To Rev. Greene: May 8, 1838

Wieletpoo Walla Walla River
Oregon Territory

May 8th 1838

To Rev David Greene
Sect. of the A. B. C. F. M.
Missionary Rooms, Boston Mass.

Dear Brother

I have had the pleasure of signing a joint letter to yourself prepared by Brother Spalding + of filling a blank with supplies, left for that purpose. A copy of a letter from Doct John McLoughlin to Mr Spalding is sent in which as well as in the joint letter you will see the subject of our future supplies + of appointing an agent in England, mentioned. It is important that such arrangements be made as will secure a steady supply to our Mission. We need many things which the Company do not import in their business, + for these, some other source must be had, either as recommended by Doct McLoughlin, or by being sent from the United States. We hope you will be able to see him + arrange for an Agent in England or not as you may think proper, securing transportation in the Company's ships from England + also from the Sandwich Island. The Company have facilities to favour us which no others possess + so far have exceeded our most sanguine expectations.

We have no doubt many things can be had from the States more addapted to our necessities, than those from England. The stoves for which we have written are of the utmost importance for fuel is very scarce. The kettles also are very much needed. As to the crookery it will not be expected that we can often order, + for that reason a good stock may as well come at once. The crockery + all other supplies should be packed in tight iron bound casks, not exceeding one hundred pounds in weight, on account of the portages on the Columbia River, + for the convenience of conveying them on horses to our stations without unpacking, + besides the casks are needed to salt our pork + salmon in.

We are now at an important crisis, + need men + means to carry out what has been so auspiciously begun + that there be no reaction. There is danger of this, for the want of facilities to accomplish our plans, + to induce the Indians to settle arround us that we may teach them + their children without interruption. Even this year I am confident if we had had suitable ploughs + hoes that they would have raised enough corn + potatoes +c to have detained a large number with us constantly. We shall labour under great disadvantage untill such things can be sent. I have thought best not to ask the Board for them fearing what reception it might meet with + so have written to several gentlemen of my acquaintance to send us fifty ploughs + three hundred hoes, + in case of failure I have ordered my Brother to appropriate two hundred dollars on my account to that object. But this is not enough, what are three hundred hoes + fifty ploughs we ought to have at least seventy five or one hundred ploughs + six hundred hoes immediately to save this starving multitude from an untimely grave. If the Board cannot approve of such an expense I do not see how they can afford to proceed without it, for it seems evident that without them we shall not see the Indians at our stations for any considerable time, on the contrary if we had them it would not be long before we should see them located arround us, with houses, fields, gardens hogs + cows + their children enjoying the benefit of constant instruction, at far less expense to the Board than to take them into our families for that purpose.

They are very fond of ploughing. I have lent them an American, + a shovel plough, with which they manage to break land very well For the want of them I have made some substitutes of thorn, with which they do a good deal It is really amusing to see them break their horses to work, generally one man or woman leading in front + one on each side with sticks, + one holding the plough.

The Rev Jason Lee of the Methodist Mission has been with us several days, he is now on his way to the United States, for the benefit of his health + to obtain supplies + associates. It is expected by him that the Methodist will send a ship directly to the Columbia River, + in that case it will be an excelent opportunity for our friends to send to us, for he thinks freight may be had in her. He intends if possible to visit the Board + will be able to give you much valuable information

I hope we may not be left unsupported while our Methodist Brethren devise so liberal things, but that men + their requisite facilities be sent out without the least delay, unless they are now on their way with Brother Gray. We doubt not some are, but if the number is not equal to our wants, we hope there will be no delay in sending what is demanded. I must request that if the number of Ministers solicited, can not be had, that the number of Physicians + assistant Missionaries be sent immediately, for I think it much better for laymen to come than none at all. I would urge that blacksmiths farmers mechanicks + teachers be sent as soon as possible It appears to me that what is done here should be done at once for all are now looking + anxious, + why should the advantage be given up to the enemy, for be assured it will not be long, before [Cut off text] will put on a more formidable aspect, if we delay to possess the land in its length + breadth. When ever this country attracts the attention of Colonists, I fear it will not be so easy for us, to sway the Indians for Ardent Spirits will enter in + who then can stay the plague.

This field is emphatically white for the harvest + although we bring the gospel as the first object we cannot gain an assurance unless they are attracted + retained by the plough + hoe, + in this way even before the language is acquired you may have the people drawn arround you + ready to hear your every instruction. And why should not this be our method of proceeding; Is it not what Paul meant when he said, "I become all things unto all men," that he accommodated himself to the circumstances of the People? Why then should we not take the best, + may I not say, the only means to win them to Christ?

Had I one doubt of the disposition of the Indians to cultivate I would not thus write; But having seen them for two season breaking ground with hoes + sticks + having given them the trial of the plough, I feel an entire confidence in their disposition + ability. How can we think it; that if they once succeed in getting good crops of corn + potatoes that they will leave them for the scanty + laborious system of root diging. Several of them have already planted from half to an acre of potatoes + have considerable fields of corn, and peas.

Our own prospects for food are very flattering for the year to come I have six acres of potatoes two + half of wheat + peas oats + corn enough to make forty acres probably.

A second rise of water in March has so far damaged my house that I shall be obliged to build again this summer as the [presant] one will not answer to finish. I intend to build of Dobies [Blurred spot] again with projecting roof + without a cellar on a place where I think there is no danger, but that it will stand well.

Praying that we may be guided in wisdom in all our labours, + that the blessing God may rest upon you + us,

I am
Dear Brother
Yours in the best of bonds
Marcus Whitman

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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