Books: The Irrepressible Force

THE FINAL CHALLENGE by Dale Van Every. 378 pages. Morrow. $6.

By the 1790s the Western movement had reached the Mississippi, and the frontiersmen saw nothing in the way of a final push to the Pacific except Blackfoot Indians, grizzly bears and federal bureaucrats. Though President James Monroe in 1825 had forever prohibited any U.S. settlement beyond the upper Mississippi and the present states of Missouri and Arkansas, the frontiersmen paid no attention. By the time Monroe's proclamation reached the frontier, it had been pushed as far west as Spanish Texas and Santa Fe. The grizzlies were similarly surmountable. Pathfinder Jedediah Smith...

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