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class Eight: settlement of the Oregon boundary Question, 1818-1846

Jason Lee, (left). (Dorothy O. Johansen and Charles Gates, Empire of the Columbia. New York, 1957. Plates adhering to p. 160. Photograph courtesy of special Collections, university of Oregon Library, Eugene.)

Jason Lee"s "First Oregon Mission" at the sheet of French Prairie in the Willamette valley (right). (Charles Wilkes, Narrative of the unified States exploring Expedition. Vol. 4. Philadelphia, 1845, 374. Attracted by A. T. Agate.)

British and also American activities in the Pacific Northwest, 1818-1848

The Convention that 1818, resolving territorial disputes following the war of 1812, authorized a "joint occupancy" that the Pacific Northwest through which the legal rights of both brother subjects and also American citizens to "occupy" and also trade in the an ar were recognized. The British phibìc West agency of hair traders stayed the best established colonizing power in the region.

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The mergers of the Hudson"s Bay agency and the north West Company, in 1821, brought the American Northwest and also Canadian West into the domain that the HBC, a effective fur-trading firm that, end time, also developed other extractive sources in the region. The well-capitalized and also shrewdly managed HBC conquered non-native culture in the region between 1821 and also 1840, mainly through the design of George Simpson.

American attention in the Pacific Northwest was continual by a variety of people visiting the an ar in the 1820s and 1830s. Mountain man Jedediah smith traveled to the area in 1829. Booster room Jackson Kelly come in 1832, although the did not require a visit before promoting the Oregon country to U.S. Citizens. American missionaries showing up during the mid- and also later 1830s contained Jason Lee (1834), Marcus and also Narcissa Whitman (1836), and Henry and also Eliza Spalding (1836). These people did not represent substantial institutional power, yet their labors preserved alive the idea of one American Northwest.

The overland migration of american to Oregon began in earnest in the early 1840s. In 1840 over there were around 150 americans residing in the Oregon Country. By 1845 there to be 5,000 or more U.S. Settlers, most of them clustered in the Willamette sink (see illustration below). Most had actually arrived by means of the overland trail, and also thus introduced a new and epic method of cross-country travel. The sudden growth of a residents U.S. Population, and also of settlers fairly than hair traders, transformed the balance of power in the area the would come to be U.S. Territory.

In 1842, anticipating the feasible loss of much of the Oregon country to the U.S., Simpson consolidated HBC to work northward by shifting the Columbia Department"s basic from fort Vancouver ~ above the Columbia river to fort Victoria top top Vancouver Island.

In 1843-45, American settlers developed the Oregon Provisional federal government in stimulate to carry out an American system of laws and principles because that their cultivation society.

In 1846 Britain and also the United states signed the Oregon Treaty, expanding the global border between the U.S. And also what would end up being Canada follow me the 49th parallel to the Strait of Georgia, and also then out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This covenant resolved one "contest" for the an ar by splitting it in between the British and also the Americans. Thereafter, such questions as Indian and also land plans on either side of the border would be identified by various systems of government. The HBC long remained influential in british Columbia.

To establish itself together a country and assert its borders and control end territory, the united States had to attain two things. First, it required to dispossess and displace aboriginal peoples, and extinguish their insurance claims to land. The last lesson offers instances of that process beginning to work (albeit under British rather than American influence) amongst Indians that the Pacific Northwest. Second, it essential to interact with other non-native powers, an especially the countries of Europe, come define and defend American cases to territory. Some times this communication was peaceful, and some times it to be not. Most American are came right into the nation"s possession via battles or purchases. Hence the Revolutionary War created most that the territory east of the Mississippi River and also the war through Mexico between 1846 and 1848 incorporated the Southwest, when the Louisiana purchase in 1803 carried most of the lands in between the Mississippi and also the Rockies into the nation, and a address Russia in 1867 procured Alaska.


Oregon City, sketched as the "American Village" by Captain Henry J. Warre. (Reproduced in Henry James Warre, Sketches in north America and the Oregon Territory. London, 1848. Bowl 9.) Courtesy university of thedailysplash.tv special Collections.

The territory that became the American Northwest was appended come the country in rather unusual fashion, through comparison. An initial it passed through a phase throughout which the key two non-native claimants, Britain and the U.S., agreed come share it for an unknown time—the so-called joint occupation. Second, nationwide ownership the the area was addressed not by battle or purchase however by treaty, together the two sides negotiated a border dispute. The problem on the Pacific coast, settled in 1846, to be complemented by one on the Atlantic coast, resolved in 1842, between Maine and Canada. Both set of negotiation were component of the procedure whereby Britain and also the united States reached a an ext substantial accommodation through one another, after the disputes of the American change and war of 1812.

The Pacific coastline area in dispute, called the Oregon country, stretched from the comb of the Rockies in the east to the ocean in the west, and from the 42nd parallel in the southern (today"s California-Oregon border) to the parallel of 54 degrees, 40 minutes in the north (today"s Alaska-British Columbia border). This are was declared by the assorted explorers who arrived first by sea and also then through land. At different times, then, Spain and Russia were amongst those contesting the region, but between 1818 and also 1824 the Spanish and also Russians relinquished their insurance claims to the territory south of Alaska and north of California. Thereafter, only good Britain and the united States, amongst the occurred nations, competed for the Oregon Country.

It need to be noted that while an excellent Britain and also the United says both had claims to the whole Oregon country, the 2 sides mainly expected to divide the territory between themselves; neither can realistically mean to gain the entire Oregon Country. East of the continent divide, the U.S. And also Britain had actually agreed upon a border running west indigenous the great Lakes at the 49th parallel. Essentially from the begin of discussions over Oregon, the British meant this border to proceed west to the Columbia River, and then to follow the river come the ocean. They to be willing, in other words, come concede whatever south the the 49th parallel, and then south and also east that the Columbia River, come the joined States. However they want to maintain access to the flow itself, i beg your pardon after every was the crucial artery of travel within HBC holdings, and also they wanted control over Puget Sound, which castle rightly related to as a remarkable harbor. In ~ the exact same time, the Americans typically did not intend to gain anything phibìc of the 49th parallel, but they desire Puget Sound and accessibility to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Keep in psychic that during the 1820s and also 1830s the united States had no an excellent harbor ~ above the Pacific coast. Mountain Diego and San Francisco were an initial Spanish and then mexican ports. The shoreline of Oregon readily available no good harbor because that ships, and also the bar in ~ the mouth of the Columbia was well known for interfering through transportation between ocean and also river. Till the conclusion that war with Mexico, 1846-48, the U.S. Pertained to Puget Sound together the ideal place for it to get a protected, deep-water harbor on the Pacific coast.


Michael T. Simmons, one of the very first settlers of Oregon region north that the Columbia River. (University the thedailysplash.tv Libraries distinct Collections, Portrait Files.)

Basically, then, the boundary dispute in between Britain and the U.S. Revolved approximately which next would obtain the Puget Sound country and the remainder of thedailysplash.tv state west and north of the Columbia River. In this competition, the brother initially had actually by far the the strongest hand. The englishman George Vancouver, ~ all, had been the an initial non-native to discover and also explore Puget Sound. And British fur traders, specifically in the rental of the HBC, had actually in the course of organizing the entire an ar into an economic situation of extractive resources, collection up irreversible bases in west thedailysplash.tv. By the 1830s the HBC had actually established short articles at ft Vancouver and also Fort Nisqually and also along the Cowlitz Rover, and they had additionally developed cordial relations with Indians. Many of George Simpson"s designs because that the Columbia Department between 1824 and 1840 had actually been based upon the presumption that the British would retain west thedailysplash.tv and lose eastern thedailysplash.tv, Oregon, and Idaho. Hence Simpson had, for example, urged American missionaries to collection up operations south and east the the Columbia; embraced settlement by American citizens in the Willamette Valley; and tried to extinguish fur supplies in the soil he supposed the British would not retain. He thought until the early on 1840s that the brothers would hold on to west thedailysplash.tv, i beg your pardon he pertained to as integral come HBC work on the west coast, and also thus walk not expect to have to modify tasks there in an answer to an American takeover. Simpson"s decision come relocate the Department"s headquarters in 1842 from ft Vancouver to Victoria, however, signaled a readjust in his thinking. By the time, the balance the power between the British and Americans in regard to the boundary problem was shifting.

When the U.S. Originally agreed to the idea of share occupation in 1818, it did not really have actually the sources to make a solid imprint ~ above the Pacific Northwest. It had actually neither a navy as powerful as Britain"s no one a colonizing agent as well-organized and focused as the Hudson"s bay Company. The good majority that its population resided much to the eastern of the Mississippi River. Its hair traders and trappers had not, until the 1820s, penetrated the Rockies efficiently or discovered ways through the mountains to the west coast. Part Americans nurtured the idea the a Pacific-coast harbor, but most did no envision the unified States broadening its holdings past the continental divide.


Champoeg in 1851, (right) looking south.

This situation started to change during the 1830s and 1840s. Mountain men and also missionaries began to connect the Pacific Northwest to the eastern claims through your travels to, functioning in, and also descriptions the the region. Moreover, a few parties of settlers started to make their means into the area. Then, during the 1840s, the joined States came to be keenly interested in from the west expansion—so interested that national politicians take it up the West as a key campaign issue and the U.S. Annexed Texas and went to war with Mexico because that the remainder the its north holdings (what came to be the American Southwest). Simultaneously, thousands much more Americans chose to move overland towards the coast, including particularly the Willamette Valley. American attention in the Pacific Northwest, after about two decades of stagnation, suddenly climbed dramatically, taking the form of both settlers showing up to reside in the an ar and politicians and statesmen ready to face the brother in bespeak to fix the boundary conflict in the Americans’ favor. By contrast, British attention in the Northwest stayed limited, largely because the HBC syndicate in the area had actually precluded lot attention by rather from an excellent Britain. American citizens were taking a keen interest in the far corner of the continent, if British topics most likely knew tiny about it, or else resented the reality of the the HBC was a monopoly.

The arrival of American settlers cast into bolder relief the different approaches embraced by the British and Americans for colonizing the region. British emigration proceeded with the Hudson"s bay Company, who corporate operations focused on extraction of organic resources. The HBC typically discouraged settlement in the lands it intended to retain, and discouraged exclusive ownership of lands; it aimed come minimize any kind of disruption to the hair trade and any dislocation that its Indian commerce partners. It likewise worked to manage non-native culture in the area so that the company, and also not individuals, overcame the local economy and also governed the region. Americans, by contrast, intended to bring to the Northwest the more individualistic and democratic perspectives of your society. Lock insisted upon obtaining privately owned parcels of land and also having a voice in government. And also they did no wish to be low grade to together a an effective firm as the HBC. One HBC official summarized the distinctions nicely: ranches in the Willamette Valley, that explained, could flourish "only through the defense of equal regulations , the affect of totally free trade , the accession of respectable residents ...while the fur trade much suffer by each innovation."

Map of international Rivalries, (left).

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The arriving American inhabitants were conscious of these differences. Return they go a an excellent deal of organization with the HBC, and also actually benefited native HBC assistance and also trade, they additionally resented the power of the Company. One method to assert their own interests, and try to limit the influence of the company in the region, was for them to organize their very own government—an action that reiterated their belief in American worths of self-government and republicanism. Borrowing indigenous the Iowa territory code of laws, Oregon settlers created the Provisional Government in between 1843 and also 1845. The very first laws provided for the acquisition and secure property of land, the holding of elections, and the formation of a militia. Later legislation detailed for one executive and judicial branch the government and also divided the territory right into counties for neighborhood administration. Importantly, the Provisional government outlawed the migration and also residence of afri Americans—both complimentary and enslaved—to Oregon. In short order, between about 1838 and also 1845, the American presence had actually gone from gift minimal to being substantial. This readjust was an essential factor in strengthening the American claim to the territory.At the nationwide level, too, there existed a desire to stake a stronger claim to the Pacific Northwest. Britain and also the U.S. Had actually remained in communication around the Northwest boundary, with both sides usually unyielding in your desire to control Puget Sound. Part Americans prospered impatient v the dispute, so lot so the James K. Polk, once running for president in 1844, asserted that he want the U.S. To get "all" the Oregon, i.e., the entire region between California and also Alaska, including present-day brother Columbia. An additional campaign slogan to the exact same effect, "Fifty-four fourty or Fight" (which expected that if the british did no yield the entire Oregon Country, as much as the parallel at 54 degrees, 40 minutes, the Americans would certainly go to war for it), summary the aggressiveness of some Americans in this era the "Manifest Destiny." This belligerence came exactly as Britain to be growing an ext inclined come concede western thedailysplash.tv to the U.S., and also it actually may have actually stalled resolution that the dispute. By 1846, nonetheless, the two nations concerned an agreement and signed the Oregon Treaty. The joined States, patient because 1818, finally secured the Pacific port they had actually coveted because that so long, a harbor to which they surely had less insurance claim than the British. The British shed western thedailysplash.tv, however retained the interior shore of the Strait the Georgia and Vancouver Island. The HBC preserved the best of navigation on the Columbia and its considerable holdings in what was currently American territory. Yet the transfer to U.S. Manage did not bode well for additional operations southern of the 49th parallel, and the HBC would ultimately sell its understand in the American Northwest and retrench come British Columbia.

Few Americans today pay lot attention come the Oregon contract of 1846.The nation"s acquisitions by war have seemed more dramatic, and even its acquisitions by purchase have seemed much more memorable. The diplomatic negotiation that created the contract perhaps show up dull, as if the 2 sides finally just landed on a same compromise. Perhaps there is a sense, too, the the U.S. Did not take the far edge of the Pacific Northwest so lot from another nation or civilization as it did indigenous a company, the HBC, whose very own operations were inhibiting American-style "development" that the region. It would be best, however, to store in mind that in Canada, across the border the the Oregon Treaty extended in 1849, feelings space different. There, the Oregon contract is often remembered vividly as a loss, and also one of numerous examples of American disrespect for Canadian borders and national integrity. Thus James R. Gibson, a Canadian geographer, write in farming the Frontier: The agricultural Opening that the Oregon country 1786-1846 (1985):


The Oregon Treaty to be not a same compromise; there to be no division of the "Oregon triangle" , every one of which saw the joined States....Canadians have valid reasons for regretting and even resenting the Oregon settlement, because the British claim to the are north that the Columbia-Snake-Clearwater river mechanism was at least as an excellent as, if not far better than, that of the United states on the grounds the discovery, exploration, and also settlement, and also since the future Canadian dominion was deprived of any kind of harbour on Puget Sound....Canadians must not forget that they were dispossessed of component of your rightful Columbia heritage, a heritage whose economic potential in basic and farming possibilities in details were initially and also successfully prove by the Hudson"s bay Company. They should additionally remember that whenever it is tritely declared that Canada and also the United says share the longest undefended border in the world, it is for this reason mainly since the stronger American republic winner its northern boundary disputes at the cost of that is weaker neighbour, just as it southerly boundary was obtained at the expense of a weaker Mexico.

Map of the mountain Juan Islands global Boundary Dispute, (right).

Gibson"s interpretation reflects a longstanding and also pervasive Canadian concern around the sheer strength of the joined States also as an exact memory that the countless threats that Americans have posed come the truth of Canadian borders and Canadian nationwide identity. I would, however, include one caveat to Gibson"s formulation. When the Oregon Treaty was signed, the Confederation of Canada did no exist; America"s northern neighbor was not a nation, yet rather numerous British colonies. When the U.S. Negotiated the Oregon Treaty, it did for this reason with good Britain, no Canada, so that is reasonable to save Britain"s joining in the treaty in mental (there was as of however no official Canadian joining in diplomacy). Canadian see of this brother participation hints at different kinds of weak in the challenge of American strength. Gibson, because that example, refers to a British atmosphere of "appeasement" in yielding western thedailysplash.tv to the U.S., while another Canadian scholar (John Saywell, Canada: Pathways come the existing <1994>), recalls not only American aggression but likewise British carelessness in offering "what is now thedailysplash.tv and also Oregon come the joined States." American interpretations, by contrast, carry out not portray Britain as weak, and thus carry out not have tendency to view the Oregon Treaty as a deal struck through a "weaker neighbour." rather the contrary, in fact. In explaining chairman Polk"s decision to expropriate the 49th parallel as the boundary, Robert H. Ferrell, in American Diplomacy: A history (1975), writes the Polk "had offered in to an excellent Britain . It to be one point to push territorial claims versus a nation such as Mexico, and quite one more to stand as much as the many powerful nation in the world, as Britain was during the nineteenth century."

Canadians and also Americans tend to recall the Oregon treaty in distinctly various ways. In this case and in virtually every other, just how one interprets the previous depends in large part upon whereby one is viewing it from.