Pioneer Statue (University of Oregon)

From Lane Co Oregon

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:

More than two years have passed since I wrote Judge Robert S. Bean, President of the Board of Regents, of my desire to erect a memorial to the Oregon pioneers and to have it placed on the grounds of the University of Oregon. The letter I then wrote expresses my sentiments and thought so accurately that I can do no better than read it to you today. It is as follows:

"It has long been my earnest desire to express my admiration and respect for the Oregon pioneer. Having given the subject much serious thought, I am now addressing you for the purpose of laying before you and the Board of Regents of the University the plan I have formulated, and to obtain your consent and approval for the carrying out of my idea.

The pioneer represents all that is noblest and best in our history. The men and women who saved the west for this country were animated by the highest motives. They made untold sacrifices and endured hardships of every kind in order that their children might enjoy the fruits of their labor. Their courage, foresight, endurance and industry should ever be an inspiration to the youth of the country.

I therefore propose to erect a memorial, which it seems to me should stand on the campus of our great institution of learning, the University of Oregon, where for years to come the rising generation of Oregon will have before them a reminder of those to whom they owe every opportunity they enjoy.

Accordingly I have commissioned Mr. A. Phimister Proctor, the distinguished American sculptor, to model a statue typifying the real pioneer of the West. It is my sincere desire and hope that, as the genius of Saint Gaudens has typified in imperishable bronze The Puritan, the genius of Proctor will in like degree typify The Pioneer. Should my plan meet with the approval of yourself and the Board of Regents of the University, I would request that at the proper time and in, concurrence with Mr. Proctor, a place be designated on the University grounds upon which the monument may be erected."

This day evidences the fulfillment of this desire, and we have gathered together in honor of those to perpetuate whose memory this statue was designed. While it is a matter of greater satisfaction to me than I can express to have the opportunity of testifying in this way to my affection for the pioneers of Oregon, it is the genius of the artist which makes it possible to express in enduring bronze not only the sentiment, but the man. I wish to express not only my sincere admiration for Mr. Proctor's genius, but the thankfulness I feel for his unselfish devotion to the task and for the zeal and spirit which from the inception of the idea to this dedication have animated his work. The sculptor, not only an artist of rare genius, but a man of nature, of the mountains and plains, knowing at first hand the pioneer and his life, his real worth and what he endured and sought, has created a type true to life--the real pioneer as we have known him.

This statue is erected and dedicated to the memory of all Oregon pioneers. It is in no sense personal or individual and it is my earnest wish and, hope that this fact may ever be kept in mind.

The reasons for selecting the University of Oregon as the home of this memorial are many. It is sufficient to say that here the Willamette and Mackenzie Rivers join their waters into one grand channel and create this beautiful valley, the paradise to which the pioneer struggled over great mountains and across desert plains, to which he first came in numbers, and in which he first made his home. Here, too, the state which he created has founded its great institution to train its young men and women. No more fitting place than the campus of the University of Oregon could be found for the memorial. Here amid these beautiful surroundings, in this institution of learning, acting as an inspiration to Oregon's young manhood and womanhood, this pioneer in bronze will find a hospitable home in the land he loved so well. I am happy in the thought that I have had the opportunity thus to show my love and admiration for those whose life was largely spent in a work whose greatness and value will be better understood when viewed down the perspective of time. The greatest honor I have is in honoring them. Joaquin Miller thus painted the pioneers:

"I only know that when that land Lay thick with peril, and lay far It seemed as some sea-fallen star, The weak men never reached a hand Or sought us out that primal day. And cowards did not come that way."

Mr. President, my share in this very satisfactory enterprise is ended: with this memorial, there goes every good wish for this University, coupled with the sincere hope that those who seek guidence and aid within its classic walls will never lose sight of what they owe the pioneer.



Mr. President, Mr. Proctor, Mr. Teal, the Faculty and Students of the 'University of Oregon, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am not on the programme for an address, and I was not aware that I should make any remarks until my arrival in Eugene at noon today. But since I have been asked to do so, I cannot refrain from saying a few things which I have in my mind, for I am a native son of Oregon, and I have been for many years President of the Oregon Historical Society, and I am familiar with the early history of Oregon, its settlement, its upbuildlng, and its making, and the kind of people the Oregon pioneers were and are.

Ever since its organization the Oregon Historical Society has been engaged in determining the facts and the truths of history, particularly relating to the history of Oregon. It examines traditions and folklore. It endeavors, as it were, to separate the grain from the chaff. It studies the motives, the ideals, and the acts of people in regard to the settlement and upbuilding of Oregon. It seeks to know the truth. Mr. Proctor in this statue, typical of the Oregon pioneers, has portrayed truth in a way which should give to him the thanks of every student and lover of early Oregon history. This statue is a gift to the State of Oregon by a son and grandson of true and worthy Oregon pioneers. Great credit is due to Mr. Teal for his patriotic and unselfish generosity in making this gift.

The Anglo-Saxon race is a branch of the Tentonic race. It was and is a liberty-loving race. It believes in the protection of life and of liberty and in the rights of property and the pursuit of happiness. This race has large powers of assimilation, and its great ideas of liberty and of the rights of mankind caused other races to become a part of it, so it became a people as well as a race. In early historic times it made its power felt and for centuries contended for the rights of the people in England, where it had made its home, and finally succeeded in making England a free country, as evidenced by the Revolution and Settlement of 1688 and the policy of the English people ever since. Its instincts and traditions caused some of its people to come to North: America to begin and to continue its settlement and civilization. The first of these people came about three centuries ago. Many of them came thereafter from time to time. They landed on the Atlantic Coast and pushed on westward. They soon adapted themselves to conditions and learned self-reliance and how to overcome the difficulties of establishing themselves in a new country, theretofore peopled only by Indians. They continued to push on westward and occupied what are now the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and other western lands, now the Central States of this country. Their courage, their powers, their self-reliance and their ideals increased as they moved westward. They fought Indians; they cut down forests; they reclaimed wild lands; they established homes, schools and churches. It is of this people that most of the early Oregon pioneers are a part.

The instincts and traditions of the Anglo-Saxon, race have ever been to move westward. The star it had followed, which showed the westward course of empire, at last stood and shone over Oregon. Here was a wild land to be made useful and become a part of the, civilized world. It was about two thousand miles west of the forefront of civilization in the United States at that time. Between that forefront and Oregon there are great plains, rugged mountains and large rivers to be crossed, a road to be established for them and for others, coming after them, to travel successfully to Oregon--"the land where dreams come true." There were great numbers of savage Indians to be encountered and forced to respect the rights and property of these immigrants.

The lure of Oregon had appealed to many who had settled in the western states and territories. In May, 1843, without preconcert, but moved, by a common impulse, nearly nine hundred men, women, and children met at Independence, Missouri, ready and anxious to start on the long trip to Oregon. Some were poorly equipped for so long, arduous, and perilous an expedition, for they had few precedents. But they were resourceful and filled with an abiding faith in their ability to succeed.

They were courageous folk filled and moved by great ideals, not that they knew they had ideals, and they probably would have resented any intimation that they had them. But nevertheless they had these ideals and were influenced by them. These pioneer immigrants moved slowly westward, driving the oxen which pulled their wagons until they arrived at Fort Hall, about seven hundred miles east of here. There they were told that it was impossible to take their wagons to the Columbia River. But they were not frightened by this information. The men determined to go on as far as they could, for they were self-reliant, and their wives and daughters had every confidence in these resolute men. Loving arms went around stalward necks, with cheering words and saying: "Where you go we will go with you and, help in every way."

It was a momentous occasion. They could have abandoned their intentions to go to the Willamette Valley, and by forced marches, probably, have arrived at their starting point in Missouri before traveling by wagons became impossible the ensuing winter. If they failed to reach the Columbia River probably almost all of the party would have died of starvation or from exposure. There was little game west of Fort Hall. They cut themselves off from all sources of supply. If they failed it would probably have been many years before there was another overland expedition of immigrants to Oregon. It was practically impossible to send large numbers of immigrants by sea. The government of the United States did nothing to encourage or to assist the early settlement of Oregon. The peaceful settlement of the Oregon Question, especially by the occupation of Oregon by American citizens, would probably have been impossible. It was a daring determination.

If they had failed! These immigrants of 1843 were intrepid, determined, resourceful, and self-reliant. They were not accustomed to fail in any enterprise they undertook to accomplish.

And so, taking in their own hands the lives of themselves and of their wives and children and their fortunes, they accepted the chances, relying on themselves and their ability to succeed. It was a heroic resolution fully carried out. They surmounted every difficulty. They made roads and crossed great rivers and went over seemingly impassable mountains until they came to The Dalles on the Columbia River, beyond which travel with wagons was impossible at that time. They came down the Columbia River, rescued and succored and assisted to establish themselves in the land they had seen in dreams, the beautiful Willamette Valley, then a fertile wilderness, by that princely great humanitarian, Dr. John McLoughlin, the Father of Oregon. Thus the immigrants of '43 made and showed the way to Oregon for others to follow. This first home-building immigration was followed by successful immigrations, of the same quality of people, in the succeeding years. The coming of these immigrants was the cause of the peaceful settlement of the Oregon Question, which for many years had threatened to embroil the United States and Great Britain in a long and bloody war. The British government feared that the whole Oregon country would be peopled by immigrants from the United States.

And these are the pioneers of Oregon to whom be everlasting praise and glory. The coming to Oregon of its pioneers is one of the most daring movements and one of the most interesting and romantic stories of the settlement and upbuilding of any part of the United States. These pioneers and their qualities, characteristics and ideals Mr. Proctor has exemplified and. shown in this statue.

I have not time to go into details or to show how these pioneers upbnilded and made this beautiful Oregon of today, of which we are so proud.

Many of these pioneers have gone to the Great Beyond and those now living will soon follow to honored graves. It is, for their descendants to take up the work which these pioneers left unfinished. What they did can never be forgotten.

But the Oregon pioneers did not comprise all of the people of Anglo-Saxon ancestry and heredity in the United States nor all who were influenced by its traditions and instincts. They exert the great controlling influence in the civilization and life of this country. It was their influence which caused the Declaration of Independence to be made and the war of the American Revolution to be fought. They carry on AngloSaxon ideas of the rights of life, liberty, property and the right of the pursuit of happiness. All these have been put to the test in the great world war beginning in 1914. The United States is a peaceful nation. But its people are not pacifists. There was, at first, great horror on account of German atrocities. This nation was greatly stirred by the sinking of the Lusitania. But that was a British ship and its sinking was not an attack upon the United States, dastardly as was the crime of its destruction and the murder of its passengers. While it was an offense against humanity and against civilization, it was not a cause of war for the United States.

But there came a time when the rights and liberties of this country and of the whole world and their peoples became involved; when as a nation, guided, by Anglo-Saxon heredity, instincts and traditions, it was not only proper but necessary that this country should be a participant in the war; that this country should, make war so there be world peace; and that the liberty of the whole world should be made safe. And then we did, not hesitate to do our duty. The nation was united in its determination that the war should end against Germany, and our people pledged their all that success might be attained. The young men gave themselves to fight its battles. The older men contributed their moneys. The Government Liberty loans and Victory loans were subscribed and oversubscribed in many parts of the country by people of all classes, by men and women, and even by children. The young women gave their services as nurses. And all over the country women, old as well as young, willingly and earnestly engaged in Red Cross work and other desirable and necessary war work and activities for the support, comfort, and health of the soldiers and sailors of America and for the successful conduct of the war. The Anglo-Saxons were true to their traditions. This universal response is the glory of our nation.

When an American general, at the tomb of LaFayette, stood at attention and saluted, the place where the body of America's great friend is buried, he said: "LaFayette! we are here." It was an acknowledgment that America would pay a debt of honor which it owed to France. But that was only a part of the object of our entering into the war. There was the world's liberty at stake. The assassins of free government were to be conquered and to be subdued. And nobly did our boys do their part.

The armies of France for nearly four years had fought nobly, bravely, gloriously. But France was almost bled white. They had sworn to die in the last ditch and they were perilously near the eastern bank of that ditch. Although they were fighting desperately they were being slowly forced back and were nearly overwhelmed. Their cry was: "When will the Americans come?" And the Americans came and nobly did they act. They may have lacked somewhat in military discipline, somewhat in esprit de corps, but they pressed on and fought with a dash and an intrepidity which surprised the Germans. They were not to be denied. Had they been commanded and led by God's Archangels of Vengeance and of Victory; had they been inspired by the specter of Joan of Arc, clad in armor, with flashing sword in hand, mounted on a spectral grand war horse, urging our boys on to victory, they could not have fought more bravely or more effectively. But they did not need to be so commanded or led or inspired. They were actuated and impelled by centuries, nay more, by thousands of years of Anglo-Saxon heredity, instinct, tradition, and courage. And they had it in their hearts.

When the Americans took part in the war it was the beginning of the end of the war. At Contigny, at St. Mihiel, at Soisson, at Chateau Thierry, at Belleau Wood, at Argonne forest, and elsewhere they showed their quality and their desire and intention and ability to succeed.

The liberty-loving branch of the Teutonic race overcame the liberty-destroying and autocratic branch of that race. The Hun met his master and was vanquished. The world was made safe for democracy.

And Oregon boys were there, and nobly did they do their part. Many of them are worthy descendants of noble Oregon pioneers. They were true to the genius and traditions of their race. "Oh, when will their glory fade!" Never, while the history of this war is known. As the Oregon pioneers showed their peaceful qualities in coming to Oregon and in its settlement, its upbuilding, and its making, so their descendants showed their virtue, and their fighting and heroic qualities in this war. Their actions show that the race has not degenerated.

Mr. Proctor, with his genius, has perpetuated all these qualities in this statue, and they will be recorded forever in history.

The Anglo-Saxon qualities and ideals, its traditions and instincts, its love and support of the rights of life, of liberty, and of the rights of mankind will survive even the downfall of this republic and will endure as long as the human race.

The human race from its beginning has always been interested in monuments and statues as work of art, especially when they typify great events and manly qualities. The adoration of statues as deities is forbidden. But it is impossible to forbid the veneration of that which moves or touches the human heart. Could even divine power prevent the veneration of the graves of our ancestors, our relatives, our friends, and those of the world's great men and women?

This statue symbolizes and immortalizes in a remarkable way the Oregon pioneer and his qualities--his courage, his determination, his instincts and his high ideals and those of the race or of the people of which the Oregon pioneer is a fine specimen and example. Let everyone, and especially the young men and young women who are now and who will be students of this university, observe and study well this statue, and thus learn and appreciate what the Oregon pioneers-the founders of Oregon--were and are. Let them strive to emulate the qualities and virtues of the Oregon pioneers and to respect and to venerate what they hoped, what they dared, what they wrought, and what they accomplished.

[Unveiling of "The Pioneer" & Qualities of the Pioneer in the Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Vol. XX, No.3, 1919. Address by Joseph N. Teal on May 22, 1919 ]

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