Dr. Whitman Selected Letters - 1839

Notes to reader:

The following transcriptions have tried to maintain the original spelling,capitalization and punctuation of the original letters. In his letters Dr. Whitman often used "+" for "and" and "+c" for "etc." Comments by the transcriber are enclosed in square brackets, [].

"Islands" refers to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), where the American Board had established missions.

Any mention of Fort Walla Walla or the place "Walla Walla" refers to the Hudson's Bay Company post at the confluence of the Walla Walla and Columbia rivers. The US Army's Fort Walla Walla did not exist until after the deaths of the Whitmans.


List of Selected 1839 Correspondence

May 10, 1839: Dr. Whitman to Reverend David Greene

Rev. Parker relayed what Dr. Whitman regarded as erroneous information to the American Board. In response, Dr. Whitman wrote this lengthy letter that complains about Rev. Parker's past actions and criticizes Parker's judgment.

October 22, 1839: Dr. Whitman to Reverend David Greene

Dr. Whitman notes that letters and boxes for the missionaries had arrived; describes how Dr. McLoughlin arranged for the missionaries' letters to travel east with the Hudson's Bay Company's Express; states that Mr. Edwin Hall and his wife plan to spend the winter at Waiilatpu; describes the decision on which alphabet to use when writing books in Native languages; discusses his negative view of teaching Natives using English; describes his irritation with Mr. William Gray on several issues; notes Reverend Asa Smith's move to Kamiah; discusses his unhappiness with having too much to do at Waiilatpu and the burden of hosting travelers; describes the activities of a passing Catholic priest; discusses the Natives' response to the book and instruction being done in a Native language; describes problems with the crops at Fort Colville (a Hudson's Bay Company outpost) and discusses his and Rev. Spalding's decision to grow their own crops; describes the drowning of Alice Clarissa; notes that he has hired Mr. Asa Munger; and states that the proper spelling of the site, using the new alphabet, is "Waiilatpu," and that "Waiilatpu" is "the proper name of this tribe instead of Kayuse."

December 27, 1839: Dr. Whitman to Reverend Walker

Dr. Whitman provides Reverend Walker with some medical advice and cautions him against overworking; summarizes the problems he has had with Mr. Gray; describes the activities of the priests and Dr. McLaughlin's views towards them; describes financial issues with Mr. Pambrun at Fort Walla Walla; and mentions the good winter weather and the butchering of hogs.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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