Harriet Freiberger Lucien Maxwell

ISBN 13: 9780865342866

Lucien Maxwell

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9780865342866: Lucien Maxwell

As one hundred thousand gold seekers raced to California in 1849, thirty-one-year-old mountain man Lucien Maxwell had already crossed the Shining Mountains with John Frémont and chosen a different destiny: land, not gold. Far from the perceived glamour of California, he settled near a small river in northeastern New Mexico at the edge of the Santa Fe Trail. In the communities he built, Maxwell and his family thrived along with hundreds of Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos. Purchasing almost two million acres of land over the next two decades, he welcomed everyone to his home, and his hospitality became legend. But the gold that failed to charm Maxwell to California ultimately appeared very close to home: outsiders found it on his land and an invasion of New Mexico began. In the end, Lucien Maxwell, by then a millionaire when that word was yet new to America's vocabulary, sold everything he had built to speculators and left his beloved Cimarron country hoping to start anew two hundred miles south in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Law and order swiftly deteriorated into murders, thievery, and squabbles over title to land grants. Indians were removed to faraway reservations. Railroad tracks replaced the Santa Fe Trail. An idyllic interlude in the chronicle of the American West came to a close. How is Lucien Maxwell to be judged: villain or visionary? This convincing biography builds a case for history's verdict. Harriet Freiberger lived down river from the town where Lucien Maxwell grew up, viewing the western horizon as he did from a high bluff that overlooked the mighty Mississippi. Not until moving to the same Shining Mountains where Lucien traveled with John Frémont did she realize whose footsteps she had followed. Then, from Cimarron to Taos, Saint Louis, and Bent's Fort, she pursued this man from an earlier time. Now, having returned from the nineteenth century, Harriet lives with her husband in northwestern Colorado's Elk River Valley.

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From the Author:

I've been living with Lucien Maxwell for six years and I'm sure you'll enjoy meeting this fascinating man who died in 1875. His life demonstrated something very pertinent for fast-moving and rapidly changing twenty-first century America: a positive potential for growth and change when accomplished through respect and retention of what was good about what has already been.

Maxwell's transitions through adolescence and into adulthood mirrored the history of our country: from quiet and sequestered family life in Kaskaskia, Illinois, to trader with Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, to hunter for John Fremont's expeditions across the Great American Desert to California,to settler with Kit Carson in New Mexico's isolated eastern frontier, to successful rancher, farmer and merchant.

Never was American history more dramatic than in the half century during which its boundaries expanded west of the Mississippi all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Indian trails were replaced first by stagecoach routes and then by railroads, telegraph lines connecting in a matter of seconds where before it had required six weeks. Lucien Maxwell lived during those years. Even now stories continue to be told about the man who left more than a physical imprint upon New Mexico, the man who welcomed into his home and at his overflowing dinner table, Indian, Mexican, and Anglo; soldier, trader, and preacher; rich, poor, stranger, and friend. Lucien Maxwell was no mere taker, but rather a builder. His handshake connected three cultures, and, at the same time, linked the world as it was and the world as it was going to be. A millionaire when the word was yet new in the American vocabulary, he sought greater rewards than chunks of gold, risking his life many times over again to be the man he wanted to be; and he reaped great rewards for taking such great risks.

About the Author:

Harriet Freiberger lived down river from the town where Lucien Maxwell grew up, viewing the western horizon as he did from a high bluff that overlooked the mighty Mississippi. Not until moving to the same shining mountains where Lucien traveled with John Fremont did she realize whose footsteps she had followed. Then, from Cimarron to Taos, Saint Louis, and Bent's Fort, she pursued this man from an earlier time. Now, having returned from the nineteenth century, Harriet lives with her husband in northwestern Colorado's Elk River valley.

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Harriet Freiberger
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