The [Whitman] Alumnus reported in October 1951: “Yes, Marc gets around these days—keeping cheerful vigil over the fighting spirit of the College.” Marc, the Fighting Missionary, may have gotten around Whitman College in the 1950s, but these days many Whitman students are denouncing the Fighting Missionary’s links to cultural imperialism and Manifest Destiny. Our panel of presenters wants this conversation to continue. By examining the Whitmans’ intentions, the social environment of the 19th century United States, the myth of Marcus Whitman saving Oregon, and the way Whitman College exploited each of these components, we hope to provide a broader context for Whitman’s namesake and mascot. Understanding context is essential for informed, intentional discussion of and choices about the college’s mascot. Inasmuch as Whitman wishes to create citizens of a global community, informed discussion and choices are crucial parts of the education of its students.
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