In 1804, while Lewis and Clark were still making their way up the Missouri River, Thomas Jefferson formulated a plan for a similarly ambitious exploration of the southern portion of the new territory that would proceed from the Mississippi up the Red River to the tops of the mountains and then return down the Arkansas River. The man he selected to lead this venture was William Dunbar (1750-1810) of Mississippi Territory. The Scottish-born Dunbar was a man of many abilities and professions - surveyor, botanist, zoologist, astromer, planter, architect, inventor. He perfected the cotton bale, learned how to put cottonseed oil to use, and improved agricultural implements to increase production and published many scientific articles in American Philosophical Society journals. In William Dunbar: Scientific Pioneer of the Old Southwest , Arthur DeRosier finally brings Dunbar's fascinating, varied life and career the recognition Dunbar deserves.
Historian Arthur H. DeRosier Jr. is President Emeritus of Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana.