90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
America's Frontier Fur Rush

Centuries before PETA campaigned for animal rights, the fur trade built America. We hear the remarkable history of how fur shaped a nation.

Buffalo hides in Dodge City, Kansas. Photograph April 4, 1874. (Kansas Historical Society)

What first built America? The Bible and the beaver, said an earlier historian. 

My guest today is laying out the remarkable history of the American fur trade — how three centuries of trade in beaver pelts, and sea otter and buffalo, opened up mile after wilderness mile of the American continent to European settlement. 

Today, fur draws a complicated reaction. For 300 years, it drew explorers, traders, trappers, mountain men. It drew political lines and battle lines – and built some of the biggest fortunes in American history. 

This Hour, On Point: fur, fortune, and the origins of North American empire.

Guests:

Eric Jay Dolin, author of “Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.” He also wrote “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America.” You can read an excerpt. He’s a former program manager at the Environmental Protection Agency, and a former policy analyst at the Marine Fisheries Service.

Mac Burns, executive director of the Clatsop County Historical Society in Astoria, Oregon.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jan 30, 2015
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch gathers her papers during a break in her testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on her nomination. (AP)

Obama abroad. Hostage drama. Attorney general hearings. Snow days. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Jan 30, 2015
In the new film "American Sniper," Bradley Cooper plays real-life US Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was the deadliest marksman in American history. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

“American Sniper.” Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s war film keeps crushing at the box office and stirring more controversy. We’ll go to it.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jan 29, 2015
This Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 a street side memorial with a painted portrait of Ezell Ford near where he was shot when police confronted him on Aug. 11, 2014, on a street near his home in South Los Angeles. (AP)

The author of “Ghettoside” takes us deep into murder and law enforcement in minority neighborhoods. We want your story.

 
Jan 29, 2015
Mike Johnson, a sales manager at a local Honda car dealership, walks past a row of Honda CRV SUVs Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Tempe, Ariz.  (AP)

Is it the next subprime scandal? Banking giants piling into high-interest auto loans for the poor. We’ll investigate.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: January 23, 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

New thoughts on Facebook, new analysis of State of the Union twitter activity and new weekend excitement. New! And exciting!

More »
Comment
 
Meet On Point’s Interns: Spring 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

Good news! We have interns, and they are wonderful, and here they are for the spring term. Meet them digitally, right here.

More »
2 Comments
 
Caller To Author Ron Rash: ‘You Cared About People Like Me’
Thursday, Jan 22, 2015

An unexpected caller from South Carolina brings back guest Ron Rash’s years as a community college professor in a movingly real way.

More »
1 Comment