James Josiah Webb left Independence, Missouri, in the summer of 1844 and headed down the Santa Fe Trail with goods bought in St. Louis. Although his first venture as a trader was a failure, he eventually made a fortune as a merchant in Santa Fe. Webb recorded his youthful experiences in 1888, and Ralph P. Bieber, a respected scholar and researcher on western expansion, edited and annotated his journal for publication more than forty years later. Long out of print, Adventures in the Santa Fe Trade is an entertaining and important source of first-hand information about the Santa Fe Trail and trade; trappers, Mexicans, and Indian tribes of the Old Southwest; and the impact of the Mexican War on southwestern trade.
Introducing this edition is Mark L. Gardner, a freelance writer and historian and the editor of Brothers on the Santa Fe and Chihuahua Trails: Edward James Glasgow & William Henry Glasgow, 1846–1848.
“It is a story of stirring adventure, of hardship and of financial losses and profits. Webb was an unusual man, as were most of the traders of his day and since, and though thirty years elapsed from the time he began to recount his adventures, the memory of them remained undimmed.”—Boston Transcript
“The account Webb has left has a brave accent of history; and Professor Bieber has edited it with Herculean care.”—New Republic
Webb’s journal “gives data on the character and hazards of the Santa Fe Trail, the varieties of goods and the methods of the trade, the crafty exactions of Mexican officials, and the devices of traders to escape the imposts. There are good descriptions of the houses, business and life in Santa Fe, and of the general conditions in the territory to the southward.”—LeRoy R. Hafen, American Historical Review