In 1811 a group of American traders built a fort at the mouth of the Columbia River, named Fort Astoria in honor of its financier, John Jacob Astor. Envisioned as the spur of a fur-trading empire, by 1813 the project was a business failure and the fort was surrendered to the British. But in its short life Astoria rendered incalculable benefits to public understanding of th
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“Why are you reading an obscure work by Washington Irving?” a friend asked me. I read it as a followup to Peter Stark’s 2016 JOHN JACOB ASTOR AND THOMAS JEFFERSON’S LOST PACIFIC EMPIRE: A STORY OF WEALTH, AMBITION, AND SURVIVAL which I found very interesting.
Part of that interest is that it describes events that took place in the Pacific Northwest where I now live. But one of Stark’s sources on which he relied heavily was this early work by Irving, commissioned by John Jacob Astor as a officia