Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country.As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. They settled in what is now Marietta on the banks of the Ohio River. McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people. Like so many of McCullough’s subjects, they let no obstacle deter or defeat them. Drawn in great part from a rare and all-but-unknown collection of diaries and letters by the key figures, The Pioneers is a uniquely American story of people whose ambition and courage led them to remarkable accomplishments. This is a revelatory and quintessentially American story, written with David McCullough’s signature narrative energy.
To say that Pittsburgh native, David McCullough, has had an interesting life would be an understatement. He was born in 1933 and is of Scots-Irish descent, and one of four sons. He is self-described as having a "marvelous" childhood. McCullough was interested in many things.......sports, art, books, and history among them. He loved every day of school. He graduated from Yale University where he felt privileged to associate with their great faculty of the likes of John O'Hara, John Heresy and others. He frequently ate lunch with Thornton Wilder, who taught him that a good writer should maintain "an air of freedom" in their writing so that the actual end is never predictable, even in non-fiction.
McCullough enjoyed delving into the research and then doing the writing of a non-fiction book. He studied Art and English, ultimately receiving his degree, with honors, in English literature at Yale (1955). While there, he was a member of Skull and Bones and served valuable apprenticeship with Time, Life, the U.S. Information Agency, and American Heritage.
McCullough has received the Pulitizer Prize for his books on Truman and John Adam's. His other books include: The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, The Wright Brothers, The American Spirit, and his latest, The Pioneers.
McCullough has been a teacher, editor, lecturer, and familiar voice on television. He was the host of Smithsonian World, The American Experience, narrator of numerous documentaries such as Ken Burn's The Civil War. His narrative of Seabiscuit, the movie, and the Tom Hanks directed seven-part mini-series, John Adam's were very successful.
McCullough and his wife Rosalee have five children and nineteen grandchildren.......and one great-grandchild! In the words of a citation given with his honorary degree from Yale, "As an historian, he paints with words, giving us pictures of the American people that live, breathe, and above all, confront the fundamental issues of courage, achievement, and moral character".