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How We Became Bicoastal


On 25th March 1811, the Tonquin loses the crew of a rowing boat while crossing the bar at the mouth of the Columbia River to establish a fur trading post for John Jacob Astor.

On 25th March 1811, the Tonquin loses the crew of a rowing boat while crossing the bar at the mouth of the Columbia River to establish a fur trading post for John Jacob Astor.

Peter Stark spoke with Dave Miller about his book Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire. On one level, this is a tale of adventure: the rollicking exploits of the bold (and sometimes hapless) men who risked their lives and livelihoods in an unforgiving land. But in the larger sense, this is the story about America’s early imperial ambitions, the interplay of a young government and a big business, and the first “Pacific pivot” of a what had been an Atlantic nation.

We’re listening back today to the conversation we first aired live in March, just after the book was published.

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