Nesmith is credited with further Chinook feats

While shooting down the “invented by the HBC” myth, a Portland paper breathes more life into the cliché of Chinook Jargon as a “classical language”, right up there with Latin & Greek…It does so by turning up an anecdote of the recently deceased pioneer James Willis Nesmith (1820-1885).

An unsigned popular historical article called “The Fur Trade of the Pacific Coast (Continued — III)” tells of this character making quite an impression with a Chinuk Wawa speech, possibly during his time in Washington, DC as a senator:

Nesmith speech.PNG

page 134

It is related of the late Senator Nesmith, that while making a political speech in the East, he dumbfounded his audience by shouting in a dramatic manner a few disjointed fragments of Chinook, receiving credit for having made an extremely classic quotation from the Latin.

I’d love to track down contemporary newspaper coverage of that speech!

The full article I found this in can be found in the Portland (OR) West Shore of April 1, 1886, pages 133-138.

What have you learned?

 

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