Jason Lee (missionary)
|Born||June 28, 1803
|Died||March 12, 1845
|Spouse(s)||Anna Maria Pittman (d. 1838)
Jason Lee (June 28, 1803 – March 12, 1845), a Canadian missionary and pioneer to United States, was born on a farm near Stanstead, Quebec. He was the first of the Oregon missionaries and 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 Wesleyan 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, arriving in Fort Vancouver in 1834. It was 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. 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 Company along 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 Company in 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 Mission near Fort Walla Walla to 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 York in 1844.
Death and legacy
The house Lee occupied in 1841 is preserved as part of the Mission Mill Museum.
- Horner, John B. (1921). Oregon: Her History, Her Great Men, Her Literature. The J.K. Gill Co.: Portland.
- Among the An-Ko-me-nums ; or, Flathead tribes of Indians of the Pacific Coast, pp.13-18, Thomas Crosby, W. Briggs, Toronto, 1907
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jason Lee.|
- The Architect of the Capitol: Jason Lee
- Jason Lee's Mission to Oregon
- "Diary of Rev. Jason Lee". The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society 17. 1 Jun 1916. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Jason Lee Letters