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The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-1763$
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Paul W. Mapp

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833957

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838945_Mapp

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The Alluring Pacific Ocean

The Alluring Pacific Ocean

(p.101) 3 The Alluring Pacific Ocean
The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-1763

Paul W. Mapp

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the most celebrated goal of early modern French, British, and Anglo-American western exploration—to find some kind of Northwest Passage to the Pacific. French scouts looking for a river route to the South Sea pushed west of lakes Superior and Winnipeg in the 1730s, 1740s, and 1750s. British ships sought a Northwest Passage from Hudson Bay in the 1740s. Thomas Jefferson hoped Lewis and Clark would find a passage to India, not the Bitterroot Mountains they actually encountered. The persistence of this quest, long after the hard experience of European explorers had dispelled Columbus's vision of a short westward voyage to the Indies, has raised many questions. One of these is why enthusiasts kept finding reasons to hope for the existence of a transcontinental water route to the Pacific. More basic still is the question of why they cared about finding one.

Keywords:   western exploration, Northwest Passage, Pacific, French scouts, Thomas Jefferson

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