The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968 Page: 636

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

the type for the present reprinting were the omission of the first
sentence of the introduction and correction of the first line of the
second paragraph of footnote 198. It is unfortunate that both the
original printing and this reprint include later and irrelevant scenes
of Brazoria County.
The Oregon Question: Essays in Anglo-American Diplomacy and
Politics. By Frederick Merk. Cambridge (The Belknap Press of
Harvard University Press), 1967. Pp. xiv+427. Map, index.
This publication brings together thirteen essays, ten of which have
been previously printed in historical journals. The time span dates
from 1924, which indicates the writer's long-time interest in the
Oregon country and explains his characteristic depth of treatment.
The essay, "Albert Gallatin and the Oregon Problem," received
wide approval when it was published in 1950.
In his introduction the writer points toward the major early inhab-
itants, the fur men, the missionaries, and the agriculturists, but main-
tains that the influence of their activities was marginal in the acquisi-
tion movement. Merk writes, "The definitive forces were diplomacy
and, related to it, politics in both countries." He finds in the chro-
nology of events in the Oregon country a test of Carl Russell Fish's
observation that whereas "by 1815 diplomacy had ceased to shape
politics, after 1830 politics began to shape diplomacy," and he finds
politics in the United States and Great Britain to be active, indeed.
Some will quarrel with Merk's contention that politics rather than
the hardy pioneers really shaped the ends of the Oregon question, but
each essay is convincing. These articles over the years, interspersed
with several books, have provided much of the all-too-little interpre-
tation which has appeared on the area. They have been a chief source
of insight into the forces shaping the action of English politicians
and diplomats.
"The volume is intended to illustrate the principle of multiple
causation in history," says the author, and in this he also makes a
good case. The activists of Old Oregon are here; the personal influ-
ence of Adams, Gallatin, Webster, Polk, Canning, Peel, Aberdeen, and
many others is tested. Major principles and movements such as
arbitration, the river theory, contiguity and equity, and Manifest


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968, periodical, 1968; Austin, Texas. ( accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.