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The Pioneers
Cover of The Pioneers
The Pioneers
The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by...
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by...
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  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country.
    As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. They settled in what is now Marietta on the banks of the Ohio River.

    McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler's son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people. Like so many of McCullough's subjects, they let no obstacle deter or defeat them.

    Drawn in great part from a rare and all-but-unknown collection of diaries and letters by the key figures, The Pioneers is a uniquely American story of people whose ambition and courage led them to remarkable accomplishments. This is a revelatory and quintessentially American story, written with David McCullough's signature narrative energy.

About the Author-

  • David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, The American Spirit, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. Visit DavidMcCullough.com.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2018

    Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, McCullough is set to give us another terrific book on U.S. history. He chronicles how the Northwest Territory, comprising the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, was settled largely through the efforts of Massachusetts minister Manasseh Cutler to open the territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War. Events unfold through the founding of what is now Marietta, OH, and the stories of five key individuals, including Cutler. With a 500,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 22, 2019
    Popular historian McCullough (1776) uses his well-crafted writing style and thorough research to highlight the evolution of the “Ohio territory” (now Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin) from late-18th-century settlement to well-regarded American cities (Marietta, Cincinnati) by the 1860s. He follows members of a few optimistic, well-connected families whose impact on the region spanned generations, admiringly portraying their efforts to create a new England on the frontier. Settler leaders Rufus Putnam and Manasseh Cutler veered between Eastern political maneuvering for approval (including that of George Washington) for private purchase of the land they wanted and surviving the pioneer trials of wildlife, starvation, and violence between settlers and native Americans (which is treated as a minor subplot). The swiftly moving narrative also shines light on the territory’s consistent antislavery position beginning with the 1787 Northwest Territory Ordinance and leading to the first black vote in 1802. While some readers may be put off by the near-omission of the native people’s perspective, those seeking a pro-colonial history will find this is a fascinating and well-written look at the Cutler families and the Americanizing of Ohio. Illus. Agent: Mort Janklow, Janklow Nesbit Associates.

  • Kirkus

    A lively history of the Ohio River region in the years between the Revolution and the Civil War. McCullough (The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For, 2015, etc.) isn't writing about the sodbusters and hardscrabblers of the Far West, the people whom the word "pioneers" evokes, but instead their predecessors of generations past who crossed the Appalachians and settled in the fertile country along and north of the Ohio River. Manasseh Cutler, one of his principal figures, "endowed with boundless intellectual curiosity," anticipated the movement of his compatriots across the mountains well before the war had ended, advocating for the Northwest Ordinance to secure a region that, in McCullough's words, "was designed to guarantee what would one day be known as the American way of life"--a place in which slavery was forbidden and public education and religious freedom would be emphasized. "Ohio fever" spread throughout a New England crippled, after the war, by economic depression, but Southerners also moved west, fomenting the conditions that would, at the end of McCullough's vivid narrative, end in regional war three generations later. Characteristically, the author suggests major historical themes without ever arguing them as such. For example, he acknowledges the iniquities of the slave economy simply by contrasting the conditions along the Ohio between the backwaters of Kentucky and the sprightly city of Cincinnati, speaking through such figures as Charles Dickens. Indeed, his narrative abounds with well-recognized figures in American history--John Quincy Adams, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Johnny Appleseed--while highlighting lesser-known players. His account of Aaron Burr--who conspired to overthrow the government of Mexico (and, later, his own country) after killing Alexander Hamilton, recruiting confederates in the Ohio River country--is alone worth the price of admission. There are many other fine moments, as well, including a brief account of the generosity that one farmer in Marietta, Ohio, showed to his starving neighbors and another charting the fortunes of the early Whigs in opposing the "anti-intellectual attitude of the Andrew Jackson administration." Vintage McCullough and a book that students of American history will find captivating.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (Online Review)

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The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West
David McCullough
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