Edward Kern and American Expansion

Edward Kern and American Expansion

Edward Kern and American Expansion

Edward Kern and American Expansion

Excerpt

The nineteenth century was a wandering time. It included the most enormous migrations of all history. From farms to cities, from Old World to New (and often back again), from east to west, from frontier to frontier, from known soils to enigmatic lands, men moved. And what more congenial place for a wanderer than the American West? These expanses were, it is true, to be peopled by men like John Marsh and Oliver Larkin and Brigham Young, essentially settlers at heart. But there was also an army of rovers who lived or had lived vagabond lives: John Sutter and Isaac Graham, Jedediah Smith and the Patties, Ewing Young and Joseph Walker, Sam Houston and Richard King, Nathaniel Wyeth and Benjamin Bonneville, Lewis Garrard and Josiah Gregg, James Marshall and Henry Comstock. These men, like John Smith and Daniel Boone, were the Childe Harolds of the New World. John Charles Frémont was such a pilgrim, though a scientific one, and so were his assistants, the brothers Edward, Richard, and Benjamin Kern.

There were economic reasons for the restlessness, but for the Kerns as for the century the fever was the result of a contagious Romanticism. Their sketches in the field may . . .

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