A Public Spirit: George H. Atkinson’s Written Legacy

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Atkinson, George H.; Sevetson, Donald J.
Bee Tree Books
History; United States History
article description
George Henry Atkinson (1819-89) was a son of New England who arrived in the Oregon Territory in 1848, sent by the American Home Missionary Society. Although his commission from the Society specified that his work was to be ecclesiastical and educational, he took an approach to that assignment which went well beyond his mandate. Well-informed and energetic, he made an impact on the Congregational churches of the Northwest, while using that base of action to spread his influence far beyond the churches that were his primary area of responsibility.He believed that a successful future for his adopted region required productive, intelligent, moral communities. This broad perspective led him to assume—and maintain for four decades—public leadership in subjects as diverse and significant as railroads, prisons, public and private schools, Native American relationships, agriculture, engineering, commerce, and meteorology. He left an impressive written legacy, in personal correspondence and in print.This volume contains a number of Atkinson’s longer writings. Most were published in the state’s leading newspaper, the Oregonian, although several appeared in other publications or reports. Two were included in the records of the State Legislature and two were submitted to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Taken together, his writings tell us much about the man George Henry Atkinson, and about the times and places where he implemented his vision.