Edward S. Curtis was somebody with a unique passion for photography and history. His journey through life would make him a picturesque example of the life of one man, going from normal life, to nearly stardom in his field of work, forced into being a struggling entrepreneur, and then a chronic debtor. The reality of the 20th century is this: The Industrial Revolution was just taking off! Monopolies, such as J.P. Morgan, would take up the responsibility of funding Curtis’s The North American Indian. Over the course of his work, it would appear that Curtis’s financial overseer would slowly erode his ownership rights over the works that he spent so long and hard developing. Sadly, it’s par for the course in a world of cutthroat financiers and bankers.
The method I have chosen to explore this topic uses an economic and cultural school of thought, with special emphasis on Edward S. Curtis’s professional decline centered around possibly the biggest cultural project in North American history. Historian Mick Gidley wrote two resources that ventured into this history. One, Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian in the Field. Two, Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian, Incorporated. Ultimately, it comes down to a very narrow history and authorship to this topic outside of criticisms in his business venture. Also, the Morgan Library and Curtis Library carries materials focusing on this topic.
The North American Indian was a project that went from 1907 to 1930, in which he would embed himself in with many varying tribes across the western part of the nation. Ultimately the goal here was to “capture the ‘otherness’ of indigenous American Indian life” in photographs and documentation through recording their cultural observations in explicit detail. It was common during this era of time that Edward Curtis would hold a worldview that saw the aboriginal culture as scientifically primitive. Some criticism he received was seen by liberal institutions as promoting a “myth of a vanishing race, with the notion that Indians are historical features of an American landscape, not functioning members in a modern society.”
Originally, this was a project that was planned for five years. Over the course of the journey, expenses, and wages would begin to take its toll on the expedition. Curtis, being a photographer and professional note-taker, would be doubted by scholars in his direct observations of the tribes. Because of public reception being mixed, this may have been the reason that less than 250 out of 500 of them were printed. Over the course of time, from the 1970’s onward, reception to Curtis’s work would be gritty due to his “reconstructed images” modeled by the Indians doing customary work. Many people fail to realize how long it actually took pictures to actually capture onto film at that time. And was it even really film? The point here is that it would take some time to set up a camera, pose, and finally get the flash to capture the image. It would have been nearly impossible to capture any “live-action” images during this era, at least not in the way it was even seen in the 1970’s.
“... Morgan agreed [in 1906] to finance the fieldwork for the project at the rate of fifteen thousand dollars per annum for five years ... The injection of funds from one of the world's richest and most influential people ... set a stamp of approval on the project's more ambitious aspects ... Arrangements ... for the management of the Curtis studio in Seattle were formalized ... An office was established at 437 Fifth Avenue in New York City ... with its own manager, but with Curtis himself much in evidence -- to handle subscription sales and promotion of the monumental publication ... that Morgan and Curtis had decided upon: twenty volumes of illustrated text and twenty portfolios of large-sized photogravures.”
... The North American Indian, we find, was unashamedly aimed at leading members of the urban, Eastern business community ... [in a 1911 report] ... reminiscent of many self-justifying statements by men like Andrew Carnegie ... Curtis said, “Civilization, with its tremendous force and its insatiable desire to possess all, must necessarily crush the weaker life of primitive man.”
... the processes by which domination was achieved ... were deemed natural. Indeed, the employment of natural imagery throughout the report is most noticeable. Curtis claimed ... that The North American Indian was itself a product of “Nature” per se: “Nature tells the story, and in nature’s own simple words I can but place it before the reader.”
The North American Indian was created with a massive team of people, with wide-reaching efforts. Curtis was the command-and-control position, managing many others in research and writing. “... The 1906 agreement with Morgan was not ... as munificent as it seemed in that it exacted, in true Morgan fashion, a heavy obligation from Curtis: He was to publish the expensively produced volumes ... out of his own funds ... But the building of a subscription list took time and Curtis had major financial problems almost immediately". [After taking out loans and seeking additional grants he was extremely discouraged by summer 1907, writing in a letter] ... " Remember I am doing the best I can and keeping 17 helpers from having cold feet and at the same time get together something over forty-five hundred dollars a month to pay the bills."
“... [Requests for additional funding from Morgan's office] led to the North American Indian, Inc., office exerting some control over the movements of Curtis and other fieldworkers, including one occasion in 1925 when Myers was specifically forbidden to travel East to discuss with Hodge volumes then in press.”
“... Curtis would be made to pass over more of his rights in exchange; [for further funding from J.P. Morgan’s holdings] ... between 1923 and 1928, in a succession of legal documents, he relinquished copyright in all the pictures published in The North American Indian. But by then he was a chronic debtor.”
In conclusion, it’s interesting to see how early monopolized companies such as J. P. Morgan would take a man with a dream and seemingly run them broke in the process. In a slow process, much like “Hegelian dialect,” Curtis went from master planner to the poor house thanks to poor fiscal planning and a greedy financier, such as J. P. Morgan. He would slowly sign away the rights to his work, in payment for further ventures with The North American Indian. From this illustration, you can see how Edward S. Curtis’s project met the same fate as many modern-day entrepreneurs. You win some and you lose some.
Daniel L. Smith
 "The Vanishing Race : Selections from Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian." Internet Archive. Accessed June 17, 2021. https://archive.org/details/vanishingracesel0000curt.
 Gidley, Mick. Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian, Incorporated (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 19-20.
 Gidley, 127-128.
 Gidley, 128.
 Gidley, p. 110-11 and n. 5, quoting letter from Curtis to Edmond S. Meany.
 Gidley, p. 113 and n. 9, citing letter from Curtis to Hodge of 1925 and the E.S. Curtis Materials, Pierpont Morgan Library.
 Gidley, p. 113 and n. 10, citing the Curtis Materials, Morgan Library.
Mainstream liberal media outlets and platforms are now obvious in their mission to eliminate all traditional American voices. Any of those who would challenge the technocratic-political realm that America is seemingly imprisoned too (at the moment), is now a special type of sociopolitical target. Fortunately, the higher echelon of elites who play “master puppeteer” to the societal engineering concocted daily tend to forget that there is an underground institution alive and well in America called Christian Protestantism. Much of what we see today in the form of persecution is just the tip of the iceberg. If you look at present-day and even medieval England, it is foreshadowing something much worse here, should the radically liberal conglomerates take full reign.
I use the term “underground institution” of Protestant Christianity to refer to those faithful whom have become effected by our post-Modern age in America. Being persecuted has caused the church body to leave the brick-and-mortar structure that we pray in on Sunday to take up home Bible study. We American’s have had it really good here up until recently. We should be happy to know that we had it so good! The unfortunate news is that we are now on the unrecoverable downslide.
It is this reality that I did some scholarly research into the thought behind America’s Destiny in the mid-19th century, to get a feel for the atmosphere. I found two resources in particular that illustrate that mood:
Alexander Everett Hill (American diplomatist, politician, and Boston man of letters) would write, America, or, A general survey of the political situation of the several powers of the western continent, with conjectures on their future prospects. Mr. Hill, a citizen of the United States, would write that the Protestant revolution was most likely pressed by all of the lives actively affected by Christianity. It was “long in preparation“ and “very slow in its development.” He goes on to say that regardless of population size or military force (think, Russia and China) there is more to making a nation great. It is “favorable geographic position (think, North America compared to landlocked Europe or Asia), and a good government with industry (think, Protestant Ethic), wealth, and knowledge,” these are the characteristics of principle that make a nation its greatest. It is this then, that these are also “the causes which have given to the United States, at this early period of this national existence, the lofty position of a leading power among nations.”
Another observation here in contrast is of Communist and Dictatorial Russia in the 19th century: “Like that of all despotic states, with the changes of the person of the despot … displayed since Peter the Great, one of the best examples, as it certainly has the most imposing and remarkable one ever known, of the worst description of political institutions.” So it seems here that those elites who live life dictating others become a “victim” to “curiosity” and “habitual pursuits to the field of politics.” The elite aim to become incorporated into the Communist/Socialist state, typically ran by a dictator regime. The individual happiness level for each person would depend of the level of government acceptance into their mainstream social world. What else would you expect from any communistic socialist dictatorship?
As a historian, I appreciate looking back at sermons preached from the pulpit in the 19th century. You find real honest history there. In light of the recent attacks on the Freedom of Religion in America recently by the liberal left (friendly to communism and socialism), I found a resource written by Pastor Eden Burroughs Foster would give a sermon on “the crime against freedom, in Kansas and Washington” on August 31, 1856. Pastor Burroughs would also see the political elites in America in the mid-19th century appearing just as corrupt today, with attacks against the pulpit itself!
He states, “Let the haters of freedom call me a ‘political priest’ when they will and where they will … I will strive by a patriotic and Christian spirit, by an exalted and just discussion of political doctrine, by a holy life and an inflexible adherence to candor and truth, to make my title significant, beautiful, and honorable. I will strive to make it quite as honorable for one class of ministers to defend Freedom as it is for another class to defend Slavery.” So is it truly unreasonable to believe the United States of America achieved her greatness out of living the Christian doctrine? Because all of those who live by the doctrine of man (think, secular humanism) usually still populate the modern-day civilizations still struggling to keep up.
Daniel L. Smith
 Worthy News Staff. "More Protestant Churches Closed Than Opened Before Pandemic, Study Shows." Worthy Christian News. Last modified May 30, 2021. https://www.worthynews.com/58892-more-protestant-churches-closed-than-opened-before-pandemic-study-shows.
 Everett, Alexander Hill, and A citizen of the United States. America, or, A general survey of the political situation of the several powers of the western continent, with conjectures on their future prospects ... H.C. Carey & I. Lea, 1827, 13. Sabin Americana: History of the Americas, 1500-1926, link.gale.com/apps/doc/CY0100094964/SABN?u=vic_liberty&sid=bookmark%20SABN&xid=a2267d24&pg=8. Accessed 14 June 2021.
 Hill, 19.
 Hill, 20.
 Note: I use the word “victim” sarcastically.
 "California Churches Rally Against Newsom Coronavirus Restrictions." Worthy Christian News. Last modified August 4, 2020. https://www.worthynews.com/51833-california-churches-rally-against-newsom-coronavirus-restrictions.
 Foster, Eden Burroughs. A north-side view of slavery : a sermon on the crime against freedom, in Kansas and Washington : preached at Henniker, N.H., August 31, 1856. Jones & Cogswell, Printers, 1856. Sabin Americana: History of the Americas, 1500-1926, link.gale.com/apps/doc/CY0103051119/SABN?u=vic_liberty&sid=bookmark-SABN&xid=90e2a8d4&pg=6. Accessed 14 June 2021.
Arcata (Union), Humboldt Bay, Loleta, Mad River, Mattole.
Conflict in Humboldt County, 1861.
A couple was at home in the evening outside of Union (Arcata), when Redwood (Yurok) natives surprised them in a daring attack. Mrs. Weaver was killed with three guns beside her. Her male companion was abducted, and presumed dead. Not too long after, three neighboring pig farmers by the names of Joeseph Bashow, Lewis Cash, and Mr. Mann were ambushed and executed. The trio were driving their hogs on a trail from Hydesville when they needed to camp for the night to refresh from their tiring journey.
What they didn’t know was they were being tracked by local natives from the time they left their properties. When they crossed the Mad River, unaware, the trio was shot. Cattle drivers would later find the bodies of the farmers killed. The communities of the settling areas of Humboldt Bay were perpetually in mourning for their good and industrious citizens who were killed in their own houses. Some were killed on lonely trails, and in the woods.
All done at the hands of the hostile tribesmen, residents would come to know this period in history as a “carnival of death,” terrible to even contemplate the reality of the events. In the Mattole region, a farmer living off of the Eel River by the name of O.W. Wise was walking back towards his homestead one evening from his dairy shed housing the milk cows. While completely unaware of his situation, he was mortally wounded by six arrows and a rifle ball. He died the next day.
Not more than a couple weeks after, an incident occurred to three settlers who were living in a house near the Van Duzen River. On August 25th, Mr. Coates (one of the three men) was walking near his house when he was shot by a couple rifle rounds and killed from the brush. The other two roommates of Mr. Coates (who was unarmed), retrieved their rifles and attempted to protect him. One native was killed, out of the attacking party of twenty-five warriors. Eel River would remain a hotspot for hostile conflict for settlers and natives of the local area. In 1861, the Humboldt Bay area was in the middle of what could be seen as blatant murder spree on the part of the natives against the settlers by these aforementioned accounts.
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
The Van Duzen on the Eel River.
Southern Humboldt County, California.
Just prior to 1865, the United States experienced a fantastic immigration boom that brought in ethnic and religious backgrounds from all over the world. At the exact same time, the Industrial Revolution was aligning to set the stage for America’s economic breakout from the rest of the world. Settlements all over America were becoming increasingly successful in their breakout periods. It is here I decided to take a look at the comparison of land prices in California and Ohio. There was much legislation that had been enacted to pave the way for extraordinary settlement. Americans were looking for success and could only meet this goal by starting at its foundation: land and a home.
I chose to pull two resources that related to each other by way of American settlement out in California via Ohio. Here I methodically compare the pricing and costs of both territories covering 1870. The two resources I found to cover this topic are critical. The first two resources are located at HathiTrust.org which offers an analytical report on Immigration and land buying. The second resource is located within an article written by John B. Weaver, Associate Professor of History, Sinclair Community College, Ohio.
In 1870, California’s population sat at 560,285 with a land area of 120,947,840 acres. Ohio’s population sat at 2,665,012 with a land area of 25,576,960. Ohio residents were pouring out of the state and headed out west to California where rumors of quick riches and new opportunities were abounding. In Ohio, to buy an acre of unimproved on farmland, it would cost anywhere from $5 to $20 an acre in Adams County. In the more populated areas, prices could reach $75 to $200 an acre of woodland because of Ohio being full in territorial population.
In California, rural counties would cost anywhere from $5 to $20 in places like Shasta, Tehama, and Lassen for an acre of unimproved land. Humboldt County seemed to be the most expensive of the rural areas given their export of Redwood, Tan Oak, and Douglas Fir—sitting at $30 to $35 per acre. People also seem to forget the Trinity Gold Rush of 1848 at Reading Bar near Douglas City. This was California’s seemingly “lost Gold Rush.” It was this that made these areas pricey for speculators, given the resources and competitive business. San Bernardino (Southern California) would cost $1.50 to $10, and Los Angeles would go between $10 to $20 an acre (with no lumber).
As we can see, natural and raw resource availability, population factors and the overall marketplace demand would set the prices down for any future land speculators. Land was separated in a variety of ways for pricing efforts, on improved small farms and unimproved land. There were also other factors to consider, such as prices of commodities. Of course as we all know, one does not settle a region without having the fiscal ability to make these important and crucial purchases such as food, supplies, and private property. Many of these factors would be based on governmental legislation and their future actions toward immigration, industry, and written laws.
In March of 1869, Congress passed the Public Credit Act with the signature of the President, making good on his campaign promise. James Garfield was excited: “After the fullest debate ever had on any great question of national politics, in a contest in which the two parties squarely and fairly joined issue on this very point, it was solemnly decided by the great majority which elected General Grant that repudiators should be repudiated, and that the faith of the nation should be preserved inviolate.” Of course, this is just one example of many in how legislation could be an actor in California and Ohio land speculation—that is, buying and selling.
Daniel L. Smith,
 "Special Report on Immigration : Accompanying Information for Immigrants Relative to the Prices and Rentals of Land, the Staple Products, Facilities of ..." HathiTrust. Accessed May 29, 2021. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044024335481&view=1up&seq=211&q1=humboldt.
 "Special Report on Immigration : Accompanying Information for Immigrants Relative to the Prices and Rentals of Land, the Staple Products, Facilities of ..." HathiTrust. Accessed May 29, 2021. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044024335481&view=1up&seq=59.
 "Douglas City California." Western Mining History. Accessed May 29, 2021. https://westernmininghistory.com/towns/california/douglas_city/.
 Weaver, John B. "Green, Gold, or Silver: The Money Question in Ohio Politics, 1865 – 1900." OAH Proceedings, 2003. https://www.ohioacademyofhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/2003Weaver.pdf.