Marcus Whitman May 1844

Waiilatpu, May 31st, 1844

Rev. A. B. Smith Honolulu, Oahu

Dear Brother. I have a disposition this morning to write you but I know not where I should limit myself if I entered on the full field of communication. Our situation in this country is becoming more interesting and more important.The fact that Government is opening the country by offers of bounty of lands will soon bring our stations to be the object of desire & there will be no way to hold on under such circumstances, for Congress would only give us the right of occupancy for missionary purposes which would be no security but only make it necessary to break up the Mission in order to get full possession. I know your views of the country but be assured no one will agree with you now. The interior of Oregon will be more sought than any part of it. And the country as a whole is not surpassed by any on the globe. It is by no means necessary that it be according to any particular pattern we have been accustomed to.If it were many times inferior to what even yourself has regarded it, still with an American population, the Commerce of the Pacific would make its occupancy of the greatest value. The interior is in every respect such a country as western men desire, when a settlement would have a vacant range for cattle & sheep & c. The most broken hills in the country take the place of barns & meadows without the labour of building & storing. A country where a man can winter a thousand sheep easier than he could feed half the number from a well stored barn in your own native Vermont. Thus if any body are to take the cotton of the Islands & return the factories [the manufactured goods], so much needed by the Islanders, as also to carry on the domestick commerce & take their salt, sugar, &c., &c. No tariff is wanted to protect manufactories in Oregon. The wool grown here & manufactured in the country would be exchanged for domestick articles, the same as a trade with the Islands, so that so far as the exchange in such articles is concerned, no foreign fabricks can come in competition. I consider the growth of a colony here as more likely to give that kind of trade to the Islands that shall give them independence and domestic ability than all others put together. My visit to the States was a hurried one as I was disappointed in not getting in so early as I expected. I am happy to know that I was enabled if nothing more to reverse the action of the Board in relation to this Mission. No one knows more than yourself what &who have been the cause of those measures as also of the sentiments which Mr. Lee thinks has taken more than one out of this Mission. The Committee were willing to grant all our requests.But as I was necessitated to come back so soon no one could be ready to accompany me. I brought a Nephew fourteen years old with me. I do not know how long we shall be called to operate for the benefit of the Indians. But be it longer or shorter, it will not diminish the importance of our situation. For if the Indians are to pass away, we want to do what can be done in order to give them the offer of life & then be ready to aid [the immigrants] as indeed we have done & are doing, to found & sustain institutions [of] learning & religion in the Country. Could I have staid at home longer, I should have tried to have raised the means of establishing some Academies &Colleges, but I trust to influence others to do so. The Mission now is in a united & harmonious state having less to fear from difficulties because her members are tried by having had their trials. Mrs. Whitman's health has been very poor & at times life was dispaired of. But she is now much better. I am glad to learn through Doct. Barclay that Mrs. Smith's health is so good. Mrs. W. joins me in Christian salutations to you both desiring for your health, happiness, and usefulness.

With esteem Yours Truly, Marcus Whitman

Last updated: October 2, 2016

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