High and Tight

On the 100th anniversary of his birth, Ray Robinson remembers ...


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Francis Parkman

Francis Parkman (1823–1893) was born in Boston to a distinguished Brahmin family. In an attempt to remedy his poor health as a boy, he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother on three thousand acres of wilderness near Medford, Massachusetts, and there he developed a love of forests and some of the characteristic capabilities of the frontiersman. After graduating from Harvard College in 1845 he was persuaded to attend law school, but it did not sway him from his ambition to write a history of American forests. The publication of The Oregon Trail in 1847 was followed by more than a dozen works of history as well as the publication of his journals and letters. They established Parkman’s reputation as a great American historian.

Fig. 1. Francis Parkman. Charles Haight Farnham, A Life of Francis Parkman, frontispiece. Courtesy American Antiquarian Society.