Cover image for The tide of empire : America's march to the Pacific
The tide of empire : America's march to the Pacific
Golay, Michael, 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiv, 386 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F880 .G65 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A vivid tableau of the American conquest of the Pacific Coast

"With Broughton's expedition, the Americans and the British had posted competing claims to a vast expanse of the Pacific Northwest. The area in contention would encompass all of present Oregon and Washington and parts of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and British Columbia. Robert Gray, the dour Yankee trader, and William Broughton, the obscure British naval officer, nonentities both, sailed away from the misty coasts of the Columbia in 1792, never to return. They had no way of knowing, of course, how it would all end. But the breathtaking effrontery of their claims set in motion events of fateful consequence, touching off a half-century of trade and diplomatic rivalry, a flood of Euroamerican settlement, and the displacement and virtual destruction of the immemorial inhabitants of what the contestants would come to call the Oregon Country."

Author Notes

Michael Golay is a journalist & author of several books, including "The Ruined Land: The End of the Civil War". He lives in Exeter, NH.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

In examining our nation's trans-Mississippi expansion in the nineteenth century, there is always the temptation to focus on sudden, dramatic episodes such as the Louisiana Purchase or the Mexican War. The strength of this book is that it views this expansion as a slow but steady process that began before, and often proceeded independently of, such well-known events. Golay, who has written five books about nineteenth-century American history, concentrates on the American exploration and settlement of the Oregon country and California before the Civil War. As Golay illustrates, Americans were interested in the Pacific coast almost from the nation's birth. A decade beforeefferson expressed his hopes for an empire of liberty, American commercial and war ships were active in the coastal waters of the Oregon country. Golay coherently describes the complicated and often treacherous competition between American and British fur companies, and his accounts of the tribulations of idealistic but native missionaries, including the doomed Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, have the air of genuine tragedy. An excellent addition to collections on the history of the American West. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This engaging popular history details the settlement of the Oregon Territory, from the 1792 Columbia fur-trading expedition that discovered the great river of that name, to the great migrations of the mid-19th century. Golay, the author of five previous books on 19th-century America, introduces pivotal figures in the quest for a Pacific Empire, such as John McLoughlin, of the Hudson Bay Company, who ruled the Oregon Territory during the 1820s and 1830s. During much of that period, neither the British nor the Americans had full control of the area, but soon thereafter Americans pushed up the Columbia and across the Plains. Finding passes through the mountains, many of these settlers and explorers earned the title of "pathfinder." Golay limns balanced portraits of many explorers, including one of John Charles Fremont (the celebrated "pathfinder of empire") that does justice to him and his intrepid wife Jessie. He also profiles Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, the best-known martyrs among the new territory's missionaries. Golay ably chronicles the expansion that established the American claim to the Pacific Northwest, as well as the devastating consequences for the Native Americans who preceded the European settlers. The quality of the writing and the depth of the research make this book a valuable read for anyone interested in 19th-century American history. B&w illustrations and maps. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

The story of America's expansion to the Pacific Ocean is a familiar and oft-told one. Golay (To Gettysburg and Beyond) provides his take on events, from Robert Gray's discovery of the mouth of the Columbia River in 1792 to the Whitman killings in 1847. To make clear the theme that this expansion was inevitable given the nature of the times and the American character, Golay made extensive use of letters and diaries, particularly those of the Protestant missionaries sent to Oregon. Yet his words are also tinged with regret for what was lost because of this expansion and its consequences. While there is nothing new here, Golay offers a good picture of the trials and tribulations faced by the early settlers in Oregon and shows their relationship with Hudson's Bay Company. Recommended for most libraries.-Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Golay has written a story of the large numbers of pioneers who traveled west and opened up the Oregon Country and California. In place of the subtitle "America's March to the Pacific," the author suggests that he might equally well have adopted "How a Nondescript Band of Trappers, Missionaries, and Junior Army Officers Seized a Pacific Empire for the United States." Pioneers in this drama came from all walks of life; European collided with Native American. Secured was a Pacific empire for the nation. Golay reveals some of the vision and accomplishments of individuals such as Jason Lee, John Fremont, Nathaniel Wyeth, and Narcissa Prentiss. The book remains another account of the spirit and some of the substance of Manifest Destiny, but the pace of the prose and the easily managed complexity of the work's composition distinguish it. Vigor and charm of expression provide attractive reading. The endnotes are particularly helpful. Photographs, maps, and index are welcome additions. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels and collections. G. J. Martin emeritus, Southern Connecticut State University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Author's Notep. xiii
Prologue: Columbia's Riverp. 1
1 Ways Westp. 17
2 The Road to Indiap. 65
3 Arcadiap. 118
4 The Missionary Impulsep. 172
5 The Great Migrationp. 219
6 Manifest Destinyp. 273
Epilogue: The Country of the Setting Sunp. 325
Notesp. 335
Bibliographyp. 363
Indexp. 369