The Pioneers

The Pioneers

The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

Book - 2019
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"As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. They settled in what is now Marietta on the banks of the Ohio River. McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler's son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent figure in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as trees of a size never imagined, floods, fires, wolves, bears, even an earthquake, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people. Like so many of McCullough's subjects, they let no obstacle deter or defeat them. Drawn in great part from a rare and all-but-unknown collection of diaries and letters by the key figures, The Pioneers is a uniquely American story of people whose ambition and courage led them to remarkable accomplishments."--Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Simon & Schuster,, 2019
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781501168680
Characteristics: 331 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps, portraits ; 25 cm


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Jan 10, 2020

Cutler, Putnam - merely names (of streets, buildings, businesses) to me no more;
Ohio - a river and a state thought little by New England residents like me, suddenly longed for (New England connections, Indian Wars, the Mound ... Underground Railroad), but trees are gone and wilderness may be all manicured.

Another lucid account to convince the old world, our country has the most successful record in history (of all regions and dynasties, great and small) to improve human condition and advance characters, through early settlement and emigration in the shortest time period.

Life of the pioneers, admirable, even in fortunate or desperate time of history, are not meant for many.

Sep 04, 2019

p. 126

Jul 27, 2019

One of the best books I have read in a long time. Be sure to read the acknowledgements at the end of the book in which he explains how he came to write the book. I highly recommend this book. As usual, David McCullough has done an outstanding job.

Jul 14, 2019

The book reads like the vanity histories that towns pay to have written about their history. The book is about the original settles who came to Ohio from New England. His primary sources are diaries and letters from these people. There are a few pages about Aaron Burr and his activities but doesn't come to any specific conclusions about his activities, just a reporting of what people said.

What really disappointed me was the lack of balance and per-settlement history of Ohio. It is like the "Pioneers" stepped into empty space. First Peoples ("Indians") had lived in Ohio for thousands of years and yet the book refers to them only a few times, mainly regarding battles with colonists as they moved west taking more land. Nothing about their pre-history other and some notes about mound building.

Clearly not a complete or an even handed or an academic history of the times, nor the area. I think the author is riding on his reputation.

May 18, 2019

Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and Presidential Medal of Freedom awards have not dimmed David McCullough's zest for writing forthright and enthralling history that brings American ideals to life. "The Pioneers" traces the story of the earliest expansion West from the original Colonies, with the company of adventurers founding the first official settlements just across the Ohio River in the Northwest reserve. Marietta, Ohio, becomes the first home to New England transplants who struggle against Native Americans, but who also carry the ideals of universal education and principled opposition to slavery into the next century of the new nation. Solid research grounds McCullough's characteristically articulate narrative.

May 02, 2019

I can hardly wait for David McCullough new book. I have read all of his Writings and never been disappointed. He is an outstanding writer


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