Converting the West
(Summarized from the inside cover) Narcissa Whitman and her husband, Marcus, were pioneer missionaries to the Oregon Territory in the 1830s. She grew up in western New York State. Her values and attitudes carefully shaped by the mother and the Second Great Awakening. She eagerly embraced the evangelical missionary movement. Following her marriage to Marcus, she traveled overland to Oregon, where she enthusiastically began hoping to see many "benighted" Indians adopt her message of salvation through Christ.
But not one Indian ever did. Cultural barriers that Narcissa never grasped effectively kept her far from the Cayuse. Gradually abandoning her efforts with the Indians, Narcissa developed a more satisfying ministry. She taught and counseled whites' emigrants streaming into the territory, on the mission compound. These emigrants posed an increasing threat to the Indians.
The Cayuse ultimately took murderous action against the Whitmans', the most visible whites, thus ending dramatically Narcissa's eleven-year effort to be a faithful Christian missionary as well as a devoted wife and loving mother.
In this moving biography, Jeffreys' brings Narcissa Whitman to life, revealing not only white assumptions and imperatives but the perspective of the Cayuse tribe as well. Jeffrey draws on a rich assortment of primary and secondary materials, blending narration and interpretation in her account. She clearly traces the motivations and relationships, the opportunities and constraints that structured Narcissa Whitman's life as a nineteenth-century American evangelical woman.
- 1991 University of Oklahoma Press
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