AUTUMN 1831, Four Indians -3 Nez Perce and 1 Flathead, arrived in St. Louis asking about a “book to heaven.” In response, Dr. Marcus Whitman left all and became a missionary to the Indians.
Almost a century later, July 3, 1923, dedicating the Oregon Trail, President Warren Harding told of Dr. Marcus Whitman, clad in buckskin breeches, fur leggings and moccasins, “in the dead of winter 1842, struggled through…blinding storms, 4,000 miles…from Walla Walla…past the Great Salt Lake, to Santa Fe…to St. Louis and finally…to Washington, D.C…It was a race against time. Public opinion was…that Oregon was not worth claiming… Turning to President Tyler, Whitman added…’All I ask is that you will not barter away Oregon or allow English interference until I can lead…settlers across the plains.'”
President Warren Harding continued: “Such was Marcus Whitman, the missionary hero…to plead that the state should acquire…the empire that the churches were gaining for Christianity…Never in the history of the world has there been a finer example of civilization following Christianity. The missionaries led under the banner of the cross and the settlers moved close behind under the star-spangled symbol of the nation.”
The State of Washington placed Dr. Marcus Whitman’s statue in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.