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Commerce of the Prairiesby Josiah Gregg
Synopses & Reviews
Written as a scrupulously accurate guidebook to the prairies and as an authoritative account of the early Santa Fe trade, Commerce of the Prairies has been a favorite of historians, ethnologists, naturalists, and collectors of Western Americana for generations. But Greggs masterpiece is not for specialists alone: its vivid descriptions of desert mirages, wagon caravans, Indian alarms and attacks, buffalo hunts, and other early Western phenomena will delight all who wish to know the country as it was before the great herds of buffalo were slaughtered and the roving Indians confined to reservations, before the landscape was transformed by barbed wire, domestic cattle, plowed fields, and modern highways.
Josiah Gregg, a man of rare sensitivity and passionate science interest, joined a caravan of traders bound for Santa Fé in 1831 and almost immediately developed a fascination for the adventure-packed life of Santa Fé trader. And during the ten years that he engaged in the San Fé trade, Gregg took copious notes on the life and landscape of the American prairies and the Mexican plateau, later utilizing them in Commerce of the Prairies.
This new edition faithfully follows the rare first edition, to and including the maps and illustrations. It will be welcomed both by readers familiar with the importance and interest of Greggs work and by readers who have yet to discover its attraction.
About the Author
Josiah Gregg is best known to American history and literature for his now classic work on the West, Commerce of the Prairies. A Santa F' trader, a keen observer, a man of intellectual curiosity?Gregg, with his knowledge of the pathways across the central plains, of the Mexicans and their settlements, and of the Plains Indians, brought to American literature what is generally considered to be the first important, and even now the definitive, work on the plains as they were during the eighteen thirties.
Reared in the sheer democracy of the early nineteenth century border settlements in Missouri? ?myself cradled and educated upon the Indian border? ? Josiah Gregg, as a young man, spent almost a decade in the Santa F' trade and made eight trips across the plains with his goods. This story in its scrupulous detail appears in Commerce of the Prairies, but of his subsequent life very little has been known. In this book, and in a companion volume to fellow, compiled from the hitherto unknown diary, and from letters, many of them little known, which Maurice Garland Fulton most fortunately procured from Gregg?s own descendants, is published for the first time an account of Gregg?s career until his death in 1850.this first book chronicles the period from Gregg?s retirement from the Santa F' trade in 1840 through his experiences in the East, on the plains, in Texas, and with the army in the Mexican War to the very eve of the Battle of Buena Vista, in 1847.
Maurice Garland Fulton?s enthusiastic and enlightened editing of the diary and letters, and the cogent biographical essay provided as a historical introduction to the books by Paul Horgan, bring into print what may well prove to be one of the paramount discoveries in Western Americana in this decade. This book, and its second part to follow, appear as volumes in The American Exploration and Travel Series, a series devoted to accounts of explorers, traders, and travelers, who have provided some of the most romantic and fascinating chapters in the history of the American domain.���
Max L. Moorhead, professor of history in the University of Oklahoma, has long been interested in the oldest major highway in what is now the United States. He has traveled over its whole length and has sought information about it in the archives of both New and Old Mexico. He has also edited Santa F� trader Josiah Gregg's classic account, Commerce of the Prairies, published in 1954 by the University of Oklahoma Press.
Marc Simmons holds the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of New Mexico. His publications include more than one hundred articles and nearly two dozen books on the American Southwest, several of them award winners.
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