the entrance of the Columbia 
by cutting a ship channel across a narrow strip of lowland 
from Chenook bay to a small but deep harbor which lies north 
of Cape Hancock. The distance does not exceed a hundred 
rods ; a creek extends nearly across, and the spring flood flows 
quite over it. My belief is that, at some former period, the 
waters of the Columbia had a free outlet at this place, but that 
the gradual deposits of sand and alluvion have choked up the 

So also might a canal be cut at small expense from Chenook 
harbor, some thirty miles northwestwardly, to Bulfinch's bay. 
by which the navigation would be greatly facilitated. The in- 
tervening land invites this enterprise ; for it is not only low and 
level, but, for a considerable portion of the distance, ponds 
and natural channels of water furnish great facilities to such 
a work. 

The Columbia is, at all seasons, navigable for ships to the 
head of tide water, which is two miles from its outlet. The 
brig Convoy, Captain Thompson, in the season of the freshet, 
ascended forty miles further to the falls. 

The climate of this region is mild, salubrious and healthful. 
During the whole winter of 1834-5, settlers on the Columbia 
were engaged in ploughing and sowing their lands, and cattle 
were grazing on the prairies. One of the factors of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company, who cultivated an extensive farm on 
the northern bank of the Columbia, informed me that he sowed 
one hundred and fifty bushels of wheat during the months of 
January and February. I knew of but three falls of snow dur- 
ing that winter in the vicinity of the river. These occurred 
in February, and neither of them exceeded three inches in 
depth. The 28th [56] of February was the coldest day in the 
season ; rain fell during the forenoon. It then cleared off 
cold and, for a few hours, houses, trees and fields sparkled 
in an icy covering. 

During the winter, nearly every day witnessed an alternation 
of sunshine and rain ; the forenoons being mild and clear, and 
the afternoons ending in showers or drizzling rain. 

The healthfulness of this country is unquestionable. With 
the exception of some few low and swampy spots on the banks 
of the Columbia, at and below the junction of the Wallamette. 
the whole region of the Columbia enjoys a clear and fine 
atmosphere, and an exemption from all the ordinary causes of 
endemic disease. It is said that till the year 1830 fever and 
ague had not been known. In that year, as I was informed, 
the Indians suffered from intermittent fevers. But there was 
no reason to attribute this mortality to climate. On the other 
hand, it is believed that the excessive filth and slovenly habits 
of the inhabitants of the English settlement at Vancouver were 
the occasion of the disease. Vancouver itself is situated on a 
high, delightful and salubrious spot, and nothing but gross and 
unpardonable habits of life could render it unwholesome. 

All veritable evidence speaks favorably of the climate of this 
beautiful tract of country, and none but ignorant or deceitful 
witnesses have ever testified to the contrary. 

The valley of the Wallamette is the finest country I ever 
saw, whether for the gratification of the eye or the substantial 


comforts of life, for all the natural elements of wealth or for its 
adaptation to the wants and happiness of civilized man. It 
declares to the intelligent observer, beyond the power of doubt, 
that it is intended to be the habitation of myriads of civilized 
and happy men. 

So far as I could learn from intelligent and credible wit- 
nesses, the country north of the Columbia, to the 54th paral- 
lel, possesses nearly the same character which I have described 
as belonging to the region which I myself traversed. 

The Hudson's Bay Company, who have long occupied this 
territory, and endeavored to monopolize the benefits of its 
trade, it is believed, possesses greater capital, and employs a 
larger number of men in its various departments of service 
than any other association, excepting, perhaps, the East India 
Company, under the auspices of the British Government. 

For nearly twenty years, ever since, in 1821, the Northwest 
Company was finally broken up, the Hudson's Bay Company 
have exercised an almost unlimited control over the Indian 
tribes and the trade of the whole country west of the Rocky 

It has made great progress in settling that region. In 1834 
it had over 2,000 men engaged in trading, farming, mechanical 
and commercial operations. Of these individuals, the major 
part had taken Indian women to wife, by whom they had 
children of all ages, from infancy to manhood. The company 
exercises full authority over all, whether Indians, English, or 
Americans, who are in its service, and in a manner always 
injurious, and generally disastrous, to all others who under- 
take to trade or settle in that territory. It may be said in fact 
that Americans, except associated with this company, are not 
permitted to carry on a traffic within several hundred miles 
of the company's posts. I cannot state how long the inland 
trade has been cut off. But within the last season, our [57] 
merchants, since 1834, have not been allowed to participate in 
the lucrative trade and commerce of the northwest coast. 
While I was at Vancouver, in that year, the American ship 


Europa, Captain Allen, of Boston, was on that coast. The 
Hudson's Bay Company, in pursuance of their regular policy, 
immediately fitted out the brig Llama, and instructed her cap- 
tain, McNeil (as he himself informed me), to follow the 
Europa from port to port, and harbor to harbor, and drive her 
off the coast at any sacrifice, by underselling her, no matter 
what her prices, whenever she should open a trade. It has 
been declared by Mr. Simpson, who was at the head of the 
company's marine, that they were resolved, even at the cost o^ 
a hundred thousand pounds, to expel the Americans from 
traffic on that coast. 

I am informed that in November last (1838) the brig 
Joseph Peabody, of New York, was fitted and sent out to 
attempt once more the northwest fur trade. The voyage is 
regarded as an experiment, and her chance of success depends 
on her finding the company unprepared for her arrival. So 
long as our Government slumbers on her rights, so long must 
the enterprise of our citizens, even within our own territorial 
limits, even within American sovereignty, be rendered abortive 
by the force or fraud of foreign monopolists. 

In their intercourse with the Indians, the company are gov- 
erned by no higher principle than self-interest, and are fre- 
quently guilty of the most arbitrary acts. While I was there, 
the company surgeon at Vancouver deliberately seized an 
Indian who had been guilty of some indecency, and proceeded 
to mutilate his person, and for this wrong, neither the victim 
nor his friends dared to ask for redress, or even to make any 

The number of trading posts in Oregon, belonging to this 
company, in 1834, exceeded twenty. They are called "forts," 
but they are mostly regular villages, such as Vancouver, 
Wallawallah, Oakenagen, Colville. Neperces, &c. At these 
places are seen houses, stores, workshops, traders, farmers, 
artisans, herds of cattle, and cultivated farms, waving with 
abundant harvests ; in short, every appearance of permanent 
and flourishing settlements. Of these farming establishments, 


futt accounts are already supplied by Mr. Slacum. I will only 
add a few facts in regard to this subject. I saw at Vancouver 
a large and splendid barn, in which was a thrashing machine 
that cost $1,500, and was worked by oxen. Connected with the 
same farming establishment I saw also more than 1,000 head 
of neat cattle, grazing on the ever-verdant prairie, and flocks 
of sheep, swine and horses, and domestic fowls of various 
kinds, both in and around the village. 

The stocks of grain on that farm exceeded anything of the 
kind that I had ever seen in the United States. Twelve thou- 
sand bushels of wheat, at a very moderate computation, re- 
mained in the sheaf at the time of my leaving Vancouver in 
the spring. 

Six miles above Vancouver, on the same side of the river, 
was a large sawmill, capable of cutting from 20 to 25 thousand 
feet of boards per day, throughout the year. It can be readily 
inferred that, with this and other such mills, vast havoc would 
soon be made in the timber of this region, and the banks of the 
rivers and streams be cleared of that which is at once the 
most valuable and the most accessible. 

The town of Vancouver, as I have stated, stands on a high 
and healthy [58] spot. I might, with propriety, dwell for a 
moment upon its picturesque and beautiful landscape. Directly 
back of the village the ground rises considerably, forming a 
kind of "steppe" or plateau, from which the prospect is one of 
the loveliest on which my eye ever rested, diversified by all that 
is wild, rugged and sublime, in forest and mountain scenery, 
or soft and smiling in lowland and meadow, river and plain ; 
all that the bounty of nature or the skill of man combined can 
furnish to surprise or delight the eye and the taste of the 
beholder. In the distance, yet looking as though within reach, 
are the snowy peaks of the Rocky mountains, whose frosty 
mantle defies the hottest sun of summer. Nearer at hand is 
a vast ocean of forest, variegated with every hue known to 
the foliage of trees, whether deciduous or evergreen. At your 
feet are a thousand appearances of industry, wealth and pros- 


perity, and before you are the valleys of both the Wallamette 
and Columbia, spreading and winding afar, and almost weary- 
ing the eye with countless varieties of aspect and innumerable 
forms of loveliness. 

Amongst the other forms of industry at Vancouver, ship- 
building should not be omitted. There was a shipyard there 
in 1834, where several vessels had been built, and where all 
the vessels of the Hudson's Bay Company were repaired. The 
neighboring forests abound in timber adapted to naval pur- 
poses, such as oak, cedar, spruce and firs, of gigantic growth. 
There is, in particular, an extensive forest of white oak within 
a small distance of the fort. 

I found that a canal had been commenced at the falls of 
the Wallamette by the company, for the purpose of making the 
head of water available for practical purposes — the propulsion 
of machinery, &c. 

Families who had settled in the valley of the Wallamette 
continued under the government and control of the company, 
receiving therefrom, on loan, all the stock, stores and imple- 
ments of agriculture, in consideration of which they stipulated 
that all the marketable products of their farms should be sold 
exclusively to the company. Oxen and cows were furnished 
in like manner, it being the settled policy of the company not 
to kill or sell any cattle until the country should become well 

All these circumstances indicated a disposition to form per- 
manent interests and establishments on the part of this great 
association and its members and servants ; and I was assured 
that, whatever may be the result of the disputed question of 
sovereignty and occupancy, most of the people of this territory 
will remain quietly fixed in their residences. 

The fisheries of this territory have been comparatively neg- 
lected by the company. They might be made immensely pro- 
ductive and profitable, for there are several species of fish, 
particularly salmon, which swim in countless numbers in the 
Columbia and its branches, and are easily taken and prepared 


for exportation. Formerly they put up 500 or 1,000 barrels 
of salmon per year at Vancouver alone, and a much larger 
quantity at Fort Langley. 

The trade of the company consists of furs, lumber, flour, 
fish, grain and potatoes. The amount of traffic in furs I 
have no accurate means of computation; but that it is enor- 
mous may be safely inferred from the fact that a single indi- 
vidual at Astoria, in 1834, collected more than 1,800 beaver 
skins, although that post was nearly deserted. 

The furs and peltries are shipped to London. Other exports 
find a ready market in California and the Sandwich Islands, 
such as fir boards [59] and other lumber, white oak ship tim- 
ber, spruce knees and spars, and white ash oars. In return, 
the company receives provisions, salt, sugar, molasses, spirits, 
&c. They obtain beef cattle from California, at three dollars 
per head, and pay for them in lumber, at sixty to one hundred 
dollars per M. 

Some notion of the amount of lumber exported may be 
obtained from the fact that the vessel which bore me from 
Oregon to the Sandwich Islands brought out the complement 
of a quantity of boards contracted for at the price of twenty 
thousand dollars. 

The value of flour at the Russian settlements varied from 
fifteen to twenty dollars per barrel. In more southerly mar- 
kets, salmon were worth twenty dollars per barrel, and sixty 
dollars per M was the minimum price of merchantable boards. 

I arrived at Vancouver unwell, and was hospitably welcomed 
by Mr. McLaughlin, the chief factor. Medical aid was ren- 
dered me ; a house in the village was furnished for my use, 
and all my physical wants were supplied ; but I was forbidden 
to enter the fort. Before I had been long in the country, I 
learned that the factor and his agents were preparing, in every 
artful way, to render my abode there uncomfortable and unsafe. 
The most preposterous calumnies and slanders were set on foot 
in regard to my character, conduct and designs. All my move- 
ments were watched, and, in some instances, I was threatened 


with violence by persons who had been instigated, as I had 
reason to beheve, by the company. Had I been willing to place 
myself under the direction and control of the company, all 
would have been peace; but so long as I was resolved to act 
independently, as an American on American soil, seeking 
authentic information for general diffusion, and pursuing the 
avowed purpose of opening the trade of the territory to gen- 
eral competition, and the wealth of the country to general 
participation and enjoyment, so long was I an object of dread 
and dislike to the grasping monopolists of the Hudson's Bay 

My abode in Oregon was thus rendered very disagreealjle. 
The loss of my property on the route had obliged me to vary 
my original plans, and limit my enterprise to such an examina- 
tion of the country as would enable me to enlighten the Ameri- 
can public on my return to the United States. I remained, 
therefore, in Oregon no longer than was needful to satisfy 
myself on the desired points of inquiry ; and so long as I did 
remain, I was treated very much like a prisoner of war, 
although not subjected to actual confinement. 

When I left the Oregon country, I took passage in the brig 
Dryad, Captain Keplin, for the Sandwich Islands. 

The petition recently presented to the Senate of the United 
States, signed by residents of Oregon, will fortify my views in 
regard to the necessity for some degree of protection on the 
part of the Government over the people of that territory. 

I come now, in conclusion, to say something of the Indians 
of Oregon. 

This unfortunate race of men, as on the eastern so on the 
western coast of America, perish and pass away at the ap- 
proach of white men, like those who are swept off by pesti- 
lence. By the accounts of voyagers and travellers who visited 
Oregon 30 or 40 years ago, it is made evident that the Indian 
population was very numerous. But of their hundred tribes, 
sovereign or subordinate, including probably one hundred and 
fifty thousand souls, but a small fraction now remains. [60] 


In 1804, within 100 miles upward from the mouth of the 
Columbia, there were no less than eig'ht Indian tribes, with 
an average population of nearly a thousand persons to each 
tribe. In 1834 nothing- remained but the remnants of these 
tribes, including less than four hundred Indians. Two-thirds 
of all the tribes ever known in Oregon are utterly extinct, and 
the names of them are scarcely remembered. 

The Multnomahs, who formerly occupied the Wappatoo 
islands, and the country around the mouth of the Wallamette. 
and who numbered 3,000 souls, are all dead, and their villages 
reduced to desolation. The once numerous Clatsops have lost 
their national existence, the few who survive seeking a shelter 
amongst the Chenooks, who are also reduced to less than one- 
fourth of their former numbers. 

All the remaining Indians below Vancouver live in the most 
brutal, sottish and degraded manner, addicted to the grossest 
intemperance, and associating with the whites in such manner 
that there can scarcely be found among them a full-blooded 
Indian child. Rum and other intoxicating liquors are used as 
the besom of destruction among the miserable victims of the 
white man's cruelty. While I was on board one of the com- 
pany's vessels, at the mouth of the Columbia, I saw the captain 
dealing out rum by the bucket to the chief of the Chenooks, in 
return for wild game. I saw the chief, with his family of eight 
persons, intoxicated on the shore. 

Such has been the result of the intercourse between the 
untutored children of the wild and the inhabitants of civilized 
and Christian communities. 

In concluding this imperfect letter, I ought, in justice to 
myself, to state that it was not disappointment in regard to 
the natural advantages of Oregon which prevented my form- 
ing a permanent connexion with that region ; but I was im- 
pelled by a determination to do all in my power, by constant 
effort in the United States, to lead our Government to extend 
over Oregon that paternal care which alone is needed to render 
it the very nucleus of emigration, and the most attractive 
portion of our national domain. 


Lb 18 

Having, by the hardships and exposures of a lonely and long 
continued adventure of life, been deprived in a great degree of 
the use of my eyes, my health broken down, and my constitu- 
tion shattered, I have, of course, since my return, found my 
exertions restricted and impaired, but by no means terminated. 
It is consoling to me, in the midst of poverty and suffering, to 
believe that my fellow-citizens and my country are at last 
beginning to appreciate the value of the objects and measures 
for which I have sacrificed my possessions, my health, and 
the best portion of my life. It is also a matter of congratu- 
lation to me that some of those whom my persuasion induced 
to emigrate to Oregon have there found prosperous settle- 
ments, and are now asking Congress to accept them and pro- 
tect them as citizens ; and that I have, therefore, been instru- 
mental in planting the seed of American empire in a soil where 
it shall take root and spring up and flourish like the luxuriant 
productions there scattered by the bounty of nature. 

I have the honor to be, dear sir, yours, with the highest con- 
sideration and respect. Hall J. Kelley. 

Hon. Caleb Cushing. [61]