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Prologue to Lewis and Clark: The Mackay and Evans Expedition Hardcover – April 14, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"To follow the journeys made by Mackay and Evans up the Missouri and across the plains in 1795-97 is to begin to appreciate the kind of world Lewis and Clark found when they voyaged up the river in 1804. . . . Of all those waterways, none has captured the American Imagination more than the Missouri. . . . It is a river of promise, of dreams, and of dreams denied."

About the Author

W. Raymond Wood is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He has authored or edited numerous articles and books on western American history and archaeology, including Prologue to Lewis and Clark: The Mackay and Evans Expedition, also published by the University of Oklahoma Press.


James P. Ronda, H. G. Barnard Professor of History, emeritus, University of Tulsa, is widely recognized for his extensive scholarship on the Lewis and Clark expedition, including the pathbreaking Lewis and Clark Among the Indians. He is also a distinguished historian of the early American fur trade, Astoria and Empire. Professor Ronda’s recent publications include The West the Railroads Made.

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Product Details

  • Series: American Exploration and Travel Series (Book 79)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; illustrated edition edition (April 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806134917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806134918
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,454,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
A fascinating read of pre-Lewis and Clark explorations into the upper Missouri River Basin from its earliest beginnings, with the main focus on the 1795-1797 Mackay-Evans expedition.
Most people have never heard of Scotsman James Mackay and Welshman John Evans, but if it wasn't for their efforts in cartography and ethnology, the celebrated Lewis and Clark expedition would have been quite hampered in its early stages.
When the Louisana Territory was still under Spanish rule, Mackay became a naturalized citizen and Evans swore allegiance to Spain. Their responsibilities to Spain included exploring, mapping and locating a route to the Pacific for trade possibilities, evicting British traders in its territory and promoting Indian intertribal peace to further enhance trade with Spain. Evans' primary objective in accepting this offer was to locate the mythological Welsh Indians whose original Welsh ancestors were suppose to have settled in mid-America during the year 1170 AD.
Although not a completely successful mission, the Mackay-Evans expedition did produce maps of the upper Missouri which Lewis and Clark referred to on numerous occasions and opened understandings of Missouri River Indian cultures and customs.
Dr. Wood effectively sifts through the available journals and maps of Mackay and Evans, along with other pertinent papers and charts of the day, to make this an exciting work.
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Format: Paperback
Too many Lewis and Clark fans tend to assume that the Corps of Discovery was blazing trail all the way from St. Louis to the Pacific. It in no way diminishes the fame due the Corps to point out that for the first half of their journey they were following a trail well blazed by fellow Europeans and Euro-Americans. A French explorer, Pierre Gaultier de la Vérendrye, and his two sons visited the Mandan villages in the Dakotas approximately six-and-a-half decades before Lewis and Clark. A number of British fur traders were working the area in the late eighteenth century, including some that went up the Missouri from St. Louis. The explorer-surveyor David Thompson computed the latitude and longitude of the Mandan villages in 1798. Observations from these many explorers lead to progressively more accurate maps. Lewis and Clark carried the latest of the maps and personally interviewed several of the people who had been all or part of the way to the Mandans. The journey of James Mackay and John Thomas Evans contributed to both the maps and the interviews.

It was, in fact, British incursions into territory where the Spanish had legal claim that prompted the Mackay and Evans expedition to the Mandan Villages. Mackay had been part of the British fur trade and Evans was Welsh. Both had to swear loyalty to the Spanish crown before they were accepted to lead a trip reaffirming the Spanish claim and to warn British traders to cease and desist. Technically, Mackay and Evans represented the Missouri Company, a commercial firm operating under charter (and tight control) of the Spanish government. Mackay and Evans were instructed to proceed up the Missouri and cross the continent to the Pacific, although they only made it as far as the Mandan Villages.
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great book, glad someone took the time to research and document it.....a lesson in wise management of your affairs.
Dan McKay
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