Seduced By The Westby Laurie Winn Carlson, L. Carlson
In her provocative new book, Laurie Winn Carlson questions the larger aims of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806 and sees it as part of a broad range of schemes to wrest the American West from the claims of established European powers. If American ships were already plying the waters off the Pacific Northwest coast, why, Ms. Carlson asks, was it
In her provocative new book, Laurie Winn Carlson questions the larger aims of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806 and sees it as part of a broad range of schemes to wrest the American West from the claims of established European powers. If American ships were already plying the waters off the Pacific Northwest coast, why, Ms. Carlson asks, was it necessary to send these two intrepid explorers overland-except as a demonstration of American reach, and perhaps as a ploy to tempt the Spanish to attack the expedition, thus provoking a war with Spain in Florida and the West. Ms. Carlson views the Lewis and Clark expedition as just one of several schemes to seize Western lands from foreign powers and extend the new United States to the Pacific. And behind the scenes in most all of them was the Virginian who actually knew little about the region but under whose presidency the Louisiana Purchase was completed, Thomas Jefferson. As Ms. Carlson notes, Jefferson never traveled west, but he was involved to varying degrees with men who did the exploring, organizing, and trekking at the Western frontiers-men who left few papers for historians to pursue and have been largely forgotten. Seduced by the West investigates the wide range of players in this drama of intrigue and possibilities. Russia, Spain, England, and France all tried to explore the West, and all for different reasons. Only one nation succeeded, but as Ms. Carlson shows, it was not always a simple task-or even an intended one.
More insidious motives emerge in Seduced by the West, Laurie Winn Carlson's examination of the political plotting that surrounded the expedition. Carlson speculates that Thomas Jefferson may have intended to provoke war with Spain or establish a separate, Republican nation in the West. Jefferson, perhaps unknowingly, colluded with spies and traitors, and he may have coldly planned to sacrifice his former secretary: "Perhaps Jefferson did not even wantLewis to arrive on the Pacific coast. What he may have wanted . . . was a martyr."
Whether Lewis and Clark ever arrived didn't really matter, argues Thomas P. Slaughter in Exploring Lewis and Clark: Reflections on Men and Wilderness, noting that the Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie had made the overland journey ten years earlier and that traders had already begun to penetrate the territory. Slaughter writes, "It is really quite marvelous that Lewis and Clark were able to sustain the fantasy of controlled, objective 'discovery' so long and in the face of so much evidence to the contrary."(Andrea Thompson)
- Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.40(w) x 8.64(h) x 0.96(d)
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Meet the Author
Laurie Winn Carlson's A Fever in Salem, a new interpretation of the New England witch trials, was widely praised. She has also written frequently on the history of the West, including Cattle: An Informal Social HIstory; Sidesaddles to Heaven; and Boss of the Plains. She lives in Cheney, Washington.
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