Jed Smith Revival

The book cover shown here is unusual. It’s from a publisher’s “dummy,” a mock-up of the first edition of the most famous biography of Jed yet written, Dale L. Morgan’s Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West (1953). Often used for promotional purposes, a dummy was typically incomplete and often contained informal notes for the publisher or salesperson. The finished version of Morgan’s book remains in print today.

For many years after his death, Jed languished in obscurity; nevertheless, devoted historians increased their efforts to bring his story to the public’s attention. It is difficult, perhaps foolish, to attribute the “rediscovery” of Jed to any one person, though John Neihardt in his1920 biography The Splendid Wayfaring, Maurice Sullivan in his 1934 Travels of Jedediah Smith, and certainly Dale Morgan in his 1953 Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West come immediately to mind. To this pantheon we might add such luminaries as Hiram Chittenden, Harrison Dale, George Brooks, and David Weber. The Jedediah Smith Society owes a great debt to these and the many other dedicated and knowledgeable historians who have followed Jed’s trails.