"Captain Gray in the Pacific Northwest: Captain Gray's Voyages of Discovery 1787 - 1793" (used book)

"Captain Gray in the Pacific Northwest: Captain Gray's Voyages of Discovery 1787 - 1793" (used book)

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Captain Gray in the Pacific Northwest: Captain Gray's Voyages of Discovery 1787 - 1793

by Francis E. Cross & Charles M. Parkin, Jr.


About the book

Used book. Hardcover. Dust jacket included. Good condition.


As he sailed out of Boston that October morning in 1787, little did Captain Gray realize the part he would play in Jefferson’s dreams for expansion – a United States that would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. For it started out quite unceremoniously, a small entrepreneurial expedition consisting of the 83-foot Columbia and a sloop, the Lady Washington.

The outward voyage to the Pacific Northwest coast via the Falkland Islands took nearly twelve months. It was marked by many incidents: long delays; officer and crew desertions; a drowning; a man captured and three men wounded; an Indian attack; and two deaths form scurvy. And all the time a watch had to be maintained for Spanish ships which dominated this part of the new world.

Upon arrival to the Northwest’s primeval and uncharted shore, Gray immediately set about the task of gaining a cargo of sea otter pelts from the Indians. He topped off his load with sandalwood in the Sandwich Islands and swapped his cargo with tea in China.

Upon his return to Boston, Gray was hailed with great enthusiasm by his new nation. He had earned a place in history as the first American to land on the Northwest coast and the firsts American to circumnavigate the globe.

But Gray was destined for greater honors. The Columbia loaded with another three-year supply of stores, bartering gods and a 45-ton sloop in frame, Gray once again departed for the Northwest. Sailing along the coast the Columbia went about collecting furs. After a skirmish in Alaska with Indians, Gray returned south to his winter base, which he called Fort Defiance. Here the sloop Adventure was completed, making it the first American vessel to be built on the Pacific coast.

Another abortive Indian attack and the Columbia headed south again where Gray made an important discovery which was later named Grays Harbor. Then the persistent Gray, probing for further penetration into the mainland proved the dangerous bar of Asuncion Entry could be safely crossed. Thus, the American succeeded where several European navigators had failed.

Once inside the inlet, Gray ascended the river a distance of twenty-five miles. He traded with the astonished natives, made surveys, and drafted a chart. He named the broad river Columbia’s River.

But long before he died in 1806, and in spite of his great accomplishments, Robert Gray had become a forgotten man. It wasn’t until the late 1830’s that Captain Gray’s exploits wee fully appreciated, when they became the basis by which the United States laid claim to sovereignty over the vast Oregon Country. If it had not been for Captain Gray, this land which had been disputed by Spain, Russia, Great Britain and the United States, would not have gone to the United States as auspiciously as it did.