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The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American…

de David McCullough

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1,0473814,823 (3.64)54
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story--the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country. 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 pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, 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. This is a revelatory and quintessentially American story, written with David McCullough's signature narrative energy.… (més)
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Review: This was a really good book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a part of me that wishes he included a bit more of one particular topic: the Native Americans. This is only because of how the Northwest Territory was virtually untouched by Europeans until they really began to explore it after the American Revolution. I highly recommend this as a read, but just be warned about McCullough’s writing style: it’s definitely not for everyone (I enjoy it since he tends to be more straight-to-the-point). ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
Super book on the history of the settlement of the Northwest Territory; specifically, the Ohio River Valley. This work of non-fiction told of specific groups of settlers though the lives of 5 important historical individuals. The only thing, IMHO, that was shorted was the conflict with the Native Americans. I haven't read a better history of this area. 379 pages ( )
  Tess_W | Jul 22, 2021 |
“The Pioneers” is the story of the founding of the oldest state in the Northwest Territory: Ohio. It focuses on Marietta, Ohio’s oldest settlement. McCullough brings to life the New Englanders who founded Ohio, and he tells an important story in American history, that is usually neglected by those of us who live in one of the original thirteen states. My takeaway from reading this book is that it takes a lot of courage, resilience, cooperation and sharing to accomplish anything significant and lasting. ( )
  WilliamThomasWells | Jul 10, 2021 |
Hardly anyone today thinks of the Ohio Valley as "the West." A great many Americans, in fact, regard Ohio as "back East." Yet when the country was very young, those who settled in Ohio were among the very first pioneers, and they are the subject of David McCullough's “The Pioneers” (2019)

McCullough writes that the idea for the book came to him when he was the commencement speaker at Ohio University, my own alma mater, in 2004 in tribute to the university's 200th anniversary. He took an interest in the founding of the school in 1804, just a year after Ohio became a state and when it was still mostly wilderness. He was referred to the Legacy Library at nearby Marietta College, which holds an extensive collection of original documents about early Ohio, and also about Ohio University's founder, Manasseh Cutler.

It was Manasseh Cutler, a minister, who was most responsible for settling the Northwest Territory in the first place. Those first settlers stopped in what is now Marietta. Yet it is Cutler's son, Ephraim, who takes most of the spotlight in this book. A significant early political leader in the new state, he left his sickbed long enough to cast the deciding vote that prohibited slavery in Ohio. (It was apparently Thomas Jefferson who was responsible for persuading many legislators to vote in favor of slavery.)

Such people as Aaron Burr, John Quincy Adams, Tecumseh and Harriet Beecher Stowe play roles in this early Ohio history, which spans the years from 1787 to the Civil War. We read of Indian battles, an earthquake, epidemics and floods. People kept coming, most of them following the Ohio River, and many kept going west from Ohio, becoming pioneers elsewhere.

This is hardly the most interesting of McCullough's many books, in part because of its broad focus. Yet it was subject matter ripe for revisiting by a historian, and McCullough is among the best. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Feb 12, 2021 |
McCullough rarely disappoints. About the settlement of the West, starting in Ohio. A story of which I was not familiar. Knew a few of teh characters, but most I had not heard of. And these people were truly Pioneers. Trying to carve out a life in Indian wilderness. I'll pass. Sounds hard. ( )
  bermandog | Dec 17, 2020 |
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The character ought to be known of these bold pioneers....From whence did they spring? ... For what causes, under what circumstances, and for what objects were difficulties met and overcome? - Ephraim Cutler
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Never before, as he knew, had any of his countrymen set off to accomplish anything like what he had agreed to undertake--a mission that, should he succeed, could change the course of history in innumerable ways and to the long-lasting benefit of countless Americans. [Manessah Cutler]
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story--the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country. 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 pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, 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. This is a revelatory and quintessentially American story, written with David McCullough's signature narrative energy.

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