Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire – A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival


Every year I try and read at least one book that is in some way related to the Lewis and Clark expedition. This year I chose this book by Peter Stark and I was not disappointed.

The book is well researched and is written in a style that makes it easy to read and understand. It covers the history of the United States expansion into the pacific northwest after Lewis and Clark and is divided into three parts: The Launch, The Journey and The Pacific Empire and War.

It starts with the background history on John Jacob Astor and his development into one of the financial titans of the early 19th century.  His ability to  recognize and seize opportunity is what led to his desire for the establishment of a fur trading operation in the pacific northwest. It expands into the journey of two different groups he financed. One by sea and the second by land and the difficulties that they each faced. Some due to environmental conditions and some due to weak leadership.

The land expedition was led by Wilson Price Hunt and through trial and error uncovered an easier route to the northwest than that used by Lewis and Clark. This passage become known as the Oregon Trail. The ocean group was led by Jonathan Thorn whose military experience made for an inflexible leader who did not heed the advice offered and created a number of needless difficult situations.

The books ends with the War of 1812 and the eventual compromise that led to the division of the northwest territory between the United States and England. The author also reveals what happened to those in the two parties that survived the events during this time period.

I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in what happened after Lewis and Clark ventured to the northwest or has an interest in the early history of the Pacific Northwest.


About caseywheeler

My interests include: Model trains, Reading, Genealogy, New York Yankees and helping organizations be successful.
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