In 1810, John Jacob Astor sent out two advance parties to settle the wild, unclaimed western coast of North America. More than half of his men died violent deaths. The others survived starvation, madness, and greed to shape the destiny of a continent.
At a time when the edge of American settlement barely reached beyond the Appalachian Mountains, two visionaries, President Thomas Jefferson and millionaire John Jacob Astor, foresaw that one day the Pacific would dominate world trade as much as the Atlantic did in their day. Just two years after the Lewis and Clark expedition concluded in 1806, Jefferson and Astor turned their sights westward once again. Thus began one of history's dramatic but largely forgotten turning points in the conquest of the North American continent.
Astoria is the harrowing tale of the quest to settle a Jamestown-like colony on the Pacific coast. Astor set out to establish a global trade network based at the mouth of the Columbia River in what is now Oregon, while Jefferson envisioned a separate democracy on the western coast that would spread eastward to meet the young United States.
Astor backed this ambitious enterprise with the vast for-tune he'd made in the fur trade and in New York real estate since arriving in the United States as a near-penniless immigrant soon after the Revolutionary War. He dispatched two groups of men west: one by sea around the southern tip of South America and one by land over the Rockies. The Overland Party, led by the gentlemanly American businessman Wilson Price Hunt, combined French-Canadian voyageurs, Scottish fur traders, American woodsmen, and an extraordinary Native American woman with two toddlers. The Seagoing Party, sailing aboard the ship Tonquin, likewise was a volatile microcosm of contemporary North America. Under the bitter eye of Captain Jonathan Thorn, a young U.S. naval hero whose unyielding, belligerent nature was better suited to battle than to negotiating cultural differences, the Tonquin made tumultuous progress toward its violent end.
Unfolding from 1810 to 1813, Astoria is a tale of high adventure and incredible hardship, drawing extensively on firsthand accounts of those who made the journey. Though the colony itself would be short-lived, its founders opened provincial American eyes to the remarkable potential of the western coast, discovered the route that became the Oregon Trail, and permanently altered the nation's landscape and global standing.
Read an excerpt HERE.
"Peter Stark writes about a real adventure of how John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson envisioned a Plymouth-like settlement on the West Coast of the United States. So in 1810 Astor sent several expeditions; one by land and one by sea, to found this community to be named Astoria.
This is a true adventure with colorful characters with fortitude; early American emigrants, Canadian voyageurs, American hunters, fur traders, Hawaiians and native groups. One participant is a very pregnant Iowa Indian woman with two toddlers trekking along with the overland group. Astor's vision to set up global commercial routes to wealthy China is a precursor to the kind of trade routes that exist today, but he tried to organize the routes two hundred years ago.
This book could have interest for early American history fans, especially those with interest in the Lewis and Clark expeditions. It is also a good study of what makes effective, as well as ineffective, leadership. So readers who enjoy real life examples of leadership and survival, such as Shackleton's expedition, might enjoy Astoria."
Author Peter Stark will be discussing and signing his book at our Colax Avenue store at 7:30 pm at our Colfax Avenue store on Tuesday, March 18, 2014.
This event is free and open to the public.