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Connecting curious minds with uncommon, undeniably Northwest reads

William F. Tolmie at Fort Nisqually

Letters, 1850–1853

Edited by Steve A. Anderson

Introduction by Jerry V. Ramsey, Ph.D.

$34.95

Chief Trader William Fraser Tolmie left letter books from January 1850 to the threshold of Puget Sound’s Indian War. Transcribed by a former Fort Nisqually Living History Museum manager, the documents include private conversations, weighty business discussions, political intrigue, patterns of commerce, gossip, and insight into life on Puget Sound.

“A unique and impressively informative collection…unreservedly recommended.”—Library Bookwatch, February 2020

Illustrations / maps / notes / bibliography / index / 302 pages (2019)

 

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Description

Scottish-born Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) Chief Trader William Fraser Tolmie took charge of Fort Nisqually and its outstations in 1843. The first white settlement on Puget Sound, it functioned as a vital communications, banking, and shipping center, as well as a commodities and livestock broker, annually exporting tons of hides and produce. The International Boundary Treaty of 1846 between Great Britain and the United States spawned myriad legal and regulatory problems, and by 1850, HBC agents, government officials, and settlers disagreed over numerous issues.

In 2006, Steve A. Anderson discovered complete hand-written volumes of Fort Nisqually’s letter books at the HBC Archives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He transcribed several, spanning from January 1850 to the threshold of Puget Sound’s Indian War. Very few published primary documents about this period exist. “The discovery of Tolmie’s letters changed everything,” he says. They offer privileged, private conversations, weighty business discussions, gossip, political intrigue, patterns of commerce, deadly epidemics, and an eyewitness account of San Francisco’s devastating fire. The documents—more than 400 total—present a rare British perspective on the state of law and international affairs in 1850s Puget Sound, a glimpse of higher-level HBC and Puget Sound Agricultural Company (PSAC) operations, and insight into conflicts that followed the 1846 treaty.

Steve A. Anderson managed the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum for ten years. He has published multiple journal articles and books, including Angus McDonald of the Great Divide: The Uncommon Life of a Fur Trader, 1816–1899.

Illustrations / maps / notes / bibliography / index / 302 pages (2019)

Recognition

“A unique and impressively informative collection, “William F. Tolmie at Fort Nisqually: Letters, 1850-1853″ is an especially and unreservedly recommended and significant addition to community, college, and academic library American History collections, and would prove to be especially noteworthy for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.”

Library Bookwatch, February 2020

Additional information

Dimensions 7 x 10 in
Format

Paperback