Converting the West: A Biography of Narcissa Whitman

Overview

Narcissa Whitman and her husband, Marcus, were pioneer missionaries to the Cayuse Indians in Oregon Territory.  Narcissa grew up in western New York State, her values and attitudes carefully shaped by her mother. Very much a child of the Second Great Awakening, she eagerly embraced the burgeoning evangelical missionary movement. Following her marriage to Marcus Whitman, she spent most of 1836 traveling overland with him to Oregon. Narcissa enthusiastically began service as a missionary there, hoping to see ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reissue)
$16.95
BN.com price
(Save 15%)$19.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $1.99   
  • New (2) from $14.95   
  • Used (10) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Narcissa Whitman and her husband, Marcus, were pioneer missionaries to the Cayuse Indians in Oregon Territory.  Narcissa grew up in western New York State, her values and attitudes carefully shaped by her mother. Very much a child of the Second Great Awakening, she eagerly embraced the burgeoning evangelical missionary movement. Following her marriage to Marcus Whitman, she spent most of 1836 traveling overland with him to Oregon. Narcissa enthusiastically began service as a missionary there, hoping to see many “benighted” Indians adopt her message of salvation through Christ.

But not one Indian ever did. Cultural barriers that Narcissa never grasped effectively kept her at arm’s length from the Cayuse. Gradually abandoning her efforts with the Indians, Narcissa developed a more satisfying ministry. She taught and counseled whites on the mission compound, much as she had done in her own church circles in New York. Meanwhile, the growing number of eastern emigrants streaming into the territory posed an increasing threat to the Indians. The Cayuse ultimately took murderous action against the Whitmans, the most visible whites, thus ending dramatically Narcissa’s eleven-year effort to be a faithful Christian missionary as well as a devoted wife and loving mother.

In this moving biography, Julie Roy Jeffrey brings the controversial Narcissa Whitman to life, revealing not only white assumptions and imperatives but the perspective of the Cayuse tribe as well. Jeffrey draws on a rich assortment of primary and secondary materials, blending narration and interpretation in her account. She clearly traces the motivations and relationships, the opportunities and constraints that structured Narcissa Whitman’s life as a nineteenth-century American evangelical woman.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Since her brutal killing in an 1847 massacre of whites by Cayuse Indians, Narcissa Whitman has donned the mantle of heroine and martyr. Sent west from New York in 1836 by an evangelical group, newlyweds Narcissa and Marcus Whitman founded the Waiilatpu mission near present-day Walla Walla, Wash., and set about converting the Cayuse to Christianity, with scant success. In this unsympathetic treatment, Jeffrey ( Frontier Woman ) faults Narcissa's esteemed role in history and, on flimsy evidence, blames in part her haughtiness and ineptitude for the massacre. The Narcissa met in this arguable, revisionist portrait is a dependent mama's girl who romanticized her calling and, flawed by narrow thinking, proved ill-suited for missionary work. Illustrated. (Oct.)
Booknews
Narcissa Whitman and her husband, Marcus, were pioneering missionaries to the Cayuse Indians in Oregon Territory. In this biography, the author traces her motivations and relationships, as well as the circumstances that led to her death at the hands of members of the Cayuse tribe. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806126234
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1994
  • Series: Oklahome Western Biographies Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Roy Jeffrey is Elizabeth Connelly Todd Professor History in Goucher College. She is the author of Education for Children of the Poor: The Elementary Education Act of 1965 and Frontier Women: The Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-1880 and coauthor of The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2002

    Oregon history according to a complainer

    Jeffery takes a good deal of time writing about Narcissa's life prior to her move to the Oregon Territory. This preface shows that her character does not change after arriving in Fort Vancouver. This is a story of a lady that had good intentions of converting the Cayuse people, but she lacked action. Instead she spends her time and energy complaining about and separating herself from them. If you are looking for Oregon history I suggest that you look elsewhere.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)