- Jason Lee (missionary)
name = Jason Lee
image_size = 130px
caption = Jason Lee
June 28 1803
March 12 1845
spouse = Anna Maria Pittman (d. 1838)
Jason Lee (
June 28 1803– March 12 1845) an American missionary and pioneer, was born on a farm near Stanstead, Quebec. He was the first of the Oregon missionariesand helped establish the early foundation of a provisional government in the Oregon Country.
Lee attended the village school and by the age of 13 was self-supporting. After a conversion experience, he attended
Wilbraham Academy, graduating in 1830. Between 1830 and 1832 he was minister in the Stanstead area and taught school.
In 1833 he was chosen to head a mission for the
Flathead Indians. He and his party, including his nephew Daniel, traveled overland with the Wyeth party,Horner, John B. (1921). " [http://books.google.com/books?id=J8IdAAAAMAAJ Oregon: Her History, Her Great Men, Her Literature] "] in response to a visit by four Flatheads to St. Louis and an entreaty to General Clark for someone to bring the "Book of Heaven", prophesied in a vision, to the Flathead people. [ [http://www.nosracines.ca/e/page.aspx?id=259056 "Among the An-Ko-me-nums ; or, Flathead tribes of Indians of the Pacific Coast", pp.13-18] , Thomas Crosby, W. Briggs, Toronto, 1907] The J.K. Gill Co.: Portland.] arriving in Fort Vancouverin 1834. After the site of their first mission was abandoned as unhealthy, the missionaries settled on the Willamette River, northwest of the present site of Salem, Oregon. He found about a dozen Canadian settlers with native wives, who had previously been employed by the Hudson's Bay Company.
In early 1837 Lee participated in the
Willamette Cattle Companyalong with Ewing Young in order to procure cattle for the mission. Lee invested in the venture that was designed to break the cattle monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Companyin the region. Though Lee was on the ship "Loriot" that took the company to California, Lee did not sail with them. Also in 1836 and then in 1837 he helped to draft a petition for the establishment of a territorial government, and in 1838 he journeyed east to present the petition in Washington, D.C., stopping at the Whitman Missionnear Fort Walla Wallato visit Marcus and Narcissa Whitman.
Lee continued to found missions during the 1830s and became increasingly active in the territorial organization of the Oregon settlement, encouraging its ties with the United States. He presided over the preliminary meeting for territorial organization held at Champoeg in 1841, and in 1843 he was instrumental in the formation of a provisional government. He also worked to promote education and formed the plan that resulted in the founding of
Oregon Institute(now Willamette University). Problems with the mission including neglect to the education of Native Americans led to his return to headquarters in New Yorkin 1844.
Death and legacy
While he was visiting his sister in Stanstead, his health failed; he died on
March 12 1845. His remains were reinterred at the Lee Mission Cemeteryin Salem, Oregonin 1906.
The house Lee occupied in 1841 is preserved as part of the
Mission Mill Museum. You can see a picture of it [http://www.oregonlink.com/mission_mill/jasonleehouse/index.html here] .
In 1953, the state of Oregon donated a bronze statue of Lee to the
U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.
An elementary school in Richland, WA is named after him.
Henry H. Spalding
Willamette Cattle Company
* [http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/nsh/lee_j.cfm The Architect of the Capitol: Jason Lee]
* [http://www.endoftheoregontrail.org/road2oregon/sa06JasonLee.html Jason Lee's Mission to Oregon]
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