As much as I admire this letter (and I read it many years ago), it has long been known that the man who actually wrote it was Ted Perry, a Hollywood screenwriter, who in the 1970s was writing a screenplay for a film called “Home,” to be produced the Southern Baptist Convention. Intending to use the speech actually made by Seattle, Perry went back to the original, published in 1887, but found it insufficiently inspiring for his purposes and so created the much more famous version that is in general circulation today.
This doesn’t detract from its beauty, truth, and power, but the parts that seem most meaningful to us today were actually the work of Perry (who never expected the speech to be received as anything but fiction and later expended a lot of energy trying to set the record straight). The “authentic” text can be found here: http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/chiefsea.html. (I put the word authentic in quotes because it was created from notes taken some 33 years before by one “Dr.” Smith, an early settler in Seattle.)
posted: 02 Oct 2000
updated: 02 Apr 2002
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