Contested Empire: Peter Skene Ogden and The Snake River Expeditions, by John Phillip Reid


The author explores the implicit notions of law shared by American and British fur traders in the Snake River Idaho country and surrounding areas, both claimed by the United States and Great Britain. Passions were intense, but both sides largely avoided violence and other difficulties because they held the same definitions of property, contract, conversion, and possession. In 1824, the Hudson’s Bay Company directed Ogden to decimate the furbearing animal population of the Snake River country, thus marking the region a “fur desert.” This mandate set British and American fur men on a collision course, but Ogden and his American counterparts followed a kind of law and procedure and observed a mutual sense of property/rights even as the two sides vied for control of the fur trade. Failing to take legal culture into consideration, some previous accounts have depicted these conflicts as mere episodes of lawless frontier violence. Reid expands our understanding of the West by considering the unspoken sense of law that existed, despite the lack of any formalized authorities, in what had otherwise been considered a “lawless” time

SKU: 1894 Category: