New Years 1812

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"New Years 1812" bronze by David Manuel features J.J Aster, John Day and William Price Hunt.

Approximate dimensions 29"h x 26"w x17"d.
Artist Proof Edition of 100

William or Wilson Price Hunt (March 20, 1783 – April 13, 1842) was an early pioneer of the Oregon Country in the Pacific Northwest of North America. An American and an employee of John Jacob Astor, Hunt used information supplied by the Lewis and Clark Expedition to lead the portion of the Astor Expedition that traveled to Oregon by land. The party reached the mouth of the Columbia River in February 1812, joining the portion of the expedition that had traveled by sea at Fort Astoria, which the latter party had just completed.

Hunt had difficulty finding quality men at Mackinaw and St. Louis, finding most to be "drinking in the morning, drunk at noon and dead drunk at night."  Having finally assembled a party, Hunt arrived at Nodaway, Missouri, on November 16, 1810, and settled into winter quarters. They departed April 22, 1811.

When the party encountered the Snake River, they abandoned their horses and attempted to travel downstream. After nine days of successful travel they lost a man and two canoes in the rapids, and reconsidered their plan. They divided into four parties, and took different routes to approach the mouth of the Columbia.

The trip from Missouri to the future site of Astoria Oregon took 340 days.  According to his own account, Hunt traveled 2,073 miles (3,336 km) from a village of the Aricaras, in present-day South Dakota, to the end of the journey.

A return expedition was led by Robert Stuart, who discovered the South Pass, a key feature of the soon-to-be-established Oregon Trail.

Hunt's expedition is one of many scenes depicted on the Astoria Column, and his name is inscribed in a frieze in the Oregon State Senate chamber of the Oregon State Capital.  (Exerts taken from Wikipedia)

John Day - In late 1810, he was engaged as a hunter for the Pacific Fur Company and joined an overland expedition led by Wilson Price Hunt.  He is best known, along with Ramsay Crooks, for being robbed and stripped naked by Indians on the Columbia River near the mouth of the river that now bears his name in Eastern Oregon.  After finally making their way to Fort Astoria in April, Day was assigned to accompany Robert Stuart back east to St. Louis in June 1812, but was left on the Lower Columbia River where he is said to have gone mad. He returned to Fort Astoria and spent the next eight years hunting and trapping mainly in the Williamette Valley and what is now southern Idaho.

His name is well-remembered, being attached to the John Day River and its four branches in eastern Oregon, as well as the cities of John Day and Dayville in Grant County, Oregon and a smaller John Day River and unincorporated community in Clastop County Oregon, the John Day Dam on the Columbia River, and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The Little Lost River, Idaho, was previously known as "Day's River" and the valley was called "Day's Defile" during the fur trade era.
(Exerts from Wikipedia)

 John Jacob Astor (July 17, 1763 – March 29, 1848), born Johann Jakob Astor, was a German ... Astor imported furs from Montreal to New York and shipped them to Europe. By 1800, he had ... Astor's fur trading ventures were disrupted during the War of 1812, when the British captured his trading posts.

In March of 1784 Astor immigrated to New York City, just following the end of the American Revolution where a chance meeting with a fur trader inspired him to join the North Amercian Fur Trade.  Astor began to purchase raw hides from Native Americans, prepare them himself, and then resell them in London and elsewhere at great profit.  He opened his own fur goods shop in New York in the late 1780s and also served as the New York agent of his uncle's musical instrument business.

Astor took advantage of the Jay Treaty between Great Britain and the United States in 1794, which opened new markets in Canada and the Great Lakes region. In London, Astor at once made a contract with the North West Company, who from Montreal rivaled the trade interests of the Hudson's Bay Company, then based in London. Astor imported furs from Montreal to New York and shipped them to Europe.  By 1800, he had amassed almost a quarter of a million dollars, and had become one of the leading figures in the fur trade. His agents worked throughout the western areas and were ruthless in competition. 

The U.S. Embargo Act in 1807, however, disrupted Astor's import/export business because it closed off trade with Canada. With the permission of President Thomas Jefferson, Astor established the American Fur Company on April 6, 1808. He later formed subsidiaries: the Pacific Fur Company, and the Southwest Fur Company (in which Canadians had a part), in order to control fur trading in the Great Lakes areas and Columbia River region. His Columbia River trading post at Fort Astoria (established in April 1811) was the first United States community on the Pacific coast. He financed the overland Astor Expedition in 1810–12 to reach the outpost. Members of the expedition were to discover South Pass, through which hundreds of thousands of settlers on the Oregon, Mormon, and California trails passed through the Rocky Mountains.

Astor's fur trading ventures were disrupted during the War of 1812, when the British captured his trading posts. In 1816, he joined the opium-smuggling trade. His American Fur Company purchased ten tons of Turkish opium, then shipped the contraband item to Canton on the packet ship Macedonian. Astor later left the China opium trade and sold solely to the United Kingdom.

Astor's business rebounded in 1817 after the U.S. Congress passed a protectionist law that barred foreign fur traders from U.S. territories. The American Fur Company came to dominate trading in the area around the Great Lakes. John Jacob Astor had a townhouse at 233 Broadway in Manhattan and a country estate, Hellgate in Northern New York City. In 1822, Astor established the Robert Stuart House on Mackinac Island as headquarters for the reorganized American Fur Company, making the island a metropolis of the fur trade. A lengthy description based on documents, diaries, etc. was given by Washington Irving in his travelogue Astoria. Astor's commercial connections extended over the entire globe, and his ships were found in every sea. And he and his wife Sarah moved to a townhouse on Prince Street in Manhattan, New York.

Astor began buying land in New York in 1799 and acquired sizable holdings along the waterfront. After the start of the 19th century, flush with China trade profits, he became more systematic, ambitious, and calculating by investing in New York real estate. In 1803, he bought a 70-acre farm that ran west of Broadway to the Hudson River between 42nd and 46th streets. That same year, and the following year, he bought considerable holdings from the disgraced Aaron Burr.

In the 1830s, Astor foresaw that the next big boom would be the build-up of New York, which would soon emerge as one of the world's greatest cities. Astor withdrew from the American Fur Company, as well as all his other ventures, and used the money to buy and develop large tracts of Manhattan real estate. Astor correctly predicted New York's rapid growth northward on Manhattan Island, and he purchased more and more land beyond the then-existing city limits. Astor rarely built on his land, but leased it to others for rent and their use.

At the time of his death in 1848, Astor was the wealthiest person in the United States, leaving an estate estimated to be worth at least $20 million. His estimated net worth, if calculated as a fraction of the U.S. gross domestic product at the time, would have been equivalent to $110.1 billion in 2006 U.S. dollars, making him the fifth-richest person in American history.

In his will, Astor bequeathed $400,000 to build the Astor Library for the New York public, which was later consolidated with other libraries to form the New York Public Library. 

The pair of marble lions that sit by the entrance of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street were originally named Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after Astor and James Lenox, who founded the library from his own collection. Next, they were called Lord Astor and Lady Lenox (both lions are males). Mayor Fiorello La Guardia renamed them "Patience" and "Fortitude" during the Great Depression. (exerts from Wikipedia)