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Francis Parkman was born in Boston, the son of a Unitarian minister. He studied history at Harvard with President Jared Sparks. Though plagued with illness from childhood on, he was able to travel and write, thanks to a family inheritance.
He and his cousin Quincy Adams Shaw traveled from St. Louis along the California and Oregon Trail, camping and hunting with the Sioux Indians and experiencing tribal and frontier life.
Highly esteemed to this day is The Oregon Trail, a dramatic narrative of travel before the Gold Rush of 1849. Parkman’s nine volumes of realistic and romantic narrative of the conflict between France and England in North America do not exclude atrocities by Native Americans and LaSalle’s murder by his own men, who hated his harsh commands.