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Vikings of the Pacific The Adventures of the Explorers who Came from the West, Eastward   By: (1871-1936)

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The Adventures of the Explorers Who Came from the West, Eastward

Bering, the Dane; the Outlaw Hunters of Russia; Benyowsky, the Polish Pirate; Cook and Vancouver, the English Navigators; Gray of Boston, the Discoverer of the Columbia; Drake, Ledyard, and Other Soldiers of Fortune on the West Coast of America



Author of "Pathfinders of the West," Etc.

[Frontispiece: Seal Rookery, Commander Islands.]

New York The MacMillan Company London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd. 1905 All rights reserved

Copyright, 1905, by the MacMillan Company. Set up and electrotyped. Published December, 1905.



At the very time the early explorers of New France were pressing from the east, westward, a tide of adventure had set across Siberia and the Pacific from the west, eastward. Carrier and Champlain of New France in the east have their counterparts and contemporaries on the Pacific coast of America in Francis Drake, the English pirate on the coast of California, and in Staduchin and Deshneff and other Cossack plunderers of the North Pacific, whose rickety keels first ploughed a furrow over the trackless sea out from Asia. Marquette, Jolliet and La Salle backed by the prestige of the French government are not unlike the English navigators, Cook and Vancouver, sent out by the English Admiralty. Radisson, privateer and adventurer, might find counterpart on the Pacific coast in either Gray, the discoverer of the Columbia, or Ledyard, whose ill fated, wildcat plans resulted in the Lewis and Clark expedition. Bering was contemporaneous with La Vérendrye; and so the comparison might be carried on between Benyowsky, the Polish pirate of the Pacific, or the Outlaw Hunters of Russia, and the famous buccaneers of the eastern Spanish Main. The main point is that both tides {viii} of adventure, from the east, westward, from the west, eastward, met, and clashed, and finally coalesced in the great fur trade, that won the West.

The Spaniards of the Southwest even when they extended their explorations into the Northwest have not been included in this volume, for the simple reason they would require a volume by themselves. Also, their aims as explorers were always secondary to their aims as treasure hunters; and their main exploits were confined to the Southwest. Other Pacific coast explorers, like La Pérouse, are not included here because they were not, in the truest sense, discoverers, and their exploits really belong to the story of the fights among the different fur companies, who came on the ground after the first adventurers.

In every case, reference has been to first sources, to the records left by the doers of the acts themselves, or their contemporaries some of the data in manuscript, some in print; but it may as well be frankly acknowledged that all first sources have not been exhausted. To do so in the case of a single explorer, say either Drake or Bering would require a lifetime. For instance, there are in St. Petersburg some thirty thousand folios on the Bering expedition to America. Probably only one person a Danish professor has ever examined all of these; and the results of his investigations I have consulted. Also, there are in the State Department, Washington, some hundred old log books of the Russian hunters which {ix} have as far as I know never been turned by a single hand, though I understand their outsides were looked at during the fur seal controversy. The data on this era of adventure I have chiefly obtained from the works of Russian archivists, published in French and English. To give a list of all authorities quoted would be impossible. On Alaska alone, the least known section of the Pacific coast, there is a bibliographical list of four thousand. The better known coast southward has equally voluminous records. Nor is such a list necessary. Nine tenths of it are made up of either descriptive works or purely scientific pamphlets; and of the remaining tenth, the contents are obtained in undiluted condition by going directly to the first sources... Continue reading book >>

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