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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 10, No. 3
September, 1932
BOOK REVIEW

Page 434

Copy—September, 1932

The Early Far West, a Narrative Outline 1540-1850, by W. J. Ghent. Longmans, Green and Company, $3.50.

Mr. Ghent, an authentic historian of the West, who will be remembered for his Road to Oregon has placed the student under further obligations by his latest scholarly work in which he has told the story of western America from the coming of the first Spaniards to the admission of California as a state in 1850. This work is intended both for the general reader and for the class student and gives a definite outline of historical developments in the west. Narrative rather than descriptive it emphasizes the event and the series in which it occurs.

While the scope of the book includes all of western America it will be found of great interest and value to the student of Oklahoma and nearby history as Mr. Ghent is one of the few writers of western history who have discovered that Oklahoma has a historical background worthy of notice. He has developed all of the vital phases of Oklahoma history from the earliest authentic accounts down through the most recent discoveries and publications.

Mr. Ghent has availed himself of all of the newest source material and publications and with the authority of a historian has at times modified hitherto accepted accounts. The resultant volume, rich in bibliography and supplied with necessary maps is thrilling, comprehensive and authentic. It will take its place as a standard single volume account of early western United States. To the student of Oklahoma history it will be invaluable not only for the text but for the carefully selected bibliography. No Oklahoma library offering facilities to the student of our history can afford to be without this book.

G.F.

Page 435

The Life and Times of Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky, by Leland Winfield Meyers, Ph. D. Columbia University Press, $5.50.

Organizing and leading a regiment of Kentucky mounted rifle men on the Canadian Frontier during the War of 1812; serving brilliantly in the Battle of the Thames and perhaps killing the celebrated Indian warrior, Tecumseh; defending Andrew Jackson; serving sentence in prison for debt and then fathering the law that abolished imprisonment for debt in Kentucky—such are the colorful sidelights of the life of the ninth vice-president of the United States which Dr. Meyers developes in this book. Colonel Johnson was the champion of education, of western exploration and development; a friend of the Indian, of labor and of the unfortunate everywhere. The versatile and colorful subject of this book was a man of many interests and wide acquaintance and the account of his life is fascinating to any reader. Perhaps, however, the part of the book that contains most of interest to the people of Oklahoma is the account of the great contribution he made to the literacy and culture of our Indians through his establishment and conduct of the Indian school in Kentucky known as the Choctaw Academy. This school he established in 1825 in buildings provided by him at his home in Scott County, Kentucky. Here, for twenty years, with a competent superintendent and force of teachers he educated a large number of Indian youth whose tuition was provided by funds appropriated by Congress. While the boys who attended this school were not all benefited greatly still the majority of them were; and those members of the tribes in Oklahoma, particularly the Choctaw, who were educated at this school were equipped to assume positions of leadership and contributed enormously to the development of their rising generations and so left a permanent record of the labors and hopes of Richard M. Johnson.

The author of this book is a member of the Department of History of Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky, near the site of the Choctaw Academy. His account of the arresting figure of whom he writes viewed against the background of a new and rapidly growing country, should not be missed by any student of Oklahoma history.

G.F.

Page 436

"Fort Hall on the Oregon Trail," by Jennie Broughton Brown; Caldwell, Idaho, The Caxton Printers, Ltd., Publishers. 8vo, 466 pp. ill.

Another contribution to "the new history of the old West," which has recently appeared is "Fort Hall on the Oregon Trail," of which Jennie Broughton Brown is the author. It is a volume of more than 450 pages and is replete with interest to the student of the history of the regions west of the Mississippi, from cover to cover. It is more than merely the detailed history of a trading post of the olden time and of the immediate vicinity of its location. In its way, it helps most effectively to illuminate the story of the great fur trade of the Northwest, during the first half of the last century, with its ramifications, interests and intrigues, from Boston, New York and Washington in the East and St. Louis in the Midland, to the mouth of the Columbia and Puget Sound in the Northwest. The location of the Fort Hall trading station on and its intimate association with the Oregon Trail—in some respects easily the greatest and most important of the overland wilderness highways of all time—serves to make it the theme of national, rather than local or even regional, interest.

The history of that part of the United States west of Missouri (with the possible exceptions of Texas and California), during the first half of the Nineteenth Century, has always been more or less hazy to the mind and understanding of the casual reader. Such a book as "Fort Hall on the Oregon Trail" tends to aid in clearing up and bringing into popular understanding the early history of that vast area which now includes fifteen states of the Federal Union. Incidentally, it may not be out of the way to express the hope that writers of similar ability and industry may do as much for Fort Laramie and for Bent's Fort, aye, and for Westport, on the Missouri frontier.

The evidences of patient and thorough research in the preparation of the material for this volume do not need to be told as they are so plain as to be quickly remarked by any intelligent reader. The well written text is supported by numerous extracts from original sources, brief and always pertinent. The typography is pleasing and the press-work all that could be asked. There are more than 125 illustrations, authentic and appropriate, including portraits of more than twenty-

Page 437

five explorers, traders and pioneers of the Northwest. The documentation is complete and accurate and the volume is unusually well indexed.

—Joseph B. Thoburn.


Poland and the American Revolutionary War.

Few students of American History realize the contribution that Poland made to the cause of the Colonies in their contest for liberty in the Revolutionary War. The Oklahoma Historical Society has received a well bound and well written book entitled, Poland in the American Revolutionary War. The book is written by Miecislaus Haiman and bears this inscription:

"The Polish Roman Catholic Union of America is asking you to accept this with its compliments as a tribute to the memory of George Washington and his Polish companions-in-arms."

This book contains the names of hundreds of Poles who enlisted in the Continental Army from the original Colonies. These names are not easily spelled and most of them are altogether unpronounceable to the average American, but they were patriots and deserve to be enrolled on the scroll of honor. Many of these Poles were military men trained in the schools of continental Europe and did much towards organizing the American armies.

The two Polish soldiers best known to American historians are: General Thaddeus Kosciuszko and General Casimir Pulaski. Kosciuszko afterwards became one of the world's military heroes—"Warsaw's Last Champion." He was at one time called "The Father of American Artillery." Pulaski was a master of strategy and a brave soldier who gave his life for the American cause. He received wounds in action before Savannah which resulted in his death on October 11, 1779.

The Polish Ambassador to the United States gives this book a very complimentary indorsement. It is an interesting book and throws some new light on the American Revolution. It is printed by the Polish Union Daily, 1331 Augusta Blvd., Chicago, Ill.

—D.W.P.

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