The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924

Book Reviews and Notices

BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICES
Opening a Highway to the Pacific, 1838-1846. A review sug-
gested by James Christy Bell, Jr's. book of that title.
[New York, 1921. Longmans. p. 209. illus.]
This book of 209 pages published in 1921 was first printed as
a doctoral thesis in the University of Columbia Studies in His-
tory, Economics and Publec Law, Volume XCVI, number 1 (1920).
It is, then, one of the most recent results of Eastern scholarship,
interest, and reseach in Far Western fields. From its very nature
of a doctoral thesis thus dignified by a double printing it comes
to us bearng not only authority but responsibility; and its au-
thorty will be great only as it has acquitted itself well or not of
its responsibility.
This thesis does not belong to the type of subject usually chosen
by research scholarship east of the Alleghanies. The first thing
that it can reveal is the resources that such a locality possesses
for such a study. The question must be encountered: Are the
data sufficient? Unquestionably Dr. Bell decided that they were
or he would never have attempted this work. Moreover, it is due
him to quote his statement in the preface, that he had "enjoyed
four visits to the Oregon territory" and it is to be assumed that
on these occasions he was able to fill bibliographcal gaps from the
Pacific Coast historical depostories.
It must be confessed, however, that this is not visibly patent
from his footnote material. One does not have to go to Portland
to obtain the volumes of the Oregon Historical Quarterly, or of
the Transactions of the Pioneer Association. A reference to the
Bancroft Collection in the University of California would indicate
that this storehouse of historiagraphy was known to the author
but that he sounded its possibilities is not at all apparent. Its
manuscript material, so much of it written by men who had part
in opening a highway to the Pacific, is untouched. The reason
for this oversight is not hard to guess and Dr. Bell's chief fault
is in not having been bigger than the traditional point of view,
which is that Southwestern history does not belong to Pacific
Coast history until 1849, and that the highway to the Pacific had
its southern boundary along the 42 degree parallel.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101086/. Accessed July 25, 2014.