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In Search of York: The Slave Who Went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark, Revised Edition Paperback – November 5, 2002
History To Repeat & Some To Not
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When the men in the Corps of Discovery returned to St. Louis after their two-and-a-half year journey to the Pacific Northwest, they were amply rewarded, with money and land, by a gushing Congress. All of them but one, that is. York, William Clark's slave, had traveled with all the rest of the men. He's mentioned occasionally in the journals written by some of the expedition's members (not the least of whom are Lewis and Clark). He pulled his weight in the physical toil of the journey; he appears to have been a good hunter; his blackness, a fascinating novelty to a few of the Indian tribes the Corps encountered, seems to have been a cultural ice-breaker on at least one occasion; and he was accepted as a bona fide member by the other Corpsmen, given that there are no negative comments made of him by any of the journal writers and that he was given a vote equal to any other Corps member's on two separate occasions. Yet, on the Corps' return to civilization, York became invisible again: a man with no last name, a slave, a piece of property. Chattel.
So it is with the invisibles of history, the people who our cultural blindspots just won't allow us to see. For too many years, blacks and Indians have been the invisibles in US history. It's as if they never existed. They vanish without leaving a ripple on the pond, and this is incredibly sad.
That's why In Search of York is such an important book, because in it Robert Betts tried to overcome cultural blindness by painstakingly searching out and documenting as much information about York as he could.Read more ›
This is truly an exhaustive examination of the literature for the realities, the myths, the possibilities, and the probabilities of the life of this important man. Betts tells the powerful and tragic tale of two boys, red-headed William Clark and the probably slightly younger family slave York who grew up together as playmates, served together on the Expedition, and then grew apart after returning to St. Louis. In a certain sense, York's tale is dependent upon Clark and others, Betts makes clear, since York himself wasn't equipped to document his own story. And since the primary purposes of journalists such as Clark, Lewis, and others was to tell a different story, York is illuminated briefly and obliquely. Betts does an excellent job of pulling together what is know, what may be sensibly surmised, and what is just wrong about preexisting Yorkian legend.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was curious as to what happened to York after his trip with Lewis and Clark up the Missouri River. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Gale Rauschenberger