The History of Washington State

The History of Washington
Chapter 1

 

By Holice, Pam, and Deb

Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for transcribing this series of books.  The excellent work she does continues to help many researchers!  Thanks also, to Pam Rietsch, for sharing her books with the world!

 

HISTORY OF WASHINGTON
VOLUME I

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTORY

"As from some mountain's shrouded side
The misty yell is drawn,
When nature's quickened pulse reveals
The coming of the dawn.
And cliff and crag grow rough and real,
No longer dim or strange,
Till clearly o'er the crested snows
The eager eye may range;
So History, piercing Error's night,
And legendary lore,
Divides the doubtful from the eight,
Bringing fair Truth to face the light,
Making each occult record bright,
Through unsuspected door."

BREWERTON

When the patient astronomer, searching the azure field which the poet tells us are "thick inlaid with patines of bright gold," finds some as yet undiscovered planet newly risen into the constellations of those stars which, like the sands upon the seashore, no man may number, he gives his discovery to the world, and straightway the telescope of every observer is turned to verify and add what it may to that which has already been learned of the glittering stranger. It is even so with this newborn State whose history is about to b written; nor is the work to be accomplished in so doing an easy one when we consider the careful winnowing of legendary chaff needed to obtain the

Page 18

mustard seed of residuum which remains to the historian of absolute fact and reliable narrative.

During the almost total obscurity of the early years of the current century the present State of Washington was a wilderness but imperfectly explored, of mighty mountains, spreading forests whose vast solitudes so settler's axe had as yet opened to the sun; in land lakes haunted only by the wild fowl, the deer, and an octopus of sounds radiating through hills crowned with the gloom of pines, whose manifold ramifications knew no keel but the canoe of the Indian and the trapper, or, it may be, through the accidental visit of some vagrant sail exciting a speculative curiosity in commercial circles far distant from its shores. Now all is changed; enterprises, the encroaching waves of one ever-advancing civilization, and the irrepressible march of oft-times unexpected events has done and is doing its regenerating work. The region of which we write has suddenly thrown off the chrysalis of her embryo existence, dissolved her twinship with Oregon, and performed her preparatory territorial and necessary constitutional probation to emerge into a statehood so full and perfect, when the time of its existence is considered, that her development seems to rival that of the fabled Minerva, who sprang, as mythology tell us, full-armed from the brain of Jove. So, while all eyes are not unnaturally turned to the contemplation of this, almost the youngest born of our beautiful sisterhood of States, we can but wonder at the culmination, progress, and possible future of this new state, now rising so rapidly upon our national horizon, which we are proud to welcome into the federal galaxy under the name most beloved and revered throughout our land--the immortal name of Washington.

In the treatment of our subject from a historical standpoint, we propose to rely mainly upon the delineation of its early life and history, the exposition of the slower processes of that social and political evolution, that misty, doubtful dawn, often overcast with threatening clouds, which has finally ended happily and ushered in so perfect and promising a day. It will, perhaps, prove the more readable, for it is, so to speak, the romance of the young life in all histories, whether of nations or individuals, which most interests us. The struggle which ends in success or defeat charms us; but the charm is rather in the battle and conflict than in the assured result--the individual ad-

Page 19

venture, the war with privation, the perils of the wilderness and the rigors of climate, the encounters with savage foes, or, possibly, still more dangerous machinations of civilized enemies, in all of which the hardy pioneers of Washington signalized themselves, thereby becoming the factors and founders of her position today. We may, if comparison be in order, liken the course of her story to a mountain stream born of the yielding glacier, and the melting snows, ere it becomes the fully developed river rolling on it meet its final destiny in that sea which swallows all; for her history comes to us through a region of mist and shadow, the depths of her rock-ribbed canyons, the green recesses of her hidden valleys, the snows of icy peaks lifting their white hands to the sky and sweeping, alas! with their frozen breezes full many an unknown grave of those who perished by the way in the making of its incidents. Yet, like that occult sources, it gathers as it goes, though offtimes broken and disturbed by doubtful path or rugged rift and chasm, losing itself apparently to reappear with increase of power, till, rolling on its way, it finds at last a tide so broad, so deep and yet so placid that it will bear upon its bosom the argosies of trade or the iron-clad of war.

Yet, to make another use of our simile, these streams must be followed with patient steps an d constant scrutiny to their fountain-heads that their beginnings may be tested and their purity ascertained. We must avoid those blind trails of error which, like the worn-out buffalo spoors of the great prairies, lead not to water, but dry wallows--roads that end in bewilderment, or, like the fabled voyages of Juan de Fuca, exist only in the imagination of their mendacious reporter. The task of the historian is, or ought to be, a realization of the scriptural command to "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good."

We have, it would seem, three separate yet neighboring fields from which to glean out material.

First and most ample in its fruitfulness of yield, yet withal the least remunerative in solid results, are the legends of the Indians and trappers, and the tales, more or less embellished, of adventures and voyages. It is the very temptation to employ a material so easy to dress and make palatable to the intellectual taste of those (and they are many) who prefer sensation to fact

Page 20

that has finally hardened into reality that grossest fictions. How many mariners risked life and fortune, braving the terrors of the unknown frozen seas to find and explore the mythical Straits of Anian, because the original falsehood was repeated till its very reiterations impressed credulity with its truth. This world is full of men who can repeat a baseless statement till they really believe it themselves; and such people, being possessed of vivid imaginations, are oftimes dangerously circumstantial in their reports.

Secondly, we have journals and personal experiences whose value depends largely on the truthfulness and trustworthiness of their authors and narrators, and even then are handicapped with the danger of unconscious exaggeration to which we have first referred.

Third and last, there remains the field of fairly accredited histories, ancient and modern, sustained by collateral evidence and undisputed facts. But even here, like the planet Mats, whose opposition is just at present exciting such interest and controversy on our own globe, the evidence of even written and accepted history approach our own time, and ins o drawing nearer to us emerge from the mists f years, and that cloud of uncertainly which must ever attend upon distance to embarrass the searcher for the truth.

And, after all, these records must be combined, contrasted, and put into the witness  of probability to undergo the cross-examination of common sense, and even then be cautiously received by the painstaking and clear-headed author, who desires faithfully to fulfill his task. Taking truth for his guiding star in the narrative of public events and in dealing with individual character, never forgetting that he himself must one day render up an account, and, therefore, adopts the noble maxim (and a grander was never enunciated by man) of the martyred Lincoln: "With charity for all, and with malice against none."

While statistics, the essence of arithmetical history, cannot well be entirely ignored, we do not propose to burden our pages by mere tabular statements, for even official reports are often-times garbled, or at least colored favorably by a natural desire to make a good showing in population or finance.

Page 21

more or less faithful, of progress, showing to the weatherwise in social science the probabilities of the future as they rise or fall to their scale of degrees, and compare the present with the recorded past. But as weather prophets, for good or evil, are seldom popular with the world at large, so the pages of a history weighed down with calculations which are oftimes approved today and condemned to-morrow are apt to deaden the interest of the narrative for the general reader.

Furthermore, the space to which we are necessarily confined must affect the scope of our work and to some extent curtail our record even of facts, to say nothing of more tempting paths into which the writer, as well as the reader, is constantly liable to be beguiled. We must, therefore, walk for the most part in the beaten, albeit dusty road of bounded historical description, eschewing, though sadly against our will, those shady vistas and flowery byways which, promising as they do, many a beautiful beyond, might tempt us to stray from the prosy line to which a sense of duty confines us.

Having thus said our say as custom demands, as the lecturer makes his initiatory bow to his audience from the platform, we will conclude these introductory remarks with the equally conventional prayer for that indulgent endurance of editorial shortcoming which, were the position of author and ready reversed, the latter, with far better appreciation of the difficulties to be overcome, would most freely accord.

 

Next

 

You are the 1603rd Visitor to this USGenNet Website Since September 6, 2004

Html by Debbie Axtman

This book is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

[Table of Contents][Books Project][Mardos Memorial Library]