Hear, hear! All cast their votes for McLoughlin's proclamation! McLoughlin was tall and white-haired — Authority personified in our nascent morality play called Manifest Destiny. And, if he could wear the clothes, if he could grow the hair, what the hell, let’s call him our George Washington! Oh, John, you looked the part enough… Pity about the murder charge instead of something charming and rustic involving, say, a cherry tree or a silver dollar, but homicide is a convenient calling card if you’re of the Law-and-Order bent. And, oh, how those Westerners were! How those Westerners are. Some Western mythologies aren’t so mythological once one peruses the court documents…


But who am I to quibble? I aspire to nothing less that to be the (very) poor man’s Jefferson! You take what you can get out on the Frontier — but the Frontier will take the lives of those not quick enough to get it.


Dare I mention that Oregon's founding father had more than a small stake in the commercial success of his sired State? I was hired to legitimize his claims because his new general store was to mark the end of Oregon Trail, a business meant to replace everything lost, spent, bent, and otherwise excreted and exterminated over those 2,000 miles of Hell. The good doctor needed customers, you see. I cannot say I was surprised to learn that Dr. McLoughlin, born a British subject, became an American citizen well before he passed on.


[He raises his glass:]


To John! I always knew you were one of us!


[He drinks]


John, oh, John, you were a hard and boring man, but brilliant, brilliant! The next significant fallen Founding Father-type I was to meet in my travels was another John, John Sutter. That John came to America for a most American reason: to run from his debts. However, Sutter was a cheap Swiss man if ever one were born purely to live up to stereotype. He failed to employ my services — “ahnozer day, ahnozer day,” he'd put off anything that might cost him — and when gold was found on his property in the runoff of one of his mills one fine January day in 1848 along the American River, John didn't have a legal leg to stand on. He lost it all — and he's still trying to get it back, last I heard.


However, I'm getting ahead of myself, which is behavior most unbecoming of a guide. A job awaited me but getting to it was no picnic, let me assure you. I fantasized about general stores almost daily.


I left Ohio, but truly I departed from Missouri, as all westward emigrants did: first St. Louis, then Independence and then…who knows? Saint Louis was actually Louis IX of France, a medieval king who led a crusade and regularly had his own confessor whip him until he bled for penance. At least as far as our sanity was concerned, the namesake of the Gateway to the West struck me as mete — even if we were journeying in quite opposite directions.