Two years after the triumphant 1806 return of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark from their Corps of Discovery Expedition, Thomas Jefferson sought the financial help of millionaire John Jacob Astor to establish a Jamestown-like colony on the Pacific Coast, anticipating a day when it would become a hub of commerce. Astor set out to establish a global trade network based at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, while Jefferson envisioned a separate democracy on the western shore of the continent that would spread eastward to meet the young United States.
To achieve these mutual ends, in 1810 Astor dispatched two groups of men west: one by sea around the southern tip of South America and one by land over the Rockies. The harrowing tale of the adventures, disparate cultures and respective fates of the Overland Party and the Seagoing Party, hitherto little-known even to American history buffs, has now been told in a book called Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival. Author Peter Stark, a longtime correspondent for Outside magazine, will give a reading and talk about the book at Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck on Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m.
Admission to this event is free. Oblong Books is located at 6422 Montgomery Street in Rhinebeck. For more information, call (845) 876-0500 or visit www.oblongbooks.com/event/author-event-peter-stark-astoria.