Dr. Whitman May 1844Crystal Calhoun
FROM DR. WHITMAN
WAIILATPU, May 16th, 1844.
My Dear Father and Mother : — A little more than a year has elapsed since I had the pleasure of seeing you. The remembrance of that visit will never be effaced from my mind. I did not misjudge as to my duty to return home; the importance of my accompanying the emigration on one hand and the consequent scarcity of provisions on the other, strongly called for my return, and forbid my bringing another party that year.
As I hold the settlement of this country by Americans rather than by an English colony most important, I am happy to have been the means of landing so large an emigration on to the shores of the Columbia, with their wagons, families and stock, all in safety.
The health of Narcissa was such in my absence and since my return as to call loudly for my presence. We despaired of her life at times and for the winter have not felt she could live long. But there is more hope at present, although nothing very decisive can be said. While on the way back, I had an inflammation in my
foot which threatened to suppurate, but I discussed it and thought nothing more of it until I got home, when I found I had a tumor on the instep. It appears to be a bony tumor and has given me a good deal of apprehension and inconvenience, but is now some better, but not well.
It gives me much pleasure to be back again and quietly at work again for the Indians. It does not concern me so much what is to become of any particular set of Indians, as to give them the offer of salvation through the gospel and the opportunity of civilization, and then I am content to do good to all men as “I have opportunity.” I have no doubt our greatest work is to be to aid the white settlement of this country and help to found its religious institutions. Providence has its full share in all these events. Although the Indians have made and are making rapid advance in religious knowledge and civilization, yet it cannot be hoped that time will be allowed to mature either the work of Christianization or civilization before the white settlers will demand the soil and seek the removal of both the Indians and the Mission. What Americans desire of this kind they always effect, and it is equally useless to oppose or desire it otherwise. To guide, as far as can be done, and direct these tendencies for the best, is evidently the part of wisdom. Indeed, I am fully convinced that when a people refuse or neglect to fill the designs of Providence, they ought not to complain at the results; and so it is equally useless for Christians to be anxious on their account. The Indians have in no case obeyed the command to multiply and replenish the earth, and they cannot stand in the way of others in doing so. A place will be left them to do this as fully as their ability to obey will permit, and the more we can do for them the more fully will this be realized. No exclusiveness can be asked for any portion of the human family. The exercise of his rights are all that can be desired. In order for this to its proper extent in regard to the Indians, it is necessary that they seek to preserve their rights by peaceable means only. Any violation of this rule will be visited with only evil results to themselves.
The Indians are anxious about the consequence of settlers among them, but I hope there will be no acts of violence on either hand. An evil affair at the Falls of the Wallamett, resulted in the death of two white men killed and one Indian. But all is now quiet. I will try to write to Brother Jackson when I will treat of the country, etc.
It will not surprise me to see your whole family in this country in two years. Let us hear from vou often. Narcissa may be able to write for herself. We wish to be remembered with your other children in your prayers.
Your affectionate son,
Hon. Stephen Prentiss,
Cuba, Allegheny Co.,